The Changing Place Of Visual Representation In Economics: Paul Samuelson Between Principle And Strategy, 1941–1955
In this paper, we show that Paul Samuelson (1915–2009), renowned as one of the main advocates of the mathematization of economics, has also contributed to the change of the place of visual representation in the discipline. In his early works (e.g. Foundations of Economic Analysis published in 1947), he rejected diagrammatic analysis as a relevant tool of theorizing but used diagrams extensively, both as a pedagogic tool in his introductory textbook Economics (1948) and as a way of clarifying his theory of public expenditure (1954-5). We show that Samuelson’s reluctance to use diagrams in his early works can be explained by his training at Chicago and Harvard and his rejecting Marshall’s economics, whereas his adoption of visual language in Economics was a product of the peculiar context affecting American mass-education after WWII. A methodological debate which opposed him to Kenneth Boulding in 1948 led him to reconsider the place of visual representation in order to clarify conceptual controversies during subsequent debates on mathematical economics. Therefore, it can be said that the prominent place of visual language in the diffusion of economic ideas was stabilized in the mid-1950s, as mathematical language became the prevailing tool of economic theorizing. From this, we conclude that the idea that algebra simply upstaged geometry in the making of economic analysis must be qualified.
Volume (Year): 32 (2010)
Issue (Month): 02 (June)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://journals.cambridge.org/jid_HETEmail:
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:jhisec:v:32:y:2010:i:02:p:175-197_00. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Keith Waters)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.