Frank William Taussig influenced American economics at the turn of the twentieth century, holding power not only as an academic through his long-held position at Harvard University but in application through his work on the U.S. Tariff Commission and as adviser to President Woodrow Wilson.
Taussig viewed economic problems not as independent entities but in their social and historical context. He recognized that human motivation was crucial in understanding economic activity, but was skeptical that behind economic behavior lay solely egoism and hedonism, regarding that as an oversimplification of human nature. Unification thought explains that such self-centered motivations are not true human nature but rather the result of the Fall of Man. Thus, economic and all social behavior has been affected by the selfishness of fallen human beings. However, this is not absolute, as all people retain their original nature, although it is not always dominant. Taussig recognized that human nature could be more than self-serving, and sought to find other social factors to include in determination of economic activity. However, without understanding the reality of the spiritual condition of humankind the true understanding of human society, including economic activity, cannot be achieved.