Piero Sraffas Political Economy: A Centenary Estimate (Routledge Studies in the History of Economics)

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Nerio Naldi Nerio Naldi. Eleonora Sanfilippo Eleonora Sanfilippo. Annalisa Rosselli Annalisa Rosselli. History of Political Economy 40 4 : Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this content. Sign in.

Piero Sraffa

You could not be signed in. Client Account. Sign In Forgot password? Don't have an account? In , he wrote about returns to scale and perfect competition , underlining some doubtful points of Alfred Marshall 's theory of the firm. In , Sraffa's yet undiscussed theory of value , [2] but also his friendship with Antonio Gramsci —a risky and compromising endeavor in the context of the Italian fascist regime , considering Gramsci had previously been imprisoned Sraffa supplied the material, literally pens and paper, with which Gramsci would write his Prison Notebooks —brought John Maynard Keynes to prudently invite Sraffa to the University of Cambridge , where the Italian economist was initially assigned a lectureship.

Together with Frank P. Ramsey and Ludwig Wittgenstein , Sraffa joined the so-called cafeteria group , an informal club that discussed Keynes's theory of probability and Friedrich Hayek 's theory of business cycles see Sraffa—Hayek debate.

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In , Sraffa was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College. John Eatwell wrote of Sraffa's work on David Ricardo :. Sraffa's Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities was an attempt to perfect classical economics' theory of value as originally developed by Ricardo and others. He aimed to demonstrate flaws in the mainstream neoclassical theory of value and develop an alternative analysis. In particular, Sraffa's technique of aggregating capital as "dated inputs of labour" led to a famous scholarly debate known as the Cambridge capital controversy.

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Economists disagree on whether Sraffa's work refutes neoclassical economics. Many post-Keynesian economists use Sraffa's critique as justification for abandoning neoclassical analysis and exploring other models of economic behavior. Others see his work as compatible with neoclassical economics as developed in modern general equilibrium models, or as unable to determine a long-period position, just like the Walrasian approach. Nonetheless, Sraffa's work, particularly his interpretation of Ricardo and his Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities , is seen as the starting point of the neo-Ricardian school in the s.

His approach has been described as serving "to help judge Ricardo's editor and to illuminate the unity in [his] scientific vision, from before until death in ". Sraffa was a close friend of Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci and was instrumental in securing Gramsci's prison notebooks from the Fascist authorities after the latter's death in Titled "Problems of today and of Tomorrow", [9] Gramsci published a letter from Sraffa without signing, signed S.

In the letter, Sraffa emphasizes the function of bourgeois opposition in the struggle against fascism and the importance of democratic institutions for the social and political development of the proletariat. Seeing the Italian Communist Party as weak, Sraffa recommended collaboration with the bourgeois opposition to fascism.

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Norman Malcolm famously credits Sraffa with providing Ludwig Wittgenstein with the conceptual break that founded the Philosophical Investigations , by means of a rude gesture on Sraffa's part: [11]. Wittgenstein was insisting that a proposition and that which it describes must have the same 'logical form', the same 'logical multiplicity'. Sraffa made a gesture, familiar to Neapolitans as meaning something like disgust or contempt, of brushing the underneath of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips of one hand.


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Sraffa was a close friend of Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci and was instrumental in securing Gramsci's prison notebooks from the Fascist authorities after the latter's death in Titled "Problems of today and of Tomorrow", [9] Gramsci published a letter from Sraffa without signing, signed S.

In the letter, Sraffa emphasizes the function of bourgeois opposition in the struggle against fascism and the importance of democratic institutions for the social and political development of the proletariat. Seeing the Italian Communist Party as weak, Sraffa recommended collaboration with the bourgeois opposition to fascism.

Norman Malcolm famously credits Sraffa with providing Ludwig Wittgenstein with the conceptual break that founded the Philosophical Investigations , by means of a rude gesture on Sraffa's part: [11]. Wittgenstein was insisting that a proposition and that which it describes must have the same 'logical form', the same 'logical multiplicity'. Sraffa made a gesture, familiar to Neapolitans as meaning something like disgust or contempt, of brushing the underneath of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips of one hand. And he asked: 'What is the logical form of that?

In the introduction to Philosophical Investigations , Wittgenstein mentions discussions with Sraffa over many years and says: "I am indebted to this stimulus for the most consequential ideas in this book".

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However, Sraffa broke off his weekly conversations with Wittgenstein in over the latter's protests; and when the philosopher said he would talk about anything Sraffa wanted, "'Yes', Sraffa replied, 'but in your way'". Sraffa and Wittgenstein influenced each other deeply.

They continually corresponded and discussed each other in their journals and notebooks. While Wittgenstein made his famous turn from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to the Philosophical Investigations wherein he jettisoned the previous idea that the world comprised an atomistic set of propositional facts for the notion that meaning derives from its use within a holistic self-enclosed system. Analogously, Sraffa was rebutting the neoclassical paradigm which was similarly atomistic, individualistic and derivational see criticisms of neoclassical economics. While there are disputes about how to interpret Sraffa—falling primarily into the neoclassical camp of Paul Samuelson and the neo-Ricardian of Pierangelo Garegnani —none dispute Sraffa's influence [14] and it can be argued that Sraffa's critique of neoclassical economics is analogous to that of Wittgenstein's of philosophy, in that Sraffa sought to replace the individualistic and positivistic account of price as the result of an equilibration of supply and demand, for instead as price serving a social function, namely to reproduce a stationary or expanding economy given a distribution of income.

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Piero Sraffa - Wikipedia

Sraffa was described as a shy and very intelligent man who was devoted to study and books. His library contained more than 8, volumes, many of which are now in the Trinity College Library. A popular anecdote claims that Sraffa made successful long-term investments in Japanese government bonds that he bought the day after the nuclear bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In , he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Sorbonne and in received another one from Madrid 's Complutense university. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Piero Sraffa.