Ed Leamer on "Pure" Economics
By David Henderson
Messieur Walras…was one of the first “mathematical economists,” who chose the title Elements of Pure Economics for his 1874 book…Do you wonder what is “pure” economics? It’s not an epithet, like pure baloney. “Pure” is a reference to the language in which the argument is expressed. Graphs are the totems of the religion and math the language of the Priests. Unlike accessible prose, which comes with inherent humility, when the Priests pray before their totems and chant in math, it is altogether natural for the rest of us to perceive no limits to their powers. But be careful. Be very careful. Don’t be seduced by the language of the story and the confidence of the storyteller. “Pure” is part of the salesmanship.
This is from Chapter 10 of Edward Leamer, Macroeconomic Patterns and Stories: A Guide for MBAs.
San Jose State University economics professor Matthew Holian calls the book “refreshing” and especially recommends Chapter 10.
UPDATE: Russ Roberts interviewed Ed Leamer on this here. HT to Lewis Woods.