Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 109: Herbert Alexander Simon (1916–2001)

K. Vela Velupillai and Ying-Fang Kao


No other single person has won the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics (1978), the Turing Award of the Association for Computing Machinery (Newell and Simon 1972), the Orsa/Tims John von Neumann Theory Prize (1988), the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association (1969) and the National Medal of Science (1986). Perhaps this renaissance man’s outlook on the scientific spirit he nurtured can be summarized in his characterization of ‘the central task of natural science’ to be (Simon 1996: 1–2): [T]o make the wonderful commonplace: to show that complexity, correctly viewed, is only a mask for simplicity; to find pattern hidden in apparent chaos. . . . This is the task of natural science: to show that the wonderful is not incomprehensible, to show how it can be comprehended – but not to destroy wonder. For when we have explained the wonderful, unmasked the hidden pattern, a new wonder arises at how complexity was woven out of simplicity. The aesthetics of natural science and mathematics is at one with the aesthetics of music and painting – both inhere in the discovery of a partially concealed pattern. In an academic life spanning more than six decades, Simon managed, almost singlehandedly, to create the wholly new disciplines of behavioural economics and the cognitive sciences and nurture through to growth and prosperity one of the great academic institutions, the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (GSIA) at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now the Carnegie Mellon University – CMU) in Pittsburgh, where these disciplines were fostered with...

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