Happy Birthday Carl Menger

It was yesterday, but Happy Birthday anyway. Thanks for the reminder from Mario Rizzo.

Menger’s work has garnered respect from even those who have not considered themselves Austrians. George Stigler, for example, wrote a very appreciative essay on Menger in his Production and Distribution Theories. For a long time Menger’s contributions were not clearly distinguished from those of Jevons and Walras, the other leaders of the “marginalist revolution.” We have William Jaffe have to thank for his de-homogenization of the three great economists. But, really, a moment’s perusal of the three books should make the differences obvious. Walras is concerned about mathematical elegance and Jevons is so enamored of hedonistic psychology that he gives the appearance, at least, of casting marginalism as an application of Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy – thus unduly limiting it. 

Menger also made contributions to the Scottish Enlightenment project of spontaneous order, especially with respect to the evolution of money and of common law. In this he shows himself a worthy successor to Adam Smith in a way that Walras and Jevons are not. 

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One Response to Happy Birthday Carl Menger

  1. Louis Hissink


    Reading Menger requires an excellent memory – often I would start reading a Menger sentence and by the time I got to the end of it, forgot how it started, and then restarting it to understand his point.

    Talk about long-phrased, concvoluted, teutonic thinking and writing!

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