A Reconstruction of Economics

A Reconstruction of Economics

A Reconstruction of Economics

A Reconstruction of Economics

Excerpt

The principal advantage of a preface is that it gives the author a chance to review his own book, a privilege usually denied him by the journals. A preface, therefore, should fulfil the function of a good review, in that it should give the reader--or even the occasional reviewer --enough of an idea of what is in the book so that he may decide for himself whether it is worth the trouble of reading. It also gives the author himself a chance at a few afterthoughts.

This work is directed mainly at serious students of economics who have already had some moderate exposure to the subject. It is not therefore a complete and exhaustive treatise, though most of the topics of pure theory are at least mentioned in it. Its title is perhaps too pretentious--mainly because I have not been able to think of a good substitute. It is not particularly revolutionary; the building blocks are arranged rather differently, but the student will find most of the old blocks here. Nevertheless it is the product of my growing dissatisfaction with the present state of economic theory as generally received and taught, and an attempt to establish some patterns of theory which will be more consistent conceptually and more useful in interpretation than the existing corpus of doctrine.

This dissatisfaction has at least three focal points. The first is the failure of economics to integrate itself into the general body of social science. The outstanding success of what may still be called the "Ames school" in agricultural economics has been somewhat facetiously attributed to the discovery that there was no such subject--that there was only economics applied to agricultural problems. In somewhat similar vein I have been gradually coming under the conviction, disturbing for a professional theorist, that there is no such thing as economics-- there is only social science applied to economic problems. Indeed, there may not even be such a thing as social science--there may only be general science applied to the problems of society. We are, I believe, on the threshold of a new attempt at integration in the social sciences, perhaps even in general science. Past failures in this respect--notably those of the Spencerians, the Marxists, and the Institutionalists, who integrated a number of specialized errors into erroneous generalities . . .

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