Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Matias Vernengo — Economic Regularities and "Laws" and the Riksbank Prize too

I've been reading The Nobel Factor: The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy, and the Market Turn by Avner Offer, Gabriel Söderberg, an interesting critique of the use of the Nobel Prize to undermine the Welfare State, essentially by conservative groups in Sweden, that were influential within the Central Bank (Riksbank), that disliked the Social Democratic policies in place in the 1960s.…
My comment on section of the post on laws. Economists need lose the term "law." There are no "laws of economics," or any other social science, that are comparable the laws of nature discovered in the natural science, owing to the differences in subject matter. There are no "laws of history," and economics is historical — regardless of how much formalists would like to believe otherwise.

There may be regularities that observable in economics, but they do not rise to the level of universality that is characteristic of laws of nature. Economists should stop implying they they do. It is dishonest, and it is bringing considerable criticism down on the profession for apparent failures.

These failures appear because of the way economist approach their discipline. They set narrow scope conditions that are instead advertised as law-based. Then they they have to resort to "exogenous factors" when things go wrong. This is not doing science. It is either confused, or else ideological persuasion based on rhetoric rather than reasoning and evidence.

My advice is to declare your scope conditions and then don't give the impression that you are able to provide answers for anything beyond the scope of the modeling assumptions. Of course, this limits what economists can claim because restrictive assumptions narrow the scope of the model.

Those who like to pontificate about "laws" don't like that. Now they are on the receiving end of not only criticism but also derision because of the exaggerated expectations about prediction and certainty they cultured in their audience that imploded in the GFC, for instance, and their prescription afterward have shown that they don't know how to fix thing they were involved in breaking.

So when you hear "economic laws," think BS.
 
Naked Keynesianism
Economic Regularities and "Laws" and the Riksbank Prize too
Matias Vernengo | Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University

119 comments:

Bob Roddis said...

1. Misesian praxeology and human action are ubiquitous and universal phenomena of human existence.

2. The virtual impossibility of conducting economic calculation under socialism and the serious impairment of economic calculation under Keynesian and fiat regimes also appear to be universal.

3. The First Iron Law of Keynesians and Socialists predicts that no Keynesian or socialist will ever have the slightest familiarity with the above basic Austrian concepts.

4. The Second Iron Law of Keynesians and Socialists predicts that Keynesians and socialists will never properly distinguish between true laissez faire and a quasi-market system that has a policy of substantial violent intervention. That way, problems invariably caused by the latter can always be blamed on the former and they can then demand even more violent intervention.

5. The Third Iron Law of Keynesians and Socialists predicts that Keynesians and socialists will always respond to Austrian analysis like the mainstream media respond to Phil Giraldi and Ray McGovern while exploding the B.S. about the Syria “gas” attack. They hope and pray that the general public will never hear the truth or even hear about the truth. They themselves would prefer to never have to think about it at all.

Magpie said...

I'm repeating myself, but we live in the age of words. In this case, taboo words.

Vernengo went to great lengths to add caveats to the notion of economic law (for one, it's a historically constrained regularity):

Don't get me wrong, regularities in economics are historically constrained

Economic laws are Theoretical constructs that are measurable, even if that is difficult and open to criticism which explain those regularities.

At any rate, for what is worth, I do think that there are many regularities that make economics scientific. Yes, sure social sciences are not like the hard sciences, but we do not live in post-modern world in which no regularities exist.

He gave examples of that: Okun's Law, Verdoorn's Law, Thirlwall's Law, the multiplier and the accelerator, the bread-and-butter of Keynesians, for Christ's sake!

How on earth is what Vernengo wrote rising those laws to the level of universality that is characteristic of laws of nature?.

Where is Vernengo implying that they do?

How is that dishonest?

The only conclusion is that no matter how many caveats one adds, there's something intrinsically fearsome in the very word itself. The L-word is something to avoid, no matter what: it's taboo. Taboo, like the name of God, so we write "Yaweh" instead. Taboo, like saying "You-Know-Who", "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named", instead of naming Lord Voldemort.

The Iron Law of the L-Word Terrifying Power! :-)

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Matias Vernengo

You say: “There are no ‘laws of economics,’ or any other social science, that are comparable the laws of nature discovered in the natural science, owing to the differences in subject matter.”

True, except for the fact that economics is NO social science but a system science. Time to bring yourself up to speed. For details see

Redefining economics
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2017/04/redefining-economics.html

From the pluralism of false models to the true economic theory
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2017/04/from-pluralism-of-false-models-to-true.html

The futile synthesis of neoclassical rubbish and Keynesian garbage
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2016/12/the-futile-synthesis-of-neoclassical.html

Economics and the social science delusion
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2016/03/economics-and-social-science-delusion.html

The real problem with the economics Nobel
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2016/09/the-real-problem-with-economics-nobel.html

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Bob said...

"Commandments" would be a better term ;)

Tom Hickey said...

"Law" implies authoritative. Economics regularities being historically conditional can never rise to the level of universality to authoritative in the way the laws of nature are. The history of the use of the term "law" was to create the impression that economics had a status similar physics. After Paul Davidson's critique of Samuelson that is dishonest. See also Keynes on Tinbergen.

See also Jason Smith's critique of economics in light of physics at his blog Information Transfer Economics and my many links here at MNE.

The use of "law" relative to economics is sophistry.

If economics were a system science it would have to be about complex systems and it is not.

The "systems" with which economics deals are either limited, that is, special cases, or failed attempts to make a complex system tractable, such as DSGE modeling. For a criticism of DSGE see Brian Romanchuk's Bond EconomicsBond Economics.

See also Jason Smith on economics and system at his blog cited above.

Economists need to stop fool themselves and the public with terms like "law" and "invisible hand," both of which are appeals to authority, the former to natural science and the later to Adam Smith, when neither applies.

OK, I appreciate that may economists are acting in good faith and not trying to fool people. They are just fooling themselves though if they believe that there is no rhetorical involved and only reason.

Tom Hickey said...

AXEC / E.K-H said..
You say: “There are no ‘laws of economics,’ or any other social science, that are comparable the laws of nature discovered in the natural science, owing to the differences in subject matter.”


Matias did not say that. I did.

Magpie said...

"Law" implies authoritative. Economics regularities being historically conditional can never rise to the level of universality to authoritative in the way the laws of nature are. The history of the use of the term "law" was to create the impression that economics had a status similar physics. After Paul Davidson's critique of Samuelson that is dishonest. See also Keynes on Tinbergen.

Gish Gallop
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

Step by step:

1. "Law" implies authoritative.

So, "authoritative" is the terrifying power hidden in the L-Word!
I write "Law, Law, Law" and all you guys reading this feel a compulsion to bow before me. Is that how it works?

2. Economics regularities being historically conditional can never rise to the level of universality to authoritative in the way the laws of nature are.

That's precisely what Vernengo wrote, in clear English, in black and white. Read it.

Let me explain how this argument business works: if you want to prove him wrong, you have to contradict what he says. He says A, you have to prove not(A).

3.The history of the use of the term "law" was to create the impression that economics had a status similar physics.

Again, says who?

4.After Paul Davidson's critique of Samuelson that is dishonest.

I'll try to be respectful to Prof. Davidson, who is a senior man and I think a well meaning person. I don't give a shit. You are arguing from authority. If you want to find dishonesty, you should try closer to home.

5.See also Keynes on Tinbergen.

While I feel a duty to be respectful to Prof. Davidson, I feel no such obligation towards Keynes, who was an ignoramus and a charlatan.

Magpie said...

I observe that Bob Roddis advanced three laws (actually, 3 IRON Laws!).

I doubt he persuaded many and it surely didn't seem to persuade you...

So much for the awesome power of the L-Word. :-)

Tom Hickey said...

@ Magpie

Concerned about Marx's Iron Law of Wages" and "The Laws of Motion of the Capitalist Mode of Production" by any chance? :)

Regarding the latter, Marx was clearly drawing a parallel with physical laws of motion.

I observe that Bob Roddis advanced three laws (actually, 3 IRON Laws!).

I doubt he persuaded many and it surely didn't seem to persuade you...


Those are not laws in any sense other than incorrectly being consider such. They are actually philosophical principles. Mises lost Hayek on this when Hayek agreed with Popper. Human Action is chiefly a philosophical work rather than a scientific one. Marx, too, was chiefly a philosopher, too — his doctorate was in ancient Greek philosophy. This is not to denigrate the work of either but to put in the right category. I am a philosopher myself that chose philosophy over science because I concluded that philosophy is more important in the scheme of things.

So I am not faulting either Mises or Marx for being philosophers. Hayek was arguably a better philosopher than an economist. But people should be clear about what they are doing instead of mixing them up and committing category errors.

Regarding the use for "law," I personally think that it is unfortunate that even natural scientists use the term "law." While "law" has a technical denotation in science, it is word that is used in other contexts and has a acquired connotation of authority in ordinary language. This leads to confusion and it also presents an opportunity to argue from authority sophistically.

"Law" is an unfortunate choice since it leads many to conceive of science as something other than tentative with respect to evidence. Even some scientists get carried away with it, too, and confuse formal (logical or mathematical certainty) with empirical probability approaching 1 as a limit but never getting to 1, which is tautology as necessary truth. Science is contingent on evidence..

In economics the term "law" is an important thread in the fabric of "economism." The impression is given that there are "natural laws" governing economics similar to physics that establish the way things work in the universe. This leads to false notions like Thatcher's TINA, "there is no alternative."

BTW, I was not "attacking" Matias. I thought is was a good post, and he is free to use "law" the way economists use it. I don't think he is under the spell of economism and I doubt he teaches in that mode. I was simply riffing on ideas presented there.

I simply wanted to point out that in my view "law" is one the weasel words that should be pruned from economics to avoid "economism."

So-called "economic laws" are a lot closer to Kaldor's stylized facts than "laws of nature" of natural science.

Magpie said...

@Tom Hickey

Concerned about Marx's Iron Law of Wages" and "The Laws of Motion of the Capitalist Mode of Production" by any chance? :)


Rather, annoyed by vulgar economists's and their flunkeys' shameless lies. :-)


Baumol, W. J.. (1983). Marx and the Iron Law of Wages. The American Economic Review, 73(2), 303–308. (paywalled)
http://www.jstor.org/stable/1816859

I find few things as discouraging as the persistent attribution of positions to a writer whose works contain repeated, categorical, indeed emotional, denunciations of those views. Marx's views on wages are a prime example. Both vulgar Marxists and vulgar opponents of Marx have propounded two associated myths: that he believed wages under capitalism are inevitably driven near some physical subsistence level, and that he considered this to constitute robbery of the workers and a major evil of capitalism. Yet Marx and Engels tell us again and again, sometimes in most intemperate language, that these views are the very opposite of theirs. These observations, incidentally, are hardly new discoveries. Thus, for example, Roman Rosdolsky (1977, p. 287 ff.) disposes of the subsistence wage allegation and Robert Tucker (1969, ch. 3), and Allen Wood (1972) cover Marx's view on the morality of capitalist distribution very effectively.

That was Engels denouncing in no uncertain terms Lasalle and his "Iron Law" in a 1875 letter to August Bebel
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/letters/75_03_18.htm

Thirdly, our people have allowed themselves to be saddled with the Lassallean 'iron law of wages' which is based on a completely outmoded economic view, namely that on average the workers receive only the minimum wage because, according to the Malthusian theory of population, there are always too many workers (such was Lassalle’s reasoning). Now in Capital Marx has amply demonstrated that the laws governing wages are very complex, that, according to circumstances, now this law, now that, holds sway, that they are therefore by no means iron but are, on the contrary, exceedingly elastic, and that the subject really cannot be dismissed in a few words, as Lassalle imagined.

Magpie said...

Regarding the latter, Marx was clearly drawing a parallel with physical laws of motion.

Really? Where? What kind of parallel? I'm interested, go ahead.

Magpie said...

Those [Bob Roddis' three Iron Laws of Keynesians and Socialists] are not laws in any sense other than incorrectly being consider such.

I think Roddis is very capable of deciding what his three laws are.

Tom Hickey said...

Regarding the latter, Marx was clearly drawing a parallel with physical laws of motion.

Really? Where? What kind of parallel? I'm interested, go ahead.


Marx came up with this all by his lonesome without meaning to relate it to the physical laws of motion? You believe that?

I didn't think so.

Why do you think he drew the parallel?

It seems to me he drew the same parallel that many other of the time did, linking the veracity of their position with that of Newton's laws, which were considered the gold standard of scientific "truth."

May you think Marx was doing something else? Or you don't know what he was up to?

Tom Hickey said...

Those [Bob Roddis' three Iron Laws of Keynesians and Socialists] are not laws in any sense other than incorrectly being consider such.

I think Roddis is very capable of deciding what his three laws are.


I seriously doubt it. He thinks along with Mises that these laws are synthetic a priori propositions in Kant's sense of being both empirical and also certain in the sense of necessarily truth rather than contingent on evidence. Hayek agreed with Popper that scientific knowledge is contingent on evidence and subject to testing rather than being necessarily. Bob understand this controversy well and he has taken a philosophical stance on this based on philosophical principles that are "self-evident." This is not what most scientists mean by scientific law.

Magpie said...

@Tom Hickey,

My questions were clear, in English, in black and white (exactly like Vernengo's text, btw). I'll repeat them here for you and everybody else following this:

Really? Where? What kind of parallel? I'm interested, go ahead.

You made claims. Well, prove them. This is your chance. Bullshit, however, does not count as proof. If you like, you may ask "Lord Keynes" or Clarkington.

Sorry, but I can't be any more accommodating than that. :-)

Tom Hickey said...

Marx was claiming that his law of motion in economics were comparable to Newton's in physics — authoritative. That is the parallel. Does Marx say that explicitly? No, he doesn't have to. Any educated person of the period who known the parallel and draw the conclusion that Marx was asserting that he had it right just as Newton had it right in physics.

Magpie said...

@Tom Hickey

Marx was claiming that his law of motion in economics were comparable to Newton's in physics — authoritative. That is the parallel. Does Marx say that explicitly? No, he doesn't have to. Any educated person of the period who known the parallel and draw the conclusion that Marx was asserting that he had it right just as Newton had it right in physics.

In short: you cannot substantiate your claim.

You don't know what an educated person of the period would have thought: you cannot read minds, least of all minds of dead people.

You want to see shit that's not there. Why? Unlike you, I don't presume to read other people's minds. I ain't no psychologist, either. If pressed for a guess, I'd say that's because those "ghosts" which you "see" fit your preconceptions. Upton Sinclair could have answered that differently. But, in truth, I don't really know. What I do know, because I observe it, is that you refuse to acknowledge what's really there.

That's exactly what happens with your comments about Vernengo: the guy explicitly wrote that economic/social science laws are different from natural science laws and you won't acknowledge that. I put that to you two or three times, here in front of everybody else reading this. Every time, you either overlook it or deliberately ignored it.

Frankly, I grow weary of this baloney.

Tom Hickey said...

We disagree. What I consider so obvious that any fool can see it, you don't. That's ok. Bob Roddis thinks the same thing about my inability to see what he finds obvious in Mises. This is were debate ends. Reasoning doesn't go on to infinity. Where it stops is where people choose it stop and they disagree on this. That's the basis of philosophy.

Magpie said...

I demanded from you to substantiate your claim, yes? And I made a big deal of your inability to do so.

Well, you may object that it would be fair if I substantiated my own counter-claim, wouldn't it?

Here's a good example. In Chapter 13. The Law As Such (Capital Vol. III, Part III. The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall) Marx presents his Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall. The forbidden word is there, isn't it?

This is what Marx writes:

The progressive tendency of the general rate of profit to fall is, therefore, just an expression peculiar to the capitalist mode of production of the progressive development of the social productivity of labour. This does not mean to say that the rate of profit may not fall temporarily for other reasons. But proceeding from the nature of the capitalist mode of production, it is thereby proved logical necessity that in its development the general average rate of surplus-value must express itself in a falling general rate of profit.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch13.htm

You see the reference to historical contingency there, no?

Of course you do. Vernengo also wrote about it. But you jump now and say: Ah, but the guy also says that he "proved logical necessity". That's determinism! It's exactly like Newton's laws!

Hold that thought for a moment. The next chapter (Chapter 14. Counteracting Influences) Marx also writes:

There must be some counteracting influences at work, which cross and annul the effect of the general law [ of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall], and which give it merely the characteristic of a tendency, for which reason we have referred to the fall of the general rate of profit as a tendency to fall.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch14.htm

To put that in short: the fall in the profit rate is a stochastic, random, process, which may be reversed at times, not unlike what Piketty described when he claimed that under capitalism the tendency is for income inequality to increase.

There's no determinism.

How do vulgar opponents of Marx react to that? If there are counteracting influences, then the law cannot be falsified!

The crossfire, damned if you do, damned if you don't, pattern!

Magpie said...

Incidentally, you may remember that because it's not the first time I present the same argument.

A few years ago, if memory serves, Dan Kervick was defending one of Piketty's laws in very similar terms. When I pointed to him that his argument was similar to Marx's he went ballistic in one of his spoilt child Keynesian tantrums.

Bob said...

ten·den·cy
noun
An inclination toward a particular characteristic or type of behavior.

How is that not falsifiable?

Magpie said...

I finally found the post

http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/john-mills-is-piketty-right-is-growing.html

You yourself personally added a link to an exposition by Ernest Mandel (The Laws of Motion of the Capitalist Mode of Production, Karl Marx - Part 8)
http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article288

Mandel, among other things, writes

Marx postulates that the increase in the rate of surplus value has definite limits, while the increase in the organic composition of capital has practically none (automation, robotism). There will be a basic tendency for the rate of profit to decline.

This is however absolutely true only on a very long-term, i.e. essentially ‘secular’, basis. In other time-frameworks, the rate of profit can fluctuate under the influence of countervailing forces. Constant capital can be devalorised, through ‘capital saving’ technical process, and through economic crises (see below). The rate of surplus-value can be strongly increased in the short or medium terms although each strong increase makes a further increase more difficult; and capital can flow to countries (e.g. ‘Third World’ ones) or branches (e.g. service sectors) where the organic composition of capital is significantly lower than in the previously industrialised ones, thereby raising the average rate of profit.


There is no linear, smooth, uninterrupted fall in the rate of profit. Random events can temporarily reverse it.

Have you forgotten that?

Magpie said...

Bob said...

How is that not falsifiable?

Ah, that's the $64,000 question. When Marx's ideas are put in a stochastic fashion, Marx's critics demand a deterministic test. Marxists must predict this years' profit rate to the 10th decimal. And God forbid one miss something: all hell breaks loose. First strike and you're out. Falsified.

When Marx's ideas are put in a deterministic fashion, then all hell breaks loose: deterministic. Oh... My... God.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

The Law of Economists’ Increasing Stupidity
Comment on Matias Vernengo on ‘Economic Regularities and "Laws" and the Riksbank Prize too’

Because of its many connotations the notion of scientific law has caused a lot of confusion among laypersons and a lot of blather among philosophers. It has in the meantime be replaced by the neutral notion of invariance. Nozick defines invariance thus: “An objective fact is one that is invariant under all admissible transformations.” The general notion of invariance goes back to Noether and it embraces special cases like causality or conservation of energy.

The representative economist still sticks to an obsolete notion of law. The centerpiece of economists’ scientific incompetence is the Law of Supply and Demand.

Science is well-defined: “Research is in fact a continuous discussion of the consistency of theories: formal consistency insofar as the discussion relates to the logical cohesion of what is asserted in joint theories; material consistency insofar as the agreement of observations with theories is concerned.” (Klant)

Science is cumulative. Only certain knowledge can be admitted to the corpus of science because nothing can be built upon uncertain knowledge or mere opinion. And here is the crux of the so-called social sciences: “By having a vague theory it is possible to get either result. … It is usually said when this is pointed out, ‘When you are dealing with psychological matters things can’t be defined so precisely’. Yes, but then you cannot claim to know anything about it.” (Feynman)

This is why there is no growth of knowledge in the so-called social sciences: “Indeed, Alexander Rosenberg maintains that there has been no progress in developing laws of human behavior for the last twenty-five hundred years.” (Hausman)

Manifest failure in turn is the main reason why the so-called social sciences stubbornly try to soften scientific standards wherever they can, or, as Blaug put it, to play tennis with the net down. This is what the talk of economics as ‘inexact and separate science’ amounts to. The limiting case of continous softening of scientific standards is anything-goes which is the motto in the pluralistic swamp where “nothing is clear and everything is possible”. (Keynes)

Since 200+ years economists bridge the chasm between scientific appearance and proto-scientific reality with excuses: “Economics is not a Science with a capital S. It lacks the experimental method as a way of testing hypotheses. … There are always differences of opinion at the cutting edge of a science, … But they last longer in economics . . . and there are reasons for that. As already mentioned, rival theories cannot be put to an experimental test. All there is to observe is history, and history does not conduct experiments: too many things are always happening at once. The inferences that can be made from history are always uncertain, always disputable, … You can’t even count on a long and undisturbed run of history, because the ‘laws’ of behavior change and evolve. ” (Solow)

See part 2

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Part 2

Economists have to redefine their subject matter. To explain individual and social behavior is NOT their business but the task of psychology, sociology, political science, social philosophy, history, anthropology, biology, Darwinism/evolution theory, etcetera.

To explain how the actual economy works is the proper task of economics. Economists have failed at this task. After more than 200 years they have not even figured out what profit is, that is, they do not understand the pivotal phenomenon of their subject matter.

For deeper methodological reasons, the so-called social sciences cannot rise above the level of storytelling. And this is what Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, and Austrianism is. Neither approach satisfies the non-negotiable criteria of science, i.e., material and formal consistency.

Economists face this option: to continue with storytelling and to be expelled from the sciences or to restart economics as a system science. This means in concrete terms to move from false behavioral microfoundations and false Keynesian macrofoundations to objective/structural/behavior-free/consistent macrofoundations. This paradigm shift yields exact and testable SYSTEMIC LAWS.#1

Economists have until this day not understood how science works: “When the premises are certain, true, and primary, and the conclusion formally follows from them, this is demonstration, and produces scientific knowledge of a thing.” (Aristotle). This means that economics cannot be built upon NONENTITIES like constrained optimization, rational expectations, equilibrium, or the Keynesian Income = Value of Output.#2

To paraphrase Matias Vernengo: ‘So when you hear Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, think proto-scientific BS’.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 For example the First Economic Law
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AXEC06.png
or the Profit Law
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AXEC08.png

#2 See ‘How Keynes got macro wrong and Allais got it right’
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AXEC08.png

LK said...

Bob Roddis@April 12, 2017 at 2:32 PM
"The First Iron Law of Keynesians and Socialists predicts that no Keynesian or socialist will ever have the slightest familiarity with the above basic Austrian concepts."

Once again we're dealing with an idiot who doesn't even understand Austrian theory.

(1) Bob Roddis’ ignorance of the concept of market clearing:
http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2014/09/potpourri-231.html#comment-962827

(2) Bob Roddis’ crazy idea market clearing prices exist during a boom:

“Explain. And while you are at it, explain why unsustainable bubble prices are not “market clearing prices” before the bubble pops.”
http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2014/07/krugmans-kontortions-on-france.html#comment-730963

(3) In the context of booms/general expansions in the business cycle:

“As I’ve said before 387 times, MARKET CLEARING PRICES EXIST ALL THROUGHOUT THE UNSUSTAINABLE BOOM until that moment when the bust begins.”
http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2014/04/austrian-business-cycle-theory-surprisingly-useful-even-among-its-critics.html#comment-434540

(4) More insanity:

“I still maintain that economic calculation has absolutely nothing to do with ‘a price vector that will clear all markets’ and neither does the Hayek quote you constantly present. A 20 year unsustainable Keynesian boom would have had ‘market clearing prices’ for 20 years right up until the bottom drops out.”
http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/2013/01/lord-keynes-debunking-austrian.html?showComment=1359199941427#c5328116548878528365

Tom Hickey said...

Magpie, I agree that Marx recognized the historically determined nature of economics and therefore social, political and economic phenomena. But he also believed in historical determinism, so that given certain economic infrastructure, definite consequences could be known as "laws" that apply under those condition.

This is based on Marx's fundamental assumption that economic infrastructure is determinative of social and political superstructure. That is a philosophical principle, which Marx posited in opposition to Hegel's fundamental assumption that ideas are determinative historically, which is also a philosophical principle.

Philosophical principles are foundations so they cannot be based on more primitive foundations. They are the stopping point that evades infinite regress. Circular reasoning is an issue, however, if principles are justified based on assuming them. Since assumptions are used to construct models, either conceptual or mathematical, consistency is an issue, too.

If the claim that there are laws that are determined historically, this has to be demonstrated with evidence and is subject to falsification by counter-evidence. This results in some the issues within Marxism, as well as with respect to critiques of it. The first issue is formulating Marx's model in contemporary terms, ideally mathematically, and then testing the model with respect to logical consistency and correspondence with facts and events. The first is a logical pedigree and the second is an empirical warrant. Has anyone presented a compelling argument clarifying Marx's views based on a contemporary model, conceptual or mathematical, and shown evidence that Marx's assertion of historical determinism rise to the level of laws as general propositions whose probability approaches 1 (logical necessity).

This leads to one of the big issues within Marxism itself. Different schools have different views on this, and no one has been able to write equations the constitute a formal model that is accepted by all parties, at least as far as I can see. So Marx said on such matters is disputed. It is even debatable even among Marx's followers what his own position on such matters may have been.

But as far as I can see it is pretty much agree that Marx asserted (assumed) historical determinism and that is the basis of his claims about "laws" that apply under different conditions based on economic infrastructure. If Marx was arguing deterministically, he was assuming an authoritative stance, and most people on whatever side of the argument based on interpreting Marx see it this way, in my experience.

I often use the Marxist-Marxian distinction to distinguish between followers of Marx and those influenced by Marx. Marxists tend to be dogmatic in their approach, while Marxians to be scientific. Robert Paul Wolff has attempted to formalize some of Marx's positions in a what the can then be subjected to empirical test.

Are Marx's "laws" determinative within a historical period whose conditions can be specific precisely enough to test the claim, or are Marx's laws more like Kaldor's "stylized facts."

Tom Hickey said...

Piketty's laws

Based on his choice of title, he was apparently using "laws" wrt a similar reference. I did read Piketty's Capital but I can't recall him asserting historical determinism. He argument was in more terms of a neoclassical (ergodic) model, although he said a lot of things that could lead to the inference that his view is historical, which the neoclassical model is not.

I didn't particularly like his neoclassicism, and I thought it weakened his position rather than strengthening it, but I thought his historical points were well-taken.

Magpie said...

Bob said...

How is that not falsifiable?

My previous answer was unsatisfactory. Let me answer your question with a somewhat more elaborate example from climate change.

The consensus among climate scientists is that globally there is a tendency for temperatures to increase (and, although that's irrelevant for our example, that's due to human activity). Note the words: tendency and increase.

It's mid-Autumn in Sydney. According to Wikipedia, record high temperature for April in Sydney is 34.2 C.

(Our Bureau of Meteorology, evidently, has more data and better forecasting methods than we. Never mind that.)

What does global warming mean for Sydney, this Autumn?

My -- and I suppose your -- answer is that, on the data and knowledge available to us, we can predict that there is a good chance the highest temperature for Sydney will exceed 34.2 C. In other words, we won't be surprised if the highest temperature this year goes above 34.2 C.

What if the highest temperature this year, however, as a matter of measured, empirical fact, does not exceed 34.2 C?

The climate change denialist answers that: See? Climate change and global warming are falsified. First round and KO. Take that. I knew climate change was bullshit.

I -- and I suppose you -- interrupt him: Not so fast, buster.

Our answer, instead, is: It's not reasonable to expect on a global scale that every single temperature will behave exactly according to the simplest, more deterministic, mechanical interpretation of the hypothesis. We would have reasons to believe something is wrong with the global warming hypothesis if our expectations were frequently proven wrong, as in "wrong on April, wrong on May, wrong on June" (in Australia and overseas).

That's when the climate change denialist pulls his Get Out of Jail Free card: Ah ha! That hypothesis is unfalsifiable. All the talk about "deterministic", "mechanistic" is just an ad hoc justification and as Karl Popper said, ad hoc justifications are a no-no.

(Climate change denialists are often anti-Marxists.)

Cross-fire: Tom Hickey demands Marxism to be non-deterministic, Karl Popper demands it to be deterministic. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Bob said...

Magpie said...

What does global warming mean for Sydney, this Autumn?

My -- and I suppose your -- answer is that, on the data and knowledge available to us, we can predict that there is a good chance the highest temperature for Sydney will exceed 34.2 C. In other words, we won't be surprised if the highest temperature this year goes above 34.2 C.


Global warming would be more likely to affect the Daily Mean. Record setting temps are rare, they can be 1 in 50 year or 1 in 100 year events. They can occur in bunches, as in a heat wave that sets multiple records. In any case, this is not how global surface temperatures are measured.

Can the tendency be measured? Is there an agreed upon standard?
If so, then the characteristic should be falsifiable. Of course, it has to be falsifiable within a reasonable time span. That's where the "in the long run" excuse comes into play.

Tom Hickey said...

Tom Hickey demands Marxism to be non-deterministic

That is not my position.

My position is that most Marxists subscribe to historical determinism as a fundamental principle that Marx articulated. As far as I can tell (I am not expert in this area), many if not most are dogmatic about this.

I contend that this is a philosophical assumption in Marx a first principle in his social, political and economic theory and a foundation of the framework of the conceptual model he used to articulate the theory.

A question arises whether this is dogmatic or scientific. If the claim is falsifiable, what conditions would falsify this in terms of some model, either conceptual or mathematical. The the question is whether the model is a compelling articulation of what Marx said.

There are three camps. The first is Marxists as a group that takes the work of Marx as foundational. This group is divided into different schools. The second is Marxians, who are influenced by Marx but are not committed to Marx's work as foundational but rather an important contribution to social, political and economic thought that is still useful. The third group is comprised of those who hold that Marx was wrong. This group is differentiated by the reasons for his being wrong.

So this is not a simple task.

My own working view is that Marx made many contributions that are still useful. I would just lose the determinism and avoid all the controversy the engenders, which is unlikely to be resolved. Finally, I don't bother reading dogmatists aka ideologues, Marxist or otherwise, just as I avoid other sloppy thinking. Waste of time.

Magpie said...

@Tom Hickey

Magpie, I agree that Marx recognized the historically determined nature of economics and therefore social, political and economic phenomena.

Well, if you agree that, in your words, "Marx recognized the historically determined nature of economics and therefore social, political and economic phenomena" then you must agree that Newton's laws cannot have been be a model for Marx: Newton's laws are not historically determined, they are there for all eternity.

Are you retracting that?

----------

But he [Marx] also believed in historical determinism, so that given certain economic infrastructure, definite consequences could be known as "laws" that apply under those condition.

The charge usually made against Marx, fairly or not, is that he was an economic determinist. We have been discussing economic laws and what Vernengo, an economics professor, wrote about them.

Now, the charge against Marx is that "he believed in historical determinism".

Let's get organised, Hickey. What is the charge, exactly? Economic or historical? (1) Both, (2) none, (3) a little bit of each, (4) add a third one, for good measure?

Define precisely what is it you have in mind.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey, Magpie

Your shoptalk about Marx lacks substance because Marx never understood what profit is. This lethal blunder is the common denominator of Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, and Pluralism. For details see ‘Profit for Marxists’
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2414301

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Tom Hickey said...

Marx is very clear, I as read him, that historical determinism rests on the type of economic infrastructure. So there can be deterministic "laws" of capitalism, feudalism, etc. as different types of economic infrastructure underlying different social relations and societies. Marx did not just postulate historical determinism but grounded it in the type of economic infrastructure, which changes historically.

The general conclusion at which I arrived and which, once reached, became the guiding principle of my studies can be summarised as follows.

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.


emphasis added

— Karl Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy




Tom Hickey said...

Well, if you agree that, in your words, "Marx recognized the historically determined nature of economics and therefore social, political and economic phenomena" then you must agree that Newton's laws cannot have been be a model for Marx: Newton's laws are not historically determined, they are there for all eternity.

Are you retracting that?


Not at all. Marx qualifies it for social and political phenomena, while neoclassical economics doesn't. So Marx's scope is just narrower, but the assertion of deterministic law is the same and Marx says so in a quote that I just put up above. Marx himself draws the parallel.

n studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. (emphasis added)

Magpie said...

@Bob

If you know better about daily means or averages, I'm happy to accept your views about the specifics of the example.

The point is that Karl Popper's falsificationism contemplates decisive tests, of the kind of "one strike and yer out". That kind of tests, by necessity, cannot apply to economics, in general (but some filthy bitches want it applied to Marxism), because economies are not deterministic. The same cause may provide different effects.

Think of it this way: did the New Deal work? Well, yes and no. For a time, the economy recovered, then it went back into further recession. This is where Keynesians haste to add: Yes, it went into further recession because fiscal policy changed sign too soon. A complete recovery needed more stimulus.

That's when the "add hoc justifications" enter the discussion. Do we accept that justification? When does the effect varies so much as to negate the alleged cause? Concretly: when is stimulus enough?

Tom Hickey said...

I'm good with economics and the rest of social phenomena not being scientific other in than in very specific instances where decisive tests can be achieved through rigorous experimental design and precisely measurable data.

That would relegate most of economics other other social disciplines to philosophy or storytelling, where they belong and end the claims of economics to being authoritative and as a consequence its role in policy.

Magpie said...

AXEC / E.K-H,

Your talk lacks sense.

For details, see yourself in this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIMwcoDP1XA

:-)

Bob said...

That's when the "add hoc justifications" enter the discussion. Do we accept that justification? When does the effect varies so much as to negate the alleged cause? Concretly: when is stimulus enough?

When a justification can be put to the test at a future date then it is acceptable. Just like any prediction.

Bill Mitchell has some views on when stimulus is enough. He wasn't alive during the New Deal test, but I'm sure he's analyzed it.

Bob said...

What is profit at the level of the firm is understood, but not at the macro level?

Magpie said...


Tom Hickey said...

That is not my position [that Tom Hickey demands Marxism to be non-deterministic]

My position is that most Marxists subscribe to historical determinism as a fundamental principle that Marx articulated. As far as I can tell (I am not expert in this area), many if not most are dogmatic about this.


Well, my position is that I don't subscribe to historical determinism (?), I haven't seen a single instance of that term in Marxist literature, and I am yet to find the first Marxist who does subscribe to it.

And I do know a lot more than you in this area.

---------

I'm having a strong feeling of déjà vu. Check the comments thread in Robert Vieneneau's post
http://robertvienneau.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/vocabulary-for-marxism.html

But I think I finally managed to understand what you mean, Hickey!

Marx is very clear, I as read him, that historical determinism rests on the type of economic infrastructure. So there can be deterministic "laws" of capitalism, feudalism, etc. as different types of economic infrastructure underlying different social relations and societies. Marx did not just postulate historical determinism but grounded it in the type of economic infrastructure, which changes historically.

Tom, don't take this badly, but there is a difference between historical materialism (which Marxists certainly believe in and Marx was talking about in the passage you quote) and historical determinism (which you claim they subscribe to).

The "historical" is the adjective, "materialism" and "determinism" are nouns. Trust me, they are different things!

Tell me you know that and that we haven't been spending all this time for nothing! :-)

---------

Okay, you don't retract your Newton's laws claim. Whatever.

---------

Eggmont, come back!!! Tom wants to talk to you!

Tom Hickey said...

Well, my position is that I don't subscribe to historical determinism (?), I haven't seen a single instance of that term in Marxist literature, and I am yet to find the first Marxist who does subscribe to it.

And I do know a lot more than you in this area.


Then I would call you Marxians rather than Marxists, that is, people influenced by Marx but not subscribing to his "guiding principle."

Tom Hickey said...



The term that Marx used was "historical materialism." The 19th c. view of materialism was deterministic. That's before quantum physics. Einstein never gave up on determinism as a framework.

Magpie said...

By the way, Tom.

Whoever the brilliant critic who gave you the reference to Marx's “Preface” to his 1859 Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, forgot to give you a link to Peter G. Stillman's "The Myth of Marx’s Economic Determinism"
https://www.marxists.org/subject/marxmyths/peter-stillman/article.htm

He has the exact same quote and comments on the myth of Marx's economic determinism. :-)

Not historical determinism.!!!

Tom Hickey said...

Yes, shows that different interpreters of Marx view things differently

I don't think his argument is very strong actually.

Magpie said...

Tom Hickey said...

Then I would call you Marxians rather than Marxists, that is, people influenced by Marx but not subscribing to his "guiding principle."

By your account, Tom, Marx himself was a Marxian rather than Marxist. As a joke it works for me, but it won't fool me.

It's my turn to call things and I call your bullshit. Until the very moment I told you, you didn't know the difference between historical materialism and historical determinism.

There's a nice Spanish proverb to cover this: la mentira tiene patas cortas. You don't go far lying.

Magpie said...

And, trust me, Stillman's article makes a stronger sense after you read it.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey, Magpie

The economists’ idea of a law traditionally refers to sociology or psychology or something in-between called Human Nature:

The fundamental problem, therefore, of the social science, is to find the laws according to which any state of society produces the state which succeeds it and takes it place. (Mill)

Intrinsically, it is not a question of the higher or lower degree of development of the social antagonisms that result from the natural laws of capitalist production. It is a question of these laws themselves, of these tendencies working with iron necessity towards inevitable results. (Marx)

That Political Economy informs us of the laws which regulate the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. … This definition is free from the fault which we pointed out in the former one. It distinctly takes notice that Political Economy is a science and not an art; that it is conversant with laws of nature, not with maxims of conduct, and teaches us how things take place of themselves, not in what manner it is advisable for us to shape them, in order to attain some particular end. (Mill)

The foundation of political economy and, in general, of every social science, is evidently psychology. A day will come when we shall be able to deduce the laws of social science from the principles of psychology … (Pareto)

From the above considerations the following seems to come out as the correct and complete definition of Political Economy: – “The science which treats of the production and distribution of wealth, so far as they depend upon the laws of human nature.” Or thus – “The science relating to the moral or psychological laws of the production and distribution of wealth.” (Mill)

That there is NO such thing as a behavioral/social/historical law has been known to scientists (in contradistinction to economists) in all ages:

The bifurcation of motion into two fundamentally different types, one for natural motions of non-living objects and another for acts of human volition ... is obviously related to the issue of free will, and demonstrates the strong tendency of scientists in all ages to exempt human behavior from the natural laws of physics, and to regard motions resulting from human actions as original, in the sense that they need not be attributed to other motions. (Brown)

There are NO laws of human behavior/nature/action, neither psychological nor social nor historical, but there are systemic laws of the monetary economy, e.g. the Profit Law.#1

It is a SYSTEMIC law that the monetary economy will eventually break down.#2

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 For details see ‘The Synthesis of Economic Law, Evolution, and History’
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2500696

#2 See ‘Mathematical Proof of the Breakdown of Capitalism’
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2375578

Magpie said...

Okay, Tom, Eggmont is back and he came for a final tripartite showdown. It's a struggle to the death.

Let's do something. I'm going for breakfast but you guys can start without me. :-)

Tom Hickey said...

There are three choices, deterministic, stochastic, or a combination thereof.

In my view Marx is definitely a determinist regarding his foundational framework based on the Preface.

in studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.

I maintain that Marx viewed the infrastructure — "namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production — as deterministic rather than stochastic or some combo, which is why he thought that it was possible to discover laws governing change ("transformation" having "the precision of natural science." What was he thinking of here.

I submit was thinking either of Newton's laws of motion or indirectly through Hegel's conception of the historical dialectic as the unfolding of reason exhibiting the same inexorability as the laws of nature.

Marx's view is based not on "the Idea," but rather on material conditions — "standing Hegel on his head."

My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.

Karl Marx, Capital, Volume One, 1873, Afterword to the Second German Edition

The basis of Marx's historical analysis, in my understanding, was the institution of property. Property relations determine the relations of production wrt to the material forces of production. Marx view property developing in historical stages of which capitalism was the latest.

There is some controversy over whether Marx thought that determinism at the level of the infrastructure "determine" in the strong sense the entire superstructure. I don't think that accepting that what happens at the level of superstructure is at least partially stochastic affects Marx's determinism at the level of infrastructure wrt to his view of the laws of motion of capitalist production, which underly bourgeois liberalism based on bourgeois ownership of private property.

Stillman's article doesn't address this specifically in terms of deterministic-stochastic at the foundational level, which I think is necessary to understand these issues.

Tom Hickey said...

Marx himself was a Marxian rather than Marxist. As a joke it works for me, but it won't fool me.

I agree that Marx was a Marxian in the sense that Marx was no dogmatist like many of his followers.

Marx was an explorer who was not afraid to change his mind and modify his position based on new knowledge, which he avidly sought out. I credit Marx for this.

A lot of his critics have pictured Marx as a hopeless ideologue, rabble rouser, and pamphleteer, as well as a failed amateur economist. I don't see it that way at all.

Tom Hickey said...

And, trust me, Stillman's article makes a stronger sense after you read it

Trust me, I did read the whole thing and some parts I thought on point to this discussion went over carefully.

Tom Hickey said...

The issue I see with Stillman's piece is that he pits his interpretation against other interpretations. This doesn't show that his interpretation is either necessarily correct or evidentially so, or that other interpretations are necessarily wrong or evidentially so. It just shows that there are different ways of interpreting Marx. This implies that Marx didn't convey his ideas clearly enough to make only one interpretation possible. This is the purpose of formalization.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey, Magpie

The time evolution of the economic system is given with the economic ‘God Equation’ as shown on Wikimedia
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AXEC25.png

This equation embodies the open simulation of the elementary consumption economy from t=0 to infinity.

Could you please condense the essentials of Marx’s theory to one equation in order to enable the transition from clueless philosophical blather to science.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Tom Hickey said...

Where I agree with Stillman is in this:

For Marx human activity is central. When Marx in The German Ideology goes back to the “first premise of human existence” to ask what human beings are like, he sees that “the first historical act is ... the production of the means to satisfy ... needs, the production of material life itself”; from that follows the “second point,” “that the satisfaction of the first need ... leads to new needs.” Human beings then begin to interact with each other, form families and other social relations, and develop consciousness (MER, 155-60).

Marx distinguishes his materialism from all previous materialism, in which “the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as human sensuous activity, practice, not subjectively”; so a materialism like Feuerbach does “not grasp the significance of ‘revolutionary,’ of practical-critical activity” (TF, 1; MER, 143). Objects that he sees -- like cheery-trees in France, are an “historical product, the result of the activity of a whole succession of generations” (MER, 170). In the Manifesto, Marx praises the bourgeoisie because “it has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about” (CM, I; MER, 476). And the long quotation above from Capital about labor is yet another presentation of human beings as active beings who transform nature and themselves by their activity.

Of course human activity always has occurred under constraints; in a society with a division of labor,

Man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him instead of being controlled by him .... This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now. (MER, 160).

Marx spends three-quarters of a page in Capital (I, 645) summarizing just some of the constraints, limitations, and convolutions imposed by capitalism. Human beings are and always have been active beings, but they have always had to act under severe constraints.

Marx wishes to abolish, as much as possible, those constraints. Active human beings, able to unify with others in the class, formed by the Communist Party and become gradually more conscious of their goals, can revolt against capitalism, overthrow it, and remove these alien limits in order to liberate human activity and unfetter human development. In the place of the myth of economic determinism, Marx’s theory presents the interpretation of a complex, dynamic totality by a careful dialectic, an interpretation that shows that active human beings can by revolution transform the world, tear down alien structures and powers, and build on the potentials of modern industry.


continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation

Marx's chief interest was human freedom, not in terms of "free will," which, as Stillman observes, Marx didn't address. He was not concerned with the free will-determinism controversy.

Rather, Marx was concerned with human potential which has been constrained by limiting conditions arising from the various forms of economic infrastructure that condition human life and activity. A great deal of behavior is not based on choice but conditions over which a person has no control.

Freedom is expanded by removing the limiting conditions and this means transformation of the economic infrastructure. Marx and Engels obviously thought that humans could rise above these limiting conditions and effect changes in the infrastructure, as they already had in the American and French Revolutions.

At the same time, Marx also argued that the dynamics of the infrastructure under capitalism would undermine capitalism as a mode of production based bourgeois ownership of the means of production and would eventually lead to socialism, as feudalism had to capitalism with a changing mode of production.

Marx did not believe that transformation from capitalism to socialism was contingent upon revolution. It was structured into the dynamics of capitalism, so that capitalism was not "the end of history." Revolutions could hasten it though. This required raising worker consciousness beyond false consciousness. So here consciousness becomes a tool of change.

jrbarch said...

Perhaps I am missing something but it all looks like a storm in a teacup to me (?).

There is the skin of the earth and its resources (energy, air, water, earth) and human capability to produce and distribute in accordance with our evolving consciousness. I mean, it has been 60-120 millennia since we left Africa, and here we are in a pickle. Human consciousness may change so that today’s obsession with resources and produce may look like (in descending order) kids with toys, a dog with a bone, and finally a dung beetle hard at work. I.e.- our values change with an expansion of consciousness. No reason why nations and commerce may not one day fade into the mists of Time as spent forms.

Looking around, the nub of the production distribution cycle seems to happen in accordance with how much kindness is in the human heart or how much it is absent. How civilised we are compared to the ‘law of the jungle’. The knife edge is selfless|selfish. Not really science?

So the ‘Law’ at work is simply Love as opposed to the jungle. For me ‘Law’ is an expression of Being; a Rule is a discipline for access to Law; a Regulation a way to access discipline.

jrbarch said...

Just missed it, but as Tom says: - 'consciousness becomes a tool of change.

Magpie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Magpie said...

This is the link to the whole letter, courtesy of the Marxists Internet Archive:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/11/russia.htm

Magpie said...

In November 1877 Marx sent a letter to the editor of the Otecestvenniye Zapisky (a Russian journal), a Mr. Mikhailovsky.

In it, Marx comments on an article, apparently anonymous. Departing from Marx's habit, it's thankfully short.

This is how Marx begins his letter to Mikhailovsky:

The author of the article Karl Marx Before the Tribunal of M. Shukovsky is evidently a clever man and if, in my account of primitive accumulation, he had found a single passage to support his conclusions he would have quoted it.

This is what Marx writes about the anonymous writer's conclusions:

He [the author] feels himself obliged to metamorphose my historical sketch of the genesis of capitalism in Western Europe into an historico-philosophic theory of the marche generale [general paths] imposed by fate upon every people, whatever the historic circumstances in which it finds itself, in order that it may ultimately arrive at the form of economy which will ensure, together with the greatest expansion of the productive powers of social labour, the most complete development of man.

Marx is denying that there are general paths imposed by fate upon every people. He is denying the notion of determination (of predetermination).

But don't take my word for that. Maybe it's a matter of interpretation and I'm being unduly charitable. He closes his letter with a historical example. The historical Roman originally free peasant, like his West European counterparts centuries later, started out "cultivating his own piece of land on his own account". Eventually, their lands was taken from both, the Roman free peasants and the more modern West European counterparts. Let me put it this way: equal causes.

What was the effect of those equal causes? In Marx's words: "What happened?"

This is how Marx tells what happened and concludes his letter:

The Roman proletarians became, not wage labourers but a mob of do-nothings more abject than the former “poor whites” in the southern country of the United States, and alongside of them there developed a mode of production which was not capitalist but dependent upon slavery. Thus events strikingly analogous but taking place in different historic surroundings led to totally different results. By studying each of these forms of evolution separately and then comparing them one can easily find the clue to this phenomenon, but one will never arrive there by the universal passport of a general historico-philosophical theory, the supreme virtue of which consists in being super-historical.

Tom Hickey said...

My understanding in terms of the Preface comports with that. Marx rejected strong determinism in the sense that human action is rigidly determined by causation, which many contemporary materialist hold. He also rejected the historic-philosophical approach characterized by Hegel. Marx's approach was to observe what happened historically and not to derive it from universals the way that Hegel sought to do — abstract ideas becoming concretized. Marx began with the concrete and attempted to understand it in terms of some regularities, which is what scientists do. The classical economists concocted just-so stories to ground their understanding, like the Robinson Crusoe economy. Marx actually studied history in the endeavor to make sense of what had happened in terms of patterns and transformations.

My view is that Marx's determinism is based on his materialism but it is limited to the economic conditions that underlie behavior. Marx identified four phases and speculated on a fifth. The characteristic and dynamics of the phases are based on relations of productions and material forces of production, and are related to property. As long as society is in a particular stage, it is subject to the limiting conditions, which are not static but dynamic.

One stage transform into another as the relations of production and material forces develop in terms of the dynamics, eventually transforming into the subsequent stage. In the Preface Marx asserts, "In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out."

Some see Marx as a though-going economic determinist (Max Weber) while other don't (Stillman). There are a variety of views on this.

I don't wish to enter that debate. I personally don't interpret Marx as an economic determinist in the strong sense, where the economic infrastructure causally determines the social and political superstructure with the precision of natural science. Rather, Marx is saying that the economic infrastructure establishes limiting conditions. These limiting conditions are not arbitrary or random, but are determined by the relations of production and material forces. These limiting conditions don't necessarily determine social activity causally, but they do determine the boundaries and establish the framework within which social activity takes place.

Marx spent most of his effort on articulating the characteristics and dynamics of capitalism. He doesn't describe the dynamics of capitalism as stochastic or a combo of deterministic and stochastic, but rather as economically determined.

Intrinsically, it is not a question of the higher or lower degree of development of the social antagonisms that result from the natural laws of capitalist production. It is a question of these laws themselves, of these tendencies working with iron necessity towards inevitable results.Karl Marx, Capital Volume One, 1867. Preface to the First German Edition

This is the basis of the laws of motion of the capitalist mode of production

Marx would say it is the dynamics of capitalism that creates the conditions for its own transformation into the succeeding phase.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey

You sum up: “Marx would say it is the dynamics of capitalism that creates the conditions for its own transformation into the succeeding phase.”

This, of course, is an entirely vacuous statement. Replace capitalism with kitten or universe and it fits just as perfect. Tautologies are always true.

To recall, the challenge was: “The fundamental problem, therefore, of the social science, is TO FIND THE LAWS according to which any state of society produces the state which succeeds it and takes it place. (Mill)

What Marx did was sociology, history, storytelling, prophesy and agenda pushing. He had NO idea how the monetary economy works because he never figured out what profit is.* That is rather bad for an economist but what is worse is that After-Marxians did not spot and rectify Marx’s blunders in the past 200+ years.

Marx would say that the dynamics of Marxianism is zero and that it creates the conditions for its own deadlock in every succeeding phase. The same holds for Walrasianism, Keynesianism, and Austrianism. The dynamical next thing in economics is the “transformation into the succeeding phase” also known as paradigm shift.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

* See ‘Profit for Marxists’
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2414301

Magpie said...

Friedrich Engels to J. Bloch (from Königsberg), September 21, 1890:

According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Other than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase. The economic situation is the basis, but the various elements of the superstructure — political forms of the class struggle and its results, to wit: constitutions established by the victorious class after a successful battle, etc., juridical forms, and even the reflexes of all these actual struggles in the brains of the participants, political, juristic, philosophical theories, religious views and their further development into systems of dogmas — also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggles and in many cases preponderate in determining their form. There is an interaction of all these elements in which, amid all the endless host of accidents (that is, of things and events whose inner interconnection is so remote or so impossible of proof that we can regard it as non-existent, as negligible), the economic movement finally asserts itself as necessary. Otherwise the application of the theory to any period of history would be easier than the solution of a simple equation of the first degree.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1890/letters/90_09_21.htm

No amount of exegetical gymnastics can twist that, Max Weber, or no Max Weber. Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, the Pope or the Mahatma Ghandi, I don't care.

There's no way one can say the text above can be interpreted other than a rejection of economic determinism.

And that was Engels, Marx's BFFE.

Magpie said...

Roy Bhaskar, Mr. Critical Realism in person, wrote the entry "Determinism", for the Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Tom Bottomore (ed.)!

He distinguishes three ways allegations of determinisn against Marx take:

In a Marxist context the debate about determinism has revolved around the questions of whether determinate or perhaps even dated future outcomes (conditions, states of affairs, events etc.) are
(a) inevitable,
(b) predictable and
(c) fated (in the sense of being bound to transpire whatever people do)


His conclusion? Go on, make a guess.

None of these allegations is justified.

The first one (a):

In any event, given the complexity and heterogeneity of the multiple causes of events within human history, Marxism is only most implausibly interpreted as a deterministic theory in sense (a).

The second one (b)

Turning to (b), it need only be noted here that - with the exception of one or two obviously rhetorical flourishes - all Marx's predictions are conditional, and subject to the operation of ceteris paribus clauses, so that he is not a historicist in Popper's sense (see HISTORICISM).

The third one (c)

On (c) it would seem clear that Marx is not a fatalist. For him what happens in the future will happen because or at least in virtue of, not despite, whatever men and women do; any other view would constitute a gross reification of the historical process and be contrary Marx's repeated assertions that it is 'men who make history'.

I rest my case.

Tom Hickey said...

Friedrich Engels to J. Bloch (from Königsberg), September 21, 1890:

If you read what I said closely that's what I said.

The relations of production and the material forces determine (inexorably) the limiting conditions that constrain social action (and freedom) in a society. However, what a society does within those limiting conditions results in different historical phenomena, different societies and different phases of society.

The foundational level of infrastructure (relations of production and material forces) is deterministic and the superstructure is a combination of deterministic (limiting conditions) and stochastic (social activity.)

Do your agree or disagree with the above sentence.

If you disagree, do you think

1. the relations of production and material forces are stochastic

2. the relations of production and material forces are a combination of deterministic and stochastic.

3. social activity is a combination of deterministic and stochastic.

4. social activity is non-deterministic and purely stochastic.

Please explain your reasoning.

Tom Hickey said...

Roy Bhaskar, Mr. Critical Realism in person, wrote the entry "Determinism", for the Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Tom Bottomore (ed.)!


As I have explained, the chose is deterministic and stochastic or both. They don't address this.

Magpie you are not addressing what I am saying but your idea of what "economic determinism>"

Apparently you have not been reading the running discussion in the comments on this blog over determined and stochastic that Matt has been a chief contributor to.

If some thing is deterministic, then some kind regularity can be established in terms of a law or equation. If not then the phenomena is stochastic and the subject of statistics.

Was Marx trying to find laws or equations, or was he doing statistics?

Tom Hickey said...

Either there is at least some determinism in the social sphere or human activity is stochastic. Different thinkers have taken different approaches to this.

My understanding is that Hegel saw some determinism in social sphere based on the operation of reason and logic.

Marx challenged this and held that the determinism is at the level of the material — relation of production and material forces determining limiting conditions (property, class, etc) within which social activity takes place in a historical period. This is dynamic and not static since social activity can influence the relations of production and material forces leading to transformation, e.g., succession of historical stages.

Max Weber disagrees with Marx, holding it is type of religion (cultural ideology) rather than relations of production and material forces that is foundationally determinative.

The neoclassical view is that natural laws regulate (determine) economic activity based on rational optimization that leads to general equilibrium in markets so that resource use is optimized and all get their due based on contribution.

The Keynesian view is that money is not neutral in a monetary production economy and therefore Say's law doesn’t hold and an economy has many potential equilibrium states rather than one optimal one that it tends to in the long run. The social system is stochastic since expectations affected by "animal spirits" (irrationality) are involved under conditions of uncertainty.

Tom Hickey said...

@ AXEC / E.K-H

Marx does have a theory of profit based on his labor theory of value.

Profit (owners' share) = surplus value captured from workers through ownership of the means of production instead of work. Owners of the means of production do not contribute to production but are rewarded with a share of production based only on ownership of property. The LTV is elaborated to show the mechanism.

The question isn't whether Marx had a theory of profit, but rather whether it is correct.

Those who have attacked Marx on this has done by attempting to show that Marx's labor theory of value is incorrect.

Tom Hickey said...

To put the discussion of determinism v stochastic into historical perspective.

The first stage of explanation was based on humans being influenced by the gods and the gods acted sort of like humans but being powerful were able to act on whim. So humans were subject to the whims of the gods. This implies that the foundation is stochastic, some regularity but largely unpredictable owing to the supervention of divine whim.

The second stage is the advent of explanation on the basis of reasoning from logic and evidence that emerged in the West in ancient Greece. Here the mythology is based on the gods and their whims, but philosophy is based on reason. IN the ancient Greek view, original chaos (randomness) is modified by reason (logos) to become an ordered whole (kosmos).

The third stage was the importation of the ancient Greek philosophical view into the ancient Hebrew theological view of a single diety in the Christian synthesis effected by the Church Fathers, notably Augustine. Plato's forms become the Divine ideas (reason) that is fundamentally determinative. Faith is meshed with reason. This would be elaborated by Doctor of the Church Thomas Aquinas, who synthesized Plato/Augustine with Aristotle.

The fourth stage as the beginning of the breakdown of Medieval thought at the time of the Renaissance, when Greek philosophy was re-introduced, science began to emerge, and the Protestant Reformation broke the monopoly of the institutional Church. A dichotomy emerged between faith and reason, exacerbated by the rising influence of science.

The fifth stage was the Age of Reason in which the Great Chain of Being was replaced by the scientific world view, resulting in the rise of secular humanism and scientific materialism. The structure that religion had imparted culturally began to be replaced by Modernism.

This created something of a crisis in Western thought as thinkers struggles to replace the cultural stability of the theological world view with the scientific world view. The solution was to adapt the Medieval notion of natural law to the the scientific not in of laws of nature. Natural law would provide the deterministic base for culture comparable to the laws of nature that science was discovering. Reason along would prevail without the need for faith.

This stage still prevails but it is transforming into Postmodernism. There is considerable dialectical conflict going on over this transformation at present.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey, Magpie

Between the early Marx and the late Marx lies Darwin. It is well-known that Darwinism changed the whole notion of natural law: “The concept of natural selection gave Darwin the greatest difficulty. True to the principles of mechanistic determinism, which like others of his generation he thought to be the essence of science, Darwin rejected Lamarck’s view .... Darwin’s persistence on this point produced finally not simply reinforcement of the mechanistic philosophy, but a fundamentally altered concept of order in nature.” (Bannister)

What is the VERY LAST word in the whole issue? “And in 1883, at Marx’s funeral, Engels said, ‘Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.’”#1

So, Marxianism is history and sociology and storytelling but neither economics nor science: “That is why Descartes said that history was not a science ― because there were no general laws which could be applied to history.” (Berlin)

Science looks for invariance and is therefore ahistorical.

Each falling apple is an unique historical event. There are arbitrary many causes for an apple to fall: a hailstorm, playing children, an exploding meteorite, material fatigue, an earthquake, and so on. That is so OBVIOUS that no physicist ever lost many words about the historicity of falling apples.

Accordingly, when the apple fell on Newton’s head he did NOT run to his neighbor in order to tell him the story but he wrote down the COMMON principle that underlies the motion of ALL falling bodies including the moon and the stars, i.e. the Law of Gravity. This law is ahistorical but can be used to explain (in conjunction with other factors) the history of the universe. This is how law and history consistently fit together.

Scientists are NOT AT ALL interested in predicting when the next apple will fall from the tree. Feynman: “The future is unpredictable”. What they indeed predict is position and velocity at any point in time once the apple has started to fall. The commonsenser’s view of reality is entirely DIFFERENT from the scientist’s view. The commonsenser’s view is practical, utilitarian, trivial, and false, the scientist’s view is abstract, general, and true.

Marx’s narrative is the old narrative about bad and good guys (capitalists, workers) and that the bad guys will eventually be punished and the good guys will be victorious. Everybody understands and likes this story but it is NOT science.

Economics is about how the market system works. Marx did not understand it, neither did Adam Smith.#2 There is not much use discussing at great length what Marx, Smith, Keynes, Walras, and other incompetent scientists really meant and thus to perpetuate the pluralism of false theories.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 ISR
http://isreview.org/issue/65/marx-and-engelsand-darwin

#2 See ‘The Profit Theory is False Since Adam Smith’
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2511741

Tom Hickey said...

@ AXEC / E.K-H

I am in general agreement with the above. Let me explain my view on Marx in this regard.

Karl Marx was a philosopher rather than a scientist in the contemporary sense, which was developed subsequently to Marx. It is therefore up to his followers to bring his work up to date in terms of the contemporary context. They are the ones that would have to be criticized on contemporary standards.

Marx was working in the tail end of a period in which philosophers were considered as being at the top level of the intelligentsia. Philosophers are "storytellers." The recognize the value of a good story and the impact it can have.

A famous example according to the narrative, on meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the popular anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war," Abraham Lincoln said, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war."

For Marx, the purpose of philosophy was to change the world, not to describe it (history geography, etc) or to explain it scientifically, although philosophy draws on all human knowledge and experience. Marx attempted to bring it all together in a new way that would inspire the social, political and economic transformation that he believed was imminent based on the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the failed revolutions of 1848. He had good reason to think that the time was nigh. He sought to provide inspiration and a rationale.

In Das Kapital, Marx sought to provide an analysis of the historical stage in which he was living, that is, capitalism, in order to facilitate the transition to the next stage, which he believed Europe was ripe for. He never expected his ideas to be transported to either Russia or China, neither of which had yet reached the capitalist stage. I expect that if Marx could be questioned about it today, he would attribute the failure of socialism in pre-capitalist societies to the fact that they were pre-capital and not late stage capitalist.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation

continuation

Marx is especially interested in the relations of production and the material forces. This quote from the Preface that I cited above sums up Marx's view on how he thought this happens.

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.


My impression is that he never reputed this but also it remained his "guiding principle," as he said himself called it in what precedes the above.

This is the theme of the story that Marx (and Engels) told. It underlies the call to action heralded in “The Communist Manifesto.” “Das Kapital” provides the rationale that explains worker expropriation and exploitation based on the labor theory of value and profit as the extraction of surplus value from workers as the real producers.

Critics hold that if the LTV fails, so does the whole enterprise. Even if that is true, and I don’t think it is, it does not imply that the rest of the narrative is useless and should just be relegated to the dustbin of history along with aether and phlogiston. Narratives have power and they do not need to be rigorously corrected to exert a powerful influence. And Marx did change the world, although in a manner he never dreamed of. That was left to Lenin and Mao, and Marx cannot be blamed for their use of his work.

jrbarch said...

“Reasoning doesn't go on to infinity. Where it stops is where people choose it stop and they disagree on this. That's the basis of philosophy”. [TomH]

Reasoning leads to a world view and after reading through, highlighting concepts held by each of the commenters above these world views partially emerge (including my own).

Particularly instructive (in parallel) is the current world view of science. AXEC – there is no law of gravity because scientists have no clue as to what gravity is and say so. They also have no clue as to what energy is. The whole material universe has blown up in their faces and all of the ‘laws of nature’ have been removed into an unknown realm of which they know little – speculation is rife. When all the mass in the universe is converted into energy there is a surplus of energy and no one understands its nature. Material effects are noticeable, but if one of those energy streams changes course, you could end up with your ears on your forehead.

So the question of whether this ‘surplus energy’ is stochastic or determined is unclear. It is not unclear to those who know how to go within and touch the Self.

For me, when it comes to a human being one thing is very clear: - we either act out of compassion, generosity and kindness – or we act selfishly; even socio/psycho-pathically at the extreme. We are 50% bad and 50% good and we choose. That is where our determination (free will) is exercised and where the rubber (world view) hits the road (world). Every human system and ideology are qualified by this. We are 60,000-120,000 years out of Africa and still do not understand what it means to be human.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey, Magpie

Let us sum up. The starting point was: “Economists need lose the term ‘law.’ There are no ‘laws of economics,’ or any other social science, that are comparable the laws of nature discovered in the natural science, owing to the differences in subject matter.” (Vernengo)

― There are NO historical laws that determine the development of society.

― Economics is NOT about society but about the economic system as a subsystem of society.

― There are systemic laws, e.g. the Profit Law.

― Matias Vernengo is utterly wrong about (i) the subject matter of economics, (ii) the concept of scientific law.

Neither Walrasians, nor Keynesians, nor Marxians, nor Austrians have any idea of the systemic laws because they wasted 200+ years with second-guessing human motives and behavior, which is a pursuit that can be left to psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, and other fake scientists.

Time to get all proto-scientific folks out of economics.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Bob said...

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke said...

Scientists are NOT AT ALL interested in predicting when the next apple will fall from the tree. Feynman: “The future is unpredictable”. What they indeed predict is position and velocity at any point in time once the apple has started to fall. The commonsenser’s view of reality is entirely DIFFERENT from the scientist’s view. The commonsenser’s view is practical, utilitarian, trivial, and false, the scientist’s view is abstract, general, and true.

Marx’s narrative is the old narrative about bad and good guys (capitalists, workers) and that the bad guys will eventually be punished and the good guys will be victorious. Everybody understands and likes this story but it is NOT science.


Precisely.
If only philosophers could be as concise.

Bob said...

jrbarch said...

Perhaps I am missing something but it all looks like a storm in a teacup to me (?).

They are debating the thoughts of someone who died. Minus the art of channeling, this will always be a drawn-out affair.

There is the skin of the earth and its resources (energy, air, water, earth) and human capability to produce and distribute in accordance with our evolving consciousness. I mean, it has been 60-120 millennia since we left Africa, and here we are in a pickle. Human consciousness may change so that today’s obsession with resources and produce may look like (in descending order) kids with toys, a dog with a bone, and finally a dung beetle hard at work. I.e.- our values change with an expansion of consciousness. No reason why nations and commerce may not one day fade into the mists of Time as spent forms.

What humans and dung beetles need to do to survive constitutes an "economy". If it didn't work, we'd all be dead. That doesn't imply that it couldn't be made to work more efficiently or effectively...

Looking around, the nub of the production distribution cycle seems to happen in accordance with how much kindness is in the human heart or how much it is absent. How civilised we are compared to the ‘law of the jungle’. The knife edge is selfless|selfish. Not really science?

The 'law of the jungle' can be viewed as a strategy. (Selfless/selfish)ness can be viewed as a means to an end, or an end in itself.

So the ‘Law’ at work is simply Love as opposed to the jungle. For me ‘Law’ is an expression of Being; a Rule is a discipline for access to Law; a Regulation a way to access discipline.

It's those 'laws' that are claimed to be 'natural' that are at issue. The assumption is that you can't modify them. Laws of Physics, Law of Supply and Demand, Law of the Jungle, Jim Crow Laws.

I suppose Love is about separating the wheat from the chaff.

Bob said...

jrbarch wrote...

Reasoning leads to a world view and after reading through, highlighting concepts held by each of the commenters above these world views partially emerge (including my own).

Which portion of your world view is necessary for your survival, and which is borne out of intellectual curiosity?

Tom Hickey said...

@AXEC / E.K-H

My view, which I have proposed here previously, is to divide economics in to theoretical economics as a brach of applied math, and political economy as a policy tool. The former would be about formal models and the latter narratives bolsters by studies of behavior.

Political economy would then resemble systems theory, sociology, anthropology, political science, and history instead of physics. The economists with physics-envy would, of course, choose the former.

Policy makers would be guided by the latter and could disregard the former for the most part.

Tom Hickey said...

To sum it up, let me expand a bit on what I view Marx as doing. This, of course, is just another view to add to the many, and it is not original with me.

Hegel begins with "Geist" as fundamental. Geist can be translated into both mind and spirit. "Geist" is an aspect of "Bewusstsein," which translates a consciousness or awareness. Hegel is writing in response to issues raised by Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft). The operative terms are mind-spirit, consciousness, and reason. This is consistent with the approach of previous modern philosophy, as well as Plato and Aristotle and the Scholastic philosophy based on them.

Hegel went further and asserted that "logic" is the a priori (non-empirical) articulation of das Begriff which can translated as either "concept" or "idea."

Marx countered that this was the wrong place to start. With the rise of science, matter began to be recognized as the basic "stuff" of the universe, experience of which is reality for humans. So Marx was saying in effect that it was time to abandon the old metaphysics and replace it with the scientific world view base on scientific materialism (vs metaphysics) and secular humanism (vs theology). Hegel was attempting a theological metaphysics based on reason. Marx condemned that a abstract and useless.

Marx set about "standing Hegel on his head."

It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.


Marx is doing two important things here. First,

he is rejecting the past of Western thought based on the mental as fundamental. Marx was not alone in this. This was one of the key issues of the 19th c., as the period when science was becoming the predominant world view.

Secondly, Marx rejected the view of liberalism that posits the individual as primary, which leads to methodological individualism. Marx viewed that as not consistent with history.

The world is material, and human individuals live socially.

This is Marx's basic framework.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation
Within this framework, it is obvious that human are big animals and do what animals do, that is, survive and reproduce,

The basic necessity then is subsistence, chiefly energy obtained from food.

The relations of production are simple in their fundamentals: Humans cooperate socially for their survival but they also compete for scarce resources, just like other social animals, as well as for dominance

Therefore the stages of human development can be categorized based on how humans cooperate to survive, as well how competition operates in particular circumstances in terms of productive capacity, which Marx called material forces of production, e.g., technology.

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production (Produktions- verhältnisse) appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production (materiellen Produktivkräfte). The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.


Humans are distinguished from other social animals in their use of language and tools (technology). Tools (technology) furnish the material forces of production along with labor (work) as the application of “brains and brawn.”

The relations of production are conditioned by the material forces of production, that is, tool use and work. Work is a social activity for humans in their quest for survival, and tools and their use are also developed socially.

Marx identified several stages of this in history. He takes an anthropological approach.

The first was the communal stage of hunting and gathering when humans cooperated socially in the work and there were no property relations to speak of other than for personal use, and no production of commodities for exchange. Production of commodities is the basis of economics, so there was not “economy” in the first stage.

What was produced was consumed communally and there was essentially no saving other than of tools and primitive shelters that nomads could transport.

So far so good. Primitive by our standards, but everyone was as free as other animals in nature.

The complicating issues arise with the discovery of agriculture when humans find that grains can be cultivated and stored for future use (real saving). Then a class structure emerges in which the ruling class exploits the workers, who become slaves whose “wages” are simply subsistence and enough to reproduce and provide another generation of workers. This is the slave stage.

The ruling class controls the means of production and there are inter-group (war) and intra-group conflicts (competition) over dominance among rulers. The ruling class is free of work and slaves do all the work and have no freedom. They must do this to eat since if they don’t work they will be killed or tortured until they comply. Simple, but ugly.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continued

The next stage is the feudal stage when the slave stage collapses and a stage emerges that build on it since history is path dependent.

The chief mode of production is still agriculture. Control of land is based on title, usually granted by the monarch to feudal lords, who comprise the aristocracy.

Slaves are replaced by serfs and tenant farmers who subset on their working the land and pay rent in the form of a share of the produce to the land lord, who does not work but takes a share by virtue of being the land lord. The land lord in feudal time was permitted to have his own gallows and was the judge and jury. Enough said.

With the transformation of feudalism into capitalism, industry began to replace agriculture as the chief means of production and workers of the land were moved into factories. Workers no longer produced their own subsistence directly but were depending on a money wage in a monetary production economy.

No wage, no eat. Workers become “wage slaves.” Those that own the means of production receive a money reward for which they contributed no work. This money reward entitles them to a share of real goods produced by buying them in markets, even though they did not contribute to production.

From this short summary it is easy to see that in the slave, feudal and capitalist stages a few are free of work while the rest to the work and support those who extract a share without working to produce it. This is free riding based on control of the means of production.

In a capitalist society control of the means of production is effected through a legal system rather than directly by threat of force as previously in the slave and feudal stages. But the threat of force is behind the “force of law.” Capitalism exerts as much constraint on workers as previous systems in that they have to accept the ground rules and comply with them, or either starve or else be subject to punishment (vagrancy, debtors prison) or social exclusion (homelessness).

It is then possible to understand Marx’s notion of economic determinism under historical materialism that results from the physical (material) need to subsist based on the social relations operative at the time.

It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines (bestimmt) their consciousness.

Marx regarded this as BS and he tried to show workers how it was BS in order to wake them up and get them over Stockholm syndrome where they were complicit in creating their own condition owing to ignorance based on ruling class propaganda, which Marx called “false consciousness.” Slaves were conscious of their slavery. Workers are under the illusion that they are getting their just deserts when they are being exploited by a system in which the institutions are designed to favor capital accumulation rather than fair distribution of the surplus over bare subsistence.

The corpus of Marx’s work link this “guiding principle” (Leitfaden means “guide”) to the Communist Manifesto. The social, political and economic analysis provides the rationale and also constitutes the wake-up call to workers, explaining worker expropriation and exploitation through extraction of surplus value.

Marx’s work is most narrative but he was aware of the need to argue the economic aspect of it rigorously, which he sought to do in Das Kapital.

end

Tom Hickey said...

One more thing on economic determinism.

Neoliberalism, based on neoclassical economics, is a socio-economic political theory that asserts that society is optimal under a market system because efficiency results in optimal use of real resources base on preferences. Everyone gets what they want and deserve. This is the market state.

The market state is base on the assumption that there are natural laws of economics that function like the laws of nature discovered by the natural sciences.

Just as the laws of physics determine outcomes in nature base on the law of least action, so too the natural laws of economics determine economic outcome with greatest efficiency.

It is impossible to improve on nature, so the welfare state is a deviation from natural law that well produce unintended consequence that will prevent optimization and will disrupt general equilibrium.

That's the current narrative.

Marx and Keynes argued that was BS, as have other less notables.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey

There is political and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The goal of political economics is to successfully push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics the scientific standards of material and formal consistency are observed.

A closer look at the history of economic thought shows that theoretical economics had been hijacked from the very beginning by the agenda pushers of political economics. Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Marx, Keynes, Hayek, Friedman, Krugman, Lucas and almost everybody in-between falls into the category of political economist.

Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years. The four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent and all got the pivotal economic concept profit wrong.

An economists who does not understand profit, i.e. the pivotal concept of his subject matter, is a scientific laughing stock. This holds for Walras, Keynes, Marx, Hayek who failed as scientists but were accredited as useful idiots in the political Circus Maximus.

Because economists lack the true theory their economic policy guidance has NO sound scientific foundation since Adam Smith/Karl Marx. Both, the defense and the critique of the market economy lacks valid proof and therefore cannot be taken seriously. It’s merely confused political blather.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Tom Hickey said...

@ AXEC / E.K-H

Right. That is how political economy works.

The different side have different policy objectives base interest and ideology that supports those interests.

Narrative are propounded to support and advance those interests.

One of the tools is to dress a rationale up as "scientific."
If evidence is not available it is manufactured and evidence submitted by the opposition is denied and discredited. Bring in fake news as needed. That's standard operating procedure.

How could it be otherwise when economists argue based on the side they are on.

That is not likely to change anytime soon.

jrbarch said...

My view is summarised as:

All of the early philosophers, Marx, up to and including today’s thinkers, had only their minds to work with. Therefore they theorised and philosophised about everything they saw around them. The limiting condition was mind. They tried to explain what they saw, and work out an Ideal using the mind. That was the tool they used and their experience. Some tried to elevate mind far above its capability.

There was one among them, Socrates, who said something very different: - ‘Know thy self’. He didn’t say that to drive people crazy. Hopefully, he said that out of his own experience and generosity: - it was his practical advice.

This little statement ‘Know thy self’ actually encapsulates something quite universal.

Unpacked, it means that if you want to know the truth about anything: - your existence, Life, politics, the economy, your wife, atoms and the ants at your feet – you need to know the self. Raj vidya - rather a mind-blowing statement. Huge! The little I know of the philosophers Tom references, they are not on record of expressing any appreciation or gratitude that always arises from knowledge of the self (e.g. read Kabir or Tom’s teacher Meher). They might have intellectualised about a Divine but they did not know the Divine. There is a difference between writing a treatise on how to ride a bike and knowing how to ride a bike – no treatise is necessary. Now the above statement is either true or not true.

In my experience it is true although I understand it is not the experience of the philosophers etc. Life in this sense, is very very simple and a human being is a part of that simplicity. Mind, not knowing the self, takes all sorts of attitudes and approaches to ‘Know thy self’ – some of them highly intellectually convoluted. Turn on the light and all of that fades away. It is a living knowledge, and for that you need a living phsyician.

The tool for self-knowledge is the human heart, because it is the heart that leads one inside to the Self. Mind is just a witness. Mind is a tool the Self uses to express its experience. The Self is the Intelligence – not the mind. Mind is an unlit lamp, churning over and over on its own, speculating about what is in the darkened room. The Self has its own ‘science’ of the material universe and human psychology. I see no real conflict with physics, especially in the direction physics is heading; just inclusion.

Kindness is an energy that proceeds from the Self. The world is simply a reflection of both its presence and its absence. There is night and there is day. There is some light percolating into the room, but very little: - just enough warmth in the world to give people hope. There are lamps, being lit.

All of your philosophies and systems, societies are cut, and fall either side of the sharpest knife edge of kindness. We are human beings, a part of the universal energy that created us. We may not know it, but our existence is simply an approach path to the Divine. It is the heart that leads you there – not the mind. Mind will forerver wander and roam, without self-knowledge.

Bob said...

The human heart circulates blood through the body. Its function doesn't include reasoning or introspection. Those activities are functions of the brain.

In your view, Mind = reasoning and Heart = introspection. The brains of several species on this planet are capable of doing both.

Magpie said...

@Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Okay, I'll bite. For over 200 years all economists, with no exception, have been wrong. All of them. After all those years, it took nature to produce you for us to see the light. Plausible.

That's the pudding. Well, I'm willing to buy.

Like the old saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Wow me.

You cannot predict the future, I gather. Fine. What can you actually do to show you really know what you are talking about? In practical, everyday terms, what's your theory good for?

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

jrbarch said...

"In your view, Mind = reasoning and Heart = introspection".

Not my view.


Just watched John Pilger's Coming War on China.

He's a really good story teller and out of his factual story leaps human truth. Compare that to POTUS & Co.

Magpie you know you will just get another serving of the same dish. My point is mind has been serving up the same dish for millennia. Same old human greed, revenge etc. People think that technology, education, has changed all of that? Not the view from my window.

Tom Hickey said...



In just about every spiritual tradition I have investigated, and this is my specialty, a distinction is draw between knowledge of the mind and knowledge of heart.

Knowledge of the mind is based on sense experience, reflection on it, and reasoning from it.

Knowledge of the heart is quintessentiallly love but includes all non-rational knowing such as intuition.

The material aspect of existence is known through mind. The spiritual aspect of existence is known through the heart.

At higher levels of knowledge these converge because existence is one.

According to the Scholastics, "Being is one, true, good, and beautiful," and is experienceable as such to the degree that the eye of the heart is opened.

Spirituality is about opening the eye of the heart.

Here "heart" does not mean the physical organ in the chest, but the faculty of knowing associated with it.

Bob said...

Not my view

It is the view you have conveyed, through the thousands of words that you have typed.

Here "heart" does not mean the physical organ in the chest, but the faculty of knowing associated with it.

I would assume so... the vernacular usage of those terms are not meant to be taken literally. Another example is 'consciousness', used as a stand-in for self-awareness. In medicine, when someone 'lacks consciousness' they are unconscious, catatonic or in a coma.

Is it your view that 'lesser' animals have neither a mind or a heart?

Bob said...

Magpie said...

You cannot predict the future, I gather. Fine. What can you actually do to show you really know what you are talking about? In practical, everyday terms, what's your theory good for?

Speak now or forever hold your peace.


If I may,
Egmont Kakarot-Handtke said in another thread...
https://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.ca/2017/04/noah-smith-why-101-model-doesnt-work.html

Tom Hickey said...

Is it your view that 'lesser' animals have neither a mind or a heart?

Unless one experiences something, it is a matter of assumption or belief. However, there are sound arguments from authority if the authority is in a position to know. Most of human knowledge is based on authority, since it is too vast for individuals to explore themselves. In economic terms the transaction cost is too great, as well as the inefficiency.

So we have to arrive at standards for evaluating authority. I have been doing his in the field of spirituality, where most of the knowledge, according to the testimony of the mystics is non-ordinary and is only available in non-ordinary modes of awareness. Psychologists and cognitive scientists are now investigating such phenomena scientifically.

My conclusion is that such authority is based on mystics's actual experience and the sages have set forth the path to gaining such experience. I have undertaken this study not only intellectually but also experientially, with positive results. This is what jrbarch is talking about too.

The fundamental experience is that existence is one. The fundamental experience is undifferentiated. This is called "the unmanifest." Various levels of differentiated experience manifest from this fundamental level. There are basically three types of manifest experience — gross, subtle and causal. Ordinary experience is limited to the gross, that is, the physical.

The process of development is from evolution to the human form and involution in the human form to realization of complete knowledge. In pre-human forms, the capability to experience the whole begin to develop and this development is complete in the first human from that an individual takes. However, the latent impressions acquired in the process of development obscure the potential that has been developed and need to be removed. This is a gradual development that leads through the inner planes, which are characterized by non-ordinary states of experience/knowledge.

Meher Baba sets this forth from the level of the fundamental experience and its manifestation in contemporary English in God Speaks. He illustrates it with the terminology of Advaita Vedanta and Wujuddiya Sufism. Comparable terminology exists in Buddhism, Kabbalah and Taoism.

So to answer the question, "Is it your view that 'lesser' animals have neither a mind or a heart?," I will cite the authority of the sages, which I take to be correct.

In the view of the sages, mind is developing in the pre-human forms but the heart as the capacity for spiritual experience does not develop until the human form is reached. The development of the heart in human beings is not actually an addition but rather a subtraction of the accumulated dross over the course of the developmental process. It is a cleansing process.

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.” ― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Bob said...

Excerpted...

The fundamental experience is that existence is one. The fundamental experience is undifferentiated. This is called "the unmanifest." Various levels of differentiated experience manifest from this fundamental level. There are basically three types of manifest experience — gross, subtle and causal. Ordinary experience is limited to the gross, that is, the physical.

Knowledge of the mind is based on sense experience, reflection on it, and reasoning from it.

Knowledge of the heart is quintessentiallly love but includes all non-rational knowing such as intuition.

In the view of the sages, mind is developing in the pre-human forms but the heart as the capacity for spiritual experience does not develop until the human form is reached. The development of the heart in human beings is not actually an addition but rather a subtraction of the accumulated dross over the course of the developmental process. It is a cleansing process.


I'm skeptical that animals whose brains are structurally similar to ours would not experience love, or the non-rational means of 'knowing'. They certainly experience maternal/paternal love. Are dolphins burdened with ideology and other forms of dross unique to humans? Maybe they have an advantage.

Is love and kindness part of our gross experience?
Is it also a part of the subtle and causal?
What about hate and cruelty - of which levels of experience are they a part?

The process of development is from evolution to the human form and involution in the human form to realization of complete knowledge.

Have the sages described the realization of complete knowledge?
Does it evoke an emotional response?
Is it remarkable?

Bob said...

The fundamental experience is that existence is one. The fundamental experience is undifferentiated. This is called "the unmanifest."

"I am because you are."

I believe I would find that to be a pleasant experience.

Tom Hickey said...

I would like to tie the above comments on Marx together in terms of what I understand to be the thrust of his work — human freedom.

Marx eschewed the free-will vs. determinism debate as abstract. He approached freedom and determinism differently. There is also a "contradiction" between freedom and determinism in Marx however. His work is about showing this apparent contradiction is a paradox (of liberalism) that is resolvable.

Marx was a 19th c. liberal. He realized that liberalism as individual freedom is socially determined, humans being social animals (Aristotle zoon politikon). So individual freedom is necessarily social and political. As a material being with material needs, it is also economic in the sense that production is required for consumption. Production involves work.

But humans are determined economically because we are material beings with material needs (subsistence at minimum), and as social animal we meet these needs socially. This involves socially necessary labor (work). There is no way out of this determination since humans are material beings and will always need to subsist materially.

While humans are determined (socially conditioned) in having to meet material needs, there are different ways that this has manifested historically in successive stages in which one stage develops from the transformation of the previous stage. This is entails path dependence in which the succeeding stage is influenced by the previous stage.

The greatest transformation was from the initial communal stage of hunting-gathering to the slave stage of agriculture. There was social and political freedom in the initial stage and work was shared and the rule of from each according to ability and to each according to need as the basis of social activity in communal life. But with the advent of agriculture and a surplus of food that was storable, class structure emerged that resulted in asymmetry in power and distribution of the surplus. The slave stage was succeeded by the feudal stage, in which class structure was maintained along with asymmetries of power and distribution, although slaves became serfs and tenant farmers. This stage transformed into capitalism with a ruling class and asymmetries of power and distribution with serfs and tenant farmers being industrial workers dependent on a wage.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation

In the second, third and fourth stages, the majority of humankind were conditioned by relations of production and material forces independent of their will, hence unfree.

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production.

In stages 2 through 4, the ruling classes were able to extract rent, that is, to gain a share of output of production without working. Those providing the work and producing the output were not free in that their material condition required them to do so to live and the conditions were imposed by those that controlled the means of production but did not work. Marx viewed this as different from of slavery in the sense that workers were not being paid for all they contributed, a (large) share of the contribution being expropriated without work by those in control. Under capitalism as economic liberalism, bourgeois liberalism prevails and only the bourgeoisie (ownership class) is free, while the workers (proletariat) is unfree.

Marx speculated that the fifth stage would be a stage in which all would be free, as humans were relatively in the communal initial stages, when the commons was restored, reversing expropriation, and workers would be in full control. Of course, human can never escape their materiality and will always be materially conditioned. But as a species they can set the conditions and make everyone as free as possible with the limitations of material conditioning. Economic determinism will still exist but universal freedom within the bounds of materiality can exist along with it, rising above the paradox.

Then humanity would come into its own as a species Rather than capitalism being "the end of history," history would really begin for the species after having been interrupted since the communal stage.

Magpie said...

Bob said...

If I may,
Egmont Kakarot-Handtke said in another thread...
https://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.ca/2017/04/noah-smith-why-101-model-doesnt-work.html


Sorry, Bob, you may not. You aren't the salesman.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke is the one peddling his theory, he is the one I'll go to if I'm not happy with my purchase, as it were.

And I won't go over a number of replies to finally find what is it I'm buying.

Tom Hickey said...

I'm skeptical that animals whose brains are structurally similar to ours would not experience love, or the non-rational means of 'knowing'. They certainly experience maternal/paternal love. Are dolphins burdened with ideology and other forms of dross unique to humans? Maybe they have an advantage.

Important point. The sages distinguish between lust, affection, etc. and genuine love. Animals and humans share the former but love requires the full development of consciousness that is gained in the first human form, which provides the potential for spiritual experience. All humans are capable of love, but most confuse lust and affection, etc. for genuine love.

Is love and kindness part of our gross experience?

Can be.

Is it also a part of the subtle and causal?

The ability to experience is amplified as one "climbs the rungs of the ladder of ascent."

What about hate and cruelty - of which levels of experience are they a part?

All experience of the manifest is in terms of opposites, hence differentiation. The unmanifest is undifferentiated. Advaita means "nondual."

Have the sages described the realization of complete knowledge?

It cannot be captured in word but only pointed to. The attributes are said to be absolute knowledge, power and bliss, and omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence.

Does it evoke an emotional response?

Not in ordinary terms of emotional. It is transcendental.

Is it remarkable?

Reportedly the most remarkable. Not being realized, I can only say from experience that the first time one experiences even a whiff of transcendental bliss, one realizes that this what one was looking for in everything one sought previously and which none of it was able to give.

There are two aspect of transcendental bliss. It can be elucidated on the analogy of the ocean and waves. When the ocean doesn't stir, there is peace. When the ocean stirs, it rises in waves. Transcendental bliss is like that. Some confuse the waves with bliss, but that is only an aspect of it.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Tom Hickey

I said: “Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years. … This holds for Walras, Keynes, Marx, Hayek who failed as scientists but were accredited as useful idiots in the political Circus Maximus.”

You said: “Right. That is how political economy works.”

The crucial point is that this is NOT how SCIENCE works. Yet, since Adam Smith AND Karl Marx economists claim to do science. Marx condemned political economics in no uncertain terms as vulgar economy: “Vulgar economy really does nothing else but to interpret, in doctrinaire fashion, the ideas of persons entrapped in capitalist conditions of production and performing the function of agents in such production, to systematize and to defend these ideas. … So long as the ordinary brain accepts these conceptions, vulgar economy is satisfied. But all science would be superfluous, if the appearance, the form, and the nature of things were wholly identical.” And “The real science of modern economy does not begin, until theoretical analysis passes from the process of circulation to the process of production.”* This is the essence of Marx’s approach.

So we have first to distinguish between theoretical economics (= science) and political economics (= agenda pushing) and then to check whether a theory satisfies the well-defined criteria of science.

Marx committed himself to science: “I welcome every opinion based on scientific criticism.” This means he accepted the scientific criteria of material and formal consistency as ultimate arbiter.

Because Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism is PROVABLE false these failed approaches have to be thrown out of science and their adherents, too. Let’s face the facts, that includes you.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

* Capital, Vol. III, A Critique of Political Economy
http://www.econlib.org/cgi-bin/searchbooks.pl?searchtype=BookSearchPara&id=mrxCpC&query=science

Magpie said...

@Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

You wanted people to pay attention to you. Well, I'm paying attention. And I'm still awaiting.

I understand your theory is not meant to be predictive. What's it meant to do? I suppose one can somehow compare it with reality, to validate your theoretical findings. Which reminds me, what are they? I mean, your findings?

Well, how did the validation go? What are your accomplishments?

Don't be shy. It's not bragging if you are teaching us. Isn't it understandable if your public is eager to learn from you?

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Bob, Magpie

You said: “You cannot predict the future, I gather. Fine. What can you actually do to show you really know what you are talking about? In practical, everyday terms, what’s your theory good for? Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

For details about the difference between the ordinary and the scientific sense of prediction see ‘Science does NOT predict the future’.#1

So what is the true theory good for? “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum)

False theory leads to false policy guidance. Scientifically incompetent economists bear the intellectual responsibility for the social devastation of mass unemployment#2 and the extremely biased distribution.#3

Incompetent scientists are a menace to their fellow citizens. Napoleon recognized this long ago: “Late in life, moreover, he claimed that he had always believed that if an empire were made of granite the ideas of economists, if listened to, would suffice to reduce it to dust.” (Viner)

If you do not want to be reduced to dust, endorse the true theory.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 See here http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2016/08/science-does-not-predict-future.html and the label Prediction

#2 See ‘Mass unemployment: The joint failure of orthodox and heterodox economics’
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2017/01/mass-unemployment-joint-failure-of.html

#3 See ‘Austerity and the idiocy of political economists’
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2017/03/austerity-and-idiocy-of-political.html

Magpie said...

@Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

If you do not want to be reduced to dust, endorse the true theory.

I am! I am willing to endorse the true theory!

I just want an small sample of the revelation, of the your true teachings.

And I want it now. Here, for all of us to see. Immediately.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Magpie

You said: “I just want an small sample of the revelation, of the your true teachings. And I want it now. Here, for all of us to see. Immediately.”

You are suffering from grave misunderstandings. As the great philosopher Peirce once remarked on a similar occasion: “My book will have no instruction to impart to anybody. Like a mathematical treatise, it will suggest certain ideas and certain reasons for holding them true; but then, if you accept them, it must be because you like my reasons, and the responsibility lies with you. Man is essentially a social animal: but to be social is one thing, to be gregarious is another: I decline to serve as bellwether. My book is meant for people who want to find out; and people who want philosophy ladled out to them can go elsewhere. There are philosophical soup shops at every corner, thank God!”

In one word: Skiddoo!

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

jrbarch said...

"It is the view you have conveyed, through the thousands of words that you have typed".

Please Bob, may I be able to have an opinion of what my view is?

"heart" = Being, the Self, a spark leapt from the flame of the Universal Self; aspects Intelligence, Will, Love - perhaps there are more will emerge over universal Time ...

... as in "Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome, one, day".

I think you are right; thousands of written words go nowhere ....

jrbarch said...

"heart" = you

Bob said...

All experience of the manifest is in terms of opposites, hence differentiation. The unmanifest is undifferentiated. Advaita means "nondual."

Love and hate may be opposites, can be differentiated between, can be experienced in pure form (nondual), or in degrees (dual). Is that what you mean?

Love and hate blended into one, in balance, undifferentiated, would seem to lead to indifference?

It cannot be captured in word but only pointed to. The attributes are said to be absolute knowledge, power and bliss, and omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence.

With the exception of omnipresence, these attributes seem egocentric.
With omnipresence, is there a sense of connectedness, a reverence for all life?

Reportedly the most remarkable. Not being realized, I can only say from experience that the first time one experiences even a whiff of transcendental bliss, one realizes that this what one was looking for in everything one sought previously and which none of it was able to give.

Before this realization, what was it you were seeking?
The seeking or longing for something is said to be a common human trait.

There are two aspect of transcendental bliss. It can be elucidated on the analogy of the ocean and waves. When the ocean doesn't stir, there is peace. When the ocean stirs, it rises in waves. Transcendental bliss is like that. Some confuse the waves with bliss, but that is only an aspect of it.

The calm and the storm and everything in between?

Bob said...

Please Bob, may I be able to have an opinion of what my view is?

You may be able to perform delicate surgery with an axe, but I doubt it.

"heart" = Being, the Self, a spark leapt from the flame of the Universal Self; aspects Intelligence, Will, Love - perhaps there are more will emerge over universal Time ...

... as in "Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome, one, day".

I think you are right; thousands of written words go nowhere ....

"heart" = you


One's identity. One's sense of self-awareness, of being an individual. Me, myself and I.

I am because you are. Is that a part of "heart"?

Bob said...

Magpie said...
Sorry, Bob, you may not. You aren't the salesman.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke is the one peddling his theory, he is the one I'll go to if I'm not happy with my purchase, as it were.

And I won't go over a number of replies to finally find what is it I'm buying.


I excerpted and bolded the part that can be chewed upon. I reproduce it here... discuss it, if you will, here or there...

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke said...

Item (i) and (ii) cover Keynes’s familiar arguments about aggregate demand. The factor cost ratio rhoF as defined in (iii) embodies the price mechanism. The fact of the matter is that overall employment INCREASES if the AVERAGE wage rate W INCREASES relative to average price P and productivity R. This is the OPPOSITE of what standard economics teaches: “We economists have all learned, and many of us teach, that the remedy for excess supply in any market is a reduction in price.” (Tobin)

https://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.ca/2017/04/noah-smith-why-101-model-doesnt-work.html

Tom Hickey said...

T: All experience of the manifest is in terms of opposites, hence differentiation. The unmanifest is undifferentiated. Advaita means "nondual."

B: Love and hate may be opposites, can be differentiated between, can be experienced in pure form (nondual), or in degrees (dual). Is that what you mean?

Love and hate blended into one, in balance, undifferentiated, would seem to lead to indifference?


In the undifferentiated unmanifest state of consciousness there is "nothing" in the sense of no-thing. Think of being fully aware in deep sleep. No limited individual self, no world, no time, no space. Impossible to convey in words, but it is a possible experience.

Tom Hickey said...

T: It cannot be captured in word but only pointed to. The attributes are said to be absolute knowledge, power and bliss, and omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence.

B: With the exception of omnipresence, these attributes seem egocentric.
With omnipresence, is there a sense of connectedness, a reverence for all life?


The limited ego is transcended. There is no separation between subject and object.

Tom Hickey said...

T: Reportedly the most remarkable. Not being realized, I can only say from experience that the first time one experiences even a whiff of transcendental bliss, one realizes that this what one was looking for in everything one sought previously and which none of it was able to give.

B: Before this realization, what was it you were seeking?
The seeking or longing for something is said to be a common human trait.


As I said, I am not realized in the sense of being aware of being the totality of unmanifest and manifest in the nondual state. I have only had a few whiffs that give me some feedback on what the sages have said about their experience of the path and their realization of totality. But over time, those levels of experience/knowledge begin to stabilize and become the new reality.

What was I seeking for? Humans want more and more happiness and more and more satisfaction, and less and less unhappiness and less and less dissatisfaction. It's a natural urge. What human really desire is abiding fulfillment rather than temporary satisfaction. The sages report that this is possible.

When one is exposed to the sages testimony, one wonders whether what they say about abiding happiness and the peace that the world cannot give is possible for oneself. When one becomes convinced enough that it is worth a go to find out, then one seeks out means.

Jesus reputedly said, "“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."(Mt 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10). Bayazid Bistami said, "The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it."
(James Fadiman and Robert Frager, eds., Essential Sufism, Castle Books, 1998, p. 37.

I undertook the quests and happened along a path that I could never have foreseen. That took some courage to pursue at times and weighing of opportunity cost. I can report back that it is a worthwhile adventure to stick out. But everyone is already on that path that is unique to them whether or not they realize it yet. Once one realizes this, it becomes conscious and intentional.

Everyone has to make their own way in their own way, and everyone's path is unique to them. And there is help along the way from unexpected directions. It's not necessary to reinvent the wheel.

Tom Hickey said...

T: There are two aspect of transcendental bliss. It can be elucidated on the analogy of the ocean and waves. When the ocean doesn't stir, there is peace. When the ocean stirs, it rises in waves. Transcendental bliss is like that. Some confuse the waves with bliss, but that is only an aspect of it.

B: The calm and the storm and everything in between?


The ocean can be completely silent and peaceful; it can undulate; it can rise in small waves, or it can rise in great waves. I had never thought of great waves of bliss as a "storm of bliss," (chuckle) but I guess you could call it that.

Magpie said...

@Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

You are like the exhibitionist opening his coat before little girls until one of them insist on actually having a look at what's inside.

It turns out, there was little to worry. :-)

Magpie said...

@Bob

Excerpt and bold this: :-

Bob said...

In the undifferentiated unmanifest state of consciousness there is "nothing" in the sense of no-thing. Think of being fully aware in deep sleep. No limited individual self, no world, no time, no space. Impossible to convey in words, but it is a possible experience.

I've had dreams like this. In deep sleep I'm barely aware of anything.

What was I seeking for? Humans want more and more happiness and more and more satisfaction, and less and less unhappiness and less and less dissatisfaction. It's a natural urge. What human really desire is abiding fulfillment rather than temporary satisfaction. The sages report that this is possible.

I sought solitude and found it. It was a short journey, nothing elusive about it. Perhaps I want less from life than most people do.

Bob said...

I undertook the quests and happened along a path that I could never have foreseen.

Perhaps it was necessary that it be unforeseen.

Bob said...

Magpie said...

-:

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Summing up

Keynesianism has been scientifically dead in the cradle 80+ years ago but Matias Vernengo has not realized it until this day.

Marxianism has been scientifically dead in the cradle 200+ years ago but Tom Hickey/Magpie/Bob have not realized it until this day.

There are indeed laws in economics as I stated in my initial post, first and foremost ‘The Law of Economists’ Increasing Stupidity’. This law holds also for Walrasians and Austrians and this explains why economics is a failed science.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke