The Grammar of Profit: The Price Revolution in Intellectual Context


This study explores the relationship between the prevailing concept of "just profit" and contemporary reactions to the Sixteenth-Century Price Revolution by tracing the evolving meaning of "profit" in religious, political, and social discourse. Using the period's own macrocosmic-microcosmic analogy, the book examines family correspondence, wills, and court cases in addition to formal tracts to move outward from issues of spiritual profit to family values, employment relationships, and church and state. While England's experience provides a focal point, extensive use of continental sources reveals the problem's broader context. This study should prove particularly useful to those wishing to knit together the now particularized and separated strands of early modern economic, political, social, and religious history.
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Biographical Note

Andrea Finkelstein, Ph.D. (1997) in History, Graduate Center, City University of New York, is Professor of History at Bronx Community College, CUNY. Her works include Harmony and the Balance: An Intellectual History of Seventeenth-Century English Eonomic Thought (Michigan, 2000).

Review Quotes

"Finkelstein, who previously published a history of seventeenth-century English economic thought, sets out to discover how the concept of profit evolved under the impact of the great inflation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (…) If, as the ancients and most early moderns believed, economies were static, then their concept of redistribution in advantageous ways worked. If, however, economies can grow, then all the old concepts must be redefined. As that sank in, different ideas of profit became popular. (…) Finkelstein displays the concept of profit in all its colors."
Norman Jones, Renaissance Quarterly

Table of contents


1. Profit and the Price Revolution
2. Body, Mind, and Soul
3. Family Values
4. Master and Servant
5. The Body of Profit
6. Profit and Distributive Justice I: The Sins of the Body
7. Profit and Distributive Justice II: The Sins of the Monarch
8. Profit and Commutative Justice
9. The Modern Problem of Profit: A Paradox by Way of a Digression
10. Conclusion: The Grammar of Profit in an Age of Revolutions



Those interested in intellectual history, history of social, economic, and political theory, and Early Modern European history; academic libraries, institutes, and graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in the subjects listed.

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