World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Clarence Edwin Ayres

Clarence Ayres
Born (1891-05-06)May 6, 1891
Lowell, Massachusetts
Died July 24, 1972(1972-07-24) (aged 81)
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Nationality American
Field Institutional economics
School/tradition Institutional economics
Influences Thorstein Veblen
John Dewey
Influenced Frank Knight
Institutional economics
Contributions Development of Veblenian dichotomy

Clarence Edwin Ayres (May 6, 1891 – July 24, 1972) was the principal thinker in the Texas school of Institutional Economics, during the middle of the 20th century.


  • Life 1
  • Ideas 2
  • Books by Clarence E. Ayres 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Ayres was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the son of a Baptist minister. He graduated from Brown University in 1912, and received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1917. He taught at Chicago from 1917 until 1920, and then moved on to Amherst College, in Massachusetts, where he taught until 1923. Following a year at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Ayres became associate editor of the New Republic, where he worked until 1927. In that year, Ayres joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he remained until his retirement in 1968. One of Ayres students during Ayres time at Amherst College was Talcott Parsons, the most famous of all American sociologists, who wrote two term-papers for Ayres's Philosophy III class. Another notable student of Ayres was C. Wright Mills. Ayres died on July 24, 1972 in Alamogordo, New Mexico (Breit and Culbertson 1976: 3–22).


Ayres is known as an "institutionalist economist" and best known for developing an economic philosophy stemming from the works of Thorstein Veblen and John Dewey. From Veblen, he took over the notion of the struggle with the so-called capitalist society as a (Darwinist) struggle between technology and ceremonial structure. Veblen had proposed an analytical dichotomy between the "instrumental" and the "ceremonial" aspects of culture. Ayres substituted the term "institutional" for the term "ceremonial" (although he continued to use the term "ceremonial" for some purposes). From Dewey he took over the concept of "instrumentalism," and particularly adopted as his own Dewey's theory of values, which he used to attack the notion of philosophical dualism. Ayres's attack on dualism and "higher values" was the key reason why his student Talcott Parsons rejected his ideas.

Books by Clarence E. Ayres

  • 1917. The Nature of the Relationship between Ethics and Economics. Dissertation, University of Chicago.
  • 1927. Science: The False Messiah. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
  • 1929. Holier Than Thou: The Way of the Righteous. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill
  • 1929. Huxley. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • 1938. The Problem of Economic Order. New York: Farrar and Rinehart.
  • 1944. The Theory of Economic Progress. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • 1946. The Divine Right of Capital. Boston: Houghton Miffin.
  • 1952. The Industrial Economy: Its Technological Basis and Institutional Destiny. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • 1961. Toward a Reasonable Society: The Values of Industrial Civilization. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • 1962. The Theory of Economic Progress, 2nd ed. New York: Schocken Books.


  • Breit, William, and William Patton Culbertson, Jr. (1976). Science and Ceremony: The Institutional Economics of C.E. Ayres. Austin: University of Texas Press.

External links

  • The New School's profile of Ayres
  • University of Texas memorial biography
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.