- Elgar original reference
Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer
Sukhamoy CHAKRAVARTY (1934–1990) It is perhaps best to begin this essay with a brief statement on how I look at the intellectual enterprise called economics. Economics as a discipline appears to me to be located at the edge of ‘history’ and ‘theory’, a point that John Hicks used to stress with increasing frequency in the closing years of his life. I have no doubt that there are many eminent proponents of mainstream theorizing in economics who take the view that a knowledge of economic history is a necessary ingredient in the training of an economist. But they are quite clearly unable to accept the centrality of history to economic theorizing or, more importantly, to indicate precisely how history enters into economics. Clearly one could be a physicist or a theoretical chemist without being interested in the history of the earth or for that matter of the universe, although there are important points of contact between recent work in cosmology and elementary particle physics. Geologists and evolutionary biologists have, of course, maintained an interest in history. But it is rather uncommon these days to come across economic theorists who accept ‘geology’ as their model discipline. An exception is a pronouncement by Arrow (1986); however it would be difﬁcult to discern any trace of historical thinking in his published work or, for that matter, in the work that he has so eminently inspired. Absence of evolutionary thinking in economics was strongly deplored by Veblen, but he has been outside the...
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