His infamy, however, is not fully justified. He used the theoretical frameworks of Jevons and Menger, but he was critical of the mechanical analogies - he was not one of the "equilibrium guys". In his attempt to analyze the world as a continuously changing organism, he applied biological rather than physical metaphors (see Raffaelli, 2004)*.
He also understood the limitations of mathematical knowledge, which is "exact but limited" and needs to be “combined with broader estimates that rest on uncertain foundations” (Marshall 1919, 676)**. Unfortunately, "his" creation - the neoclassical economics - took a different turn. The mathematized economics today manifest in a dogmatic theory, often incomprehensible to the mortals, a perfect device for rhetorical persuasion.
Like Keynes and most of today's heterodox economists, Marshall understood that to better understand the economic world, discursive and interdisciplinary analysis must supplement valid content-emptied mathematical logical structures. And this is important. The understanding is, nevertheless, the cornerstone of any scientific inquiry.
Author: Tej Gonza
* Raffaelli, Tiziano (2003). Marshall’s Evolutionary Economics. London: Routledge (2004). Whatever happened to Marshall’s industrial economics? European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 11(2), 209–29
** Marshall, Alfred (1919). Industry and Trade. London: Macmillian