Book Monitor: Enlightened Economy

In: Uncategorized

24 Jun 2010

The Enlightened Economy (Yale 2009) by Joel Mokyr, a professor at Northwestern university in Chicago, sounds like a fascinating read. Its theme is evidently the relationship between the Enlightenment and Britain’s Industrial Revolution. According to a review by Edward Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard, in The New Republic:

“while Mokyr does not claim to have discovered the one true cause of the Industrial Revolution, there is a grand central message that unifies his book. It is that the industrial revolution owes a great deal to the Enlightenment. ‘What is new here,’ he writes, ‘is not an argument that the Enlightenment changed history, for better and/or worse, but that its economic effects on the wealth-creating capabilities of the affected societies have been overlooked.’ Mokyr has long emphasized the economic value of new ideas and he thus emphasizes that ‘Britain’s intellectual sphere had turned into a competitive market for ideas, in which logic and evidence were becoming more important and ‘authority’ as such was on the defensive.’”

An alternative review of the book by Diane Coyle is available here and an interview with the author is available here.

Mokyr’s The Lever of Riches, a history of technological progress first published in 1990, also sounds like a good read.