My principal work now lies in tracing out the exact nature and conditions of utility. It seems strange indeed that economists have not bestowed more minute attention on a subject which doubtless furnishes the true key to the problems of economics.
One of the first and most difficult steps in a science is to conceive clearly the nature of the magnitudes about which we are arguing.
Previous to the time of Pascal, who would have thought of measuring doubt and belief? Who could have conceived that the investigation of petty games of chance would have led to the most sublime branch of mathematical science - the theory of probabilities?
The whole result of continued labour is not often consumed and enjoyed in a moment; the result generally lasts for a certain length of time. We must then conceive the capital as being progressively uninvested.
I protest against deference to any man, whether John Stuart Mill, or Adam Smith, or Aristotle, being allowed to check inquiry. Our science has become far too much a stagnant one, in which opinions rather than experience and reason are appealed to.
Among minor alterations, I may mention the substitution for the name political economy of the single convenient term economics. I cannot help thinking that it would be well to discard, as quickly as possible, the old troublesome double-worded name of our science.
The calculus of utility aims at supplying the ordinary wants of man at the least cost of labour.
An isolated man like Alexander Selkirk might feel the benefit of a stock of provisions, tools and other means of facilitating industry, although cut off from traffic, with other men.
In this work I have attempted to treat economy as a calculus of pleasure and pain, and have sketched out,almost irrespective of previous opinions, the form which the science,as it seems to me, must ultimately take.
In short, I do not write for mathematicians, nor as a mathematician, but as an economist wishing to convince other economists that their science can only be satisfactorily treated on an explicitly mathematical basis.
In any case I hold that there must arise a science of the development of economic forms and relations.
It is clear that economics, if it is to be a science at all, must be a mathematical science.
but, in reality, there is no such thing as an exact science.
We shall never have a science of economics unless we learn to discern the operation of law even among the most perplexing complications and apparent interruptions.
By a commodity we shall understand any object, substance, action or service, which can afford pleasure or ward off pain.