10° 40' N, 61° 30' W

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Long Weekend

I spontaneously decided to go to Cambridge on Friday, partly because I had never been there and wanted to see somplace new (London can do that to you) and partly because I wanted to see a place that had played a crucial role in the history of economic thought. Not that I gained much insight into the latter. The city iself is quaint and lovely, and a joy to stroll trough, with each college giving you a sense of its history. While full of tourists like myself, it is also not a museum piece--it is a living city, not a glorified monument to tourism like, say, Venice. A great "day out" all around.

For economics, on the other hand, it was disappointing. Unlike the history of science, the history of economics is largely a history of ideas, with the exception of things like the Phillips Machine and, well, exhibits about money; even the Nobel Foundation has recognised this curatorial difficulty while creating their museum. More important is understanding how those ideas came about, and the process by which they developed. Books are now, and most likely will remain, the best means of doing this.

Pity. Reading is an absolute joy, and it should be thoroughly encouraged. Sometimes, though, one can learn a lot by context and environment--by seeing what that initial discoverer saw.