[OPE-L:1353] Math, methodology and political economy

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Thu, 7 Mar 1996 06:48:35 -0800

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Paul C wrote:

> The two processes can go hand in hand. Casting
> things in a mathematical form forces one to be
> precise about what one means, in a way that does
> not occur if one just thinks about things
> qualitatively.
> I dont accept that there is anything that is
> unsuited to mathematical modeling. If something
> is declared 'unsuited' that just indicates the
> depth of our ingnorance and confusion in the field
> in question.
I guess Hegel and Marx (as well as many Marxists, including Rubin and
Mattick) could be said, therefore, to be ignorant and confused since they
frequently did not frame their analysis in quantitative terms. Mike L's
and Tony's books must also be examples of fuzzy thinking since they are
not very mathematical. I, for instance, don't think that Mike's work can
be quantified with any degree of precision. IMHO, this is not a
weakness on Mike's part but stems from the nature of the subject being

* On what basis do you claim that a mathematical form of inquiry is more
suitable for investigation in political economy than a systematic
dialectical [and primarily non-mathematical] method of inquiry?

* Mathematics *by definition* is an expression of formal logic. Are there
instances in which dialectical logic can not be expressed in
mathematical terms? If so, does that mean we formalize and linearize what we
are studying in order to produce mathematical "results" or do we accept
that some topics are more suited than others for expression in
mathematical terms?

I don't think we've ever tackled these questions on this list head-on
before. Who wants to take a bite?

In OPE-L Solidarity,