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« Deirdre McCloskey on Bourgeois Dignity | Main | Learn Liberty Videos from IHS »

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The one that comes to mind immediately is "Industrious Revolution". Isn't so much about attitudes though.

Of course, there is Weber's essay on Protestantism. He got his conclusions wrong but he has some good material from Protestant preachers of the day that show excitement for commerce.

I think Jonathan Israel's "The Dutch Republic" captures some of that enthusiasm during the 17th century.

Although I haven't read it, I think 'Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World', by Timothy Brook, covers this topic.

Under the assumption that an "oldie" can still be a goody, there is a book by William R. Houghton, who was a professor of political science at Indiana University.

In 1886, he published a 620-page book entitled, "Kings of Fortune, or The Triumphs and Achievements of Noble, Self-Made Men."

Houghton referred to these individuals as men, “Whose brilliant careers have honored their calling, blessed humanity, and whose lives furnish instruction for the young, entertainment for the old, and valuable lessons for the aspirants of fortune.”

Houghton added, “The chief glory of America is, that it is the country in which genius and industry find their speediest and surest reward. Fame and fortune are here open to all who are willing to work for them. Neither class distinctions nor social prejudices, neither differences of birth, religion, nor ideas, can prevent the man of true merit from winning the just reward of his labors in this favored land.We are emphatically a nation of self-made men, and it is to the labors of this worthy class that our marvelous national prosperity is due.”

In his studies of many of the successful businessmen of this time, Houghton went out of his way to emphasize that genius and fame were not defined by him only in monetary terms. He also recounted the stories of men who did not always amass great wealth but who had made lasting he clearly did not think these people more noble or worthy of attention merely because they had not accumulated money.

In his histories of the lives of “noble, self-made men,” wealth was nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, accumulated wealth was the mark of a man who had applied his intellectual abilities, and, through honest, dedicated, and disciplined effort, had made his fortune by revolutionizing the manufacturing or marketing of the goods and services available to masses of the American people in the free market.

And to give one more example, in the 1830s, the French economist, Charles Chevalier traveled extensively in the United States, and then wrote a book about his observations of America, in a book entitled (in his English translation), "Society, Manners, and Politics in the United States" (1839).

He said at one point, in describing the character of the American:

"The manners and customs are altogether those of a working, busy society. At the age of fifteen years, a man is engaged in business; at twenty-one he is established, he has his farm, his workshop, his counting-room, or his office, in a word his employment, whatever it may be. He now also takes a wife, and at twenty-two is the father of a family, and consequently has a powerful stimulus to excite him to industry. A man who has no profession, and, which is the same thing, who is not married, enjoys little consideration; he, who is an active and useful member of society, who contributes his share to augment the national wealth and increase the numbers of the population, he only is looked upon with respect and favour.

"The American is educated with the idea
that he will have some particular occupation, that he is to be a farmer, artisan, manufacturer, merchant, speculator, lawyer, physician, or in succession, and that, if he is active and intelligent, he will make his fortune. He has no conception of living without a profession, even when his family is rich, for he sees nobody about him not engaged in business.

"The man of leisure is a variety of the human species, of which the Yankee does not suspect the existence, and he knows that if rich today, his father may be ruined tomorrow. Besides, the father himself is engaged in business, according to custom, and does not think of dispossessing himself of his fortune; if the son wishes to have one at present, let him make it himself!"

This is how the spirit of enterprise, industry, self-responsibility, and entrepreneurial accomplishment was viewed in that earlier era of bourgeois virtues and dignity. And which others were expected to admire and emulate.

Richard Ebeling

"The Economics of Science" by Terency Kealey, explodes all the ideas about fundamental research leading the way to technoloigical and economic advances, pointing out that the historical record shows technologists - clever farmers and artisans leading the way.

http://www.the-rathouse.com/2010/Kealey-EconomicsofScience.html

Chapter 6. The Industrial Revolution.

Between 1780 and 1860 the population of Britain tripled from 7.5M to 23M and the real per capita income double in real terms across all classes.

The drivers were increased productivity of machines and the movement of labour from the land (and Ireland) to the factories. The driver of machine technology was NOT science as predicted by the Bacon but the improvement of existing technology by ingenious artisans such as Newcomen, Watt, Trevithic and Stephenson. Amazingly, the scientists were struggling to keep up with the tradesmen! Hooke (the scientist) told Newcomen that his idea would not work while he was developing it (fortunately he persisted) and Carnot’s work on thermodynamics was prompted by Watt’s steam engine which could not work according to the laws of science as they were understood by leading scientists at the time.

France followed the Bacon model and set up glittering science laboratories and institutions of learning, while the state ran on the basis of taxes extorted by an army of Farmers-General (tax farmers) working on a commission basis with draconian powers of search, detention and confiscation. Hence the Revolution, while the science laboratories produced scientific advances without any impact on technology or the wealth of the French people.

Rafe, Thanks! I have read elsewhere that science did not begin to contribute to economic development until well into the 20th century. And the contributions of science today are highly overrated. Makes me think of scientism as described by Hayek in Counter-Revolution.

Camões book Os Lusíadas is all about that.

Yeah, the evidence suggests that the scientists are typically inspired by the technology of the time (and even the art in many cases). The hard sciences explain what technology invented, then the soft sciences use the models of the hard sciences to try to explain mental and social phenomena.

Though I generally agree that science often follows developments in technology I think Rafe overstates the case to some extent. Newcomen may not have known very much about the the science behind his steam engine, but Watt and later developers certainly did.

The steam engine may not have been consistent with some thermodynamic theories of the time. As far as I know it was consistent with some of them.

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