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Hum Hist 2 ho 8 - Human History Week 4 lecture 2...

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Human History Enlightenment 4/22/10 Week 4, lecture 2 The dismal science In 17th and especially 18th century, scientific methods/mechanical models for studying nature are extended into studying society and economy European thinkers ask how society works without divine guidance Political scientists reduce to underlying factors of production—land, labor, capital Identify previously obscure concepts—diminishing return, comparative advantage, nominal, natural, and market prices Conclude that humans must always hover on the edge of misery Managing the machine of society Some elements of mechanical model of society appeal to rulers: might be able to fine- tune the machine (especially finances) Some disasters: in 1720 John Law sets off the first financial bubble in history, in Paris, and later that year the South Seas Bubble hits Britain But across the 18th century, governments start learning how to manage the economy, particularly in the Netherlands and Britain The Enlightenment challenge Rulers also see a downside in mechanical models of society Since Bacon, Galileo, and Descartes, central principle of science has been to accept no
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