Wissenschaft im Stile Schmollers
The author bases his essay on two publications which appeared for the centenary of Schmoller's birthday. (The book by Brinkmann entitled "Gustav Schmoller und die Volkswirtschaftslehre" and the work published by Arthur Spiethoff, entitled "Gustav von Schmoller und die deutsche geschichtliche... Full description
|1st Person:||Eucken, Walter|
in Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv Vol. 52, No. 3 (1940), p. 468-506
|Type of Publication:||Article|
The author bases his essay on two publications which appeared for the centenary of Schmoller's birthday. (The book by Brinkmann entitled "Gustav Schmoller und die Volkswirtschaftslehre" and the work published by Arthur Spiethoff, entitled "Gustav von Schmoller und die deutsche geschichtliche Volkswirtschaftslehre. Festgabe zur hundertsten Wiederkehr seines Geburtstages, 24. Juni 1938".) Although in many respects entirely different, these two books have a common feature insofar as most of the collaborators who have contributed to the centenarian publication and also Brinkmann are convinced that Schmoller's attitude with regard to economic science should be taken as a pointer for present and future national economy. Since this point of view is widespread and since moreover American institutionalism and many Statisticians in the field of economic science approach Schmoller's programme, to criticise Schmoller is to criticise a considerable part of the economic doctrine of our time. In the first place (in section I of the essay) the question is raised whether Schmoller's theory of history does full justice to historical reality. Schmoller's conception of history is characterised by the fact that it sees in the evolution of history in the first place a continual process of development, which is only interrupted by temporary periods of decline. In this manner an optimistic picture of history is created, which promises the unlimited development of man and the all-embracing progress of institutions in the future. A criticism of this conception of history shows that the picture of historiography thus presented is unrealistic and that the preconceived idea of progress renders historiography impotent and prevents a true comprehension of historical facts as they exist in their time. Economists therefore—contrary to those who follow Schmoller's doctrine—must adopt the habit of recognising the economic order of every epoch and every nation as a thing apart and complete in itself and not as sections of a supposed historical process of development. That naive optimism which renders historiography impotent must likewise disappear from every discussion of questions dealing with economic organisation. In their aim to interpret reality as faithfully as possible the empiristical economists wish above all to describe the individual economic facts separately and then to show their connection; as a fitting conclusion to their research they hope to formulate an economic theory. Meanwhile however these economists—as is shown in section II of the essay—ignore a very important fact, namely that of the general interdependence of all economic phenomena, which can only be understood by means of the economic theory which was formulated for this purpose. They thus completely disregard reality and do not arrive at a scientific conception. This disregard or underestimation of the general interdependence of economic facts must at the same time lead to a misconception of theoretical achievements, which is proved by means of certain examples. It is precisely that desire to thoroughly comprehend economic reality that calls for a pure contemplation of facts and the development of pure reasoning and hence for the opposition to a doctrine of which Schmoller is the representative.