09 August 2010

The Enlightened Economy ~ Positive Feedbacks

Great to read A Revolution Of the Mind, Trevor Butterworth's review in the WSJournal of Northwestern University economic historian Professor Joel Mokyr's new book The Enlightened Economy, in which he addresses...
"...an old question: Why did Britain have an industrial revolution first? Why not France or the Netherlands, given their economic power in the 17th century and, at the time, the increasingly free market in ideas between Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and London? Mr. Mokyr's answer -- articulated in densely packed but gratifyingly lucid prose -- is that in Britain ideas interacted vigorously with business interests in "a positive feedback loop that created the greatest sea change in economic history since the advent of culture." Reduced to a thumbnail sketch, liberty and natural philosophy -- a catch-all term for the study of "useful" knowledge -- begat prosperity, which begat more liberty and useful knowledge, which in turn spread through Europe and the Americas."
Fascinating! This goes to the top of the reading pile.

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