Page:Cournot Theory of Wealth (1838).djvu/16

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PREFACE

standpoint, a subject of general interest which has so many different sides.

But the title of this work sets forth not only theoretical researches; it shows also that I intend to apply to them the forms and symbols of mathematical analysis. This is a plan likely, I confess, to draw on me at the outset the condemnation of theorists of repute. With one accord they have set themselves against the use of mathematical forms, and it will doubtless be difficult to overcome to-day a prejudice which thinkers, like Smith and other more modern writers, have contributed to strengthen. The reasons for this prejudice seem to be, on the one hand, the false point of view from which theory has been regarded by the small number of those who have thought of applying mathematics to it; and, on the other hand, the false notion which has been formed of this analysis by men otherwise judicious and well versed in the subject of Political Economy, but to whom the mathematical sciences are unfamiliar.

The attempts which have been made in this direction have remained very little known, and I have been able to learn only the titles of them, except one, Les Principes de l'Économie Politique, by Canard a small work published in the year X [of the French Republic, a.d. 1801], and crowned by the Institut. These pretended principles are so radically at fault, and the application of them is so erroneous, that the approval of a distinguished body of men was unable to preserve the work from oblivion. It is easy to see why essays of this nature should not incline such economists as Say and Ricardo to algebra.

I have said that most authors who have devoted them-