1st Edition

Léon Walras’s Economic Thought The General Equilibrium Theory in Historical Perspective

By Kayoko Misaki Copyright 2024

    This book sheds new light on the general equilibrium theory of Léon Walras (1834–1910) from a historical perspective. Walras's construction of general equilibrium theory marked the dawn of modern economics, and the theory was greatly developed in the 20th century. However, Walras's own intentions and ideas behind the theory are still not fully understood.

    This book aims to clarify the intellectual background of Walras’s economics by delving into his original writings, which have not received much attention until now. Part 1 of the book reconsiders the relationship between Walras and his predecessors, Adam Smith (1723–1790), Jean-Baptiste Say (1767–1832), and Achylle Nicolas Isnard (1749–1803), who are believed to have had a decisive influence on Walras's general equilibrium theory. In Part 2, the book explores Walras's views on the labor market, entrepreneurship, and non-selfish human nature, including concepts like sympathy, which have been overlooked in his general equilibrium theory and subsequently misunderstood to this day. Walras’s economic thought is one of the foundational sources of modern economics. An accurate and in-depth understanding of it will provide a new perspective on the problems faced by modern economics and open future possibilities for economics as a social science.

    This book offers new insights not only to researchers and students of the history of economics but also to all those interested in the origins of modern economics.




    Introduction  Compatibility of Efficiency and Fairness: How has Walras been misunderstood?


    Part 1 Walras and his predecessors

    Chapter 1 Léon Walras and The Wealth of Nations: what did he really learn from Adam Smith?

    Chapter 2 Walras’s Critique of Jean-Baptiste Say : Entrepreneur and Laissez-Faire

    Chapter 3 Numéraire, Workers, and the Tax system: was Isnard a precursor of Walras?


    Part 2 Misunderstood Ideas of Walras

    Chapter 4 The Concept of Labor Market in Léon Walras’s Pure, Social, and Applied Economics

    Chapter 5 Walras on the Worker-Entrepreneur: the Origin of Profits

    Chapter 6 The Concept of Sympathy: Walras, Smith, and Sen

    Appendix Miyoji HAYAKAWA (1895–1962): the first Japanese translator of Walras



    Kayoko MISAKI is a historian of economic thought and a Professor at Shiga University, Japan. With several years of experience, she has dedicated her research to studying Walras’s economics and the history of French economic thought, and has published her research in English and Japanese. From 2008 to 2010, she served as the President of the International Walras Association (l’Association Internationale Walras, AIW). From 2015 to 2017, she held the position of Chief Editor for the History of Economic Thought, a peer-reviewed journal of the Japanese Society for the History of Economic Thought (JSHET).