The Real World

I had a growing feeling in the later years of my work at the subject that a good mathematical theorem dealing with economic hypotheses was very unlikely to be good economics: and I went more and more on the rules — (1) Use mathematics as a shorthand language, rather than an engine of inquiry. (2) Keep to them until you have done. (3) Translate into English. (4) Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. (5) Burn the mathematics. (6) If you can’t succeed in 4, burn 3. This last I did often.

— Alfred Marshall, in a letter to A.L. Bowley, Jan. 27, 1906

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“Travelling is one Way of lengthening Life, at least in Appearance. It is but a Fortnight since we left London; but the Variety of Scenes we have gone through makes it seem equal to Six Months living in one Place.” — Benjamin Franklin, letter to Mary Stevenson, from Paris, Sept. 14, 1767

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“Blasphemy depends upon belief, and is fading with it. If any one doubts this, let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor. I think his family will find him at the end of the day in a state of some exhaustion.”

— G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1906

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

“It is odd that the skeleton of a house is cheerful when the skeleton of a man is mournful, since we only see it after the man is destroyed. … There is something strangely primary and poetic about the sight of the scaffolding and main lines of a human building; it is a pity there is no scaffolding round a human baby.” — G.K. Chesterton, “The Wings of Stone,” Alarms and Discursions, 1911