A History of Political Economy

By John Kells Ingram | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI.
THE HISTORICAL SCHOOL.

THE negative movement which filled the eighteenth century had for its watchword on the economic side the liberation of industrial effort from both feudal survivals and Governmental fetters. But in all the aspects of that movement, the economic as well as the rest, the process of demolition was historically only the necessary preliminary condition of a total renovation, towards which Western Europe was energetically tending, though with but an indistinct conception of its precise nature. The disorganisation of the body of opinion which underlay the old system outran the progress towards the establishment of new principles adequate to form a guidance in the future. The critical philosophy which had wrought the disorganisation could only repeat its formulas of absolute liberty, but was powerless for reconstruction. And hence there was seen throughout the West, after the French explosion, the remarkable spectacle of a continuous oscillation between the tendency to recur to outworn ideas and a vague impulse towards a now order in social thought and life, this impulse often taking an anarchical character.

From this state of oscillation, which has given to our century its equivocal and transitional aspect, the only possible issue was in the foundation of a scientific social doctrine which should supply a basis for the gradual convergence of opinion on human questions. The foundation of such a doctrine is the immortal service for which the world is indebted to Auguste Comte ( 1798- 1857).

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A History of Political Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface. v
  • Bibliographical Note. xiv
  • Contents xvii
  • Chapter I - Introductory. 1
  • Chapter II - Ancient Times. 7
  • Chapter III - The Middle Ages. 24
  • Chapter IV - Modern Times: First and Second Phases. 32
  • Chapter V - Third Modern Phase: System of Natural Liberty. 55
  • Chapter VI - The Historical School. 196
  • Chapter Vil - Conclusion. 240
  • Index 247
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