The intellectual historian Albert Hirschman proposed that one of his aims was ‘to renew the sense of wonder about the genesis of the “spirit of capitalism’”.1 A similar aim lies behind the present study. The basic assertions about human nature that accompany the development of capitalist societies — the primacy of self-interest, acquisitiveness, the hedonistic desire to consume — were disputed right through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The apologists for economic innovation were forced to find moral and political arguments to justify change.


Eighteenth Century Late Eighteenth Century Sexual Double Standard Woman Writer Economic Innovation 
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© E. J. Clery 2004

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