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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 ofIn 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....

Title : The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph
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ISBN : 9780691015989
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 184 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph Reviews

  • Rachel
    2018-11-08 06:05

    On this, my second trip through the history of economic thought with Albert Hirschman, I remain no less impressed that the first time around. The Passions and the Interests is Hirschman's examination of 17th and 18th century European thought, particularly as it related to the anticipated political, social, and economic effects of people acting in accordance with their material interests. 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. 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. For that reason, it is important to revisit them, in order to "raise the level of our debate."What Hirschman is able to do in this volume is extraordinary. The amount of research he has done for this thin volume is stunning, and he weaves seamlessly and clearly through the work thinkers as varied as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mandeville, Montesquieu, Steuart, Smith, Millar, Marx, Toqueville and many others. One needn't have a thorough background in Western political philosophy to make sense of it, but if your response is anything like mine, you will want to make haste to the nearest library to delve into the theory you don't know. For, as Hirschman shows, we live in a society that is shaped by ideas and expectations. It is worth knowing more than we do about where those ideas originated and why expectations didn't play out as intended.

  • Said Abuzeineh
    2018-10-23 04:13

    لا يوقف على ما لهذا البحث من خطر وأهمية إلا بأن ينتظم عند قارئه في سلسة من الأفكار أولها ابن خلدون حين وصف انسان البداوة وانسان الحضارة، وذكر في مقمته كيف يتحول وكيف تدور بتحوله هذا عجلة التاريخ، وغاية هذا البحث الذي هو معتمد الخائضين في أثر الرأسمالية على الإنسان والتاريخ، انه يوقف على ما خفي في كتب الفلاسفة المؤسسين امثال مونتسيكيو وهوبز، وجون ستيوارت ميل، وآدم سميث من نزوع نحو تغيير انسان ابن خلدون وتحويله عن غرائزه وعواطفه، ليصبح انسانا مدفوعا بمنفعته لا أكثر ، فيكسرون بهذا عجلة التاريخ ودورة الحضارة.وهيرشمان يبحث مسار هذه الأفكار في القرنين السابع عشر والثامن عشر ، بحث خطير خطير.

  • unperspicacious
    2018-11-12 08:53

    Hirschman is a beast. I was hoping to find a few nuggets on the philosophies surrounding capitalism's original sin, but came away with so much more; and in such a short little book at that. No wonder this is a classic in political economy...

  • Ralph Orr
    2018-10-18 05:08

    Very good summary of the intellectual currents that lead from the early Christian view that the pursuit of money is less than virtuous, to the view that pursuit of self-interest in the form of commerce is beneficial to human freedom by its necessary restraint on the power of the state. Of course, this idealistic view has since proven flawed. However, it remains helpful in understanding the context in which Adam Smith and others wrote in favor of what would become capitalism, and for today of some of capitalism's benefits (at least for those who get money.) It also raises the issue that as capital is threaten, so too may be liberty, as those with capital prefer law and order over freedom.Written in 1977, in my mind it raises interesting questions about the future of the developing world, especially China, and for America as the economic future of the Middle Class continues to be threatened.

  • Franz
    2018-11-17 05:50

    This short book was included in the bibliographies of many books I've read, so I thought it was time to read it. Hirschman argues that capitalism developed as a means by the rising merchant class of the late middle ages to check the nearly tyrannical powers of the local aristocracy. Money making was a frowned upon activity, with avarice being sinful. Commerce, however, appealed to the rational interests of merchants and traders, and as their wealth and influence grew they counteracted the unruly passions of the feudal leaders. 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. Rational interests would overcome spontaneous passions; for a short time it did. Alas, however, by the time Adam Smith writes his classics, he had united interests and passions again; under the influence of the passions, people's interests were no longer satisfied with modest results--instead of being socially discouraged, avarice become an acceptable, indeed worthy, goal. 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: a powerful driver of inequality. A wonderful analysis with insights derived from the study of Machiavelli, Hume, Bacon, Spinoza, Smith, Montesquieu, and others from the Scottish Enlightenment and the French physiocrats. Very enlightening.

  • Muhtadi Faiaz
    2018-11-07 03:44

    If anyone wants to read a well-written book which summarizes the developments in economic philosophy before 20th century through a coherent narrative, this is the book for you! It was fascinating to see how economics evolved from seeing 'passions and interests' as the worst side of human beings, which should always be kept in check; to using the passion of greed and self-interest as a force which triumphs other 'harmful' passions and thus helps people to live 'good' lives. The model, most economic philosophers followed before 20th century, involved this 'fight' between different passions and interests of human beings. In this framework, capitalism was justified by showing how capitalism, harnessing the power of self-interest and greed, can dominate other harmful passions and lead human society to progress.

  • Jeff
    2018-11-16 09:50

    it's not the easiest book to read, in that the language is overly complex and pretentious imo, but the content is super interesting, especially the parts about the evolution of language around commerce before and after smith/hume.

  • Radwa
    2018-11-08 05:09

    An interesting, yet challenging, read .... "Both critics and defenders of capitalism would improve upon their arguments through knowledge of the episode in intellectual history that has been recounted here. This is probably all one can ask of history, and of history of ideas in particular: not to resolve issues, but to raise the level of the debate." (Hirschman, 1977)

  • Nick Geiser
    2018-10-20 11:09

    Hirschman was in some sense a student of irony. The Passions and the Interests, for instance, is a study of how "capitalism was supposed to accomplish exactly what was soon to be denounced as its worst feature." One of of his other great books, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, is about how a seemingly taut and competitive economic system is filled with slack and sloth. Hirschman offers a revisionist intellectual history of capitalism in which, rather than revolution of bourgeois norms against aristocratic ones, the spirit of capitalism was actually the result of a revolution in thinking among elites about the relative merits of the passions and the interests. In particular, Hirschman's intellectual history of capitalism's rise differs markedly from Marx (bourgeois revolution) and Weber (ethos regarding salvation). The passions--especially those associated with glory and vanity--came to be understood as dangerous relative to others--those like gain. A passion for gain came to be understood as an interest that could control and regulate more dangerous, spirited motives. Hirschman also deals with the effects figures like Montesquieu and Steuart foresaw for self-interest on politics, and why these effects might be ambivalent. Tocqueville, for example, worried that self-interest would draw less talent into politics and increase opportunities for bad leaders.One implication of Hirschman's analysis is that it de-radicalizes current arguments about capitalism. By showing that the same arguments about the relative strengths of the passions and the interests were central to early writers in capitalism's history as modern writers, we should probably be less inclined toward the view that "capitalism changes everything" and normative political economy should start from a blank slate.

  • Ferda Nihat Koksoy
    2018-11-07 04:09

    TUTKULAR VE ÇIKARLAR-ZİHİNSEL YOKSULLUK, hoşlanılmayan ve özgür irade ile seçilmemiş olan İŞ karşılığında YARATICILIĞINDAN VAZGEÇMEK demektir; bu durum, kapitalizmde en sık yaşanan gerçekliktir. -DÜŞÜNCE TARİHİ'nden beklenen, sorunları çözüme ulaştırması değil, tüm unsurlarla TARTIŞMA YARATMAK'tır.-ANAYASA üzerinde kalan kutsal, güçlü, zarif, soylu, zeki, akıllı ve kadiri mutlak görülen tüm düzenlemeler, sadece 5 FRANK EDER (Balzac).-"YENİLER", sanıldığından çok daha fazla "ESKİLERDEN" doğmaktadır.-Kapitalizme getirilecek EN CİDDİ eleştiri, "İNSAN GELİŞİMİNİ ENGELLEMESİ"olmalıdır.-Kapitalizmin TEKTİPLEŞTİRİCİ etkisinin eleştirisi ile TUTKULU ESKİ TİP İNSANIN ÖNGÖRÜLEMEZLİĞİNİN eleştirisi arasındaki PARADOKS, dikkate değerdir.-Kapitalizmde, DEVLETİN TOPLUMSAL YIKIM TEHLİKESİNE KARŞI ÖNLEM ALMA çabası ve BİREYİN KENDİNİ KURTARMA (I am = Aim -D'Anna-) çabası, yan yana, sürekli ve umutsuzca devam etmektedir.-"KAPİTALİZMİN GERİCİ YÜZÜNÜ GÖSTERMESİNDEN BİR ÖNCEKİ AŞAMA" olan KEYNESÇİ ARAYIŞLAR bile "HERKESİN KENDİ ÇIKARI PEŞİNDE KOŞMASI, İYİ BİR DÜZEN SAĞLAYACAKTIR" eski inancının (Adam Smith) devamıdır.-Hangi düzen, GÜÇLÜ BİR ŞEKİLDE SORUNLARI ÇÖZECEĞİ İDDİASI İLE PİYASADA OLDUĞUNUN ve tam tersine AÇIK ve KORKUNÇ BİÇİMDE BAŞARISIZ OLDUĞUNUN bilinci içinde kendini devam ettirebilir ki?

  • Johann_tor
    2018-11-04 12:10

    This book is a brisk perusal of intellectual history from Machiavelli to late 18th century. The author wishes to highlight an intellectual process whereby the question of the earlier period, how to manage passionate people now that religion doesn't seem to work, gave rise to the idea that one can subsume the motives of men to one overarching idea of "interest". This in turn allowed the analysis of political economy based on private gain that accompanied the rise of capitalism in late 18th century. The author concludes by highlighting the rhetorical use of arguments based (or leading to) such an analysis to political power structures.There are merits to this book, mainly that it shows a good grasp of the literature surveyed, so the intereptation seems legitimate. However, it makes no case that the arguments surveyed where in any strict sense *political* arguments that actually did influence anything. Specifically it makes no case that they were arguments for *capitalism* as anyone would understand it nowadays, given the level of technology, economic and administrative, available at the time. 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.

  • Yognik1789
    2018-11-08 06:06

    He takes time to come to the point. Only after exhausting all genealogies and histories from all possible political philosophers and French intellectuals does he make a little statement of his own. Says that's assertion supported by evidence. I feel, yeah bro great job!! This is what he means "accept some benign human proclivities at the expense of some malignant ones". That's one reason why I hate political theorists sometime. One, their language and selection of words is very fancy and they go over-romantic sometimes and try as you might but you'll lose them. Two, they are so afraid of critics who're waiting like hungry unemployed drunkards in a Russian underground tavern with their dripping mouths grinning cunningly and yellow crocked teeth, like happens in Dostoyevsky's novels, that they spend like 553 pages to give all possible evidence to make a 2 line claim. Mitigation better than damage control. Well apart from this the book makes sense. Peace.

  • Anita
    2018-10-24 03:57

    It is rare to pick up a book for academic research and find it a pleasure to read, but this was certainly the case with Hirschman's delightful prose. A concise history of the idea of capitalism, Hirschman provides a compelling counter-argument to Weber's Protestant Ethic. Capitalist activities came into favor among the intellectual elite "not because the money-making activities were approved in themselves, but because they were thought to have a most beneficial side effect: they kept the men who were engaged in them 'out of mischief,' as it were, and had, more specifically, the virtue of imposing restraints on princely caprice, arbitrary government, and adventurous foreign policies" (130). This is a book that should be widely read, and I would recommend it to anyone remotely interested in the emergence of the capitalist system.

  • Victoria Pohlen
    2018-10-19 10:49

    This book was required reading for a class. 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. And I think, based upon his contemporary notes section, that this was his goal. He was not necessarily trying to convince me, his reader, of any one thing, but rather to open my eyes to the train of past arguments and to make me see that it is important to educate myself in past rhetoric before attempting my own modern rhetoric. I believe this book was initially written in the 70s, but the topic it delves into is just as relevant today as it has been for the past 300+ years. 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.

  • Matt
    2018-11-04 07:53

    This is an immensely fascinating book. Hirschman develops a compelling narrative centered on the historical development of the intellectual impulses that gave rise to Capitalism. One particularly interesting thread is the notion that avarice was once seen as (i) a rather innocuous passion, and (ii) a passion that can control, limit, and even diminish other, more harmful passions (e.g., lust, violence). So although discourse concerning the merits of Capitalism has changed form in recent decades, it was once the case that the adoption of Capitalism was motivated by the positive effects it would have on the character of a state's citizens. The irony--one that Hirschman is careful to point out--is that the negative effects on the character of a state's citizens is now seen as one of the principle downsides to Capitalism.

  • John Gillis
    2018-11-17 05:01

    I got into Hirschman recently,and I'm in a long-term read of a book about his fascinating life (Worldly Philosopher, 2013, lauded by Malcolm Gladwell), but I'm also reading a couple of his books along the way, including "Crossing Boundaries" (a delicious hors d'oeuvre of a book), and this one, which is short at 135 pages, but literally rewrites the historical underpinnings of the development of capitalism. Not for everybody, for sure, and there's a large "so what?" factor, but if you would appreciate a brilliant assessment and an accurate historical depiction of how 17th and 18th century thought led to the economic underpinnings of our world, you would like it. Twentieth Anniversary edition by Princeton University Press, 1997.

  • Brian
    2018-10-19 11:04

    What was "lust for wealth" in Machiavelli's day has become "rational self-interest" since Adam Smith. This book traces the history of ideas that turned a "passion" (a danger to the body politic) into an "interest" (a beneficial principle of social organization). I was having trouble really caring about what Enlightenment thinkers (many of them a bit obscure) said about capitalism, but then this book got a lot more interesting in the second half of the last chapter, where Hirschman both gives the discussion a bit more historical context and also explains why it is useful to think about from a contemporary perspective.

  • Paul Bard
    2018-11-09 10:08

    Hirshmann believes that economic history can raise the tone of debate about capitalism above simplistic cliche. To that end, he says that Tawney's and Marx's theories about the rise of capitalism are to black-and-white, and he tacitly and modestly replaces a nuanced historical study of the actual rise of capitalism.I should think the key idea of this nuanced essay comes from the Cardinal de Retz, who says that "interest governs the world." Sure, says Hirshmann, "interest governs the world", but PASSION holds the VETO.Interesting book, well written, of economic history.

  • Humphrey
    2018-10-27 11:10

    Actually read this last spring, but recently looked into it again for a paper on passions and freedom in The Tempest. This text is fantastic. It reads incredibly quick and compellingly for the amount of information and insight it contains. I would recomend it to anyone looking to understand the theoretical basis for capitalistic society. A really impressive text.

  • Jim
    2018-11-15 11:56

    a book that changed the way I looked at capitalism, the enlightenment, pragmatism and also, loath to admit, made me realize the minds of that era were smarter in a more applied way than I ever gave them credit for (mind you, in my defense, I was eighteen (!) when I read this)

  • David Grönlund
    2018-10-18 12:00

    He certainly takes his time to come to the conclusion that history is important when discussing economics. Not very accessible for the layman. But that was probably never the point either. We do however need more advocates of history examination. Insane amounts of wisdom can come from that.

  • Craig Bolton
    2018-10-24 07:04

    The Passions and the Interests by Albert O. Hirschman (1997)

  • Alex
    2018-10-25 09:00

    Honestly one of the best "history of ideas" books I've, compelling and substantive. Quentin Skinner should feel humbled.

  • katie
    2018-11-06 09:52

    Really interesting and different history of capitalism.

  • Sunil
    2018-11-04 09:52

    A delightful and elegant, if somewhat theoretical, slim book on how the ideas underpinning capitalism came to be accepted intellectually in the modern world.

  • Leonardo
    2018-10-25 10:09

    Sobre el estilo de las teorizaciones políticas. Imperio Pág.263