Herman Heinrich Gossen

Gossen, Herman Heinrich


Born Sept. 7, 1810, in Düren; died Feb. 13, 1858, in Cologne. German economist, predecessor of the mathematical and Austrian schools of vulgar bourgeois political economy.

Gossen studied law but abandoned his career in 1847 and turned to the formulation of economic theories. He mathematically established the basic principles of marginal-utility theory and attempted to explain the most important economic processes in terms of the concept of marginal utility. In many respects Gossen’s conclusions were the forerunners of the theoretical and mathematical syntheses of L. Walras, W. Jevons, and other representatives of the mathematical school. Gossen’s theory is related to a number of general methodological principles of the Austrian school. His theory is expounded in the book Development of the Laws of Human Exchange and the Rules of Human Commerce Arising From Those Laws (1854). However, Gossen’s theory was not acknowledged by his contemporaries and he withdrew the book in 1858. His work was later found by Professor Adamson and republished in 1889 and 1927. Gossen’s concepts were widely disseminated by Walras, Jevons, and others.