The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph (Princeton Classics)

The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph (Princeton Classics)

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 0691160252

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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. Hirschman here offers a new interpretation for the rise of capitalism, one that emphasizes the continuities between old and new, in contrast to the assumption of a sharp break that is a common feature of both Marxian and Weberian thinking. 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: the repression of the passions in favor of the "harmless," if one-dimensional, interests of commercial life. To portray this lengthy ideological change as an endogenous process, Hirschman draws on the writings of a large number of thinkers, including Montesquieu, Sir James Steuart, and Adam Smith.

Featuring a new afterword by Jeremy Adelman and a foreword by Amartya Sen, this Princeton Classics edition of The Passions and the Interests sheds light on the intricate ideological transformation from which capitalism emerged triumphant, and reaffirms Hirschman's stature as one of our most influential and provocative thinkers.

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provide a substantive justification for capitalism that is altogether different from what comes via General Equilibrium Theory and related structures, with their emphasis on “given” preferences and the insulation of economic concerns from other motivations. Hirschman has, in fact, beautifully pursued this line of reasoning further in his Rival Views of Market Society. It is of course difficult to see that the promotion of profit making and marketization can be a general method of suppressing

sales documents—does not, typically, combine well with the passionate pursuit of perceived enemies—accompanied by machetes and other assault weapons. And yet, given appropriate circumstances, a Mafia can forcefully combine money-making with violence and brutality. The empirical connections are clearly complex, and the circumstantially conditional characteristics need closer probing. SELF-INTEREST AS THE ONLY MOTIVATION Another contemporary connection concerns the ephemeral nature of general

argument is that it is slightly more modest: it looks upon capitalism as a necessary condition for political freedom, but not as a sufficient one. See Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), p. 10. c The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money (London: Macmillan, 1936), p. 374. In what amounts to a caricature of this view, Hayek has argued in defense of the institution of inheritance on the ground that bequeathing wealth is a socially less

Rochefoucauld, Oeuvres (Paris: Hachette, 1923), Vol. I, p. 30. 44. Jean de Silhon, De la certitude des connaissances humaines (Paris, 1661), pp. 104–105. 45. Wealth of Nations, ed. E. Cannan (New York: Modern Library, 1937), p. 325. 46. Letter of April 9, 1513, in Opere (Milan: Ricciardi, 1963), p. 1100. 47. A survey of the French seventeenth-century literature is in F. E. Sutcliffe, Guez de Balzac et son temps—littérature et politique (Paris: Nizet, 1959), pp. 120–131. On the changing

with the scientific enthusiasm of the age. The very material with which the moralists of the seventeenth century were dealing—the detailed description and investigation of the passions—was bound to suggest a third solution: Is it not possible to discriminate among the passions and fight fire with fire—to utilize one set of comparatively innocuous passions to countervail another more dangerous and destructive set or, perhaps, to weaken and tame the passions by such internecine fights in divide et

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