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Inventing Human ScienceEighteenth-Century Domains$
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Christopher Fox, Roy Porter, and Robert Wokler

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780520200104

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520200104.001.0001

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Political Economy: The Desire and Needs of Present and Future Generations

Political Economy: The Desire and Needs of Present and Future Generations

(p.292) Ten Political Economy: The Desire and Needs of Present and Future Generations
Inventing Human Science

Sylvana Tomaselli

University of California Press

We are rich in knowledge of the history of political economy. However, this chapter asks: Have we the history of an invention? Have we the history of two inventions, of two epistemic watersheds? The chapter suggests that the notion of invention and the quest for founding fathers is a potentially hazardous intellectual activity. It favors the search for discontinuities and can lead to distortions about the context in which particular schools of thought emerged before being institutionalized as disciplines or becoming formalized discourses about certain topics, such as the economy or population. Neither in the case of political economy nor in that of demography is the notion of invention entirely fruitful.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, human science, political economy, innovation, invention

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