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My retirement as Professor of Economics at the University of Sydney earlier this year (2002) is a nice vantage point from which to review my forty years of teaching the History of Economic Thought at that University. My first three lectures in that subject dealing with Turgot were given during April 1961 at the request of E.L. Wheelwright, that is, when I had commenced my postgraduate studies for a Masters thesis on the economics of Turgot and I was still a graduand. In 1962 and 1963 I took the first-term lectures in HET as a young 'Teaching Fellow'. However, because I have now commenced research for a history of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Sydney (1920-1999), a general overview of the manner in which the History of Economic Thought has been included within its syllabus from 1920 offers a broader foundation for reflection than the forty years of my own experience as teacher of that subject would permit. I might indicate that I had been introduced to studying the History of Economic Thought during my fourth year as a Faculty of Economics student at Sydney, when that course was a compulsory subject for all students wishing to graduate as a Bachelor of Economics in the by-laws then governing the Sydney degree. These by-laws also required that a student undertaking honours courses in the Faculty needed to take the subject at the Pass with Credit level. My first lecturer in HET was Bruce McFarlane (who in first term lectured to us on the foundations from Mercantilism up to and including the economics of Adam Smith). In second term, E.L. (Ted) Wheelwright lectured on classical economics, Marx, and the views of various 'economic heretics' such as Hobson and Veblen. Third-term lectures were given by Professor S.J. Butlin on marginalism and on the historical school, classes which barely brought the course into the twentieth century (Louis Haddad recalls that in 1961 Butlin's lectures ended with Marshall's Cambridge successors and the cost controversies). The Pass with Credit component of the course which I had to take as an honours student consisted of a two-hour seminar per week at which papers were presented and the writing of a 10,000-word thesis on a self-chosen topic. I chose as my thesis topic, 'The Economics of Richard Cantillon' (whose Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General I had acquired in the Higgs edition at a subsidised price through the Royal Economic Society). The seminar topics for the three terms were respectively the development of classical rent theory and its generalisation into the marginal productivity theory of distribution (Bruce McFarlane); a critical examination of R.L. Meek's 1956 Studies in the Labour Theory of Value (Ted Wheelwright); and, likewise, of Ricardo's Notes on Malthus (volume II of the Sraffa edition of Ricardo, which could then still be purchased by members of the Royal Economic Society for the princely sum of 1 [pounds sterling] or at 10 [pounds sterling] for the full set of ten volumes, which I then also purchased) for term three (Syd Butlin). I was first in the course at the annual examination (1960), a performance repeated in Economics IV, so that I just managed to graduate B.Ec. with first-class honours. This gained me a postgraduate scholarship for taking a Masters degree by thesis only on the economics of Turgot, awarded in 1963 (after some hassles with the external examiners, G.L.S. Tucker and John La Nauze). Then, in August of that year, I departed by ship for London to commence studies for the Ph.D. at the London School of Economics (on a British Commonwealth Scholarship) where I wrote a thesis on 'The History of the Theories of Value, Production and Distribution from 1650 to 1776'. This was completed in the minimum time of two years under the supervision of Bernard Corry, and awarded in 1965 after a very rigorous (and long) oral examination conducted by Ron Meek (who had come up from Leicester for that purpose, and who only stopped when it was time for the matine

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January 1
History of Economic Thought Society of Australia

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