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History of Economic Thought, what for? Joseph Schumpeter has noted: “Older
authors and older views acquire … an importance … [when] the methods of the
economic research worker are undergoing a revolutionary change.”

In a time of economic crisis, a refl ection of the roots of economic theory and methods prevents us from following the wrong path. Leland Yeager has outlined the responsibility of the historian of economic thought as follows:
“It is probably more true of economics than of the natural sciences that earlier
discoveries are in danger of being forgotten; maintaining a cumulative growth of
knowledge is more diffi cult. In the natural sciences, discoveries get embodied not
only into further advances in pure knowledge but also into technology, many of whose users have a profi t and loss incentive to get things straight. The practitioners of economic technology are largely politicians and political appointees with rather different incentives. In economics, consequently, we need scholars who specialize in keeping us aware and able to recognize earlier contributions – and earlier fallacies – when they surface as supposedly new ideas. By exerting a needed discipline, specialists in the history of thought can contribute to the cumulative character of economics.”

The Austrian process of time-consuming roundabout production, where the
results get better over time, is hopefully true with respect to this book. The book
grew out of lectures started on behalf of the graduate students at Maastricht
University, where I taught until the fall of the year 2000. The work has an encyclopedic

to download : http://digamo.free.fr/backhaus122.pdf#page=141





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