Friday, July 5, 2013

Neoclassical economists are in fact from Mars

Gavin Kennedy:
Neoclassical economists separate economics not just from societies as they operate and have long operated in the real world, but also from actual human behaviours generally.  The monolithic self-interest of the mathematical mind is fitted into a one-dimensional theory of human behaviour (brilliantly identified as'MaxU" by Deirdre McCloskey).  One-dimensional is the only way that the complex shades of human motivations can work in calculus and produce basic curves so wonderfully illustrated in basic textbook diagrams and memorised by brigades of students.  Once these familiar Economics 101 diagrams are etched in the visual memories of graduates, the implications of much in postgraduate minds becomes Jesuit-like irremovable, especially those who have never studied Smithian political economy, which just about covers most of them....
For [Adam] Smith, man is and always was a social animal.  He has never been a lone figure facing an utterly hostile world. Hobbes’s assertion of a solitary life of man ”as poor,nasty, brutish, and short” is imaginative to suit his subsequent thesis and never was a description of mankind (it does not even correspond to the lives of our nearest cousins, the chimpanzees, who like us share a common ancestor).  Man has always lived in societies with other men (and, of course, women) and mostly lived long enough to breed feed the group and thereby propagate the species for the past 200,000 years (and our predecessors for several millions years before then, whatever bronze-age tribes after 800 BCE wandering around the near-East imagined.

No comments:

Post a Comment