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Economic Self-Interest And Social Progress

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the talmudic economic analysis and considers some of the rabbinic discourses which look forward to much later controversies amongst social theorists. It emphasizes that like other analysts in antiquity and the middle ages, the Talmudic scholars did not set out to establish a systematic body of economic doctrine in the modern sense. The chapter explores so many of the fundamental issues relating to the operation of free-market economies that, taken together, their insights represent an extremely comprehensive anticipation of European debate in later centuries. Talmudic discussion of self-interest and its role was well underway by the second century B.C.E. At this time, Aggadah, the non-legal contents of the Talmud and Midrash, had begun to register the impact of non- Jewish, particularly Greek, concepts. Mandeville's ?poem" The Grumbling Hive (1705), which was renamed The Fable of the Bees, shocked many of his contemporaries.

Keywords: Midrash; Aggadah; economic analysis; Mandeville; Talmud



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