Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on August 2, 2015

in Economics

… is from pages 140-141 of 1963 Norton Library edition of the superb posthumous 1951 collection of some of John Maynard Keynes‘s writings Essays in Biography; specifically, it’s from Keynes’s 1924 essay on Alfred Marshall (original emphasis):

The study of economics does not seem to require any specialized gifts of an unusually high order.  Is it not, intellectually regarded, a very easy subject compared with the higher branches of philosophy or pure science?  Yet good, or even competent economists, are the rarest of birds.  An easy subject, at which few excel!  The paradox finds its explanation, perhaps, in that the master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts.  He must reach a high standard in several different directions and must combine talents not often found together.  He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher – in some degree.  He must understand symbols and speak in words.  He must contemplate the particular in terms of the general and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought.  He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future.  No part of man’s nature or his institutions must lie entirely outside his regard.  He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood; as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near to earth as a politician.

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