Bonn University: The Influence of Schumpeter and Spiethoff

  • D. John Shaw


Singer enrolled at Bonn University in 1929 at the age of nineteen originally with the intention, encouraged by his father, to study medicine. He actually attended some lectures in the medical faculty until someone drew his attention to Joseph Schumpeter, the professor of economics, and said that he must hear him. He had not registered with the economics faculty but smuggled himself in as a member of the audience. It was a decisive moment. Schumpeter was a brilliant and stimulating lecturer. Singer came under his spell and immediately wanted to study economics. Schumpeter introduced a new world in economics and general thinking. He was the very antithesis of the traditional remote and austere German professor in every detail — dress, language, lecturing style, relations with students, conduct of examinations — and deliberately so. He opened doors to Walras and Pareto, to Anglo-Saxon economics, to sociology, quantitative methods and econometrics, to the history of economic thought, and to interdisciplinary thinking. Above all, there was his admired masterpiece written long before at the early age of 28, his Theory of Economic Development, the textbook of the day, in which the dynamic, innovating entrepreneur was depicted as ‘the linchpin of the capitalist system, responsible not just for technical progress but the very existence of a positive rate of profit in capital’ (Blaug, 1986; Schumpeter, 1912, 1926, 1934).2


Economic Faculty Decisive Moment Refugee Student Interdisciplinary Thinking Backwash Effect 
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© D. John Shaw 2002

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  • D. John Shaw

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