Buridan’s Ass

4 June 2010 at 2:18 am 3 comments

| Peter Klein |

This week’s A.Word.A.Day features “Words not named after the person they should be,” including McKenzieorrery, philippic, and guillotine. Thursday’s entry, on Buridan’s ass, reminded me of Murray Rothbard’s insightful discussion of  Buridan. Rothbard treats Buridan as an important contributor to the theory of value, price, and exchange, particularly the theory of money. Buridan’s ass makes the daily word list because a) the famous example of an animal who, indifferent between two equidistant bales of hay, can choose neither and hence starves to death, did not originate with Buridan, who merely commented on a familiar story, and b) Buridan referred to a dog, not a donkey — it was Buridan’s critics who changed the animal in the story to an ass, as an insult.

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Entry filed under: - Klein -, History of Economic and Management Thought, People.

Duke LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship O&M in Paris

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Randy  |  4 June 2010 at 11:25 am

    Clever site! Thanks, Peter.

    Interesting cite, as well!

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  4 June 2010 at 11:28 am

    I subscribe to the word-a-day email list; a great way to start each day!

  • 3. k  |  4 June 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Like Occam ´s razor

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