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The 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. The Physiocrats and the World of the Enlightenment 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 economics.Read more
- History of the Physiocrats, though a biography of three of the leading thinkers, within the social and cultural context of the Enlightenment
- First scholarly study of the Physiocrats since Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's classic study, published in 1976 and now out of print
- Offers a broader intellectual and social frame for understanding Physiocratic theory and its relation to modern economic history
Reviews & endorsements
“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 UniversitySee more reviews
“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, 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, Irvine
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- Date Published: March 2012
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107021198
- length: 324 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
- weight: 0.65kg
- contains: 5 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
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 world.
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