I came to know through Catallaxy files that Mark Blaug is dead.
I'm a kind of half-baked economist. Not educated enough. A PhD does not, cannot, suffice. Simply not enough. I need to know 100 times more.
As part of my desperate need to learn everything about the world, during my doctoral studies I deviated considerably from the (mindless) world of mathematical economics and econometrics, to undertake a course (perhaps my most important course of all) on the study political economy as it had been originally conceptualised by the great economists.
And so I took a course with John Elliott, one of the most respected thinkers of economic systems in the world. John's depth of knowledge was breathtaking (although I did not agree with many of his positive sentiments towards socialism).
To bring order to the tens of thick course books (which included – among many others – the full original texts of Adam Smith, Mill, Marx, and Keynes) we had Mark Blaug's seminal Economic Theory in Retrospect as constant guide and companion.
Mark was the first port of call on the study of any economist.
I have this book (its 4th edition) in my hands as I write this post. Indeed, I found this book not on my bookshelves, a moment ago (where it is usually kept), but on my bedside among a massive sprawl of half-open books. (I had been browsing through its chapter 12, on Bohm-Bawerk, just a few days ago.) Blaug's work is a vital companion even today.
Let me just say this: it is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE to understand the major debates in economic theory without having Blaug by one's (bed!) side. Mark Blaug's classic is always the point of departure for formulating one's arguments.
I realised pretty soon, in 1996 (or 1997), that Blaug was not a perfect guide, since his own views inevitably entered the discussions. But no one can be such a ("perfect") guide. No matter from whom you learn economics, you will necessarily receive filtered information. Everyone has a world-view. That is unavoidable – even necessary.
It is important, therefore, to develop one's own critical thought process. John Elliott was fortunately the first to encourage such wide ranging debate (and so I invited him to sit on my doctoral dissertation committee – more as observer than contributor).
Unfortunately, I never found time to get to know much about Blaug personally. That's something for another day.
But it is nice to know that so many people across the world have been positively affected by his contributions in some way.
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