Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Homo Economicus, perspectivism, and Blake


 I have two theses about modernity and economics. Here they are. The first is that there is a multiplicity of matrixes of exchange even within modernity – and that the seeming hegemony of the money matrix, to the extent that it even defines the economic as opposed to the non-economic, is a phenomena that has certainly penetrated other matrixes – such as the complex gift and barter relationships of family, friendship and alliance – without fundamentally ‘commoditizing’ them. In one sense, my whole thesis is that there is a dialectic structure that governs the degree to which the hegemony of money, as reflected in the character of homo economicus, can actually dispense with other matrixes, since its survival is threatened by its monopoly of all spaces of exchange. 
The other thesis is that rationality, as the economists define it, is linked to a realism that denies perspectives as anything other than representatives of ‘parts of reality’. Myself, I am a perspectivist of the ‘hard; variety – that is, I see no reason to put up with the idea that the parts of reality make up one reality. Reality, here, becomes a substitute for the God’s eye perspective – that point at which we can see the whole universe. Perspectivism denies that perspective can be constructed. It does not deny, it should be said, that certain processes might be shared among perspectives – say, a process for correlating statement and fact. Or even a process for ordering preferences. It simply denies that this formal characteristic has any substance. In other words, rationality within a perspective refers to the norms of the perspective, not to processes that transcend perspectives. Hard perspectivism contends that there is information in a given perspective – something that can be defined by simple axioms – that does not exist in other perspectives. In the clash of perspectives – which is the dynamic by which perspectives are made – this information can be completely lost – the way a passenger pigeon saw an oak tree no longer exists, for instance. I would not go so far as to say that 


different matrixes of exchange form completely different perspectives, but something similar might well hold – that is, that there is information in a barter exchange that can’t be transformed or translated into the money exchange. Etc. 


In other words, I want to build a theory about economics based on this phrase of Blake’s:
How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?

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