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Publisher Description

The careful study made by the late Professor Oscar Nuccio of ancient, preclassical economic thought has clear title to a place among the most significant works that have tackled the debate on the origins of the spirit of capitalism and on the developmental role of the civil jurists of the Low Middle Ages in the formation of the social sciences. Economic science belongs to the family of social sciences and went through the same travails and important events that contributed to their evolution. Albertanus was a jurisconsul from Brescia who lived an intense intellectual and political life in Italy in the first half of the thirteenth century. Nuccio makes a point of informing the reader that the emphasis placed on an author far removed from us is not meant to tout the presence, during the Middle Ages, of a complete system of scientific theories that could lay out the complexity of social and natural phenomena. In this case, the task of the historian is to underline the possibility of grasping, even in the epoch in which Albertanus worked, the signs of an era in profound transformation in which conscience and individual interests were changing radically. This revisitation of the work of Albertanus is aimed at demonstrating, first of all, the possibility of "making his work present" in a modern key; his is a work that cannot be described with the cliche of the medieval era as the "Dark Ages," an epoch of unified thought, long described as "shadowy," "static," unitary," and "dense." In the second place, the internal analysis of the texts of Albertanus aims at catching the precursors of certain economic categories typical of modern economic epistemology, which can thus make sense of market processes. Nuccio, we will try to show, criticizes sharply that which he calls "the old historical-literary judgment" that relegates the Brescian lawyer to a niche of "didactic-religious" writers. To the contrary, Nuccio presents an original reading in which there clearly appears the figure of a medieval intellectual who is concerning himself with typically modern problems. Albertanus, Nuccio recognizes, despite being a man of the Middle Ages, adopts a thoroughly modern analysis of "human action," of a "double legitimization of work and profit," and of an "ethical consecration of utility."

Business & Personal Finance
September 22
Acton Institute

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