Yoshinori, et al.,

You open a large debate as to "origins." I'm not sure if I consider myself an "externalist" or "internalist." I guess I'm a bit of both. One difference between Mirowski and me is that he focuses on the 1870-1900 period--when neoclassicism certainly did undergo its mature development--whereas I focus on the post-Ricardian period, when things got hot and heavy. I do argue that, in its most "primitive" stage, the assault on classical theory began between Smith and Ricardo with the works of Bentham, Say, et al., but the main thrust was in the 1820's, 1830's. And the reason for this is fairly clear. EVERY--and I mean every; I've read them all--economist (or proto-economist) speaks to two main issues of the period: (1) the rise of ideas that run counter to the glorification of capitalism, (and these commence in the industrial revolution period), and (2) the growth of a working class that has seized on these ideas--rightly or wrongly. Longfield, in his 1834 Lectures on Political Economy, well expresses the sentiments of those who laid the foundations for neoclassicism. His remarks can be replicated by quotes from all the major (proto-neoclassical) figures of the day:

Sorry about the above, but that's the best I can do without retyping the thing. I'm a technological incompetent!

Now, whether my position makes me an externalist or an internalist remains unclear to me. I think the important issue is whether Longfield (Scrope, Read, Senior--and in the earlier period--Say, Bentham, et al. were externalists or not. I suspect a bit of both--there were external reasons to develop an alternative theoretical approach that could then be internalized by that segment of the population increasingly hostile to capitalism--and, thus, tame them. 

P.S. Note, in the above quote, the elitist, patronizing attitude toward the majority of the population. Does this not remain a standard in the present day? 


John F. Henry
Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

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From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Yoshinori Shiozawa <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, May 2, 2019 9:04:10 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Neoclassicism, etc.
The discussion between Geoff Hodgson, Brian Eggleston, Randall Wray, and others is extremely interesting. John Henry seems to have opened a topic on the rise of neoclassicism. Let me briefly intervene in the last point only. John talks on the emergence of neoclassical economics totally from externalist point of view. Philip Mirowski has given another example by his book "More Light than Heat." I do not object to this interpretation, because the emergence of neoclassical economics, or the neoclassical turn of economics cannot be explained by a single reason. However, if economics is a science (or at least a system of logical reasoning and empirical knowledge), we should also see internal logic of the turn: from classical to neoclassical economics. Mainstream economists look this change as a natural development from a more primitive to a more sophisticated stage of economic analysis, or a change of analytical tools. Heterodox economists cannot accept this internalist interpretation, because the neoclassical turn of economics is, so to speak, a degradation of economic science.

This situation explains why heterodox economists tend to give externalist explanations. John's explanation is typical in this style. However, in my opinion, pure externalist interpretation is weak as an explanation of why neoclassical turn occurred in economics. It is necessary to find a deeper explanation than the analytical tool development thesis. I think this is possible. I have found an example mostly by chance, because I have been working on international trade theory. John Stuart Mill, despite he wanted to be a loyal disciple of David Ricardo, was obliged to "revert to the principle of demand and supply" which was "anterior to that of cost of production."

For more details, see my paper: An origin of neoclassical economics: Mill' "reversion" and its consequences, 2017. If someone want to read this, please send me an e-mail to
[log in to unmask],
I will be happy to share my paper this them.

Yoshinori Shiozawa
Professor Emeritus, Osaka City University
Former president of the Japan Association of Evolutionary Economics