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Aestheticism in the Theory of Custom


  • Schlicht Ekkehart

    (University of Munich)


La nature des processus dapprentissage ainsi que les considérations évolutionaires suggèrent que le jugement esthétique est dune importance centrale dans la formation des coutumes. L apprentissage et lextrapolation prennent appui sur les évaluations de caractéristiques noninstrumentales telles que la simplicité, lanalogie, la droiture et la clarté. De plus, lapprentissage est particulièrement efficace sil est animé par un désir actif de découvrir de nouvelles régularités, plutôt que de rassembler simplement des informations de manière passive.A partir dune perspective évolutionaire, lapprentissage a évolué par adaptation aux changements rapides et environnementaux qui ne peuvent être efficacement traduits par les processus évolutifs lents et de long terme qui se situent au niveau génétique. La raison dêtre évolutionaire de lapprentissage est de permettre aux individus de chercher sans cesse à découvrir de nouvelles régularités et dagir sur elles de manière appropriée. De même que lapprentissage dépend des jugements esthétiques, la sélection évolutionaire pour lapprentissage implique une matrice évolutionaire du sens esthétique, et une préférence pour des modèles et des actions stéréotypées qui en fin de compte conduisent à la formation de coutumes et dune compréhension sociale. Larticle est, ainsi, une présentation évolutionaire étayée des tendances behaviorales sous-tendant ma théorie des coutumes.The nature of learning processes as well as evolutionary considerations suggest that aesthetic judgement is of central importance in the formation of custom. Learning and extrapolation rely on evaluations of non-instrumental features like simplicity, analogy, straightforwardness, and clarity. Further, learning is particularly effective if it is driven by an active desire to uncover new regularities, rather than merely gathering information in a passive way.From an evolutionary perspective, learning has evolved as an adaptation to fast and transitory environmental changes which cannot be effectively traced by the slow and long-term evolutionary processes which take place on the genetic level. The evolutionary raison dêtre of learning is to enable the individual to incessantly search for upcoming new regularities, and to act appropriately on them. As learning depends on aesthetic judgement, the evolutionary selection for learning implies an evolutionary molding of an aesthetic sense, and a preference for patterns and patterned action which ultimately leads to the formation of custom and social learning. The paper presents, thus, an evolutionary underpinning for the behavioral tendencies underlying my theory of custom.

Suggested Citation

  • Schlicht Ekkehart, 2000. "Aestheticism in the Theory of Custom," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-21, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:10:y:2000:i:1:n:2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schlicht, Ekkehart & Kubon-Gilke, Gisela, 1993. "Gefordertheit und institutionelle Analyse am Beispiel des Eigentums," Munich Reprints in Economics 3173, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Reinhard Pirker & Hermann Rauchenschwandtner, 1998. "Sense of Community: A Fundamental Concept of Institutional Economics," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 154(2), pages 406-406, June.
    3. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 1998. "On Custom in the Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292241, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Loasby, Brian J., 2002. "The evolution of knowledge: beyond the biological model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8-9), pages 1227-1239, December.
    2. Uta-Maria Niederle, 2005. "From Possession to Property: Preferences and the Role of Culture," Chapters,in: Complexity and the Economy, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2001. "Custom," Discussion Papers in Economics 19, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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