Roberto Finzi

Mysteries and historiographical inertia: the case of Cantillon

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Behind the appearance of original research, historiographical work often conceals inertia. One very clear example regards the «enigmas» surrounding an acknowledged classic of economic thought, "Essai sur la nature du commerce en général" by Richard Cantillon - an author whose life, wrote one of his most important biographers, is «un enigme. Sa naissance, sa carrière, sa mort, demeurent même entourées de mystère». A different perspective can lead to results far from well-established canons. This is what the author does, using sources for all notes, but for the most part read separately, following long-standing tradition. The result is the emergence of numerous fresh and new avenues of research. This is above all as regards the possible publisher of the Cantillon manuscript and the famous "Supplément" of calculations. For some, the "Supplément" - never found and perhaps never even existing in the first place - has placed the Essai's author among the fathers of Econometrics.

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