Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How the Scholastics Founded the Science of Economics

"The age between the 8th and 16th centuries was a time of amazing advance in every area of knowledge, such as architecture, music, biology, mathematics, astronomy, industry, and – yes – economics," reminds Lew Rockwell, introducing us to those to whom the Austrian School Economists are indebted intellectually — The World of Salamanca. Some excerpts:
    The real founders of economic science actually wrote hundreds of years before Smith. They were not economists as such, but moral theologians, trained in the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas, and they came to be known as the Late Scholastics. These men, most of whom taught in Spain, were at least as pro–free market as the much-later Scottish tradition. Plus, their theoretical foundation was even more solid: they anticipated the theories of value and price of the "marginalists" of late 19th-century Austria....

    It is not precisely correct to say that the Late Scholastic thinkers who discovered economics were exploring theological territory and stumbled inadvertently upon economics. They were in fact intensely curious about the logic that governs relations among choices and people in the marketplace, and they looked at this subject without feeling the need to point constantly to theological truth. The relationship between economics and theology was assumed to be a part of the scholarly enterprise itself, and this is why the Late Scholastics could write with such precision on economic subjects.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.