The Representative Agent’s Eclipse

(Kirman, 1992; Janssen, 1993, 1998; Sent, 1998, pp. 104– 6). There it has slowly dawned upon the perceptive few — perhaps significantly, almost exclusively Europeans — that the neoclassical championing of the primacy of the individual has been more or less a sham throughout the history of mathematical neoclassical economics. The irony has been that, whereas the accompanying textual commentary will inevitably praise the individual self as the font of all analytical determinacy and the market as the only device that accords the idiosyncratic needs of the self their due meed, when one stares long and hard at the mathematics, all this vaunted respect for the essentiality of diverse individuality flies right out the window. In the Marshallian case, the contradiction is readily apparent, with the “representative agent” really little better than the “group mind” or Volkerpsychologie of the Germanic tradition so despised by tough-minded British thinkers. Yet other, more intricate models also commit similar solecisms.

Mirowski, Philip (2001–12–03). Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science (pp. 448–449). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

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