WELCOME TO THE HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT WEBSITE! This web site concentrates information and resources on the history of economic thought, from the ancient times until the modern day. It is designed for students, researchers and the general public, who are interested in learning about economics from a historical perspective.
The History of Economic Thought (HET) website was created and written by myself (Gonšalo L. Fonseca) as a labor of love. I started it back in 1998, in a burst of youthful energy, and have expanded and maintained it since. I originally constructed it in my spare time, without compensation, as a public good. For a long time, it hosted on a faculty server at the Department of Economics of the New School for Social Research. It subsequently moved to its own server, and then went down for a while.
With the support of the Institute for Economic Thinking (INET) since 2014, the HET website has been revised, revamped and expanded. The new HET Website was re-launched in 2016 at a new URL address:
This is an on-going project, there still remains much to be revised, profiles and essays to be completed and new content to be added, so keep checking back (news)
The HET website is not an online textbook nor a reference encyclopedia. I prefer to think of it as a "link tank", pointing students and researchers to available online resources on economic theory. I have just organized these links in a manner which I believe is both entertaining and educational. The HET website is probably the largest organized concentration of links to online books and articles on economic thought available.Navigation
The material is organized through three main navigation channels: an Alphabetical Index of individual economists, pages covering various Schools of Thought (loosely defined) and a series of Essays and Surveys on specific topics.
The alphabetical index is the most straightforward gateway into the economist profile pages. There are currently individual profile pages for over a thousand economists, ranging from the ancients to the modern day, in various states of completion, with more to be added over time. Each individual profile page contains some brief comments on their contributions, a bibliography of their most important works (directly linked to online copies - if available) plus and links to external resources about them.
Another channel of navigation is via "schools of thought", There are currently pages for nearly a hundred "schools of thought". Each school page contains a brief description of its characteristics, a list of "members" and links to external resources on the school as a whole.
The partition into schools ought not to be taken too seriously. Some of the schools are well-known in the discipline and are generally regarded as having a separate and distinct identity (e.g. the Austrian School). But other schools (e.g. the Paretians) many will not recognize. The purpose is not to straightjacket or pin labels on economists, but to highlight the major relationships, tensions and differing patterns of thought that can be traced throughout economics. Division into "schools" of thought are a convenient vehicle to convey this.
Not all "schools" pages imply a unified perspective. Some pages are organized by theme (e.g. business cycle), or some other criteria (e.g. emigres). We also include dedicated pages on historically-notable economics departments, professional societies, journals, etc.
This website contains several brief essays and surveys on various economic topics. Each essay presents a single topic in economic theory from a historical perspective. They provide a workable survey of economics, emphasizing construction of ideas over time and the.evolution of debates and conflicts. They essays are partitioned into "books" and sometimes "books within books".
Many surveys are still in the process of being written and will be added as they are completed.
The HET website is a not a depository of articles or books themselves (save for a few hard-to-find examples) (see list of texts). It merely links to where copies are available elsewhere online, in other archives (list). As a matter of principle, the HET website does not link to books or articles that are behind pay-walls or institutional restrictions. Every resource we link to must be freely available to any researcher, academic and nonacademic.
The HET website contains external links to tens of thousands of online books and articles. These links are contained in the individual profile and school pages. General HET resources are gathered on a separate external links page.
As the HET website has been around for a long time, many of our original links deprecated. We launched a comprehensive revision in 2014, to verify and ensure all current links are up-to-date and active. The revision is still on-going, so we ask for your patience.Commentary
Almost all the commentary contained in the profiles, schools and essay pages of this website is original content written by myself (Gonšalo L. Fonseca). We would like to remind everyone visiting this site that neither INET, nor the New School, are to be held responsible for any of the material contained here (please read our disclaimer).
Much of what is contained here reflects my personal opinions and areas of interest. My interest in HET is largely due to its ability to put into perspective, and thus to clarify, the issues of modern economics. The commentary may seem quite idiosyncratic and some may disagree with portions of it. The information here has not been reviewed independently for accuracy, relevance and/or balance and thus deserves caution. We have composed a selected list of references which have guided us in the general construction of these web pages.
The content is subject to copyright. That means the website is subject to traditional usage guidelines for copy-written material. i.e. if you copy selections, you must not pass this off as your own work. That means using "quotation marks" for borrowed phrases/paragraphs, limiting the amount of text borrowed, citing the source, etc. "Fair use" is not an excuse to mirror, reproduce or copy large parts or entire pages without permission or attribution.
The content is always being revised and changing, but if you must cite, then:
(n.d.) means "no date". You can also use the date range "(1997-2016)" if you prefer.
I encourage and welcome any and all feedback on this. Comments, complaints, queries, etc. should be addressed to the HET website contact. I hope to answer all inquiries promptly, but this might not always be possible, so I beg for your patience. (see also Frequently-Asked Questions)
We hope you have an enjoyable time here. Please read the disclaimer before proceeding.
Gonšalo L. Fonseca
All rights reserved, Gonšalo L. Fonseca