Antoine-Augustin Cournot

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cournot, Antoine-Augustin


Born Aug. 20, 1801, in Gray, Haute-Saône; died Apr. 2, 1877, in Paris. French mathematician, philosopher, and economist. Forerunner of the mathematical school of bourgeois political economy. Professor of mathematics at Lyon (from 1834) and rector of academies in Grenoble (from 1835) and Dijon (from 1854).

Cournot published a number of works in the 1830’s and 1840’s, including Researches Into the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth (1838), which was one of the first attempts to analyze economic phenomena through mathematical methods. His philosophy eclectically amalgamated the ideas of I. Kant and the positivists. His views became widespread in the last third of the 19th century, when the mathematical school took shape as a distinct trend in bourgeois political economy.


De l’origine et des limites de la correspondance entre l’algebre et la géométrie. Paris 1847.
Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances et sur les caractères de la critique philosophique, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1851.
Traité de l’enchaînement des idées fondamentales dans les sciences et dans l’histoire, vols. 1–2, new edition. Paris, 1911.
Principes de la théorie des richesses. Paris, 1863.


Anikin, A. V. Iunost’ nauki. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Marshall, who is rightly considered as a major pioneer in the use of diagrams in economic analysis from his 1879 Pure Theory of International Value and Pure Theory of Domestic Value and his 1890 Principles of Economics onwards, drew at an early stage himself on his predecessors in this 'art', including Antoine Augustin Cournot, Johann Heinrich von Thunen, Hans Karl Emil Mangoldt, Karl Heinrich Rau, and, perhaps, Fleeming Jenkin and William Stanley Jevons.
Its three parts look successively at the interplay of equilibrium notions between the natural sciences (specifically mechanics in chapter 1, chemistry in chapter 2, and biology in chapter 3); preneoclassical predecessors on the subject, namely Adam Smith and Thomas Chalmers (chapter 4), Achilles Isnard and the French Enlightenment (chapter 5) and Antoine Augustin Cournot (chapter 6).