The Palgrave Companion to Cambridge Economics, Forthcoming
24 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 7, 2014
Frank P. Ramsey (b. 1903–d. 1930) was a Cambridge mathematician who interacted closely to leading economists of his time such as Arthur Cecil Pigou, John Maynard Keynes and Roy Harrod. In the 1920s he was considered by many as a brilliant student who was clearly integrated to the elite group of Cambridge and who knew and was friend of such luminaries as G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and also Lytton and James Strachey, Virginia Woolf, Lionel Penrose, Kingsley Martin, Richard Braithwaite, I. A. Richards, and C. K. Ogden. Despite being few in numbers, his contributions to mathematics, logic, philosophy and economics are considered by practitioners in these areas as the most profound and original work in the first half of the twentieth century. This canonization was initiated soon after the untimely death of Ramsey, before completing 27 years of age. Economists portray Ramsey as a sleeping giant, someone with almost no impact until the 1950s, when they finally learned the mathematical tools necessary to apprehend his ideas. Building on my previous works on Ramsey this article surveys his life and work, focusing on economics, and shows how this provides interesting historical windows both to the Cambridge milieu of the 1920s and to the important transformations of economics after World War II.
Keywords: Frank Ramsey, University of Cambridge, Arthur Cecil Pigou, John Maynard Keynes, Paul Samuelson
JEL Classification: B31, B22, B16, B23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation