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Bourbaki's Destructive Influence on the Mathematization of Economics

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  • K. Vela Velupillai
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    Abstract

    The first appearance of a reference to a Bourbaki mathematical result was the spoof by D.D. Kosambi, published in the first volume of the Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, eighty years ago, although it was not the first reference to Bourbaki in a mathematical context. In mathematical economics there seems to be an increasing identification of Debreu’s mathematization of economics with Bourbakism, although the Post WW II mathematics of general equilibrium theory can be shown to be consistent also with the contributions of the Polish School of Mathematics in the interwar period. In this paper an attempt is made to summarise the story of the emergence of Bourbakism, originating in India, and its recent demise as well as how it played a destructive role in mathematising economics in one, uncompromisingly nonconstructive, mode.

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    Paper provided by ASSRU - Algorithmic Social Science Research Unit in its series ASSRU Discussion Papers with number 1201.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:trn:utwpas:1201

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    Keywords: Bourbakism; Polish School of Mathematics; Hilbert’s Dogma; Debreu; Mathematical Economics.;

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    1. Debreu, Gerard, 1983. "Economic Theory in the Mathematical Mode," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1983-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
    2. Punzo, Lionello F., 1991. "The School of Mathematical Formalism and the Viennese Circle of Mathematical Economists," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(01), pages 1-18, June.
    3. K. Vela Velupillai, 2011. "Freedom, Anarchy and Conformism in Academic Research," ASSRU Discussion Papers 1123, ASSRU - Algorithmic Social Science Research Unit.
    4. Nicola Giocoli, 2001. "Fixing the point: the contribution of early game theory to the tool-box of modern economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 1-39.
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