Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Krugman and Tolstoy

And, apropos of my previous post on Tolstoy's view of history, Krugman is in the habit of quoting Colin McEvedy's mathematical view of history. Here is Krugman reviewing The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History, by David Hackett Fischer, in Foreign Affairs:

And the book starts well, with an eloquent and stirring defense of the role of quantification in history (although my favorite along these lines is still Colin McEvedy's introduction to The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History, which contains this immortal sentence: "History being a branch of the biological sciences, its ultimate expression must be mathematical").

It is perhaps worth mentioning Krugman's professed reason for becoming an economist: he wanted to emulate the psychohistorians of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, using quantitative methods to grasp historical truths (or so I understand - I have only read one book in the series). See also. And also.