Mathematical Analysis as a Source of Mainstream Economic Ideology

Vlassis Missos


The paper contends that neoclassical ideology stems, to a great extent, from mathematical analysis. It is suggested that mainstream economic thought can be comprehensively revisited if both histories of mathematical and economic thought are to be taken collaboratively into account. Ideology is understood as a ‘social construction of reality’ that prevents us from evaluating our own standpoint, and impedes us from realising our value judgments as well as our theories of society and nature. However, the mid-19th century’s intellectual controversies about the validity of mathematical thought, truth and knowledge can procure new interesting insights concerning the ideological stance of the first marginalists. In this respect, the methodological categories of analysis and synthesis serve as the basis for the crucial distinction between old geometry and mathematical analysis, indicating that the discipline of mathematics has its own history of fundamentally unresolved disputes. Lastly, this may also shed some light on Alfred Marshall’s peculiarly reluctant attitude towards the use of mathematical analysis in his work.

Published on 13th July, 2020, in Economic Thought Vol 9, No 1, 2020