The Philosophical Foundations of John Maynard Keynes's Thinking as Expressed in the Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

19 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2013

Date Written: March 24, 2013


Investigation of Keynes’ philosophy is not a new subject. For instance, O´Donnell has dealt with this broad topic it since 1982. The purpose of this paper is narrower: to synthesize the philosophical background of The Economic Consequences of the Peace (hereafter ECP) in order to learn more about the foundations of Keynes’s legacy.

Attention will be paid to the philosophical origins, foundations and meaning of the ECP. Keynes’s critique of the Treaty of Versailles was in terms of its viability. His methodological approach was thus related to the coordination of theory and practice as well as the use of both rationality and intuition, wherein his economic thought mirrored his philosophical thought.

Keynes’s core lays in both organicism and uncertainty. The complex interrelations of a system are at the core of the ECP. Indeed Keynes aimed to see a co-ordinated effort on the part of nations as every happening in Europe affected all the countries and sectors. Accordingly he is considered as a realist. Further Keynes’s belief in the lack of a natural order highlighted the need for practical and ethical intervention. Thus, in 1919 he championed practical egalitarianism. Efficacy in terms of reparations was for him the road to freedom. Since his objective was to search for the truth and freedom, Keynes realized that the then current situation in Europe was a turning point in world history. If this was his objective Keynes’s language was characterized by reasonableness, propaganda and persuasion.

His advanced philosophy in 1919 anticipated his intellectual legacy, especially remarkable after 1936. The first Section is an introduction to the topics studied in the ECP. The second Section is a literature review of Keynes’s general philosophy. The third Section is about the general philosophy expressed in the ECP. The fourth Section is about the philosophical insights of the ECP in terms of Epistemology, Ethics, Ontology, and Political and Social Philosophy. Section 5 concludes. References are listed at the end of the article.

Keywords: Keynes, peace, uncertainty, philosophy of economics, social philosophy, epistemology, method, ethics, ontology, O’Donnell, Carabelli, Fitzgibbons, Skidelsky

Suggested Citation

Muñoz, Jesús, The Philosophical Foundations of John Maynard Keynes's Thinking as Expressed in the Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) (March 24, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Jesús Muñoz (Contact Author)

University Incarnate Word ( email )

Mexico City, TX
United States

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