Two persons are credited with the quotes below. One is very well-known among economists -- amateurs and professionals, alike -- the other is better-known among philosophers and logicians.
Person A is quoted variously as saying:
"I don't need algebra, I can think."or, in an alternative version:
"I never learned math, so I had to think."Person B:
"Few persons care to study logic, because everybody conceives himself to be proficient enough in the art of reasoning already. But I observe that this satisfaction is limited to one's own ratiocination, and does not extend to that of other men."
A little quiz (no credits given).
Although it's safe to assume the authors of those quotes never learned of each other -- on top, one quote is decades older than the other two -- they could have been exchanging barbs. Both are witty, there's no doubt about it: one in a more aggressive way, the other in a deeply ironic vein.
One author wants to project bravado; the other, caution. One may appeal to the humble; the other, to the self-satisfied.
First question: On those accounts, which of these quotes seem wiser to you, dear reader?
One of the two people mentioned above was Joan Robinson, who needs little introduction; the other was Charles S. Peirce, who may need some introduction.
Second question: Who is Person A, and who, Person B?
You better pick carefully, because these quotes may reflect deep differences in the way people see society.
14-11-2015. As promised, the second quote comes from:
Peirce, Charles S. The Fixation of Belief. Popular Science Monthly, no. 12 (November 1877), pp. 1-15. <http://www.peirce.org/writings/p107.html>
The answer to the second question is: Joan Robinson is Person A; Person B is Charles S. Peirce.
Recently Ann Pettifor has written about remarkable female economists; the second version of Person A's quote comes from Pettifor's post:
On brilliant, neglected women economists – for Woman’s Hour.
Invited by the BBC, together with fellow guest Anne McElvoy (of The Economist), Pettifor produced a list of women who've made remarkable contributions to economics (Victoria Chick, Susan Strange, Cheryl Payer, Yves Smith, Mariana Mazzucato, and Joan Robinson); McElvoy nominated Octavia Hill, "the Victorian reformer that campaigned for decent housing for the poor".
Sadly -- and deeply ironic -- Rosa Luxemburg (and a host of labour activists, like Mother Jones), whose contributions ranged from political and labour activism to theoretical economics, and whose life was cut short by the savagery of the Freikorps and the German Social Democracy, was not mentioned.