The Physiocrats and the World of the Enlightenment

The Physiocrats and the World of the Enlightenment

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Physiocrats believed that wealth came exclusively from the land, that nature was fecund and man could harness its reproductive forces. Capital investments in agriculture and hard work would create profits that circulated to other sectors and supported all social institutions. Physiocracy, which originated in late eighteenth-century France, is therefore widely considered a forerunner of modern economic theory. This book places the Physiocrats in context by inscribing economic theory within broader Enlightenment culture. Liana Vardi discusses three theorists - Francois Quesnay; Victor Riquetti, marquis de Mirabeau; and Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours - and shows how their understanding of mental processes, science, politics and the arts influenced their individual approach to economic writing. The difficulty in explaining the doctrine, combined with the expectation that the public would be persuaded by its arguments, mired physiocracy in endless contradictions. This work offers a framework for understanding physiocratic theory and its complicated relation to modern more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 5 b/w illus.
  • 1139108646
  • 9781139108645

Review quote

'A revealing and instructive piece of scholarship. By situating Physiocracy within Enlightenment culture, Vardi adds significantly to our understanding of both, employing a lively and innovative biographical approach.' David A. Bell, Princeton University 'In The Physiocrats and the World of the Enlightenment, Liana Vardi unlocks the mental world of the Physiocrats. Often narrowly viewed as mere proto-economic theorists, the Physiocrats emerge as major intellectual figures whose interests ranged across the disciplines, from the arts through politics and sociology to linguistics and the study of ceremony and myth. Vivid, richly textured and engagingly written, this book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Enlightenment and its cultural, political, and economic legacies.' Colin Jones, Queen Mary, University of London, and author of The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon 'In this important and original study, Liana Vardi goes beyond the economic and political theories of the Physiocrats to probe the group's underlying philosophical, epistemological, and 'aesthetic' assumptions. With remarkable erudition, she examines and integrates virtually all of the writings of the principal theorists of the school - even those writings with little or no bearing on economic doctrine. She thus offers fascinating reflections on how their intellectual and life experiences influenced their understanding of the eighteenth-century world in which they lived.' Timothy Tackett, University of California, Irvineshow more

Table of contents

1. Art, craft, and court; 2. The ways of the mind; 3. The ways of the heart; 4. A delicate balance; 5. Representative assemblies; 6. The journalist; 7. The education of princes; 8. Changing the more

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