Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

The Philosophy and the Evolution of Monetary Tradition in China: An Overview


During the imperial China, these were many scholars (most of them are civil officers, squires or their dependents) mentioned their monetary and economic thought. The important concepts and categories of money that emerge at this time were concerning commodities, currencies, values, prices, and purchasing power. Regrettably, these thoughts appeared scatteredly in their report booklet to the emperor, their literature works or historical biographies due to the ancient social structure and institutional preference, which formed the theoretical tradition of Chinese monetary system. The Chinese Empire was stabilized by the influence of Confucianism over time, but progressively stagnant. After the Han dynasty, the businessman class lost their social status progressively, and social stratum was ranked in order as scholars, farmers, artisans, and merchants more and more strictly. This social orientation made the social structure and the self-identity of individuals, which reciprocally was shaped with the organization of political power and the fiscal taxation system. Hence, as described above, the social tradition defined the micro-economic base of households and the macro-economic model like the economic development and output path. Thereupon, the over-emphasized national identity was brought along as the honor and dignity of scholar class, which decided the empire policies as well as the political tradition. The institutional trap came out. Thereinto, the main line of history evolution is taxation reform hiding behind the dynasties replacing and monetary pluralism. We realize that there is seemingly a link between the system evolutions of taxation and money. We would like to shape it as a spiral model to describe the historical evolution of money in China.


Keywords: Chinese monetary history, Chinse economic thought, historical evolution, insitutional analysi