The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method

The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method

The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method

The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method

Excerpt

This essay is not a contribution to philosophy. It is merely the exposition of certain ideas that attempts to deal with the theory of knowledge ought to take into full account.

Traditional logic and epistemology have produced, by and large, merely disquisitions on mathematics and the methods of the natural sciences. The philosophers considered physics as the paragon of science and blithely assumed that all knowledge is to be fashioned on its model. They dispensed with biology, satisfying themselves that one day later generations would succeed in reducing the phenomena of life to the operation of elements that can be fully described by physics. They slighted history as "mere literature" and ignored the existence of economics. Positivism, as foreshadowed by Laplace, baptized by Auguste Comte, and resuscitated and systematized by contemporary logical or empirical positivism, is essentially panphysicalism, a scheme to deny that there is any other method of scientific thinking than that starting from the physicist's recording of "protocol sentences." Its materialism encountered opposition only on the part of metaphysicians who freely indulged in the invention of fictitious entities and of arbitrary systems of what they called "philosophy of history."

This essay proposes to stress the fact that there is in the universe something for the description and analysis of which the natural sciences cannot contribute anything. There are events beyond the range of those events that the procedures of the natural sciences are fit to observe and to describe. There is human action.

It is a fact that up to now nothing has been done to bridge over the gulf that yawns between the natural events in the consumma-

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