Saturday, November 5, 2016

Joel Mokyr's "A Culture of Growth"

Joel Mokyr is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University, and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv. His many books include The Enlightened Economy and The Gifts of Athena. He is the recipient of the Heineken Prize for History and the International Balzan Prize for Economic History.

Mokyr applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, and reported the following:
From page 99:
to a coherent philosophical system what hitherto had been only partially articulated assumptions of practical men.

Today, to be sure, the significance of Bacon’s legacy for the history of science can be disputed, but his impact on the prestige and agenda of scientific endeavors and indeed on all studies of useful knowledge, including technology, is undiminished. The consensus view is still that “the ethos he infused into modern science as something inherently related to social development remains ... part of our categorical framework” (PĂ©rez-Ramos, 1996, p. 311). Baconianism meant that his followers accepted, among other things, a belief in the institutionalization of science and the means of gathering, collating, and disseminating knowledge through planned and cooperative research; they also believed in technological solutions to social problems, not least if money could be made (Rees, 2000, p. 71). In other words, Bacon’s heritage was nothing less than the cultural acceptance of the growth of useful knowledge as a critical ingredient of economic growth.
Page 99 happens to be only half a page, closing a chapter on the significance of Francis Bacon and the "Baconian program" for the economic development of Europe. The last sentence gets to (some of) the essential message of the book.
Learn more about A Culture of Growth at the Princeton University Press.

The Page 99 Test: The Enlightened Economy.

--Marshal Zeringue