Dos poemas de K.E. Boulding
If you do some acrobatics
with a little mathematics
it will take you far along.
If your idea's not defensible
don't make it comprehensible
or folks will find you out,
and your work will draw attention
if you only fail to mention
what the whole thing is about.
Your must talk of GNP
and of elasticity
of rates of substitution
and undeterminate solution
Kenneth E. Boulding
Poema del Economista
Si haces algunas acrobacias
con unas pocas matemáticas
te harán llegar muy lejos.
Si tu idea no es defendible
no la hagas comprensible
o tus colegas te descubrirán,
y tu trabajo ganará en atención
si tan solo no haces mención
de qué va el tema general.
Debes hablar de PNB
y de elasticidad
de tasas de sustitución
y solución indeterminada
(Traducción J. Marcos Castro)
I should by this time roughly know what's best
For humankind, and put to some small test
My colleagues' images of yeas and nays.
The economy, however is a maze;
To map it is a very complex quest.
Even its history mostly must be guessed
So, over this great ignorance we raise
A fantasy of markets with perfection,
Mistaking charm and elegance for truth;
But Error has a penetrating tooth
That bites when we go in a false direction.
And if our theories are mainly fictions,
It's most unwise to make exact predictions!
24 de junio de 1992
Debería ya, más o menos, saber
Qué es lo mejor para la humanidad, y a prueba poner
La expresión de mis colegas de aprobación o rechazo.
La economía es un laberinto, sin embargo;
Difícil trabajo es cartografiarla.
Incluso su historia debe ser adivinada.
Así, sobre esta gran ignorancia levantamos
Una fantasía de mercados con perfección,
Confundiendo verdad con encanto y don de gentes:
Pero don Error tiene un penetrante diente
Que clava cuando vamos en falsa dirección.
Si son nuestras teorías en gran parte ficciones,
¡Es muy torpe hacer exactas predicciones!
Kenneth Ewert Boulding, 1910-1993
Kenneth Boulding never knew any boundaries: born in Liverpool, he ascended class prejudice to a distinguished undergraduate career at Oxford - publishing his first paper (1932) while still there. Not bothering to pick up his B. Litt., Boulding proceeded to America. A meeting withSchumpeter on the transatlantic crossing led him to spend some time at Harvard before proceeding on to Chicago - where, under the influence of both Knight and Schultz he wrote a series of other papers on capital theory (pro-Knight, contra Austrians). Not bothering to pick up a Ph.D., Boulding went off to Scotland as an assitant lecturer at Edinburgh. In 1937, Boulding crossed back over to America, to Colgate this time, where he wrote his monumental two-volume textbook, Economic Analysis - the epitome of the Neoclassical- Keynesian Synthesis - before proceeding on to roam around the country: to work for the League of Nations at Princeton, at Fisk University in Tennessee, Iowa State College at Ames (where he wrote his famous 1944 paper on liquidity preference and his 1950 Reconstruction of Economics on stock-flow distinctions), University of Michigan (where he set up his "Center for Research in Conflict Resolution") - with intermediary stays at Stanford (where he set up the famous "Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences") and the International Christian University in Japan (from whence arose his first work on "evolutionary" economics (1970)) - before finally settling at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1967.
The geographically-unbounded Boulding was also intellectually unbounded - perhaps a legacy of his early mentor and greatest influence, FrankKnight. His early work on opportunity cost, capital theory, international trade (collected in five massive volumes) and his 1941 textbook were exercises in mostly conventional economics - which earned him the prestigious J.B. Clark Medal of the AEA in 1949 (and the Presidency in 1968).
However, his 1944 paper and his 1950 book were attempts at reconstructing a balance-sheet approach to economics in an almost Post Keynesian vein. His work on fusing biology and economics in evolutionary economics (1970, 1978), were already intimated in his influential 1956 tract, The Image. He insisted on bringing in more aspects of economic behavior into economic life. Of his tripartite classification of economic activity - exchange, threat and grants - only the first he felt had been dealt with by economic theory (and even then, inadequately). The latter two, after much resistance, are only now being considered seriously in economics.
Boulding was a forceful advocate of normative economics - bringing ethical, religious and ecological concerns to bear on the analysis of desirable economic outcomes - and a ceaseless activist for the integration of the social sciences. Boulding was also something of a poet (see his sonnets, 1945), ethical and social philosopher (e.g. 1968) and, as his practical efforts demonstrate, a scholar of social conflict, war and peace (e.g. 1962, 1968, 1978, 1985). Verily, Boulding was a true squire of Knight indeed!
Major works of Kenneth E. Boulding
- "The Place of the Displacement Cost Concept in Economic Theory", 1932, EJ
- Economic Analysis, 1941.
- "A Liquidity Preference Theory of Market Prices", 1944, Economica
- There is a Spirit, 1945.
- A Reconstruction of Economics, 1950.
- The Limitations of Mathematics: An epistemological critique, 1955.
- The Image: Knowledge of life in society, 1956.
- "The Role of the Economist in a Political World", 1959.
- Conflict and Defense: A general theory, 1962.
- "Earth as a Spaceship", 1965
- Beyond Economics: Essays on society, religion and ethics, 1968.
- A Primer on Social Dynamics: History as dialectics and development, 1970.
- Collected Papers, five volumes, 1971-5.
- Ecodynamics: A new theory of societal evolution, 1978.
- Stable Peace, 1978.
- Beasts, Ballads and Bouldingisms, 1980.
- Human Betterment, 1985.
- "Puzzles Over Distribution", 1985, Challenge.
- The World as a Total System, 1985.
- Three Faces of Power, 1989.
- "Economic Development as an Evolutionary System"
- "The Pollution of Information"
- "Contemporary Research in Economics"
- "Toward a World Social Contract"
- "Notes on the Role of Social Science in Economic Development"
- K.E. Boulding's Homepage at CSF, Colorado.
- "Kenneth Ewart Boulding, 1910-1993: Biographical Memoir" by Nathan Keyfitz, 1994, at NAS (pdf version)
- K.E. Boulding in a Disciplinary Matrix Context - interesting!
- Bibliography of Boulding.
- Boulding Quits GOP - a news report from 1982.
- Quotes from K.E. Boulding selected by John Roper.
- Boulding Page at Laura Forgette.
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