chapter  I
Background
WithMax Alter
Pages 55

Current tradition has it that the founders of today's mainstream economics were William Stanley Jevons, Carl Menger and Léon Walras. Neo-classical economic theory, with its emphasis on equilibrium exchange based on maximising individuals, is said to have emanated equally from the pens of this triumvirate who independently of each other discovered the unifying principle of utility maximisation subject to a budget constraint, which about sixty years later was given its final form by John Hicks. True, it is usually admitted that Jevons, Menger and Walras did not produce quite identical theories; Menger rejected mathematics and his exposition thus suffered from too much verbiage and occasional imprecisions, and Jevons did not go far enough in the development of the marginal productivity theory of distribution. Walras, however, produced a complete and analytically well-rounded theory which gave clear and superior expression to a body of thought which was common to all three forefathers. As a corollary, it is usually added that the study of Walras's Elements therefore suffices if one really wants to go back to one's roots. This, I think, is a fair rendering of the lore of the founding trinity as it is taught at the academies in the Land of the Econ.