More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, 1989 - Conservation laws (Physics) - 450 pages
More Heat Than Light is a history of how physics has drawn some inspiration from economics and also how economics has sought to emulate physics, especially with regard to the theory of value. It traces the development of the energy concept in Western physics and its subsequent effect upon the invention and promulgation of neoclassical economics. Any discussion of the standing of economics as a science must include the historical symbiosis between the two disciplines. Starting with the philosopher Emile Meyerson's discussion of the relationship between notions of invariance and causality in the history of science, the book surveys the history of conservation principles in the Western discussion of motion. Recourse to the metaphors of the economy are frequent in physics, and the concepts of value, motion, and body reinforced each other throughout the development of both disciplines, especially with regard to practices of mathematical formalisation. However, in economics subsequent misuse of conservation principles led to serious blunders in the mathematical formalisation of economic theory. The book attempts to provide the reader with sufficient background in the history of physics in order to appreciate its theses. The discussion is technically detailed and complex, and familiarity with calculus is required.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JohnAGoldsmith - LibraryThing

A disappointing book -- a good subject, but one that did not live up to the promise of the first hundred pages. Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (1989)

Philip Mirowski is Carl Koch Professor of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame. His areas of specialization are in the history and philosophy of economics and the politics and economics of knowledge, with subsidiary areas in evolutionary computational economics, the economics of science and technological change, science studies and the history of the natural sciences. His most recent books include The Effortless Economy of Science (2004, winner of the Ludwig Fleck Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science), Machine Dreams (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and ScienceMart (2011), and he edited Agreement on Demand (2006), Science Bought and Sold (2001) and The Road from Mont Pelerin (2009). His landmark book More Heat than Light (Cambridge University Press, 1989) has been translated into French (2001). He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright program and New York University and was elected visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He was elected President of the History of Economics Society for 2011.

Bibliographic information