[OPE-L:6412] Creationist Economics [Was: What do you teach in your Micro

Alan Freeman (a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk)
Sat, 04 Apr 1998 12:26:56 -0600

Re alternative approaches to micro:

Fred Lee (flee@dmu.ac.uk ) of de Montfort University, UK recently
co-ordinated a useful and successful seminar on Post-Keynesian approaches
to Microeconomics at Greenwich University, on behalf of the UK
Post-Keynesian Study Group.

The size of the gathering (30+) and the quality of the presentations
evidences a substantial heterodox micro tradition and many lively new
debates - Geoff Hodgson's Evolutionary critique of methodological
individualism was only one of several stimulating contributions.

I am very pleased Ajit gives his students access to Kalecki, IMO one of
the century's outstanding temporal thinkers. I have learned a great deal
from his ideas. I am interested to know if Ajit's students learn that
these ideas are meaningless!

The exchange between Ajit and Ted suggests that the wrong impression may
have been presented (for which I bear part of the blame) that the status
of a new paradigm is claimed for TSS.

I think of temporalism as a paradigm and TSS as an interpretation of Marx
within the temporalist paradigm.

I don't think temporalism is 'new': the temporal/static distinction was
probably first formulated by Heraclitus, of whom Hegel writes: "Becoming
is the first adequate vehicle of truth. In the history of philosophy, this
stage of the logical Idea finds its analogue in the system of Heraclitus.
When Heraclitus says 'All is flowing' (Panta rei) he enunciates Becoming
as the fundamental feature of all existence, whereas the Eleatics, as
already remarked, saw the only truth in Being, rigid processless Being."
[Hegel's Logic, Wallace translation, p132]

The clash between temporal and static (=equilibrium, =static) ontologies
and methodologies traverses all of science and for that matter, politics:
the Copernican (temporalist) view gave us the word 'revolution'.

The static paradigm is invariably found in alliance with the most
reactionary social forces of each epoch, who use it to justify the idea
of an eternal, unchanging order laid down by an untouchable authority.
Creationism is static Biology. Ptolemaism is static Astronomy.

Among those disciplines which lay claim to the title of 'science' only
economics remains wedded to the static paradigm, to me the clearest
evidence that it is not a science. Intolerance of temporal alternatives
further testifies to its fundamentally anti-democratic social function.

Personally, though of course I am happy for others to differ, I can't see
the difference in principle between the imposition of Ptolemaism, the
imposition of Creationism, and the imposition of General Equilibrium.

The Jesuits considered Galileo's concept of planet to be meaningless.
Creationists consider the modern concept of species to be meaningless.
Equilibrium economics considers temporal definitions of value to be

Eppur si muove.