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35th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy

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Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) -- Criticism and interpretation, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) -- Criticism and interpretation


This inquiry seeks to establish that similarities, commonalities, and parallels can be identified in selected contributions advanced by Thorstein Veblen and Friedrich Nietzsche. In the main, their commonness is noted to appear in the critical approaches that also includes expressing deep-seated skepticism regarding the course to modernity, singling out institutions ruling society, and especially the economy—in the case of Veblen. Specialized in Philology, as Nietzsche extolls his Dionysian orientation this inquiry introduces the idea that Veblen’s foundation for his distinctly critical approach to ruling institutions also reflects a Dionysian perspective. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-85) Nietzsche introduces a character whom he develops as “The Last Man.” In The Vested Interests and the Common Man (1919), Veblen introduces a character whom he labels as his “Common Man:” shaped by particulars of America’s “vested interests,” and who could also be identified as a parallel extension of Nietzsche’s “Last Man.”

JEL Classification Codes:
B15 – Historical, Institutional, Evolutionary
B31 – History of Economic Thought, Individuals
B41 – Economic Methodology

Common Man, Thorstein Veblen, Friedrich Nietzsche, Last Man, Institutions


© John Battaile Hall


Conference Paper presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy Special Session#04: “Advancing Evolutionary Institutional Economics," Presented on 09 September 2023 Leeds, United Kingdom

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Economics Commons