Worldly Philosophers.jpg

The Worldly Philosophers

Robert L. Heilbroner

At the root of the matter lies man, but it is not man the ‘economic’ being, but man the psychological and social being, whom we understand only imperfectly. Economic understanding is a marvelous chapter in humankind’s autobiography, but it is neither the first chapter nor the last.
— Heilbroner

I read this a month after I graduated with a BA in economics, and man did I wish I’d read it earlier. Would’ve changed my entire course of study.

More specifically, it gave voice to the concerns & interests I had in economics that I hadn’t been able to locate or articulate previously.

It contextualizes some of history’s big economic ideas in the lives they came from, but has one of the most epic closing chapters I’ve found in a serious work of economics.

“But markets, whether they be exchanges between primitive tribes where objects are casually dropped on the ground or the exciting traveling fairs of the Middle Ages, are not the same as the market system. For the market system is not just a means of exchanging goods; it is a mechanism for sustaining and maintaining an entire society.”