Bringing Them Alive

Abstract : This paper continues an ongoing reflection on the ways we do the history of economic thought, marked some decades ago by Blaug (1990)’s canonical typology of the four “genres” in the historiography of economics. Drawing the consequences of a seminal paper by Rorty (1984) on the methodology of the history of philosophy, it offers a non-canonical typology comprising three alternative approaches, distinguished on the basis of the way they conceive of the link between statements, old and contemporary: the extensive, the retrospective, and the intensive approaches. A particularity of the intensive approach is its potential challenge to contemporary knowledge through the possible introduction of statements which do not belong to it. Yet, unlike the extensive and retrospective approaches, the very possibility of an intensive approach seems at odds with its relatively thin academic outcomes. Taking the works of Sraffa (1951; 1960) and Sen (2002) as examples, it is argued that this is a consequence of the intensive approach being heuristic which is destined to remain poised between the extensive and retrospective approaches. But, as a result, among the three available approaches, it is the intensive approach which appears as a privileged route by which the history of economic thought can begin to engage with economic theory.
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André Lapidus. Bringing Them Alive. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), In press. ⟨hal-02294934⟩

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