Late Scholastic Economic Influence
Posted by Andreas on Jul 20, 2011 at 12:39 am
I just finished reading Alejandro Chafuen’s book Faith and Liberty, which is an analysis of the economic thought of the Late Scholastics – Catholic thinkers following the same method of inquiry as St. Thomas Aquinas, who lived in the 15th through 17th centuries, and primarily of those in Spain.
Chafuen gives a thorough account of their writings and how these dealt with free markets, the determination of just prices, private property, profits, and more.
It was these writers who really had an impact on the Scottish thinkers that followed them, and that we often consider the fathers of modern free-market economics: first and foremost among them, Adam Smith. And these Late Scholastics were often working from thoughts developed by Aquinas, and through him, Aristotle. The first few lines of Chapter 12 in Chafuen’s book bear a striking resemblance to what Kirby Ferguson says in that Remix post from a few days ago:
Actions are the result of ideas. In studying the origin of ideas, we are actually studying the origin of actions. The ideas that gave birth to what has been called the free society were not the result of spontaneous generation. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, for example, bears the imprint of earlier writings, and these were influenced by still earlier writings.
The economic thought of the Late Scholastics, developed from earlier sources, has slowly been worked out, and much of it influences contemporary Catholic Social Teaching. Their thoughts on private property, on free markets, and on profits, are all seconded by the church’s official documents. Other portions of their thought have since been developed in a different direction. Nevertheless, it is remarkable to see how early some of this economic thought was being systematically developed.
I highly recommend this book!