Tuesday, November 11, 2008

George J Stigler

Everytime I read an article by a great economist, I am reminded of my love for this discipline and am inspired to work harder and persist at what I am doing. Today, I had a lean phase where one of my dissertation chapters refused to progress. So, I decided to wiki famous economists and since I had been thinking about the economics of regulation, decided to learn more about George Stigler. Although I knew of his contributions to the Economics of  Regulation literature, I did not know he had written so much on the History of Economic thought. I have always admired Stigler, I now have a new found love for him as well. Well, one thing lead to another and I just finished reading his Nobel Lecture, "The Process and Progress of Economics". How can one read this lecture and not be inspired to keep working on new ideas!! Here is an excerpt from the conclusion (emphasis mine).
The fascination of scientific work does not lie in the craftsmanlike utilization of the tools of a science. It is admirable for the gymnast to put his splendidly disciplined body through intricate maneuvers, and it is no doubt equally admirable for the scientist to put his disciplined mind through a sequence of complex analytical or experimental maneuvers. The great fascination of scientific endeavor, however, is precisely in the speculative pursuit of new ideas that will widen the horizon of our understanding of the world. This endeavor is not that of a graceful intellectual gymnast: on the contrary, the scientist is stumbling about in a jungle of ideas or facts that seem to defy system or logic, and usually he fails to emerge with anything but scratches. The dangers of the search include the chance that a gifted rival will reach the goal, and the danger is not reduced by the fact that the rivalry is conducted under what for able and ambitious competitors are unusually chivalrous rules. Still, learning more about how this search for new knowledge proceeds is itself a worthy search for new knowledge, and we shall not abandon it.
I will remember to not be frustrated in the future when I stumble through ideas in a paper. 

1 comment:

Richard said...

A few years ago I read a collection of George Stigler's essays on economic history. Got some good laughs.

Good luck with your dissertation chapters.