By R. J. Holton (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism
This shift did not, of course, occur without a profound methodological appraisal of the nature of economics, and the terms of its application to history. Debates of this kind were particularly intense in Germany, where exchanges between historical economists like Schmoller and neo-classicists such as Menger became known as the 'methodenstreit'. (Marshall, 1982, pp. 28-30). Among the issues at stake in this controversy was the applicability of the abstract deductive and naturalistic methods of conventional economic theory to the analysis of economies and cultures vastly different from those of nineteenth-century industrial Europe.
If it is removed, the great, the immense fabric of human society ... must in a moment crumble into atoms' (1759, p. 86). Economic Theory and the Emergence of Market Society 37 When Smith's theories of economic life and moral sentiments are combined it is evident that the successful transition to 'commercial society' depends not only on 'capital ... silently and gradually accumulated by ... private frugality', but also on 'good conduct of individuals' protected by law (1776, p. 345). Such emphases are not consistent with a purely economistic interpretation of Smith's views on social change.
Such emphases are not consistent with a purely economistic interpretation of Smith's views on social change. Nor do they accord with the intellectual division of labour which sees economic history as dealing with the 'causes' of change, leaving 'social history' to deal with the human consequences. Since the late eighteenth-century many have followed Smith in taking the emergence of market society to be crucial to the development of modernity or capitalism. The 'economic' and 'sociological' aspects of his work have been differently evaluated to produce two distinct theories of the historical emergence of market society.
The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism by R. J. Holton (auth.)