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Theoretical and Applied Economics
No. 3 / 2011 (556)

The Cognitive Isolationism

„The absence of a global theoretical vision, as a necessary referential for insuring the coherence of specialized cognitive initiatives, translates into incoherence in the actional plane; this though, is much more: it is a cumulative counter-performance which produces the critical mass necessary for a social explosion.”

The confused conceptual state of Economics is also the result of the constraint-creating division of visions, as an expression of postmodern cognitive specialization. Practically, the communication of methods and the transfer of meanings between the compartments of Economics are proven to be broken, or at least lacking.

The most relevant blockage took place on the bidirectional highways of economic knowledge, which are represented by Economics, as an academic discipline, together with the other theoretical perspectives, especially those centered on functionality. The first to stand apart is Finance, as the center stage for the knowledge on the management of value and the risk of investments, an increasingly closed discipline made so by the ordinate principle of the sufficiency of immediate profit.

The direct expression of financial rationality is the eviction of social motivation and long-term projections from the space of economic rationality. The most perverted form of Finance's specialization, as a science responsible for the knowledge regarding the productivity of assets, lies in the universe of financial derivatives, which fuels speculation in the virtual space. Completely separated from the vision of inter-subjective contexts which is specific to Economics, the science of Finance exiled itself in the territory of conventions and mathematical algorithms, creating its own illusion of succeeding in fusing the desirable and the possible at the level of human condition.

As we can well see in this crisis, Finance has turned into a body of knowledge against-nature and into a set of methods identified as the source of opposing behaviors in the act of government and the reason for the avalanche of unintended social consequences. The absence of a global theoretical vision, as a necessary referential for insuring the coherence of specialized cognitive initiatives, translates into incoherence in the actional plane; this though, is much more: it is a cumulative counter-performance which produces the critical mass necessary for a social explosion.

In this perspective, understanding the functioning of the economic whole is no longer possible because there isn't any unit of measure in the creation of particular solutions given to the problems of the component parts. The result is the use of an ultra-specialized procedure, by means of thousands of simultaneous operations for each suffering organ, in the hope that the organism will be kept functioning as a whole. The hypothesis stems from a determinist and absolutely linear understanding of things, with no connection to the rational approach of complex situations. Inexcusable reductions of sense are made, complemented by hazardous assumptions. As if, in physiology, the increased speed in the circulation of blood would represent the lead cause of increased efficiency in the mental abilities of the brain. Cognitive isolationism came to provide the tools for micro-level performance, all the while dissolving the meaning of the context which assembles, in a vital order, the parts into a whole.

Even worse is the fact that, in the present system of economic sciences, cognitive isolationism most often absolves its assertions from the obligation of respecting the coherence with the fundamentals of Economics. Every discipline searches for truth by its own rules and founds a universe of significations and representations which could only by chance be in concordance with the general context. The absolutism injected into the efficiency function of fashionable financial theories meant the absolute reduction of the social function of Economics.

There is no other explanation for the fact that, for instance, the phenomenon of speculation in asset values, which gives the measure of performance in today's financial theory, was proven to be at the same time the measure for failure in the normal functioning of the economy as the space of rationality configured as a single unit. Of course that the detachment of parts from the whole was in itself a triumph in the conquest of nature originating in the Baconian dream, but it was also proven to be the method through which the whole is functionally spent and collapses for lack of energy, while from a cognitive point of view it become an abstract, non-anthropic convention - an uninhabitable Utopia.

The path followed by Finance from an epistemic point of view is, mutatis mutandis, that of the extinction of the living, of eroding the most relevant whole which is the societal body, the world. The profit which is mostly targeted through calculation in fictitious elements and in the bluffing from the "game of leverage", points to a space where there cannot reside the arguments of inter-subjective contexts, of complex interactions between agents who have values, expectations and ideals.

The cognitive responsibility of disciplines caught in the obsession of focusing uniquely on partial performances is urgently demanded by the crisis-prone economy of the present. These disciplines also need to be rethought by reattaching them to the epistemic stream of Economics, as a whole which certifies its relevance in the unitary contextualization of the economical.


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The Cognitive Isolationism
Marin Dinu

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The Economicity. The Epistemic Landscape, Marin Dinu, 2016

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