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December 1. Introduction Engineering an intersection between economics and the Integral approach—i. This distinction is extremely important, especially in light of the fact that—within the realm of social science at least—economics has increasingly been claiming the status of a meta-discipline entitled to include and engulf all other disciplines such as sociology, social psychology, and so on.
Embracing the Integral Vision Why do we need an Integral economics? How do we know that we are fragmented, that we are alienated? How do we know what our fullest potential is? We seem—understandably—to be less aware of the negative repercussions: downward egalitarianism, anomie, and most of all rampant narcissicism see Wilber b.
A is at a more evolved stage than B if A transcends and includes B. In each existential positioning there are evolutionary lines of development, and each existential positioning has historically emphasized certain lines more than others.
Rather, it induces our fullest potential from the empirical observation of the most highly realized exemplars coming from each culture, religion, or spirituality. On the contrary, at each historical epoch there are bound to be criteria—evolutionarily determined and, hence, not unsurpassable—for saying that some of us, or most of us, are living fragmented, alienated lives.
Such an inductive attitude makes for a very open-minded and open-hearted approach to cross-cultural and cross-systemic analysis. It might—to take a hard and sensitive issue—show us that along certain lines of moral or psychodynamic development, Soviet Russia in the s, or Cuba in the s, was clearly superior to the United States of the s in the sense that, for instance, Soviets and Cubans had developed a more communal attitude in some sectors of social life though by no means in all… and also that communist principles implied that basic social provisions, lodging, health care, etc.
Obviously, the USSR of the 60s and Cuba in the 70s were also, along other developmental lines, significantly less evolved than, say, Renaissance Florence or, for that matter, s Britain. The basic point is that Integral developmental thinking of the sorts advocated by Wilber and, e. Even the mild departures from the strictly rational and self-interested homo economicus that are currently taking place in some quarters are geared to upholding the dominant dogma—that material growth, measured by the aggregate amount of Stuff available and circulating, is what matters ultimately to economic investigation.
Growth and development along non-material, spiritual, cultural, semiotic, etc. Part of that dogma is that whatever elements of the other quadrants—education levels, cultural traits, and so on—are helpful in boosting material growth rates can be included as exogenous variables in the models. See Beinhocker and Coyle for recent and largely apologetic updates.
Sociology and anthropology, at least traditionally, put significant emphasis on the interior-individual dimension of economic events. Now, economics makes extensive use of mathematic.
It does mean, however, that the economic approach gives the individual-interpretation dimension, the language-mediated experience of the person, a very different place. You could always crush a revolt with the army, but maintaining an army is costly, too. Basically, the way you manage a macro-entity is to fit all the micro-pieces i. Thus was economics born, as the social-engineering science that dealt with the allocation of efforts and rewards within a system of functional interdependence.
Note that, from the beginning, the efforts required were obviously both physical and intellectual, while the rewards were exclusively material: they were measured by the amount of goods and services that your material rewards made accessible for you. Seeing society as a system of order-maintaining governance schemes implies that those who are in charge of looking after these schemes will tend to view the population of agents as a more or less homogeneous statistical whole.
In fact, the more homogeneous the components—or, at least, the more interchangeable—the easier it will be to manage the system. It will be complicated enough, mind you! You can use statistical tools and fairly transparent formal models in order to see through the chaos. I want to claim that these actual and, in themselves, respectable requirements of system-wide management of component functions are what initially made economics into the sort of science it is: a discipline focused on observable behavior not on verbal expression or existential testimony and on functional fit not on symbolic or cultural representations.
To do this, he had to understand how workers choose their jobs, how firms choose their workers, and how workers choose the goods they buy from the firms.
It seems fair to say that—partly on the basis of historical experience, and especially the conjunction of Communist oppression and the Great Depression—economists gradually viewed social order as having three main components: full employment, price stability, and maximal economic growth.
At the time, however—this was the 19th century with its hope of a triumph of enlightened Science over blind fate—it was a major victory of the human mind. However, there is a growing margin in which this dogma is no longer acceptable. He claims that material goods are just one of the very many things we require to lead fulfilled lives, and he too—like the Integral community—offers a largely inductive approach to determining what a fulfilled life is.
He appears to fall short of Integral, though, because he mostly adopts a green-meme pluralism that characteristically shuns hierarchy and ends up denying that some ways of life can be viewed as more evolved than others. So there are some elements of hierarchy in Sen, but they usually coincide with the view of a secularized, market-driven, materialistic Western man.
Honoring the Four Quadrants? The basic issue, really, is what kind of economics we need to develop in order to honor the four quadrants. No interiors: neither culture nor subjectivity can be quantified and modeled. These are all important and fine. What would Left-Hand economics be? Seeing economies—and the economics profession itself!
Some—and even much, and most—of it is currently going on outside of the mainstream economics profession, especially in social psychology and in sociology where psychoanalysis, social history, and life-narrative approaches are combined with existential philosophy and critical theory in order to study aspects of the alienation and fragmentation of individuals within contemporary capitalism. See Schor , Sennett , Arnsperger Of course, ultimately, Integral economics should be an integration of both Right- and Left-Hand ways of working.
Whether such an integration would be predominantly juxtaposition or predominantly interpenetration remains to be seen. The main problem, of course, is that economics is largely funded publicly, and that those who pay out the public funds have frequently themselves been co-opted into the Right-Hand camp. One of the often neglected aspects of economics is that any theoretical utterance is an artefact in the same way as Wilber says an anthill, a painting, or a product is an artefact.
It is many other things, too for instance, a claim to truth , but it is definitely an artefact, and a subtle one at that—an artefact crafted with words and concepts. This brings first and second-person considerations who does economics? To whom does she address it? At least until the positivist recognizes that, as Ken Wilber expresses it, by honoring the four quadrants you actually do a much more comprehensive positive science than by remaining stuck in a Right-Hand fantasy world.
If we want to go beyond mere denunciation, what sort of economics might we start building? In other words, such an automaton-agent is able of neither existential nor critical judgment because for reasons of mathematical tractability she is assumed—counterfactually, to say the least—to be devoid of an individual interior Upper Left and to be foreign to any collective interior Lower Left. It can only meaningfully do so if it eventually constructs the Left-Hand equivalent of the Right-Hand feedback mechanisms between the quantitative properties of individual economic behaviors and dispositions It and the quantitative properties of economic systems Its —namely, a specifically Left-Hand set of feedback mechanisms between the qualitative properties of individual economic existence I and the qualitative properties of the prevailing economic culture Us.
Another crucial implication of the above is that economics as a discipline cannot consistently uphold its internal monism. Again, my work on Critical Political Economy on the one hand, on Existential Economics on the other, is only a small part of what a genuinely Integral economic science would have to embrace.
What, then, of Left-Hand issues? Do they stand any chance of being considered seriously by those economists who are in power? Bibliography Ardagh, Arjuna. Arnsperger, Christian. Paris: Le Cerf. London: Routledge. Ball, Philip. Beinhocker, Eric. New York: Random House Business. Cohen, Andrew. Coyle, Diane. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Das, Surya.
Epstein, Joshua. Friedman, Benjamin. The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. New York: Knopf. New York: Oxford University Press. Keating, Thomas. Kofman, Fred. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. Leifer, Ron. Myss, Caroline. Schor, Juliet. New York: HarperCollins. Sen, Amartya. Development As Freedom. Sennett, Richard. Thurman, Robert. Wilber, Ken. Boston: Shambhala. Boston: Integral Books.