The Future of Everything

January 5, 2012

Truth and beauty

Filed under: World Finance column — Tags: — David @ 4:12 pm

Latest World Finance column on the relationship between economics and aesthetics.

In a 2009 New York Times article entitled How Did Economists Get It So Wrong? Paul Krugman wrote that “The economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth.”

Most non-economists, or even economists, would not associate economics with beauty. But a sense of aesthetics plays an important role in many branches of science. Bertrand Russell wrote that “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.” The same kind of beauty is sought and appreciated by researchers in more applied areas as well – not just for its own sake, but because it often seems to indicate that one is on the right path.

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