photo neededIn hmolscience, Emanuele Sella (1879-1946) (SN:19) was an Italian lawyer, political economist, with a remarkable “encyclopedic knowledge”, oft-classified as part of the Lausanne school of physical economics, noted, in economic thermodynamics, for his 1910s work on applying the first law and second law to the study of the mechanical investigation of economic activity and the cycle of wealth. [1]

In 1910, Sella published his La Vita della Ricchezza [The Life of Wealth] in which he emphasized not only a mechanical investigation of economic life, which studies the production, exchanges, savings, and speculation, but also suggested the possibility of conducting an energetic investigation by studying the psychological and physiological forces that cause economic phenomena. In this work, Sella uses the concept of entropy for the analogy between the process of hereditary transmission and the mechanism of production, where as he states: [2]

“If we consider men as generators of wealth who absorb and radiate, and if we consider wealth as a specific form of energy which we could call economic energy, we can see here also a corollary of the law of Clausius, which is the synthesis of human knowledge of a recent phase in the history of science: the energy of the universe is constant, entropy tends to its maximum. Heat moves from bodies having a higher temperature to those having a lower temperature. Therefore entropy tends to grow: the universe, according to Clausius, tends toward a heat equilibrium.”

On this logic, Sella formulates a concept of elementary economic entropy (‘oicoentropia’), arguing that with within each organism of which a society is composed, wealth is distributed to benefit all of its elements. He argues for the existence of specific economicity, wherein technical progress is viewed as a transformation of material which causes variations in the specific heat of bodies, that corresponds to the capacity which an organism has to use the things which surround it. [1]

In his 1915 Competition: Systems and Criticism of Systems, he becomes one of the first to discuss “economic temperature” and economic entropy. [1] In 1899, Sella wrote his first economic treatise: L’Emigrazione Italiana in Svizzerra (The Emigration Italiana in Svizzerra).

Sella’s core economic theory, in which he outlined his ideas on “economic energetics” or the relation between competition and entropy, was published in two volumes between 1915 and 1916 titled La Concorrenza: Sistema e Critica dei Sistemi [Competition: Systems and Criticism of Systems].

Sella studied at the University of Geneva for three semesters in 1898, attending courses of Italian economist Maffeo Pantaleoni (supposed mentor to Vilfredo Pareto); he obtained his law degree at the University of Turin in 1902 with the thesis “Free Trade is favorable to the Economy of a Nation, to its Industrial Development and, in this case, to the Progress of the Wool Industry”; from 1901 to 1902, Sella attended the Economic School and Royal Statistical Society in London. In 1903, he became an assistant lecturer at the Laboratorio di Economia Politica of Turin; he taught statistics and political economy at the Universita Commerciale of Turin from 1901 to 1903, becoming a professor there in 1905. In 1911, he became the chair of political economy at the University of Perugia.

Sella’s books were extensive in their citations, meaning that a reading of one of his books, according to Claudia Rotondi, required a reading of his long and important notes, almost preponderant with respect to the text, amounting to hundreds and hundreds of bibliographical references, which seems to imply that Sella was a erudite well-read person, especially outside of his given field, being that he was aware of the work of Rudolf Clausius.

Rotond, Claudia. (2001). “Competition and Economic Temperature – the Entropy Law in Emanuele Sella’s Work”, in: Economics and Interdisciplinary Exchange (ch. 6:, pgs. 150-170), ed. Guido Erreygers. Routledge.
2. Sella, Emanuele. (1910). La Vita della Ricchezza [The Life of Wealth]. (pgs. 67-68). Publisher.

External links
● Emanuele Sella (economist) (ItalianEnglish) – Wikipedia.
● Emanuele Sella (Italian → English) –, The Italian Encyclopedia.

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