Tuesday, February 23, 2021

904: Before there was the Homo Economicus......

 We are trying to describe a realistic world in which there is little room for the homo economicus.

There are two things to tell about this individual. In the first place is he a recent invention and second, he is the child of capitalist theory.


The term "economic man" was used for the first time in the late nineteenth century by critics of John Stuart Mill's (1806 - 1873) work on political economy.


To quote Stuart Mill: "[Political economy] does not treat the whole of man’s nature as modified by the social state, nor of the whole conduct of man in society. 


It is concerned with him solely as a being who desires to possess wealth, and who is capable of judging the comparative efficacy of means for obtaining that end."  - end quote -


This homo economicus view narrows man as a member of a society down to self-interest and consumerism. It hasn't been always like that.


The earliest forms of European activity were more about cooperation and collectivity.


According to some historians, the first forms of economic thought arose in monastic life around 600. 


Ancient thinkers, like the Greeks, had never considered work an element of the good life. A free man was mainly concerned with politics and not with work. 


You had slaves, farmers and wage laborers for that. In that respect, a completely different vision develops with monastic life. 


Although the well-known rule "Ora et labora" (Pray and Work) formulated by Benedict of Nursia (516) was aimed at individual salvation, it also formed the basis of a new work ethic.


Manual labor also became a moral matter and its value far exceeded the pragmatic. 


In addition, the monasteries developed a more rational organization of their activities and the management of their goods. 


The associated values, skills and ideas proved their significance when an urban economy developed in the twelfth century and a new order of coexistence was sought all over Europe. 


It was the Franciscans in particular who thought fundamentally about the specific nature of market dynamics. 


They formulated three principles that play a role in every Free market. The first principle is division of labor, that is to say, 


such an organization of production as to achieve higher productivity through specialization.


Division of labor means that barter is no longer a marginal phenomenon. It will play a central role in economic life. 


The second principle was accumulation or development. The accumulation of wealth is seen as a good thing, not only to combat uncertainties but also to fulfill one's responsibility for future generations. 


A third principle is free enterprise. People want to be able to develop initiatives themselves without first having to ask permission from authorities. 


As a result, mutual competition does indeed increase, although it takes place within the rules of the game that the merchants themselves enforce in the first instance. 


Thus, with the economic boom in the Middle Ages, we see not only a new reality emerging, but also a new way of thinking in which people fully accept the functioning of markets. 


An important point, however, is that it is a "people's market", which is dominated by a common interest, the bonum commune, and reciprocity.


It is not without reason that Bernardino of Siena in 1138 remarked the following: "When the merchant uses his wealth for the common good, his activity is not only legitimate but even a virtue." 


As yet there was no conflict between a good Christian and a good merchant or a good craftsman 


These elements could easily be united in the Middle Ages as long as the interests of the community as a whole were taken into account in the pursuit of individual interests.


What this historical information tells us, is, that our current emphasis on economy, economic growth and consumerism, is not based on a law of nature.


When the interests of the communities become the leading principle, as it has been in the Middle Ages, the world might change for the good.


Thank you for your attention again....


MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Gabriel van den Brink:"Ruw Ontwaken uit een Neoliberale Droom",, 2020


The Discussion

[13:19] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥

[13:19] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): good background of how it all began

[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaaaa

[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed

[13:20] herman Bergson: It is amazing to learn what role the common interest played in the Middle Ages

[13:20] herman Bergson: Hi Rainey :-)

[13:20] RaineyDais: hi, i'm sorry i'm late

[13:20] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): where was slavery at this time tho

[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hi Rainy

[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): all over the world

[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa

[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): mostly military?

[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): middle ages i imagine mostly as a dark time

[13:21] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma

[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah ok

[13:21] herman Bergson: And it would even get worse in the 16th century

[13:22] herman Bergson: Which also relates to a change in economic thinking.....and becomes a prelude of real capitalism

[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!

[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...

[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): I forgotten more than I ever knew of the middle ages

[13:23] herman Bergson: It is some time ago indeed Gemma :-))

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): most middle age related stuff i get from computer games like Baldurs Gate and Assasins Creed

[13:23] herman Bergson: We'd better leave that out of the discussion Bejiita :-)))

[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not exactly history

[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well i ONLY have nice times with those but i would probably NOT want to live in middle ages

[13:24] herman Bergson: What is more important is to see that economic activity does not have to be based on the rules we accept today

[13:24] Laila Schuman: Most of my slant on the middle ages and Renaissance is based on what happened in Art History

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes the art bit is nice

[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): altho fiefdom was a form of slavery too

[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): what is fiefdom Gemma?

[13:26] herman Bergson: I am sure it wasn't paradise....

[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): freedom?

[13:26] herman Bergson: but the value of the community predominated

[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): wher the king owned the lands and made the peasants work it

[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): gettin some  food out of it

[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): but not pay

[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and could evict them anytime

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm

[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): common in many countries

[13:27] Dien (djdien.bailey) is offline.

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes

[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): those peasants were not free at all

[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nope

[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right

[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is what i meant

[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): a form of slavery

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its slavery 100%

[13:27] herman Bergson: They were not free but it wasn't wise either to terrorize them as a ruler

[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): true

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess not

[13:28] herman Bergson: They assured your existence

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): all was fine as long they cooperated and did their duties

[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): aren't we al a slave of the system, even now?

[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): thinks so in a way

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm maybe 

[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): unless one lives off the grid

[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but at least im happy and have all i need

[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but yes

[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): good bej

[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we all are in a system sort of

[13:29] herman Bergson: The happy slave :-)

[13:29] Laila Schuman: I mentioned before..... Report from Iron Mountain

[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!

[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...

[13:29] RaineyDais: perhaps a comparison between conditions pre-soviet "revolution" and post is in order?

[13:30] herman Bergson: In what sense Rainey?

[13:30] RaineyDais: wasn't it a form of fiefdom?

[13:30] RaineyDais: and post, more like slavery?

[13:30] herman Bergson: I don't know the meaning of the word fiefdom

[13:31] RaineyDais: lord and peasants

[13:31] RaineyDais: land owner, and workers

[13:31] herman Bergson: I wonder if that was slavery.....

[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): An example of a fief is a legal practice the Middle Ages where society was built on relationships and classes. An example of a fief is a piece of land that is entrusted to someone for their use and the use of their heirs. An estate held of a superior on condition of military service.

[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): fiefdom = leengoed

[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah good beertje

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa ok, never heard that word, thought it was a missspelling first

[13:32] herman Bergson: it may have been a community....the landlord took care of the protection of the peasants and the peasants took care of the food for the landlord to put it simple

[13:32] RaineyDais: yes

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i would call it feudalism

[13:32] RaineyDais: ah

[13:32] herman Bergson: They needed each other

[13:32] RaineyDais: yes

[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): same

[13:34] herman Bergson: So the main drive was not for individual enrichment, but creating acceptable living conditions for the community then

[13:34] Wisdomseeker (lissena) is online.

[13:34] RaineyDais: on a whole you mean?

[13:34] herman Bergson: yes

[13:34] herman Bergson: As a landlord it doesn't make much sense to starve your farmers

[13:34] RaineyDais: no

[13:35] RaineyDais: tell that to the state after the revolution

[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats true

[13:35] RaineyDais: the revolution that was supposed to be for the benefit of the common "man"

[13:35] herman Bergson: the 16th century brought serious changes....we'll get to that

[13:35] RaineyDais: k, sorry if i derailed this

[13:36] herman Bergson: What I try to depict is the road to capitalism that history took.....

[13:36] herman Bergson: It wasn't like that allthe time...so we can change back to alternative economic systems

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the revolution brought us that?

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well it was around that time it all began

[13:37] herman Bergson: which revolution do you refer to Rainey...we had afew

[13:37] RaineyDais: the russian revolution

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and then cane the steam engine and industrial revolution rolling on mass production for wealth to the factory bosses

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and this prevails today

[13:37] RaineyDais: i bring it up because it seems to me there is a call for socialism these days

[13:37] herman Bergson: That way way beyonfd the Medieval Mindset

[13:37] RaineyDais: ah.. sorry

[13:38] herman Bergson: To get there we first need the full development of capitalism :-)

[13:38] RaineyDais: k

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:38] herman Bergson: We'll get there in the next lecture ^_^

[13:38] RaineyDais: yay!

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): love history

[13:39] herman Bergson: The main point here is the balance between personal interests and the interests of the community

[13:40] herman Bergson: In the Middle Ages they seem to have beemn in balance

[13:41] herman Bergson: and this balance moved more and more towards the prevailing of the idividual interests...

[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:41] herman Bergson: which is the situation of today

[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): esp in US

[13:41] herman Bergson: AN example....

[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but its all around

[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): even here

[13:42] herman Bergson: We have a cerfew (is that the right term) here in the Netherlands....

[13:42] herman Bergson: stay at home after 21:00h....

[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes it the term

[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaaa

[13:42] herman Bergson: A group named VirusMadness has sued the government for it and won!

[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmmmm ok

[13:43] herman Bergson: So the curfew is illegal at the moment....but they are al busy with law making atm...

[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): we are doing well in Connecticut

[13:43] herman Bergson: But the motivation of this group.....

[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): the positives are dropping

[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): is that corona is BS and they want to party as usual?

[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): they think

[13:44] herman Bergson: They say....we are NOT interested in the public health.....we want to defend the freedom of the INDIVIDUAL and this cerfew is an illegal restriction of this freedom

[13:45] Laz Dresler is offline.

[13:45] herman Bergson: Here you see the primacy of the individual

[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sigh

[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): even if they spread the visus so 1000s more die

[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ?

[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes they want the freedom to do that

[13:46] herman Bergson: and not a single consideration regarding the public health or the community

[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (shakes head)

[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): many here too

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i can see we are all very tired of this , so is me but

[13:47] CB Axel: They're free to go ahead and get sick and die. Too bad they'll kill others, too.

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): this is an extreme situation

[13:47] herman Bergson: That is the problem CB...

[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): the head of Virusmadness is a dance teacher...

[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok

[13:48] herman Bergson: No idea what that could mean Beertje, but you're right :-))

[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well i still hang around with my dance buddies at sundays and this keeps me going

[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but im not locked in yet

[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it means that he is not a doctor, or virologist

[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but indeed i feel i need their energy to keep me going

[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): once a week

[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): masked?

[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes indeed.....he is a specialist in knowledge concerning individual freedom

[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm dance teacher have no real expertise in virology either

[13:49] herman Bergson: I guess

[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): dance = freedom so

[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but

[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thaty dont help combat the virus spreading

[13:50] herman Bergson: Well...let's continue our short trip into history on our way to capitalism next Tuesday

[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): nice

[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaaa

[13:51] herman Bergson: Unless you still have that burning question..........

[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): now lets take a short trip to the

[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): pupp

[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): table

[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!

[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...

[13:51] herman Bergson: Class dismissed......

[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥

[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now

[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman

[13:51] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[13:51] RaineyDais: thank you!!!

[13:51] CB Axel: Thank you, class.

[13:51] herman Bergson: We can't hold Bejiita anymore....

[13:51] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Thank you Herman and class!

[13:51] CB Axel: See you next week. :)

[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye CB

[13:52] bergfrau Apfelbaum: yay see you next week:-)

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