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the student of economics; and they are at the same time matters of considerable difficulty. It seems desirable, therefore, that we should supply at once some fairly adequate discussion of these points. I have chosen for this purpose two readings from Von Wieser and Boehm-Bawerk, two of the most eminent writers of the Austrian school; and to these I have added a brief confirmatory presentation of these matters from an eminent Dutch economist, Pierson. By way of a caution, it ought perhaps to be said that by no means all teachers of economics are in accord with the writers quoted in making utility the sole cause and determinant of subjective value. We are not yet convinced that difficulty of attainment-cost in labor and other sacrificesplays no part in the matter. Still all would agree that the explanations given by Austrian writers are beautifully ingenious and clear; and that they can not fail to help the student to a better understanding of subjective value.
A. *Originally only the human has importance for man. Thought for one's self, interest in one's self, comes by nature. Towards things, on the other hand, man is originally indifferent, and his interest in them only awakens in so far as he finds them connected with human interests and destinies. This takes various forms; such as pity, when the lower animals are seen to suffer just as man does, or religious or poetic emotion, when observation of the living in nature awakens suspicion of the connection of all life, or, finally, economic valuation, when things are conceived of as instruments to and conditions of human well-being. This is the coldest form that our interest takes, as it regards things simply as means to human ends; it is, however, at the same time, the most far-reaching, as it embraces most things, and claims not only existence, but property.
Our natural indifference towards things is nevertheless so great that it requires a special compulsion, a peremptory
* Von Wieser-Natural Value (1888), translation 1893, Macmillan & Co. Book I, Chapter VII.
challenge, to make us look upon them as objects of importance, objects possessing value. Nor does the mere observation that things are "of use" to us, and that the use has for us importance or value exert this compulsion. Where we employ goods for our own uses, but where at the same time these goods are at our disposal in absolutely assured superfluity, we use them, but concern ourselves no more about them than about the sands of the sea. Whether they increase or decrease always supposing that the superfluity remains-we merely think, "What does it matter? we have always enough and more than enough of them”! In Paradise nothing would have value but satisfactionsneither things nor goods. Because there one could have everything, one would not be dependent on anything.
On the other hand, where there is not an assured superfluity, interest awakens in the train of self-seeking calculation, and communicates itself to such good as we notice ourselves using and not caring to lose. Men in general thus lay their account with things, as the egoist with persons. And here we are not speaking only of cases of real need, of extremest want, where the little that one has is guarded with an Argus eye; nor of objects of great scarceness or rarity, such as a work of art which is quite unique, and whose loss it would be impossible to replace. We refer also to cases where people are fairly prosperous, but nevertheless require to economise; and even to cases of extreme wealth-always supposing it is not assured natural superfluity-where, in many respects, a man has everything, but where, all the same, the "everything" requires continual guarding, administration, and renewal. In these circumstances there is not a single change in a man's possessions which is entirely indifferent. Every addition brings some addition of enjoyment; every loss, even the slightest, disturbs, makes some gap, and breaks the expected line of enjoyments. Happiness and sorrow are dependent on our possessions; the destinies of goods mean the destinies of men. There is an intimate association of ideas between human interests and goods. Goods, indifferent in themselves, receive value from that value which their employments have.
Goods which are to be had in an assured and natural superfluity are called Free goods; all others are Economic goods. Thus only economic goods can possess value. The value of goods, according to Menger's definition, is "the importance which concrete goods, or quantities of goods, receive for us from the fact that we are conscious of being dependent on our disposal over them for the satisfaction of our wants."
It should be noticed that no part of free goods receives value; neither that part which is superfluous, and cannot therefore be used, nor yet that part which is used. Of the water which flows abundantly from some spring, neither that portion which fills the jar, nor that which overflows has value. The value of goods, although it has its origin in use, does not all the same reflect the utility: there are cases in which great use is obtained, where nevertheless no value-i. e., no value of goods-is created. The theorist, therefore, who would explain value must not content himself with explaining the change in amounts of utility; he must go further and examine those laws by which amounts of utility are changed into amounts of value. It may be suspected--and we shall find this suspicion confirmed in what follows-that value, owing in many cases so little of its origin to utility, is, even where it has so originated, equally far from always containing the full amount of utility. If the use of a good in the individual case be so far removed from its general usefulness, its value, if our suspicion is indeed confirmed, must be even further removed from that general usefulness—and here is opened up to us a second point of view from which we may explain and make intelligible the contradictions which experience points out between value and usefulness.
B. *All goods without exception-indeed according to the very conception of them as "good"-possess a certain relation to human wellbeing. There are, however, two essentially distinct grades of this relation. A good belongs
* Boehm-Bawerk-Positive Theory of Capital (1888), translation 1891. Macmillan & Co. Book III, Chapter II.
to the lower grade when it possesses the general capacity to subserve human weal. The higher grade, on the other hand, demands that a good should be more than merely a sufficient cause; it must be an indispensable condition of human wellbeing-a condition of such a kind that some gratification stands or falls with the having or wanting of the good. In the expressive vocabulary of everyday life we find a separate designation for these grades. The lower is called Usefulness, the higher Value. This distinction, already recognised in common speech, we must try to make as clear and well-marked as its fundamental importance for the whole theory of value deserves.
A man dwells beside a bubbling spring of water. He has filled his cup, and the spring goes on pouring out enough to fill a hundred other cups every minute. Another man is travelling in the desert. A long day's journey over glowing sand still divides him from the nearest oasis, and he has come to his last cup of water. What is the relation in each case between the cup of water and the wellbeing of its owner?
A single glance shows us that the relation is very dissimilar; but wherein lies the difference? Simply that, in the former case, we have only the lower grade of the relation we call wellbeing, that of usefulness; in the latter case we have the higher grade as well. In the first case, just as in the second, the cup of water is useful, that is, capable of satisfying a want, and, moreover, in exactly the same degree for evidently the refreshing qualities of the water-the qualities on which its capacity to quench thirst is based, such as coolness, taste, etc., are not in the least degree weakened by the fact that other cups of water chance to possess similar properties; nor, in the second case, are these refreshing qualities in the least augmented by the accidental circumstance that there is no other water near. On the other hand, the two cases become essentially distinct when considered with reference to the second grade. Looking at the former case we must say that the possession of the cup of water does not provide the man with one single satisfaction more, nor its loss with one satisfaction less, than he could have obtained without it. If he has that particular
cup of water he can quench his thirst with it; if he has not that cup-well, he can quench his thirst quite as well with one of the hundred others which the spring puts freely at his disposal every minute of the day. If he likes, therefore, he may make that one cup the cause of his satisfaction by quenching his thirst with it; an indispensable condition of his satisfaction it cannot be; for his wellbeing it is dispensable, unimportant, indifferent.
It is quite otherwise in the second case. Here we must say that, if our traveller had not that one last cup, he could not quench his thirst; he must bear its pangs unassuaged, perhaps even succumb to them. In the cup of water then, in this case, we see not merely a sufficient cause, but the indispensable condition, the sine qua non of human wellbeing. Here it is of consequence, even of urgency; it possesses importance for his wellbeing.
Now it is not too much to say that the distinction here drawn is one of the most fruitful and fundamental in the whole range of our science. It does not owe its existence to the microscope nor to any hair-splitting distinctions of the logician. It has its life in the world of men, who know it and use it and take it as guide for their common attitude towards the world of goods, not only as regards the intellectual estimate they apply to these goods, but as regards their actual business transactions. About goods which are only useful the practical business man is careless and indifferent. The academic knowledge that a good may be "of use" cannot evoke any efficient interest in that good, in face of the other knowledge that the same use may be obtained without it. Such goods are practically naught as regards our wellbeing, and we treat them as such; we are not put about when we lose them, and we make no effort to gain them. Who would fret at, or make an effort to prevent, the spilling of a cup of water at the spring, or the escape of a cubic foot of atmospheric air? Where, on the other hand, the sharpened glance of the economic man recognises that some satisfaction, wellbeing, gratification, is connected with a particular good, there the effective interest which we take in our own wellbeing is transferred to the good which we recognise as its condition; we see and