The Criticism of Modern Civilization

By Rutherford, Malcolm | Journal of Economic Issues, September 1995 | Go to article overview

The Criticism of Modern Civilization


Rutherford, Malcolm, Journal of Economic Issues


Introduction

The paper presented below is an address given by Wesley Mitchell to the Kosmos Club of the University of California (with which he was closely involved) in the fall of 1909. It is one of two Wesley Mitchell papers discovered in their original handwritten form among the Joseph Dorfman papers in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University. Mitchell, of course, gave a large number of addresses during his career, and copies of many of these can be found in the Dorfman and Mitchell papers, but this particular address has some special interest for students of Mitchell's thought and the history of American institutional economics more generally.

From late in 1902 until 1912, Mitchell was a member of the Department of Economics at Berkeley. He arrived there from the University of Chicago with the proofs of his History of the Greenbacks and a plan for a second volume. This second book appeared in 1908 as Gold, Prices, and Wages under the Greenback Standard, but while working on this manuscript he also began to develop a range of broader interests including ethnology and philosophy. In winter 1905-06, he expressed a desire to "be at something larger in its scope and more penetrating in its interest than this detailed work with a passing episode in monetary history" [Lucy Sprague Mitchell 1953, 165], a desire that translated itself into his efforts between 1907 and 1910 to produce a manuscript dealing with the history and functioning of the "money economy." Early in 1910, Mitchell abandoned this project as something too large and unmanageable and instead focussed his attention on the specific problem of business cycles. Nevertheless, it was in this phase of Mitchell's intellectual life that he developed the institutionalist aspects of his thought, aspects that were to remain key elements in all of his later work.

During his time at Chicago, Mitchell had come into contact with John Dewey and Thorstein Veblen. Veblen was on the faculty at Chicago from 1892 until 1906 when he moved to Stanford, where he remained only until 1909; however, he had considerable contact with Mitchell while there. Veblen also presented his paper "The Evolution of the Scientific Point of View" to the Kosmos Club in May 1908. Both Veblen and Dewey were important intellectual influences on Mitchell and had much to do with the growth of his interest in broader institutional and philosophical concerns, but many aspects of the money economy project show Veblen's influence in particular. Mitchell conceived his project on the money economy as ranging over a vast number of interrelated issues. He wanted to discuss the evolution of the use of money; the impact of the growing use of money on both social and economic institutions, including the decline of feudalism, the rise of business enterprise, the development of the banking system, and the transformation of household organization; the relationship between the habitual use of money and the development of economic rationality; the link between developed monetary institutions and phenomena such as business cycles; and also questions of welfare and welfare comparisons across different institutional states of affairs.

Although Mitchell never produced a completed manuscript, parts of this grand project can be found in his essays on "The Rationality of Economic Activity" [Mitchell 1910a; 1910b], "The Backward Art of Spending Money" [Mitchell 1912], "The Role of Money in Economic Theory" [Mitchell 1916], "Making Goods and Making Money" [Mitchell 1922], as well as in his works on business cycles [Mitchell 1913; 1927]. The address reproduced below, as its title makes obvious, deals with the issue of welfare comparison and gives us a clear picture of the state of Mitchell's thinking on this issue at the time he was working on the money economy project. The published papers of Mitchell's that deal with this issue come from significantly later in his career and are placed in the somewhat different context of the problem of national planning [Mitchell 1935; 1936]. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Criticism of Modern Civilization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.