François Quesnay

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Quesnay, François


Born June 4, 1694, in Mérey, near Paris; died Dec. 16, 1774, in Versailles. French economist, founder of the Physiocratic School.

In 1718, Quesnay passed the examination for the title of physician, and in 1744 he received the doctor of medicine degree and became court physician to Louis XV. He began working on economic problems at age 60. According to Marx the essential merit of the Physiocrats, and above all Quesnay, was that “within the limits of the bourgeois outlook they provided an analysis of capital. This same merit also makes them the real fathers of modern political economy” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 26, part 1, p. 12).

Quesnay and his school rejected the basic thesis of mercantilism, that the circulation of commodities is the origin of profit, and attempted to explain the dependence of the increase in wealth on the process of production. Quesnay’s first articles, devoted to questions regarding the price of grain and taxes, were included in Diderot’s Encyclopédie. His main work, Economic Table (1758), was the first attempt to analyze social economic reproduction through determining fixed balanced ratios between natural (material) and cost elements of a social product. In the context of his time, Quesnay’s theoretical system was progressive. The practical recommendations that arose from it, for example, the imposition of the entire tax burden on the landowners, were essentially antifeudal.


Izbr. ekonomicheskie proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from French.)


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 2. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 24.
Marx, K. Teorii probavochnoi stoimosti (vol. 4 of Kapital), part 1. Ibid., vol. 26, part 1.


References in periodicals archive ?
Others trace the notion to Francois Quesnay and the first economic school of the French Physiocrats.
Some scholars perceive a contradiction between The Theory of Moral Sentiments, his first published work, and The Wealth of Nations that he completes after his visit to France in the period 1764-66 and his contact with Francois Quesnay who with his Tableau economique in 1758 provided the analytical foundations for the Physiocrats.
L'4conomie politique de Francois Quesnay, ou l'Utopie du Royaume Agricole', introduction to: Francois Quesnay, Physiocratie.
3) With equal brevity, Francois Quesnay, in his General Maxims, in print perhaps as early as 1758 and thereafter published in numerous, somewhat varied editions, asserted that "it is not so much men as wealth which must be attracted to the countryside.
As regards the concept of 'surplus' and related concepts, Smith is again compared with earlier authors, especially Francois Quesnay.
He gives brief vignettes of eight early writers--William Petty, John Law, Richard Cantillon, David Hume, Francois Quesnay, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Adam Smith and Henry Thornton.
One of the most notable Frenchmen of his era, Dupont (1739-1817) was an adherent and proponent of the social, political, and economic theories of Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot and Francois Quesnay.
More interestingly, Turgot described Hume as one of the founders of modern political economy (together with Charles Montesquieu, Richard Cantillon, Francois Quesnay and Gournay) in a famous letter to Antoine-Bernard Caillard (January 1771.