Léon Walras (1834 - 1910): French economist who taught twenty years at Lausanne. With his successor Pareto he established the so-called Lausanne School of economic theory. His early career was unsuccessful -- he twice failed the entrance exam at the École Polytechnique in Paris for lack of adequate preparation in mathematics, and a coöperative bank he founded went bust. But his book Éléments d'économie politique pure (1877) is now recognized as one of the first mathematical analyses of general economic equilibrium, and he is credited, independently of Menger and Jevons, with inventing the marginal utility theory of value. It is in this latter connection that Mises mentions his name.
William Stanley Jevons (1835 - 1882): English economist and logician. As a Unitarian, Jevons could not attend Oxford or Cambridge, so he studied chemistry at Bentham's University College in London. After a brief career as assayer for the Mint in Australia, he returned to England to study logic and economics. His Theory of Political Economy, published in 1871, advanced the law of decreasing marginal utility as part of a new theory of value. He shortly became aware of Walras' enunciation of the same theory; although the two corresponded and each traveled to the other's country, they never met. Jevons was an avid swimmer. His career was unfortunately cut short when he drowned off the Devonshire coast. Mises mentions him as one of the three originators of marginal utility theory. Read more about Jevons here.
Gustav von Schmoller (1838 - 1917): German economist and late supporter of the Historical School. In carrying out the actual program advocated by Knies, Schmoller literally undermined the original aims of the Historical School by claiming that there are universal economic laws, and that the only way to identify them is through the careful study of economic history. He became embroiled in a controversy with Menger (the Methodenstreit) over the proper methodological approach to economic study about 1880. Mises mentions von Schmoller in connection with the Methodenstreit, and asserts that the teachings of the Historical School paved the way for Nazism in Germany.
Carl Menger (1840 - 1921): Austrian economist. Menger studied economics and law, then began a journalistic career in Vienna. In 1871 he published Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre (Principles of Economics) which is today generally recognized as the foundation of the Austrian School. In this book Menger advocated a new methodology for the science of economics. He also solved the classical paradox of value by introducing the notion of marginal utility (a concept also discovered by Léon Walras and by W.S. Jevons). During the 1880s Menger became deeply embroiled in the Methodenstreit, a dispute about the proper procedure of economic inquiry. Mises makes extensive references to Menger, identifying him as the founder of the Austrian School and as one of the men who resolved the classical paradox of value. Click here to read more about Carl Menger.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900): German philosopher and social critic. Deeply religious in his youth, Nietzsche about 1873 decided that Christianity is bankrupt and that God is dead. Basing his philosophy on Schopenhauer's "will to power," he spoke out in favor of a new ethos based on the superman, who does whatever he wants to do simply because he has the power to do it. Nietzsche was a close associate of the noted composer Richard Wagner, but they broke irreconcilably in 1877 when Nietzche declared that the opera Parsifal incorporated Christian ideals. He went mad in 1888 and spent the rest of his life in the care of his sister, who would not leave him at the asylum in Weimar. Many of Nietzsche's ideas found favor with the Nazis, though Nietzsche himself was fiercely individualistic and generally opposed to socialism. Mises alludes to Nietzche as one of those effete philosophers who speak glowingly of the violence inherent in human nature, but who could not survive as long as a minute without the benefits provided by civil society and the division of labor.
John Bates Clark (1847 - 1938): American economist; contemporary of Menger and Böhm-Bawerk. His early study in Germany was influenced by the Historical School, and his later work reflected that influence -- he was concerned with society as an organism (as in post-Hegelian philosophy) and laid particular stress on the ethical implications of economic theory. His major work, The Distribution of Wealth (1899), used the concept of marginal utility to describe how the factors of production are allocated among various industries. Clark divided economics into three subjects: the individual acting man; the static economy in its entirety; and the dynamic economy. Mises speaks highly of the care with which Clark addressed the epistemological issues underlying economic science.
Vilfredo Pareto (1848 - 1923): Italian economist and sociologist. A graduate of the University of Turin, he was trained as a mathematician and physicist. During his early engineering career he wrote many magazine articles in which he applied mathematics to economic problems. These led to his appointment as the successor to Walras in the chair of political economy at Lausanne (1893), where he continued and sharpened his predecessor's mathematical analyses of economic problems. His later work dealt with the structure of society, with mobility within that structure, and with the identification of desirable social ends. Rightly or wrongly, his name has been associated with fascism. Mises mentions his failure adequately to comprehend the inevitable failure of economic calculation in a socialist milieu, and the stupendous number of simultaneous equations that must be solved to give expression to Pareto's theory of equilibrium.
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (1851 - 1914): Austrian economist; student of Menger who advanced a theory of interest based on time preferences and the roundabout nature of more efficient processes of production. In Positive Theorie der Kapitalzinses (1889; English translation The Positive Theory of Capital 1923) he explained why lenders demand interest and how borrowers find the means to pay it. He also argued that interest is a natural phenomenon which socialism can never abolish. Mises makes many references to Böhm-Bawerk as one of the most influential early members of the Austrian School; his theory of interest, while substantially correct, was not rooted deeply enough in the category of action.
Friedrich von Wieser (1851 - 1926): Austrian economist; student of Menger and contemporary of Böhm-Bawerk. His major contribution to economic thought concerns the subjective theory of value and explains how the forces of competition combine with marginal utility and acts of individual choice to distribute the available means of production into the various product lines in which they can most profitably be employed. In other words, Wieser made more explicit the mode in which Adam Smith's "invisible hand" actually operates. Mises criticizes von Wieser for failing to recognize that values are subjective and for arguing, along with Fisher, that values can be measured.
Henri Poincaré (1854 - 1912): French physicist, mathematician, and philosopher of science. A natural mathematical genius with an unusual facility for mental calculation, Henri earned his doctorate in 1879 and two years later obtained a professorship at the University of Paris, where he remained for the rest of his life. His contributions to mathematics were many and varied, ranging from the theory of automorphic functions to the classical "3-body problem" of Newtonian mechanics to the topology of relativistic space and time and even to the theory of numbers (quadratic forms). In La Science et l'hypothesé (1903; English translation Science and Hypothesis, 1905) he developed the epistemological notion of conventionalism. In this view of science, scientists do not talk about the real world that actually exists. Instead, they talk only about symbols they have decided, by convention, to regard as if they were the real thing. Mises criticizes this notion, and similar ideas advanced by Albert Einstein, as being inappropriate in the realm of praxeology. When it comes to thinking and human action, he says, we are the real thing, and there's no sense in pretending otherwise.
Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (1857 - 1939): French philosopher and anthropologist. Professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne from 1899 through 1927, Lévy-Bruhl wrote several books about the mental processes of primitive human beings, including La mentalité primitive (1922; Eng. Primitive Mentality, 1923) and Les fonctiones mentales dans les sociétés primitives (1910; Eng. How Natives Think, 1926 -- more literally, Mental Functions in Primitive Societies). Although Lévy-Bruhl argued that primitive mental processes are fundamentally different from the "developed" logic of the educated European mind, Mises counters, convincingly, that there is no categorial distinction between the "prelogical and mystic" thoughts of primitive tribesmen and the "prelogical and mystic" thought that pervades medieval scholasticism. In other words, Mises contends that the categorial structure of human thought and action is everywhere and at all times the same.
Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941): French author and philosopher. Born in Paris, his early years were spent as a teacher in the French secondary school system. He was appointed to the chair of philosophy at the Collège de France in 1900. From 1921 to 1926 he served as the president of the "Commission for Intellectual Cooperation" at the League of Nations, and in 1927 he received the Nobel prize for literature. His philosophy stresses the nature of time, and how the world is in constant flux. Some of his ideas resemble the much earlier philosophy of Heraclitus. Mises quotes Bergson in reference to man's consciousness of time, and also to illustrate how widespread some economic fallacies are.
Charles-Vincent Langlois (1863 - 1929): French historian and paleographer (that is, an expert on ancient writing). Widely regarded as one of the leading scholars in 19th century France, Langlois taught paleography, bibliography, and medieval history at the University of Paris. French history was his specialty. He wrote several books, including texts on historical and bibliographical methods. Mises cites him as an authority on the proper conduct of historical inquiries: The historian must examine all the available evidence of historical events with the best and most current technological tools, then bring his understanding to bear on all the data.
Irving Fisher (1867 - 1947): American mathematical economist. Spent his entire academic career (1884 - 1935) at Yale University. Fisher devised a quantitative theory to explain the relationship between prices and the quantity of money, which he set forth in The Purchasing Power of Money (1911). A great fan of index numbers and economic statistics, he spent 25 years crusading for the "compensated dollar", to be constructed with reference to a standard market basket of goods. Mises criticizes this idea because it fails to recognize a basic truth: values are subjective.
Vladimir Illyich Lenin (1870 - 1924): Russian revolutionary and lawyer. Born V.I. Ulyanov, he became a Marxist about 1889, and organized his first revolutionary committee in 1894. Exiled from Russia in 1907, he spent ten years in Germany, orchestrating the Bolshevik movement from afar. Returning to Russia in 1917, he led the Bolshevik overthrow of the provisional democratic government and instituted the "dictatorship of the proletariat" prescribed by Marx. He was totally dedicated to Marxism and orchestrated thousands of killings without compunction. Mises mentions his name as an example of an immoral, unethical Marxist. To read more about Lenin, click here.
William McDougall (1871 - 1938): English psychologist. Educated at Cambridge, McDougall served for a few years on the faculty at University College, London (Bentham's institution) before obtaining a post at Oxford. His textbook An Introduction to Social Psychology (1908) ran through many editions and was a standard university text for more than 50 years. Although he was a careful student of the physiological basis of psychology, McDougall opposed the doctrines of materialism and behaviorism. His stance rendered him unpopular within his peer group. He moved to Harvard University in 1920, and moved again (to Duke, in Durham, NC) in 1927. McDougall was a dualist, and preached the reality of mind, and mentalism, throughout his career. Mises quotes him in support of the Austrian technique of methodological dualism.