By Louise Sommer
Includes translations of formerly untranslated essays through Carl Menger, Friedrich von Wieser, Jacques Rueff, and Luigi Einaudi.
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Extra info for Essays in European economic thought
See my Untersuchungen iiber die Methode der Sozialwissenschaften (1883), pp. 352 ff. and Die Irrtilmer des Historismus in der deutschen Nationalokonomie (1884), pp. The experts in the field of historical research are in substantial agreement on this point. Bernheim, in his Lehrbuch der historischen Methode (1889), pp. , vehemently criticizes the conceptual confusion of those social philosophers who regard the science of history, not as an independent discipline, but as a 34 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.
Would that I could solve the methodological problems in the field of the social sciences! Even the more modest service of having advanced their solution by an essential step deserves—considering the present level of methodological understanding—to be esteemed at least as highly as any purely descriptive monograph, even one as meritorious as Brentano's own study of the trade unions of England. Brentano speaks in a similarly derogatory way of the endeavors of the "new abstract school" to bring about the reform that economic theory so urgently needs if it is to become a truly scientific foundation for applied economics, and thereby also for economic policy.
They merely show us how we have to act (or, if one will, how we ought to act), on the basis of our judgment at a particular time, if we want to attain a given end; whereas it is the historical, the morphological, and the theoretical sciences that provide us with knowledge of the past and the present and of the nature of phenomena and their interrelations. This distinction between the tasks of the applied sciences, on the one hand, and those of history, statistics, morphology, and the theoretical sciences, on the other, is expressed, in a way that can hardly be misunderstood by any unprejudiced person, in the statement that the former do not deal with what is, but with what ought to be.
Essays in European economic thought by Louise Sommer