Schumpeter's 'Vision' as Filter for his Evaluation of other Economists' Visions
In his History of Economic Analysis, Schumpeter stated that although the subject of his book is a history of economic analysis, "analytic effort is of necessity preceded by a preanalytic cognitive act that supplies the raw material for the analytic effort. In this book, this preanalytic cognitive act will be called Vision" (p. 41). Scattered through it are various examples of Schumpeter's "vision", applied to either economists or areas investigated by schools of economic thought. These examples are revealing with regard to economists or schools described as having vision or, in a few cases, lacking it, and to the economists with whom this term is associated neither positively nor negatively. In this article, I analyze the economists and schools of thought that according to Schumpeter were marked by vision, and to assess the common denominator (if any) characterizing them. To place an economist's vision (or lack of it) in perspective, I first analyze Schumpeter's own vision of the economic process, and view it as a filter through which he appraised the visions of other economists. The fact that Schumpeter could couple the term vision with "all the errors that go with it" (p. 570) shows that he did not necessarily grant his approval to someone's vision. The economists and schools of thought whose vision Schumpeter analyzed include the early classical economist James Anderson, the national system economists List and Carey, the classical conception of economic development, the neoclassical economists' conception of the economic process, Marx, Jevons, Walras, his fellow Austrians Bâˆšâˆ‚hm-Bawerk and Wieser, and Keynes. Keynes's stagnationist vision is contrasted with Schumpeter's own very different view of the capitalist process, whose dynamics are entrusted to an innovative entrepreneurial class. In the concluding section I investigate the role of vision in the history of economic thought in light of Schumpeter's elaboration of this concept.