In examining the implications of classical economic theory for contemporary policy it is necessary to explore the foundations and subsequent development of political economy or economic science. Political economy was the form initially taken by political philosophy when the ancient teaching of political philosophy and political science was overthrown in light of the success of the new physics associated with mathematicians and physicists such as Copernicus, Galileo and Newton. Prior to this time the tradition of Western thought combined the twin teachings associated wdth Jerusalem and Athens; biblical revelation and Socratic philosophy. Against this background there emerged in the late 15th and 16th centuries the invention of modem physics which was essentially different from the ancient physics in respect of the method employed. Relations between material things or bodies in motion could be causally correlated by measuring the variables identified.
The new branches of mathematics, algebra and calculus were invented for this purpose. This new method was adopted to deal also with the human things, where it had the same objective as the new mathematical science of physics; the emancipation of man from dependence on chance or nature, and hence, accordingly, on any supra-human support for his humanity. This thesis endeavours to trace this development by considering the contributions made by the principal architects of political economy, the science required to accompany the new physics, whose mathematical representations of the laws of physical or material motion required a complementary study or science of the laws governing the motion of man; its preservation.
In order to arrive at the contemporarys stage of economic positivism and its understanding of historical man as a creative being capable of, and responsible for, his own manner of existence, it is necessary to go back to the origins, and
particularly, to that philosopher who most of all saw the need for the solution to the problem of man in political society as residing in the solution of the economic problem. Thomas Hobbes is traditionally identified as the discoverer of political economy. This essay begins accordingly with a consideration of Hobbes' invention of political economy and develops by way of considering the most notable contributors to the refinement of Hobbes' solution, though not his method.