Page:Cournot Theory of Wealth (1838).djvu/18

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open the way to more extended developments, and to avoid the digressions of vague argumentation.

There are authors, like Smith and Say, who, in writing on Political Economy, have preserved all the beauties of a purely literary style; but there are others, like Ricardo, who, when treating the most abstract questions, or when seeking great accuracy, have not been able to avoid algebra, and have only disguised it under arithmetical calculations of tiresome length. Any one who understands algebraic notation, reads at a glance in an equation results reached arithmetically only with great labour and pains.

I propose to show in this essay that the solution of the general questions which arise from the theory of wealth, depends essentially not on elementary algebra, but on that branch of analysis which comprises arbitrary functions, which are merely restricted to satisfying certain conditions. As only very simple conditions will be considered, the first principles of the differential and integral calculus suffice for understanding this little treatise. Also, although I fear that it may appear too abstruse to most people who have a liking for these topics, I hardly dare to hope that it will deserve the attention of professional mathematicians, except as they may discover in it the germ of questions more worthy of their powers.

But there is a large class of men, and, thanks to a famous school, especially in France, who, after thorough mathematical training, have directed their attention to applications of those sciences which particularly interest society. Theories of the wealth of the community must attract their attention; and in considering them they are sure to feel, as