Money, Banks and Finance in Economic Thought

W. Stark, J.M. Keynes and the Mercantilists

Repapis Constantinos, Goldsmiths, University of London

This paper explores the link between context and economic theory as a vehicle of doing historiography in economic thought. We investigate W. Stark’s approach in historiography that utilises a sociology of knowledge approach which he introduced in his HET monographs early in his career (Stark (1943, 1944 and 1994 posthumous). The present paper intends to contribute to this investigation by 1) exploring the strengths and weaknesses of Stark’s approach to historiography, 2) seeing how this can frame and answer important questions in relation to the mercantilist system or school of thought and, 3) develop a link between a pluralist understanding of economics, and the sociology of knowledge approach. The reason for this reformulation is to augment Stark’s view in new ways that would help the sociology of knowledge approach overcome some of the criticisms leveled against it and at the same time clarify the link between context and theoretical investigation that lies at the center of a theory of knowledge understanding of economic theory. In this approach Keynes’ view of historiography as employed in the General Theory and other writings, as well as parts of his unpublished correspondence with Stark is used to develop a dialectical position between a history of economic thought as the evolution of abstract and de-contextualized economic theorising and, the view of economic theory as only relevant within the social conditions that gave it rise.

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Keywords: W. Stark, Keynes, Historiography, Merchantilism

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