The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought

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9780375414114: The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought

A remarkable history of the idea of capitalism in Western thought–—from its origins in classical Greece and Rome and in medieval Christianity, through its flowering from 1700 to the present day—that examines the most significant thinkers who have influenced our views on how the market can (and should or should not) affect the way society is organized.

Capitalism is too complex a subject to be left to economists, and achieving a critical comprehension of it requires perspectives beyond those characteristic of modern economics. European thinkers have debated the cultural, moral, and political effects of capitalism for centuries, and their claims have been many and diverse. Historian Jerry Muller tracks this fascinating thread, setting out what the best and brightest—from Hobbes to Hayek, and across the ideological spectrum, including Voltaire, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Hegel, Marx, and Matthew Arnold, as well as twentieth-century communist, fascist, and neoliberal intellectuals—have thought about the ramifications of capitalism and its future implications. In doing so, he also shows how antisemitic stereotypes about Jews and their relationship to money have played an ongoing role in the interpretation of capitalism.

The result is a compelling history of ideas and a riveting exploration of questions—about wealth and poverty, capitalism and culture, the individual and the state, and the role of intellectuals within market societies—that still compel our attention.

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From the Back Cover:

“Muller's volume is comprehensive, lucidly analytical, and splendidly admirably objective. I could not imagine a more useful or well-proportioned a reference-overview for any student of modern economic history.”
--Howard Sachar, author of A History of Israel and Dreamland: Europeans and Jews in the Aftermath of the Great War
“What a brilliant idea, to visit some of the most interesting and insightful Western thinkers in regard to a central theme! The theme suggests the selection; the selection illuminates the theme. The focus on subject rather than names ensures that we shall not be prisoners of overall reputation, victims of great minds unfamiliar with economics, ignorant of capitalism, but of emphatic opinion. Reading this book is an exercise in comparison and continual rethinking. Thanks to Muller's sensitive and critical guidance, we come away knowing the subject far better than would otherwise be possible.”
---David S. Landes, Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Harvard University
“This book is a magisterial contribution to the history of ideas. Muller succeeds in bringing to life two centuries of the encounter between Western thought and the phenomenon of capitalism, and he does so both eloquently and eruditely. At one point he refers to Matthew Arnold's 'ideal of the disinterested intellectual willing to criticize one side and then the other in order to create balance and counteract the one-sidedness that led toward fanaticism.' In this, as in other works of his, Muller himself impressively
realizes Arnold's ideal.
---Peter L. Berger, Institute for the Study of Economic Culture

About the Author:

Jerry Z. Muller is Professor of History at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Other God That Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism; Adam Smith in His Time and Ours: Designing the Decent Society; and Conservatism: An Anthology of Social and Political Thought from David Hume to the Present. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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