Why is economics called the "dismal" science?
- AldoLv 41 decade agoFavourite answer
The dismal science is another, often derogatory, name for economics devised by the Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle. The term is an inversion of the phrase "gay science", meaning "life-enhancing knowledge". This was a familiar expression at the time, and was later adopted as the title of a book by Nietzsche (see The Gay Science).
It is often stated that Carlyle gave economics the nickname 'dismal science' as a response to the writings of Thomas Robert Malthus, who grimly predicted that starvation would result as projected population growth exceeded the rate of increase in the food supply. Carlyle did indeed use the word 'dismal' in relation to Malthus's theory in his essay Chartism (1839):
"The controversies on Malthus and the 'Population Principle', 'Preventative Check' and so forth, with which the public ear has been deafened for a long while, are indeed sufficiently mournful. Dreary, stolid, dismal, without hope for this world or the next, is all that of the preventative check and the denial of the preventative check."
However the full phase "dismal science" first occurs in Carlyle's 1849 tract entitled Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question, in which he was arguing for the reintroduction of slavery as a means to regulate the labor market in the West Indies:
"Not a 'gay science,' I should say, like some we have heard of; no, a dreary, desolate and, indeed, quite abject and distressing one; what we might call, by way of eminence, the dismal science"
Developing a deliberately paradoxical position, Carlyle argued that slavery was actually morally superior to the market forces of supply and demand promoted by economists, since, in his view, the freeing up of the labor market by the liberation of slaves had actually led to a moral and economic decline in the lives of the former slaves themselves.
Carlyle's view was attacked by John Stuart Mill and other liberal economists.Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dismal_Science
- SharonLv 44 years ago
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You can say 'if the price of a car drops from $10,000 to $1000 it is most likely more people will buy it.' That's what you'd learn in economics, and it would probably be true. But you can't say 'it's a fact that if a car drops to 1/10 the price people will buy it.' because there is a chance more people might actually not buy it. There are always odds scenarios and other factors, therefore you can never assume anything in economics is fact. However you can always say 'a water molecule is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O),' and it will always be true. In other words, nothing in economics is definite and we therefore can't consider it a science.
- NCLv 71 decade ago
Because that is what Thomas Carlyle, a famous writer, called it in his 1849 essay, "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question".
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- Veritatum17Lv 61 decade ago
Blame Thomas Malthus, who said that because population increases geometrically, while food only increases arithmetically, we will suffer through cycles of famine, pestilence and war. Likewise, economics is not known for being optimistic.
- Gray MatterLv 51 decade ago
19th century author Thomas Carlyle used the phrase to describe the pessimistic theories of Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo, since they predicted decline and fall.
- 1 decade ago
Because it's kind of depressing to learn how everything works together to bring down the economy.