A History of Political Thought: Property, Labor, and Commerce from Plato to Piketty

By Jeffrey Bercuson

© 2020

A History of Political Thought is an accessible introduction to the history of political and economic thought; its main focus is the rise, and eventual consolidation, of modern market society. It asks: What are the effects of private property and commerce on individual well-being and on the stability of the political community?

A History of Political Thought answers this central question through the careful study of political philosophers and economists, from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century. The book does not have an ideological agenda and gives equal voice to thinkers on opposite sides of the political spectrum. This is one of its key merits and a mark of distinction: its willingness to treat stark opponents – Hobbes and Locke, Smith and Marx, Keynes and Hayek, among others – as equally worthy of serious study. In doing so, the book provides students with a very powerful arsenal of ideas about the evolution of the market and also provides a solid introduction to the history of political thought.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# HE000873

  • PUBLISHED NOV 2020
    From: $47.95
    ISBN 9781487525903
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2020
    From: $38.95
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A History of Political Thought analyses market society by surveying the ideas of its most perceptive, thought-provoking observers – critics and defenders – from ancient Greece to the present day.

A History of Political Thought: Property, Labor, and Commerce from Plato to Piketty

By Jeffrey Bercuson

© 2020

A History of Political Thought is an accessible introduction to the history of political and economic thought; its main focus is the rise, and eventual consolidation, of modern market society. It asks: What are the effects of private property and commerce on individual well-being and on the stability of the political community?

A History of Political Thought answers this central question through the careful study of political philosophers and economists, from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century. The book does not have an ideological agenda and gives equal voice to thinkers on opposite sides of the political spectrum. This is one of its key merits and a mark of distinction: its willingness to treat stark opponents – Hobbes and Locke, Smith and Marx, Keynes and Hayek, among others – as equally worthy of serious study. In doing so, the book provides students with a very powerful arsenal of ideas about the evolution of the market and also provides a solid introduction to the history of political thought.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    “By organizing the investigation of political philosophy around a core theme, Bercuson does an excellent job of taking complex ideas and rendering them comprehensible for an undergraduate audience.”

    Robert Glover, Department of Political Science, University of Maine

    “Jeffrey Bercuson’s book provides an insightful, engaging, and highly accessible discussion of the views of several important political thinkers about the proper place of economic concerns in our lives as human beings and in the social institutions in which our lives are embedded. The book is aimed primarily at students, and it will be very valuable to them, but scholars will also gain a lot from its distinctive focus.”

    Joseph H. Carens, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

    “Jeffrey Bercuson’s accessible A History of Political Thought will be especially valuable as a guide through the history of political ideas usable in courses on politics, philosophy, and economics (PPE). While student-friendly histories of specifically economic thought already exist, Bercuson follows questions of exchange, commerce, ownership, and accumulation through the tradition of political thought that begins with Plato and Aristotle. In so doing, he helps students understand later figures such as Keynes, Hayek, and Piketty as contributing to fundamental moral and social debates, not only technical ones.”

    Jacob T. Levy, Department of Political Science, McGill University

  • Author Information

    Jeffrey Bercuson is a professor in the School of English and Liberal Studies at Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology.
  • Table of contents

    List of Abbreviations

    Introduction

    1. “The Less They Value Virtue”: Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas on the Corrupting Influence of Moneymaking – Personal and Political

    2. “The Felicity of This Life”: Machiavelli and Hobbes on the Possibility of Delightful Living

    3. “The Desire of Having More”: Locke on Labor and the Right to Accumulate without Limit

    4. “A Course Intended by Nature”: Smith and Kant on the Overwhelming Benefits of Commerce – Domestic and International

    5. “Make Money Contemptible and, If Possible, Useless”: Rousseau on Modern Discontent

    6. “The Reason Which Shines Through”: Hegel on the Ethical Dimensions of the Market

    7. “Free, Conscious Activity”: Marx on Alienation and the Path to Human Emancipation

    8. “A Dozen Wise Men”: Lenin on the Revolutionary Vanguard

    9. “The Function of Industry”: Tawney on the Demands of Equality and the Need for Democracy

    10. “Reflection, Brooding, Worry, Love, and Hatred”: Nietzsche on a Higher Concept of Culture

    11. “The Nobler Exercise of the Faculties”: Keynes on the Art of Enjoyment

    12. “A Narrow Field of Vision”: Hayek on the Limits of Knowledge

    13. “The Curse of Money”: Rawls on Plutocracy and the Demands of Economic Justice

    14. “An Endless Spiral”: Piketty on the Dynamics of Wealth and Income Inequality in the Twenty-First Century

    Afterword
    Notes
    Bibliography
    Index

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