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Thorstein Veblen, W. J. Perry, and the Warrior Class January 9, 2015

Posted by Christopher Donohue in Uncategorized.

Simon, in another excellent Grote Club (GC) post, widens the view of the GC into a comparative study of the often written about, but far less frequently understood, Thorstein Veblen. Much like my posts for this blog, Simon positions and draws out Veblen’s critique of modern society through a comparative analysis of the lesser-known W.J. Perry’s reconstruction of primitive social life and the makings of the modern world. Simon’s comparative method brings out both the radical nature of Veblen’s critique and its roots in his gloss on Adam Smith’s division of labor and its unintended consequences.

The Grote Club

In my last post I explained Rivers’ ‘conversion’ from evolutionary to diffusionist models of social change. Before returning to psychology – and articulating a particular thesis about Cambridge moral science in my next post – I highlight some salient features of the two models by way of a concrete comparison.

In this post I compare the historical explanations of the hegemony of a non-industrial elite class in modern society provided by, respectively, Thorstein Veblen and W.J. Perry.

Veblen (1857-1929) was a North American economist, who combined a background in philosophy with a profoundly original mind. He is hailed today as the founder of a heterodox ‘institutional school’ of economics. My discussion is derived from the first chapter of his Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

Please note that in writing on Veblen I am entering what for me is virgin territory, and I call upon those who know his writings better…

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