[OPE-L:5752] [DAVID] Re: neo-classical economics

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 16:34:30 -0500 (EST)

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My take on this is that the term ("neoclassical") came from Samuelson in
the 1940s, in the form "neoclassical synthesis." (I don't have an exact
citation.) Here Samuelson was addressing the "synthesis" of Keynes and the
"classics," in Keynes' sense of the latter term, namely, _all_ market
equilibrium theory prior to himself (including Marshall, Pigou, etc.). Thus
the blame for the paradox -- namely, that we use "classical" to refer to the
"magnificent dynamics" of Smith, Ricardo and (in a certain sense) Marx, and
"neoclassical" to refer to the static marginalist doctrines following 1870 --
must be placed at the door of Keynes, not Samuelson. Keynes' megalomania
(everyone before me is "classical") is the ultimate source of the confusion
caused by using similar terms to describe such different animals!
Hope this helps.

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David Laibman dlaibman@brooklyn.cuny.edu

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Does anyone know the origin of the term "neo-classical" economics?
A student in my History of Economic Thought class asked me last week:
"if the two theories are so different (classical and neo-classical), why
is the later one called 'neo-classical'? Why isn't it called something
completely different. It is an interesting question and I
can't remember where the term originated. Can anybody help me?

Thanks in advance.