Evolutionary metaphors and the roman economy (2006)

Author(s): Greene K

    Abstract: The aims of this paper -- described in the editorial introduction as 'un vero tour de force teorico' -- are (1) to stimulate reflection about the deepest level of our approach to studying the past, and (2) to explore how underlying concepts affect our interpretation of the economy, especially in terms of progress or change. The first part examines the diversity of metaphors available from (biological) evolutionary thought and look briefly at evolutionary economics, a fascinating discipline that has expanded dramatically in the last thirty years. The second part scrutinises some economists and ancient historians who have written about the Roman economy in order to reveal the underlying structures of their thinking, evolutionary or otherwise. Some understanding of biological evolution is important for detecting the more indirect forms of evolutionary thinking that may crop up in the writing of ancient historians, while sensitivity to the relationship of biological thinking to social evolution or institutional economics allows general metaphors to be distinguished from direct analogies.

    Notes: Atti degli Incontri capresi di storia dell'economia antica (Capri 13-16 aprile 2003)

      • Book Title: Innovazione tecnica e progresso economico nel mondo romano : atti degli Incontri capresi di storia dell'economia antica (Capri, 13-16 aprile 2003)
      • Pages: 271-302
      • Publisher: Edipuglia
      • Publication type: Book chapter
      • Bibliographic status: Published

        Dr Kevin Greene
        Visiting Fellow (Archaeology)