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Professor Kirzner on Carl Menger: To What Extent Was Carl Menger Subjectivist?

  • Chamilall Neelkant S.

    (Université d’Aix-Marseille III)

  • Krecké Elisabeth

    (Université d’Aix-Marseille III)

Registered author(s):

    In an oft-quoted paper entitled “To What Extent Was the Austrian School Marginalist ?”, Streissler challenged earlier interpretations of Menger’s work that had accorded equal billing to Menger alongside Jevons and Walras as co-discoverer of the marginalist principle. In Streissler’s words, Menger was exceptionally great because he created marginalism at the same time that he surpassed it: the essence of Menger’s contribution to economic science was to be located in his subjectivist vision of the economy rather than in marginalism per se. Streissler’s interpretation presaged Professor Kirzner’s subsequent rendering of Menger’s work, namely, that Menger’s subjectivist vision of the system as whole forms the very core of his contribution. This paper argues that, while these modern subjectivist reinterpretations are more faithful to Menger’s work than the earlier restrictive marginalist interpretations, they have nonetheless failed to identify Menger’s ‘vision.’ It is submitted here that this vision is to be located in Menger’s intention of constructing a theory of complex economic phenomena. Building upon Alfred Whitehead’s “process philosophy”, this paper provides a philosophically realist reconstruction of Menger’s theory of complex phenomena before investigating its pervasiveness and significance in the economic sphere.Dans un article célèbre intitulé “To What Extent Was the Austrian School Marginalist ?”, Streissler remit en cause les interprétations antérieures de l’oeuvre de Menger qui faisaient de ce dernier un des co-inventeurs du principe marginaliste au même titre que Jevons et Walras. Pour Streissler, Menger était exceptionnellement grand parce qu’il créa le marginalisme en même temps qu’il le surpassa : l’essence de la contribution de Menger à la science économique se trouvait dans sa vision subjectiviste de l’économie plus que dans le marginalisme en soi. L’article de Streissler annonçait l’interprétation que devait donner le Professeur Kirzner de la contribution de Menger, à savoir que sa vision subjectiviste du système dans son ensemble constituait le coeur même de sa contribution. Ces réinterprétations subjectivistes modernes de l’oeuvre de Menger sont certes plus fidèles à celle-ci que les interprétations étroites antérieures données sous l’angle marginaliste. Ces réinterprétations modernes n’ont pas pour autant identifié la vision qu’avait Menger de la sphère économique. L’article suggère que cette vision se situe dans la théorie des phénomènes complexes de l’économie que Menger se propose d’élaborer. En se fondant sur “ la pensée du procès ” d’Alfred Whitehead, l’article propose une reconstruction philosophico-réaliste de la théorie des phénomènes complexes de Menger avant d’illustrer sa pertinence et son importance dans la sphère économique.

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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 1-47

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:12:y:2002:i:2:n:9
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