HIRSCHMAN THE PASSIONS AND THE INTERESTS PDF

Of course, before the dawn of capitalism, the pursuit of economic interests was considered one of the worst passions; avarice was always a foe of the Platonic conception of Reason and the Christian view of the Truth. Nevertheless, with the decline of feudalism and the rise of absolutist monarchies, the great concern of thinkers like Hobbes was the rising power of the state and the passions that led monarchs into ruinous external and civil wars. In this context, the pursuit of wealth was transformed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries into the pursuit of material interest. Two eighteen century thinkers at the center of this argument were Montesquieu and Sir James Steuart. Overall, the pursuit of individual interest was therefore assigned the role of a mid-way countervailing force, a force that contained the passions of humanity, and particularly the passions of political leaders.

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Shelves: ethics-christian , history-economic , capitalism Very good summary of the intellectual currents that lead from the early Christian view that the pursuit of money is less than virtuous, to the view that pursuit of self-interest in the form of commerce is beneficial to human freedom by its necessary restraint on the power of the state.

Of course, this idealistic view has since proven flawed. However, it remains helpful in understanding the context in which Adam Smith and others wrote in favor of what would become capitalism, and for today of Very good summary of the intellectual currents that lead from the early Christian view that the pursuit of money is less than virtuous, to the view that pursuit of self-interest in the form of commerce is beneficial to human freedom by its necessary restraint on the power of the state.

It also raises the issue that as capital is threaten, so too may be liberty, as those with capital prefer law and order over freedom. Written in , in my mind it raises interesting questions about the future of the developing world, especially China, and for America as the economic future of the Middle Class continues to be threatened.

Hirschman argues that capitalism developed as a means by the rising merchant class of the late middle ages to check the nearly tyrannical powers of the local aristocracy. Money making was a frowned upon activity, with avarice being sinful. Commerce, however, appealed to the rational interests of merchants and traders, and as their wealth and influence grew they counteracted the unruly passions of the feudal leaders.

The hope of theorists of the early modern period was that this would result in the wider spread of prosperity, resulting in far less wealth inequality. Rational interests would overcome spontaneous passions; for a short time it did. Instead of balancing the greed of the powerful with the sober and relatively modest merchants of what became the middle class, capitalism has become what it had once checked: a powerful driver of inequality.

A wonderful analysis with insights derived from the study of Machiavelli, Hume, Bacon, Spinoza, Smith, Montesquieu, and others from the Scottish Enlightenment and the French physiocrats. Very enlightening. His ability to explain complex concepts in a lucid, memorable manner makes even economic theory interesting to read, which is, in my mind, an incredible feat. His arguments for the prioritization of intellectual history over histories of events are compelling.

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Albert O. Hirschman

Shelves: ethics-christian , history-economic , capitalism Very good summary of the intellectual currents that lead from the early Christian view that the pursuit of money is less than virtuous, to the view that pursuit of self-interest in the form of commerce is beneficial to human freedom by its necessary restraint on the power of the state. Of course, this idealistic view has since proven flawed. However, it remains helpful in understanding the context in which Adam Smith and others wrote in favor of what would become capitalism, and for today of Very good summary of the intellectual currents that lead from the early Christian view that the pursuit of money is less than virtuous, to the view that pursuit of self-interest in the form of commerce is beneficial to human freedom by its necessary restraint on the power of the state. It also raises the issue that as capital is threaten, so too may be liberty, as those with capital prefer law and order over freedom. Written in , in my mind it raises interesting questions about the future of the developing world, especially China, and for America as the economic future of the Middle Class continues to be threatened.

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The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph

He had a sister, Ursula Hirschmann. He worked for the Institute for Advanced Study from — until his death. Here he emphasized the need for unbalanced growth. He argued that disequilibria should be encouraged to stimulate growth and help mobilize resources, because developing countries are short of decision making skills.

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