Reflections of Eminent Economists
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Reflections of Eminent Economists

Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan

In this collection of autobiographical essays, 26 prominent scholars detail their professional development, while offering insight into their lives and philosophies. With candor and humor they relate how they came to the field of economics, as well as how their views have evolved over the years.
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Chapter 6: Instead of a Philosophy of Life

Martin Bronfenbrenner


* Martin Bronfenbrenner Like everyone else, I have mused at times on the universal aspects of universality, among philosophical issues of equal pith and moment. But the results of these musings, in their present state of disorganization randomly walking, are unworthy of the impressive title ‘Philosophy of Life.’ So I propose to substitute some autobiographical snapshots, plus a few scattered observations on the state of the world and of our discipline – which, you remember, Carlyle has dignified with the title of ‘pig philosophy.’ AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTES There was once a book, whose title I have forgotten, which someone reviewed acidly in some journal. The reviewer called the author a pedantic ass for citing so many obscure unknowns with difficult names. And lo! I was a case in point, one of perhaps half a dozen! So I had best be modest in my autobiographical section, as befits an obscure unknown with a difficult name. I was conceived in the golden age of the middle classes, an age cut short by World War I before I was born. I was also a ‘comparative-systems diaper baby,’ in the same sense that certain third-generation Marxists are ‘Red diaper’ ones. My father, before being born again as a respectable and indeed eminent bacteriologist and immunologist, had been a student leader of the Social Revolutionary Party at the University of Odessa in the Old Country, where the Bronfenbrenners were friends and perhaps relatives of the Bronsteins, whose best-known product was Leon Trotsky. In the disappointing uprising of...

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