The Theory of Economic Change

The Theory of Economic Change

The Theory of Economic Change

The Theory of Economic Change

Excerpt

This is a pretentious book, I fear, in the sense that it seems to pretend to be saying something new, whereas it is really not saying anything new at all, but merely arranging what has been said before in a new form. I am also painfully aware that this is scarcely a book at all, in the usual sense, but rather a collection of more or less related essays. Indeed, I suspect that my preface must consist of a defence of my decision to publish in this form, rather than to rewrite the whole thing as a shorter, integrated thesis. I believe I could have done this, and have produced a much neater, sharper argument. Aesthetically it would have been more satisfying, and the result would probably have been both easier and more agreeable to read.

For two reasons I have not done so. One reason is a lazy proclivity which makes me reluctant to undertake the laborious task of rewriting when I might be going on to more interesting things. The other is that I believe there is some value for the serious student in this kind of "work in progress" book, with all its hesitations, digressions and circuitous development. After all, I have been working with these ideas for seven years, and I must assume, as a teacher, that a record of my thoughts, though difficult, devious and diffusive, should be interesting and provocative to a student.

The student I have in mind is not, of course, the beginner. This book is for the honours student and the graduate student. Because I have students in mind, I have let stand, against the advice of many friendly readers, the introductory chapters on method and the digressions of Part II and of the passages on the demand function, the production function and the review of the literature on the theory of the firm. "Everyone knows this," one friend commented on Chapter X. But he was a learned man. Quite a few people, I hope, who are reasonably competent in economics will nevertheless be grateful to have this literature reviewed for them. It is for such students, rather than those like my friendly critic, that I am writing. They are, I suspect, the majority among honours and graduate . . .

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