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The Rise and Fall of the Concept of Equilibrium in Economic Analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2016

Philip Mirowski
Tufts University
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Une appréhension adéquate du concept d’équilibre en économie implique qu’il soit resitué dans le contexte de l’histoire intellectuelle tant de la physique que de l’économie. Dans cette perspective, la notion d’Equilibre Général, concept-pivôt de la théorie néo-classique, se révèle anachronique, pour des raisons à la fois “internes” et “externes à l’histoire de la pensée et des méthodes économiques. Les difficultés internes sont examinées à l’aide des catégories d’Invariants, d’Existence, d’Unicité et de Stabilité. L’article se termine par une évocation des travaux de Benoit Mandelbrot comme exemple d’un discours économique qui, tout en étant d’une grande sophistication mathématique, ne repose pas sur la notion d’équilibre.

      You don't see something until you have the right metaphor to perceive it. R. Shaw, quoted in Gleick (1987), p. 262.
      When you reach an equilibrium in biology you're dead. Arnold Mandell, quoted in Gleick (1967), p. 298.

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Copyright © Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de recherches économiques et sociales 1989

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