François Quesnay

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François Quesnay (June 4, 1694 – December 16, 1774) was a French economist of the Physiocratic school.[1] He is known for publishing the "Tableau économique" (Economic Table) in 1758 , which provided the foundations of the ideas of the Physiocrats. This was perhaps the first work to attempt to describe the workings of the economy in an analytical way, and as such can be viewed as one of the first important contributions to economic thought.



Quesnay was born at Merey, in today's Eure département, near Paris, the son of an advocate and small landed proprietor. Apprenticed at the age of sixteen to a surgeon, he soon went to Paris, studied medicine and surgery there, and, having qualified as a master-surgeon, settled down to practice at Mantes. In 1737 he was appointed perpetual secretary of the academy of surgery founded by François Gigot de la Peyronie, and became surgeon in ordinary to the king. In 1744 he graduated as a doctor of medicine; he became physician in ordinary to the king, and afterwards his first consulting physician, and was installed in the Palace of Versailles. His apartments were on the entresol, whence the Réunions de l'entresol[clarification needed] received their name. Louis XV esteemed Quesnay much, and used to call him his thinker; when he ennobled him he gave him for arms three flowers of the pansy (derived from pensée, in French meaning thought), with the Latin motto Propter ex cogitationem mentis.

He now devoted himself principally to economic studies, taking no part in the court intrigues which were perpetually going on around him. Around 1750 he became acquainted with Jean C. M. V. de Gournay (1712–1759), who was also an earnest inquirer in the economic field; and round these two distinguished men was gradually formed the philosophic sect of the Économistes, or, as for distinction's sake they were afterwards called, the Physiocrates. The most remarkable men in this group of disciples were the elder Mirabeau (author of L'Ami des hommes, 1756–60, and Philosophie rurale, 1763), Nicolas Baudeau (Introduction a la philosophie économique, 1771), G. F. Le Trosne (De l'ordre social, 1777), André Morellet (best known by his controversy with Galiani on the freedom of the grain trade during the Flour War), Mercier Larivière, and du Pont de Nemours. Adam Smith, during his stay on the continent with the young Duke of Buccleuch in 1764-1766, spent some time in Paris, where he made the acquaintance of Quesnay and some of his followers; he paid a high tribute to their scientific services in his Wealth of Nations.[2]

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