The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Hermann, Friedrich Benedict Wilhelm von (1795–1868)

  • Mark Blaug
Reference work entry


Hermann was born in Dinkelsbuhl, Germany. His career spanned the half-century or more in which German economics came to terms with English classical political economy, first welcoming it and then rejecting it, particularly in its Ricardian variety. After teaching mathematics in a secondary school, Hermann was appointed to the chair in what was still called Kameralwissenschaften [Cameralism] – an old title soon to be discarded – at the University of Munich in 1827. He made his reputation with Staatswirthschaftliche Untersuchungen [Investigations into Political Economy] (1832), a book which owed much to The Wealth of Nations but little to the writings of either Malthus or Ricardo. The book was organized around the simple but appealing idea that all economic variables are the outcome of the forces of demand and supply, so that economic analysis consists essentially of an investigation of the factors lying behind demand and supply. The book revelled in endless definitions and classifications of types of goods, wants, costs, capitals, and so on, but did not clutter the analysis with endless attacks on the deductive method of the English school. Together with Rau (1792–1870), Hermann thereby laid the foundations on which Mangoldt (1824–68) and Thünen (1783–1850) were soon to build a German brand of classical economics. No wonder Marshall much admired ‘Hermann’s brilliant genius’ and frequently quoted Hermann’s treatise in his own Principles of Economics (1890).


Cameralism German economics in the early 19th century Life tables Supply and demand 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Blaug
    • 1
  1. 1.