- Series: Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics
- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (November 29, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521426898
- ISBN-13: 978-0521426893
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
More Heat than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics (Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics) Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
"Intellectual stars of his magnitude (as opposed to scientific stars) don't come along very often....in More Heat Than Light...he states a challenge that is going to haunt economists for years....Mirowski and his ideas are about to move out of the history of economics into the wider stream." David Warsh, The Boston Globe
"...a major contribution to twentieth century literature in economic thought. It is destined to become a classic and must be read and reread." Southern Economic Journal
"...an excellent and enthralling volume, written with great erudition and wit." Review of Political Economy
"No previous writer has made such a sustained and determined effort to explore the undeniably important conceptual links between economics and physics; and this alone is a landmark contribution of importance to all economists, not merely to specialist historians of the discipline." Kyklos
"...an example of the history of economic theory at its best." Charles M. A. Clark, Eastern Economic Journal
The development of the energy concept in Western physics and its subsequent effect on the emergence of neoclassical economics are traced to reveal how economics has sought to emulate physics, especially with regard to the theory of value.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I came at this with more background in physics than in economics (which isn't saying much). I found the history of the principle of the conservation of energy (Ch. 2) fascinating in its own right. For its concise treatment of that topic, this book deserves to be better-known in the "physics-physics" (as distinguished from econophysics) community. As for Prof. McCauley's comment in an earlier Amazon review that Mirowski is confusing potential energy with the action as the appropriate analogue to utility, my impression was that this error isn't unique to Mirowski, but was made by at least some of the economists whose work he is critiquing (e.g. Irving Fisher).
I give this four stars, though, because of some genuine weak points.
First, Mirowski spills much ink faulting economists because they use a physics metaphor that's outdated, but relatively little on the question of empirical justification (or lack thereof) for using any physics metaphor at all. More discussion of this point would have been helpful.
Second, Mirowski's discussion of physics is at times very tentative, like a student who copies stuff into a term paper without understanding it fully, but hoping that he can sort of fake his way through. E.g., he refers to the definition of a curl of a function as a condition (when the condition he means is that the curl = 0), and twice to an exact differential as an "exact differential equation" when no equation is stated; he throws around frequent references to the Lagrangian without ever mentioning its familiar form as the difference between kinetic and potential energy (T-V); and although he includes some equations in his discussion of general relativity, he neither explains his notation nor seems to be sure of what the equations represent.
Finally, his writing style is often pompous and overly ornate. In the early part of the book he seems to have been possessed by the spirits of the 18th and 19th Century writers he's discussing. (I was amazed to learn that he's a Baby Boomer who was still in his 30s when he wrote this book.) He adopts a more entertaining and sarcastic tone when he gets to the neoclassical economists, especially in his take on P. Samuelson near the end of the book. But too often he sounds like a too-clever college student. It makes for an unfortunate contrast to the depth and originality of his argument.
This book should be read and understood by every economics student who reads Samuelson and asks: what has 'utility' to do with the data. A very good complementary book is Osborne's "The stock market from a physicist's viewpoint". Osborne introduced tha idea of lognormal stock prices (thereby paving the way for the Black-Scholes equation and derivatives trading). In his first two chapters, without the benefit of the historic perspective offered by Mirowski, Osborne explains why the supply-demand curves drawn by Samuelson are wrong and misleading, and then goes on to illustrate how one could obtain correct discrete plots real data. For example: if 25 tomatoes are available (supply) then what's the price? Clearly, there is no answer. Price does not exist as a function of supply, nor of demand (nonuniqueness). Osborne goes on to suggest that the three related assumptions of equilibrium, continous price changes and efficiency are not supported by the data, and observes that there are traders who make money out of the inefficiency of the market. Mirowski and Osborne are strongly recommended to anyone who wants to understand economics.