Thursday, May 16, 2013

474: The Art Not to Be an Egoist 39

What is wrong with our social system? How could a financial crisis occur in such a magnitude, where nobody really saw it coming?

The system has become so complicated that every economist, risk manager, lawyer, banker only can see what is happening nearby. 

Nobody sees the whole picture and just assumes that what the man above him does, is ok, who assumes the same of the man above him and so on.

It is a general feature of our economic system. Thousands of people work in it to keep the train running. 

But they can't see further than their own train carriage and the ones before and behind them. But who decides on the direction of the  train?

This is a question you almost never hear in the debates. The answer you get is stereotype but empty: economic growth and employment.

We are so used to the concept of economic growth that we almost automatically assume that good economy is when it just goes on like that. Good economy = growth.

The odd thing here is that great thinkers on economics have given quite a different answer. Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, David Ricardo and John Maynard Keynes for instance.

They all said in their own way that the direction of the economy should be right. And WHAT is right here? There they agreed: the right direction is the same direction ethics points in.

Economy is in fact the realisation of a moral principle with practical and financial means. In other words, its goal is to create the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.

What makes us happy is to live a good and rewarding life together with our fellowmen. This means that behind every economic theory is a philosophy of life, a view of life, a social ideal.

Economics isn't an unbiassed theory, not the mathematics of money, labor and resources. It is not a science like physics is, tho some love to make you believe it is an exact science.

A good life is a mixture of material and immaterial well-being. Material prosperity is not an end in itself, necessary yes, but not a sufficient condition for our well-being.

So much for the theory. Philosophers, however, are nowadays replaced by economists, lobbyists, spin doctors and consultants. Their theme isn't the future, but chances on the market, chances of power and career.

They just want to keep the system going as it is. Yet deciding on the direction of our society and economy was around 1800 still part of a moral debate.

But since economics has obtained the status of an independent science and can impress the spectators with impressive mathematical formulas, it developed its own "morals".

It has given the answer to the question what needs in society should be dealt with first and which later and the primary need has become : consumption, for consumption implies growth.

For every need we have there is a product, which you can buy. We can buy joy and pleasure, things that make us feel to  be different and standing out. We can buy security and insurances.

Every commercial tells us the same story. This is the product you always have been looking for!

The more we "materialize" our life, the better our life will be, some assume.

That new computer with it awesome graphic power, lots of memory and dual core super fast processor will give you finally what you always have longed for in SL, they whisper in our ear.

-to be continued

Main Resources:
Richard David Precht, Die Kunst kein Egoist zu sein (2012)
The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: -to be continued. thank you ^_^
[13:23] Lizzy Pleides: thank you Herman
[13:24] herman Bergson: the floor is yours :-))
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: indeed thats how it works, making us buy more and more and more even we really don't need it but just because its the latest model
[13:24] herman Bergson: indeed Bejiita....
[13:24] .: Beertje :.: they create a need..and we believe it
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: even if we already have good working stuff already
[13:24] herman Bergson: and the peculiar thing is...
[13:24] .: Beertje :.: like a galaxy 4? Bejiita?
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: hehe well im happy with mine for now
[13:25] herman Bergson: we never needs iPhones etc...but now we have them we cant live without them anymore
[13:25] Goblin Crosby: oh i have one of those lol
[13:25] herman Bergson: You are not the only one Goblin :-))
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: however got an ssd for my laptop but that was needed, together with linux the machine is now 10 times faster then when it was new and loaded with really slow hard drive and crap vista
[13:25] herman Bergson: But don't you need the latest model?
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: but i still use same computer i didn't buy a new one, just replaced the drive and os
[13:26] Goblin Crosby: Well this is actually my first cellphone so after years of watching everyone else i went out and got this one
[13:27] Goblin Crosby: It wasn't a need i'm sure
[13:27] herman Bergson: I got the old Nokia of my wife....and never use it ^_^
[13:27] Goblin Crosby: but it does make life easier
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Goblin...easier....but does it make your life happier too?
[13:27] .: Beertje :.: i never bought a cellphone..I still have an old free one
[13:27] .: Beertje :.: it still does what it has to do...:)
[13:28] herman Bergson: The point today is that our economy is based on consumption....
[13:28] Lizzy Pleides: I always asked myself why in commercials it is allowed to lie, they promise us a wonderful life with their products and in fact it is not true
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: the good thing with the one i have is i can have my work and similar in it , so i don't need all these papers everywhere
[13:28] Goblin Crosby: oh actually a bit more frustrating if i sit down and think about it and now i'm in a contract and stuck paying this ob seen monthly bill
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: very convenient
[13:28] herman Bergson: Not on a reasonable distribution of resources and services in this world
[13:29] herman Bergson: Exactly Goblin...
[13:29] .: Beertje :.: they always lie Lizzy..they make always things better..were the old things nog good enough anymore?
[13:29] herman Bergson: We think that all these new gadgets contribute to our freedom and possibilities....
[13:29] Goblin Crosby: they make you think u need it then once u get it they use a contract to hold over our head so in a way they use fear to keep u coming back
[13:29] herman Bergson: but do they really?
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: i want my stuff to last as long as possible at least
[13:30] herman Bergson: I'll elaborate on these issues in the next lecture...
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: to be somewhat future safe
[13:30] Goblin Crosby: Well i have good credit and if i don't hold true to the contract it could hurt my credit so the fear of a lower credit score
[13:30] .: Beertje :.: how long is that Bejiita?
[13:31] .: Beertje :.: tomorrow?
[13:31] .: Beertje :.: our monitors are made for 3 years..then they will collaps
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: for ex my computer and tv here is same as when i moved in here about 6 years ago, just a bit better graphic card and bigger drive but otherwise the same
[13:31] .: Beertje :.: why?
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: also the tv, sure there is smart tvs and so but this i have works yet
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: so i don't really need tv get a new i feel
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: and this computer perform so good
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: no need replacing it
[13:32] herman Bergson: Seems you are inmune to commercials Bejiita :-))
[13:32] .: Beertje :.: but it's not only computers and stuff like's everything
[13:32] herman Bergson: oh yes...
[13:33] herman Bergson: your shampoo.....30% better now....
[13:33] herman Bergson: or your car....
[13:33] .: Beertje :.: they want us to buy and buy and buy..even if we don't need it
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: well if i don't have a particular thing for a task ill get it , for ex my galaxy s3 cause a computer in my pocket is convenient but this is so good i don't need to get all new models after it
[13:33] herman Bergson: that is the system Beertje.....
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: as long this one can perform what i want
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: we have thousands of promotional impulses every day, you can't be inmune
[13:34] .: Beertje :.: I often ask I need this...and if I doubt..I don't buy
[13:34] herman Bergson: And the most scary thing is....
[13:35] herman Bergson: the bankers continue their trade as if nothing has happened
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: the best is to go in town when the stores are closed beertje
[13:35] .: Beertje :.: lol Lizzy
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:35] herman Bergson: smart strategy Lizzy
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: Throws an S4 at Beertje
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: and a SSD drive
[13:36] Goblin Crosby: but along with them making us think we need it because its better a part of our brain wants social acceptance so we buy in hopes to be accepted by our peers in some ways
[13:36] .: Beertje :.: throws it back...I don't need it Bejiita
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ritght thing´king
[13:36] herman Bergson: exactly Goblin....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: thinking
[13:36] Bejiita Imako:
[13:36] herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll deal with that....
[13:36] herman Bergson: the magic word is STATUS
[13:37] Goblin Crosby: peer pressure is a huge driving force in a material economy and Facebook has become the standard example of that
[13:37] .: Beertje :.: ah..Status....I'm allergic to that
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: its good these devices and similar exist but we dont need new ones all time
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: if we already have good working ones
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes latest stuff = status
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: thats also a thing
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: also a problem
[13:38] herman Bergson: Bejiita...they'll tell you that they aren't good enough anymore
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: aaa
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: like the iPhone hype
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: when new model comes out there is a mob at the stores
[13:39] Goblin Crosby: you cant like anything on Facebook or the net without the adds of what u liked popping up on every site u go to minutes later
[13:39] herman Bergson: yes and the fact that people might laugh at you when you tell that you still have no flat screen TV with interactivity and internet :-)
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: i have a samsung 32 inch flat screen but its still working and i cant run sl on a smart tv i still need my computer for that
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: rareley watch tv
[13:40] herman Bergson: That is a hell indeed observe how you are tracked and watched
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: uses it mostly for this games and movies
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: watched hockey VM now
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: sweden won agains denmark 4 2
[13:40] Bejiita Imako:
[13:40] herman Bergson:  ♪ ♪   APPLAUSE    ♪ ♪ 
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: the fun thing was we played like crap first 2 episodes and then crushed them in the last one
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: unexpected
[13:41] herman Bergson smiles
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:41] Goblin Crosby: U would think in a society of such material speeding prices would decrease but its not the case in a solid economy things should in common since practice become more affordable
[13:41] .: Beertje :.: congrats Bejiita:)
[13:42] Bejiita Imako:
[13:42] Lizzy Pleides: shopping induces the release of happiness hormones, so its not only what the sellers tell us
[13:42] Goblin Crosby: yes instant gratification
[13:42] herman Bergson: indeed Lizzy.....the buying is the rewarding thing....the possession of the product isn't
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hmm yes read about that
[13:43] herman Bergson: after a few weeks the new dress is just another dress
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: but i mostly get that feeling when i see all working afterward for ex when i saw how well my laptop worked after i put that ssd in THEN came the real feeling
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: YES
[13:44] .: Beertje :.: but in my shop you can buy a LOT of dresses that will always be new:)
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: when i see that all payed off in the end
[13:44] herman Bergson: good ad, Beertje :-)
[13:44] Goblin Crosby: My mother is always borrowing money from friends and family a couple weeks back when she was shopping i asked her do you get high when you shop and she said yes
[13:44] Goblin Crosby: to her its a drug
[13:45] herman Bergson: Oh yes it really can be.....
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: aaaa ok
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: hmm indeed
[13:45] herman Bergson: it is in our brain.....
[13:45] herman Bergson: dopamine...
[13:45] herman Bergson: the reward hormon :-)
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: aha
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: there are even brain scientists involves in making commercials
[13:46] herman Bergson: doesn't surprise me Lizzy....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Like we now have also behavioral economics
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: indeed i'm not surprised if they went that far
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: to make us continue our mass hysteria consumption
[13:47] .: Beertje :.: shops are decorated by those brain scientist...they know exactly what you will buy
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:47] Goblin Crosby: Walmart hires specialist like that to arrange there stores
[13:47] herman Bergson: put test persons in an MRI scanner and show them pictures....
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: the thing is we need to see behind the commercials
[13:47] herman Bergson: of products or interiors..
[13:47] Lizzy Pleides: they know exactly how to approach special customers, like children, woman, older people
[13:48] Goblin Crosby: nods
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: that the real message is not that we need it but that they just want our money in many cases and we really don't need that stuff
[13:48] .: Beertje :.: and men Lizzy:)
[13:48] Lizzy Pleides: of course Beertje :-)
[13:48] .: Beertje :.: gear and stuff...
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: some stuff is good but mush is just snake oil
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: and we don't need ALL new models coming out
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well...I notice that you are well prepared in ideas for my next lecture :-))
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:49] herman Bergson: So thank you all again for your participation...
[13:50] herman Bergson: Next lecture will be this Thursday same time same place
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: cu soon then
[13:50] Bejiita Imako:
[13:50] .: Beertje :.: thank you Herman
[13:50] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you
[13:50] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:50] Goblin Crosby: Thank you this was good i will be back for sure
[13:51] Goblin Crosby: it was nice meeting all of you
[13:51] herman Bergson: ok Goblin....thank you :-)
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: most of the time it's even better Goblin:)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:51] Bejiita Imako:
[13:51] Goblin Crosby: :)
[13:51] herman Bergson: Beertje :-)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:51] Lizzy Pleides: yes please come regularly Goblin
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: always interesting
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: have a goodnight all:)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: cu al
[13:51] Bejiita Imako:
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: truste
[13:51] Lizzy Pleides: Night Bertje, Night all
[13:51] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje :-)
[13:53] herman Bergson: Hi Rodney....
[13:53] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman

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