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Professor Kirzner on Carl Menger: To What Extent Was Carl Menger Subjectivist?


  • Chamilall Neelkant S.

    (Université d’Aix-Marseille III)

  • Krecké Elisabeth

    (Université d’Aix-Marseille III)


In an oft-quoted paper entitled To What Extent Was the Austrian School Marginalist ?, Streissler challenged earlier interpretations of Mengers work that had accorded equal billing to Menger alongside Jevons and Walras as co-discoverer of the marginalist principle. In Streisslers words, Menger was exceptionally great because he created marginalism at the same time that he surpassed it: the essence of Mengers contribution to economic science was to be located in his subjectivist vision of the economy rather than in marginalism per se. Streisslers interpretation presaged Professor Kirzners subsequent rendering of Mengers work, namely, that Mengers subjectivist vision of the system as whole forms the very core of his contribution. This paper argues that, while these modern subjectivist reinterpretations are more faithful to Mengers work than the earlier restrictive marginalist interpretations, they have nonetheless failed to identify Mengers vision. It is submitted here that this vision is to be located in Mengers intention of constructing a theory of complex economic phenomena. Building upon Alfred Whiteheads process philosophy, this paper provides a philosophically realist reconstruction of Mengers theory of complex phenomena before investigating its pervasiveness and significance in the economic sphere.Dans un article célèbre intitulé To What Extent Was the Austrian School Marginalist ?, Streissler remit en cause les interprétations antérieures de loeuvre de Menger qui faisaient de ce dernier un des co-inventeurs du principe marginaliste au même titre que Jevons et Walras. Pour Streissler, Menger était exceptionnellement grand parce quil créa le marginalisme en même temps quil le surpassa : lessence de la contribution de Menger à la science économique se trouvait dans sa vision subjectiviste de léconomie plus que dans le marginalisme en soi. Larticle de Streissler annonçait linterprétation que devait donner le Professeur Kirzner de la contribution de Menger, à savoir que sa vision subjectiviste du système dans son ensemble constituait le coeur même de sa contribution. Ces réinterprétations subjectivistes modernes de loeuvre de Menger sont certes plus fidèles à celle-ci que les interprétations étroites antérieures données sous langle marginaliste. Ces réinterprétations modernes nont pas pour autant identifié la vision quavait Menger de la sphère économique. Larticle suggère que cette vision se situe dans la théorie des phénomènes complexes de léconomie que Menger se propose délaborer. En se fondant sur la pensée du procès dAlfred Whitehead, larticle propose une reconstruction philosophico-réaliste de la théorie des phénomènes complexes de Menger avant dillustrer sa pertinence et son importance dans la sphère économique.

Suggested Citation

  • Chamilall Neelkant S. & Krecké Elisabeth, 2002. "Professor Kirzner on Carl Menger: To What Extent Was Carl Menger Subjectivist?," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-47, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:12:y:2002:i:2:n:9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Erich Streissler, 1972. "To What Extent Was the Austrian School Marginalist?," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 426-441, Fall.
    2. Kauder, Emil, 1959. "Menger and his Library," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 10(1), pages 58-64, January.
    3. Israel M. Kirzner, 1989. "The Use of Labels in Doctrinal History: Comment on Baird," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 9(1), pages 231-235, Spring/Su.
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