Vilfredo Pareto Criticism - Essay

Talcott Parsons (essay date 1935)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "General Works, Theory and Its History," in The American Economic Review, Vol. 25, No. 3, 1935, pp. 502-8.

[In the following essay, Parsons reviews the English-language translation of Trattato di sociologia generale.]

The final appearance, after being heralded for so many years, of the English translation of Pareto's Trattato di Sociologia Generale is surely an event of the first importance for the social sciences of the English-speaking world, though perhaps not altogether for the reasons most generally heralded. The editor, his collaborators and the publishers are to be congratulated upon the successful completion of so monumental a task.


(The entire section is 2742 words.)

Morris Ginsberg (essay date 1936)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Sociology of Pareto," in Reason and Unreason in Society: Essays in Sociology and Social Philosophy, Harvard University Press, 1948, pp. 84-103.

[In the following essay, which was first published in 1936, Ginsberg challenges the central points of Pareto's sociological theories.]

Pareto's sociology falls naturally into two parts. The first is devoted to an analysis and classification of the elementary constituents of human nature as manifested in social life. The second is concerned with the interactions of these elementary traits and the changes which occur in their distribution in the different classes of society. The method followed is inductive and...

(The entire section is 8381 words.)

Max Lerner (essay date 1939)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Pareto's Republic," in Ideas Are Weapons: The History and Uses of Ideas, The Viking Press, 1939, pp. 348-55.

[In the following essay, Lerner offers a highly critical view of P areto 's sociological thought.]

Take a Machiavelli, with his amazing sense of the springs of human conduct and his cynicism about ethics; soak him in the modern worship of scientific method; hard-boil him in a hatred for democracy in all its manifestations; fill him with an intense animus against proletarian movements and Marxian theory; add a few dashes of economic fundamentalism; stir it all with a poetic feeling about the ruling élite; sprinkle thoroughly with out-ofthe-way...

(The entire section is 3135 words.)

Giovanni Demaria (essay date 1949)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Demaria on Pareto," in The Development of Economic Thought: Great Economists in Perspective, J. Wiley, 1952, pp. 628-51.

[In the following essay, which originally appeared in an Italian economic journal in 1949, Demaria examines Pareto's economic writings.]


By a consent which is nearly unanimous, Pareto has been given the honor title, "father of contemporary economic science." In order to appreciate the significance of the work of the great Italian thinker, we must pause for a moment to examine the stage at which economic science had arrived during the third quarter of the past century. At this period, economics abounded with...

(The entire section is 8730 words.)

A. J. Jaffe (essay date 1960)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Pareto and Fascism Reconsidered," in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 19, No. 4, July, 1960, pp. 399-411.

[In the following essay, Jaffe reconsiders the basis for Pareto's reputation as a fascist ideologue.]

From time to time various writers have linked the name of the Italian economist and sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto, with fascism. He has been portrayed by some as the ideological father of fascism ("Marx of the bourgeoisie"), by still others as a precursor of fascism. Accordingly, it would seem well systematically to appraise Pareto's work, especially as it relates to fascist ideology. Here we will attempt this task, singling out four...

(The entire section is 4492 words.)

Norberto Bobbio (essay date 1964)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Introduction to Pareto's Sociology," in On Mosca and P areto, Librairie Droz, 1972, pp. 55-78.

[In the following essay, which was originally published in Italian in 1964, Bobbio examines the formal structure of Trattato di sociologia generale.]

As is known, the Trattato di sociologia generale was born after a long gestation as a work which can only be described as "monstrous," the word "monster" being used in the triple sense of "prodigy", "deformed creature" and, neutrally, "unusual event". Prodigious in the Trattato is the breadth of design and research; from an introduction to economics, the sociology, as a result of subsequent...

(The entire section is 8061 words.)

Joseph A. Schumpeter (essay date 1965)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Vilfredo Pareto, 1848-1923," in Ten Great Economists: From Marx to Keynes, Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 110-42.

[In the following essay, which first appeared in the Quarterly Review of Economics in 1949, Schumpeter focuses on P areto 's economic theories.]

In a volume devoted to Pareto's life and work, Professor Bousquet relates that the obituary article devoted to Pareto in the socialist daily, Avanti, described him as the ' bourgeois Karl Marx. ' I do not know that a man can rightly be called ' bourgeois' who never missed an opportunity to pour contempt on la bourgeoisie ignorante et lache. But for the rest, the analogy conveys...

(The entire section is 9999 words.)

Joseph Lopreato and Robert C. Ness (essay date 1966)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Vilfredo Pareto: Sociologist or Ideologist?," in The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1966, pp. 21-38.

[In the following essay, Lopreato and Ness dismiss the view of Pareto as a forerunner of modern fascist ideology.]

In the history of science it has often happened that a scholar's ideas are denied full recognition because ofthat scholar's real or assumed connection to some controversial ideology. The position accorded to Vilfredo Pareto is one illustration of such practice in present-day sociology. This scholar is often said to have been a "Newton of the Moral World," or altogether a fascist ideologist. So Faris informs us that "The book [The Mind...

(The entire section is 6611 words.)

R. Cirillo (essay date 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Vilfredo Pareto: His Life and His Economic Theories," in The Economics of Vilfredo Pareto, Frank Cass, 1979, pp. 7-25.

[In the following excerpt, Cirillo provides a biographical and historical perspective for an examination of Pareto's economic writings.]


Vilfredo Pareto was born in Paris on July 15, 1848 and died at Céligny, in the Canton of Geneva, on August 19, 1923. His family belonged to the Genoese nobility which governed the Republic till it was conquered by Napoleon. His father, Marchese Raffaele Pareto, typical of the youth of the Italian Risorgimento of the first half of the nineteenth century, was involved in a...

(The entire section is 6825 words.)

Renato Cirillo (essay date 1983)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Was Vilfredo Pareto Really a ' Precursor' of Fascism?," in American Journal Of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 42, No. 12, April, 1983, pp. 235-44.

[In the following essay, Cirillo investigates whether or not Pareto was in fact, as is often contended, a "precursor of fascism."]



The fact that Vilfredo Pareto embraced fascism during the last months of his life generated enough prejudice against the man that even scholars sometimes approach his works with an initial bias. Readers will recall that when Arthur Livingston published the English translation of Trattato di sociologia generale...

(The entire section is 4080 words.)

Richard Bellamy (essay date 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Vilfredo Pareto," in Modern Italian Social Theory: Ideology and Politics from Pareto to the Present, Polity Press, 1987, pp. 12-33.

[In the following essay, Bellamy takes issue with critics who perceive a significant ideological discontinuity between Pareto's earlier and later writings.]

Pareto, when studied at all, is generally interpreted in two apparently mutually exclusive ways. Economists regard him as a classical liberal, who made important contributions to the theory of rational choice underlying the defence and analysis of market mechanisms. Sociologists and political theorists, by contrast, tend to dismiss his ideas as crude and illiberal—as...

(The entire section is 9487 words.)