G.L.S. Shackle by Peter E. Earl, Bruce Littleboy (auth.)

By Peter E. Earl, Bruce Littleboy (auth.)

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Extra info for G.L.S. Shackle

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116) He slid between mathematics, formal prose, metaphor and poetry. To convey abstract ideas in economics, he used formal mathematics, mathematics in prose and mathematics through metaphor. These methods broadly accord with orthodox strictures on method and style. But to show the world as it is, he used introspection (his own and those of literary writers), allusion to history and even survey results of business managers. These are not the approved methods of the mainstream. As time passed and as he explored philosophical aspects of his long-held insights, poetic prose released itself, often with mystical undercurrents.

Money is dope, a tranquilizer against the effects of not knowing what to do. Money is what saves you from having to make up your mind what to buy. (Shackle, 1966, p. 128) Liquidity is, in some sense and degree, a substitute for knowledge. (Shackle, 1972, p. 216) Shackle was no fine-tuning econometrician; neither was Keynes. But Keynes kept much of the Victorian optimism about progress that Shackle had discarded. Shackle adopted a truncated Keynesianism, without much hand-wringing over secular stagnation – indeed in Shackle there is scant concern for secular anything.

Mathematics at the Fireside (1952b) is at its psychological heart a nostalgic book in which a father teaches a young George (and Lucy, next door) about mathematics. ‘Touched by the Cambridge tradition’ (1/6/5, letter to Anton Zottman, 19 October 1960), Shackle often put the mathematics into words, but sometimes rather too literally: for example, ‘ ... the multiplier’s equilibrium value is equal to: [one divided by (one minus the marginal propensity to consume)]’ (1962 [1959a], p. 168, square brackets and italics in the original).

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