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by Robert L. Heilbroner

Through the narrative of one of the most widely read texts on the history of economic thought, the great economic thinkers--from Adam Smith to Malthus, from Marx to Veblen, from Keynes to modern-day economists--come to life in the context of their times. 8 cassettes.
Download The Worldly Philosophers epub
ISBN: 0786102934
ISBN13: 978-0786102938
Category: Business
Subcategory: Economics
Author: Robert L. Heilbroner
Language: English
Publisher: Blackstone Pub (August 1, 1997)
ePUB size: 1211 kb
FB2 size: 1373 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 184
Other Formats: doc azw docx doc

From time we find books like this. A book full of insight, information and lessons about the world. Yes, from time to time you read a book that is more than its subject because the scope is so wide and open. In cases like this, everything seems to make sense and get connected, from an equation in mathematical terms to a rainy day in London. Yes, I loved the reading because it teaches something new about something that seems quiet obvious or trivial. Everyone has a theory and a solution to the inequality or the famine in the world, but more often than not, they are all wrong. As M. Gladwell once said, people lacks theories and --usually-- they act ignoring this tiny detail. Theories, explanations, this is what our curious philosophers gives us to see the world the other way round, i.e., as it really is.

Now the book: With an exquisite, elegant and appealing style, Robert Heilbroner goes along three centuries or so in which economics has lived with us in the modern sense of the word. To make the difference he explains the emergence of the politics, markets and the capital as connected phenomenons. Never before the world had seen something like this. That's why Adam Smith wrote "An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations" on 1776 and not before. I would say that this is the first important lesson that Mr. Heilbroner gave me, a very layperson in this topic.

The book is organized in ten chapters that covers from mid eighteenth century to mid twentieth century. Every chapter transmit the context and the predominating ideas of some worldly philosopher about the changes and disruptions that economics has undergone. The underlying idea of the book is to tell the tale through the heroes of the story rather than the processes. In this sense every reader could disagree with the selection that the author made to tell the story. Why not this or that economist, but in this sense I would remain the sentence that J. L. Borges used to settle the point: there is no anthology that doesn't begin well and doesn't end bad. And this selection --like any other-- is not an exception.

Every economist is presented with his history together with his legend. All of them were really strange and freaky guys. All of them were smart and clever enough to grasp the contents of a world --our world-- which is very introspective and it doesn't speak so much about itself. So they explain the world and then they say what would happen to it in the next future if it follows the same path.

I would say that every philosopher had an explanation to show how the machinery of economics worked. And I would add that all of them --even Adam Smith-- had a prophecy about the future of that machinery. This is what the book does. It gives you the character, then the ideas and, finally, the prophecies of this heroes. In a sense, all of them were right and all were wrong. The thing is that philosophy is neither a science nor a discipline that gives you a recipe for not committing mistakes. Philosophy is a discipline that gives you the tools for explaining the world showing --at the same time-- the underlying foundations that makes you feel sure about what you say. That's why our worldly philosophers could attack and criticize each other with very dangerous and lethal (i.e., intellectual) weapons.

What do we find at last? We find an unforgettable last chapter that speaks about the future, as did the philosophers, of economics. The title of the chapter is "The end of the worldly philosophy?" so you you have to notice the subtle pun between philosophers and philosophy that hides with a hussy smile the last and important message of Heilbroner. I'm not going to talk about that because it would be like revealing the name of the murderer in a detective story so this will be your task as a reader if you make the decision of reading the book.

This book!

One with highly deserved five stars.
This is a very important text for any student of philosophy, economics, history or sociology. It was first written in 1953, but I purchased the revised 7th ed. which was published in 1999. Its one of only a few economic texts which makes a specific mention of a permanently advancing economic paradigm. The proper, technical name for this type of economic paradigm is Permagrowth - a steady, annual, compounding increase in aggregate econominc activity. The more familiar name is Capitalism, but you could easily use the terms Communism or Socialism - depending on ones particular political ideology. Heilbroner begins with Adam Smith, and leads you through the worlds of Malthus, Ricardo, Marx, Marshall, Veblen, Keynes, Schumpeter - and a few others, so as to explain the manner in which different economic ideas influenced the rise and rise of Capitalism as a major economic way of life. Its well written, easy to follow and understand, but leaves one with a very uneasy feeling: Capitalism cannot be sustained and will stagnate, falter then decline. Again its one for your personal library. There is no bibliography - the author explains why, but there are set of numbered notes accompanying each of the eleven chapters. A lay person would certainly be able to follow and understand this book, though some of the areas covered by the author do need a knowledge of economics.
Read this in an Economics seminar in business school. It's a fascinating way to look at where all the major economic theories come from: the young lives and experiences of individual men whose upbringing and circumstances formed how they look at the world. Well-written and fun to read!
This book opened my eyes up to how the world changes due to changes in the economy primarily due to technology, technology rules the world thats just a fact, its also pretty great to have the history and read about the men who once put forward their ideologies based around economics. The book also comes jam packed with words I hadn't come across before, and I consider myself to have a wide vocabulary, so have a dictionary handy you will need it!
I read an earlier edition in economics class around 1960. Coming back to it now revives the pleasure I then got from it but also raises questions about the chatty, biographical approach it takes to the momentous development of economic thinking including the utopian. Economics today is -- to me, an outsider -- confused and often wrong-headed (pushing austerity in a time of high unemployment, justifying endless tax-cutting in the face of inequality and failing infrastructure), and a more analytical approach to the ethical dimension of the thinking discussed would give the book more point. The final chapter on the possible end of "worldly philosophy" -- written before Heilbroner's death and before the financial and economic disaster of 2007-whenever -- doesn't quite get at the problem. It's great fun to read about the foibles of Smith, Malthus, Owen, Marx, Veblen et al., but I'd welcome a new book for this century dealing with the problems these men faced -- with some women as well, or with the problem of equalizing the voices of women in political economy.
This is a classic of classics. Bob Heilbroner was continually revising this up to the end of his life. He wrote about the economists as people and not just about the equations they produced. For anyone wanting to know more about Adam Smith or David Ricardo you should read this book about the people and their ideas. I promise, you'll read it again and again. The book is accessible and well written as all of Dr. Heilbroner's books were. Read the classic macroeconomics text by Heilbroner and Les Thurow, you'll be amazed at what you learn about GDP.