James Steuart

Steuart, James


Born Oct. 21, 1712, in Edinburgh; died there Nov. 26, 1780. Scottish economist; one of the last representatives of mercantilism.

Steuart’s principal work, Inquiry Into the Principles of Political Economy (1767), was one of the first attempts at a systematic presentation of political economy. While remaining a mercantilist and considering the current balance of foreign trade the source of social wealth, Steuart did not think that exchange at a profit was the only source of profit. He distinguished between real and relative profit. The former arises from an increase in labor, effort, and skills, while the latter is created by selling commodities at prices above their value. Steuart thus came close to solving the problem of the origin of surplus value but did not explain it scientifically.

K. Marx saw Steuart’s contribution as a correct interpretation of the primitive accumulation of capital and noted that Steuart analyzed “the delineation of the conditions of production as the property of a definite class from the labor power” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 26, part 1, p. 11).

Steuart offered a critique of the quantitative theory of money, but in doing so he advanced the erroneous concept of an ideal monetary unit, confusing the function of money as a measure of the value with the price level and separating ideal money from actual money (gold or silver).


The Works: Political, Metaphysical and Chronological, vols. 1–6. London, 1805.
Marx, K. “K kritike politicheskoi ekonomii.” K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 13. Chapter 2.
Marx, K. “Teorii pribavochnoi stoimosti” (vol. 4 of Kapital). Ibid., vol.26. Parti, ch. 1.


References in periodicals archive ?
Sir James Steuart Wilson (1889-1996), English tenor, was known as an oratorio and concert singer in the first half of the twentieth century.
And the state exists to assuage contingencies, to impose order, to organize public provision, to be a locus for conscious regulation, to institutionalize non-bourgeois desiderata, to guarantee ethical standards and to forestall excessive self-interest; these too are all Keynesian concerns, though more usefully derived from James Steuart and The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) than the Wealth of Nations (pp.
Also, Tieben makes many interesting remarks on the priority of academic discoveries, such as that the "first ideas concerning economic equilibrium" came from the ancient Greeks, Aristotle was the "first to recognize that traders have a reciprocal benefit from exchange," James Steuart was the first to use the word "equilibrium," and Marshall was the "first to realize the usefulness of equilibrium theory" in studying complex economic phenomena.
The earliest member of the 'Scottish school' was not Adam Smith, but Sir James Steuart, and the difference between them is quite important.
Evolution of concept of development takes back to the interpretation of classical economists--the "superstars" of the 18th Centuring such as David Hume, Adam Smith, James Steuart when the concern was solely economic growth, the distribution of wealth, etc.
The economic exiles whose very varied ideas are described and assessed are James Steuart, Edward Stillingfleet Cayley, John Francis Bray, Henry George, J.A.
His words cited above, taken literally, seem to portray his political economy as a sum of studies closely related to "the whole commercial, financial, constitutional and foreign interests of Great Britain and its Empire." Furthermore, he asserted that political economy originated in "the last [i.e., seventeenth] century." It follows that what he meant by political economy was basically different from the system (or science) of classical political economy founded by the great eighteenth-century political economists like Adam Smith and Sir James Steuart.
Skinner (ed.) (1966) Sir James Steuart. An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy, 2 vols., Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.
Similar arguments appears in Scottish Enlightenment, such as Sir James Steuart, Adam Ferguson, John Millar y Adam Smith.
Defoe's Roxana, written in the wake of the 1720s "South Sea bubble," Poovey suggests, can be read as "a primer in the kind of evaluation that everyday credit transactions required in the eighteenth century." By the same token, James Steuart's notable 1776 Principles of Political Economy contained many elements now commonly associated with imaginative forms of writing.
The theoretical shift to a primary concern with style rather than content (the ways these different genres either flaunted or concealed their representational nature) as the central criteria of genre difference frees Poovey to pursue unexpected alignments such as her reading of James Steuart's Inquiry Into the Principles of Political Economy alongside Henry Fielding's Tom Jones.