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12. Conclusions and reflections

I have never been able to grasp how one can understand any idea without knowing

where it came from, how it evolved out of previous ideas … Great theories, in

economics as in other subjects, are path dependent … that is, it is not possible to

explain their occurrence without considering the corpus of received ideas which led

to the development of that particular new theory; had the body of received ideas

been different we would have arrived at a different theory at the culmination of that

development. In other words, without the history of economics, economic theories

just drop from the sky; you have to take them on faith. The moment you wish to

judge a theory, you have to ask how they came to be produced in the first place and

that is a question that can only be answered by the history of ideas. (Blaug, 1994)