KZ: The main reason Sapiens invented agriculture, government, and economics about 7-10 thousand years-ago was to provide security to otherwise comfortable Sapiens foragers. Most of what enters the thinking of economists, including Greenspan was therefore invented to protect and defend humans from precisely the types of “risks” Greenspan claims are not a proper use of resources. Including famines, plagues, homelessness, threating everyday conditions. In the stream of human collective life such occurrences are rare. But rare is not a fixed cultural invention. Famines may happen only once in a lifetime, while threatening weather events may occur several times per decade. Plagues may occur only once per century, but changes in demographics may occur as frequently as every decade. As Sapiens societies grew in complexity, so did the number and severity of risks for those societies. Today no society can prosper or even survive for long without electricity. Loss of electricity through weather, equipment breakdown, or sabotage is intolerable. Society guards against such losses in many ways. For example, stand-by generation plants are constructed that may only operate 10-12 days per year. Similarly, plagues are much less tolerated today than at prior points in Sapiens history. Which leads to the construction of specialized laboratories, creation of stockpiles of vaccines, regular monitoring and testing protocols, and training of thousands of doctors. Modern economics and economists be damned. They have perverted each of the inventions Sapiens intended to keep their species safe and secure. They have turned them all into statistical equations and betting stops on a roulette wheel. Into investment “opportunities” for smart and uncaring business persons. Bad species survival strategy.
Me: Quite. And that is precisely why we need a paradigm change which will bring good, rational and ethical order to a system of dominatingly smothered financial chaos.
KZ: Craig, but what are the origins of any rationality and ethics? The community. The community might be only a family, but the goal is to construct as large communities as possible; eventually a world-wide community. The community is a history of interactions, of accommodations, and mutual understandings and duties. Communities are constructed over time in an identifiable location or locations. Members of the community share a common history and identity, from which each member develops individuation. Communities solve problems first because it’s necessary for the communities’ survival and second because it’s tradition to do so. This view is “conservative” in the long historical sense of conservative. It creates both stability and creative individualism that only exists within the community. This view is also consistent with Sapiens evolution.
Me: Ken, the origins of rationality and ethics is awareness…of one’s own awareness itself. If one has a firm reality on their own conscious existence then they must come to the conclusion of the reality….that everyone else is a consciously sensitive individual as well.
As I’ve said here before I don’t necessarily dispute the validity of sociological, anthropological, political or the input of any other body of knowledge, in fact I affirm them, it’s just that the topic is economics and in my mind the current and new monetary and economic paradigms. Deciphering the new one and getting it implemented will by definition be a dramatically beneficial event and realization for the individual, every economic agent and the system itself which is a community of entities, and integrating the best aspects of personal character and intellect while deleting/letting go of any non-survival traits is the real “job” of every individual, and makes the individual him/herself a community as well.
KZ: Craig, one cannot reflect on one’s self until one is a self. And that only happens in communities. Defining selfhood is one of the basic struggles, reenacted repeatedly through the history of human communities. You’re correct that each person is a community. Anthropologists call all communities actor-networks. Which includes each of us. And communities are how Sapiens evolution occurs. Via multi-level group selection. Sometimes the movies and many capitalists (quoting Herbert Spencer) focus on selection of the fitness individual, this does not fit with the evidence about Sapiens evolution. Sapiens survive or perish through groups, not individual members of groups. There is nothing special about economic actions. They are created the same as other actions and can be studied just as any other aspect of the social world. Before there were specialized sciences there was only moral and natural philosophy. Economics falls into moral philosophy, along with law, war, crime, politics, etc. Economists are not special.
Me: So we’re in agreement that integrative thinking and integrative agreement between groups of individuals is the path of greater wisdom and survivability for humans.
KZ: Craig, no, that’s not it. In the words of Bruno Latour, “The world is not a solid continent of facts sprinkled by a few lakes of uncertainties, but a vast ocean of uncertainties speckled by a few islands of calibrated and stabilized forms.” Nothing permanently defeats these uncertainties. Evolution and cultural adaptation provide groups of Sapiens the opportunities to survive. Wisdom (whatever you take that to be) may be or may not be part of the mix. In any event, it’s defined after evolution, by the results of evolution. Not prior to evolution.
Me: Who said wisdom was prior to evolution? The world’s major wisdom traditions, if understood properly, that is as the purest, highest and most evolved form of human psychology/conscious insight as opposed to a latching onto their various dogmas which are merely guide posts, but not the experience of consciousness itself,…….came about as the result of humans evolving self awareness.
I don’t get your disagreement with what I am saying here. Wisdom is an integration of psychology and sociology….and many more disciplines. It’s a superior and more inclusive mental discipline than science alone which is a rational yet fragmenting mental process and unfortunately has taken a trend toward the very religious orthodoxy it reacted against 500 years ago. That’s all I’m saying, and of course that we should apply the insights about the temporal universe that can be gleaned from such a study of Wisdom…and apply those insights to economics.
KZ: Craig, we believe Sapiens brain structure and chemistry have not changed in about 70,000 years. Those changes about 70,000 years ago are the factors that favored Sapiens over other human species in terms of survival. Often described with the words intelligence, thought, or wisdom, I prefer another word to describe these changes, imagination. Imagination allowed Sapiens to create not only agriculture, government, money, etc. but also consciousness, personality, and a variety of forms of knowledge (e.g., religion, science, perception) and hierarchical arrangements for the life of Sapiens (e.g., animal life, cosmology, deities). Wisdom’s in there with all the others. Its story is important, but no more important than the others. Which of these cultural inventions has the greatest benefit for Sapiens in terms of survival is a pragmatic question. It’s answerable only in its effects. In the words of Charles Sander Peirce, “Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object.” This is how Sapiens knows and use wisdom.
Me: Yeah, we do disagree. Consciousness/self awareness is more basic than any separate -ology. Every body of knowledge is a perfectly valid study, but merely a derivative (including the phenomenon of mind as in abstraction) of the fact that we as homo sapiens sapiens are potentially capable of being more self aware than any other species on the planet. Consciousness is essence, wisdom is as much of the integration of mind as one is currently capable of understanding AND the essence of self awareness/consciousness itself. It’s the ultimate integration of the two and yet the key to experiencing self awareness is emptying one’s mind OF abstraction. It’s the meaning behind the verse, ““Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
KZ: Craig, humans have no essence. This is the “uniqueness” of humans. Humans create the soul, consciousness, technology, science, etc. from the performances arising out of interactions with humans and nonhumans. Humans are made by themselves and the world. If this is what you mean by self-aware, then yes humans are self-aware. Evolution seems to indicate that humans did not originate as self-aware, however. But rather developed self-awareness via their history of interactions. I see no evidence of a spiritual factor in any of this. Except, of course the spirits humans create. Human communities are the setting for all of this. Here’s where all the work is done.
Me: Yes, that’s the orthodox scientistic and sociologically fragmented viewpoint. The fully integrated natural and truly scientific look at it is that the thrust toward consciousness is an integral part of the cosmos itself.
KZ: Craig, if we follow the universe, as best we’re able, I believe Fritjof Capra captures the path to insight. “Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate matter, nature does not show us any isolated “building blocks,” but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitutes the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object’s interaction with the observer.” Humans are, of course entangled in the universe, as is the universe in humans. Of course, humans ponder these entanglements. We call this pondering science. Others call it religion. Still others philosophy. So long as we never expect certainty in any of these, we are following the universe. Many humans do seek and hold on to what they claim is certain, in science, religion, and philosophy. In so doing, humans betray any access to insight. It’s difficult sometimes for humans to accept uncertainty. It’s a lesson each human needs to continue to learn.
Me: All things are in process. I couldn’t have said it better. There is one proviso however, and that is has one had the fully conscious experience of the present moment, the present moment, the present moment…… or do they only “know” this as a data point or as a belief in religious….or scientific dogma? Every one of the world’s major wisdom traditions tells us that, the vast majority of us either haven’t had such an experience or do not know how to fit it into their normal walking around state of consciousness and so either invalidate it or latch onto the dogmas within which they were brought up…and so lose the experience itself.
So how is this relevant to economics? Such an experience is regularly referred to as being in a state of grace or “the flow state” which of course is conceptually reflected in the goals of classical economics’ for balance, equilibrium and flow for the economy. And when you do a definitional/philosophical exegesis of the word grace among its many, many other aspects, most of which are also directly relevant to economic theory….you find grace as in the gift, i.e. monetary gifting. Then if you know the signatures of all paradigm changes you realize that conceptual opposition to the current paradigm is one of them, and so the current paradigm of Debt/BURDEN Only is conceptually opposed by the new paradigm of monetary FREE gifting.
Perception of a new paradigm is a new conscious and enlightening experience. It’s the “ah ha” or “oh yeah, why didn’t I see that before especially because I’ve been looking at it for 30 years and didn’t see the connection?” kind of experience.
KZ: Craig, you make the error I just described. You search for certainty. Consciousness is one of the many ways of life humans invent via interactions. Just one among many. It is no more certain or imposing than any of the others. Sorry, no “a ha’s.” Just, “might be,” “maybe.”
Me: So there is no such thing as knowing-ness (not to be confused with self knowledge as in identity), or levels thereof?
And it appears you’ve found certainty yourself. Now all you have to do is mentally balance the opposites of certainty and uncertainty in an integrative and dynamic fashion…and you’ll have the natural experience of the flow state of grace.
KZ: Craig, one of the performances that arise from interaction is explaining or giving meaning to the interactions. Often spoken of as knowledge or knowing. Humans make it up as they go, holding onto what seems useful. Knowledge is conditional on its demonstrated usefulness. Which people must continually reassess.
I’ll not oppose any efforts on your part to achieve this result. I prefer not to undertake the effort, however.
Me: Do yourself a favor and keep your mind open to the idea that modern scientific orthodoxy does not have it “all together” so far as awareness of being aware is concerned. I appreciate the back and forth with an obviously erudite individual.