February 24, 2000

Why Read the Classics in Economics?

  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Why, indeed, read the classics in economics? There are antiquarian reasons—reading the works of the great political economists of the past does give us a glimpse of the genius of an earlier age. But reading an old work in economics is not unlike watching a silent film or news clips of an old baseball game. It is quaint and romantic to look in on the past, but it is useful to remember that this world we sometimes worship from afar was a world without indoor plumbing, without modern transportation, without talking movies let alone decent special effects, and without night games, a good slider and relief pitchers. There are works in the past from which we can still learn important ideas which are useful for addressing the problems we find pressing today.

Read the article at Library of Economics and Liberty.