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 The Man all about The Logos meeting The Ethos
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Selections from the Essays of Montaigne put a fire under my first day of teaching (trans. & ed. by D.M. Frame, 1948). With a little time you can read the Selections in a single setting. Like Emerson's, his style invites you to. I did not have the time. I was on fire!  

Consider a passage concerning scholars from the essay, "On the Education of Children:"

"As for discovering what I have discovered others doing, covering themselves with borrowed armour until they don't even show their fingertips, and carrying out their plan, as is easy to do for the learned in common subjects, with ancient inventions pieced out here and there: for those who want to hide them and appropriate them, in the first place it is injustice and cowardice, that, having nothing of their own worth bringing out, they try to present themselves under false colors; and also a great piece of stupidity, that contenting themselves with gaining deceitfully the ignorant approbation of the common herd" (Montaigne, p. 8).    


Measurement and Meaning in Economics is a good introduction to the work of Deirdre McCloskey, 1970 to 2000.  I edited the book, and wrote an interpretative introduction. This essential book collects together, for the first time, her articles on economic history and the rhetoric of economics. The essays have been presented to show McCloskey’s evolution over time: from economist to critic, positivist to postmodernist, conventional economist to feminist economist, man to woman. Measurement and Meaning in Economics allows the reader to experience an astonishing personal and intellectual journey with one of today’s most fascinating economists. https://www.e-elgar.co.uk/

In 1997 I bought a copy of Darwin's Autobiography at a high-quality used book shop in the French Quarter (a shop which for all I know has met floods, worms, and The Fates). I didn't read the book till late this summer, on a plane from Chicago to London. I was on my way to London to tie up some loose-ends concerning my history of statistical significance.  (The history is, you'll see, a pretty big deal, making some four chapters of my book, The Standard Error.) Darwin was one of the first of the famous Gower Street scientists.  His cousin Francis Galton came next, followed by Galton's friend and student, Karl Pearson. Pearson's contribution to the tragedy of significance was in my mind the loosest end (it's not, thanks to that visit to the archives, loose any more). The line of descent hit me as I was leaving the apartment for the airport. The book went in a bag and off we went.  

I have nothing at this moment to say about Darwin that hasn't been said before. But this about science: observation is still a virtue of science, a sine qua non of superior science.  Statistics was supposed to amplify and strengthen our observational powers.  And yet, I think we've shown, the quantification of economics, biology, and the other life and human sciences after Darwin has led to a widespread dissipation of observational virtues, courted by status and divorced by Logos.


The Adventures of Augie March Cover 

The Adventures of Augie March (1953), by Saul Bellow.  Begins: "I am an American, Chicago born--Chicago, that somber city--and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man's character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn't any way to disguise the nature of the knocks by acoustical work on the door or gloving the knuckles."  You're either in at this point or you're not. Unlike Herzog, Augie can be read in any room of the house.  Enjoy.






2007 Stephen T. Ziliak
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 03, 2011 10:17:16 AM