THE MATHEMATICAL TURN IN ECONOMICS: WALRAS, THE FRENCH MATHEMATICIANS, AND THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
One of the pivotal moments in the move toward mathematizing economics occurred at the turn of the twentieth century, with Leon Walras as perhaps its most ardent champion. Yet, there is no small irony here, in that the leading French mathematicians to whom Walras turned to buttress and defend the case for a mathematical economics, especially Henri Poincare and Emile Picard, laid out reservations to the scope of this mathematizing program. They even pointed to matters, including the hold of the past on future events and hysteresis, a subject already in the discourse of mathematical physicists, which might have fashioned economics differently from the neoclassical mold being formed. This alternate pathway, though, was not pursued at the time.