George Ramsay

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Ramsay, George


Born Mar. 19, 1800, in Bamff House, Perth; died there Feb. 22, 1871. British economist and philosopher. One of the last exponents of classical economics.

Ramsay, who was educated at Cambridge University, wrote works on philosophy, psychology, and ethics, but he won renown for A n Essay on the Distribution of Wealth (1836).

K. Marx wrote that Ramsay’s main contribution consisted in “that he does in fact make the distinction between variable and constant capital (in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 26, part 3, p. 337). Ramsay came close to achieving a correct understanding of surplus value and rate of profit. He noted that capital expended on wages sets in action a greater mass of labor than is actually embodied in it. He also criticized Smith’s theory. However, Ramsay was unable to carry to its conclusion his analysis of the distinction between constant and variable capital, which he confused with the distinction between fixed and circulating capital. He identified surplus value with profit, and he erroneously believed that both labor and “fixed capital” are the source of value. From Ramsay’s point of view, capitalist production was not the absolute form of production. However, this observation did not lead him to conclude that the downfall of the capitalist mode of production is historically inevitable.


Marx, K. “Teorii pribavochnoi stoimosti” (vol. 4 of Kapitat). In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 26, part 3, pp. 337–73.


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