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Personal drama or theory-building? Georgescu-Roegen on Gossen

Personal drama or theory-building? Georgescu-Roegen on Gossen

Tubaro, Paola (2011) Personal drama or theory-building? Georgescu-Roegen on Gossen. In: 12th annual Summer Institute for the History of Economic Thought, 24-27 Jun 2011, University of Richmond, VA, USA. (Unpublished)

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I study Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s contribution to the English translation of Gossen’s book The Laws of Human Relations (1983), for which he wrote a lengthy introduction. His work is a major piece of scholarship on an otherwise obscure precursor, with the most favorable appraisal he ever wrote of any economist. Georgescu suggested that Gossen was unjustly ignored by his contemporaries, just as he himself felt that his own contributions to economics were insufficiently recognized. His belief that he fully deserved the Nobel –which he never had– was one that he widely voiced among colleagues at Vanderbilt University.
Yet it was not only self-identification with a forgotten older writer that motivated Georgescu’s editorial enterprise: I show that his original plan was to work at an original approach to utility and consumer choice theory, inspired by suggestions he found in Gossen. To achieve this, I rely upon previously unused archival material to reconstitute the genesis and evolution of Georgescu’s work on Gossen, providing evidence that its completion took almost twenty years and was highly convoluted. Over this long time period, Georgescu’s initial theoretical interests gradually faded away and the nature of the project changed, with the personal motive of self-identification with Gossen gaining prominence.
This is an interesting example of how a research may catalyze diverse motives and sources of inspiration, but is exposed to major vulnerabilities arising from the practical difficulty of working at the crossroads of different methods, approaches, and themes.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: This is a draft version of the paper. The definitive version can be accessed at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Hermann Heinrich Gossen, utility theory, consumer choice theory, consumer equilibrium, time allocation, time use
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Networks and Urban Systems Centre (NUSC) > Centre for Business Network Analysis (CBNA)
Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:17

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