But this was a view that came to me only slowly and not without a certain measure of personal experience with psychoanalysis. One of my favourite Lakatos stories has all the flavour of a great Jewish joke. In philosophy, there were giants like Carl Hempel, Adolf Grunbaum and Paul Feyerabend. Mark Blaug probably did more than any other single person to make the philosophy and methodology of economics a growth area during the 1980s. I did this reluctantly because I was never much of a joiner but, nevertheless, I went through a brief period of genuine political activity. It is a most interesting fallacy and it is so cleverly hidden away in Capital that not one in a thousand readers ever notices it. I personally much prefer the first two editions to the most recent edition, as in the latter he gives up much of his position held in the first two editions.
When I now try to recall just what it was about Marxist writings that converted me so quickly, I think it was a combination of qualities that says as much about me as about Marxism. Blaug may be ready to make a decisive step in this area. I now think that virtually the whole of Freudian theory is a tissue of mumbo-jumbo and that psychoanalysis as a therapeutic technique is not very different from Chinese brain-washing. A number of students organized a petition to the President of Queens College demanding Vera Shlakman's reinstatement but, by the by-laws of the college, student petitions could not be submitted to a higher authority without an endorsing signature of at least one faculty member. Overall Blaug's book is the most valuable survey of economic methodology available.
In my last year as an undergraduate at Queens College I took a seminar course in the philosophy of the social sciences with Donald Davidson who, I learned later, was an eminent philosopher of science. As for the historicity of Jesus, I had a dozen clever reasons for demonstrating that his existence was no better established than that of King Arthur or Robin Hood. Yale refused to promote me on the grounds that they had no need of a senior professor specializing in the history of economic thought and I therefore found it necessary to look elsewhere for a new appointment. The moment you wish to judge a theory, you have to ask how they came to be produced in the first place and that is a question that can only be answered by the history of ideas. And so, at the tender age of 27, I found myself teaching a compulsory course in the history of economics to postgraduate students at one of America's foremost institutions of higher education. In one sense philosophy is where I started and philosophy seems to be where I am ending up.
Much of that hostility was directed at Lakatos' insistence that scientific research programmes should ultimately be judged by the number of novel predictions that they generate. At the end of the line, they came to me and because of my personal regard for Professor Shlakman, and because I could not bear the thought of being pusillanimous, I signed the petition. The amount of corruption and political hypocrisy that I witnessed in every country I worked in eventually turned me against the entire development consultancy business. This account I thought had to be true but all my relatives told me that it was not true. We even guarantee this by offering a 30-day full refund if you are unable to use the book for any reason.
It was literally like drinking a whole bottle of champagne at a single sitting. It said, not that human capital theory is wrong, but that it is thin and unproductive despite its early promise, and unable to vanquish its principal competitor, the screening hypothesis, credentialism, the diploma disease, call it what you will. Apart from valuable contributions to the economics of art and the economics of education, he is best known for his work in history of economic thought and the methodology of economics. I understand very well why historians of economic thought figures so little in the pecking order of economists. I was so nervous about teaching the course that I over-prepared myself: within a few years I had collected thousands of pages of notes, notes that were eventually to become my only well-known book, Economic Theory in Retrospect 1962. Reprinted as: Blaug, Mark 2012.
I argued with them and was sent to a rabbi to be corrected. Davidson knew that there were a number of young Marxists in the class remember this was 1949 and his way of dealing with Marxism was gently to ridicule it. I remained, and probably still remain, politically schizophrenic: rather right-wing on questions of economic policy, such as privatization, deregulation, trade union legislation, and the like, but fiercely left-wing on questions of social policy, such as welfare payments, unemployment compensation, positive discrimination in favour of women, blacks and gays, the right to abortion, legalization of soft drugs, and so forth. In one leap, I ceased to believe in any authorized religion and became a Spinozean pantheist, without of course ever having heard of Spinoza. The author introduces current thinking in the philosophy of science and reviews the literature on methodology. K4U will construct a radically new picture of how to use social science to build better social policies. When I started teaching in Yale in 1954, I soon became friendly with Tjalling Koopmans, partly because he was an amateur composer and I had just started playing the cello, so we talked about music, and partly because we were both Dutch and enjoyed speaking Dutch together.
The specialisation and professionalisation of this area had the perverse effect of wasting several decades of effort by many talented and energetic scholars, with very little value for working economists. The question of the existence of God was the first philosophical question I ever asked, and answered, and it interests me still. He completed his doctorate later published as Proofs and Refutations and was appointed on the strength of it as a temporary lecturer at Cambridge. In my youth I had innocently believed that intellectuals would always stand up for ideas against the powers that be but, as a result of the McCarthy experience, I lost whatever respect I ever had for intellectuals and academics. I was not at first prepared for the unmitigated hostility with which educationists viewed all economists who they regarded at best as cost-cutters and at worst as fascist swine. And so I suddenly found myself teaching a full load of courses in microeconomics, consumer economics and marketing, a subject I had never studied. Underlying both of these mistaken policies was a technique of educational planning called the manpower-requirements approach, which was input-output analysis inappropriately applied to the matching of educated workers to different occupational slots in individual industries.
He had a marvelous sense of humour 6 and we took to each other almost as soon as we met. I became more and more cynical about the Third World ministers and politicians I had to work with who exploited me and other economists like myself to get the aid they wanted, while lining their own pockets with the leavings of that aid. I read all night, all day Saturday, and, after falling asleep reluctantly, finished the book on Sunday. In economics, there were great men like Lionel Robbins, John Hicks, Terence Hutchison, Herbert Simon, and Axel Leijonhufvud. Whatever answer I gave him--unfair to creditors, costly to wage earners and pension receivers, a tax on saving, and the like--he refuted with a counter-example.
He surveys the traditional nineteenth century economic methodologists, such as Neville Keynes J. The full extent of this strangeness will become apparent when he met Imre Lakatos. There is a central figure in 20th century economics that perfectly reflects this overemphasis on Walrasian general equilibrium theory combined with the underemphasis of technical progress, namely, Joseph Schumpeter. But, gradually over the years, I became increasingly aware of how self-fulfilling and self-justifying were many of the key concepts of psychoanalytic theory and how characteristic was the unwillingness of analysts to submit Freudian ideas to an empirical test. One reason that I took to Marxism in my teens like a duck takes to water is that its atheism suited me down to the ground.