Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Libros vistos — Amsterdam, Barcelona, Leiden, París

Por AM | @agumack

- Jeremy Adelman. Wordly Philosopher. The Odissey of Albert O. Hirschman. Princeton University Press, 2013. [web][introducción] [John Lloyd: "Theory and practice", Financial Times, marzo 16-17, 2013]

Me encantan las biografías de +/- 800 paginas. ¿Por qué no se hacen en la Argentina? Albert O. Hirschman era un economista 'de los míos': pro-capitalismo, pero no 'libertario'. Consideraba a Maquiavelo, Montaigne y Adam Smith como sus maîtres à penser. ¡Nada mal! Hace muchos años me tocó leer un ensayo de Hirschman sobre desarrollo económico; también estudié un capítulo de The Passions and the Interests (1957), donde menciona las ideas de Claude-Adrien Helvétius sobre las pasiones humanas que se "contrapesan" mutuamente, idea que retomará Mariano Moreno en la Gazeta de Buenos-Ayres. Hirschman leía y escribía en alemán, francés, castellano, italiano e inglés. Según Jeremy Adelman, no era malo en estadística, pero prefería las palabras: "Words were to Hirschman what equations were for other economists. Indeed, by the standards of economics, he was an exceedingly wordy economist". Ya mismo lo estoy pidiendo.

- Ian McDaniel. Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment. Harvard, 2013. [web] [Jeffrey Collins: "A Skeptical Modern", Wall Street Journal, 25 de marzo de 2013]

Adam Ferguson no creía en el "humanismo comercial" à la Montesquieu. Para el escocés, el progreso genera fragilidad institucional, además de posibles (y temibles) alianzas entre fuerzas democráticas y militares: "Democratic forces, intended as a means of liberation from tyranny, could all too easily become the engine of political oppression—a fear that proved prescient when the French Revolution spawned the expansionist wars of Napoleon". El pesimismo de Adam Ferguson, en definitiva, hizo que sus escritos, comenzando por el Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), no hayan perdurado. En su excelente reseña para el Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Collins lamenta la ausencia de material biográfico propiamente dicho. Pero concluye de manera favorable sobre el libro — aunque no haya triunfado como pensador político, Ferguson y sus defectos pueden ser estudiados con provecho: "For all of their idiosyncrasies, they retain the capacity to instruct".

- Claude-Adrien Helvétius. Del espíritu [1758]. Barcelona: Editoria Laetoli, 2013. Traducción de José-Manuel Bermudo. [web]

José-Manuel Bermudo es un incansable difusor en lengua castellana de los ilustrados radicales. Su traducción de De l'esprit, uno de los más escandalosos best-sellers del siglo XVIII, es una verdadera hazaña intelectual. Además, el lector puede disfrutar de su largo estudio posterior, que combina con brillo biografía y filosofía. Poco a poco iré escribiendo sobre este precursor del utilitarismo, de enorme importancia en el desarrollo intelectual de Gregorio Funes y Mariano Moreno [ver]. Tuve la suerte de descubrir la influencia de Helvétius sobre la Historia de las dos Indias, el libro de cabecera de Moreno [ver]. Para mí, los puntos salientes de Helvétius son: el retrato del innovador, leído de cerca por Schumpeter [ver]; la importancia de la elocuencia, detectada por su amigo David Hume; el juego de las pasiones contradictorias como contrapesos que dificultan el desliz hacia el despotismo; la importancia asignada a la educación; la defensa de la libertad de prensa [ver].


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