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Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and the Filiation of Economic Ideas

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  • Andrea Maneschi


    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

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    This article examines the intellectual influences that economists exerted on Nicholas Georgescu Roegen in his formative and mature years. While these include Malthus, Marshall, Pareto and Schumpeter, attention is focused on Marx and Gossen. Karl Marx is the economist whom Georgescu Roegen cited most frequently in his three books. While criticizing several of Marx's views, he noted approvingly that Marx did not consider the economic process as an isolated or closed system. This contrasts with its representation by the neoclassical paradigm, which ignores the absorption of low-entropy resources from the environment and their transformation into high-entropy waste. Georgescu Roegen's 130-page essay on "Hermann Heinrich Gossen: His life and work in historical perspective" was his introduction to the first English-language translation of Gossen's The Laws of Human Relations and the Rules of Human Action Derived Therefrom. This allowed Georgescu Roegen to re-evaluate his own early work on consumer theory, and highlight the importance that Gossen attributed to the role of time in consumer welfare maximization. It also gave him the opportunity to remark on the fate of a genius like Gossen, who was totally ignored in his lifetime and later frequently misunderstood. Georgescu Roegen occupies a secure place in the filiation of economic ideas. His name is now closely associated with the fields of bioeconomics and ecological economics.

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    File Function: Revised version, 2000
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    Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0018.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2000
    Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0018
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    1. John Gowdy & Susan Mesner, 1998. "The Evolution of Georgescu-Roegen's Bioeconomics," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(2), pages 136-156.
    2. Foster, John, 1993. "Economics and the Self-Organisation Approach: Alfred Marshall Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 975-991, July.
    3. De Gleria, Silvana, 1995. "Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen: A Mind That Thought above His Time," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 48(3), pages 317-346.
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