Paris, 1870 - during the Marginalist Revolution

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"In fact, the whole world may be looked upon as a vast general market made up of diverse special markets where social wealth is bought and sold.  Our task then is to discover the laws to which these purchases and sales tend to conform automatically.   To this end, we shall suppose that the market is perfectly competitive, just as in pure mechanics we suppose to start with, that machines are perfectly frictionless."

(Léon Walras, Elements of Pure Economics, 1874: p.84).

"On the following pages I submit to public judgement the result of twenty years of meditation. What a Copernicus succeeded in explaining of the relationships of worlds in space, that I believe I have performed for the explanations of men on earth."

(Hermann Heinrich Gossen, Development of the Laws of Exchange among Men 1854: p.1)

"The conclusion to which I am ever more clearly coming is that the only hope of attaining a true system of Economics is to fling aside, once and for ever, the mazy and preposterous assumptions of the Ricardian School. Our English Economists have been living in a fool's paradise. The truth is with the French School, and the sooner we recognize this fact, the better it will be for the world."

(William Stanley Jevons, Theory of Political Economy, 1871: p.xliv-xlv).

"[Jevons's] success was aided even by his faults. For under the honest belief that Ricardo and his followers had rendered their account of the causes that determine value hopelessly wrong by omitting to lay stress on the law of satiable wants, he led many to think he was correcting great errors; whereas he was really only adding very important explanations."

(Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics, 1890: p.84-85).

"If, instead of welcoming inquiry and criticism, the admirers of a great author accept his writings as authoritative, both in their excellences and in their defects, the most serious injury is done to truth. In matters of philosophy and science, authority has ever been the great opponent of truth. A despotic calm is usually the triumph of error. In the republic of the sciences, sedition and even anarchy are beneficial in the long run to the greatest happiness of the greatest number."

(William Stanley Jevons, Theory of Political Economy, 1871: p.275-6)

"In the closing quarter of the last century, great hopes were entertained by economists with regard to the capacity of economics to be made an "exact science". According to the view of the foremost theorists, the development of the doctrine of utility and value had laid the foundation of scientific economics in exact concepts, and it would soon be possible to erect upon the new foundation a firm structure of interrelated parts which, in definiteness and cogency, would be suggestive of the severe beauty of the mathematico-physical sciences. But this expectation has not been realized."

(Henry L. Moore, Economic Cycles,1914: p.84-85)


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