The Wisdom of Classical Political Economy in Economics: Incorporated or Lost?

35 Pages Posted: 11 May 2022 Last revised: 29 May 2022

See all articles by Gabriel Benzecry

Gabriel Benzecry

Northwood University

Daniel J. Smith

Middle Tennessee State University - Department of Economics and Finance; Middle Tennessee State University - Jennings A. Jones College of Business

Date Written: May 9, 2022

Abstract

Is everything good in political economy incorporated into modern economic theory? With the transition of the art of political economy into the science of economics, there was a significant synthesis of the graduate education curriculum. The prevailing technique in economics, a neoclassical framework focusing on formal empirics, gradually eliminated the artistic components of political economy. Courses on the history of economic thought, which historically played an essential role in introducing graduate students to the complexities of the art of political economy, are now mostly offered as rare electives. This paper argues that there are still insights to be gleaned from studying the classics of political economy in graduate education. We highlight the tradeoff between theoretical cumulativeness and knowledge, arguing that significant teachings and lessons from historical works of political economy are often absent in contemporary economics. We explore examples of useful knowledge in political economy that were lost in the transition away from the art of political economy. To remain a policy-relevant social science, economists should reintroduce the artistic elements of political economy into the graduate training of economists.

Keywords: History of Economic Thought, Graduate Education, Adam Smith, Classics, Education, Karl Marx

JEL Classification: B12, B14, B15, B41

Suggested Citation

Benzecry, Gabriel and Smith, Daniel J., The Wisdom of Classical Political Economy in Economics: Incorporated or Lost? (May 9, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4104751 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4104751

Gabriel Benzecry

Northwood University ( email )

4000 Whiting Dr
Midland, MI 48640
United States

Daniel J. Smith (Contact Author)

Middle Tennessee State University - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

MTSU Box 190
1301 E. Main St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37132-0001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danieljosephsmith.com/

Middle Tennessee State University - Jennings A. Jones College of Business ( email )

TN
United States

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