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ECONOMIC SENTIMENTS: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment

ECONOMIC SENTIMENTS: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment [Kindle Edition]

Emma Rothschild

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"A powerful and original reconsideration of the thinking of Smith and Condorcet. This is a reinterpretation of Enlightenment political economy. Delightfully fresh, sensitive, and wide-ranging." - Keith Baker, Stanford University"


A benchmark in the history of economics and of political ideas, Rothschild shows us the origins of laissez-faire economic thought and its relation to political conseratism in an unquiet world.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 734 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 380 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0674004892
  • Verlag: Harvard University Press (4. Februar 2013)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00BNRMO08
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #388.847 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.9 von 5 Sternen  7 Rezensionen
18 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A new look at some old whipping boys 24. Januar 2002
Von Toby Joyce - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
First, a romantic note - Rothschild dedicates this book to her husband Amartya Sen, and Sen dedicated his last book ('Development as Freedom') to her. So these books will lie side by side on my shelf. Both are well worth reading.
There is more than just a familial connection. Sen clearly used his wife's research on Smith and Condorcet in the writing of 'Development as Freedom' since the Adam Smith that appears in his book is not the cold and callous economist of myth. One suspects that Rothschild's perception of Smith and Condorcet had been coloured by Sen as she presents them as more than just economists as we understand the term, but concerned with a far wider range of phenomena in politics and sociology. In fact they were exactly as much an 'economist' as Sen himself is. As any reader of Sen knows, he covers an extremely broad range of factors in his work, not just GDP and income.
Rothschild argues that Smith's example of the 'invisible hand' that regulates free markets would have as easily been meant as a malign as a benign regulator. Traders who influence markets by bribery or trickery are as much an 'invisible hand' as an imagined self-regulating mechanism. In fact, the beneficient invisible hand was very much a product of later economists. Smith was not as negative on government regulation as he was made out to be by later writers, though strongly against price-fixing by government fiat, guilds which prevented fair competition, and over-zealous regulation of trade and commerce by insiders, profiteers and parasites.
Condorcet comes across as a very attractive human being, passionate and commited to his beliefs. Accused of Utopianism, he struggled with his conviction that he had no right to dictate opinion to others. Yet he believed that his liberal philosophy was best.He was concerned with the 'ordinary man in the street', and rejected any idea that he/ she should be indoctrinated with the 'right' ideas by a state-supported educational system. He wrote for the rights of women, believing that all humanity were entitled to equal rights.
I have to say the book is dense and quite difficult at times. However, it is the ideas that are difficult, not the presentation. It will probably repay a second reading.But I feel after reading this that I have had an excellent introduction to two first-class and important (in a world-historical sense) intellects.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen In defence of the Enlightenment 24. Dezember 2001
Von - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
To their enemies the Marquis de Condorcet was the epitome of the worst elements of the French Enlightenment, fatuously optimistic, subtly intolerant and dangerous utopian with his emphasis on the "perfectability" of man, while the notoriously absent-minded Adam Smith was the architect of a notoriously callous and philistine economic theory. Aside from that, the enthusiastic and idealistic Condorcet does not appear to have much in common with the quiet and discreet Smith. Emma Rothschild is the husband of the nobel prize winning economist A. Sen, whose most famous work shows the devastating effect dogmatically applied free market rules can have on worsening famines. Yet this book is a defense of the two from the critics of the Enlightenment.
To a surprising extent she succeeds. Conservatives will be unpleasantly surprised to read that in the decade after his death, mentioning your support of Smith did not prevent Scottish democrats from being transported to Australia by reactionary Scottish judges. For many years Tories did not view Smith as the great economist or philosopher. Instead Smith was the man whose account of his friend, the atheist philosopher David Hume on his deathbed, enraged the pious for showing Hume's complete calm, class and lack of fear of eternal damnation. Rothschild notes how the great economist Carl Menger noted how prominent socialists quoted Smith against their enemies. (Oddly enough she does not quote the passage in CAPITAL where Marx cites an enraged prelate angry at Smith for classifying priests as "unproductive labor.) Smith was an opponent of militarism, a supporter of high wages, and a supporter of French philosophy (and not unsympathetic to the French Revolution,either). Reading of his relations with Turgot and Condorcet, it will be much harder to defend the view of a sharp distinction between a good sensible Protestant Enlightenment, and a bad, Nasty, atheist one on the continent.
In discussing Turgot and Condorcet's support for the free trade in grain, which Smith also supported, Rothschild helps remind us that laissez faire did not simply mean watching while people starved. Confronted with the threat of famine in Limousin in 1770, Turgot preserved the freedom of the corn trade. But he also provided workshops for the poor, increased grain imports from other regions, reduced taxes for the poor, and protected poor tenants from eviction. Condorcet and Smith were both sympathetic to these policies. Rothschild also devotes a whole chapter to Smith's metaphor of the "invisible hand." She points out how rarely it was used in Smith's work, and how on the centennial of the publication of the Wealth of Nation almost no-one mentioned it, even at a special celebration organized by William Gladstone. She then goes into how the concept is used in Smith's works. The concept is complex, and in my view not entirely convincing. But she is successful in pointing out how Smith did not follow Hayek in viewing pre-existing structures as the product of an infallible "organic" wisdom. In contrast to the cant of a Calhoun or a Kendall, Smith realized that the most tyrannical acts of government are those that are local and unofficial.
One should point out the defense of Condorcet as well. In an age where Francois Furet, Keith Michael Baker, Mona Ozouf and others have castigated the French Revolutionary tradition as inherently totalitarian, it is good to be reminded that Condorcet is firmly in the liberal tradition. Like Smith, Condorcet was a great supporter of public education, in contrast to the conservative critics of both. Rothschild discusses his views as an economist, and as a theorist of proportional representation. Surprisingly she does not discuss what were Condorcet's most admirable views, his support for female emancipation and suffrage. But she is excellent in pointing out how Condorcet opposed the crassness of the utilitarians. She notes how Condorcet had a view of the limits of truth and scientific inquiry that would have been approved by Karl Popper himself. She notes that he did not believe that voting could or should create a General Will, in the Rousseauean Sense. He did not believe in using education as a form of propoaganda in civic studies, while his opinions were closer to the reservations of a Herder, a Holderin or a Kant than previously believed.
The book is not perfect. Although studiously documented, most of the quotes are from Smith and Condorcet themselves. More historical context could have been provided. There should have been more about actual historical studies of famines, and more on the political and social context of modern Scotland would have been very informative. And her defense of Condorcet would have been stronger if Rothschild had confronted the well-deserved reputation of Condorcet's colleagues in the Gironde for hypocrisy and demagoguery. But this is an important work, and it helps link one of the most familiar of "english" minds into a full international context. That in itself is praise enough.
24 von 30 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Where globalization began 12. Juni 2001
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This is an admirably lucid exposition of the beginnings (at the end of the 18th century) of thinking about economics and globalization. It offers a revision of received ideas about Adam Smith and, for me (not an economist, nor a student of same) it's an introduction to a fascinating figure, the Marquis de Condorcet. Some of it is a real revelation.
The biggest revelation is that the non-specialist can really follow it!
It's an important book.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Thoughtful 12. November 2010
Von R. Albin - Veröffentlicht auf
This is a careful and very thoughtful effort to present an non-anachronistic analysis of Adam Smith's and Condorcet's economic thought. Rothschild is particularly concerned with discrediting the modern, polemical misuse of Smith as talismanic advocate of economic libertarianism. Similarly, she is concerned with rescuing Condorcet from the general impression of his thought as an excessively rationalistic, "cold" form of utopianism. Rothschild reminds us that around the time of his death, Smith's work was regarded warily by many because his advocacy of free trade and Enlightenment reformism were associated with the French Revolution. It was only much later that he became depicted as a free market libertarian. With a careful analysis of Smith's work and intellectual environment, Rothschild explicates Smith's humane but highly critical vision. Smith certainly advocated freedom of trade, but primarily in the context of a larger program of individual freedom that includes, among other things, considerable criticism of religion and other traditional institutions. Smith's writings are informed by a very Humean view of people conversing and interacting as approximate equals, propelled by intrinsic moral sympathy to treat each other with dignity, and with commercial relations based on mutual advantage. Rothschild devotes an entire chapter to Smith's famous metaphor of the "invisible hand" which she argues well was meant largely as a piece of irony. Rothschild's Smith is very different from the Smith prized by 20th century economists as a predecessor and a considerably more interesting and humane, though arguably naive, figure.

Rothschild provides a similarly careful revisionist analysis of Condorcet, emphasizing also his belief in moral sympathy, his emphasis on cosmopolitanism, skepticism towards tradition, and a rather optimistic view of human capacities. Rothschild's Condorcet is far from a dogmatic utopian. Rothschild's analyses of Smith and Condorcet also contain analyses of more modern interpretations of Smith and what we would probably call neo-liberal views. By showing the difference of these views from those of Smith, in particular, she is offerring some very useful criticism of neo-liberalism.
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Bad printing, awkward writing, important content 2. März 2011
Von Robert Evans - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
The Fellows of Harvard University should be ashamed of the quality of the printing in this book. Not only is the print small, often the print is light and the letters are speckled with white. I also agree that the writing style is bad even by academic standards. You really have to read each chapter twice. Now, having said that; it is very interesting and a good anecdote to the notion that the French notion of Reason is the dominating idea of the Enlightenment. For an easier read or an introduction read Himmelfarb's The Roads to Modernity.The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American EnlightenmentsEconomic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the Enlightenment
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