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(2007) Otto Neurath's economics in context, Dordrecht, Springer.

"Freeing up one's point of view"

Neurath's machian Heritage compared with Schumpeter's

Elisabeth Nemeth

pp. 13-36

Why concern oneself with Otto Neurath's economic thought in its historical context? Could anything be more out of fashion than a theory proposing a centrally managed planned economy? Than the views of a theorist whose ideas on in-kind economic planning drove the notion of economic planning to its utmost extreme (ad absurdum, as most would say)? Indeed, Neurath's ideas appeared too radical and utopian even for the social democrats of the 1920s. So why give even a second thought to them today? Would it not be better to follow the advice a colleague gave me in the 1980s and to pass over Neurath's "youthful sins" silently so as not to tarnish the reputation that – finally, after a lengthy delay – has been accredited to Neurath for his impressive philosophical achievements within the framework of logical empiricism?In the years since the 1980s, however, Neurath's economic writings have attracted much more interest than anyone would previously have suspected. Today we are aware of the fact that Neurath formulated ideas at an unexpectedly early stage that are currently relevant in ecological economy, social choice theory and developmental economy. And that his reflections vis-à-vis "associational socialism" could provide interesting impulses for a new theory of socialism. Viewed from this perspective, Neurath's status is secure as a precursor of theoretical developments and debates that are in full swing today. But is that enough? After all, if the role of the precursor is an endearing one, isn't it also quite thankless? For even in the areas in which Neurath can be regarded as a precursor, the relevant questions are posed today with far greater precision and with reference to current facts – so why should anyone concern oneself with a precursor whose fundamental assumptions differ so greatly from those of the overwhelming majority of economists working today?

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-6905-5_2

Full citation:

Nemeth, E. (2007)., "Freeing up one's point of view": Neurath's machian Heritage compared with Schumpeter's, in E. Nemeth, S. W. Schmitz & T. Uebel (eds.), Otto Neurath's economics in context, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 13-36.

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