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Theoretical and Applied Economics
No. 12 / 2008 (529)

The physics of human nature

„The supposed efficiency of the free economy as it was promoted in the 50’s and 60’s looks more like a propaganda against communism rather than science.”
Jean Phillipp Bouchaud

The global economic crisis raises - beyond its consequences - a principial issue: is Economics a science?

The founding assumption of Economics is that it reveals the regularities generated by the market. The rational basis of Economics seems to offer the provable rules of rationality. From the scarceness of the resources to the usage of added value, Economics offers principles, rules and laws with claims of generality. In the microeconomic component, as well as in the macroeconomic and socioeconomic ones, Economics recommends itself as a science.

There is no doubt that it is an image of transfer from that which is considered to be science starting from geometry and, especially, physics. The economists' call on the suggestion of co-relativity specific to geometrical figures which offer the explicative support in the functioning of a mechanism - meaning the economy seen as a mechanism -says a lot about the epistemic model of Economics.

The truly delicate part of the consistency of Economics as a science lies in the fact that it is much too tributary to the imprint of the geometrical model and too little developed for it to draw upon the significances of the epistemic model represented by physics. This means this is a constitutive state of the economic model where the explanation is relevant from the perspective of a physical mechanism - maybe of the type of the "perpetuum mobile" and not of a physical system, of a critical nature and with the capacity to adapt.

The attitude of the responsible actors toward the emergencies of the present crisis is symptomatic: they struggle to keep the mechanism from stopping, the "perpetuum mobile" of wealth, by suggesting material solutions for the recovery. The goal is to fix the mechanism in order for it to re-gain its performance until the next fix.

The epistemic repositioning with regard to the economy is the real problem bearing the sign of the crisis' ultimatum. The epistemic model represented by critical systems with a capacity for learning changes the perspective, focusing on the specifics of the economy as a sum of some individual behaviors validated by rationality.

Economics thus becomes not a "science" on the perpetual functioning of the mechanism of wealth as a goal, but the normal science of behaviors motivated by wealth as a means.

The leap in adequacy is tremendous: from geometry and mechanisms, on which even the neurotic advantage of social mechanism was speculated, to the "physics" of human nature, meaning a science responsible for the sensitive and rational part of nature in general.

There is - obviously, through this revolution, a need for an epistemological reconstruction of Economics, meant to bring it out from under the paradigm of the mechanical and quantitative Enlightenment, and to bring it closer to what Economics should be as an open system, with a self-regulation of individual behaviors within rationality's guidelines of opportunity.

The complications so far - coming from the Enlightenment's epistemic model, based on void abstractions mortifying subtractions - are revealed in the form of the crisis and constitute the cause of the cyclical nature of crises. Overcoming them is possible only by changing the epistemic model.

The founding anew of Economics on the new vision eliminates another series of complications continuously played out all along history, coming from the ideological perverting of the solutions for coming out of the crisis. This way it becomes more important, for instance, for the mechanism of wealth to be saved rather than the saving of man and human nature from the threat of chaos. This would lead to the persistence of the vicious cycle of the explicative model, supposed by the vision of the Cartesian mechanism, which would mean the continual paying off of the enormous bill of cyclical repairs which is the crisis.

The global crisis fought by the world's governments has essentially a miracle solution: the changing of the vision on the founding principles of Economics!


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The physics of human nature
Marin Dinu

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The Economicity. The Epistemic Landscape, Marin Dinu, 2016

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