Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 31: Hermann Heinrich Gossen (1810–1858)
Little has come down to us about the bachelor who spent a life in obscurity. We do not even know what he looked like. Most of what we know about him we owe to Léon Walras (1885 ). William Stanley Jevons draws Walras’s attention to Gossen in a letter and in the second edition of The Theory of Political Economy (1879) he mentions several precursors of his own ideas and of the use of mathematics in economics, including Gossen’s Entwickelung der Gesetze des menschlichen Verkehrs, und der daraus fließenden Regeln für menschliches Handeln (1854). He rightly calls Gossen’s “fundamental theory even more general and thorough” than his own (Jevons 1879: xxxviii). Walras gets hold of Gossen’s book, is deeply impressed by it and seeks to learn more about the “économiste inconnu”. He contacts Gossen’s nephew, Hermann Kortum, a professor of mathematics, who provides him with information about his uncle, on the basis of which Walras publishes a paper in the Journal des économistes, in which he calls Gossen “one of the most remarkable economists that has ever lived” (Walras 1885 : 71). For details of Gossen’s life, see Blum (n.d.) and Georgescu-Roegen (1983). Heinrich Wilhelm Joseph Hermann Gossen was born on 7 September 1810 into a family of civil servants in Düren near Cologne, at the time a part of the Napoleonic Imperium. His father worked as a tax collector for the French administration and later leased and managed a manor estate, which yielded the family...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.