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Philosophical pattern comparisons among eminent economists.

I. Introduction

In the last decade, there has been an increase in the scope and volume of research on the economics profession and its practitioners.(1) Also, historians of economic thought have traced the interactions at the conceptual level, i.e., the intellectual influences between the ideas of various scholars. However, little attention has been paid to the question of the social relations among scholars through which scientific knowledge is developed, nurtured, molded, communicated, given patronage and enhanced.(2)

In the course of editing the autobiographical essays on the life philosophy of twenty-two of the 1930's generation of eminent economists,(3) one surprising thing emerges clearly from the close to three hundred pages of these papers. It is that since their student days, the paths of many of the contributors so often joined or crossed. This indicates the virtue of intimate contact among scientists. Edward Gibbon's view that solitude is "the school of genius" is highly exaggerated.

The mathematician, Leopold Infeld, who collaborated with Albert Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, relates how scientists laughed when Einstein said that the ideal job for a scientist would be that of a lighthouse keeper.(4) There is a tendency to overglamorize the lone wolf scientists working with limited resources and arriving at astounding results.(5) There are those who argue that eminent scholars are so individualistic that they are "by temperament, wholly unsuited for work in any research group."(6) There is increasing recognition of the significance of face-to-face interaction, interpersonal communication, and cooperation among scientists.(7) A scientist can no longer work alone, given the complexity of the subject matter.

David Hull, a science philosopher, suggests that success in science arises from the tension prevailing between the need for simultaneous collaboration and competition among the scientists. But then he argues that "the behavior that appears to be the most improper actually facilitates the manifest goals of science . . . As it turns out, the least productive scientists tend to behave the most admirably, while those who make the greatest contributions just as frequently behave the most deplorably."(8) This leads one to associate aggressiveness and selfishness with high productivity by scientists. Similarly, Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his novel The First Circle argues that "you could never have two top engineers or scientists on the same project -- one would always oust the other in the fight over who was to get all the credit." In prison, however, collaboration can exist. "You can have a dozen academic lions living together peacefully in one den, because they've nowhere else to go."(9)

Among the economists reviewed here, we find a high sense of cooperation; continuing collaborative contact in the form of dual and multiple authorships of books and articles, joint teaching assignments, and review and support of one another's writings; single-mindedness; and hard and deep immersion in work, even passion,(10) but very little of the intensive, relentless competition that Hull speaks of regarding natural scientists. This often intense and frequently envious competitive strife over priority in science has a time dimension because for each true scientific detail there is only one discovery or invention possible. As Gaston so aptly observes, "unlike the artist or author who has an infinite variety of paintings to paint, sculptures to sculpt, or novels to write, the scientist has only one world to discover."(11) It seems correct to say that the difference stems not so much from the fact that economics is a "soft" science, but rather, from the degree of maturity of the discipline. The economists presented here were fortunate to enter the field at a time when it was ready to take off. As Paul A. Samuelson says, "It was like fishing in a virgin lake: a whopper at every cast, but so many lovely new specimens that the palate never cloyed."(12) This abundance may help account for why this generation of economists consists more of collaborators and mutual supporters, than of competitors.(13)

Among the participants, one finds several economists paired in intellectual partnerships. Let me turn to two examples. The first involves the intellectual partnership of Samuelson and Solow that is considered among the most fruitful of such relationships in the history of economics. As the story goes, Solow was appointed as Assistant Professor of Statistics, in 1950. His room was located between that of Harold Freeman, Professor of Statistics, and that of Paul Samuelson, Professor of Economics. Under Samuelson's influence his interest, however, began to shift to economics. In 1954 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Statistics, in 1958 to Professor of Economics, and in 1973, Institute Professor. From MIT's point of view, "nothing so powerfully held each of them to the Institute as the presence of the other." Samuelson, who frequently mentions the beautiful music he made with Solow also asserted that when he meets up with St. Peter in heaven he will boast, "I collaborated with Bob Solow."(14)

Summing up one's scholarly worth the way Samuelson does would lead one to assume that their coauthored works cover many pages. Perusal of their bibliographies and the volumes of collected papers, however, reveal only four articles and one book with a third coauthor. This is intriguing. Clearly even though each provided a testing ground for the ideas of the other, from the creative standpoint, there is a need for further research regarding the collaborators' division of labor on and, more importantly, off the publication stage. Moreover, the scholars' conversations that encompass the thought sequences of their coauthored research projects are almost never recorded and thus our understanding of the creative process by which new knowledge is gained is impaired. The economics discipline is no different from other professions in focusing solely on the results, not the processes. It was James Watson who first indicated how most of the steps toward DNA's structure discovery were communicated informally among the team research members. E. R. Weintraub went one step further. He published his conversations with coauthor, D. A. Graham which were held a priori to reaching their conclusions that first appeared in the Review of Economic Studies.(15) The article, "On Convergence to Pareto Allocations," is reprinted in the book.

The second example of comradeship centers around Arrow who coauthored four articles with Solow, one book with Frank Hahn, one article with Gerard Debreu and an edited book with Tibor Scitovsky. Arrow appears to be the most interesting to explore in terms of collaboration. He coauthored books and articles with fifty different individuals.

Hirofumi Uzawa, the eminent Japanese economist who coauthored a book and an article with Arrow, writes that his English resembled that of Arrow's, and that "I began to feel so inferior and small in his presence both from intellectual and personal points of view, that I had to be away from him in order to restore my own identity."(16)

II. Who Are the Contributors?

Most of the contributors to this volume are Americans, by birth, by adoption, or by education. Nine, so far, have won the supreme accolade, the Nobel Prize. Of these, seven are Americans.

Many contributors have clustered together in the elite scientific institutions since their student days. In the second half of the 1930's, the magical places to be were Cambridge University, Harvard University, and the University of Chicago.(17) These were the schools where lasting contributions to the growth and vigor of economics were made.(18) The three institutions were home not only to luminous teachers, but also to equally brilliant students, who admit they learned as much or more from fellow students as from their professors. It may not be a coincidence, then, that outstanding minds appear in batches, as shown by our group of economists. The presence of some classmates of great originality provides support and stimulus which allows others' dormant scientific prowess to emerge.

Although the contributors come from different countries and have different specialties, there are some common strands. Most did not intend to be economists at all, but started out in other disciplines, especially physics, math, or chemistry. They found in economics, however, an intellectual challenge they could find nowhere else. C. P. Snow speaks of the divide in the Western world's two cultures -- the humanistic and the scientific. Economics is unique among the various disciplines in that it bridges the two.

Many of the contributors arose from humble circumstances, but financially only, since their parents showed breadths of interest and intellectual inclinations that furthered the authors' intellectual abilities.(19) They come from left wing or liberal family backgrounds, and their voices are of liberalism and reason.(20) The 1930's was a period of leftist ideals, and many of the contributors shared in them.(21) Tsuru was jailed for Marxist activities; Klein had to leave the United States for Oxford University during the McCarthy era; Tinbergen was a member of the Labour Party; Baumol's parents were Marxists, and Rostow's were democratic socialists. Scitovsky, a member of the middle class, left Hungary to escape its social inequalities. Each of these economists expressed a desire to make the world a better place, and to work in areas of importance to the solution of human problems.

III. Vision and Technique

The review of the essays was guided by Joseph Schumpeter's view of the progress of the science of economics as effectuated by the vision and technique of the participating scientists. Thus examining our contributing economists from the perspective of their vision and technique will provide a good framework for the reader to place, compare, and evaluate the philosophical ideas of the contributors.


Our twenty-two scholars operate from various perspectives and from divergent points on the ideological spectrum. Paul A. Samuelson's ideological and ethical views advocating the virtues of a mixed economy can be placed at the very center. Buchanan's libertarian or individualist position is at one end, while Tsuru's Marxist beliefs are at the other end.

It is also worth reflecting on the contributors' conceptions of human nature, society, and justice. In his contribution Kenneth Arrow quotes Hillel, the Talmudic master's timeless expression of the ongoing and enduring condition of humanity. "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"(22) The statement, offered with a sense of urgency, articulates the moral dimension of the relation between the individual and society, one that is crucial, since it concerns the nature of a just society. It touches our hearts because it tries to balance what ultimately are the two irreconcilable motives: selfishness and selflessness.

Hillel's account has been reformulated throughout history. Karl Brunner summarizes the human condition in terms of the eighteenth century Scottish and the French schools.(23) The first school extols the significance of self-interest, while the second, influenced by the Enlightenment, articulates the acceptable role of society and the state.

Irrespective of ideological orientation, with perhaps one exception, that of Tsuru, the economists included here appreciate the centrality of the marketplace in the organization of the economy.(24) This position is based on their recognition of human nature as being driven by several motives, self-interest and rationality being just two of the most important ones. They also recognize that markets do not always function efficiently, as even James Buchanan would admit. Among those factors which undermine the market efficiency are externalities, monopoly, public goods, and public bads, which require what Boulding calls "other coordination processes" to try to reconcile the different preferences of different individuals. These include the state and persuasion.

In order to obtain some sense of the landscape of these substantive ideas, it is worth exploring several key positions. Buchanan's belief is based firmly on the calculus of individual choice. For him, individual liberty is the cardinal moral conception. Buchanan makes the distinction between what he calls the organismic, and the individualistic theories of the state.(25) The first considers the state an "organic entity." As such, it leads to the establishment of the social welfare function.(26) The function purports to represent an aggregation of desires of different individuals in the country. For an individualist, there can be no such function for collective action unless the state's leaders feel they represent the interests of the citizens, in which case it becomes an authoritarian regime. Thus, Arrow's proof of his impossibility theorem is an outcome Buchanan could have predicted.(27)

Buchanan's second theory holds the state as the sum of its citizens acting collectively. In this case, "the state has no ends other than those of its individual members."(28) Freely chosen collective activity is assumed to be of mutual benefit to all participants in the exchange process. The only test of mutual benefit is consensus. Obviously, unanimity satisfies the Pareto principle, since it involves changes that benefit someone while harming no one.

Since consensus is required for any activist policies, it, in effect, accepts the status quo regarding the present income distribution and imposes constitutional constraints on government intervention. The functions of the state are then minimal, since the state's authority is limited. As to justice and the perfectibility of human beings, these can be achieved through the competitive marketplace, which Buchanan views as an exchange mechanism encouraging bargaining among participants.(29) The results of such voluntary bargaining are expected to improve the position of the parties to the deal. In other words, markets, guiding individuals driven by self-interest, naturally also secure the interest of society as a whole.

Similarly, Kenneth Boulding holds to a set of beliefs in which the individual and the individual's conscience supersede the will of the majority. His position stems from his early Quaker education and the Quaker's practice of following the "Light Within" each person. Hence, group decisions are made by consensus and disagreement over an action means that no decision can be reached. The majority does not rule, and, while Boulding would accept the power of persuasion to change the individual viewpoint, he would not accept coercion by a larger group such as the government. Boulding believes that the perfectibility of each human spirit and its direct access to religious experience are what make the individual conscience unbending in its acceptance of outside coercion. One might label him an anarchistic social democrat.

Maurice Allais' and Karl Brunner's views regarding the importance of the individual fall somewhere between Samuelson's and Buchanan's.

The alternative viewpoint, that each individual is constrained by the needs and rights of other individuals -- that individual autonomy cannot be unlimited -- is expressed by Paul A. Samuelson and held by the majority of our economists. Samuelson is a proponent of the mixed economy,(30) in which there is a combination of public, private, individual, and social endeavors. As Samuelson himself stated in private correspondence with the writer, "Redistributive welfare transfers are not coercions on people by an external State; but rather, in the fashion of John Locke and John Rawls, are part of a social contract in which each person, operating under a veil of ignorance concerning chance's draw for him/her, opts voluntarily to set up rules of the road designed by us to be binding to us. Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, in this view, applies to and cannot be escaped by the Buchanan-Hayek view of sacred property rights in the Smithian status quo. A rule of unanimity would freeze Stalin's totalitarianism into perpetuity, and thus represents Humpty-Dumptyism in its attempt to legitimize an historically extinct Whig laissez faire." The proponents of a mixed economy recognize that an individual is a product of his or her culture and society, just as the society is shaped by its individual members, and emphasis on the overriding importance of either individual or societal ends results in a "monstrosity."

Samuelson would applaud Anatole France's pithy statement -- "The law in its majestic equality permits both rich and poor alike to sleep under the bridges at night and to beg in the streets" -- as an illustration of how coercive and unjust elements are found not only in state arrangements. The lesson is clear. Individual property rights and freedom to act in the marketplace must be constrained by concern for the general social welfare.(31)

It is preferable that individuals reach shared ethical values voluntarily through persuasion, but if that fails, then the government has a social obligation to assume a greater role in redistributing income to the poorer segments of the population and even occasionally regulating industries directly.(32) Governments should be evaluated and changed on the basis of the effectiveness of the functions they perform.

Further along this continuum, we find Shigeto Tsuru, who, following Marxist analysis, does not separate economics from politics and values. He advocates governmental planning as a result of the failure of the competitive market mechanism. But the planned economy should incorporate a comprehensive price system as a tool for efficient resource allocation. He finds American belief in the inherent power of the individual unjustified since, to him, society develops in accordance with objective laws. For a Marxist, one can resolve the failings of the capitalist system by changing it, even if this change requires violent means. Tsuru, however, practicing his teacher's philosophy of "realistic idealism," might not go that far. One would have to look to younger, radical economists to find the revolutionary view expressed. Some of these radicals would even adopt Michael Bakunin's view who proclaimed in the "Revolutionary Catechism" that a revolutionary "knows only one science, that of destruction."


Within the space available, one must be selective rather than comprehensive in discussing Schumpeter's second criterion for economic progress as a science. The emphasis will be on three sources of controversy: the question of normative valuation, the openendedness of economic behavior, and the overmathematization of the discipline.

John Kenneth Galbraith's claim three decades ago that many of the economic issues that once divided liberal and conservative economists had now been settled(33) is highly exaggerated. True, there is now a larger body of economic principles about which consensus among economists exists, but this has been coupled with a substantial increase in the normative component of the discipline in the form of different ethical norms, value judgments, and philosophical orientations. Since these cannot be quantitatively measured, they continue to serve as a source of disagreement. What has changed is that, as Samuelson points out, economists are now able to delineate quickly the contours of their disagreements.

To paraphrase Lord Rutherford's oft-used cry, the 1930s marked the beginning of the heroic age of economics, for the discipline was shaken by the Keynesian revolution in macroeconomics and the monopolistic-imperfect competition model in microeconomics. Not only did the "New Economics" provide new theoretical constructs. It was also a reorientation of social thought toward greater state intervention and public policy.

In the 1930s the contributors of the autobiographical essays were young men maturing in a time of theoretical and actual upheaval, as the classical model with its self-adjusting features failed to explain the unfolding events adequately. They studied classical economics by day and met in small groups by night to read and discuss the latest Keynesian writings. Austin Robinson was a member of the "Cambridge Circus," which played an important role in the evolution of Keynes' ideas and those of his wife, Joan Robinson.

Furthermore, the historical background of the period -- the Great Depression and World War II -- shaped and inspired these economists' philosophical outlook and their careers. Taken together, these developments and the public's demand for explanations brought the economists of the era into the corridors of power and the center of the policymaking arena. Our contributors, with some exceptions, have evolved into a more action-oriented and policy-oriented group, serving in the post-war period as advisors to political figures, as well as to private and governmental agencies.

The dominant reality here is that a merely positivistic economics discipline, standing by itself, and devoid of ideology and social involvement, would have had little impact on the major problems affecting our society. In this respect the liberal economists in our group are allied with Tsuru. However, James Buchanan argues that such a position leads economics to lose its stature as a science.

An interesting aspect to observe in these accounts is the personal growth of the authors. This touches on the second source of controversy since it concerns their attitude concerning the boundaries of the discipline. For example, while Samuelson is wary about economics invading other fields of endeavor, Boulding seeks to integrate all social sciences, and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen attempts to formulate the principles of bioeconomics. Maurice Allais is still active in the field of physics, and Herbert Simon has moved beyond economics to psychology and artificial intelligence.(34) The issue is not merely an expression of the intellectual interests of the contributors. A widening of the traditional boundaries of economics must affect economists' conclusions and policy decisions. Thus, the bases for disagreement are likely to grow in importance.

As to the third source of controversy, since the 1930s the new theoretical apparatus has been merging ever deeper with mathematics, and most of our contributors, led by Samuelson, played a decisive role in this process. They showed great enthusiasm for the role of quantitative rigor in rendering economic models more predictable. Samuelson, whose Foundations of Economic Analysis has elevated economic analysis to a scientific level, reasons that, until the appearance of the mathematical models, Keynes himself did not truly understand his own analysis. But today a large number of our economists, notably Maurice Allais, William Baumol, Kenneth Boulding, Evsey Domar and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen join the critics who are discomfited with the increasing trend toward overmathematization of the discipline, and the elevation of technique over substance.(35) Many researchers show little regard for relevance. Kenneth Boulding feels that owing to its limited empirical background the mathematization of economics has been premature. Some would warmly agree with Robert Kuttner in summarizing Wassily Leontief's views that "Departments of Economics are graduating a generation of idiot savants, brilliant at esoteric mathematics yet innocent of actual economic life."(36) They would be equally dismayed at the relative decline of economic history and empirical studies.(37)

Robert L. Heilbroner, in his bestselling book,(38) argues that the work of the leading contemporary economists is not in the tradition of the past. He deplores the absence today of great visionaries in the Smithian or Marxian sense who would be inclined to construct grand models of economic development.

Katherine Paterson, a writer of novels for children, relates that children need the hope that fairy tales provide. It cannot be provided by realistic stories because, as Bruno Bettelheim reminds us, "unrealistic fears require unrealistic hopes. By comparison with the child's wishes, realistic and limited promises are experienced as deep disappointment, not as consolation."(39) Heilbroner is thus expressing a childlike wistful yearning we all share for a "happily ever after" ending to the economics story.

Likewise, there are economists who, disappointed by the diversity of methods within the discipline, would like economics to have a paradigm. They believe that once the proper method is found, all important questions will be answered. What Heilbroner bemoans, however, other economists extol. The late economic historian, Alexander Gerschenkron, once observed: "there is a deep-seated yearning in social science to discover one general approach, one general law valid for all time. But these primitive attitudes must be outgrown."

Reading these essays, conveys the feeling that, for the contributors to this volume, knowledge not only has been tempered over the years but has been transformed. What they know in the early 1990s, they did not know in the 1930s or 1940s and, sadly, vice-versa. They help us realize not only how far economics as a science has advanced but also its limitations and failures. Being witness to the most extreme form of human bestiality in the history of humankind, the present author knows all too well the destructions that visionaries with their paradigms have wrought upon societies. In this light, Robert Solow's suggestion that economists should aspire to be competent technicians "like dentists" as Keynes once remarked(40) appears very attractive. Economists would then have to be satisfied with marginal gains in theory and policy because they would be realistic about the world and the nature of its inhabitants.

Walt Rostow, like many of the contributors, urges economists to explore particular and individual phenomena. In the words of Boulding, "The survival of this present civilization depends on the solution of certain serious intellectual problems in the social sciences."(41) In this connection it is worth reflecting on the tale of a famous 16th century moral preacher, Judah Ben Samuel of Regensburg. He relates that when he was a teenager his youthful idealism made him want to liberate the whole world. With advancing age and after much soul-searching, his political passions and infatuations slowly began to dim. He began to lower his sights. He thought about reforming the country, the city, then the neighborhood only. When he reached a very old age, he again critically assessed his thoughts and beliefs. Judah Ben Samuel concluded that he could understand and improve the human condition most effectively by concentrating on the individual and applying the process of self-understanding. Psychologists today are well aware of how difficult it is to change a single character trait in an individual.(42) Perhaps this is the reason so many idealistic people find it is easier to love humankind than one's next-door neighbor.

One can conclude by reflecting on the inescapable tradeoff between equality and efficiency. Arthur Okun felt that since the two are a most improbable combination they need one another "to put some rationality into equality and some humanity into efficiency."(43) Samuelson calls the resultant compromise "economics with a heart." He adds that it is his dream to keep it also "economics with a head."

The head is instrumental in the vast expansion of knowledge which is of itself neutral. It can be used for evil just as for good purposes. In the words of Albert Einstein: "Knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth."

Samuelson, like many other of the contributors on both the right and left of his ideological position, wants economics to remain a moral science(44) and its practitioners to aspire to be wise of heart, even as they pursue the domain of scientific knowledge. These eminent economists have given economists and other social scientists a very noble objective!


1. D. Colander, "Research on the Economic Profession," Journal of Economic Perspectives 3, No. 4 (1989), 137-148.

2. D. Colander and A. W. Coats, The Spread of Economic Ideas, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1989.

3. This article is excerpted with changes from my edited book, Eminent Economists -- Their Life Philosophies (Cambridge University Press, 1992). The following economists' autobiographical essays are included in the volume: Maurice Allais, Kenneth J. Arrow, William J. Baumol, Abram Bergson, Kenneth E. Boulding, Karl Brunner, James M. Buchanan, Gerard Debreu, Evsey D. Domar, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Frank Hahn, Charles P. Kindleberger, Lawrence R. Klein, Richard A. Musgrave, Austin Robinson, Walt W. Rostow, Paul A. Samuelson, Tibor Scitovsky, Herbert A. Simon, Robert M. Solow, Jan Tinbergen, and Shigeto Tsuru. Many of these essays appeared in The American Economist.

4. Leopold Infeld, Quest: The Evolution of a Scientist, (New York: Doubleday, 1941), 280. In this regard it is worth relating a Talmudic story about Rabbi Elazar Ben Arak. His teacher, Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkai, described him as an eversurging spring. He also used to say, that if all sages were on one side of the scale and Elazar Ben Arak were on the other, he would outweigh all of them. The Midrashic commentary relates that, on the advice of his wife, Elazar Ben Arak moved away from Yavne, the prominent learning center, after the destruction of the Second Temple. As a result of his isolation from the other scholars, there is little left of his genius in the Talmudic literature. See Ethics of the Fathers, ch. 2, v. 12, and Masehet Shabat, 147b. A not dissimilar fate befell the great Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. His notebooks include original contributions to many branches of science, such as anatomy, physics, engineering, geology, and botany, but since he kept them private and never communicated his research results, his contributions had to be independently discovered by others several decades after his death. Therefore, he lost priority to other scientists. As Oscar Wilde used to say: "To be intelligible is to be found out."

5. R. S. Root-Bernstein, Discovering, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 382-397. The author, a biochemist and a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Prize Fellowship, attempts to unearth the blueprint for scientific discovery. He cites approvingly what several other scientists consider one of the "truths" of scientific progress. It is that the most important breakthroughs come in ill-equipped laboratories with limited funds and simple techniques. As an example he tells of Otto Hahn who, in 1938, used "apparatus that fit on a desk top" to split the atom. Among our eminent economists, Maurice Allais is the lone scholar whose economics was entirely self-taught. His most distinguished and pioneering manuscript, A la Recherche d'une discipline Economique, Ateliers Industria, 1943, completed during his spare hours while a government employee, runs parallel to two seminal works: J. Hicks, Value and Capital, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939), and P. A. Samuelson, Foundations of Economic Analysis, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1947). Allais' international recognition had been delayed in large part because he wrote in French.

6. J. Jewkes, "The Sources of Invention," Lloyd's Bank Review No. 47 (1958), 26.

7. The Nobelist, James D. Watson, has shown the connection between personal and social factors and the discovery of the structure of DNA. See his The Double Helix, (New York: Atheneum, 1968). Two British sociologists reveal the role that personal conversations play in any scientific discourse. See Michael Mulkay and Nigel Gilbert, "Accounting for Error: How Scientists Construct Their Social World When They Account for Correct and Incorrect Belief," Sociology, (May 1982), 165-183. More recently, Arjo Klamer, in a fascinating book, Conversations with Economists, (Totowa, N. J.: Rowman and Allanheld, 1984), conveys the importance of rhetoric in economics. See also, The Consequences of Economic Rhetoric A. Klamer, D. N. McCloskey, and R. M. Solow (eds.), (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). For a candid look at the human side of modern physics -- the indiscretions, clashing egos, vitriolic squabbles, high-pitched emotions, competition, and cooperation -- and the importance of informal communication, see S. Glashow with Ben Bova, Interactions: A Journey Through the Mind of a Particle Physicist and the Matter of this World (New York: Warner Books, 1988)' and R. M. Hazen, The Breakthrough: The Race for the Superconductors (New York: Summit Books, 1988). Ben-Ami Scharfstein in The Philosophers: Their Lives and the Nature of Their Thought, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), gives interesting insights into leading philosophers' ideas based on biographical details of their lives. Also, the history of warfare indicates that superiority on the battlefield is determined not only by the types of weapons used or by strategic and tactical decisions, but by what is referred to as the "G Factor" -- the rivalries, moods, loves, and hates among the generals.

8. David L. Hull, Science as a Process, An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 32. For an examination of the most visceral drives of an eminent physicist and the intriguing hostility between two Nobelists, Ervin Schrodinger and Werner Heisenberg, see Walter Moore, Schrodinger (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989). See also Paul Johnson, Intellectuals (New York: Harper and Row, 1989).

9. Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle (London: Collins, Fontana Books, 1970), 82. It is worth noting that, even though two German chemists, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission, the Americans were first to build the atomic bomb. One of the main reasons for the German failure to construct the bomb had to do with the separation of German physicists between theoreticians and experimentalists. In contrast, on the U.S. side, there was cooperation between the two groups. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the program at Los Alamos, had done work in experimental as well as theoretical physics. McGeorge Bundy, "Hitler and the Bomb," The New York Times Magazine (November 3, 1988), 47.

10. James M. Buchanan recalls the succinct advice Earl J. Hamilton gave him for success in academia. "Keep the ass to the chair" is a rule that he has followed and passed along to several generations of students, "Better than Plowing," in Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review (December 1986), 364. Charles Kindleberger speaks about cultivating sitzfleisch, "the capacity to put your tail in the chair and leave it there for hours at a time"; A. Kekule quotes J. Liebig's advice to him, "If you wish to be a chemist, you must be willing to work so hard as to ruin your health," in Hans Krebs, "The Making of a Scientist," Nature (September 30, 1967), 1443. Several members of our contributors, notably James Buchanan and Paul Samuelson, acknowledge the importance of luck in their professional careers. But as Louis Pasteur once insightfully remarked, "chance favors only the prepared mind."

11. J. Gaston, Originality and Competition in Science (University of Chicago Press, 1973), 4.

12. Paul Samuelson, Foundations of Economic Analysis (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1947), xv-xxvi.

13. Two other factors may have contributed to this collaborative stance of the 1930's generation of eminent economists. They were associated with the Great Depression, and the Second World War.

14. See the MIT citation from 1977-1978 James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award conferred upon Robert Solow, and P. Samuelson, "Robert Solow: An Affectionate Portrait," Journal of Economic Perspectives 3, No. 3 (1989), pp. 91-97. This can be compared with what A. J. Ayer said to John Austin, famous for his ferocious attacks on fellow philosophers: "You are like a greyhound who does not want to run himself, and bites the other greyhounds so that they cannot run either." I. Berlin, Personal Impressions, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), xviii. See also, Michael Szenberg and Eric Y. Lee, "The Making of the 1930's Generation of Eminent Economists," International Journal of Social Economics 18, Numbers 11/12, 1991, 16-22 and Michael Szenberg, "Editing the Life Philosophies Series of the 1930's Generation of Eminent Economists" Revue Europeenne des Sciences Sociales xxx, Number 92, 1992, 313-323.

15. E. R. Weintraub, General Equilibrium Analysis: Studies in Appraisal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 145-166.

16. H. Uzawa, "Life and Philosophy," The American Economist 35, No. 2 (Fall 1991), 8-15.

17. Columbia University and the London School of Economics were also strong economics centers at that time. Their student bodies, however, were weak in comparison with the other three universities. The Nobel laureate in chemistry, Sir Hans Krebs, in his article, "The Making of a Scientist," 1442, reports on a chart exhibited in the Munich Museum of Science and Technology summarizing the teacher-student genealogy of the Nobel laureates descended from Justus Von Liebig, the founder of organic chemistry. The chart contains sixty individuals, all with important discoveries, and includes over thirty Nobel Prize winners. As Krebs states, "Distinction breeds distinction." That certain creative habits can be acquired can also be observed in the world of physics. The 1906 Nobel laureate, J. J. Thomson, the discoverer of the electron, trained nine Nobel Prize winners and thirty-two fellows of Britain's Royal Society. However, one should note that eminent scientists are in a position to be highly selective in choosing distinguished students. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, funded by the Central Bank of Sweden to commemorate its three hundredth anniversary, was established only in 1968 (Nobel awards began in 1901). And already one can trace a family tree of laureates in economics. Paul A. Samuelson was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1970. His teacher, Wassily Leontief, received the prize in 1973, while Samuelson's student, Lawrence R. Klein, won it in 1980. Thus, Samuelson's advice to students is very appropriate: "If you have any reason to think you are good, beg, borrow, or steal money to come to the top place." P. Samuelson, "Economics in a Golden Age: A Personal Memoir," in G. Holton (ed.), The Twentieth Century Sciences (New York: Norton, 1972), 163. Krebs feels that a distinguished teacher transmits attitudes to students, among the most important being humility, because it nurtures a self-critical mind. Illustrative of this is Kenneth J. Arrow's account at an MIT luncheon after he won the Nobel prize that, in his first years as a graduate student, he felt himself lacking in true originality (private correspondence with Samuelson).

18. The Economist (December 24, 1988), 91-94, reviewing the work of eight of the world's best young economists, finds they moved the spiritual home of twentieth-century economics from Cambridge, England, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, which contains two elite institutions of learning -- Harvard and MIT. Four of the octet are associated with Harvard, two with MIT, and one each with Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. This is a belated admission by the staff of the weekly magazine of a process that had begun in the 1940s. Since the 1950s, MIT had become the dominant institution in macroeconomics. Its faculty currently includes three Nobel laureates: Paul Samuelson, Franco Modigliani, and Robert Solow. All three are considered legendary teachers.

19. The 1944 physics Nobel laureate in physics, Isidor Isaac Rabi, relates how his mother greeted him daily upon his return from the public school with the same query, "Did you ask any good questions today?"

20. It is worth noting that, according to a recent article, graduate students in economics at elite institutions during the 1980s considered themselves predominantly liberal. David Colander and Arjo Klamer, "The Making of an Economist," Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 1987), 95-111.

21. C. P. Snow reports that by the mid-1930s, the sympathies of almost all physicists under forty were with the left. See "The Age of Rutherford," Atlantic Monthly (November 1958), 80.

22. Ethics of the Fathers, ch. 1, v. 14.

23. For an incisive study of the philosophical anticipators of Adam Smith's ideas on the importance of self-interest, see Milton L. Myers, The Soul of Modern Economic Man, Ideas of Self-Interest, Thomas Hobbes to Adam Smith (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983). For a modern interpretation, see Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974), and the novels of Ayn Rand, especially The Fountainhead (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1943).

24. Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu jointly produced a mathematical proof of the existence of a general equilibrium solution. See their "Existence of an Equilibrium for a Competitive Economy," Econometrica (July 1954), 265-290. In general equilibrium analysis, one considers the interrelationships among different markets. Frank Hahn introduced money into the general equilibrium analysis and has shown that competitive markets provide order rather than chaos. See Kenneth Arrow and Frank Hahn, General Competitive Analysis (San Francisco: Holden-Day, 1971).

25. See James Buchanan's articles, "Man and the State" and "Market Failure and Political Failure," in his Explorations Into Constitutional Economics (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1989). See also "Mueller on Buchanan," in Henry W. Spiegel and Warren T. Samuels (eds.), Contemporary Economists in Perspective (Greenwich Conn.: JAI Press Inc., 1984).

26. Abram Bergson was the first to formulate what is called a "social welfare function." By incorporating human welfare and social evaluation into the function, he showed how ethics has a role in political economy. See Bergson's article "A Reformulation of Certain Aspects of Welfare Economics," Quarterly Journal of Economics (February 1938), 310-334. Paul Samuelson notes that he could not make sense of the literature on welfare economics until Bergson's contribution "came like a flash of lightning." "Bergsonian Welfare Economics" in S. Rosefielde (ed.), Economic Welfare and the Economics of Soviet Socialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 223-266.

27. Carl Christ relates that when Arrow began work on his Social Choice and Individual Values (New York: John Wiley, 1951), he attempted to devise a social welfare function that would include several desirable conditions. He proved it impossible to construct such a function. The American Economist (Spring 1990). Dale Jorgenson manages to escape the dictatorship conclusion, having "introduced a class of social welfare functions capable of expressing a variety of ethical judgments." See his "Efficiency versus Equity in Economic Policy Analysis" in Michael Szenberg (ed.), Essays in Economics (Boulder Colo.: Westview Press, 1986), 118. Samuelson continually refers to the "Ethical Observer" in his "Bergsonian Welfare Economics." He rejects the idea that the necessity of the "Ethical Observer" implies that "one single person's tastes must rule dictatorially." In fact, Samuelson even invokes the spirit of numerous religious authorities to demonstrate that ethical judgments in no way imply dictatorship. The issue is controversial and has been the subject of much discussion. R. P. Parks shows that all Bergson-Samuelson social welfare functions based on ordinal preferences make one individual an ethical dictator. "An Impossibility Theorem for Fixed Preferences: A Dictatorial Bergson-Samuelson Welfare Function," Review of Economic Studies (October 1976), 447-450. For a review of the terrain, see Dennis C. Mueller, Public Choice II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), ch. 19 and 20.

28. James M. Buchanan, "The Pure Theory of Public Finance: A Suggested Approach," Journal of Political Economy (December 1949), 498.

29. See Buchanan's presidential address to the Southern Economic Association, "What Should Economists Do?" Southern Economic Journal (January 1964), 213-222, for a criticism of interpreting the market in terms of an optimizing mechanism that encourages manipulation of human behavior.

30. Jan Tinbergen is credited with being among the first to discuss the convergence over time of the socioeconomic and political systems of communism and the West towards forms of "mixed economy." See his, "Do Communist and Free Societies Show a Converging Pattern?" Soviet Studies (April 1961), 333-341.

31. For a trenchant examination of the liberal principles of justice, see John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971).

32. Richard Musgrave elaborates on the trichotomy of allocative, distributive, and stabilization state interventions in his classic The Theory of Public Finance (New York: McGraw Hill Book Co., 1959).

33. John K. Galbraith, Economics and the Art of Controversy (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1955).

34. It is worth noting that Norbert Wiener, the distinguished pioneer in cybernetics, predicted that the largest scientific advances would be made in the interstitial areas between the various disciplines.

35. Maurice Allais reminds us that the faculty of Ecole nationale superieure des mines expressed opposition to his 1944 candidacy for full professorship because of its hostile attitude towards the use of mathematics in economics. In astronomy, in the nineteenth century, the academic attitude was different. Augustus De Morgan tells us in his memoirs (London: Longmans Group, 1882) about the unjustifiable resistance of English astronomers to publishing John Couch Adams' 1845 discovery of the planet Neptune based on mathematical calculations. About a year later a Frenchman, Urban Jean LeVerrier, supported by the French establishment partial to mathematics, published his simultaneous discovery of Neptune, and thus "scooped" Adams. The dispute between the two over priority of discovery was harsh and intense. Evsey Domar once confessed at the American Economic Association meetings that "my principal, if only periodic bond with the econometricians consists of the eight dollars I pay each year for their incomprehensible journal." Michael Szenberg (ed.), Essays in Economics (Boulder Colo.: Westview Press, (1986), 132.

36. Typical of this trend would be a comment made by the Cambridge University economist John Eatwell: "If the world is not like the model, so much the worse for the world." See Robert Kuttner, "The Poverty of Economics," The Atlantic Monthly (February 1985), 74-84. This position is to be contrasted with that of Jan Tinbergen, who has never been interested in theorizing for theory's sake. Will Durant's poignant observation that "every truth is tempted to expand until it becomes a falsehood, and every virture is made a vice through excess and nothing fails like excess" is an apt description of how far the overmathematization of economics has moved. Still, scientists feel that reducing complicated phenomena to several equations represents beauty similar to that found in poetry. Its parallel can be found in the words of William Blake, for whom poetry is like "seeing the universe in a grain of sand."

37. See Theodore Morgan, "Theory Versus Empiricism in Academic Economics: Update and Comparisons," Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 1988), 159-164.

38. Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986; 1st ed., 1953), 322.

39. "Hope is More Than Happiness," The New York Times Book Review (December 25, 1988), 19.

40. Leonard Silk, The Economists (New York: Basic, 1976), 250. This is an exceedingly delightful biographical treatment of five famous economists.

41. Kenneth Boulding, "Is Economics Necessary?" in his Beyond Economics (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968), 12.

42. Today even communist-oriented countries have a much more sober view of human nature and no longer parade the notion of creating a "New Man." Dictatorships of the Left or Right have failed to create a new social and psychological man because, as Plato remarked in Politicus, man is merely a biped without feathers.

43. Arthur M. Okun, Equality and Efficiency (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute, 1975), 120.

44. In the past economics was listed as a moral science at English universities, and Adam Smith, the so-called father of modern economics was professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow.

Michael Szenberg Professor of Economics, Lubin Graduate School of Business, Pace University. The author gratefully acknowledges the capable assistantship of Sandra M. Franklin.
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Date:Mar 22, 1993
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