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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/23/18

The Philosophy of Economics?

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Message Harold Novikoff
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It would seem that philosophy and economics are at opposite poles of human phenomena. Philosophy is basically an academic discipline embracing the fundamental branches of knowledge and how they are related to and would define the purpose and true reality of nature and human existence. Formal philosophy encompasses all the disciplines we call the Humanities and Arts, including Religion. Early science was called Natural Philosophy until it rapidly expanded into a separate branch of knowledge.

Philosophy strives to represent the highest level of thought and understanding of the relative importance of every aspect of human existence, and consequently, to seek a moral path of meaning through the maze of life. It is the highest art. The better attributes of modern civilization were inspired by dialogue of the great philosophers over the centuries.

At the other extreme, economics deals both with the very mundane physical needs of mankind and the highly complex transactions of material goods and services that constitute the daily business and characteristics of modern society. In the one course I took on economics, the professor questioned whether it was a science. Could there be any connection between philosophy and economics?

If we examine the modern history of economics, including its relationship to finance, we could hardly call it a discipline. Although it claims to function logically according to established principles, it usually behaves in a very undisciplined amoral manner. Aside from the basics of producing food and shelter, much of economic activity resembles the competition of warfare. Economics has been the major influence of modern popular culture - for better or worse - as well as the underlying motivation for wars.

Political science (a science?) concerns the functions and character of government and statesmanship. It is a branch of knowledge ideologically subordinate to philosophy. In today's world, we find that political science, as evidenced by the actual actions of governments, is subordinate to amoral economics - not philosophy.

Until we establish a new order where our best thinker-philosophers, establishing the priority of the Humanities, guide our governments and our governments regulate our economy, we will continue to exist in the present impasse.

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Veteran, retired from several occupations (school teacher, technical writer, energy conservation business, etc.) long-time Sierra Club member

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