Albert Eberhard Friedrich Schäffle

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Schäffle, Albert Eberhard Friedrich


Born Feb. 24,1831, in Nürtingen; died Dec. 25,1903, in Stuttgart. German and Austrian economist, sociologist, and state figure.

Schäffle was a professor of political economy at the University of Tübingen from 1860 to 1868 and the University of Vienna from 1868 to 1871. He served as the Austrian minister of commerce and agriculture in 1871 and edited the journal Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft.

Schäffle belonged to the organismic school of sociology and shared the views not only of A. Comte and H. Spencer but of such German classical idealists as G. Hegel. He believed that the organic unity of society resulted from the transformation of interacting subjective wills and judgments into a “collective consciousness,” or “spirit of the people.” According to Schäffle, a feature of the “social body” is the ideal, spiritual-psychological relation between individuals that is embodied in their symbolic and direct actions. This relation differs fundamentally from that between cells in an organism.

In the later editions of his principal work, The Construction and Life of Social Bodies (vols. 1–4, 1875–78), Schäffle grew increasingly cautious in his use of bioorganismic analogies and treated them as a methodological tool. At the same time, the idealist tendencies in his works became more prominent.

In economic theory, Schäffle stressed the ethical and volitional nature of economic life and sought to furnish a rational ethical and anthropological foundation for it. A prominent representative of Katheder-socialism, he described as socialist any state intervention in the economy and urged cooperation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In the words of F. Engels, Schäffle’s socialism was “merely a feudal reaction” to the development of capitalism (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 35, p. 140).


Über die etische Seite der nationalökonomischen Lehre vom Werte. Tübingen, 1862.
Das gesellschaftliche System der menschlichen Wirtschaft, 3rd ed., vols. 1–2. Tübingen, 1873.
Die Aussichtslosigkeit der Sozialdemokratie, 4th ed. Tübingen, 1891.
Die Steuern, vols. 1–2. Leipzig, 1895–97.
Aus meinem Leben. vols. 1–2. Berlin, 1905.
In Russian translation:
Kapitalizm i sotsializm, part 1. St. Petersburg, 1871.
Kvintessentsiia sotsializma. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Sushchnost’ sotsializma. Petrograd, 1917.
“Osnovnye sviazi umstvennoi organizatsii.” In V. Zombart, Sotsiologiia. Leningrad, 1926.


L. D. S. “Vzgliady Sheffle na obshchestvo.” Russkaia mysl’, 1892, book 12.
Mann, F. K. “Albert Schäffle als Wirtschafts-und Finanzsoziologe.” In Gründer der Soziologie. Jena, 1932.
Wiese, L. von. “Albert Schäffle als Soziologe.” Ibid.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.