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Discussing methods of reading authors may go much beyond the strict domain of the history of economic thought. One very serious defect introduced by managerial pressure on scientific publications is that it contributed to eliminating, or making very secondary, the reading of the authors’ texts, to the benefit of all those commentaries that one must necessarily quote. Behind this is the perfectly fallacious idea of a cumulative knowledge base in the history of ideas. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on working methods in the history of ideas and of thought. This reflection will obviously be based on my personal activity and, thus, on a particular record of practicing the history of economic thought within academic institutions. Given my personal history and my long immersion in political action, I have been led to substitute the traditional question: “What does this text mean?” with a quite different one: “What does the author want to achieve by saying what he says?”
English title: Which method for the history of ideas: Some reflexions on a pathway and some results
Keywords: Research methods, Reading methods, Historiography, History of economic thought, Intellectual history
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