Home > Uncategorized > To destroy neoclassical economics, aim at its heart

To destroy neoclassical economics, aim at its heart

from Philip George

In 1968 Axel Leijonhufvud in his book Keynesian Economics and the Economics of Keynes argued that what then passed for “Keynesian economics” largely misinterpreted the principal ideas of the “economics of Keynes”. In particular, it attributed recessions to downward wage rigidity, a view which brought it very close to classical economics.

In the more than half-century that has elapsed since then, “Keynesian economics” has not been purged of the polluting elements of neoclassical economics. Instead, neoclassical economics has spawned robust (or retarded, depending on which side of the fence you are) offspring: rational expectations and Real Business Cycle theory. The Great Recession struck a blow at neoclassical and new classical economics but their position in academics looks as impregnable as ever.

The reason, in my opinion, is that most attacks on neoclassical economics have been aimed at the periphery, not the core. The principal targets have been methodology and epistemology. A search on Google Scholar throws up more than 38,000 results for ‘Keynes neoclassical economics methodology’. Even if not all these are principally on the search subject it is safe to say that there have been a few hundred papers critical of the methodology of neoclassical economics. The same goes for the epistemology and ontology of neoclassical economics. A few hundred papers also argue that Keynes did not say that involuntary unemployment arises because of wage rigidity.

But, if I may be permitted an analogy, these attacks amount to holding up garlic to the vampire. They may cause the vampire to take a step back and assume new defensive postures, but nothing more. To destroy the vampire of neoclassical economics it is necessary to drive a stake through its heart. And the heart of neoclassical economics consists of the principles of utility maximisation and profit maximisation.

It is an indication of how well economists of all schools have internalised the concept of marginalism that a century after the idea of ordinal utility first arose and more than 80 years after Paul Samuelson’s first paper on revealed preference, it took an outsider, a mathematician named Jonathan Barzilai, to point out that if utility is ordinal then the operations of addition and subtraction cannot be applied to it, and that therefore marginal utility is undefined.

If the idea of utility maximisation rests on a simple mathematical error, the idea of profit maximisation, as I show in my ebook1, rests on an abdication of common sense, viz. ignoring the role of fixed investment. When the cost of fixed investment is taken into consideration not only must the idea that price equals marginal cost be discarded but it becomes clear that marginal cost itself is undefined. This was recognised by Keynes in Chapter 6 of The General Theory, a chapter that most economists consider of no importance and whose immense consequences no economist has understood and pursued.

If utility maximisation and profit maximisation are incorrect then the operations of calculus cannot be applied in economics as they have been. But this does not mean that economists must give up the language of mathematics. On the contrary, abandoning utility maximisation and profit maximisation results in a mathematical economics that is non-equilibrium, which does not require the assumption of a representative agent but yields a macroeconomics constructed from the microeconomics of heterogeneous agents, and, most important of all, which produces involuntary unemployment as a matter of course.

  1. Economics Redefined by Philip George, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098PYL8ZW/
  1. July 20, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Marginalism makes even less sense when it deals with intangibles, now the dominant value form in advanced economies.

    For a consumer to choose between (say) bananas and biscuits, he or she must be capable of distinguishing between them. But how is this done? Obviously, by sight, touch, smell, taste and, if you drop one, sound. But for these to be discerned, the thing in question must have at a physical characteristic. Intangibles, by definition, don’t.

    Not only is it impossible for a consumer to define a coherent trade-off between intangibles in his or her mind. It is impossible for him or her actually to distinguish between them in any objective way or in a manner that might be expressed to another person. There is, consequently, no logical reason – as Austrian economists argue – to accept the theoretical existence, let alone the shape, of the utility curve when applying basic consumer theory to intangibles.

    With the demand curve invalidated, can analysis of supply side factors help us in deciding what the right price of a service should be?

    Conventional microeconomists approach the relationship between price and supply in two ways: one is subjective and the other is objective. The objective cost tradition, which echoes the arguments of classical economic thinkers from Adam Smith to Karl Marx, defines the value that suppliers put on of what they supply as being equal to its cost of production. Costs can be seen as either the price paid for an input or the value, measured objectively, of what has been foregone by buying that input. This is the opportunity cost. This approach is followed by most economic text books.

    The subjective tradition regards supply as being an entirely subjective category. Regardless of what the costs of production might be, someone is only going to sell something if he or she will be made happier by doing so. Something won’t be offered to the market unless this action increases the utility at the margin of the person supplying it.

    The logic of both approaches is coherent when applied to tangibles. But it collapses when it is applied to intangibles. As has already been demonstrated, a marginal utility-based theory for choices can’t work when a thing is intangible. It’s consequently impossible, therefore, for a supplier – using the Austrian or subjective, line of thinking – to make coherent choices about what he or she is supplying to a market.

    Intangibility also invalidates the objective, cost-based approach to supply. How can you work out the cost of producing a particular service when there is no way of measuring its constituent parts as you can with tangibles?

    A cup is made with clay, paint, ceramics, heat, machines and labour. But what is good service at a restaurant made of? Should the amount invested in a chef’s education be calculated? And what exactly was the opportunity cost of the waiter’s charming smile that helped you enjoy your meal so much? Was it the tiny amount of additional energy involved that could have been used for other purposes or the lengthy parenting that made the waiter such a nice person? Or is it in the waiter’s genes? How do you price that?

    With an intangible, unlike for a tangible, there can be no scientific way of working out the cost of each unit of production. And if it is impossible to devise a coherent production function for an individual service producer, then it is impossible scientifically to prove a stable relationship exists between services and prices at an aggregate level. As with the subjective approach to supply, objective thinking cannot prevent the disappearance of the concept of the supply curve when it is applied to intangibles.

    These observations may appear facile. But they place a bomb under the conceptual foundations supporting our idea of what price is and how the market works.

    In tangibles, price is the result of the interaction, at an aggregate level, between demand for a particular product and the costs, objective or subjective, involved in producing it. Consumers make choices between goods in a coherent manner. Producers compete with each other using price for a share of the market for those goods.

    But with intangibles, there is no demand curve connecting the levels in the price of a service and the quantity of it consumed. There is no supply curve between price and the quantity supplied.

    When it comes to intangibles, the market not only doesn’t work. It actually doesn’t exist.

  2. July 20, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    It was way back in 1968 when I was immersed in Axel Leijonhufvud and the general theory of John Maynard Keynes. Though I was too young to fully appreciate what I struggled to reconcile, this reading and study set me on a course for ecological economic thinking and Nicholas Gorgescu Roegen’s expansive insights and there are others. Frederick Soddy, Herman Daley, Kenneth Boulding and John Gowdy and others all poured their best thoughts into my head. And Grace Slick pushed with the crying refrain to, “Feed your head.” Manfred Max-Neef is another great thinker who admitted all his studies in economics provided no answers for the skin-and-bones Chilean family in rags locked out of mine work.

    Looking at this list above I see all men. I could make another for women, starting with Rachael Carson and Donella Meadows. Now I’m old and very grateful for real-world economics. Thank you for your writing this, Philip George.

  3. Dominique
    July 20, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    ” it took an outsider, a mathematician named Jonathan Barzilai, to point out that if utility is ordinal then the operations of addition and subtraction cannot be applied to it, and that therefore marginal utility is undefined.”
    Barzilai is not the only one. In fact, how the problem can be solved can be seen here:

    Theoretical and Practical Research in Economic Field , Vol. VIII, No. Winter 2017 (7 December 2017): pp. 105-110.

  4. Ikonoclast
    July 21, 2021 at 1:35 am

    If you read and take seriously “Capital as Power” (Bichler & Nitzan), you will realize, I believe, that you have to aim at the heart of capitalist and state capitalist power. This would mean aiming at the Democrat Party, Republican Party, Chinese Communist Party, other key national parties around the world and all the corporations, oligarchs and billionaires. They would all have to be destroyed and/or dismantled in some manner but I don’t mean in the manner of a neofascist Trumpian style attempted coup. Will any of this ever happen? Nah, not a chance. The system is seemingly beyond collective volitional change. I mean by this that we no longer have what I call “civilizational agency”. We cannot direct our global civilization. It is a runaway “Megamachine” to use Mumford’s term. It is out of our control.

    Of course, we have to keep trying in some fashion but any solutions if they come (and most likely they won’t) will have to emerge / evolve in a process we can’t control and probably can’t understand, or at least not prognosticate about. Some may find that contention funny and cause for a beer. Others are of a more dour, serious and censorious temper because they thought humanity and society could be something better. Humanity has been weighed in evolution’s balance and found wanting. Those who don’t indulge in fooling themselves know, to a high degree of probability but not absolute certainty, what comes next.

    Perhaps I should not be too censorious of those drinking beer while others don’t have potable water. Drinking small beer (low alcohol beer) was the medieval way of making local water into a relatively safe drink. Since our remnant populations, if any, will be living quite medievally again, small beer may make a big comeback. Yeah, I know. I’m a barrel of laughs.

    • macademicb
      July 22, 2021 at 2:56 pm

      Ikonoclast :

      Does an ‘ecological analysis of Economics’ constitute an ‘ontological analysis of Economics’ ?

      Given that I very fundamentally concur with almost every insight you have articulated (both factually and in their very essence), over the last few months, even years, it’s hard to know where to start. So I’ll cut to the quick and for conciseness- sake, refer predominantly to your last two blogs (July 21st. 10.27pm. ; today 12.27am.).

      Overall perspective : the situation Humanity and the Earth’s ecosystem finds itself in, at the start of the 21st, century, is existentially serious. But ‘existentially serious’ translates into ‘ecologically serious’ because we are an ecological species, part of an ecological Earth and Universe and ultimately our well-being and survival are ecological issues.

      Thus (and to use your terminology), as a ‘formal’ (but nonetheless ‘real) sub-system of the ‘real’ (ecological, cosmological) system, Economics is susceptible to ecological scrutiny and analysis.

      This I have undertaken over three decades, in that I have developed
      ‘an ecological analysis of Economics’ basic concepts’,
      underpinned and reinforced by a parallel, basic, ecological analysis of Homo sapiens’ / economicus’ attempt to ‘conceptualise’ life and self ; which is, of course, the source of Economics’ basic concepts. This now constitutes a thesis, to be published in book-form in September.

      This analysis utilises a small number of ecology’s ‘functional, ecological qualities’ that contribute to its sustainability, to evaluate the ‘intrinsic characteristics’ of Economics’ basic concepts. The most fundamental of these, is what you refer to as ‘priority monism’. Thus :
      “The reference to ‘priority monism’ is important. Materialist ‘priority monism’ holds that the whole of the observable cosmos from microcosm to macrocosm ……. is one relational system (in the physics sense). In this view, even ‘formal’ systems are in and emergent from the material, concrete whole of a cosmos demonstrating, as it does, intrinsic principles of emergence and evolution”.

      Your depiction absolutely and utterly concurs 100 % with ecology’s most fundamental ‘functional ecological quality for sustainability’ ; and the foundational quality I have utilised, in assessing Economics’ ecological legitimacy’, in the analysis. This is ecology’s ecological cohesion, from which I have developed the term ‘ecohesion’
      .
      You then write (still in yesterday’s blog) and repeating what you so thoroughly articulated in February, 2021 :
      “This view implies that ‘formal’ systems are a special sub-set category of ‘real’ systems, developed by ‘real’ agents (humans) and are also ‘real’ systems as well as ‘formal’ systems. How can a ‘formal’ system be a subset of ‘real’ systems and hence, by implication, also a ‘real’ system ? This seems paradoxical, but it is not, except to people who a priori hols the dual substance thesis of dualism”.

      This is splendid and 100% meaningful. It absolutely resonates and concurs with what has emanated from the more latterly, fully developed stages of the ecological analysis of Economics / thesis. Economics itself and the functioning, global economic system jointly constitute an attemptedly ‘formal’, attemptedly ‘conceptualised’ subsystem and also, simultaneously (and absolutely irrefutably) a ‘real’ (ecological) system.

      You then write (still in yesterday’s blog) :
      “The linking of objects and relations (laws) each to each in a single, complex ‘real’ system is the key meta-homomorphic principle. IFF (if and only if), the a priori assumption for Complex System Monism ( the essential and complete monism of the cosmos as a monistic system of sub-systems) is true, then the assertion that ‘formal’ systems are a special sub-set of ‘real’ systems and thus ‘real’ as well as ‘formal’, is entirely supportable”.

      Well, “the essential and complete monism of the cosmos, as a monistic system of subsystems” IS TRUE and “the assertion that ‘formal’ systems are a special sub-set of ‘real’ systems” IS SUPPORTABLE. This reveals itself quite readily, in the analysis.
      The only thing to add, is that ‘priority monism’, or, in terms of my jargon, ecohesion, does not and cannot have an ‘edge’ and hence, is not ‘delineateable’, definable, nor therefore, is it ‘conceptualisable’. Thus, when seen ecologically in this way, one begins to appreciate, that it’s when you start to ATTEMPT to ‘conceptualise’ reality / ecology and its ecohesion / ‘real’ systems, etc., that the problems begin. (The title of my first book is ‘Ecology into Economics won’t go’ ; or, ‘Life is not a concept’. Green Books 1990 ; re-printed 1998 ; to be re-published late 2021) ).

      In today’s blog ( @ 12.27 am.) : you refer to

      Economics’ ‘internal contradictions’.

      The detailed, ecological identification of Economics’ ‘internal contradictions’, laid bare on the granitic rock of ecology’s ‘functional, ecological qualities’ that contribute to ecology’s sustainability, forms the very core of the thesis’ analysis. Thus, the work’s evaluation of the ‘intrinsic characteristics’ of Economics basic concepts (most fundamentally ‘ownership), adjudged against ecology’s ‘functional quality for sustainability’, systematically establishes that each and every one of Economics’ concepts is, variously, ‘ecologically illegitimate’ ; and that as an entirety, Economics is therefore characterised by systemic ‘ecological illegitimacy’.

      Today : you also refer to

      Economics’ ‘external contradictions’.

      This for me, is obviously dealt with in the sections of the analysis, in which are described, what inevitably happens when Economics’ inherently, ‘ecologically illegitimate’ basic concepts are put-into-practice, as part of the functioning of an ecological world. Societal, environmental (and indeed, economic) ‘unsustainability’ inevitably ensues.
      ……………………..

      In other blogs, you have referred to the ‘prescription’ ( afforded by the concept of ‘property’) that, you say, is the starting-point of, and lies at the very base of Economics and of its functioning as a ‘Mega-machine’. You have also referred repeatedly and absolutely seminally, to Economics’ ‘false ontology’.
      I very much want to discuss this topic ( and many others), and demonstrate how this ‘false ontology’ is identifiable and ‘dealable-with’ in ecological terms.

      On that basis, I also want to ask whether you think that an ‘ecological analysis of Economics’ basic concepts’, actually affords us an ‘ontological analysis of Economics’ ?

      However, my computer has just started playing-up and I very much want to get this to you, before anything else goes wrong.

      Please see my blog from yesterday (@ 12.21pm.), for more details ;
      also my blog from 16th.July 2021, predominantly addressed to yourself, when you replied to Lars Syll’s ‘Deductivism – the original sin in mainstream economics’.

      I hope very much, that you are able to see this and feel that it is sufficiently positive to allow you to respond. Thank you very much indeed, for all your missives thus far.

  5. yoshinorishiozawa
    July 21, 2021 at 5:51 am

    I support Philip George’s account of the problems of our criticism in this forum. The principal targets have been methodology and epistemology. Most attacks on neoclassical economics have been aimed at the periphery, and not at the core. I agree with Philip that the core of neoclassical economics is (utility and profit) maximization, representative agent, and equilibrium.

    But, criticism alone is not sufficient. We must produce a theory that can replace neoclassical economics. Now, the core of such a theory is provided. See our book Microfoundations of Evolutionary Economics. You can download the full text of the Preface. It is brief but readers can see what we have done. See also Marc Lavoie’s book review which is freely downloadable.

    I have argued, in Chapter 1 of the book, why human agents cannot maximize utility or profit, and why we should abandon equilibrium framework. I also proposed some alternative methods in constructing new economics. But be aware that these are only preliminary works on the level of methodology and epistemology. Concrete theory making is made in Chapter 2 where I argued price theory and in Chapter 4 where Morioka explained how the complex quantity adjustment process of input and output relations of all industries can proceed (of course, in certain situations, but normally satisfied). The core premise of our theory is the fundamental independence of prices and quantities. From the time of Marshall and Walras, neoclassical economics draws on the assumption that prices and quantities are simultaneously determined, which forced almost all economists to adopt unrealistic assumptions such as unbounded rationality and demand and supply functions which are in fact an imaginary construction and are only necessary for the price and quantity equilibrium framework. You can see how our theory differs fundamentally from the neoclassical picture on how the economy works.

    • July 23, 2021 at 2:32 am

      Yoshinori Shiozawa,
      I read the review and find many things in common.

    • July 24, 2021 at 9:43 pm

      Dear Philip,
      thank you for he kind response. I have sent you an e-mail. Please read it. I want to send you a PDF of our book.

  6. July 21, 2021 at 6:05 am

    Iconoclast, you are forgetting that economics is itself a power that helps the establishment justifies their economic policies. You are also imagining that you can easily abolish neoclassical or mainstream economics if once we get a political truth. I believe you are wrong.

    • Ikonoclast
      July 21, 2021 at 11:58 am

      Yoshinori Shiozawa,

      I don’t easily imagine anything. I find it quite hard work! :)

      I also don’t imagine (anymore) that I or anyone can easily abolish neoclassical or mainstream economics if once we get (to) a political or economic or political economy truth. A formally stated truth, following C.S. Peirce’s definition of truth [1], even if it is an empirical truth (as opposed to an axiomatic truth which is simply a theorem) is useless against power, at least until the truth is instantiated as it were and instrumentalized in power instruments. Power in turn we may characterize via Ulf Martin’s brilliant definition of power which fully encompasses moral (suasion), social and physical power. Power is the capacity to create new formations (physical states) against resistance. Even ideas in human brains are (dynamic) physical states. We know that from neurology. We just can’t decode them extrinsically from the (imperfectly) known structures and processes alone; but only with our innate intrinsic concept encoding and decoding systems and thence share by our shared symbols (numbers, letters, words etc.)

      In the socioeconomic realm;

      “… what is (socioeconomic) power? In the following, we try to develop a concept of power as the ability of persons to create particular formations against resistance.” – The Autocatalytic Sprawl of Pseudorational Mastery – Ulf Martin.

      Of course, in our political economy system, possessing money gives you power to do things (create formations and states of affairs you want even if other people object). This is because the axioms of private property, markets and finance in capitalism generate that outcome as a theorem certainty provided the monopoly on excluding, incarcerating, beating and killing people (the monopoly of legitimated power) of the state or other controlling authority is operated to support those axioms and theorems which support your (capitalist) property rights and socioeconomic power.

      Bearing all this in mind, merely academic arguments will never work until you (or we the people) can mobilize the agents of power in human society meaning humans, machines, technologies and weapons. This means a mass revolution of humans constructively-revolutionarily (is that a word?) using all machines, technologies and weapons at their disposal. This does not necessarily mean going all the way to brute force kinetic weapons, though it could.

      If we are not active revolutionaries or fashioning ideas active revolutionaries can actively use in power applications, we are completely wasting our time. If we can’t create real change rapidly, radically and revolutionarily, we are condemned to remain slaves, as much of the megamachine itself – which we constructed as minions, servants and apparatchiks – as of the elites who run the megamachine in Wizard of Oz fashion. This is unless emergence and evolution fortuitously deliver us somewhere where we want to be.

      Note 1 – “That truth is the correspondence of a representation to its object is, as Kant says, merely the nominal definition of it. Truth belongs exclusively to propositions. A proposition has a subject (or set of subjects) and a predicate. The subject is a sign; the predicate is a sign; and the proposition is a sign that the predicate is a sign of that which the subject is a sign. If it be so, it is true. But what does this correspondence or reference of the sign, to its object, consist in?” – Charles Sanders Peirce.

      • July 21, 2021 at 12:17 pm

        I’m not sure where the Peirce quote is from. I see two issues here. One is Pierce’s theory of meaning and the other is his view of truth. Truth in Pierce’s view was the final opinion that would be reached by a community of inquirers engaged in good faith inquiry. That definition is arguable but that is Pierce’s definition of truth.

      • July 21, 2021 at 2:31 pm

        Three cheers for Ikonoclast’s militantism. Ikonoclast, do you have any prospects that you will win? I am quite skeptical of any such possibility.

      • Ikonoclast
        July 21, 2021 at 10:27 pm

        IIRC, the Peirce quote is from his collected papers:

        https://www.academia.edu/7410217/The_collected_papers_of_charles_sanders_peirce_2904s_

        I don’t have a specific reference to which paper. I can ferret for it if anyone wants.

        What Citizen Rat says of Peirce’s theory of meaning and view of truth is fully compatible with the Pierce quote I gave. From the point of view of complex systems theory and priority monism, a theory, map or model is a collection of encoded and decodable symbols in a formal system. It is then held (by the correspondence theory of truth essentially) that the symbol system has a set of relations in it which are correspondent in some way, in a modelling sense, with a set or sub-set of relations in the modelled (usually real) system.

        The reference to priority monism is important. Materialist priority monism holds that all of the observable cosmos from microcosm to macrocosm (the biggest system we are aware of) is one relational system (in the physics sense). In this view, even formal systems are in and emergent from the material concrete whole of a cosmos demonstrating, as it does, intrinsic principles of emergence and evolution.

        This view implies that formal systems are a special sub-set category of real systems, developed by real agents (humans) and are also real systems as well as formal systems. How can a formal system be a sub-set of real systems and hence, by implication, also a real system? This seems paradoxical but it is not except to people who a priori hold the dual substance thesis of dualism.

        What links real systems and (humanly devised) formal systems is the human agent, a real physical being of course. What specifically links real systems in general and the special real system sub-sets of “formal system instantiated in real system) is information in patterns. The patterns are instantiated in real media: in matter or energy. The human as agent encodes and decoded the information and uses the information to make more real patterns. A build uses the plan of a house to build he house.

        This is the answer to Pierce’s final question. “But what does this correspondence or reference of the sign, to its object, consist in?” Valid ideas and models are able to demonstrate some truth (as dependable correspondence with linking and predictive potential) in modelling broader reality and are able to reflect broader reality to some degree precisely because they contain linked relations as formal( formalized real) systems just as broader reality itself contains linked relations as real systems. The linking of objects and relations (laws) each to each in a single complex real system is the key meta-homomorphic principle. IFF (if and only if), the a priori assumption for Complex System Monism (the essential and complete monism of the cosmos as a monistic system of sub-systems) is true, then the assertion that formal systems are a special subset of real systems and thus real as well as formal, is entirely supportable.

        I am not aware that Pierce or any other philosopher has solved this problem in metaphysics. I might be the first or I might not. Of course the solution depends on the a priori assumption for the complex system priority monism of the concrete original whole; the cosmos at or near the big bang (so far as we can tell). Any form of metaphysics depends on its a prioris. However, the broad and generally successful relational system monism of physics provides ample truth warrant for this metaphysical viewpoint in my opinion. It seems more persuasive than the claims from dogmatic theological authority which support dualism in Western Philosophy or Berkeley’s monist immaterialism for that matter.

  7. Ken Zimmerman
    July 21, 2021 at 8:38 am

    This is all useless discussion. In my view what needs demolition is all of economics. Not just the neoclassical version. Attempting to study or understand ‘economic’ arrangements outside their historical and cultural contexts is not just a waste of effort but cannot lead to useful conclusions about how and why people create these contexts.

    • July 21, 2021 at 2:40 pm

      Demolish all of economics and construct a unified social science! What a beautiful utopic idea!

      • Ikonoclast
        July 22, 2021 at 12:27 am

        Yes, the entire current form of conventional economics (as supportive of really existing capatlaism in extant systems) has to be abolished. And it will be abolished to near 100% certainty in the relatively near future. It will fall foul of internal and external contradictions operating either sequentially (in other order) or together.

        The internal contradictions are best exposed by Marx, Engels, Veblen, Bichler and Nitzan who have complementary analytical theories in some respects while also differing diametrically on certain key issues. I would have to write a long essay to expound my synthesis of these theories.

        The external contradictions are with the environment, the biosphere. The capitalist way of doing business is completely unsustainable and unreformable to an absolutely horrific and terrifying degree. Those who aren’t horrified and terrified either have no idea what is coming or they don’t care. The capitalist system has to be and will be totally overthrown by either humankind or by the rest of nature (animate and inanimate) following is own fundamental laws (as thus far discovered by the hard sciences, physics, chemistry, biology, ecology.

        Empirical outcomes are already beginning to prove this. The further trajectory is entirely predictable. Capitalism is a system almost perfectly designed (either inadvertently or out of callous, disregarding human greed and cruelty) to destroy the Holocene balance of the biosphere, which balance supports civilization and modern-day human kind. The preceding Pleistocene supported pre-historic human kind.

        I don’t know if another system is possible, I just know the continuation of this system is impossible, and we can know this from hard science alone. Any of who lives even another twenty years will very probably see this proposition. The scientists, in more private conversations, openly admit to being terrified for our future. The politicians, capitalists and academics outside the hard sciences just bull-dust on.

        I get pilloried for these warning views. I’ve decided not to self-censor. That is just allowing oneself to be silenced by the ideologues and apologists for biosphere destroying capitalism. If the editors don’t like my views or I am too far outside the remit of this blog they will censor me, I am sure.

      • Meta Capitalism
        July 22, 2021 at 3:59 am

        Ikonoclast
        July 22, 2021 at 12:27 am
        Yes, the entire current form of conventional economics (as supportive of really existing capatlaism in extant systems) has to be abolished. And it will be abolished to near 100% certainty in the relatively near future. It will fall foul of internal and external contradictions operating either sequentially (in other order) or together. ~ Ikon qua Wobegon Effect

        .
        100% certainty in the relatively near future … Apparently Ikon is living Lake Wobegon, that utopian mathiness place where all women are strong, all men are good looking and all children are above average ;-)

      • July 22, 2021 at 5:36 am

        The point is that we (including Ken, Iconoclast and me) are not omniscient nor omnipotent. Ken and Iconoclast seem to ignore the range and the limit we can know. Natural science grew very slowly. It required more than one thousand years before Aristotelian “science” could be reformed to Galilean science. It seems for me that Ken is imagining that he can construct a unified social science at a single coup. However, it must be much more difficult than building an admissible economics. He ignores this fact and imagine he can do much better if once we start to include all effects into a science. He may be well versed in history, but is completely ignoring the history of sciences.

        If Iconoclast defines himself as a political activist, it is OK. I wish him good luck. All society needs prophets such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah who warned the world. He may be indeed a prophet of our days. If he cites Marx and Engels, why does he not cite Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Tito, and Castro? How about Rosa Luxemburg and Antonio Gramsci? They were all great prophets of their days.

        I respect Veblen as an economist. He gave an inspiration for some economists and many of them think he is the creator or founder of evolutionary economics, although his contribution to actual evolutionary economics is quite small. Luxemburg’s Accumulation of Capital gave a new vision on capitalism and inspired many economists in developing countries. It may have shot a light on the 19th-century capitalism but is missing the internal dynamism of today’s capitalism.

        I hope Iconoclast does not forget Keynes’s warning in the end of his General Theory:

        [T]he ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.

      • Ikonoclast
        July 23, 2021 at 12:18 am

        Yoshinori Shiozawa,

        I thank you for continuing to engage. I can be idiosyncratic and annoying. I realize that. We are “not omniscient nor omnipotent”. I agree. However, I don’t think that I ignore “the range and the limit we can know.” Indeed, in my never-to-be published philosophical monograph-in-progress I write, referring just to the enormous problem of unifying knowledge and our model of reality in physics, the “hardest” of all sciences, a section called “The Incompleteness of Science” which argues that science can never be complete or completed.

        Despite the incompleteness of science and even more so the incompleteness of basic, everyday pragmatic empiricism, there are some things we can predict to high degrees of probability. For example, if I see a demolitions person place an over-adequate charge in a wooden cabin, I can predict pieces of that cabin will be blown everywhere, if and when the charge fully detonates. I cannot predict, nor pre-calculate, the number and size of the pieces, including splinters, and precisely where they all will land or lodge. Considerations from both the difficulties of combinatorial mathematics and chaos theory (fine detail of initial conditions causing great differences in outcomes) will see to that.

        In like manner, if we “blow up” the relative benignity and stability of our global climate as we now move from the Holocene to the Anthropocene, I can predict with a saddened but good degree of probability that “pieces” of our current civilization and system will “land everywhere” and the integrity of global and regional civilization will in many ways and places, be shattered.

        It is generally accepted in science circles now, to a high of probability, that just 2 degrees C of warming from pre-industrial levels will seriously destabilize our climate and could trigger “domino” or runaway feed-back changes. Predictive science and recent empirical outcomes are both revising down predictions of the warming level as a trigger for a global ecological and civilization collapse and catastrophe.

        These outcomes of incipiently exceeding planetary boundaries are proving to be the theorem outcomes of capitalism as an axiomatic system and of the human propensities its extols and furthers, like endless greed for what humans now call wealth under the ideology of capitalism.

        As “macademict” has so pithily and correctly put it in this thread:

        “(Conventional) Economics is therefore characterized by systemic ‘ecological illegitimacy’. I might use the phrase “systemic ecological incompatibility”. In the long run, capitalism is incompatible with natural systems, in this case current planetary circulations (current prevailing pressure, wind and ocean circulatory systems), current ecosystems and current eco-services. It is incompatible because its base rules are axiomatic, not empirical and not near-empirical enough. (Sometimes near-empirical axioms suffice if they are “near enough” to the real, like Euclidean geometery for flat and near flat surfaces.)

        Capitalism’s axioms are not empirical and not even near-empirical. They perhaps appeared to be near-empirical in some senses while ecological limits were distant. But now ecological limits are close. Indeed, we stand with our right foot on the precipice and our left foot raised and prepared to continue our “progress”. Capitalism, predicated axiomatically on (endless) growth, among other things, cannot countenance us taking a step back and turning around to seek another path.

        The only way to survive is to rapidly and progressively renounce capitalism and forge an entirely new political economy. Even this process will be enormously difficult. I leave these last considerations to another post, not necessarily on this thread.

      • July 23, 2021 at 8:26 am

        I wish your “philosophical monograph” will be finished as soon as possible. Do not say that it will never be published. If it contains an insight that peoples are wanting for, it has the chance to be published. Cheers!

  8. macademicb
    July 21, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    With slight modification :
    ‘To destroy neoclassical economics, aim at its ‘conceptual’ heart ‘ :

    – to the extent that the principles of ‘utility maximisation’ and ‘profit maximisation’ (that George Philip says, constitute “the heart of neoclassical economics”), are ‘conceptual’ entities ; through which it is considered necessary to “drive a stake”, in order to “destroy the vampire of neoclassical economics” ;

    – to the extent that Garrett Connelly’s subsequent comment, in which he says that : his contemporaneous reading (with GP’s own reading) of Axel Leijonhufvud and the general theory of John Maynard Keynes : “set [him] on a course for ecological economic thinking and Nicholas Gorgescu-Roegen’s expansive insights ……. ” ;

    – and also, to the extent that Edward Fullbrook highlights, in his October 2020 blog : (‘The Inequality Crisis : the three options’), not only the existence of the ‘Inequality Crisis’ and the ‘Climate Crisis’, but also the fact that : the Economics’ profession has effectively ‘excluded’ any meaningful study of these two (societal and ecological) effects of Economics’ functioning ; and this in turn, has then afforded these societal and ecological effects, a sort of ‘intellectual invisibility’ ;

    all of these considerations validate the proposal, at the start of the 21st. century, that an evaluation of Economics’ ‘conceptual’ core or ‘heart’ be made, from the point of view of Nature and hence, from the point of view of ecology ; on the sustainability of which, our species’ well-being depends. In this way, it might then be possible, metaphorically speaking ( and to satisfy GP’s demand), that we fashion an ecological ‘stake’, with which to ‘skewer’ Economics’ recalcitrant ‘concepts’.
    In my first book ‘Ecology into Economics won’t go’ ; or, ‘Life is not a concept’ (Green Books, Devon , 1990, reprinted 1998 ; to be re-published late 2021), an initial, ecological analysis of Economics’ basic concepts, including those of ‘maximisation’ ( ‘the more ethic and greed’) and ‘profit’, was undertaken. In this initial, ecological analysis, the functional qualities that afford Nature/ecology its ecological sustainability, were employed as the analysis’ ecological ‘stakes’, to be driven through the basic ‘concepts’ at the ‘heart’ of Economics.
    In the intervening three decades since its publication, this embryonic, ecological analysis of Economics’ conceptual framework, has evolved into a thesis, entitled ‘The Ecology of Economics ……’ .
    Here again, the same functional qualities that contribute to ecology’s sustainability, are utilised as the metaphorical, ecological ‘stakes’, with which to ‘impale’ the full array of Economics’ basic concepts ; but this time, carried-out in a deeper, more interwoven and systematic way. This analysis again therefore, considers the ‘concepts’ of ‘maximisation’ and ‘profit’, which are revealed as being conceptually, ‘ecologically illegitimate’. Indeed, all of Economics’ basic concepts are shown, variously, to be conceptually ‘ecologically illegitimate’. Crucially and fundamentally, this systematic evaluation includes the ‘skewering’ of our ‘separation’ from the Earth’s resources, (that an ownership-based Economics assumes), with the ecological ‘stake’ of Nature’s / ecology’s cohesion ; thereby addressing and ecologically substantiating the current, repeated criticism of the ‘atomicity’ of Economics’ theorising.
    On implementation as part of an ecological world therefore, Economics’ adjudged, overall, ‘ecological illegitimacy’ is shown to precipitate inevitable, global, ecological ‘unsustainability’.
    The whole of this ecological analysis of Economics’ conceptual ‘heart’, is then subtended by a parallel, basic, ecological analysis of Homo sapiens’/economicus’ very creation of ‘concepts’ in general and more specifically, those contributing to Economics’ fundamental, ‘conceptual’ structure. In this way, the source of the overall ‘ecological illegitimacy’ of Economics’ conceptual ‘heart’ is located.

    The self-same, ecological ‘stakes’ ( i.e. Nature’s sustainability qualities), used to carry-out this ‘conceptual’ purge (to use George Philip’s term), are subsequently utilised, in the concluding sections of this ecological analysis and thesis, to begin the process of nurturing the prospects and practices that will help to ensure our species’ sustainability, into the future.
    Thus in overall terms and in response to George Philip’s criticism that “most attacks on neoclassical economics have been aimed at the periphery, not the core” and that (to repeat), in his view, “ the heart of neoclassical economics consists of the principles of ‘utility maximisation’ and ‘profit maximisation’ ” ; then I would submit that, by way of this thesis’ ecological analysis of Economics’ basic concepts, Economics’ ‘conceptual’ ‘heart’ is, shall we say, comprehensively ‘dealt with’.
    ……………..

    The thesis-in-book-form, entitled ‘The ecology of Economics … ’ (which might eventually be considered to constitute ‘an ontological analysis of Economics ?), will be published in the early autumn, 2021.
    My recent comment, at the tail-end of comments on Lars Syll’s ‘Deductivism – the original sin in mainstream economics’ and responding specifically, to Ikonoclast’s comment on the same, ( dated 16th. July, 2021 ), also obtains.
    A basic website, ‘Ecohesion – a forum for the ecological analysis of Economics’ will shortly be available.

    • macademicb
      July 21, 2021 at 4:42 pm

      PS. My apologies to Philip George, for reversing his name !

      PPS. A better title : ‘To destroy neoclassical economics, aim ecologically at its ‘conceptual’ heart’ .

  9. Ikonoclast
    July 23, 2021 at 1:38 am

    macademict,

    First, is that your full non de plume or has the formatting on my screen obscured further letters? I thank you for your reply some way above referring to my complex system metaphysics. It is intended as a “near-empirical” metaphysics in the spirit of Hofstadter.

    Hofstadter expressed the central dilemma of metaphysics in its collision with science: “The problem is to state a provisional conception of reality which is as far as possible continuous with the goal of traditional metaphysics and which nevertheless is of empirical import.” We must assume that the statement “is of empirical import” means that it is not contradicted by science, it facilitates further hypotheses for scientific testing and finally suggests what metaphysical inductive and abductive reasonings and beliefs we may still reasonably develop out and hold to without not only ignoring science, but also without being manifestly obtuse, preposterous or religiously / ideologically dogmatic. With the benefit of accumulated scientific knowledge acting as philosophical “farsight”, we who are empiricists can now see that we need to redevelop metaphysics so it is, as far as possible, contiguous with hard science. A philosophical method must be developed which generates inductions from hard science, carries them into metaphysics and thence helps to connect metaphysics back to physics and even to suggest what is permissible in “near-empirical” metaphysics unless metaphysics as a field is to be entirely conceded as speculative or dogmatic.

    It is good to finally have someone so explicitly express that they understand what I am “on about”. Cartesian dualism, and its modern forms of substance dualism (or trialism etc). is accorded far too much continuing academic and popular respect and attention relative to the egregious neglect of monism in the Western traditions. To wit;

    “Neither existence monism nor priority monism is accorded much respect in contemporary metaphysics, nor are they always properly distinguished. Indeed, the tradition associated with these doctrines has long been dismissed as being somewhere between obscure and ridiculous. But there are serious arguments for monism. Priority monism may especially deserve serious reconsideration, of a kind that it is only now beginning to receive.” – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Revised 2014.)

    With the demonstration of many successful predictions by the relational systems of modern physics, including Relativity Theory (RT), the metaphysical stance of Monism has received sufficient a priori justification for much more serious consideration. Non-monist philosophy, by comparison, has taken a heavy blow to its credibility and justifications. Before the first, classical scientific revolution, Western Philosophy could not ignore Christian Theology, from the time of Tertullian at least. After the rise of Classical Physics, and more especially after the development of Evolutionary Theory and Modern Physics, philosophy could not ignore science. A new form of empirical philosophy and near-empirical metaphysics for complex systems is now required – building on philosophers from David Hume to the American Pragmatists and onwards – in order to reflect on and build upon the high degree of certainty (but not absolute certainty) of much hard, scientific knowledge. At the same time, we need to bear in mind the limits of science. The explication of these limits revolves around the central idea that understanding, including scientific understanding, always and only involves models and that the model is not the reality. Indeed, a model is a sub-set of reality on the monist view. The map is not the territory as the saying goes. Equally, the model is not the whole reality. Any model of a system must be a smaller subset of all monistic reality than is the real system or real sub-system which it models.

    The basic building blocks of this “near-empirical” metaphysics must be matter, energy and information; their transfers between systems and their transformations in systems. First however, a resolution must be found for the philosophical difficulties involved in examining the interactions of real systems and formal systems. The genuine ontological dilemmas presented by real system / formal system interactions become manifest in science and the humanities at the boundaries where investigations cross from the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) into the soft or social sciences. An analysis of what happens at system boundaries, including discipline boundaries, will be of vital importance to the investigations of this (my autodidact) work. It is at the boundaries of systems that mass, energy and information are transferred. The most important “thing” that formal systems transmit is information (in patterns instantiated in matter or energy and I propose that they have a high information to mass-energy ratio and it this which makes them ontological distinct and highly “special” and “influential” in generating new ordered (anti-entropic) conformations in broader real systems.

    The disciplines of Medicine and Economics prove to be vital case studies for analyzing the philosophical dilemmas at the boundaries of the hard and social sciences. Medicine, insofar as it deals with biochemistry, cellular biology, anatomy, physiology and neuroscience is a hard science; a very difficult, complex-system, physical science. As we ascend the complexity chain, in terms of considering ever widening and interacting collections of complex sub-systems, such as the physiological, neurological and “psychological”, we enter arenas of ever more complex emergent behaviors. We experience ever more temptation to admit metaphysical dualism back into our thinking again and to propound the existence of both somatic and psychological causes, as completely separate sources of causation, for processes and events in the whole human organism and its behaviors. This amounts to a retreat to the Cartesian dual substance thesis as the somatic is explicitly physical and the psychological is implicitly “mental” or “psychical”, whatever these imprecise terms for undetectable realities mean. Yet this treatise (my treatise as a work-in-progress monograph) has declared dualism and all dual substance theses to be untenable IFF (if and only if) the a priori priority monist thesis is correct: namely that the cosmos is one system, that all “parts” of the cosmos are sub-systems of the cosmos and that all sub-systems of the real cosmos system are real systems in turn and share the same universal laws particularly with respect to space-time, matter, energy, entropy and information.

    No doubt, I am saying the same thing, to some extent, in different ways. This is unavoidable when one is trying to develop difficult, new ideas.

    Again macademict, I thank you for your interest. Let us try to pursue a further examination of the common ontological ground upon which we stand. I too have had interruptions to my (autodidact) work, in my case from two major eye surgeries with a third upcoming and my email system losing both some sent and some received messages into the ether. I do not have a website. Do you have a website or do you blog on a more directly philosophical or ecological website where we could in essence correspond by blogging and maybe also get feedback from other bloggers at such sites? Also, can you link to a site where I can obtain or order electronic or paper copies of your published works, either free or for the standard, hopefully reasonable, price.You may have given such a link before but I have to plead distracting dramas from a landscaping effort on my property (there’s that word, it affects us all) to multiple (differing) operations for both my wife and me in the last 12 months, not to mention the global zoontic pandemic of COVID-19 and its inconveniences, as another sign and symptom, essentially, of the global limits have reached and indeed already overshot.

    Cheers,
    Ikonoclast.

    • macademicb
      July 24, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      Ikonoclast

      Touching the earth, of “the common, ontological ground, upon which we stand”.

      It is not possible for me to express, in written, ontologically-inadequate ‘concepts’, the width and depth of my gratitude for your 1.38am. yesterday’s response, to my previous day’s message !! But to utilise what is generally considered to be an acceptable, ‘formal’ yet ‘real’ subsystem, of the ‘real’ system of gratitude-expression, may I say : “Thank you.”

      I am grateful to this degree, because I am extremely pleased if, in my last blog, I was able to convey the feeling that I ‘get’ what you are ‘on about’. Doubly so because over the last year or more, I feel I have already been repeatedly ‘getting it’ and benefiting massively from that process of recognition. For in that time, it seemed as though, in reading your blogs, I was effectively following a ribbon of consistently meaningful yet parallel vernacular, which resonated with and hence, was translatable into, the terminology of my own work ; whereby it then became wonderfully intelligible to and inspiring for, me. So very many thanks again, for that steady, long-term stream of relevance.
      ………………..

      In term of content, I see there is a very great deal in your blog, to which I look forward to responding. However for today, I am forced into being concise, because as it happens, we are having a large wedding celebration and general family get-together, over this (extended) weekend ; so I hope you’ll excuse my being relatively concise. Nonetheless, you say :

      “After the rise of Classical Physics and more especially after the development of Evolutionary Theory and Modern Physics, philosophy could not ignore science. A new form of empirical philosophy and near-empirical metaphysics for complex systems is now required – building on philosophers from David Hume to the American Pragmatists and onwards – in order to reflect on and build upon the high degree of certainty (but not absolute certainty) of much hard, scientific knowledge. At the same time, we need to bear in mind the limits of science. The explication of these limits revolves around the central idea that understanding, including scientific understanding, always and only involves models and that the model is not the reality. “
      This is exhilarating for me to read ( indeed, it constitutes another fantastic example of your parallel vernacular, just mentioned above) ; not only, in that it invites the ‘fleshing-out’ of the prescription you describe ; not only in that it requires the identification of what constitutes scientific understanding’s ‘limits’; but also, in that it nurtures one’s recognition of the intrinsic operability, by ecological Humankind as a whole, of the ‘empirical philosophy and near-empirical metaphysics for complex systems’ that you so accurately prescribe. I look forward to our developing all of this, in an appropriate and conducive forum, in the near future.

      You then go into a yet higher gear! Thus :

      “The basic building blocks of this ‘near-empirical’ metaphysics must be matter, energy and information ; their transfer between systems and their transformations in systems. First however, a resolution must be found for the philosophical difficulties involved in examining the interactions of real systems and formal systems. The genuine, ontological dilemmas presented by real system/formal system interactions become manifest in science and the humanities, at the boundaries where investigations cross from the hard sciences ( physics, chemistry, biology), into the soft or social sciences. An analysis of what happens at system boundaries, including discipline boundaries, will be of vital importance to the investigations of this ( my autodidact) work. It is at the boundaries of systems that mass, energy and information are transferred”.

      Yikes ! this is brilliant. Yet more, parallel, resonant vernacular! Your identification of boundaries, as being of seminal importance in resolving the formal system / real system dilemmas is, if I may say, absolutely ‘spot-on’.
      Briefly and as you say, there is : ”matter , energy”. These are ecological phenomena, for which ( to use your terminology) there are ‘Laws’. Then there is “information”. This is (supposedly) ‘conceptualised’ material and qualitatively ‘other’ ; for which ( again, to use your terminology), there are ‘rules’. Their miscibility or otherwise is, as you accurately recognise, the nub of the issue.

      Aaahh !! How do we work on this ? I am planning to publish my stuff in September, or at the latest, by early winter and to get my website up and running quite soon. I’ve already sent detailed information to Edward Fullbrook (29.06.2021) and Lars Syll (04.07.2021) by e-mail, but have had no reply and anyway, I feel I can’t really get into all of this, until I’m properly published. (Oh! and by the way, Where are you in the world ? I don’t even know what country you’re in ?! Am I even allowed to ask this question ? I will attempt to ponder all of this over the weekend and try and find a way in which we might optimally communicate.

      Re : published material. My first book : ‘Ecology into Economics won’t go’ ; or, ‘Life is not a concept’. Green Books, Devon, (1990 , re-printed 1998) ; (originally intended for a general public readership) ; to be re-published late 2021), is still variously available online for colossal amounts of money ; that is, if reckoned in pence, rather than pounds.

      Ikonoclast, all of the above, is written in enforced, relative haste, because of my commitments to my family this weekend. Do please excuse its necessitated brevity. Even so, I am still very much appreciating, being able to send you this blog and especially, in this vein.

      Whilst hoping you can soon engineer successful solutions to your “ distracting dramas from a landscaping effort on [your] property” !! ( as it happens, my wife has just completed an MA in Landscape Architecture, at the local University) ; but more seriously, wishing you all the very best with regard to your impending, third eye surgery,

      I very much look forward to our re-convening and to our continued exchanges.

      With thanks and my regards, macademicb

      • Ikonoclast
        July 24, 2021 at 10:21 pm

        macademicb,

        Thanks, I will look for your book online. I live in Brisbane, Australia. I am simply a retired public servant with a media studies degree which was never actually utilized in my career (such as it was). I “dare” to disagree with conventional capitalist economics in a way I would never dare to disagree with the hard sciences. It is not we who disagree with conventional capitalist economics who are the cranks. It is the conventional capitalist economists who are the anti-science cranks.

        Imagine believing that endless growth is possible on a finite planet! They are dangerous lunatics. Imagine believing that an economy can be run on formal axioms and ignore fundamental laws of nature. Imagine believing that everything can be equated and measured in money, a fictional “dimension”, and that thus money calculations can be used to manage real systems. (Hat tip to Bichler, Nitzan, Martin and Fix for refuting classical and neoclassical economic value theory.)

        Hope all goes well at you celebrations. Stay safe relative to COVID-19: a neoliberal capitalist pandemic by the way.

        https://monthlyreview.org/2020/06/01/covid-19-and-catastrophe-capitalism/

  10. July 23, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Philip George says “If utility maximisation and profit maximisation are incorrect then the operations of calculus cannot be applied in economics as they have been. But this does not mean that economists must give up the language of mathematics. On the contrary, abandoning utility maximisation and profit maximisation results in a mathematical economics that is non-equilibrium, which does not require the assumption of a representative agent but yields a macroeconomics constructed from the microeconomics of heterogeneous agents, and, most important of all, which produces involuntary unemployment as a matter of course.”

    In the booklet which he references he argues that the calculus is not applicable because the utility and profit maximisations are not continuous. But time is! And time expressed in the form of units of rotation is a sinewave whose differential is a cosine wave. And in communication, sine waves carry Peirce’s semiotic signals, the truth of which is not the Humean view of the direct correspondence of the signal which Citizen Rat attributed to Peirce, but the pragmatic view that a given way of decoding of it is good enough to act on: more or less H Simon’s “suffices”.

    Ikonoclast in his last reply says “Hofstadter expressed the central dilemma of metaphysics in its collision with science: “The problem is to state a provisional conception of reality which is as far as possible continuous with the goal of traditional metaphysics and which nevertheless is of empirical import.”

    So I’ve repeatedly shared such a provisional concept here – provisional in that there is an alternative, though one which can be derived from it – but it starts with the motion of energy measured in clock time units rather than the counting of particles formed by it. The simple model is an arabic number with only four units, extending into counting the hours as the clock time progresses: the numbers reached in each column needing to be independently checked. Ike doesn’t see that his monism refers to a system of four different flows interconnected: a real scientist’s complex rather than a merchant’s counting number. Ike has foxed himself into a miserable corner by believing that religion is dogmatic rather than commitment to the more hopeful axiom: expressed in the Christian tradition by praying to “Our Father in heaven”, whose prodigal children have been a disappointment to him, but if sorry will be welcomed back. If mankind exterminates itself it will have deserved it, but there is still time to hope.

    • Ikonoclast
      July 25, 2021 at 12:24 am

      davetaylor1,

      I may have posted this sort of thing before. Please keep reading right to the end. At first, it will feel like I am being very antagonistic and critical. After that, with some concluding remarks, I hope it will feel like I am extending a crucially important olive branch.

      1. When any term with the content “Absolute” explains all other existence as it does in various dogmas, then the Absolute is the originating “brute fact” in philosophical terms. The situation pertaining in “hard dogmatics” is that the originating, imputed brute fact, which is hypothesized far beyond the inferences of all known facts, is then given specific qualities and a nature (the Absolute’s qualities and nature) which are imputed doctrinally and dogmatically without empirically verifiable facts. The monotheistic religions, particularly, demonstrate this characteristic. In the West, many persons have a culture-centric view of the “necessity” for inflexible dogma in religious metaphysics. Alternative religious metaphysics are possible and indeed widely extant. Hinduism, for example, is less dogmatic. Indeed, the dualism and monotheism of the Middle East and West is a minority view. The bulk of human kind have a monist and either polytheist or non-theist view. The Nasadiya Sukta of Hinduism is worth quoting in part, to illustrate that religious metaphysics need not commence with dogmatic premises:

      “There was neither non-existence nor existence then;
      Neither the realm of space, nor the sky which is beyond;
      What stirred? Where? In whose protection?

      Whether God’s will created it, or whether He was mute;
      Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not;
      Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,
      Only He knows, or perhaps He does not know.”

      2. Now, I respect your right to believe what you believe and you, I think, must respect my right to believe what I believe. It becomes difficult to converse on the same grounds when an empirical ontological discussion is derailed by religious or speculative metaphysics. Religious metaphysics is on far stronger ground when it remains at the moral philosophy, ethics and axiology levels.

      “Axiology is the philosophical study of value. It includes questions about the nature and classification of values and about what kinds of things have value. It is intimately connected with various other philosophical fields that crucially depend on the notion of value, like ethics, aesthetics or philosophy of religion.” – Wikipedia.

      We could include the clear fact that axiology also affects the discussion of value in economics. Your religious beliefs and reflections and those of Asad Zaman on this blog, to name another, are of very great value, I believe, when we are doing things in economic theory like considering ;

      (a) axiology and “pure economic value” so-called, which latter is a falsehood;
      (b) the need for human hubris in relation to human knowledge and science;
      (c) the need for humankind to NOT deify themselves and their sciences;
      (c) the need for stewardship of the earth and respect for all-existence or Creation depending on our preferred term.

      At that level of moral philosophy – and economics properly speaking is at least half moral philosophy – I believe we really are on the same page.

      • Ikonoclast
        July 25, 2021 at 12:31 am

        Important Correction: I meant the need for human humility NOT hubris. That was a temporary crossed-wire in my brain or a full word typo, I am not sure which. I do know what hubris means when I am not trying to type fast.

      • July 25, 2021 at 6:24 pm

        And I have previously admired your argument, Ike, shared your concerns and hoped to work with you, for your arguments are at least coherent enough to be disagreed with. That’s the case here at 2, for when you say “It becomes difficult to converse on the same grounds when an empirical ontological discussion is derailed by religious or speculative metaphysics”, historically you have simply got the boot on the wrong foot.

        It becomes difficult to converse on the same grounds when an ontological discussion is derailed by an empirical metaphysics which leaves no room for religious or speculative metaphysics.

        Speculative metaphysics is based not on dogmatism but on hypothesis, which I am given to understand is another name for C S Peirce’s logic of abduction: taking out all the content, considering ways of looking, trying out possible conventions and pragmatically deciding whether they are good enough for the purpose in question.

        Locke and Hume misunderstood Descartes’ proposing that mind and matter were different dimensions of the reality of the brain, which was a new way of looking at it that left room for information science or as Peirce put it, semiology. You quote a Wikipedia definition of Axiology based on Hume’s metaphysics, but in logic it is the justifiation of Axioms: study of the value of possible classifications, not the value of observable objects.

        What you are still not hearing is St Paul saying in 1 Cor 2-3, and elsewhere: When I was a child I thought like a child, but now I am grown up I’m looking for wisdom. Here’s a direct quote from the Jerusalem version (1 Cor 3:1-2): “And so, brothers, I was not able to talk to you as a spiritual people; I had to talk to you as people still living by your natural inclinations, still infants in Christ; I fed you with milk and honey and not solid food, for you were not able to take it”.

        Religious or not, each successive generation has to grow up, so I’m not against people trying to, just trying to help them to. That, I say, is what an economics curriculum should be trying to do.

  11. Craig
    July 24, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    You guys are all erudite, but you’re aiming at the wrong/primary problem. Change the monetary and financial paradigm from Debt Only to Direct and Reciprocal Monetary Gifting and all of the major problems you’re talking about will either immediately disappear or be able to be easily regulated away. All of the astrological tinkerings that developed around Ptolemaic cosmology resolved or disappeared when helio-centrism was confirmed. Think about it.

    • July 25, 2021 at 6:31 pm

      To you and me, Craig, that is obvious, so the primary problem is why so few economists can see it.

  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.