Study Help Full Glossary for The Worldly Philosophers


Age of Enlightenment A period (roughly 1700-89) when political, economic, and social thought was dominated by an optimistic faith in reason and in the progress of the human race.

The Age of Exploration and Discovery (l5th-l7th centuries) — an era which provided natural wealth from the colonies in the form of gold, silver, and other raw resources.

Anarchism The support of no system of government; the belief that government, controls, and authority are oppressive.

Basic Agents (Factors) of Production Land, labor, capital, and management

Behavioral Regularities Predictable aspects of the marketplace, such as competition and demand.

Bourgeoisie The middle class. Technically, it includes the "petite bourgeoisie," or small middle class — the small shopkeepers, government officials, lawyers, doctors, independent farmers, and teachers — and the "haute bourgeoisie." The term is generally used by Marxists to describe the owners of private property. (Bourgeois is the spelling of the adjective form.)

Capital The physical necessities for production — buildings, machinery, tools, equipment, and supplies. This term commonly refers to the money used to purchase these necessities.

Capitalists The class which provides or controls the money that underwrites the production of goods. Technically, capitalists are the upper class of the bourgeoisie, known as the "haute bourgeoisie," or high middle class, the most hated class under Marxism.

Circular Flow A static system which channels productivity and profits into an endless exchange.

Classical Economists The economists who preached the doctrine of laissez faire and stressed that the production, consumption, and distribution of goods and wealth are determined exclusively by economics laws and principles.

Communism A belief in the achievement of socialism by revolutionary means, particularly by class warfare.

Compulsory Savings A deferred savings plan by which a government finances a war through a required deduction from all wages to pay for war bonds.

Conspicuous Consumption The use of material goods to flaunt a person's belonging to a moneyed or privileged class.

Consumption The process by which goods and services are utilized in satisfying human needs and wants.

Dialectical Materialism Karl Marx's application of Hegel's dialectical method to an explanation of all world events.

Economic Activity All action concerned with the creation of goods and services to be in some way consumed.

Economic Imperialism The economic and/or political domination of underdeveloped countries by powerful nations. The period between 1870 and 1914 is known as Europe's "Golden Age of Imperialism."

The Economic Revolution The development of historical factors which culminated in the adoption of the market system (capitalism).

Economic System The rules, laws, customs, and principles which govern the operation of an economy. Each economic system has its own peculiar problems and therefore produces its own solutions.

Economics The study of the ways in which people make a living; the study of human wants and their satisfaction; the science of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

The Emergence of Nation-States (l5th-l7th centuries) — a period giving rise to royal patronage for favored industries, maritime trade, common laws, standard measures, and common currencies.

Enclosure Movement The practice of fencing off lands formerly subject to common rights in order to provide pasture land for sheep. This movement caused a shift of the poor in England from farms to cities.

Entrepreneur A risk-taker, or innovator, in the business world.

Father of Anarchism Pierre Proudhon.

Father of Modern Economics Adam Smith.

Founder of British Socialism Robert Owen.

Founder of French Socialism Saint-Simon.

Francois Quesnay (1694-1774) French economist who founded the school of Physiocrats and greatly influenced Adam Smith.

Functional Distribution The division of income according to different types . . . wages rent, interest, profit.

The Great Crash The Wall Street Crash of October 1929, when the New York Stock Exchange collapsed after a selling wave in which stock values tumbled in a panic following an all-time high.

The Great Depression Worldwide depression triggered by the Wall Street Crash. The era extended from 1930-39, with the depths reached in 1933.

Hegelian Dialectics The philosophical concept that in the world of ideas, change occurs as the result of a synthesis, or coming together of opposing forces: a given idea (thesis), when challenged by a new and opposing idea (antithesis), results in a new concept (synthesis) which is somewhat closer to the truth than the initial two ideas.

Historical Materialism Marx's economic interpretation of history, which stresses economics as the basis for all human actions and historical events.

The Hundred Days The period of remarkable cooperation between President Roosevelt and Congress, beginning with a special session on March 9, 1933, when the basic measures of "Relief, Recovery, and Reform" were enacted into law.

Imperialism The extension of authority, or control, of one nation over another.

Industrial Revolution The transition from the stable agricultural and commercial society of the Western world to the modern industrialized society; the second stage of capitalism.

Iron Law of Wages Labor's wages must remain at the subsistence level, or natural price, because of the worker's tendency to produce more children. (David Ricardo)

Labor Human effort.

Laissez Faire Literally, "let [it] function" — the economic doctrine founded by Quesnay and the Physiocrats and expounded by Adam Smith, stressing no governmental interference in the operations of the market economy.

Land Natural resources.

Malthusian Doctrine Thomas Malthus' thesis that population, unless checked, grows at a greater rate than the means of subsistence and will result in starvation.

Management The planning, coordination, and direction of production.

Marxism Communism according to the exact words and predictions of Karl Marx.

Mercantilism The doctrine which dominated European economic policies from 1500 until the advent of laissez faire through a program which stressed that the real wealth of a nation resulted from its stores of gold and silver, which could be acquired by an excess of exports to imports, self-sufficiency of the nation, and exploitation of colonies.

Monopoly Literally, "single seller"; an economic situation in which one firm controls an entire market.

Neo-Malthusianism A name originally denoting birth control.

The New Deal Social and economic reforms carried out by President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1939 to combat the Great Depression.

Patron Saint of Free Enterprise Adam Smith.

Personal Distribution The division of income among individuals.

Physical Distribution The process of getting goods and services into the hands of consumers.

Physiocrats A group of thinkers during the Age of Enlightenment who opposed mercantilism, believing instead that the true source of wealth derives from land and agriculture; they advocated the doctrine of laissez faire.

Plausible Capitalism A capitalistic system that perpetually renews itself through growth.

Preanalytic Creative; predicting change.

Production The process of creating the goods or services to be consumed.

Proletariat Lowly wage earners, or workers.

Prophet of the Proletariat Karl Marx.

The Protestant Reformation (l500-1648) — a time period encouraging enterprise and the investment of capital; a philosophical outgrowth which made interest and profit respectable.

The Renaissance (1350-1600) — the era which saw the decay of a restrictive religious spirit in favor of a spirit of skepticism and inquiry.

Robber Barons Unscrupulous titans of U.S. finance and industry, including Jay Gould, Jim Fisk, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. The term was derived from the title of a book by Matthew Josephson.

The Scientific Revolution (1500-1700) — the period of scientific experimentation and discovery which laid the foundation for the Industrial Revolution.

Scientific Socialism What Marx and Engels called the ideas contained in The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital; scientific laws explaining the economic determination of history, class struggle, and the inevitable downfall of capitalism with the eventual triumph of workers over the moneyed class.

Socialism State ownership of the means of production, which is obtained through peaceful evolution without loss of personal liberty; the nationalization of all land and minerals, public transportation, trade, and banking, as well as factories — with the profits going to the people as a whole rather than to capitalists or landlords.

Technocracy Government run by technical experts, with money replaced by work units of currency.

Utopia A name which classifies any social, intellectual, or political scheme which is impractical at the time when it is conceived. Also, a reference to ideal states peopled by perfect human beings.

Utopian Socialists Reformers inspired by the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution who believed in progress and human perfectibility. Because these theorists wished to reform society by voluntary means, they earned the scorn of Karl Marx, who dismissed them as visionary idealists and labeled them "utopian socialists."

The Victorian Age The period associated with the reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, 1837-1901.

Worldly Philosophers Philosophers who concern themselves with economics.