Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

The Godless Religion: Economics, Equilibrium, and the Copernican Revolution

Contents:

Author Info

  • Freeman, Alan

Abstract

The paper argues that a formal, and fruitful, historical analogy can be drawn between economics and a religious hierarchy, most notably the mediaeval Catholic church. This idea was fully developed in Freeman (2007), ‘Heavens Above: what equilibrium means for economics’, in Mosini, V (ed) (2007) Equilibrium in Economics: Scope and Limits. London: Routledge ISBN 0415391377 It was entitled ‘Heavens above: what equilibrium means for economics’, and appeared on pp240-260. This paper was published in German in the journal exit and is available on RepEc as MPRA paper number 6892 at http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/6892/ The paper draws an analogy between the resistance of economics to non-equilibrium formulations, and the resusteance of the Ptolemaics – supported by the church – to Galileo’s cosmological philosophy. This resistance, I argued, revolved around the implicit threat of this cosmology to the social and political order, which relied for its morality on the supposition that the heavens were the location of perfect matter, from which were derived the laws and privileges of the feudal order. The notion that the sun, stars and planets revolved around the earth rested – as Kuhn pointed out - on a concept of ‘centre’ and a concept of ‘rotation’ which instantiated, and supported, the social concept that the heavens moved in fixed and perfect spheres. Resistance to placing the earth in the heavens came from two sources. The church, and the order on which it rested, were deeply threatened by the new theory, and could be mobilised against it by Galileo’s reactionary opponents on this basis. In addition, the profound paradigm shift required to comprehend the Copernican system ensured that this system was literally ‘absurd’ and ‘incomprehensible’ even to serious scholars such as Clavius, the most respected cosmologist of the age. The paper argues that the equilibrium assumption in economics plays the same role. It incarnates the principle that markets are perfect. Any failure, therefore, must be a result of external circumstances and cannot be generated from inside the market. This principle has therefore insinuated itself, at every level, and in all branches of economics, as the dominant ideology. The ‘temporal’ alternative – TSSI within Marx’s value theory, Kaleckian and Post-Keynesian theory within Keynesianism, and indeed, the original Austrian idea within marginalism, is persistently displaced by a dominant ‘equilibrium’ form – Bortkiewizcian/Sraffian interpretations in Marx, ‘ISLM’ Keynesianism, and Walrasian/Marshallian general equilibrium within marginalism. Such views, whilst making formal concessions to ‘dynamics’ (conceived as comparative statics) and to ‘probability’ (conceived of as accidental deviation from perfection) My adoption of a Copernican analogy draws on a parallel which, I think, goes beyond merely outward resemblance: between the intellectual resistance to Copernicus orchestrated via the organised catholic church, and the intellectual resistance to temporalism, orchestrated via the profession of economics. This paper was originally posted on the OPE-L list on February 14th 2001 (#4896}, and can be accessed on http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/OPE/archive.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/14777/
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 14777.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Feb 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14777

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
Web page: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Value; Price; Money; Labour; Marx; MELT; Okishio; TSSI; temporalism; rate of profit;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14777. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.