Economic systems and theory

Workshop leaders:

Lara Kren (ISHA Ljubljana, MA, University of Ljubljana)
Raphael Päbst (ISHA MArburg, PhD student, Philipps-Universität Marburg)

You might be asking yourself how do economic systems fit into historiography if we are not to write a history of them. Although economic theory as we understand it is often reduced to Adam Smith and other 18th century thinkers and what came after them, we can find it from the early beginnings of law and philosophy and it can give us a perspective on these societies. What can we learn from Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle about how Greeks in the classical era thought about economics? What were the innovations Roman law brought to economic thought? How is scholastic thought on the just price a reflection on medieval society and it’s philosophy? These are questions just as important as those raised by Machiavelli’s ideas on how to order taxation and economy or the thoughts of John Locke on property. We can talk about these systems in a descriptive or comparative method. In this way we can get acquainted with differences among geographical areas and how systems changed through time. In this case we are engulfed in the world of economy. But analysis of economic systems has much more to offer. As the source for researching and describing one’s life in a certain era and land they are not important for its quantitative content but as an instrument to show us how a given group of people lived, thought, what values they had and what had value for them. And besides that a text on an economic paradigm reveals a lot about the time it was written in in addition to what information it gives on the time it is describing. We can regard economic systems as an analogy to excavating a pot of coins and valuables. The coins found don’t speak just about themselves, but also about the stressful events that lead someone to bury the money. Based on the emissions of coins present we can figure out when the horrible events in the land took place and what people held dear and what were their world and mindset like to motivate them to entrust their riches to the arms of the earth. In this workshop we want to look not so much at the contents of particular economic theories but at the way they are both expression of a specific place and time and how they influenced the societies from which they sprang.