archive: the need for non-mathematical economics as the bottom line
July 18th, 2017 •
The previous post has a passage I meant to discuss:
Therefore, the understanding of history begins from how production is carried out by the mass of people, not the doings of kings, queens and generals.
This was the essence of Marx’s “materialism” developed in opposition to the dominant “idealist” view. Idealism, the philosophical view that ideas are the main driving force in history, is the standpoint of ruling classes and their associated intellectuals.
I think a basic fallacy lurks in this perspective. Why is this ‘materialist’ view superior to the ‘idealist’ view? To say the ruling classes are all idealists, while the proletariat is or should be ‘materialist’ is nonsense, and a disservice to the proletariat. If anything, the material obsessions of the ruling classes are what have caused the whole problem.
Marx lived in a brief interval of a rapidly moving philosophic scene that suddenly froze in the Age of Positivism, and the coming of scientism, and Marx’s thinking reflects this transition, complete with its vestigial Hegelian dialectics.
To force anti-idealism on the proletariat is one of the muddles of that period, and could simply be shelved. Who cares at this point? To say that idealism is the idea that ideas drive history is so fallacious on many points as to be entirely confusing. Economic contexts (I won’t say material forces) and combinations of ideas both cause historical change. And idealism is a constant of human life, as is materialism. And Kantian idealism is one of the greatest phases of human achievement, and quite
different from Hegel’s brand. An endless debate between the two, idealism and materialism, is a waste of time. But a history of the age of Kant onward will put these issues in context, and hopefully the flatfooted outcome of the positivist age will cease to be the reigning dogma. Somehow the idea that the proletariat shouldn’t or doesn’t have ideas is insulting. The whole false dichotomy is a millstone around the necks of marxists.
Another issue is that of mathematical economics, which came up yesterday. Marxists are relatively free of these confusions, but tend to suffer from the comparative mystique of bourgeois economics. And marginalism, based on ‘cute’ calculus methods applied to economics, swept the field, with a false rigor.
I am exploring this issue again, after a lapse, viz. books such as: How Economics Became a Mathematical
I once embarked on marginalist economics math as a study, but lost interest, one reason being the fraudulence of the subject, as pointed out many times by many critics. Is it really all a fraud? Perhaps not, for the future. But the subject of mathematical economics, with important exceptions has encased the whole subject in a mystification of false expertise: It echoes the glories of Newtonian dynamics, and statics, but the comparisons fail. But a mirage of mathematics can stun amateurs in their tracks, and is a first-class way to impose control on the unsuspecting.
I realized in early study that economics is not physics and cannot be resolved with the mathematical methods used in physics. There is a famous book on this by Mirowski. The use of differential equations is one thing as a research exploration, but as set of ideas understood by ‘experts’ who routinely confuse
the issues with claims of scientific rigor here is fraudulent, or confused, and is routinely causing bad policy.
It is not knownothingism to suggest the whole field of mathematical economics be sidelined so that practical intuitions about economies can take their place, and no doubt promptly get their ass kicked. But the theorists have done no better.
The reason is not too hard to understand: the whole field, unlike the simpler physics, is wildly non- linear, and never leads to any kind of clarity. You enter this jungle and never get further than a half mile. People of high intelligence enter the field and outsmart themselves with fallacious reasoning.
We should be wary here: learning the hard way is inevitable. But in the nonce, non-mathematical intuitions must reign. And considerations of human values. I think that all science is hard at the beginning, and this situation is typical of that: we should applaud explorers, and yet not be so ‘snowed’ by the BS routine dressed in math that has gained a predominant place. And the climax of this controlled madness is the now notorious neo-classical equilibrium theory which is, let’s say, a fraud in the place of vaunted science. It is the ruling paradigm, and it is bullshit.
The solution is for a reasoned, non-mathematical intuition about real activities, in real time, and decisions, experimental perhaps (like Popper’s injunctions for applied action in place of theory), by people with practical talents, and probably not the wizard level of IQ that has tempted ‘smart’ people to
enter the quagmire of a non-linear labyrinth where theory is still a long way off, and the nostrums have finally sunk whole economies at a single stroke.
There are exceptions to this, and I think empirical models, often cyclical, of economic systems (which
look like mathematical economics as theory, but aren’t) are far more valuable, and enforce the discipline of being wary of false predictive methods made mathematical. Many will protest this, but all in all the mathematical treatment of economies is not the bottom line. Most of the basics of economic activity is non-theoretical in any case. There is no true reason why the questions of economies should have been surrendered to mathematical sophistry. Very smart people are smart enough to apply mathematics to the simple cases of physics. But the same is not true of economics.
archive: the question of religion, atheism, and Feuerbach July 17th, 2017 • http://darwiniana.com/?s=munzerian+xtianity
Christianity is entering the phase of a plane crash, with Islam in the queue and Buddhism not far behind.
The secular era is inexorable but it is not as such anti-religion so much as inducing Reformations. But I
think Christianity is starting to disintegrate. At the same time Christians are not required by some
‘secular’ dogma to abandon religion or Christianity. Let me suggest an exit vehicle for a religion with
some remarkable properties and legacies often unappreciated by secular humanists:
atheism is a dialectical issue. The question of ‘god’ is metaphysical and has no resolution. Faith, or atheism, are equally flawed. Agnosticism has its own problems but is the only tenet left for most. The dialectic can lead to three phases of doubt, reconsideration and agnostic neutrality. No secular dogma can enforce a solution to this dialectic. Using Darwinism to enforce atheism is a ridiculous fiasco.
It does not follow that we can accept traditional god legacies: pop theism which replaced the IHVH (unspoken name of god) very anciently and turned monotheism into a form of idolatry. Here the Feuerbachian ‘atheist’ will carry the day. Pop atheism is as bad as pop theism, but a few versions of atheism will probably become dominant. But, to take an example, Bennett (a de facto atheist undeclared) defined ‘god’ as the reconciling force in the cascade of cosmic triads (like the negation of the negation, but quite different). Ingenious, perhaps more hogwash, but a reminder that we can’t negate ‘god’ without defining him. There are too many different definitions.
We have suggested a series of leftist oriented churches (cf. Last and First Men, the ‘virtual church of the
Holy Brick, and hyparchic future churches, useful nonsense).
But we can recommend a new form of ‘atheist’ Christianity: renouncing idolatrous monotheism without necessarily renouncing the ‘god’ concept, which might be renamed…
It would be easy to create a far superior form of that religion, but with an assumption about a probable future: that the tradition will not hold. This new Christianity will be in transition to a new and superior secularism based in science, in Feuerbach, but also in Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and with a true spiritual psychology and practice beyond the crude idiocy of Christian doctrine current. Biblical criticism will deal with historical mythology in the Bible…
Why bother? The answer is that mediating religious questions has become inevitable given the collapse of secularism into Iron Cage ideology. We can suggest not lingering in the past of religion, and yet requiring of our future that it at least understand what happened with Christianity: we suggested a minimal church of historical memory: an attempt to understand the dynamics of the Christian religion which most strangely has a deep spiritual component unknown to us beyond its outer historical form as a religious product of the Roman era…Understanding what happened with this religion is not so simple and hasn’t been achieved by secular humanists. Christians are so confused they have missed the spiritual domain completely and are herded along by a religion that treats them like sheep.
We may never know the occult riddle of the Christian beginning buried in disinfo, but the left needs a better understanding of its own position and of the legacy of religion in world history. Then and only then will the essential gist of the Feuerbachian age be realized. In any case Christian communists, like the Quakers, who anticipated this ‘exit strategy for Christianity’ in their curious train wreck, and who picked up the task of abolition, have to be welcomed on the left and their numbers would likely be greater than that of the left itself. This can be welcomed but without any retrograde or reactionary nonsense sure to attempt to come to the fore and vitiate the left. The left renounced religion for good reason and should be tolerant and yet tolerate no nonsense from the trojan horse artists sure to use religion to create reactionary strategies. The simple answer is for the left to do religion better than religionists, with a certain reserve. And the move beyond archaic religion as such.