The Psychology of Economics

The Psychology of Economics

The Psychology of Economics

The Psychology of Economics

Excerpt

This book is a study of the psychology and philosophy of social thought, exemplified by the analysis of certain economic ideas. The method is briefly sketched in the first part and then applied in a series of case studies to crucial concepts in economics. The emphasis lies as much on the approach as on the results of its application. It is contended that, without the help of the psychocultural method, socioeconomic thought often remains incomprehensible. It is sometimes necessary to go beyond its traditional framework because the immanent approach does not lead to a meaningful interpretation. I have tried to listen 'with a third ear' to economists, to uncover what lies below the surface of their thoughts. As in art, one can detect a 'style' in the writing of economists and social scientists. The analysis of this style often throws more light on the meaning of their thought than can be gathered from its obvious content. The hidden undercurrents rather than the truth value and factual accuracy of economics are the subject of this book. I have not tried to debunk economics as 'unscientific'. But I have attempted to show that, like other sciences, economics has an instrumental character and performs, perhaps unconsciously, an ethical and fiduciary function.

This book is the result of many schools of thought. I owe a great debt not only to traditional economic theory and philosophy but to psychoanalysis and to sociology, anthropology, and social psychology, in so far as they centre around the concepts of culture and personality. I have been deeply influenced by the writings of Sigmund Freud, Erich Fromm, and David Riesman. The materials used in this book have been provided by various social sciences; the novelty, if any, lies in their combination and application to economics. Therefore this book is addressed not only to economists but to all social scientists.

The writing of this book was facilitated by two grants-in-aid from the Social Science Research Council; the second grant was received upon recommendation from Roosevelt College.

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