Here only a certain portion of the heat reappears in the shape of available mechanical work, the proportion for the steam-engine being one-twentieth of the heat produced by combustion of coal, and in the human body one-sixth of the heat developed by the conversion of the bodily constituents.
Every one knows what a revolution this law has brought about in physics and mechanics: it has added a new chapter to physiology.
There is only one science which, so far, has drawn no advantage from the discovery of the source of force and work, and that is no other than the very science of work, or political economy—in German, Volkswirthschaftslehre.
The grandest discovery in the doctrine of forces is as yet not even mentioned, far less turned to account, in a science whose object, nevertheless, is simply force—work.
But, then, this science is called Wirthschaftslehre. Surely no other name could so ill denote the thing as this, and I confess that I have always had an aversion against calling honest work by such a name. Wirthschaftslehre suggests ideas as remote as possible from economy—taverns and tavern-keeping. Far better is the Anglo-French term of political economy. If we must have a German name for the idea, let it be simply Arbeitswissenschaft—the science of work—for political economy, from first to last, has to do with nothing but human labor and its relations.
But if we call this science no longer Volkswirthschaft, or political economy, but the science of labor, the very name will clearly show that it can rest on no other basis save the law of energy, of motion—the great law of the mechanical equivalent of heat. For work, including human work, is motion, and motion is heat. Of course, political economy does not touch on the laws of nutrition, the laws of food substances or their transformation, for that is the province of chemistry and physiology. Political economy has to do only with the value of work, its price, and thence explains the phenomena of the market. Labor is the natural process whose social relations are known as political economy. The fundamental idea which political economy derives from labor is that of value. The production, the consumption, and the exchange of values (Werthschaffung, Werthverbrauch, Werthtausch), are the three principal divisions of the science of political economy.
In science there is no question that the value of a thing must express only the human labor expended on it. Price is the sum of the values that are given in order to move the will of the owner to renouncement of his right in the thing, his possession and his enjoyment of the work embodied in the thing. The idea of value requires deter-
- For the benefit of the reader who is not acquainted with German, it may be well to explain that in that language the ordinary meaning of the word Wirth is host, innkeeper; and of Wirthschaft, innkeeping, tavern, public-house.