Sunday, January 29, 2017

Brad DeLong — Wanted: A Readable Polanyi…

Important.
For almost my entire adult life–since I was a sophomore, IIRC–I have thought that the key social theorist for our age is neither Marx nor Mill nor Toqueville nor Weber nor Durkheim, but rather John Maynard Keynes. Now I think, I am slowly swinging around to thinking that the key social theorist is Karl Polanyi. The problem is that Polanyi writes so damnably badly–a fault he shares with, among others, Hyman Minsky. Just as Charlie Kindleberger is a much better Minsky than Minsky is, we need a much better Polanyi than Polanyi…
I tried my hand, with some but not adequate success:
Grasping Reality
Wanted: A Readable Polanyi…
Brad DeLong | Professor of Economics, UCAL Berkeley

2 comments:

jrbarch said...

“When the heart is full of joy, life becomes a blessing”.

I think Brad’s key social theorist already exists, but spread out between ordinary people - the Peter Coopers, Neil Wilsons, Tom Hickeys of this world, and many many others in diverse streams (political, social, psychological, medical, economic etc).

I think of world thought something like the thermohaline conveyor, carrying diverse currents around the globe, profound and surfaced; heterodox thought like little gyres feeding into the mainstream; or isolated, spinning off into their own world. All of it I deeply feel will prove to be illusory. Just as we moderns would consider world thought of 5000 years ago to be illusory. And yet this thermohaline conveyor of thought drives world events.

But, I think we have reached a stage where we have to stop defining ourselves as human beings, by the society we create, by our civilisations and culture, our knowledge banks and technology, by political and economic events; by everything on the outside.

And learn all over again, what it means to be human. To go inside and find out who you really are, and what your existence is really all about. The secret that you carry. It’s like the architecture of the CPU – there is no more development possible with the current technology. Do we want to journey on that conveyor forever?

The human heart is the key to consciousness and its expansion; this to me is the quiet revelation, the new dawn breaking, the incredible potential of a human being, while most are asleep: – “when the heart is full of joy, life becomes a blessing”.

This too, is happening in the world.

Tom Hickey said...

Well said.

All of it I deeply feel will prove to be illusory. Just as we moderns would consider world thought of 5000 years ago to be illusory. And yet this thermohaline conveyor of thought drives world events.

I felt that strongly when I was just starting out and this is a reason that I decided to go into philosophy rather than science, other than that I preferred working with words rather than numbers and symbols. That is a way, too, but mathematical reasoning didn't appeal to me as much as logical reasoning.

Science pretty will shows that the world is phenomenal and how the trick is done. Humans are coming to appreciate how their world and their own self-conception is a construct of "the mind" and neither self nor reality are known other than in the way they appear in human experience.

While this "how" is a modern discovery that many fields contribute to, it is the age-old teaching of perennial wisdom, in which the sage reveal how the illusion is created through "smoke and mirrors," the "smoke" being sensory and mental impressions and the mirrors being individual minds with their own histories.

Speculative philosophy and empirical science ends with agnosticism about "the thing in itself" that we assume corresponds to and grounds experience, since humans do not have any control over the "objective" aspect of changing experience.

Perennial wisdom calls one that has penetrated this veil a "gnostic," that is, one who knows. Yet there are different levels of knowing, too, as one advance on the "ladder of ascent."

The sages have also left teachings about how to move from being an agnostic to a gnostic. They also tell us that while there is a single path on the "ladder of ascent" and a unitary goal, there are many ways suitable for different constitutions and present states. All beings are somewhere on that path, although few realize that this is even happening and fewer still where they are on it. While everyone necessarily goes alone, we also travel in caravans.

According to the sages it's not all that important to know this, or everyone would know it. It is important that one wake up to it when one is ripe, but that is built in, too.

Most importantly, reasoning of whatever type only takes one so far. "It is always reasonable to go beyond reason to love."