on May 3, 2010
This book is the PHD dissertation of Israel Kirzner, the most important Austrian economist of the second half of the 20th century. Kirzner's dissertation is about the evolution of the concept of economics that economists held through the history of economic thought. He starts with the conceptions of the classical economists of economics as an science of wealth, and gradually progresses to reach the cutting edge in the methodological understanding of economics (by his point of view writing in the late 50's) as the science of Human Action, articulated in its best and most complete form by Mises in his Human Action.
The book is about the history of economic thought on most fundamental methodological problems that faced and currently face the science of economics, about the very meaning of economics as an field of research. Highly recommended for someone who wishes to focus on a deeper study of Austrian economics.
Also, the book includes the debate between Gary Becker and Kirzner about the consequences of irrationality for economic theory. Becker defends the point of view that economics doesn't need to assume rational agents to yield the most important results of price theory. Kirzner them shows the importance of rationality not for the determination of the equilibrium allocations of the market but for the process of reaching the economic equilibrium: agents need to be rational to learn about the situation of the market and adjust their plans in order to generate tendencies towards coordination of plans, and therefore, to reach the equilibrium.
"The Economic Point of View" is Kirzner's 1960 doctoral dissertation under the guidance of the Prof. Ludwig von Mises (Austrian School of Economics). As Mises noted in his Foreward: "It is a very valuable contribution to the history of ideas, describing the march of economics from a science of wealth to a science of human action....He follow(s) the sober methods of the best historians of economic theories, Bohm-Bawerk and Edwin Cannan. Every economist...will read with great profit Doctor Kirzner's analyses, especially his treatment of the famous discussion between Benedetto Croce and Vilfredo Pareto or the critical examination of the ideas of Max Weber and Lionel Robbins." Chapter contents include: The multitude of economic points of view; The emergence of political economy as the science of wealth; The Science of Avarice: Getting the most for the least; Economics, the Market and the Division of Labor; Money as the measuring rod; The economics of Prof. Robbins; The nature of economic science and the significance of macroeconomics; The sciences of Human Action; The emergence of the Praxeological view of economics; amongst others. A libertarian-economics classic. In 2009 the "Liberty Fund Inc." included this book in its "The Collected Works of Israel M. Kirzner" series. Kirzner was born in 1930.
on March 15, 2010
Certain thinkers in a field rise far and above all others in their field to grant new ideas. "The Economic Point of View: The Collected Works of Israel M. Kirzner" is the collected essays of Kirzner, an Austrian economist who is highly revered in scholarly circles that discuss economics. Here, his writings lay out his beliefs and ideas with much evidence on how he believes the world of money works in the modern era. Drawing on debates Kirzner engaged in and other sources, "The Economic Point of View" is an intellectual and educational read that belongs on any economics research shelf.
on May 25, 2016
This book is primarily a history of economic theory and methodology, with an analysis by Kirzner layered on top of it. Kirzner begins his analysis by looking at various conceptions on what the "economic point of view" actually WAS throughout history. He groups these into two broad classes: Type A and Type B.
Type A definitions "consider economics as investigating a particular department of affairs". Type B definitions "see it as concerned with a particular aspect of affairs in general." Kirzner places most earlier conceptions of the economic point of view in Type A. He limits his analysis to two particular Type B definitions, that of Lionel Robbins (economizing scarce means to ends) and the Misesian praxeological definition (the economic point of view is the study of human action).
The Economic Point of View is dense. Kirzner assumes a strong background in the history of economic thought and some extensive knowledge of epistemological and methodological problems in economics. I think Kirzner is fair to other points of view, but he clearly supports the definition proposed by Mises, his teacher.
Despite its density, The Economic Point of View is a worthwhile read. If you're at all interested in methodological issues, or economic thought in general, it's worth your time.
on December 16, 2013
Israel Kirzner is one of two preeminent Austrian economists who had the benefit of learning from the great Ludwig von Mises. In this volume Kirzner explores the Austrian School's disciplined approach that is useful in clear thinking and exposing modern obscurantist economics for what it is - justification for what the looters in government intend to do anyway. If you'd like to know why prices are what they are at a given time, why a government caused boom from central banking is always followed by a destructive bust and why socialism not only doesn't work, but cannot work this is a book for you.