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During the last years of his life, the mathematician Karl Menger worked on a biography of his father, the economist and founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Carl…
During the last years of his life, the mathematician Karl Menger worked on a biography of his father, the economist and founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Carl Menger. The younger Menger never finished the work. While working in the Menger collections at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, we discovered draft chapters of the biography, a valuable source of information given that relatively little is known about Carl Menger’s life nearly a hundred years after his death. The unfinished biography covers Carl Menger’s family background and his life through early 1889. In this chapter, the authors discuss the biography and the most valuable new insights it provides into Carl Menger’s life, including Carl Menger’s family, his childhood, his student years, his time working as a journalist and newspaper editor, his early scientific career, and his relationship with Crown Prince Rudolf.
In the development of the science of economics, two periods of major importance can be distinguished — the middle of the eighteenth century and the last 30 years of the nineteenth century. In the former period, the heyday of the Enlightenment, it was recognised that the domain of production, distribution and market exchange should be studied as an important aspect of the social order. In that short period the foundations were laid for a more or less autonomous science of economics. It took about a century, however, to establish economics as a separate science with its own institutions: its own departments in the universities, its own language, its own journals, its own congresses, its own standards to distinguish the initiates from the laymen. That tour de force was accomplished in the last three decades of the nineteenth century. It was the introduction of marginalism that gave economics its special modern flavour. Carl Menger can justly be seen as one of the founding fathers of economics in its twentieth‐century garb.
Considers a Wirkungsgeschichte of Hermann Heinrich Gossen, focusing on the reactions of the three stars of the Marginal Revolution: William Stanley Jevons, Léon Walras and…
Considers a Wirkungsgeschichte of Hermann Heinrich Gossen, focusing on the reactions of the three stars of the Marginal Revolution: William Stanley Jevons, Léon Walras and Carl Menger. Although Hermann Heinrich Gossen is today known as one of the forerunners of the Marginal Revolution, it was only in 1879 that Jevons mentioned him in the second edition of the Theory of Political Economy, which contributed greatly toward making Gossen’s name known among English‐speaking readers. Later, in 1885, Walras wrote a famous article in the Journal des Economistes, entitled “Un économiste inconnu: Hermann‐Henri Gossen”. Investigates a Wirkungsgeschichte of Gossen, an ignored German mathematical economist.
The theory of monopoly price was originally formulated by Carl Menger at the inception of the marginalist revolution in 1871 and represented the dominant theoretical…
The theory of monopoly price was originally formulated by Carl Menger at the inception of the marginalist revolution in 1871 and represented the dominant theoretical approach to monopoly until the 1930s. Despite its impeccable doctrinal pedigree and lengthy dominance, the theory abruptly disappeared from the mainstream neoclassical literature after the Monopolistic Competition Revolution, to be revived and reformulated after World War II by Ludwig von Mises. The present paper describes the theory as it was offered in its most sophisticated pre‐war form by American economist Vernon A. Mund, who published an unjustifiably neglected volume on monopoly theory that appeared in the same year as the classic works by Joan Robinson and Edward Chamberlain. This paper then attempts to draw out the critical implications of Mund’s formulation of the theory for the current neoclassical orthodoxy in monopoly and competition theory, including the elasticity of demand curves facing individual producers under competition, the time perspectives that are most relevant in analyzing the pricing process, the proper role of long‐run equilibrium in this analysis, and the misapplication of the marginal revenue and marginal cost concepts. Finally, the paper suggests a number of reasons why the theory was swept aside in the aftermath of the Chamberlain/Robinson Revolution with almost no resistance from its most prominent exponents.
The goal of this paper is to analyze the views of Frank Knight and Ludwig von Mises on the topic of uncertainty and how it influences the theory of individual…
The goal of this paper is to analyze the views of Frank Knight and Ludwig von Mises on the topic of uncertainty and how it influences the theory of individual decision-making and to trace out the implications of the same for the theories of entrepreneurship, equilibrium, and the firm. The paper adopts a historical approach in its analysis of the theory of uncertainty, with an extended discussion of the primary writings of Knight and Mises on this topic. It then uses the insights gleaned from this discussion in order to address issues and topics that have found a prominent place in the modern literature on entrepreneurship, equilibrium, and the firm that draws its inspiration from the Austrian School. The paper offers three main findings: in the realm of entrepreneurship it argues that there can be no theory of the entrepreneur without the concept of uncertainty provided by Knight and Mises, whereas with regard to the theory of equilibrium it focuses on highlighting the concept of an equilibrium with error prevalent in the Austrian tradition and on the implications that an explicit introduction of uncertainty has for the existence of a process of equilibration that pushes the economy toward a state of general equilibrium in real time. As regards the theory of the firm we find that a proper understanding of uncertainty ultimately reverses the direction of any causal explanation of economic organization, making the firm an outcome of dealing with uncertainty rather than a means to do so.
My contribution deals with the link between Wagner’s entangled political economy and Carl Menger’s economic thought. It is mainly based on what Wagner himself has called…
My contribution deals with the link between Wagner’s entangled political economy and Carl Menger’s economic thought. It is mainly based on what Wagner himself has called “neo-Mengerianism”: a new approach that considers economics as a discipline focused on the network-based interrelations among phenomena (based on human decisions) and political economy as embedded in a social framework no longer neutral from a political point of view.
The methodological individualism and subjectivism of the Austrian tradition in economics is often associated with a methodological dualism, i.e. the claim that the nature…
The methodological individualism and subjectivism of the Austrian tradition in economics is often associated with a methodological dualism, i.e. the claim that the nature of its subject matter, namely purposeful and intentional human action, requires economics to adopt a methodology that is fundamentally different from the causal explanatory approach of the natural sciences. This paper critically examines this claim and advocates an alternative, explicitly naturalistic and empiricist outlook at human action, exemplified, in particular, by the research program of evolutionary psychology. It is argued that, within the Austrian tradition, a decidedly naturalistic approach to subjectivism can be found in F. A. Hayek’s work.
This essay focuses on Carl Menger's valuation of nature. Menger's stand in the discussion on method with Schmoller might easily give rise to the idea that he was a thinker…
This essay focuses on Carl Menger's valuation of nature. Menger's stand in the discussion on method with Schmoller might easily give rise to the idea that he was a thinker who was fully oriented towards an atomistic interpretation of society and to an axiomatic way of thought, and that his economic approach to nature was characterised only by this way of thinking. Examination of Menger's work, however, proves that the author's economic philosophy also shows clear features of a holistic way of thinking, oriented on German Romanticism.
Menger′s Grundsätze is explored; the Aristotelian background of the discourse is probed, as is the problematic image of Menger sketched in the secondary literature as soon as it is confronted with this Aristotelanism and with the subjective value theory and the motif of time, error and uncertainty. The conflicting elements of this picture are pieced together.
A characteristic feature of economic development is the ever-changing structure of consumption patterns. Reducing the explanation of this phenomenon to changing prices…
A characteristic feature of economic development is the ever-changing structure of consumption patterns. Reducing the explanation of this phenomenon to changing prices, ultimately caused by changes in the availability of goods (or characteristics), would neglect a major force driving this change, namely, the variation of consumer wants and consumer knowledge. The present paper sketches an evolutionary framework for the analysis of consumer behaviour that takes account of these features.
For this purpose, Carl Menger's theory of goods is taken as starting point. Whereas economists after the ‘marginal revolution’ were almost exclusively concerned with the determinants of exchange value and developing price theory, Menger puts as much emphasis on user value as on exchange value. Focusing on how user value changes establishes a connection between Menger's 19th-century theory of goods and 20th-century learning theories. The problem of how to get from individual learning processes to aggregate consumption patterns is approached by recollecting the genetic underpinnings of human learning and its dependence on certain physical and social conditions. Taking into account that these conditions are also dynamic, we are able to interpret collective learning processes as historical events, which renders them useable for the analysis of economic change.