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The National Economy and the Religious Personality (1909)

Status Quaestionis

Abstract

The political economy of our times belongs to sciences that do not remember their own spiritual kinship. Its origins are lost in the quicksand of philosophy of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. At its cradle stand, on one side, the representatives of the Natural Law doctrine with their belief in the inviolability of human nature and pre-established natural harmony, and, on the other side, preachers of utilitarianism—J. Bentham and his disciples who proceed from the notion of society as a summation of disconnected atoms, mutually jostling representatives of different interests. The society is viewed here as the mechanics of these interests, the social philosophy is transformed into the “political arithmetic” of which Bentham dreamt. The political economy assimilated from him is the abstract, one-sided, simplified notion of man, a notion that still reigns in political economy. In this, among other ways, the prerequisite of the classic political economy was formed—the notion of “economic man,” who does not eat and sleep but always calculates interests, seeking the greatest benefit at lowest costs; a slide rule that reacts with mathematical accuracy to the outer mechanism of redistribution and production, which is governed by its own laws of life.

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