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Thinking about Thinking 3

from Asad  Zaman

When we think about epistemology (theory of knowledge), then we are doing meta-thinking. That is, we are thinking about thoughts people have, which they think is “knowledge”.  Because there are many many wrong ideas, and very few right ideas, we must learn to think critically. Unless we do so, our thoughts will be captured by the enormous amounts of fake news which circulates on social media these days. Thinking about thinking, or Meta-Thought, is very different from the standard education which students receive. Instead of asking about the “models” in use, and assessing adequacy or failure of their “assumptions”, at the meta-level we ask how economists began to use these models instead of others, what kind of thoughts are promoted by such models, and what kinds of thoughts are blocked, because the models are incapable of expressing such ideas. This kind of higher-level thinking is completely missing from conventional textbooks.

To highlight the differences, we consider as an illustrative example, how Martin Osborne begins his textbook on game theory, and explains what game theory is about:  read more 

  1. January 8, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Read in full, this is a very significant argument.

    “The “simplification” that models perform is of a very special type. Models set out for us “what matters” and also exclude “what does not matter”. The variables and descriptors we use are the ones which matter; anything which does not enter into the theory does not matter, despite textual assertions to the contrary . What we are being taught in the economics textbooks does not lie in the words that are written — it is contained in the words that are not written. By not writing about compassion for the hungry, and social responsibility, we are told that these are not relevant concepts for the economic system – these things do not matter.”

    Spot on, unfortunately. “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve about”.

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