Albert Hirschman is an important social theorist, generally classified as evident in Hirschman’s book, The Passions and the Interests (). The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before its. Triumph. Albert O. Hirschman. Princeton: Princeton University Press, , pp. x, . ALBERT O. HIRSCHMAN, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before its Triumph. Pp. vii, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton.

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How nasty can we afford to be to other human beings if acting in such a way damages our material interest? For that reason, it is important to revisit them, in order to “raise the level of our debate. I Enjoyed Hirschman’s analysis, which, however, is quite narrow in its scope and is elucidated very early. 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.

Two eighteen century thinkers at the center of this argument are Montesquieu and Sir James Steuart. Hirschman is indeed an economist “of the people”. The hope of theorists of the early modern period was that this would result in the wider spread of prosperity, resulting in far less wealth inequality. Add both to Cart Add both to List. Dec 29, Leonardo marked it as to-keep-ref. I got into Hirschman recently,and I’m in a long-term read of a book about his fascinating life Worldly Philosopher,lauded by Malcolm Gladwellbut I’m also reading a couple of his books along the way, including “Crossing Boundaries” a delicious hors d’oeuvre of a bookand this one, which is short at pages, but literally rewrites the historical underpinnings of the development of capitalism.

These early arguments about the ability of self-interest to restrain violent passions and constrain power hungry political leaders have not held up under the weight of history, but as Hirshman notes, we see more contemporary thinkers fall back on these ideas.

Says that’s assertion supported by evidence. In the end, Hirschman provides a salutary lesson for the history of ideas: This is a history of the ideas laying the intellectual groundwork for capitalism. Instead of simply oscillating between one extreme and the other, we should recognize that our current discontent may in fact be the result of attempts to resolve older problems, and that by abandoning current policies we may unwittingly return to an older but nevertheless still unsatisfactory paradigm.


Princeton Classics Book 2 Paperback: Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Get to Know Us. Overall, the pursuit of individual interest is assigned the role of a mid-way countervailing force, a force that contains the passions of humanity, and alnert the passions of political leaders.

Albert O. Hirschman: The Passions and the Interests – Waggish

On balance, and for a variety of reasons, the thinkers Hirschman discusses here–Montesquieu, James Steuart, Adam Smith and others–predicted that the pursuit of self-interest and growth of commerce to be a net positive for societies. Published January 26th by Princeton University Press first published Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. The author concludes by highlighting the rhetorical use of arguments based or leading to such an analysis to political power structures.

Retrieved 24 April Capitalism was promoted by thinkers including Montesquieu, Sir James Steuart, and Adam Smith as repressing the passions for “harmless” commercial activities. Frustratingly and almost certainly intentionallyhe does not attempt a conclusion; rather, he suggests that the alternate origin and intent of capitalism which he adduces should be recognized by other economists and economic historians so that they don’t simply rehash the same tired a Hirschman does a beautiful job of tracing the origin of capitalism and its intended effects, as well as bringing into conversation most of the important seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers on the topic.

Albert O. Hirschman – Wikipedia

Share your thoughts with other customers. A great meditation on the evolution of the philosophical ideas that gave birth to capitalism. Nevertheless, with the decline of feudalism and the rise of absolutist monarchies, the great concern of thinkers like Hobbes is the adn power of the state and the passions that lead monarchs and their states into ruinous external and civil wars. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the future of Planet Earth.


Albert O. Hirschman

Money making was a frowned upon activity, with avarice being sinful. Write a customer review. InHirschman was named among the top American intellectuals, as measured by academic citations, in Richard Posner ‘s book, Public Intellectuals: Lists with This Book. Dec 03, Muhtadi Faiaz rated it really liked it. I should say, however, that economists like Amartya Sen, who wrote the introduction to the edition of the Hirschman book that I have, have probably made the most impressive integrative approach in working out models of irrational behavior.

It is worth knowing more than we do about where those ideas originated and why expectations didn’t play out as intended.

Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a jaunt through the history of philosophizing on the topic of capitalism, or simply a trip through any episode of intellectual history in general. 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: In this way, the author’s conclusion, that those that advocated for capitalism could not have fathomed the capitalists excesses at the 19th and 20th century seems pat and condescending.

It was difficult at some points to make sense of the language the author uses, but overall was a fascinating read and gave me a lot to think about.

We do however annd more advocates of history examination. A seminal book by an intellectual giant — based on the simplest of propositions underpinning all of history: Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1.

Mitigation better than damage control. He certainly takes his time to come to the conclusion that history is important when discussing economics. Instead of balancing the greed of the powerful with the sober and relatively modest merchants of what became the middle class, capitalism has become what it had once checked: Showing of 8 reviews. Hirschman was in some sense a student of irony.