By Lionel Robbins
Those lectures, added on the London college of Economics among 1979 and 1981 and tape-recorded via Robbins's grandson, show his mastery of the highbrow heritage of economics and his enthusiasm for the topic. They disguise a vast chronological diversity, starting with Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, focusing widely on Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and the classicals, and completing with a dialogue of moderns and marginalists from Marx to Alfred Marshall. Robbins takes a assorted and inclusive method of intellectural historical past and the lectures are united by way of his conviction that it's most unlikely to appreciate properly modern associations and social sciences with out knowing the information in the back of their improvement.
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And it is not until Petty at the end of the eighteenth century or Adam Smith or Hume that anybody said anything more concise about the functions of money. Therefore, I think you must give Aristotle rather high 24 • L E C T U R E 2 • marks for thinking of these—for all of you rather banal—propositions for the first time. He is also attributed by some—it is in an obscure volume of his called the Topics , which is quoted after the rise of the Austrian school by a German scholar in the name of Kraus —with some perception of the principle of diminishing marginal utility.
The number of shoes which are equivalent to a house or a meal. As a builder then is to a cobbler, so must so many shoes be to a house or a meal; for otherwise there would be no exchange or association. But this will be impossible, unless the shoes and the house or meal are in some sense equalized. Hence arises the necessity of a single universal standard of measurement, as was said before. This standard is in truth the demand for mutual services, which holds society together. [Aristotle, 1948, p.
The state must also possess a common Hellenic currency. If a private person is ever obliged to go abroad, let him have the consent of the magistrates and go; and if when he returns he has any foreign money remaining, let him give the surplus back to the treasury, and receive a corresponding sum in the local currency. And if he is discovered to appropriate it, —to keep it to himself— • P L A T O A N D A R I S T O T L E • 17 let it be confiscated, and let him who knows and does not inform be subject to curse and dishonour equally with him who brought the money.