Roads to Wisdom, Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics

Roads to Wisdom, Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics

Karen Ilse Horn

Karen Horn’s remarkable interviews with ten Nobel Laureates explore the conditions required for scientific progress by navigating the ‘roads to wisdom’ in economic science.

Chapter 4: Kenneth J. Arrow

Karen Ilse Horn

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA © Peter Badge/Typos1 in cooperation with the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners Meetings at Lake Constance, all rights reserved. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1972, shared with John R. Hicks, both ‘for their pioneering contributions to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory’. INTRODUCTION It is not easy to see him. Not because he’s short. Rather because the piles of books and papers scattered around his admittedly relatively narrow office in the Landau Building are so high. ‘They’ve moved us here and now I’m trying to look through all my stuff and see what I can possibly throw out’, says Kenneth J. Arrow, rising swiftly from behind one of the book piles, with an apologetic gesture. In spite of his 86 years, he seems physically quite fit and, no wonder, he prides himself in cycling to the office every day. The room is nice, bright, modern and new, but there is no way Arrow could possibly fit everything into the book shelves along the walls. ‘Never mind’, he says, laughing. He has a great warm open smile, and is eager to talk – which he then does at an amazing speed. Politely, he liberates a chair for me, opens a drawer next to himself for me to place the microphone in since there is no more space on the desk, of course – and off we go.1 58 Kenneth J. Arrow 59 In spite of his intellectual brilliance, his outstanding academic career, and...

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