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A tale of two destinies: Georgescu-Roegen on Gossen

Author

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  • Paola Tubaro

    () (LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique - UP11 - Université Paris-Sud - Paris 11 - CentraleSupélec - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Greenwich)

Abstract

Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen edited the English translation of Gossen's book The Laws of Human Relations (1983), and wrote a lengthy introduction to it. His highly appreciative, thoroughly documented study has become a major reference on an otherwise little known early writer. It suggests that Gossen was unjustly ignored by his contemporaries, just as Georgescu-Roegen felt that his own contributions to economics were insufficiently recognized. Yet it was not only a personal motive that inspired Georgescu-Roegen's editorial enterprise: I show that his original plan was to build a model of consumer choice, with support of hints found in Gossen, to address what he saw as essential theoretical issues. Rather, completion of the book project took almost twenty years, during which external circumstances and analytical difficulties gradually eroded the initial theoretical interests, while a sense of self-identification with Gossen gained prominence. As a result, major issues remained ultimately unsolved. History of economics, originally intended to aid economic theory-building, became the key for sublimating personal feelings into a broader reflection on science in society, beyond time and space differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Paola Tubaro, 2014. "A tale of two destinies: Georgescu-Roegen on Gossen," Post-Print hal-01354924, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01354924
    DOI: 10.1215/00182702-2398921
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01354924
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. N. Georgescu-Roegen, 1936. "The Pure Theory of Consumers Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 545-593.
    2. Luigino Bruni & Robert Sugden, 2007. "The road not taken: how psychology was removed from economics, and how it might be brought back," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 146-173, January.
    3. Samuelson, Paul A, 1974. "Complementarity-An Essay on the 40th Anniversary of the Hicks-Allen Revolution in Demand Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1255-1289, December.
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    1. Katrin Hirte, 2019. "Das dritte gossensche Gesetz - Zur Ueberlieferungspraxis in der oeconomischen Dogmenhistorie," ICAE Working Papers 93, Johannes Kepler University, Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy.

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