Conceptual history of “capitalism”

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This article presents the philosophical reconstruction of the concept of “capitalism”. The key thesis is that K.Marx was not the creator of the concept “capitalism”, he used the term “capitalist mode of production”. This text introduces the consistent philosophical reflection on the emergence and formation of the concept of “capitalism” from the very beginning of its first references in the political literature in Germany and France until the introduction of the concept into the academic discourse as a stable term. In contrast to an established perception that Sombart was the first popularizer of the concept and introduced it into the academic use, the article shows the significance of Shaeffle’s work as earlier and important contribution to the development of the concept “capitalism”. It was in Shaeffle’s works that the term “capitalism” received a neutral meaning through its convergences with the concept of “liberalism”, and lost its negative political connotations, which laid the foundation for its academic history. In this text, Sombart and Weber are represented not only as pioneers of the concept of “capitalism” in academic discourse, but also as scholars who, by connecting “capitalism” with the concept of “spirit”, made it possible for the former to be developed as ideology as a specific type of capitalist rationality. On the basis of the detailed philosophical reconstruction of the formation of the concept of “capitalism”, it has been shown how the dynamic, developing, unstable concept of “capitalism” transformed into the ideological term and then became the foundation for shaping rational/calculative New Time subject.
Translated title of the contributionКонцептуальная история «капитализма»
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-610
Journal Вестник Санкт-Петербургского университета. Философия и конфликтология
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2018


  • philosophy of capitalism
  • capitalist rationality
  • Liberalism
  • socialism
  • A. Shaeffle
  • K. Marx


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