Money, Banks and Finance in Economic Thought

Has Economics Neglected One of Humanity’s Most Economic Resources as It Became a More Mathematical Science?: A Peircean Perspective on HET&M

Wible James , University of New Hampshire

The History of Economic Thought and Methodology (HET&M) may be the most anomalous specialized field in economics. At one point nearly every canonical figure in the discipline also contributed to or was highly knowledgeable of HET&M. In the 20th century this aspect of economics went through an apparent terminating transition. Some of the major figures who also still contributed to HET&M allowed, if not encouraged it to be crowded out of the profession as mathematical and quantitative methods, courses, and publications replaced more conceptually general, historical, and qualitative approaches. However, as the discipline of economics continued to change, HET&M has also evolved. HET&M has turned away from the conception of disciplinary history that conventional economics seemed to have been rejecting. A case can be made that HET&M with its newer and different forms of inquiry and scholarship uniquely addresses an unusually important economic problem. Following comments and extensions of ideas by C. S. Peirce, a case can be made that humanity’s most unusual economic resource may be its’s cognitive creativity – its capacity to produce and vet abstractions across many domains of human activities. HET&M may be the field of economics which specializes in humanity’s most economic resource – its ability to innovate informative, qualitatively general ideas and concepts. It is the economic piece which is the missing link. This is the neglected economic argument. It may be that economics proper and HET&M are in some sense perfect intellectual and scientific complements with HET&M focusing on an utmost important economic activity in a way that is very difficult to consider with conventional quantitative methods of economic science.


Keywords: History of economic thought, methodology, Peirce

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