HIST212 - CLASSICAL ECONOMISTS FROM SMITH TO KEYNES

Description: 
This seminar traces the evolution of the main economic ideas of classical economic liberalism from Adam Smith through Malthus, Ricardo and Say to John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. The course will consider how and why Smith's description of markets became the orthodoxy and what assumptions about "universal laws", universal human nature and the definition of rationality have to be made for that description to be reliable. We shall read together the main works of these thinkers and at the end consider Keynes’ General Theory to help us re-think the problems of classical liberalism in the globalized capitalist system of today. Students use the original texts only and not much secondary reading is required, though if any of you find something useful, do let the rest of us know about it. Reading these great texts - some from more than two centuries ago - is very, very exacting and we all (including your instructor) have to do it. A way to ensure that these texts are really read, and nobody comes to class unprepared is to divide the reading among all of us; each responsible for one or two chapters; not the whole. In that way everybody profits from the other students’ work and they from yours. I sometimes take a selection of chapters; sometimes not. It depends on how many students we have. These are truly great works, wonderful books, and each in its way gives intense pleasure to the reader who makes the effort to understand the writer. I have done nothing remotely as hard in my long career as the task of understanding these writers. The course, therefore, will not appeal to the lazy or half-hearted.
Instructors: 
STEINBERG, JONATHAN
Day and Time: 
T 0130PM-0430PM
Room: 
COLLEGE HALL 315A
Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: 
    Syllabus: 
    Registration Notes: 
    BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SEMINARS