5th Session: ECONOMY
Ethics and Economics: Merging Individualism and Collectiveness.
Ethics is a system of moral principles that affect how people make decisions and lead their lives; it comes from the Greek word ‘ethos’ meaning custom, habit, character or disposition. On the other hand Economics is a social science that studies how people interact with things of value; in particular the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. These two relate because they both talk about values, goods, interaction between people; moreover economics as a science comes from moral philosophy. Adam Smith – the father of modern economics was a moral philosopher too.
Strangely though, people do believe that they are not related, and that economics are in some cases unethical.
Back in 1850s Thomas Carlyle coined the term dismal science for economics. The reason he did so, sounds today outrageous; he argued in favor of the re-introduction of slavery, but economics did not support his idea. The term stayed and is still used today for a whole different reason, but the denominator is the same: dislike for economics.
Apart from the historical roots in order to explain the aforementioned belief of people about economics and ethics, the blame falls on the neoclassical model of economics, that is taught in schools and universities around the world and describes an economic world where ethics is irrelevant since competition on the one hand and self-interest on the other can guarantee prosperity of the whole society. The neoclassical model has its flaws – it has predictive and explanatory power. Its assumptions are too strong and not too realistic. It supports perfect rationality, maximizing utility, that perfect information leads instantly to an equilibrium (i..e. the NCE world in a static world). O the other hand, it stresses the notion of competition and self interest, and how competition brings out the best of ourselves.
In order for competition to work, we basically need good institutions – this is the main idea of institutional economics. Prosperity and well-being depend on the quality of the market (Agora) and the equality of market depends on institutions necessary to guarantee that we have freedom.
The results of the market mechanism are by and large that the world is getting better not worse. Specifically, since 1993 the number of people living in extreme poverty has halved from 2 billion to 1 billion in 2013; since 1990 the number of children in the world who died from preventable diseases has halved from 13 million to 6,3 million in 2013. Since 1980 the percentage of girls in developing countries who completed elementary school has gone from 50% to 80% in 2013.
Concluding it was mentioned that Economyic and Ethics go hand in hand; they were never detached. Competition under a framework of functioning institutions promotes societal well-being by bringing out the best of ourselves and in free societies with good institutions, it is competition that brings people together and makes them cooperate. The world is not perfect and we need to do a lot to eradicate poverty but with good institutions in place we are on the right track.
6th Session: HUMANITY
Reflections for the 21st Century Beyond the Anthropocentric view.
The speech is presented in 5 steps for clarity purposes:
First step is the question – the problem! As we enter the globalised world the era of technology and biotechnology, there is an agony about the ordinary life and an adequate way of how praxis itself will reaffirm.
The new thought we have to integrate in the 21 century would have to stand upon all traditions that realise and speak of inadequacy so to speak – aporia for the Greeks – a kind of problem to seek reality in a wholistic way.
For us, people of the west, we have to overcome two major things. The thought for us comes in two patterns: one is the window – we see as if something is there out of a window and the other one is a way of thinking through mirroring – projections. We have to integrate them, overcome them and fill the gap made in the beginning of the modern era.
A second point: The demand for a holistic thinking was set by Plato when the recitation of the allegory of the cave comes to an end, a question as well as a drama on the direct viewing of the Good – Agathon.
Agathon that is beyond essence, what we seek, is not a value or a virtue. It s not exactly what we seek. Every way of thinking has its own values and we have to integrate them.
A third point has to do with the modern shifting about truth. A shifting from nature and God to the Cartesian eye- the eye of the beholder. In short, although the idea of a foundation is strong, the ultimate foundation is a problematic idea; it does not exist. We cannot orientate our thought through the one unique foundation as the 20th century did.
Plato speaks about the idea of a foundation in Timaeus where he speaks about Hora a place where Demiurge invites the whole cosmic material.
The fourth point, if we are now to orient ourselves to a new way of thinking, Cosmos, is the new foundation, both material and spiritual. It is important to consider the inadequacy of a romantic turning to nature. Nature is coming back in every day life.
Cosmos is not material or spiritual, it is not in our control, volition or desire.
We can not speak of ecology as something neutral. It is like the air. You have no control over the air, yet you have to do something with it.
This Cosmos is a Cosmos that has no center or periphery. Has no privileged starting point to hang upon and this is what is explained in the fifth and last point of the speech. What is the way to appreciate this Cosmos.
We are also aware of idea; not only as a great principle for unification or fragmentation or multiplicity as it was before, but an idea as an open and systematic productive total thinking, that runs through the domains of art, science, religion etc, concerning a poetical becoming.