The Western literature on the history of Chinese economic thought is sparse, and comparisons with the history of Western economic thought even more so. This pioneering book brings together Western and Chinese scholars to reflect on the historical evolution of economic thought in Europe and China.
The international panel of contributors cover key topics such as currency, usury, land tenure, the granary system, welfare, and government, and special attention is given to monetary institutions and policies. The problem of "good government" emerges as the unifying thread of a complex analysis that includes both theoretical issues and applied economics. Chinese lines of evolution include the problem of the agency of the State, its ideological justification, the financing of public expenditure, the role played by the public administration, and the provision of credit. The early radical condemnation of usury in the Near East and in the West gives way to theoretical justifications of interest-taking in early capitalist Europe; they, in turn, lead to advances in mathematics and business administration and represent one of the origins of modern economic theory. Other uniting themes include the relationship between metallic and paper money in Chinese and European experiences and the cross-fertilization of economic practices and ideas in the course of their pluri-millennial interactions. Differences emerge; the approach to the organization of economic life was, and still is, more State-centred in China. The editors bring together these analytical threads in a final chapter, opening wider horizons for this new line of comparative economic research which is important for the understanding of modern ideological turns.
This volume provides valuable reading for scholars in the history of economic thought, economic history and Chinese studies.
Table of Contents
Part I: Chinese Lines of Evolution
Section 1: The Agency of the State
1. People’s Livelihoods and Good Governance in the Past and for the Future
2. Justifying Office-selling for Famine Relief in Nineteenth-century Qing China
3. The Cost of Security: Financing Yellow River Hydraulics During the Late Imperial Period
Section 2: Land, Interest and Usury
4. Outline of the Institutions for Land Transactions in Traditional China
Denggao Long and Xiang Chi
5. Loans and Interest Rates in Traditional China
6. The Progression of Foreign Currencies in Ancient China
Yaguang Zhang, Yue Bi and Zyler Wang
Part II: European Lines of Evolution
Section 1: From Rationalisations of Usury to Deductive Theories of Interest
7. Theorizing Interest: How Did It All Begin? Some Landmarks on the Prohibition of Usury in Scholastic Economic Thought
André Lapidus and Irina Chaplygina
8. Merchants and the New Catholic View on the Economy: Florence and Augsburg Between the 15th and the 16th Century
9. From Kaspar Klock’s “De aerario” (1651) and Leibniz’s “Meditatio de interusurio simplice” to Florencourt’s “Abhandlungen aus der juristischen und der politischen Rechenkunst” (1781): How Calculus Led from the Logic of a Device for Circumventing the Prohibition of Usury to a Modern Theory of Depreciation
10. Interest on Money, Own Rate of Interest, the Natural Interest Rate and the Rate of Profits: A short History of Concepts – Ultimately Emerging from the Usury Debate
Section 2: The Spread of Monetary Relations and the Transition from Poor Relief to the Welfare State
11. Labour and Poverty in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
12. After China, before Sweden and England: the Circulation of Paper Money in Naples
13. European Models and Transformations of the Welfare State
Part III: Contact, Comparison and Interaction
Section 1: Before the Revolutions
14. Xunzi and Plato on the Economics of Totalitarianism: A Meeting of Distant Minds
15. Yantie Lun in the Pro-legalist and Anti-Confucian Campaign
16. A Critical Examination of Chinese Influences on Quesnay
Richard van den Berg
Section 2: The Traces of the Past in the Transition to Modernity
17. Rethinking Traditional Attitudes Towards Consumption in the Process of Formation of Chinese Economics (Late Qing and Republican Period)
18. China’s Ancient Principles of Price Regulation through Market Participation: The Guanzi from a Comparative Perspective
19. Confucian Entrepreneurship and Moral Guidelines for Business in China
Part IV: Conclusions and Perspectives
20. Towards a Systematic Comparison of Different Forms of Economic Thought
Iwo Amelung and Bertram Schefold
Iwo Amelung is Professor at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His research interests are: history of knowledge of modern China, bureaucracy and social history of the Qing period, emergence and development of scientific disciplines in modern China.
Bertram Schefold is Senior Professor at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He teaches economic theory and history of economic thought. His research interests are: Capital theory, history of economic thought and development.