Home > financial markets, Keynes > The Keynes Solution

The Keynes Solution

Below is a letter I set to the letters to the Editor Department of THE  ECONOMIST to respond to an unfair comment that the book reviewer made regarding my book, THE KEYNES SOLUTION


This is a response to the review of my book  THE KEYNES SOLUTION (“The Keynes Comeback” October 3)


Today’s economic problems involves the largest global downturn since the Great Depression.   Ultimately, however, the reviewer declares  that the policies I developed for the 21 century global economy  from Keynes’s ideas and philosophy for ending the Great Depression and creating a full employment global economy after the second  world war are “to most others[ mainstream economists? politicians?  powerful interest groups?] …. solutions that are outmoded and unworkable”. 


Aren’t these “most others” the same people who for the past three decades have advocated  government de-regulation of financial markets, no constraints on international capital flows (which led to the contagion of a U.S.  sub-prime market collapse to threaten the global banking community),  free trade with flexible exchange rates, and perfectly flexible prices and wages so that any unemployment problem can always be eliminated by removing any social safety net that protects the unemployed and thereby force unemployed workers to choose to accept lower wages or see their family starve to death?  These classical policies are ultimately based on the ideas espoused by 18th century Adam Smith and 19th century classical economists such as David Ricardo and Leon Walras.


The reviewer argues that “the world economy may have changed beyond recognition since 1944 but to a true disciple of Keynes…[his] policies make sense” while most (mainstream economists?) think them “outmoded”. Since the world economy has changed much more since the 18th and 19th century of classical economists, does the reviewer really  believe these ideas of 18th and 19th century economists are not “outmoded” and unfounded or worse  merely because “most ” mainstream economists and policymakers still cling to such failed ideas and policies rather than face the reality of Keynes’s analysis of how modern market oriented, money using economies actual operate?

Finally I am reminded of the advice an elder devil gives to a younger devil in one of C. S. Lewis’s books–namely do not argue over whether something is true or not but whether it is outmoded since this is practical propaganda that is more difficult to counteract.


Paul Davidson

  1. giuseppe russo
    November 5, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    The active role of the public economic policy was sustained in a contradictory fashion(we don’t know to save the general system or some big financial subjects, as in the Moore’s film)even by the lasting President Bush.The problem is if this role is limited to a desperate situation of fall or it can prevent the situation.
    We are for the last one even if we must have the humbleness to recognize the impact of extraeconomic factors.

  2. November 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I like your letter – some time there is no arguing with the Economist.

    I get a little upset with the whole debate. Keynes is so grossly misinterpreted and apart from anything what we lack is not his theories but his genius.

    He was able to repeatedly offer solutions to the pressing problems of his day. He would not have been reaching for his predecessors but was purely innovative. He was also supported by the (policy-wise) courageous post-war governments.

    Today we do not have the same benefit.


  3. November 7, 2009 at 10:12 am

    With respect, I feel that Keynes is somewhat over-rated. Undoubtedly, he had the right idea that you cannot leave everything to the markets. However, there are many dimensions to all this, and what is required is a very advanced form of “Neo-Keynesian Economics” Here I suggest my project of Transfinancial Economics (p2pfoundation entry) which arguably represents a real breakthrough in understanding though it may be “too advanced” for its time.

  4. November 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    With respect Robert.

    TFE has been around for years as The Fluffy Economist. Please use another acronym :P

    I had a read of the TFE, though have yet to take it fully in. At first brush it requires systems radically different to our ones now, and a level of scrutiny and morality not currently found in any government I can think of, but…

    there’s some damn fine thinking there. It’s hard to dismiss and it’s so completely different to anything I have come across. I’l stay tuned.



  5. ejl
    December 23, 2009 at 3:45 am

    “Where Keynes Went Wrong” was excellent; thanks.

  6. Norman L. Roth
    January 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I always enjoy Paul Davidson’s expositions about the place of the great J.M. Keynes in the history of Economic thought & policy.He was not only a great & civilized man.But a chronic worrier about “la condition humane” and just how easily the fabric of civilized restraint can be torn asunder by prolonged periods of economic distress & frustration of our natural Promethean energies. Keynes understood clearly that the need to work goes beyond the basic necessities of putting food on our tables, a roof over our heads & clothes on our backs. It’s the core of our human dignity. But Keynes worried just as much about the threats to the thin fabric of our civilization posed by the maniacal conspiratorial panaceas for “curing all that ails us”; That stalked his own times..and ours.For this reason alone, all you born-again-“progressives” who now seem to be groping for one more “hair of the dog that bit yeh”,(Old time boozers’ expression for an early morning gulp of the amber fluid)) should refresh yourselves with Keynes ‘feelings’ about DAS KAPITAL & its author.
    A few samples:[1]”I know that it is historically important.And I know that many people,not all of whom are idiots, find it a sort of “rock of ages” and containing ‘inspiration’.Yet,when I look into it,it is to me inexplicable that it can have this effect.It’s dreary,out-of-date academic controversializing seems so unsuited for this purpose..”It beats me. Clearly there is some defect in my understanding”. [2]”What is the sociological value of DAS KAPITAL ? I am sure that the contemporary economic value….is NIL.” My personal favorite?..From a man who often rivaled Oscar Wilde with his style of incisive wit:”I prefer Engels of the two.I can see that they ‘invented’ a certain method of carrying-on; And a vile manner of writing style..Both of which their successors have maintained with fidelity. But if you tell me that they have discovered a clue to the economic riddle ?..Still, it beats me”.Not to mention the mountains of corpses & rivers of blood that these ‘successors’ have caused…with the same ‘fidelity’.For more about Keynes’ frequent ad-hoc insights & the limitations imposed by the historical era he lived & worked in, Please consult TELOS & TECHNOS:The Teleology of Economic Activity & the Origins of Markets.And GOOGLE on the WEB(chrome)[1] Norman Roth, Technos, or [2]Norman Roth, Markets

    • September 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      Norman, Great stuff. Thanks. However, it would be nice to see some of your thinking on how to implement an effectively pragmatic (semi-pure) solution for this impure impure socioeconomic melee/maelstrom of ours (the ecocidal market economy), before it’s too late to mount an effective Exit Strategy. Sincerely, M

  7. Edward K ROSS
    June 21, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Re Merijnknibbe and others ,i am not an economist or an academic but a simple uneducated pensioner whos lifes experience has tought me that the moment any organisation or individual excludes excludes further discussion discussion and observation of the subject matter the former knowledge becomes irrelevant. Therefore from my point of view this highlights the very reason why main stream economists are powerless to deal with the economic chaos theyhave created Here Paul Davidsons quotation of C S Lewis'”aptly describes mainstream economists attitude “do not argue that something is true or not but wether it is outmoded since this is practicalpropaganda that is more difficult to counteract.Edward K Ross

  8. September 8, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Bravo, kudos & sincere thanks. Spot on rebuttal. Hope they print it, online at least. Hope you’ll take a look at my Greenbook project & join the heroic “fun” at > mm-greenbook.blogspot.com or EcotectureNOW.wordpress.com < your critical comments & suggestions will be warmly welcomed. M

  9. July 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    July 23, 2013,
    To understand what follows, Please refer back to my post of January 28, 2011 above. Which, in turn referred to the eminent Paul Davidson’s October 24, 2009 response to a review of “THE KEYNES SOLUTION”. I loved his C.S. Lewis quote. It would also be helpful to the interested reader to read over Lars Syll’s insightful LIMITS of CAUSATION and STATISTICAL INFERENCE. It’s directly but subtly, related to what follows. In the interests of being ” hoflich und richtig” [excuse my scarcely recalled erste aufgabe Deutsch] I would like to remind some readers that even if you don’t agree with another’s perspective, the merits & capabilities of those who advocate it, should be respected and addressed accordingly. Or, put another way: Respect is something you have to give in order to get. And please don’t potty-mouth RWER’s editors.They’re doing just fine.

    As the author of the Paradigm “that dare not speak its name” I would like to draw your [plural] attention to the beginning of Chapter 18 of J.M. Keynes’ classic of economic thought, THE GENERAL THEORY..” Keynes, as a quick-thinking disciplined thinker, whom even his colleague, Bertrand Russell, feared in argument, stated clearly that he maintained the two basic Walrasian constraints of constancy of “Technique and Tastes”. This was not only consistent with his father John Nivelle Keynes’ view that Technological change was not in the domain of Political Economy. It allowed Keynes to zero in on the “overthrow” of Ergodicity, gross substitutability and the Neutrality of money. While holding “Technology & Tastes” exogenous.[See also Ludwig Von Mises’ NON -NEUTRALITY OF MONEY, 1938].And to locate the roots of economic instability in the behavior of Savers/hoarders, investors and the age old “all to human” speculative impulse. Note that Keynes did not include Consumers’ behaviour as an agent of uncertainty. Because he stated up front in Chapter 18, that he held “tastes” constant. As in the concept of the “Consumption function”. No folks, Keynes accepted human nature as it was. He was no conspiracy theorist.He knew what those folks were capable of if they ever captured the power of the state. And he loved Hayek’s “ROAD to SERFDOM” [1944].
    Thus, in the well-considered opinion of many, Keynes’ most important contribution to economic thought was the elevation of his own “uncertainty principle” to the apex of “The economic riddle”. It’s embodied in Paul Davidson’s teaching of Keynes’ “repudiation of Ergodicity”.
    The consequences that flowed from this were quite consistent with the great Hayek’s understanding that “General Pattern Prediction” was as good as [“asymptotic” ?] Economics can get. Or why the tradition of quantifiable predictability, proof by theorem and reproduction of results, so basic to the Physical sciences was an intrinsic barrier- limit in Economic investigation. Indeed, Hayek’s ideas of LIMIT are foundational for understanding the crucial distinction between Economics & the physical sciences. The Austrian School’s appreciation of “Asymmetrical Knowledge” [NOT INFORMATION !] is also a major source of natural uncertainty in the “unfolding” [The great Thorstein Veblen’s term] of economic events. Not an agent of unjust inequality that must be forcibly “levelled” by state regulation. [“Market fundamentalist” hater Joseph Stiglitz et al]. Asymmetrical KNOWLEDGE is just part of the human condition. It activates the division of labor and makes “tacit knowledge” & human capital, part of the supply chain for satisfying freely-chosen consumers’ wants.
    For aficionados of analogy, Telos and Technos describes Keynes’ paradigm as a “half-way house”. Even though he rejected Ergodicity, neutral money & gross substitutability, he did stick to the basic subject material of Economics, as a conscientious man of his own time .He tried to explain employment, unemployment, income generation, investment & saving and their aggregate formation. Because he understood clearly that explanation precedes prescriptive remedy. What I have done in TECHNOS & TELOS is to reject the exogenizing of “tastes” and Technological change. And explain their impact on employment, the “natural” participation rate”, the different & controversial protocols of estimating unemployment, and the very definition of work. And to explain their role as the natural roots of UNCERTAINTY; And to link the “micro” to the “macro”.[It’s the epitome of the “Gestalt”. And I’m not the first to find it in economic phenomena.Instead of expostulating ad nauseam about the virtues of “pluralism”and how it will somehow make the details of economic history come together automatically to “explain everything”. Is this some kind of hang-over of the German Historical School’s understanding of “empiricism” ?
    A Kantian “impossibility theorem” if ever there was one ! There’s nothing so practical as a good [falsifiable] theory/paradigm. Keynes, Hayek Mises & old Immanuel Kant, wherever they are, would have understood. Thank you for your patience.
    Please GOOGLE: [1] Norman Roth, Technos [2] Norman Roth, Origins of Markets [3] Telos & Technos, Roth.

  10. August 9, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Its such as you learn my mind! You seem to grasp so much
    about this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something.
    I believe that you simply can do with some p.c. to force the
    message home a bit, however instead of that, this is wonderful blog.
    A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

  11. August 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Thank you “Side Business Ideas”. What is “p.c” ?

    Further to my post of July 23, 2013:
    In the spirit of Immanuel Kant and the concept of Paradigm supercession, which is its unavoidable & reigning descendant:
    TELOS & TECHNOS may well be the paradigm “That dare not speak its name”. [Oscar Wilde never said anything like that. It was a British judge of the late Victorian era]. But I designed it to be ‘falsifiable’ with good [not perfect] statistics that are easily available from a wide variety of sources: Or to use such statistical knowledge [NOT information] when appropriate, to give the developing paradigm substance and direction. Just as the “sage of Koenigsberg” intended when he presented his “Nebular Hypothesis” of Solar system formation more than two centuries ago. i.e. in the spirit of “erklarung”, Not a “nacht und nebel” cocktail of directionless polemical critique, mixed with appeals for yet more “scientific” mimicry, to bring economics into the domain of “real science”.
    With this purpose in mind I would draw the attention of interested readers to an article in the August 2013 issue of M.I.T. TECHNOLOGY REVIEW. Which is hard to miss on new stands because of its blinding Halloween color scheme. The article seems to be entitled “HOW TECHNOLOGY is DESTROYING JOBS”. Or by way of subtitle, “Are we headed for Chronic unemployment” ?
    The article has its limitations. Which I would be pleased to discuss at a future date. And I’m
    almost sure [not “certain’] that its authors are known to some of RWER’S Board of Editors. I’m equally sure these MIT economists did not design their admirably competent research with TELOS & TECHNOS in mind. But it’s a remarkably good fit with one side of the philosophy, content, & direction of argument, of TELOS & TECHNOS. Indeed, it would make a good, if belated citation, in the bibliography of a later edition of TELOS & TECHNOS. I urge all of you to read this short article. Thank you again for your patience & good faith, RWER editors.
    Norman L. Roth, Toronto, Canada, Please GOOGLE: [1] Norman Roth, ECONOMICS of TECHNOLOGY [2] Norman Roth, Origins of Markets [3] Norman Roth, TECHNOS
    [4] TELOS & TECHNOS, Roth

  12. April 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new

  13. April 12, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    I’m glad to see this 2009 posting is still in the list of ‘top posts’ because, having rediscovered it, I find the whole discussion very interesting, not least because of Norman Roth’s drawing attention to Paul Davidson’s so-apt quote of C S Lewis about a subject we have been discussing recently; about allowing ourselves to be diverted by technical discussion. Earlier, in discussing Marx, he had mentioned:

    “My personal favorite?..From a man who often rivalled Oscar Wilde with his style of incisive wit: “I prefer Engels of the two. I can see that they ‘invented’ a certain method of carrying-on; And a vile manner of writing style..Both of which their successors have maintained with fidelity. But if you tell me that they have discovered a clue to the economic riddle ?..Still, it beats me”.

    Who? C S Lewis’s guru G K Chesterton, successively student of Edward Lear, personality types, visual art as language, the insanity of using only the linguistic side of one’s brain, and in due course Distributist economics: “Small is Beautiful” because NOT mass producing limits specialising so that one’s brain has a chance to develop? GKC’s unorthodox “Orthodoxy” is a play on “Orthogonal”: on right angles as at a cross-roads, not correct doctrines. His “Outline of Sanity” is about studying economics with both sides of your brain: not just listening to theories but using your eyes to observe and your judgement to see if they match.

    Chesterton had great insight but I can well understand him feeling as defeated as Marx and Engels by the then lack of the visual language (not English but the directed graphs of the mathematics of flow) that would have enabled him to see Ponzi finance in the context of the complex system of human economics. GKC died a few months after Keynes’ “General Theory” was published, but the same lack made Keynes difficult, and (given the narrowness of their mathematical training) “still beats” most economists.

    Am I right, Norman?

  14. Norman L. Roth
    May 11, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    This is a “teaching moment” for all you chaps who are giving turgidity & sanctimonious proclamation a bad name by your constant meandering about whether “economics is a ‘science’: Please refer to my article of July 23, 2013,above, for the remedy to your obsessive twirling about on this subject. In the interests of the old didactic principle of “erklarung” I shall put the answer to your Bergsonian “false problem” into other terms: The practice of ‘reductionism’ so fruitful in the physical sciences, cannot be of much benefit in a field {both senses of the term} where the forces involved are not ARITHMOMORPHIC but inter-active. {Georgescu-Roegen’s term & a well trained guy mathematically} Nor are they amenable to the tractability & scientific respectability that ‘exact’ physical quantifiability can bestow. Keynes put it another way: “Economics is a ‘moral’ science ..subject to value judgments” Therefore, it it is not ‘computable’ like the physical sciences. Or as the venerable Roger Penrose, quoted at the beginning of TELOS & TECHNOS, “Consciousness cannot be computable”. The literature on this subject is vast & goes back centuries. Norbert Wiener was hardly the only one. Give it a rest guys. And give M. Lars Syll a rest on this topic as well. Norman L. Roth

    • Meta Capitalism
      May 12, 2020 at 2:08 am

      “Keynes put it another way: “Economics is a ‘moral’ science ..subject to value judgments” ~ Norman.
      Time to deal with the field as such.

      • Craig
        May 12, 2020 at 5:50 am

        An economy based on grace. Now that is the supreme moral and ethical consideration.

      • Meta Capitalism
        May 13, 2020 at 12:34 pm

        Whatever do you mean by grace?

  15. May 12, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    Norman [eventually] quoted C S Lewis “about allowing ourselves to be diverted by technical discussion”, so I asked Norman if I was right to say “[Lewis’s guru] Chesterton [was] as defeated as Marx and Engels by the then lack of the visual language (not English but the directed graphs of the mathematics of flow)”.

    Apparently not, given our “constant meandering about whether “economics is a ‘science’”. His denial [that economics is a science], quoting Penrose, is that “Conscience cannot be computable., i.e. quantitative. Nor is meaning; but information capacity or content is. The literature on this is not vast, while its definition goes back only to 1948, in fact since Norman was born, but doubtless since he was taught that mathematics (ignoring Greek geometry) is quantitative. I say this not to put Norman down, since he is in good company (including Keynes) in being unable to distinguish the technical meaning of the word ‘information’ from its use as a short-hand for ‘unspecified meaning’. My point is that he has missed the unspecified term in his C S Lewis quotation. We are ‘diverted’ FROM moral discussion BY technical discussion. It by no means follows that we cannot be diverted TO moral discussion BY less quantitative talk, e.g. of a “moral compass” guiding our aims rather than the utilitarian “greatest happiness of the greatest number” [of those with money].

    So I agree with Keynes and Craig, but I’m on record here as saying that, though economics isn’t a science, it ought to be. In defiance of Hume’s “You cannot derive an ought from an is” I say of course you can. If the reality represented by the ‘is’ term is inconsistent with an action which it is necessary should be done, e.g. depriving a human of his living, then one ought not do it. I am also on record as saying there are fundamental as well an applied sciences, and that at the applied level economics is built on Humean foundations that eliminate real morality along with reality, i.e. by reducing reality to sensation its morality is reduced to agreement among the ruling class.

    My argument is that applied economics should have been built on foundations like information science, which seeks to understand communication and hence, like logic and real morality, to detect, prevent and correct errors in understanding which are sometimes due to deliberate misrepresentation. Shannon showed how errors could be corrected not by quantitative computation but by negative feedback. Mechanical governors control speed by using opposing forces, but intelligent sailors direct their boats via information feedback. Economists are still thinking in terms of steam engine governors, selling the waste steam – released in slowing the system – instead of recycling it via the feedwater. What a waste when they/we are running out of coal!

    • Meta Capitalism
      May 12, 2020 at 11:48 pm

      My argument is that applied economics should have been built on foundations like information science, which seeks to understand communication and hence, like logic and real morality, to detect, prevent and correct errors in understanding which are sometimes due to deliberate misrepresentation. _Shannon showed how errors could be corrected not by quantitative computation but by negative feedback._ ~ Dave

      Dave, could you list a short list of books (say five) that you deep worth reading on this topic. I have a few from my studies in biology/evolutionary theory, but would like to see your list.

      • Robert Locke
        May 13, 2020 at 10:15 am

        People who work, or represent those who do, have very little trust in the objectivity of the social sciences; they fear that their spokes people protect the interests of management classes. So, they would prefer in matters of firm governance to give nonmanagment a voice in decision making, that is, not trust science but democracy in their search for fairness.

      • Meta Capitalism
        May 13, 2020 at 12:32 pm

        I 100% agree with the democritization of the workplace. But that doesn’t mean that there are not things we can learn from the sciences. If there is one thing I have learned from my historical studies in the history of biology and the earth sciences is that I n general the German thinkers have been far more holistic and creative than then their Anglo-Saxon (not sure that is correct label) fellows.

      • Robert Locke
        May 13, 2020 at 12:54 pm

        In the German scheme of Co-determination, social science was not rejected by nonmanagment representatives in work councils of firms, or in trade unions, only the social sciences were to be learned in the nonmanagement circles, so that their representatives in the councils of firm governance could utilize the sciences without letting them undermine employee interests.

  16. May 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Dear Meta, would that I could give you a book of five books about a subject which so few have understood in all their technical and human aspects. Either you understand Shannon or you don’t, but whether you do seems to depend on whether or not you have already seen the development of problems in the history of its field, already evident in the difference between Plato and Aristotle. Thus I could see ambiguities in the cosmological physics I was being taught in 1954, and a couple of years later I was introduced to David Hume misrepresenting the meaning of scholastic Catholic teaching. I could certainly recommend you read the three volumes of Hume’s “Treatise on Human Nature”, but whether you would see the issues it raises without reading Bacon’s “The Advancement of Learning”, Descartes “Discourse on Method”, Locke’s “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, and Berkeley and Kant’s rejoinders is another matter. I found the split brain solution to Right-Left political and religious antagonism in a few lines of a Chesterton book on art, became aware of Heaviside during a lecture on the problems of long distance radio communication and only subsequently of his simplification of Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations and specification of the electronic components I was already used to. Along with Hume I worked at building computer circuits, then on electronic control systems, and fourteen years later I was introduced to Shannon’s information science via a xerox copy of his article and a journal article explaining how, when working on an automatic telephone exchange, he realised his switches were performing logic. I then learned about cybernetics from Wiener, realised this was about homeostatis rather than remote control, and quite recently learned from my son’s work that the PID [Heaviside] servo logic I had worked with in speed control and navigation was available as an integrated circuit.

    To cut to the quick, then, you are asking me to recommend five books from about 2000 I have relevant, if mainly clarifying the issue by missing the point: that information science is as much about reality representing itself or instrumentally representing invisible realities as about counting absolute (orthogonal) differences in representations. Again, the relatively recent discovery that Shannon worked alongside Turing at Bletchley on war-time decoding explains the motivation of Shannon’s theory, and for those with eyes to see, the difference between Turing’s computing architecture and the Shannon complex system (of processor, high speed memory, storage memory and error detection logic (in my day the status register, now mainly used by the operating system). Just how radical and how complete Shannon’s paper was, came out when the paper was published with an explanatory foreword by Warren Weaver and its name changed from “A mathematical theory” to “The mathematical theory”. What has happened since then has been due to Chomsky (unwittingly?) supplying Kant’s rejoinder and Bhaskar applying it in his dialectical theory of science (sort of operating system and applications view of fundamental and applied science). My five books, then.

    G K Chesterton, “Orthodoxy”, 1908, many editions, (mine the Fontana one); draws on 1904 books on “G F Watts” and “The Napoleon of Notting Hill”. Relates paradox to orthogonality.

    A N Whitehead: “Adventures of Ideas”, 1933, Cambridge; especially Part IV on Truth, Beauty and Adventure. [Whitehead’s big adventure took him into process rather than static logic].

    C E Shannon and W Weaver: “The Mathematical Theory of Communications”, 1949, University of Illinois Press, Urbana. [From Bell System Technical Journal, Vol XXVII Nos 3,4]. For context: C E Shannon: “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits, Dec 1938, Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Vol 57 p.713.

    N Wiener: “Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine”, 1948, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    N Chomsky: “Aspects of the Theory of Syntax”, 1965, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    [Where Shannon reduced signals to information Chomsky reduced languages to their syntax].

    I would have recommended Bhaskar’s “Dialectic: the Pulse of Freedom”, were it readable.

    There are so many people who have failed to understand Shannon that I will merely suggest how recently this has been the case. In particular I asked that the noted science writer James Gleick have a go at explaining it, but what came back was “The Information”, 2011 (Fourth Estate and Pantheon), its epilogue “a return to meaning”. A couple of quotes on the way are revealing! P.235: “Competent people have told me that Wiener, under the misapprehension that he already knew what Shannon had done, never actually found out”; and on p.280, “I think actually Slizard was thinking of [Zeitschrift fur Physik]”, he[Shannon] said much later, “and he talked to von Neumann about it, and von Neumann may have talked to Wiener about it. But none of these people actually talked to me about it”. The issue here was that Shannon measured information [news] in bits, and aside likened it to entropy. Others took the measure of information rather than noise to be entropy. The prior issue was Hume’s not understanding how sensation is possible, and hence Maxwell’s Demon. As Gleick says, “Order and disorder still need some sorting”. If good history, this is sadly not Gleick’s usual clear explanation.

    Meta, I’ve recently had a TIA (mini stroke) and I’m still a bit wobbly, so I I’m going to give this a rest for now. Thanks for the interest, and all the best.

    • Meta Capitalism
      May 13, 2020 at 10:20 pm

      I hope you get well soon Dave. Thanks for the references. All the best.

  17. Norman L. Roth
    May 13, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Get well M. {David} Taylor. And listen to your favorite music while you’re recuperating. Do NOT go sedentary . I think you are somewhat off topic, to say the least. But you’re hardly unique. Leave the ‘heavy lifting’ to me. ‘Gott mit unze’. or ‘Gott, mensch und Teufel’ {hoch schule Deutsch, 67 jahren zuruck} Take your choice. Please GOOGLE: Norman L. Roth

    • May 14, 2020 at 11:29 am

      Thanks, folk, for the good wishes. Norman, I’m reading ‘Telos and Technos’ as ‘Ends and Means’ in English. I’ve no problem with that for Applied Economics, but there is a more fundamental problem. How are you going to pay for it? Is ‘money’ physical or an abstraction?

      Meta, thinking through the list of books I gave you, I realised those were the one I was aware of influencing me. (Chesterton actually started from personality types). What I forgot was what I almost take for granted, the electronic theory, which you wouldn’t get from readings in biology and evolution. On this what interested me initially (positive feedback and its effects) came from Practical Wireless, but to reference system theory I would like to draw your attention to:

      Merrill I Skolnik: “Introduction to Radar Systems”, 1962, International Students Edition, McGraw-Hill. [Especially the third part, on detection of signals in noise and extraction of information].

      Cheers, both.

  18. Robert Locke
    May 16, 2020 at 6:45 am

    My professor told me once, that I had read enough, I needed to think more about what I had read and experienced.

    • Meta Capitalism
      May 16, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Words of wisdom there Robert.

    • Craig
      May 16, 2020 at 5:55 pm

      Indeed. Contemplation is the route toward self actualization, and integration is the route to truth. Present time is where one best experiences and meets oneself. The point of retail sale is self awareness’s equivalent in economics, where the system’s most present moment, most basic purposes of production and consumption meet and are integrated, and where rational and ethical policy is most powerfully accomplished.

    • May 17, 2020 at 8:36 am

      Agreed, Meta, but the words of wisdom were directed to Robert at a certain stage in his life. One size doesn’t fit all.

      Let us remember here we are discussing Keynes’ solution (which I’ve seen as anticipating PID logic), and the biblical story of the sower sowing seeds: “Some fell upon stony ground …” . Kipling, again, had six serving men, who taught him all he knew; “their names were What? and Why? and When? and How? and Where? and Who?”

      My question is Why? which is perhaps why I’m a fundamental scientist; as a historian Robert’s may perhaps have been more into When? My problem is not some detail, variously interpreted, but more like the 100-piece jig-saw I’ve been doing. In my youth I looked for bits where the differences were clear and so was able to get the picture clear. In my old age I’m left with all the blue and green bits and trying to fit them mainly by their shape. So in answer to Meta’s appeal I’ve indicated five books which have helped me build my picture; the other 2000-odd I have sampled mainly to confirm my impression of them.

      Since C S Lewis has entered the discussion, what I learned from him is that real readers repeatedly reread their favourite books. My copy of “Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” is by now falling to bits, but I keep it because virtually every other page has a sentence highlighted.

      • Robert Locke
        May 17, 2020 at 8:52 am

        You are right, Dave, it depends on when a person steps into the dialogue and from where; my mentor, Eugene N Anderson, who gave me this advice, not only stopped reading social science himself, he made the contempltion of art the focus of his attention. He told me, just before he died, that he had never learned so much as during these retirement years.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: