Early Economic Thought: Selections from Economic Literature Prior to Adam Smith

By Arthur Eli Monroe | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE history of economic thought is a study at once chastening and heartening; chastening, because it furnishes such abundant evidence of the difficulty of intellectual progress; heartening, because each groping generation does seem to make a real contribution to that progress. Some acquaintance with it is therefore a most valuable background for the student of modern economic theory; indeed, I am inclined to think that it is almost indispensable, if economics is to remain a part of our liberal training.

For the general outlines of this history, and for most of the details, all but specialists will have to depend upon manuals and lectures. With no more than this, however, not only does the student lose the critical practice afforded by reading the early writers, but there is great danger that such important terms as Scholasticism and Mercantilism will remain mere abstractions for those who have never read a chapter of Mun's classic, or perhaps even turned the pages of Saint Thomas. The general outline must be supplemented by an adequate sample of the thing described, if a correct impression is to be obtained.

For the period since Adam Smith this has presented little difficulty, but for the earlier period the barriers of language and inaccessibility have been almost insuperable. To meet this need is the object of the present collection of extracts. It is neither an anthology of all that is important, nor even a gallery of all who are worthy, but only a few representative extracts, sufficiently varied, I hope, to give some idea of the wealth of material available. Against the difficulty inherent in such collections -- that the individuality of the selections tends to become merged in that of the collection itself -- I have tried to guard in several ways: by making

-v-

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Early Economic Thought: Selections from Economic Literature Prior to Adam Smith
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I - Aristotle 1
  • --Book I 3
  • --Book II 23
  • --Book V 26
  • II - Xenophon 31
  • III - St. Thomas Aquinas 51
  • IV - Nicole Oresme 79
  • V - Carolus Molinaeus 103
  • VI - Jean Bodin 121
  • VII - Antonio Serra 143
  • VIII - Thomas Mun 169
  • IX - Sir William Petty 199
  • X - Philipp Wilhelm Von Hornick 221
  • XI - Richard Cantillon 245
  • XII - Ferdinando Galiani 279
  • XIII - David Hume 309
  • XIV - Francois Quesnay 339
  • XV - Ann Robert Jacques Turgot 349
  • XVI - Johann Heinrich Gottlob Von Justi 377
  • Book IV - General Principles of Taxes and Contributions 379
  • Bibliographical Notes 400
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