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By John E. King (auth.)

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W. Kolthammer described Ricardo’s immersion in ‘the air of deduction’ that was breathed by men of science in the early nineteenth century. This did have its advantages, since ‘the order which he made to reign where all had long been chaos, the system which he offered in explanation of an unwieldy toppling mass of details, simply stole by its audacious clarity the admiration and the conversion of his contemporaries’ (Kolthammer 1911, p. x). Then, half a century on, William Fellner praised Ricardo’s analysis of international trade and his theory of rent, both of which demonstrate the way in which ‘his genius enabled him to reduce a problem to its essentials and then to develop a very simple piece of analysis for acquainting us with the fundamentals of a phenomenon’ (Fellner 1963, p.

111). This was Ricardo’s England. 1 Philosophy, History, Society In an often-cited passage in his History of Economic Analysis, Joseph Schumpeter wrote of the importance of the ‘preanalytic cognitive act’ that guides the thinking of any great economist. ‘Obviously, in order to be able to posit to ourselves any problems at all, we should first have to visualize a distinct set of coherent phenomena as a worthwhile object of our analytic efforts’. This he termed ‘vision’, which ‘must precede historically the emergence of analytic effort in any field’ (Schumpeter 1954, p.

76). S. Sayers suggests that: The really fascinating play of Ricardo’s mind is to be seen rather in those passages where he is turning his torchlight on a group of specific facts, especially statistical facts. For example, in the Reply to Bosanquet, after Bosanquet had posed as the practical man who would write about the real facts of the case Ricardo turned on him with a battery of elaborate factual evidence as though he had an efficient intelligence department in his stockbroker’s office; and similarly when he discussed the profits of the Bank of England … and the manipulation of the Sinking Fund.

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