When economics and philosophy divorced...
July 5, 2011
Mark D. White
In a recent "The Shrink and the Sage" piece in the Financial Times Magazine, Julian Baggini (prolific popularizer of philosophy) and Antonia Macaro discuss the pursuit of happiness, which is very interesting in itself, but I was particularly amused by how Baggini started his half of the discussion:
When psychology and philosophy filed for divorce about 100 years ago, they faced the common dilemma of how to divide the book collection. In the end, psychology left most of the volumes on happiness and the good life with philosophy, which dutifully left them to gather dust. Now that psychology has returned to the subject with gusto, there is an urgent need to dig them out again.
Of course, economics and philosophy had their own break-up, perhaps a little earlier, so it may be fun to ask: how did they divide their book collection? Some speculation...
- Economics only took one Adam Smith book--but didn't read it--and philosophy lost the rest for years.
- Economics was more than happy to take the Bentham, but forgot the Mill (both the philosophy and economics).
- Most tragically, economics chose to take the calculus books rather than Kant--and we all know how that turned out.
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