PDA

View Full Version : History of Economics



Luckykid
02-14-2008, 03:44 AM
Anyone know a good place to find the history of economics? Perhaps a good book or site. I think I will have a better idea of ideas and how they came about if I had a clear understanding of the history instead of a jumble of theories and ideas over 25 classes and 4 years...

Thanks
Roy

pevdoki1
02-14-2008, 03:51 AM
Perhaps read this: Amazon.com: The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers: Books: Robert L. Heilbroner (http://www.amazon.com/Worldly-Philosophers-Lives-Economic-Thinkers/dp/068486214X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202961036&sr=8-1)

polkaparty
02-14-2008, 03:53 AM
It all depends on what you're looking for.

The best combination of fun to read and interesting introductory reading is Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers (http://www.amazon.com/Worldly-Philosophers-Lives-Economic-Thinkers/dp/068486214X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202961114&sr=1-1). A close second is New Ideas from Dead Economists (http://www.amazon.com/New-Ideas-Dead-Economists-Introduction/dp/0452288444/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202961114&sr=1-2).

If you want a nice book that looks at theory throughout history check out Mark Blaug's Economic Theory in Retrospect (http://www.amazon.com/Economic-Theory-Retrospect-Mark-Blaug/dp/0521577012). This text has "reading guides" to the classic works as well as discussion and analysis of the theory through the time. It's quite a tome though...look for your libraries' copy.

If you want a history that looks at the more modern era (i.e., avoids Ricardo and discusses Arrow and Debreu) look at Weintraub's How Economics Became a Mathematical Science (http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Became-Mathematical-Science-Cultural/dp/0822328712). The first two texts I mentioned discuss mainly pre-modern economics.

buckykatt
02-14-2008, 05:08 AM
I also recommend Blaug's book.

Luckykid
02-14-2008, 05:20 AM
I also recommend Blaug's book.
Why do you like the expensive book :mad:

LOL, Its on my list now!

Thank You!

buckykatt
02-14-2008, 05:30 AM
Maybe I've been buying too many math books, because $35 sounds cheap to me. ;) But, to be serious, one of the best things about Blaug's book is the annotated bibliography at the end of each chapter.

And odds are good that your local library has it or can get it for you. I recently rediscovered the library and it's amazing how many good books are hiding in there... And don't get me started on the joy of acquiring journal articles via "interlibrary loan"!

polkaparty
02-14-2008, 05:37 AM
Books are an investment in your learning and career. From that perspective, even $150 is relatively cheap for a high quality text.

Here's the way I think of it: Take a given course. Chances are that your professor is not that great. How do you make up for it? High quality texts. Again, unfortunately, many texts are not high quality. Many texts are not uniformly high quality. Hence it may take 5 different texts explaining the material before one truly understands.

Also, research involves considering many different sources. I consider serious coursework to have the same requirements.

At least this is my method of learning, but to each his own....

Luckykid
02-14-2008, 05:46 AM
I forgot about the library thing let me see if they have it!

buckykatt
02-14-2008, 06:05 AM
Books are an investment in your learning and career.

I love books. I own thousands of them. But it makes me cry when I think about how many books I've either thrown out or sold for a pittance because they've been superseded. Granted, many of them were computer books. (Anyone want to buy old SAS, SHAZAM, or SPSS manuals? Such a deal I have for you...) But I also own the first two editions of Greene's metrics text, which IIRC were about $100 each in 1990s dollars. And don't get me started on the thought of buying a new edition of the Palgrave...

Two purchases I've never regretted, though:

1. Feller's two-volume probability text, which is a timeless classic.

2. The cheap hardcovers of Marx's Theories of Surplus Value that Progress Publishers put out before the cold war ended (and which, I assume, were subsidized by the commies). Buying those was as good as investing in the stock market. Thank you, comrades!

C152dude
02-14-2008, 06:07 AM
I love making an econ library. They look so pretty when they are all in a row.

Freethinker
02-14-2008, 06:46 AM
How about Schumpeter's History of Economic Analysis? It's a bit more reference book, but it might be useful.

signal08
02-14-2008, 07:37 AM
I love making an econ library. They look so pretty when they are all in a row.

such a library gives me utility as well! (i thought i was the only one)
:tup:

econandon
02-14-2008, 09:46 AM
The nice thing about the history of thought field is so much of the material is available online (google it). I learned the most in my history of thought class by reading old seminal texts, not than another author's interpretation. I think a good textbook to read alongside is important in this respect. Heilbroner's "Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy" is a good start.

Oikos-nomos
02-14-2008, 12:15 PM
I recommend "A History of Economic Theory and Method" by Ekelund and Hebert. It was the textbook i used in "History of Economic Thought". It is a pretty good book that starts in the middle ages up to this day. It discusses mainstream as well as heterodox, and has a short discussion on the math path that economics has taken, and its possible pros and cons.
For an introductory reading is a good book. My professor mentioned though that in some chapters the authors seem to lack historic perpsective, that is, the ability to settle themselves in the period of study, and think with the head of someone who has the problems, conditionings and the knowledge of that time.

Ah, by the way, and maybe it should be the subject of another thread (maybe there is already one), i think that every serious economist, no matter how formal his work is, should take at least one course on history of economic thought. You can't say you are an economist and not know who the classics were and what they did, and also how neoclassic economics was born and how it became the paradigm. And one can gain great insight by studying what the great economists of the past thought.

econphilomath
02-14-2008, 12:35 PM
Books are an investment in your learning and career. From that perspective, even $150 is relatively cheap for a high quality text.

Here's the way I think of it: Take a given course. Chances are that your professor is not that great. How do you make up for it? High quality texts. Again, unfortunately, many texts are not high quality. Many texts are not uniformly high quality. Hence it may take 5 different texts explaining the material before one truly understands.

Also, research involves considering many different sources. I consider serious coursework to have the same requirements.

At least this is my method of learning, but to each his own....

This is the strategy that has me now wondering how am I going to get all these books to the US!

Although I buy a lot of books on economics that are not textbook type books too.

Worldly Philosephers that everyone mentioned above is not only a good book but a "must read" type book. Its part of econ culture. Its first edition was in the 50s and it has been translated to over 20 languages. Its also really entertaining.

Another book on economic history is the bestseller by David Landes, appropriately named "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations".


Not really what the OP asked for but still a good read:
"Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk". Its more for finance or macro people I guess.

Another book (also macro stuff) is "The Chastening", all the intricate details of how the Asian crisis came about and the IMF messed it up (or not). Sobering to say the least.

jenizaro
02-14-2008, 01:35 PM
I remember when I was crazy about history of economic thought and methodology... Didn't really get much from that obsession, just this insight: to really appreciate the classics, you have first to understand the moderns.

Anyway, some good online resources:

History of Economic Thought Website (http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/)
Table of Contents (http://www.wesleyan.edu/css/readings/Barber/toc.htm) (Barber's book)
History of Economics Society (http://historyofeconomics.org/)