Sunday, February 13, 2011

Homo Economicus

On page 61, Hayek states that "It would be only a sleight exaggeration to say that, in the view of those British philosophers, man was by nature lazy and indolent, improvident and wasteful, and that is was only by the force of circumstances that he could be made to behave economically or would learn to carefully adjust his means to his ends." Hayek refers to this idea as 'homo economicus' as a figment actually derived from the Scottish tradition. I however will disagree.
These are the core aspects of man. Perhaps these are problems I see in myself and will therefor place them upon my brethren but I will assume that others do in fact suffer these issues. I am likely putting my assertion forward to soon in the reading but my point is to argue that the 'failings' that make up homo economicus are essential parts of any living creatures existence. Not only that but these are wonderful parts only due to the fact that circumstances will forcedly curb them.
Yes people are lazy, but would it be unreasonable that laziness is the push for innovation?
Yes people are indolent but is that not the cause of critical thinking? A society of trust is a society of fools.
Without improvidence we could never move forward in our thinking. The possibilities before us are endless and to build the foresight for all of them is impossible.
And our wastefulness? We could not learn or grow if we did not indulge in overconsumption.
With the assumptions placed on the human condition let me make myself unclear and point out that I hate these failings. I appreciate what they can bring, but any unnecessary imprudence in unacceptable. The institutions of society and the government are our best efforts at limiting humanities' imprudence. This assumption leads us to a value judgement of where we must put ourselves on the spectrum between governmental and societal institutions.
Homo Economicus is an excellent thing to test ourselves against but at what point are our 'morals' overreaching?

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