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

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

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By (author) Albert O. Hirschman, Foreword by Amartya K. Sen

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 184 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 211mm x 10mm | 227g
  • Publication date: 6 January 1997
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691015988
  • ISBN 13: 9780691015989
  • Edition: 20
  • Edition statement: 20th Anniversary ed.
  • Sales rank: 312,654

Product description

In this volume, Albert Hirschman reconstructs the intellectual climate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to illuminate the intricate ideological transformation that occurred, wherein the pursuit of material interests - so long condemned as the deadly sin of avarice - was assigned the role of containing the unruly and destructive passions of man. Hirschman here offers a new interpretation for the rise of capitalism, one that emphasizes the continuities between old and new, in contrast to the assumption of a sharp break that is a common feature of both Marxian and Weberian thinking. Among the insights presented here is the ironical finding that capitalism was originally supposed to accomplish exactly what was soon denounced as its worst feature: the repression of the passions in favor of the 'harmless,' if one-dimensional, interests of commercial life. To portray this lengthy ideological change as an endogenous process, Hirschman draws on the writings of a large number of thinkers, including Montesquieu, Sir James Steuart, and Adam Smith.

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Review quote

Winner of the 2003 Benjamin E. Lippincott Award "Hirschman's volume stands as a principal contribution to the growing literature that is beginning to reshape our understanding of the legitimating beliefs undergirding the rise of the modern market economy."--Robert Wuthnow, American Journal of Sociology "A fresh and exciting argument of a fascinating thesis."--Nannerl O. Keohane, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Back cover copy

In this volume, Albert Hirschman reconstructs the intellectual climate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to illuminate the intricate ideological transformation that occurred, wherein the pursuit of material interests - so long condemned as the deadly sin of avarice - was assigned the role of containing the unruly and destructive passions of man. Hirschman here offers a new interpretation for the rise of capitalism, one that emphasizes the continuities between old and new, in contrast to the assumption of a sharp break that is a common feature of both Marxian and Weberian thinking. To portray this lengthy ideological change as an endogenous process, Hirschman draws on the writings of a large number of thinkers, including Montesquieu, Sir James Steuart, and Adam Smith.

Table of contents

Foreword Pt. 1How the Interests were Called Upon to Counteract the Passions The Idea of Glory and Its Downfall Man "as he really is" Repressing and Harnessing the Passions The Principle of the Countervailing Passion "Interest" and "Interests" as Tamers of the Passions Interest as a New Paradigm Assets of an Interest-Governed World: Predictability and Constancy Money-Making and Commerce as Innocent and Doux Money-Making as a Calm Passion Pt. 2How Economic Expansion was Expected to Improve the Political Order Elements of a Doctrine Related yet Discordant Views Pt. 3Reflections on an Episode in Intellectual History Where the Montesquieu-Steuart Vision Went Wrong The Promise of an Interest-Governed World versus the Protestant Ethnic Contemporary Notes Notes Index