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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Gabriel Biel

I love the Catholic Encyclopaedia. Here it is on Gabriel Biel, the "last of the scholastics", and his political work. What, though, does "advanced" mean in this quote? My friends, the rot had gone deep even in 1918.

The subject on which Biel held the most progressive views is political economy. Roscher, who with Schmoller introduced him to modern students of economics, declares that Biel's grasp of economics enabled him not only to understand the work of his predecessors, but to advance beyond them. (Cf. Geschicte der Nationalokonomik in Deutschland, 21 sqq.) According to Biel, the just price of a commodity is determined chiefly by human needs, by its scarcity, and by the difficulty of producing it. His enumeration includes all the factors that govern market price, and is more complete and reasonable than any made by his predecessors. (Cf. Garnier, L'idée du just prix, 77.) The same author maintains that concerning the occupation of the merchant or trader, Biel is more advanced than St. Thomas, since he attaches no stigma to it, but holds it to be good in itself, and the merchant entitled to remuneration because of his labour, risks, and expense. Biel's discussion of these subjects is contained in book IV of his commentary on the "Sentences". He wrote a special work on currency, ein wahrhaft goldenes Buch, in which he stigmatizes the debasing of coinage by princes as dishonest exploitation of the people. In the same work he severely condemns those rulers who curtailed the popular rights of forest, meadow, and water, and who imposed arbitrary burdens of taxation, as well as the rich sportsmen who encroached upon the lands of the peasantry.



His works are: "Sacri canonis Missae expositio resolutissima literalis et mystica" (Brixen, 1576); an abridgment of this work, entitled "Epitome expositionis canonis Missae" (Antwerp, 1565); "Sermones" (Brixen, 1585), on the Sundays and festivals of the Christian year, with a disquisition on the plague and a defence of the authority of the pope; "Collectorium sive epitome in magistri sententiarum libros IV" (Brixen, 1574); "Tractatus de potestate et utilitate monetarum".