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Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy Paperback – April 17, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (April 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393316076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393316070
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sequel to Heilbroner's classic survey of the great economists, The Worldly Philosophers, published four decades ago, is an anthology of writings of some 20 economic thinkers ranging from Aristotle to Malthus, Marx, Veblen and Schumpeter, with interlinking commentaries. Making the dismal science palatable with carefully chosen selections, Heilbroner often highlights underappreciated aspects of these economists' thinking; for example, Lord Keynes's wholly negative appraisal of Marxism, or Adam Smith's scathing critique of landlords and capitalists. He lets the thinkers speak for themselves as they analyze the workings of a market-driven economy and how it molds the behaviors of ordinary people. This adventurous omnibus includes economic insights from the Bible and Bernard Mandeville's 1705 poem, "The Grumblilng Hive," upholding mild fraud, luxury and appeals to pride as necessary agents of a prosperous business civilization. Heilbroner concludes that economics is inextricably sociopolitical in nature, and he urges a new crop of dissenting economists to take full account of ecological threats, political instabilities and new technologies.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Heilbroner (economics emeritus, New Sch. for Social Research) is the author of the widely read The Worldly Philosophers (1953), which concerns the evolution of economic theory. In a new work, he has compiled a companion volume consisting of short selections of economic thought from the writings of major figures such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Thomas Malthus of the Classical School; their later 19th-century dissenters, Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen; and John Maynard Keynes, whose seminal works appeared in the late 1930s. Heilbroner's lucidly written commentaries illuminate the leading ideas and locate them in their social context. His book will be useful mostly as a supplement to works on economic theory and principles. Recommended for academic libraries.?Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Robert Heilbroner is the Norman Thomas Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at The New School for Social Research. He is the author of over twenty books, among them The Worldly Philosophers. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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This is a very fine selection of excerpts from Adam Smith and Karl Marx.
Marie C. Duggan
Even for those who read some or most of the quoted works, there is the flavour of the author's own concise and highly perceptive comments.
Luc REYNAERT
Heilbroner's elemental approach makes this book a must-read for students looking for foundation study in macroeconomics.
Lithium Sunset

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on December 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
With a few excerpts from the works of the most important economic thinkers in history, Robert Heilbroner gives his readers a perfect overview of the evolution in economic thought, from theorization to calculation and from prices to employment.

The excerpts are superb. Even for those who read some or most of the quoted works, there is the flavour of the author's own concise and highly perceptive comments.

Hereafter a few excerpts of the excerpts:

B. Mandeville: Thus every Part was full of Vice, Yet the whole Mass was Paradise.

A. Smith: Civil government is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor.

and the author himself: Wealth has always been a proxy for power.

Heilbroner is always also focused on the 'Veil of Economics' (the title of one of his highly recommendable books), because for him economics is inextricably socio-political.

His comments show us that 'the engines of history do not draw all their energies from economic drives and institutions'.

He regrets the actual sorry state of the economic profession dominated by abstract-minded theorists without social concern.

His last plea is for a rekindling of the tradition of political economy.

This book contains a perfect and highly useful index.

A great book composed and written by a superb free mind.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Some people may have met Robert Heilbroner through his first (1953) book, an introduction to economic thought, The Worldly Philosophers, still used in many economics courses. He has returned after more than twenty other books and over forty years of active participation in the public debate to the task of rekindling "...a new interest in political economy...a mode of economic inquiry whose analytical conclusions started from an effort to take full cognizance of the sociopolitical realities of our time, whatever the difficulties they may pose for the construction of elegant models."(p.336)

His approach in Teachings is a combination of excellent "reviews" and "annotations" with long excerpts from the political economists of the past who he feels have contributed the most to our understanding of society. With little apology he has included only Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes and Joseph Schumpeter from the twentieth century. This "deficiency" is more than made up by his critical appraisal (with William Milberg) of the economics profession since the early 1960s in his recent book, The Crisis of Vision in Modern Economic Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1995, 128 pages)

Robert Heilbroner states one of his objectives as "presenting an overview... a book that could actually be read, and not one destined for more or less permanent shelving". He has certainly accomplished this by first picking the "pivotal figures" that set the "historic trajectory" of what today we call economics. By placing each of the twenty in context with cogent comments he then uses their own words to highlight their contributions. (This book will do a lot for the reading and re-reading of the original classics as well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Heilbroner takes us through the entire world of economics from beginning to end, and he acts as our procter. He allows us to read the original words of the economists, along with his own helpful commentaries, and this leads to a clear understanding of the entire history of economics.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 1996
Format: Hardcover
Robert Heilbroner has managed to expand upon his seemingly perfect masterpiece, The Worldly Philosophers. This volume highlights some of the texts written by the great ones, as well as providing some insight into the mind of one of our modern day greats. This instructive text is a must for anyone wishing to expand his knowledge of the great economists
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rudolph V. Dusek on May 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great advantage of this anthology is its low cost and availability in comparison to buying other anthologies, let alone buying two dozen original sources. Despite Heilbroner's fine style and many opinions and biases with which I agree, I was surprised at some of the absences in the selections. These, I believe, reflect Heilbroner's own social views, many of which I support. However, in an anthology surveying the history of economic thought, some views and topics ought to be included, whether one agrees with them or not. For instance on Adam Smith, Heilbroner limits his selection to 'Theory of Moral Sentiments." (Ironically the blurb on the back says it includes "The Wealth of Nations," which it does not). Now, it is important to counteract the caricature of Adam Smith by contemporary Ayn Randers and libertarians, and to show the other side of Smith's views, but a few of the most central and striking paragraphs of "Wealth of Nations" should have been included. (Perhaps Heilbroner expects the reader or student to also purchase his abridgement of Adam Smith's "Wealth"). Similarly Ricardo's page or so on justification of free trade in terms of comparative advantage is also central to the history of economic thought, whether one is a free trader of protectionist. In the neo-classicals or marginalists no representative of the early Austrians in included. Menger is wordy, but some selection of Menger of Bohm Bawerk should have accompanied those of Jevons, Marhall, and Walras. Perhaps Heilbroner would have preferred von Wieser, since the latter considered socialism a serious option and advocated government intervention in capitalist economies, unlike other Austrians. The commentary and selection are generally excellent, but the historically central figures should have been included, even if Heilbroner disagrees with their conclusions.
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