IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Survival of the Fattest. Evolution of needs, lust and social value in a long-run perspective

  • Hanappi, Hardy
Registered author(s):

    As recent data on average weight of human individuals in OECD countries vividly documents the primary metabolism of human individuals, e.g. physical reproduction, already produces deteriorating results. The concept of needs in the sense of desires for primary reproduction necessities has to be re-conceptualized. What has been substituted for the power of needs was the desire for lust: Consumers are offered objects for which they subjectively should develop a substitute of an objective need, namely lust to consume. While the former concept (needs) has a physiologically rather limited range of extension, the latter one enables an evolutionary expanding dynamic with no evident limitation in sight. It is this contradiction that inspired the question posed in the title of this paper. To formulate it less metaphorical: If the demand side of the evolutionary development of modern societies is concentrating more and more on the emergence of goods and services that are independent of the primary metabolism of humans, will there be a feedback on this primary metabolism that endangers its further processing? In hindsight the history of economic thought can be interpreted as providing answers to this type of questions in the form of theories of social values. A common denominator of these theories – perhaps the smallest one – is the contention that a model of the mentioned contradiction has to incorporate a systemic valuation system. Activities of members of societies should be regulated by a superimposed and commonly understood mechanism. While early contributions favored control by a set of direct behavioral rules, a command list, authors since Adam Smith in one or the other way refer to indirect regulation of economic activity via price structures. Note that Smith’s argument concerning ‘private vices becoming public benefits’ already related a non-metabolic motive, the lust for profit, with the metabolic notion of social welfare. Smith preaches this contradiction as moral philosophy. Karl Marx puts Smith’s observation in historical perspective; the productivity increasing capitalist system will be a necessary but finite episode in human history. And he adds an important dimension: The contradiction between private motives and welfare will work only temporarily and will produce another social contradiction, the one between exploiters and exploited. This new amendment explains the central role of Marx’ labor theory of value as a regulation device for the emergence of new contradictions. After Marx two strands of economic theory stand out as cornerstones of theories of social value: Jevon’s price theory and Schumpeter’s price-breakers theory. The former managed to establish itself as mainstream economics till today; the latter – in a self-referential way – seems to re-appear again and again as subversive swarming of theory innovators.

    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/29424/1/MPRA_paper_29424.pdf
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 29424.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: 01 Nov 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:29424
    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

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Ulrich Witt, 2004. "On Novelty and Heterogeneity," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    2. Kurt Dopfer & John Foster & Jason Potts, 2004. "Micro-meso-macro," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 263-279, 07.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:29424. 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.