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This work offers a unique perspective on the rise of capitalism and socialism and the effect of the Reformation. Specific topics include consequences of belief in the private judgment of scriptures; separation of spiritual and secular life; difference between Lutheran and Calvinist teachings on economics; the Calvinist concept of vocation; its perception of material success as a sign of divine election; its praise of frugality and disdain for beauty. Also covered is socialism as a reaction to excesses of capitalism; the manner in which Protestantism had strengthened secular authority; diminuation of charity toward the poor following Reformation; materialism underlying socialism abetted by Protestant emphasis on earthly prosperity; egalitarian ideas traceable to Protestantism; and the ease with which socialism blended into Protestant thought.
This is a unique work of economic philosophy in that it examines the ideological causes of the economic changes of the period, thus offering a refreshing philosophical perspective rather than merely the mathematical or statistical sides of the question.
George O'Brien authored numerous works in the field of economics including An Essay on Medieval Economic Teaching, Labour Organisation, and Agricultural Economics. His work on the economic history of Ireland, published in 1921, has not been superceded to date. He occupied the post of professor of national economy at University College, Dublin, for 35 years, and also participated in debates on economic matters in the Irish Senate. Edward A. McPhail is an assistant professor of economics at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.$22.30