The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers

by Robert L. Heilbroner

Touchstone | August 12, 1999 | Trade Paperback

The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers is rated 5 out of 5 by 1.
The bestselling classic that examines the history of economic thought from Adam Smith to Karl Marx—“all the economic lore most general readers conceivably could want to know, served up with a flourish” (The New York Times).

The Worldly Philosophers not only enables us to see more deeply into our history but helps us better understand our own times. In this seventh edition, Robert L. Heilbroner provides a new theme that connects thinkers as diverse as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The theme is the common focus of their highly varied ideas—namely, the search to understand how a capitalist society works. It is a focus never more needed than in this age of confusing economic headlines.

In a bold new concluding chapter entitled “The End of the Worldly Philosophy?” Heilbroner reminds us that the word “end” refers to both the purpose and limits of economics. This chapter conveys a concern that today’s increasingly “scientific” economics may overlook fundamental social and political issues that are central to economics. Thus, unlike its predecessors, this new edition provides not just an indispensable illumination of our past but a call to action for our future.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 8.44 × 5.5 × 0.9 in

Published: August 12, 1999

Publisher: Touchstone

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 068486214X

ISBN - 13: 9780684862149

Found in: Economic History, Social Aspects

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worldly Philosophers Delivered With Style There’s a good reason this is the second best selling economics book of all time (the first is Paul Samuelson’s Economics textbook, which was prescribed by professors for introductory economics classes for decades): its subject matter - the great economic thinkers, or “worldly philosophers - is both timeless and assembled with great care; and the erudition and style with which Heilbroner writes is unparalleled. With seven editions over more than 60 years (Heilbroner died in 2005), this landmark book should continue to serve as an introduction and reference for years to come. The text flows chronologically, with ample references forward and back in time as necessary to provide context, starting with the smaller building blocks of economic thought prior to Adam Smith and progressing with separate chapters for Smith, Malthus and Ricardo, Marx, Veblen, Keynes and Schumpeter. There are two additional chapters - one for the Utopian Socialists of the early 1800s, including John Stuart Mill, and a second for the Victorian era, including Bastiat, Henry George, and John Hobson. The seventh edition also includes a new concluding chapter lamenting “The End of Worldly Philosophy”, or more specifically the evolution of economics as a science disaggregated from its necessary social causes and effects. It’s not difficult to find information on any of the people noted above, or to access their major works. What sets this book apart is the seamless weaving of the subjects' accomplishments into a compelling narrative along with a context and frame of reference for assessing their work. In this regard, Heilbroner’s work stands at the opposite end of the scale from the excellent but inevitably dry reference books commonly available. Heilbroner’s literary style is unlike that of any economic or financial writer today. Most today write factually and clearly, and in the case of Michael Lewis and a few others, with a flair for character development and storytelling. Only John Kenneth Galbraith matches Heilbroner’s elevation of his prose to literary level, enjoyable not only for the content, but for the grace and style with which it is delivered. While some may feel that Heilbroner editorializes too much for a historical survey, he is a wise and genial guide, his commentary is well placed and apolitical, and his insight serves to highlight some of the economic debate that continues to this day. The only major flaw with the book is that, despite the seven updated editions, there would appear to be few contributions to the field of economics in the past half century. Thorsten Veblen has a chapter, but Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Samuelson, Daniel Kahneman, Amartya Sen and others receive scant or no attention. A landmark book that can be enjoyed by both seasoned professionals and those new to the field. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2012-05-01

– More About This Product –

The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers

by Robert L. Heilbroner

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 8.44 × 5.5 × 0.9 in

Published: August 12, 1999

Publisher: Touchstone

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 068486214X

ISBN - 13: 9780684862149

Read from the Book

Introduction This is a book about a handful of men with a curious claim to fame. By all the rules of schoolboy history books, they were nonentities: they commanded no armies, sent no men to their deaths, ruled no empires, took little part in history-making decisions. A few of them achieved renown, but none was ever a national hero; a few were roundly abused, but none was ever quite a national villain. Yet what they did was more decisive for history than many acts of statesmen who basked in brighter glory, often more profoundly disturbing than the shuttling of armies back and forth across frontiers, more powerful for good and bad than the edicts of kings and legislatures. It was this: they shaped and swayed men''s minds. And because he who enlists a man''s mind wields a power even greater than the sword or the scepter, these men shaped and swayed the world. Few of them ever lifted a finger in action; they worked, in the main, as scholars -- quietly, inconspicuously, and without much regard for what the world had to say about them. But they left in their train shattered empires and exploded continents; they buttressed and undermined political regimes; they set class against class and even nation against nation -- not because they plotted mischief, but because of the extraordinary power of their ideas. Who were these men? We know them as the Great Economists. But what is strange is how little we know about them. One would think that in a world torn by economic problems, a world
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Table of Contents


Contents

I Introduction

II The Economic Revolution

III The Wonderful World of Adam Smith

IV The Gloomy Presentiments of Parson Malthus and David Ricardo

V The Dreams of the Utopian Socialists

VI The Inexorable System of Karl Marx

VII The Victorian World and the Underworld of Economics

VIII The Savage Society of Thorstein Veblen

IX The Heresies of John Maynard Keynes

X The Contradictions of Joseph Schumpeter

XI The End of the Worldly Philosophy?

A Guide to Further Reading

Notes

Index

From the Publisher

The bestselling classic that examines the history of economic thought from Adam Smith to Karl Marx—“all the economic lore most general readers conceivably could want to know, served up with a flourish” (The New York Times).

The Worldly Philosophers not only enables us to see more deeply into our history but helps us better understand our own times. In this seventh edition, Robert L. Heilbroner provides a new theme that connects thinkers as diverse as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The theme is the common focus of their highly varied ideas—namely, the search to understand how a capitalist society works. It is a focus never more needed than in this age of confusing economic headlines.

In a bold new concluding chapter entitled “The End of the Worldly Philosophy?” Heilbroner reminds us that the word “end” refers to both the purpose and limits of economics. This chapter conveys a concern that today’s increasingly “scientific” economics may overlook fundamental social and political issues that are central to economics. Thus, unlike its predecessors, this new edition provides not just an indispensable illumination of our past but a call to action for our future.

From the Jacket

The Worldly Philosophers is a bestselling classic that not only enables us to see more deeply into our history but helps us better understand our own times. In this seventh edition, Robert L. Heilbroner provides a new theme that connects thinkers as diverse as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The theme is the common focus of their highly varied ideas -- namely, the search to understand how a capitalist society works. It is a focus never more needed than in this age of confusing economic headlines.

In a bold new concluding chapter entitled "The End of the Worldly Philosophy?" Heilbroner reminds us that the word "end" refers to both the purpose and limits of economics. This chapter conveys a concern that today''s increasingly "scientific" economics may overlook fundamental social and political issues that are central to economics. Thus, unlike its predecessors, this new edition provides not just an indispensable illumination of our past but a call to action for our future.

About the Author

Robert L. Heilbroner is the Norman Thomas Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at The New School for Social Research and is the author of more than twenty books. He lives in New York City.

From Our Editors

Who among us couldn’t use some sound economic advice? The Worldly Philosophers is an updated edition exploring the philosophies of the world’s greatest economic thinkers. Readers will better understand the chaotic economic times we live in by looking deep into our history and by learning how a capitalist society really works. This classic book also looks at social and political issues that are central to economics.

Editorial Reviews

“Sinclair Lewis''s Arrowsmith inspired several readers to become Nobel laureates in biology. Robert Heilbroner''s new edition of The Worldly Philosophers will inspire a new generation of economists.”
—Paul Samuelson