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Emotions, Happiness and Growth: Spinoza, James, and Ramsey

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  • Joao Ricardo Faria

Abstract

This paper adapts the Ethics of Spinoza into the Ramsey growth model and shows that the way people conceive and understand life, related to emotions of joy and sorrow, affects economic performance. The model has multiple equilibria: The Spinoza solution, optimism, leads to greater capital accumulation, income and consumption levels, while William James's solution, pessimism, leads to a worse economic performance. The Ramsey model, where emotions balance, lies in between these two solutions, showing that the neoclassical growth model can be seen as a particular case of the Spinoza model. Finally, regarding the relationship between emotions and economics, in the Spinoza and William James solutions emotions and happiness are determined independently from economic variables. Only in the Ramsey case are emotions explained by income and consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Joao Ricardo Faria, 2011. "Emotions, Happiness and Growth: Spinoza, James, and Ramsey," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 16(2), pages 81-92, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eis:articl:211dfaria
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Michael S. Lawlor, 2006. "William James's psychological pragmatism: habit, belief and purposive human behaviour," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(3), pages 321-345, May.
    7. Jack Barbalet, 2008. "Pragmatism and economics: William James' contribution," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(5), pages 797-810, September.
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    10. Faria, Joao Ricardo, 1998. "The Economics of Witchcraft and the Big Eye Effect," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 537-546.
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