A Summary of My Works on the Doctrine of Carl Menger

Carl Menger (1840-1921) is acknowledged as the founder of the Austrian School of Economics (Österreichische Schule der Nationalökonomie). Now that I have dedicated more or less a quarter of a century to present this major author (yet my biography is the first ever in the French language, see F ⑴1) edit, translate (into French and into English, especially his Principles of 1871 ‒ Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre ‒ and Investigations of 1883 ‒ Untersuchungen über die Methode der Socialwissenschaften und der politischen Oekonomie insbesondere ‒for the first time ever into French), as well as explore his archives (Nachlass), comment and annotate on them, a summary of my works upon his doctrine has kindly been requested from me by some colleagues and revered masters. Answering their request, here are a few pages that may serve well as a guide to what has been published in French about the Viennese master, and as results from my more international writings.

1. The sets of Menger’s archives

  1. First of all, there are different sets of archives to consider when studying Menger.
    • a) Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv, Wiener Staatsarchiv, Vienna, Austria, has the Personalakten Mengers. Ironically, not much is left there. Nor in Prague for that matter, but a few attendance sheets at Universities where he studied and later taught (incidentally, Japanese scholar Yukihiro Ikeda found that out with some disappointment when he came to Europe and inquired on this background for his PhD thesis, since then published).
    • b) Menger Collection at the Perkins Library, Duke University (NC, USA). With the archives of Karl Menger junior, the son of Carl Menger ((1902-1985, mathematician and exile to the USA at the time of the Anschluß 1938), there are some archives of Carl Menger, which were all collected by Prof. Roy Weintraub (Duke). The catalogue is available and a first analysis of the material came with the annual supplement of History of political Economy, n° 22, edited by Bruce Caldwell (Menger and his Legacy in Economics, Durham-London, 1990). More recently, Scott Scheall and Erwin Dekker worked on this legacy (History of Political Economy, Dec. 2018 issue).
    • c) Probably the most important and definitely the most massive archives is the Menger Collection at the Center for the Literature on Western Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University (Kunitachi, Tokyo, Japan). Manuscript annotations on volumes that Menger owned as well as the #3 copy of the Grundsätze sent to him by his publisher, Wilhelm Braumüller, are there. How the Library arrived in Japan, I narrated in an article published in French and adapted in Japanese (with K. Yamazaki: “メンガー文庫・ある経済思想の原資料Mengâ-bunko: aru keizaishisô no genshiryô: the Menger Collection, Source documents of a Doctrine in Political Economy”, Bulletin of the Center for Historical Social Science Literature, n° 22, Tokyo, March 2002).
    • d) A few volumes of Menger’s private library were transferred from the above Center to the library at the Department of Economics of the University of Tokyo. This is almost unknown, and yet some volumes by Malthus, Mill (James and John Stuart), Nassau Senior etc.are there (albeit mostly those without notes, contrary to volumes at the Center).

My works stem from long periods of time spent in those places. Publications (see references at the end of this papier) could not have existed without the kind help of librarians thereof, to whom I express my utmost gratitude. The paper itself introduces some results thus obtained (for extensive contents, the reader will consult the published works). The importance of working directly upon archives cannot be underrate. Hence this paper starts with this feature and the influence of the Menger’s Nachlass.

The goal of exploring archives was to solve some queries within “Mengerian studies” and this was achieved with respect to those that make up the list of entries in this paper. This is the result of personal, but also collective work as well, as shows the volume I edited with Peter Lang Verlag in English and German: Carl Menger discussed on the Basis of New Findings/ Neu erörtert unter Einbeziehung nachgelassener Texte (Frankfurt/Main and Vienna: see W ⑵/W ⒁, W (10) and W ⒀. Indeed, not only published works, but also manuscripts and annotations in volumes owned by Menger allow to know what the founder of the Austrian school aimed at.

In my works, I often addressed the specific audience of my native language (French), not only as a duty towards my institutions, but, since a translation of Menger’s two masterworks, his Principles (his theory, dated 1871) and his Untersuchungen (his methodology, published in 1883) was still in need in French after almost 150 years (!) My translations were published in 2011 and 2020 and they include comments and full annotations: see and . Some results will thus serve well beyond the French audience. This paper puts forth what may serve better at the international level, regarding Menger’s doctrine in the early Austrian school. There are ‒ referred to my works in the reference list below ‒ some queries solved thanks to the exploration and use of Menger’s archives.

2. The influence of Menger’s Nachlass

The history of the whereabouts of archives of the Austrian school generally speaking depends much on historical upheavals of the twentieth century. Both the school members and their papers and archives got scattered throughout the world, although they all originated from Central Europe (overwhelmingly from Vienna) as regards the early Austrian school. The extent to which archives have later influenced the evolution of the school itself and the course of economics as a science depends in turn on whether the school representatives, especially the generation of the so-called Enkelschüler of Menger (the second generation of his intellectual heirs) themselves took their properties with them into exile, or translated them, or created new hybrid products of earlier works mixed with newer views set in the framework of their exile throughout the world, however especially in the UK and the US2. As far as archives were concerned, they could be scattered because they were bought (after they died, like Menger’s from his widow in 1921), or acquired by institutions (like Hoover Foundation in Stanford University for Hayek’s archives or Duke University, by the care of Roy Weintraub regarding the papers of Menger’s son, Karl Menger), sometimes kept with family members (as in Montreal by Concordia University with Karl Polanyi’s daughter). Whether work was carried upon them, or not, changed much the amount of knowledge we have begot on those authors.

The story of the “export” of such collections has to be written in each case, and only the case of Menger father pertains to us in this paper (in many other cases, it often still has to be written at all): in the case of what happened to Menger’s Nachlass, especially the 20,000 plus items of the private collection he had built during his lifetime as one of the major collections of works in the social sciences all over Europe, one must distinguish between his copies of his own works, the books he collected, and which he filled with manuscript annotations, altogether with pamphlets, etc. and his notebooks. The first part is mainly in the Japanese Center indicated above, the notebooks at Duke University. The manuscript annotations, once deciphered, are often the most telling as Menger commented at length his readings upon the books he owned. This may be due to the fact that in Vienna, Menger used this as a workplace. For instance, he gathered his most outstanding disciples (Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Friedrich von Wieser, Eugen von Philippovich, etc.) as a Privatseminar which they attended at his private home in his “Library”. This was sold by his widow in the turmoil of post-World War I after he deceased (in 1921). This long story ‒ how Menger’s Library and some papers were taken to Japan where they are today and where historian of marginal utility, Emil Kauder, rediscovered them in 1959.

I have retraced this story and how the Library helps understanding Menger’s doctrine in W ⑿, W ⒁, F ⒆, F ⒇, J ⑴ and J ⑶ (fully or partially depending on works).

What thus originated in the heart of Europe got suddenly uprooted therefrom. Conversely, has it exerted influence in the Japanese academia, since there were now the Menger’s archives (also note that until Menger son’s death in 1985, the other papers, later to be gathered at Duke University, were not accessible, sleeping at the son’s home attic). In Japan, at the start, the archives that had just been bought raised interest. That was however quickly extinct after a couple of valuable works, that also contributed to the raise of a local genuine “economic philosophy”3 Research resumed in the 1980s with Kiichiro Yagi (Kyoto University)4. And there is a current of Japanese “Austrianism” noticeable5.

Some actual queries in the history of economic thought can be solved thanks to the archives, as well as actual puzzles of economic theory. Menger’s archives are best used for those purposes, and also to portrait anew the founder of the Austrian school, quite differently from what his heirs, especially in the US, have done, and more faithfully to its original European framework. Indeed, the archives help solving issues that would remain left to mere interpretation by diverse and that openness indicates how difficult it is to interpret him well. As Bertram Schefold wrote, this is likewise true for Menger as it was for John Maynard Keynes: “There was Keynes, there are the Keynesians and various versions of ‘what actually Keynes said’. This book [meaning W ⑴ in the references below] that is tries to explain why the founder of Austrian theory would become such a rich source of new economic currents”6.

3. The various editions of the Principles (Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre)

After publishing his 1871 Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre, Menger intended 1°) that it would be just an Introduction to a larger theoretical set of works, 2°) to publish a revised edition of the original volume. But, when he died in 1921, though he had abundantly annotated his masterwork for both purposes, he had not completed the task he had assigned to himself. A revised version was put forth by his son, Karl Menger, who asserted that “two souls reside within my breast”. This reedition came out in 1923. Albeit conscientiously performed with a sense of duty dedicated to the memory of his father, major differences exist between the two editions, which one can hardly trace to the father or to the son in the absence of textual evidence or with the sole evidence of the son’s comments. This was a key factor in making it impossible to decide what should be attributed to the one or the other and why commentators, starting with Hayek at the London School of Economics in the 1930’s, rather reprinted the 1871 edition ‒ the reasons why as well as a short insight into my view on Hayek’s representativeness within the Austrian school, see F , the section thereupon in my presentation of the edition, and F .

Now, evidence does exist to answer this query. It is found in the volumes of the Menger Library that bear many manuscript annotations that the son did not have at his disposal (after the Library was sold by Menger’s widow to the Japanese). Their deciphering is possible and was started by E. Kauder. I have completed that to make it available together with the first French translation, long awaited (see F ⑵).

4. Fundamental concepts in Menger’s own wording

The basis in the analysis of economic behavior presented in the Principles is, first of all, the fact itself that it focuses precisely on such individual behavior and subjective understanding when this kind of approach was either fully absent or only peripheral in the stand taken on economics in other schools and currents of thought. This is why the core notions in the Grundsäzte are 1° the satisfaction of human needs at the individual level felt by each and every economic agent (or wirtschaftender Mensch): this is Bedürfnisbefriedigung; 2° the availability of goods (and services), which suggests to consider first resources to think of their allocation according to a range of circumstances that include time, space, information, cognition of the potential uses, costs of acquiring the goods themselves (transportation etc.), but information or expertise as well: this is Verfügbarkeit: the “selling power” or rather the amount of usable and/or exchangeable quantities of the goods (Absatz): this is again function of factors of production (or inputs in today’s parlance) as demand raises according to needs felt by individuals. Material goods and services are treated alike, including the service of labor (Arbeitseistung). Thus Menger traces the frame for interaction between individuals aiming at covering their own needs, which they only know what they are ‒ and what they may ever be (against any attempt at dictating them which should be preferred). The task of the economist is to grasp this development of interacting individual agents within the framework of the « thousand natural vicissitudes » (Principles: quote from note as Menger read French economist Pellegrino Rossi: see entry 6 below). Core Austrian notions in economics are well-known and various authors recalled them at different times, from within or outside this school (for instance Bruce Caldwell among others). Yet stress upon the concepts above (Bedürfnisbefriedigung, Verfügbarkeit, Absatzfähigkeit) is better understood from a reading of the original version of the Principles together with Menger’s own manuscript annotations. See W , F 

In notebooks, Menger happened to recap for himself notional frames organizing his views on the economist’s work. In remaining papers that his son had kept (and that migrated from the basement of his Princeton home to become a major part of the Perkins Library contents at Duke University thanks to Roy Weintraub) Japanese scholar Kiichiro Yagi found a sheet of paper entitled Geflügelte Wörter

ZWECK (Ends/Goals)MITTEL (Means)VERWIRKLICHUNG  (Achievement)
MENSCH  (Human being)AUßENWELT  (Environment)LEBENSERHALTUNG  (Subsistence)
BEDÜRFNIS (Desire or need)GUT (Good)BEFRIEDIGUNG  (Satisfaction)

Many readings are possible: vertically and horizontally ‒ for instance as follows: a good (Gut) is a means (Mittel), in order to satisfy (Befriedigung) a need (Bedürfnis) that is subjectively felt in a given environment (Außenwelt), etc. But each word asks for more explanatory inquiry7.

It can be recalled here (which is usually not known by the English-reading commentators) that part of this work had been done in the past by French scholar Henri Simon Bloch in his dissertation La théorie des besoins de Carl Menger (with an Introduction by Gaëtan Pirou) dating back to 1937. Actually this is an exception since reception in France was very limited: it may explain that is almost unknown, but also gives a reason to examine this further. I retraced the history of the French reception of Menger’s ideas: see W ⑶, F ⒀, F ⒁ and, as well, entries 6 and 7 below in this paper.

5. Menger and Aristotle

A query that has long puzzled commentators is the extent of the knowledge Menger had taken of the works of Aristotle and of his accordance with them. This is true, for example, of his reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and of concepts like Menger’s “essentialism”, which would be altogether differently perceived depending on its degree of dependence to the Aristotelian doctrine. This is known as the riddle of “Menger’s Aristotelianism”. The literature is divided, some supporting the view (for instance, very early Oscar Kraus in a 1905 article and, among others nowadays, Barry Smith8) that was more or less evicted by others (for instance, Erich Streissler), etc. Now, evidence can be gathered from the contents of Menger’s Collection, especially his Library where the volume of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics that Menger owned and annotated is still kept. Menger indeed abundantly wrote on volumes he owned and it is possible to establish a strict correspondence between those and annotations on copies of his own texts. This is true of his reading of the Ancient philosopher, thus allowing to answer the question above. And where material is missing, like regarding the Politics by Aristotle, it is also possible to say what cannot be determined for sure from archives material. For example, on the issue of essentialism:a warning like the one formulated by Karl Milford (that the recurrence of the terms wesentlich, im Wesen etc.) holds true. Yet, all the same, Menger does endorse some form of analysis requiring to determine the “essence/essential character” (Wesentheit) of the various types he puts forth.As a consequence of doubts upon such questions, the idea of Menger’s “Aristotelianism” was supported by some, albeit often on the basis of intuitions (for example Barry Smith) while this hypothesis was more or less evicted by others (e.g. Erich Streissler). This and various other issues pertaining to that relationship between the Viennese modern economist and the Ancient philosopher can be definitely solved as I show in my works: see: W ⑴, W ⒂, F ⑴ , F ⒅. Moreover: as I am writing this paper, a lengthy piece co-authored with Ricardo F. Crespo on the issue of Aristotelianism in Menger is under scrutiny by a journal.

6. Menger and the French liberal economists

Some heirs in the Austrian school, especially in the late Neo-Austrian or American-Austrian school, have at times raised the issue of French origins of subjective utility theory ‒ and there were some good reasons to do so with early economists of the Enlightenment.9 This is important, as it may discard partly the genealogy that would relate Menger to the early Classical school (a reproach made to him by the German Historicists in his time and later a source of confusion). Indeed, this is also important to the study of nineteenth century French economic thought. Hence this was well worth some detailed inquiry. It can be fortunately be done thanks to notes that Menger left in his readings of French economists, especially the Physiocrats of the 18th century and the Liberals of the 19th century. For instance, the link between Say and Menger that has already been quite commented upon in the literature, yet on an intuitive basis, finds a solid basis in the Library and receives substantial evidence as to its true extent.

It is certain (as shown by annotations) that the reading of the correspondence between Say and Ricardo in the Miscellaneous volume (Mélanges) that Menger owned was very important to him. Menger’s readings of other French authors (Count Pellegrino Rossi, Michel Chevalier, Frédéric Bastiat) is less well known (even from historians of Austrian economic thought). For instance, Count Pellegrino Rossi (who succeeded Say as Chair of Political economy at the Collège de France) had written a handbook of economics which Menger used much for the revision of his own Principles of 1871. About Chevalier and Bastiat, too, the present essay intends to present reasonably balanced judgments based on first-hand material. On all those elements, see W (8), F ⑿

An additional short note: as to German liberals, the role of the reading of Rau’s handbook before publishing his masterwork has been demonstrated by historian of utility Emil Kauder.

7. Menger and French philosophy

Menger attentively read some French philosophers and French philosophy of his time along four lines:

  1. Sensualism. Still inspired by 18th century Enlightenment and Condillac. Let us note that Menger owned a copy of Condillac’s Complete Works, which he scarcely annotated.[1]
  2. Catholic ontology and introspection. That is based on faith and the emotional quest related to it, purposely far from any kind of rationalism.
  3. Materialism. It must be considered as different from sensualism, although also inherited from the Enlightenment (works like those of Diderot, d’Holbach). In the course of the 19th century, that kind of analysis of the individual body was extended to the social body and issues like poverty and economic freedom melted with it to bring forth various kinds of French socialism (that in turn inspired Marx).
  4. Medical psychology. Due to the incipient research on the cognitive power of the mind, considered as expressing the brain itself in a specifically clinical and experimental way, Ravaisson put many hopes in separating that trend from old phrenology and the renowned 17th century and 18th century Moralists.

The last entry is related to his interest in the issue of psychology and economics: see entry 8 below.

About the former three doctrines, Menger’s manuscript annotated owned a copy of Friedrich Überweg’s “presentation of the philosophy of the Modern Times” (Grundriss der Philosophie der neuer Zeit) published in 1872 (actually one of the books Menger most annotated), his attention blatantly turns to both to British and French thoughts (about the former see chapter 8 in W ⑴). This can be seen also in Menger’s notes while reading the History of 19th century French philosophy by Félix Ravaisson (in the German translation). Menger left annotations on the works by Auguste Comte. On those influences, there exists no thorough study in the current literature apart from notes we put in F ⑴, F ⑹, F ⒁ and an upcoming paper, bringing forth new material from archives.

8. Menger on the issue of psychology in economics

According to the inquiry in the above entry, the trend to which Menger seems to feel closest to (at least somehow following Ravaisson) is the last “scientific” approach, related to “medical psychology”, or rather as it developed at the time in Germany under the guidance of Wilhelm Wundt, of “experimental psychology”, or “psycho-physics” (including both psycho-physical research and psycho-physiological research ‒ the latter connected with medical). Ravaisson refers at length to the renowned physiologist of the brain Vulpian, who started with the distinctive criteria of vegetative, animal and human (conscious) life and then discovered relationships between the nervous system and the brain, also giving the first standard clinical descriptions of neuro-sclerosis. As to Menger, he entitled a file of his archives “Gegen Wundt”. He also showed interest for Ravaisson’s descriptions, seeking useful information on famous physicians like Bordas-Dumoulin, Boullier, Jaumes and Laprade for instance (French in Ravaisson’s work10). Both in France and Germany, some psychologists wished to extend their study of the individual to the collective body and establish their science as the basis for all Geisteswissenschaften,through studying inter-individual relationships, for instance.

This trend along Wundt’s experimental push was documented by Menger in his notes. Yet, the Viennese economist insisted that to ground economics upon experimental laws would be erroneous. For instance, if one inferred the marginal utility argument in economics from famous Weber-Fechner “Fundamental Psycho-physical Law” (Psycho-physisches Grundgesetz) that defined satiety (Sättigung), one would only impair theoretical research in economics. Along with his realistic and causal method, Menger thus aimed at a reasoning specific to economics, acknowledging the legitimacy of independent fields of knowledge. The marginal reasoning developed by the subjective agent takes place in economics as such (and this the famous triangle of marginal utility presented by Menger on page 93 of his Principles – for a presentation to non-economists and a comment see my work F in the Revue française de sociologie).

Conversely, to ground economics upon the results of another science would do well neither to one, nor to the other. Since the experimental nature of the new psychology aimed at overwhelming the “sciences of the mind”, this warning was in order and all the more necessary. One science started with a given set of facts in order to deepen them in the box of the mind, whereas the other would take them as granted and work on reasoning that implies subjective perception and thought leading to satisfaction by consumption, production, exchange, and so forth. Both sciences should seek general validity of results and a theoretical status, not only empirical: thus, Menger wished economics to become scientific for its own sake. See my works W ⑵, W ⑼ and J ⑵.

9. Menger’s theories on money (including monetary policy stand)

One major theme of Menger’s works, from Chapter VIII of the Principles to the bulk of his writings in the early 1890’s as he was back to the Imperial administration, as a Counsellor to the Ministry of Finance regarding the Valutareform by which the government tried to unify the monetary system and help saving the economy from the blow of the Great Depression (that caused, for instance, a major institution like the Kredit Anstalt to default). In 1892, especially, Menger wrote the entry Geld for the Handwörterbuch für Sozialwissenschaften, with two subsequent papers: one in French for the Revue d’Économie politique, on the measure of money, and one in English for the Economic Journal, on the origins of money. These two articles had different subject-matters: unfortunately, the one published in volume VI in 1892 of the French journalwas disregarded by commentators in English, who, not caring about checking, even sometimes thought they were two versions of the same. Actual facts could be reestablished with my translation of La monnaie mesure de valeur for a 2005 issue of History Of Political Economy: see .

At the level of theoretical concerns, it is important to point to the French article as it establishes the reasons why and the justification for a government (or a group thereof, Mengers add) to decree the quotity of money to issue. This seems to challenge the idea that modern theories of free banking could be based on a Mengerian scheme: indeed, this is not the case. Such developments, although partly due to contributions from the Austrian school, are to be dated from later on in the history of this school.

Note that, contemporary to my 2005 English translation, the full entry “Geld” was also translated (by Monika Streissler and Leland Yeager11. After those two rare essays were published, bibliographies in essays by commentators in English took them into account. The issue about the intrinsic and extrinsic measurement of value in monetary terms)[1]. The Revue d’économie politique 1892 article is a useful clarification of chapter XI of the first version of Geld where Menger distinguished between an “inner” and in “outer” value of money and discarded other “objective” theories of value in measuring prices. Besides theories developed as such all along by Menger in his works, the texts by Menger (all considered: published works, archives, notes and so on) can be explored with a wealth of other topics in mind. Here, to quote only a few among them that have raised interest both regarding theory and methodology: entrepreneurship, investment, innovation, information, time in economics, “economic anthropology” etc. As far as I have worked upon some of them, I will point here to two of them: entrepreneurship and self-identity (in relationship with an “economic anthropology”, so to speak).

10. Menger on innovation and entrepreneurship

“Neo-Austrian” authors, like Israel Kirzner first paid a renewed attention within their development of a new frame of the theory of the entrepreneur (which has to be distinguished from the theory of the firm per se). Kirzner stressed major interest for that topic back in the works of Say (after all, the word entrepreneur itself comes from the French) and related those early efforts to Menger’s theories.

The contributions both of Menger and of his first disciple, Böhm-Bawerk how they paved the way for later ideas on innovation and entrepreneurship. Both set the analysis of business practice and entrepreneurship well beyond a mere by-product of usual interest that existed in the German school about the Unternehmer. One main trademark ofthe so-called ‘Austrian School of economics’ is precisely its interest in innovation, markets (I present the market theory displayed by Menger in my work F ⒄) and the role of the entrepreneur therein (see W ⑺). This is part of the paradigm that Menger presented alternative to the views of the German Historical School’ where that theme was also explored (by Werner Sombart, for instance). Menger’s and Böhm-Bawerk’s views differed in that the latter developed tools that the former had not previously set (like the way to compute return on business investment), but the analysis of entrepreneurship as a mixture of foresight, monitoring, technical development, etc. had first emerged among concerns present in the Principles (also indeed there was a need at modernizing Imperial Austria-Hungary). Menger and Böhm-Bawerk raised issues of traits that entrepreneurs and capitalists shared, how to differentiate them and observe a new type of economic agent in the bud (the entrepreneur that was thus at hand for Schumpeter to popularize). With my colleague Christel Vivel we disentangled their views: see W ⑺ (and also works on connected authors)12.

11. Menger on self-identity

Menger, paid particular attention to the subjective element and as such can be said (like, later on, his disciple Hayek) to distinguish himself from “standard atomism”: his “methodological individualism” is thoroughly subjectively grounded and as such relates more closely to the issue of the self. More than any other promoter of modern economics this brand is close to the topic of self-love (yet in contraposition to Adam Smith theories), self-identity and self-realization.

Self- (or subjective)representations that agents build are also the object of the technical tools of analysis by economists. These representations require interpretation as they put forth issues and queries of interplay of various identities. The analysis of the economic agent as a wirtschaftender Mensch is one facet of Menger’s methodology as a whole (in his Untersuchungen), but first in his theory (the Principles). We explained some of the cogs and wheels of marginalist reasoning based upon this representation of the subject in economics (and economic philosophy).13 See W ⑷, W ⑹ and F ⒃

12. From the Methodenstreit on: Developments after Menger and the Early Austrian School original claims

The Methodenstreit between Menger and Gustav von Schmoller is a central feature of Menger’s activity and the rise of the Austrian school. Actually if Menger gave neither some treaties to which his Principles should have been the Introduction nor the second edition thereof, it was mostly because he was very busy retorting to Schmoller’s attacks, as his Open letters on the Errors of German Historicism (Irrthümer des deutschen Historismus : Vienna, Alfred Hölder, 1884: see part translation in F ).

Bearing in mind that a large part of his private collection consisted of travel literature that could be later labelled as early ethnological descriptions and the fact that Menger took much inspiration from it, and described the conditions for the development of civilization, it can be safely asserted that, to some extent, economic sociology (in the later coming Weberian orientation), reflections that could be related to both later anthropology and “economic philosophy” were in bud among developments that originated in Menger’s works (for instance, we regard the 1889 text upon the classification of economic sciences as typical of such reflections between economic theory and philosophy)14.

I develop a viewpoint different from that of Erich Streissler, who wished to describe Menger as a German economist altogether, in sum. He demonstrated that some theoretical parts of the Principles derived from the peculiar reception given to the works of Smith in Germany (where the Wealth of Nations was criticized from its first translations). Streissler linked his own analysis to the fate of the Austro-Hungary facing the German Reich (and being defeated by Prussia at Königgrätz, once for all). Reflections upon the notion of value are core to the Austrian economics15. Austrian economists, notably Joseph Schumpeter, saw things differently and claimed strongly their independence from the German school: the Methodenstreit bears witness to this differenciating process between Menger and Schmoller, Austrians and Germans, and it becomes central to understand Menger and the rise of his school.

In the twentieth century, the success of anthropological studies and the rise of “analysis in context” (with long term consequence one may observe nowadays) put an end to “Pan-Germanism” and “Europeo-centrism” were due to interest for early trade manners and sociological interest in the cogs and wheels of exchange (exchange and gift in Marcel Mauss, for instance) Part of this stream of thought came out of the Austrian school, since, using basic schemes provided by Menger, Karl Polanyi illustrated such views in his GreatTransformation (1944). This was published the same year as Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. Both are a fundamental texts in order to understand the evolution that the Mengerian heritage could yield. Using Menger’s texts, both authors (and their followers) not only built their own theories, but challenged each other (the debate was mostly between Polanyi and Hayek’s “older brother” Ludwig von Mises) and modern theories. See W ⒃ F ⑶ F ⒂ In a nutshell, doctrines that stemmed from Mengerian approach to economics show an Austrian paradigm that is multifaceted, not unilateral. See F ⑺ and F ⑻.

Concluding words

There are many other themes that can be developed from Menger’s wealth of indications in his works, in his archives and in his manuscript annotations. I have explored only some, and entries 10 and 11 above has briefly pointed out two more ‒ namely on entrepreneurship and a possible “economic anthropology” which could be found in his approach, and which was developed, in divergent directions, both within and outside the Austrian school.

Yet I have also set as one of my major goals to make the works by Menger available to the public, where they were not yet. I have translated works from the German into English, but mostly into my native language, French (both ways displaying similarities, but also different kinds of difficulties on which I was invited to reflect in my work F ⑼, as there is indeed here also a matter of style. Hence also a good reason to pay attention to this aspect in literary French, since as indicated above, the translation of Menger’s two masterworks, his Principles (his theory, dated 1871) and his Untersuchungen (his methodology, published in 1883) was still due in this language after almost a century and a half (!) My translations were published in 2011 and 2020 and they include comments and full annotations: now this is done and Menger’s major works are fully available together with annotations, especially regarding the Principles, which makes it a mine for further commentators to explore and take advantage of.

Publications on Carl Menger by Gilles Campagnolo

In English

(Abbreviated W for Works)


1) 2010: Criticisms of Classical political economy. Menger, Austrian Economics and the German Historical School, London-New York, Routledge, xxiv + 416 p. Foreword by Bertram Schefold.

Edited volume

2) 2008 Edited volume: Carl Menger. Discussed on the Basis of New Findings, Frankfurt/Main – Vienna, Peter Lang, 250 p.

Essays in journals and chapters in books

3) 2018 « From Karl Menger to Charles Menger? How Austrian economics (hardly) spread in France », Russian Journal of Economics 4, pp. 1–23.

4) 2018 « Self-realization of the economic agent (through a Mengerian Approach) », in A. Altobrando, T. Niizawa and R. Stone (Eds.), The Realizations of the Self. Cham (Suisse), Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 91-108.

5) 2017 « Menger, Carl », in G. Faccarello and H. D. Kurz (Eds.), Handbook of the History of Economic Analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, Vol. I, chap. 42, pp. 521-543.

6) 2016 « The Identity of the economic Agent- a Mengerian point of view », Cosmos + Taxis “Complex Methodological Individualism and the Explanation of Social Phenomena”, Vol. 3 / issues 2+3, pp. 64-77, UBC and Simon Frazer University ISSN 2991-5079. http://cosmosandtaxis.org/ (open-access)

7) 2014 (with C. Vivel) « The Foundations of the Theory of Entrepreneurship in Austrian Economics – Menger and Böhm-Bawerk on the Entrepreneur », n° 15/1 Review of Economic Philosophy, pp. 49-98

8) 2009 « Origins of Menger’s Thought in French Liberal Economists », Review of Austrian Economics, online http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11138-008-0055-3), 22/1, pp. 53-79.

9) 2008 “Was the Austrian School a “Psychological” School in the realm of Economics in Carl Menger’s view?” in Carl Menger. Discussed on the Basis of New Findings, Frankfurt/Main/ Vienna, Peter Lang pp. 165-186

10) 2008 “Menger: from the works published in Vienna to his Nachlass” in Carl Menger. Neu erörtert unter Einbeziehung nachgelassener Texte/Discussed on the Basis of New Findings, Frankfurt/Main/Vienna, Peter Lang pp. 31-58

11) 2005 “Money as Measure of Value. An English Presentation of Menger’s Essay in Monetary Thought”, History of Political Economy (Duke University Press), 37/2, pp. 233-244.

12) 2003 review of “Carl Menger and the Theory of Payments Systems”, The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, pp. 505-509.

13) 2000 “Learning from Hitotsubashi’s Carl Menger Library (Questioning the Origins of Austrian Economics)”, Bulletin of the Center for Historical Social Science Literature, Hitotsubashi UP, 20, pp. 1-16.

In German

(Also using W, for Werke)

14) (Herausgeber) 2008 : Carl Menger. Neu erörtert unter Einbeziehung nachgelassener Texte Frankfurt/Main – Wien, Peter Lang Verlag, 250 S.

15) 2012 « Deutsche Archive in Japan und das Beispiel: Carl Menger und sein Verständnis der Nikomachischen Ethik des Aristoteles. Mit der Liste deutscher und österreichischer Archive von Sozialwissenschaftlern in universitären Sondersammlungen in Japan » In H. Kurz (Hrsg.), Schriften des Vereins für Socialpolitik Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften (neue Folge 115/XXVII, Der Einfluss deutschsprachigen wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Denkens in Japan), Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, S. 131-177.

16) 2005 Ueber „Histoire et économie politique en Allemagne de Schmoller à Weber“ (Hrsg. Hinnerk Bruhns), Zentrumblatt (Französisches Zentrum der Universität Saarbrücks, S. 214-216.

In French

(Using a capital P before the number below for reference)

Menger’s biography 

1) 2008 Carl Menger, Entre Aristote et Hayek : aux sources de l’économie moderne, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 241 p.

Monographs (including translations with a full range of annotations, comments and appendixes)

2) 2020 Principes d’économie politique. Full translation (with presentation and comments) of Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre (1871, Wien, Wilhelm Braumüller, 288 p.) with translated manuscript annotations and full critical ed.. Paris, Le Seuil, 816 p.

3) 2014 Critiques de l’économie politique classique. Marx, Menger et l’École historique, Paris, Éditions Matériologiques, « E-conomiques », 536 p. (revised edition. 1st ed.. Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2004). Forewords by Bernard Bourgeois and Bertram Schefold (from the English edition). Postface by Jean-François Kervégan.

4) 2011 Recherches sur la méthode dans les sciences sociales et en économie politique en particulier. Full translation (with presentation and comments) of Untersuchungen über die Methode der Socialwissenschaften und der politischen Ökonomie insbesondere (1883, Leipzig, Dunckler & Humblot, 288 p.) Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, series ‘EHESS-translations’, 576 p.

5) 2006 « Seuls les extrémistes sont cohérents », Rothbard et l’École austro-américaine dans la querelle de l’herméneutique, Lyon, ENS-Éditions, « Économie politique moderne » 176 p. Includes the translation of Rothbard M., « The hermeneutical invasion of philosophy in economics » (Review of Austrian Economics, 3/1, p. 45-60, 1989).

Edited volumes

6) 2011 Existe-t-il une doctrine Menger? Aux origines de la pensée économique autrichienne, Aix-en-Provence : Presses Universitaires de Provence, 286 p.

7) 2020 Austriaca : numéro thématique, 90, June « L’école autrichienne d’économie ».

Essays in journals and chapters in books

8) 2020 Introduction ‒ À la (re)découverte de l’école autrichienne d’économie, Austriaca special issue, 90, pp. 5-19.

9) 2015 « Questions théoriques et pratiques posées par la traduction en français d’un texte fondateur d’économie politique : les Recherches sur la méthode, C. Menger », in Repères online http://www.dorif.it/ezine/ezine_articles.php?art_id=280

10) 2014 « Les Recherches sur la méthode de Carl Menger : l’individualisme méthodologique contre les robinsonnades ? », in R. Chappé et P. Crétois (dir.), L’homme présupposé, Presses Universitaires de Provence, p. 87-110.

11) 2010 « Friedrich August von Hayek, représentant du libéralisme “autrichien” au 20ème siècle », in Gilles Kévorkian (Ed.), La pensée libérale. Histoire et controverses, Paris, Ellipses, pp. 161-178.

12) 2008 « Carl Menger, lecteur des économistes libéraux français », Revue française d’économie, XXII/4, pp. 139-198.

13) 2008 « Comprendre l’évolution d’une école de pensée économique : le cas de l’École autrichienne », Économies et sociétés, série « Histoire de la pensée économique – PE », n° 40, 5/2008, p. 979-1016.

14) 2007 « De Carl Menger à Karl Menger – à Charles Menger ? Sur la diffusion de la pensée économique autrichienne dans le cas de Menger en France », Austriaca, 2007

15) 2007 “Constitution d’une approche réflexive comparative du capitalisme ou : sur la nature de l’influence exercée par Carl Menger sur la pensée historique allemande entre Schmoller et Weber », Histoire de la pensée économique allemande, (Eds) A. Alcouffe and C. Diebolt, Paris, Economica.

16) 2005 « Note sur le raisonnement marginal chez Carl Menger », Revue française de sociologie, octobre-décembre 2005, p. 799-807.

17) 2005 « La représentation du marché de Carl Menger », Histoire des représentations du marché, (dir.) Guy Bensimon, Paris, Houdiard éditeur, 2005, p. 453-471.

18) 2002 « Une source philosophique de la pensée économique de Carl Menger: l’Éthique à Nicomaque d’Aristote », Revue de philosophie économique, De Bœck, n° 6, p. 5-35.

19) 2001 “Un exemple de réception de l’économie occidentale au Japon : le Fonds Carl Menger de l’Université de Hitotsubashi », Japon Pluriel 4 (Actes du quatrième colloque de la Société Française des Études japonaises), (dir.) Nadine Lucas et Cécile Sakai, Paris, Ph. Picquier, 2001, p. 211-221.

20) 2000 « La bibliothèque viennoise de Carl Menger conservée au Japon : étude des sources d’une pensée économique », Austriaca, n° 50 « Vienne 1900 », p. 173-198 ;

In Japanese

(Using J before the number for reference)

1) (forthcoming) Kinnosuke Ootsuka’s memories of the acquisition of the Menger Collection at Hitotsubashi Library.

2) 2013 (with Naoki Matsuyama) « カール。メンガ-にとってオーストリア学派は経済学の<心理学>派だったのか? », Economic Studies, 62 (3), p. 177-206, Sapporo, Hokkaido UP.

3) 2002 (with Ko’ichi. Yamazaki), « メンガー文庫・ある経済思想の原資料[«Bulletin of the Center for Historical Social Science Literature, n° 22, mars 2002, p. 23-39]


  1. References work as follows: they are given according to the numbered list of works in the references section at the end of this paper. What is noted W plus number lists works (and Werke) in English and in German, while F is for publications in French and J for those in Japanese. Here F ⑴ means my biography of Menger in French at CNRS publishing house, while for instance W ⑸ is my entry on Menger in the Handbook of the History of Economic Analysis edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz Kurz (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2017).
  2. When exiles could translate their previous works or provide new ones, oftentimes in slightly or more definitely different form than the original produced in Vienna or elsewhere in the Mitteleuropa they had left.
  3. See, for instance Sugimura Kôzô., Inquiry into Menger’s Methodology of Social Sciences, Tokyo, Shogakenkyûkan, 1926 ; and Yamada Yûzô., Carl Menger, The Formation of Modern Economics, 1955.
  4. See, for instance, Yagi Kiichirô 1988 「オーストリア経済思想史研究」 (Studies on the History of the Economic Thought of the Austrian school), Nagoya UP. Also his disciples (Ikeda Yukihiro and Tomo Shigeki) has largely overcome mistakes made at first in using the archives, for instance in assuming that Menger supported Kantism.
  5. For instance, with economists like Hashimoto Tsutomu (Hokkaido Daigaku). See, for instance, the special issue on Japan of the Review of Economic Philosophy, June 2019: “Economic Philosophy in Japan”, Paris, J. Vrin.
  6. Foreword to Criticisms of Classical political economy: see W ⑴, p. xxiv.
  7. Contents of Box 2. For comments on the table by Yagi: “Carl Menger’s Grundsätze in the making” in History of Political Economy, volume 25, n° 4 as well as W ⑵.
  8. Kraus, O. * (1905) “Die aristotelische Werttheorie in ihren Beziehungen zu den Lehren der moderner Psychologenschule.” Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft, offprint sent by the author to C. Menger. Tübingen: Laup’schen Buchhandlung, no English known translation. About Smith, B. (1990) “Aristotle, Menger and Mises: an Essay in the Metaphysics of Economics.” In: Caldwell, B. (Ed.) Carl Menger and His Legacy in Economics. Annual Supplement to volume 22, History of Political Economy, pp. 263-288. Durham: Duke University Press. Kauder himself wrote on the matter: Kauder, E. (1957) “Intellectual and Political Roots of the Older Austrian School.” Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie, 17: 411-425. Let us also quote: Alter M., Carl Menger and the Origins of Austrian Economics, Boulder, Oxford, Colorado University Press, 1990 ; Blaug M. dir., Carl Menger, Cambridge University Press, 1992, as well as my work F ⒅. This list is not exhaustive.
  9. Israel Kirzner first paid a renewed attention within the frame of his theory of the entrepreneur (a word of French origin). Kirzner stressed the major interest for that topic back in the works of Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832) and Menger Murray Rothbard focused on the vivid 19th century French stream of Liberalism in his History of Political Economy in an Austrian perspective. Introducing Rothbard in France, see my work: see F ⑸.
  10. In France, the University of Montpellier has a Faculty of Medicine older than the one at the Sorbonne and physicians like Jaumes regarded themselves as “philosophers of the mind” united their efforts in understanding how the mind works.
  11. In Latzer and Schmitz: Carl Menger and the Evolution of Payments Systems: from Barter to Electronic Money, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2002. See my review of this book W ⑿.
  12. Albeit not directly about Menger, we also discussed the forerunners of Josef Schumpeter in Gilles Campagnolo and Christel Vivel, « Before Schumpeter: forerunners of the theory of the entrepreneur in 1900s German political economy – Werner Sombart, Friedrich von Wieser », The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 19/6, Dec. 2012, pp. 909-944.
  13. The Review of economic philosophy published two special issues on individual identity and on representations of the subjective agent, respectively issue 4/1 old series numbered 9) and issue 19/1 (New series, June 2018).
  14. „Grundzüge einer Klassifikation der Wirtschafts-wissenschaften“, Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, 19 (new series), 1889, pp. 1-32, re-edited in the Scarce Tracts collection at the London School of Economics where Hayek edited the Mengers Gesammelte Werke (now: Tübingen, Mohr, 1970, pp. 185-218).
  15. Inspired by Streissler, but taking great care in avoiding ideological matters, John S. Chipman showed very accurately the rise of various concepts of value between the reception of Smith works in Germany and the start of Menger’s works, see John S. Chipman, « Contributions of the Older German Schools to the development of utility theory », Studien zur Entwicklung der ökonomischen Theorie XX., édité par Christian Scheer, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 2005, p. 157-259.