Industry has been at the centre of some of the most formidable political and economic debates of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. This book explores the pivotal decades of the eighteenth century in which the modern concept of industry was for the first time at the heart of heated debates in France, Prussia, and other European countries. Contrary to the received view, many enlightenment thinkers were keenly aware of the rapid progress of industry during the 18th century. They tried to understand, predict, and also shape the development of the new economic sector. In the context of these debates the term 'industry' came to be used for this new and rapidly growing economic sector. This book explores the fascination of many enlightenment thinkers with the new economic sector of industry. The close reading of contemporary debates also suggests a fresh perspective on the causes that triggered the rise of industry in the eighteenth century and that eventually led to the 'industrial revolution'.

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