The Passions and the Interests by Albert O. Hirschman

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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 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.


About Albert O. Hirschman

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Albert O. Hirschman is Professor Emeritus of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. His many publications include "Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, The Passions and the Interests, " and "A Propensity to Self-Subversion.
Published January 6, 1997 by Princeton University Press. 170 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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This essay in intellectual history addresses the problem of the political consequences of economic growth from the perspective of 17th and 18th century views on the subject.

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