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exchangeable value, although it is essential to it. If a commodity were in no way useful—in other words, if it could in no way contribute to our gratification--it would be destitute of exchangeable value, however scarce it might be, or whatever quantity of labour might be necessary to procure it.” The first sentence in Mr. Mill's chapter “on demand and supply in their relation to value,” is as follows :—“ That a thing may have any value in exchange, two conditions are necessary. It must be of some use, that is, it must conduce to some purpose, satisfy some desire. But secondly, the thing must not only have some utility, there must also be some difficulty in its attainment.”
Mr. Macleod's refutation of the doctrine that “cost of production regulates value” is, therefore, simply a refutation of his own extravagant misconception of it. If any further evidence be necessary to show this, take the following passage, in which an objection is taken to the ordinary limitation which is given to this doctrine ;—“because, for it to indicate price correctly, even in that one instance, it requires this essential qualification, that the supply should be unlimited” [p. lxi]. Now if the supply were “unlimited,” the article could have no exchange-value whatever. What the authors who have maintained this doctrine have stated, and what possibly Mr. Macleod intended to say, was that the article should be such as may be freely produced in any quantity required ;- but Mr. Macleod can see no distinction between this and an “unlimited supply."
When a writer thus shows an entire inability to comprehend the meaning of authors of such remarkable perspicuity and power of expression as Mr. Ricardo and Mr. J. S. Mill (for I will not suppose that he intentionally misrepresents them), his competency for the task which he has undertaken, of re-constructing the science of Political Economy, may be imagined. It is, of course, unnecessary to notice his “arguments” in refutation of the doctrine in question. It will be time enough to do so when he shows that he understands the principle he assails.
The limits of economic inquiry and the grounds of these limits are thus laid down by Mr. J. S. Mill:-“Laws of mind and laws of matter are so dissimilar in their nature, that it would be contrary to all principles of rational arrangement to mix them up as part of the same study. In all scientific methods, therefore, they are placed apart. Any compound effect or phenomenon which depends both on the properties of matter and on those of mind may thus become the subject of two completely distinct sciences, or branches of science ; one treating of the phenomenon in so far as it depends upon the laws of matter only ; the other treating of it in so far as it depends upon the laws of mind.
“The physical sciences are those which treat of the laws of matter, and of all complex phenomena, in so far as dependent upon the laws of matter. The mental or moral sciences are those which treat of the laws of mind, and of all complex phenomena, in so far as dependent upon the laws of mind. · · · · Many of the physical sciences may be treated of without any reference to mind, and as if the mind existed as a recipient of knowledge only, not as a cause producing effects. But there are no phenomena which depend exclusively upon the laws of mind ; even the phenomena of the mind itself being partially dependent upon the physiological laws of the body. All the mental sciences, therefore, not excepting the pure science of mind, must take account of a great variety of physical truths ; and (as physical science is commonly and very properly studied first) may be said to presuppose them, taking up the complex phenomena where physical science leaves them.
“Now this, it will be found, is a precise statement of the relation in which Political Economy stands to the various sciences which are tributary to the arts of production.
“The laws of the production of the objects which constitute wealth, are the subject matter both of Political Economy and of almost all the physical sciences. Such, however, of those laws as are purely laws of matter belong to physical science, and that exclusively. Such of them as are laws of the human mind, and no others, belong to Political Economy, which finally sums up the result of both combined.” (Essays, pp. 130, 131, 132.)
Mr. Senior's comment upon this, in the notice of Mr. Mill's Works which appeared in the Edinburgh Review, October 1848, is as follows :—“The justice of these views, we think, is obvious: and though they are now for the first time formally stated, an indistinct perception of them must be general, since they are generally acted on. The Political Economist does not attempt to state the mechanical and chemical laws which enable the steam engine to perform its miracles. He passes them by as laws of matter ; but he explains as fully as his knowledge will allow the motives which induce the mechanist to erect the steam engine and the labourer to work it : and these are laws of mind. He leaves to the geologist to explain the laws of matter which occasion the formation of coal; to the chemist, to distinguish its component elements ; to the engineer, to state the means by which it is extracted ; and to the teachers of many hundred different arts, to point out the uses to which it may be applied. What he reserves to himself is, to explain the laws of mind under which the owner of the soil allows his pastures to be laid waste, and the minerals which they cover to be abstracted; under which the capitalist employs in sinking shafts, and piercing galleries, funds which might be devoted to his own immediate enjoyment; under which the miner encounters the toils and the dangers of his hazardous and laborious occupation ; and the laws, also laws of mind, which decide in what proportions the produce or the value of the produce is divided between the three classes by whose concurrence it has been obtained. When he uses as his premises, as he often must do, facts supplied by physical science, he does not attempt to account for them.”
A clear distinction is here drawn between human and external nature as regards their connexion with Political Economy. The facts supplied by physical science the political economist assumes as premises, but “ does not attempt to account for them ;” while it is his business to “ explain the laws of mind” under which those physical facts are turned to account in the production and distribution of wealth. I have in the text endeavoured to show that this does not correctly describe the character of Political Economy. Assuredly it does not represent Adam Smith's conception of the limits of economic investigation. In discussing the principle which leads to the division of labour (Wealth of Nations, Book I. Chap. 2] he thus indicates his
notion of the point at which the inquiry of the political economist properly ceases. “The division of labour is the necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain propensity in human nature which has in view no such extensive utility--the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another. Whether this propensity be one of those original principles in human nature, of which no further account can be given, or whether, as seems more probable, it be the necessary consequence of the faculties of reason and speech, it belongs not to the present subject to inquire.” In other words, he distinctly declines to “explain the laws of mind” under which division of labour takes place ; regarding them as facts not to b. explained, but to be taken notice of and reasoned upon, in precisely the same way as in a subsequent chapter he notices the physical qualities of the precious metals--their portability, durability, divisibility, &c.—as physical facts to be taken account of, in order to understand the general adoption of them for the purposes of money. He no more attempts to explain the mental principles which lead to division of labour than he attempts to explain the physical principles which render the precious metals suitable as a medium of exchange. In both cases, in the language of the Reviewer, “he is satisfied with stating their existence.”
The only writer, so far as I know, who has in practice transcended the limits indicated and observed by Adam Smith, is Mr. Jennings in his “Natural Elements of Political Economy.” Not content with assuming mental principles as premises to be reasoned upon, in the same way as physical principles are assumed and reasoned upon, Mr. Jennings regards the explanation of the laws of mind as coming properly within the province of the Political Economist ; and, agreeably with this view, his book is devoted to an analysis of the principles of human nature, psychological and physiological, which are brought into action in the pursuit of wealth. Thus having resolved the operations of industry into certain movements of muscles and nerve-fibre, he proceeds “to inquire what is the modus operandi of the mental influence which actuates these organic instruments,” and this modus operandi having been analyzed, and the mental elements of the process ascertained, he makes these the basis of the division of industrial actions. These he divides as follows, viz :- Ist, those which are "marked simply by the law of former co-existence,”—of which he gives the examples of “ digging, threshing, rowing, sawing,” &c. ; 2ndly, those which are “marked by the application of judgment to the merely memorial trains of thought," e. g. those of “superintendents, inspectors,” &c. ; 3rdly, those which are “marked by the application of the law of resemblance to those processes of thought,” e. g. those of “painters and sculptors;" and 4thly, those which are “marked by the further application of judgment to resemblance,” e. g. those of “judges, legislators,” &c. (Page 115 to 117).
Hitherto the nomenclature of Political Economy has been framed with reference to the phenomena of wealth, or the mode of its production and distribution. . Mr. Jennings, taking a different view of the nature of economic science, defines and classifies on wholly different principles. Thus, “consumption” he defines as “that class of human actions, in which the instrumentality of the afferent trunks of nerve-fibre is predominant,” while “production” is “the class in which that of the efferent trunks of nerve-fibre is predominant.” The sensations which attend upon consumption, again, he divides “ into two classes, according as they are conveyed by the nerves of common sensation, or by the nerves of special sensation.” In the former class are comprised “sensations of resistance,” of “ temperature," · · · · “sensations consequent on the gratification of appetite,” &c. In the latter, viz :-those conveyed by nerves of special sensation, are included the charms of “colour,” of “form,” and “of sound,” · · · “the luscious taste which the palate derives from elaborate substances, in which sapid properties are joined with congenial odours, and diffused through substances agreeable to the touch."
If Political Economy is to be treated in this way, it is evident it will soon become a wholly different study from that which the world has hitherto known it. It is undoubtedly true, as Mr. Jennings remarks in his preface, that the subject matter of Political Economy represents the complex result of mechanical, chemical, physiological, and biological laws, together with the laws of mental and political philosophy ; but I cannot think that it follows from this that “ each of the more complex of these subjects, being governed by all the laws which govern every subject of inferior complexity, in addition to its own peculiar laws, ought not to be examined, until the difficulties which surround each of these less complex subjects have been surmounted progressively and seriatim.” Were this rule rigorously enforced, and were no one to be allowed to matriculate as a political economist till he had mastered all the less complex sciences, including mechanics, astronomy, chemistry, magnetism, electricity, physiology, biology, together with mental and political philosophy, the practice would certainly be attended with the advantage of effecting a very extensive reduction in the ranks of political economists ; if, indeed, with the exception of Mr. Jen