By Lionel Robbins

Those lectures, brought on the London tuition of Economics among 1979 and 1981 and tape-recorded by way of Robbins's grandson, demonstrate his mastery of the highbrow historical past of economics and his enthusiasm for the topic. They conceal a huge chronological diversity, starting with Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, focusing largely on Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and the classicals, and completing with a dialogue of moderns and marginalists from Marx to Alfred Marshall. Robbins takes a different and inclusive method of intellectural background and the lectures are united by means of his conviction that it really is very unlikely to appreciate effectively modern associations and social sciences with out realizing the tips in the back of their improvement.

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Dryden, 1663/1961, p. 43] Well, his torch—although I should hate for you to think that I follow Aristotle in all that he had to say—was no mean torch, especially at that time of history. He touches on a variety of matters mentioned by Plato in the Republic but on which I don’t intend to dilate at any length in this lecture. Plato had 18 • L E C T U R E 2 • suggested that, among the Guardians at any rate (who were the most superior people and who ruled the ideal community), there should be community of wives and children.

The history of the subject affords you concrete cases of thought experiment about which one already knows a good deal by way of history. For instance—not to dwell on this subject longer—in the theory of money, if you study the so-called bullionist controversy of, roughly speaking, the wars between England and France at the time of Napoleon, you have the opportunity of verifying thought experiments on the explanation of the inflation which took place in those days and the deflation which followed.

38–40] phrase distinguishing general ideas about economic arrangements from economic analysis; it is in economic analysis that Aristotle’s influence has been so long-lasting. But now, you must notice at once that Aristotle would not have called his remarks on this subject political economy or economics in our sense of the term. For Aristotle, at any rate, the term economy related to household management, and it is in the course of his discussion of household management and its connection with the rest of society that his important remarks occur.

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