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A Proposal for an Ethics of Economics Through An Embrace of Science, Etymology, Empathy and Narrative by Neelesh Marik, Brandon Peele,

David Shalen and Cassandra Vieten February 19, 2012 Introduction Capitalism has yet to reach its potential as a system that meets the physical, social, psychological and transcendent needs of its global participants. This evidenced by the mounting social, cultural, environmental and biological costs of its practice over the last 200 years. This is not to say that it is wrong to be a capitalist, but that capitalism is yet not a finished product. The thriving fields of welfare and heterodox economics, as well as the horizon-expanding notions of intergenerational equity and trans-species prosperity, are beginning to update the field of economics with the latest advances in ecology, psychology and physics. This paper attempts such a synthesis and encourages an urgent inquiry of the metaphysical underpinnings of capitalism. The Relationship Between Time, Ethics and Economics Our relationship to time is exogenous to the field of orthodox economics, in that it is outside the scope of study. There is a good reason for this; there is no accounting on paper for what originates in the human mind, unless of course it arises in or is captured by a transaction involving a time value of money risk calculation, but even then time is a constant, an assumed given. However, we should not take our relationship to time to be either historically stable or unamenable to rational discussion. What is outside the orthodox model is outside the model because the language of orthodox economics is one of math and accountancy and the narrative is one of growth. Our relationship to time is a consideration of the metaphysics of capitalism, yet it often goes unnoticed, despite being a fundamental assumption. The longer one's time preferences are, the more broadly and holistically one thinks, and the more one becomes aware of the externalities to one's economic behavior. One has to live with oneself tomorrow. One also doesn't know whom one will need tomorrow. Thus, we need a mechanism for the consideration of time preferences such that they reflect the goals of humanity, not the narrative of orthodox capitalism (growth). To advance humanitys goals and increase the ability of disadvantaged people to stand up for their group interests, or decrease polluting practices not intrinsically necessary for wealth-creation, or improve health, or control the fertility rate and subsequent overcrowding of countries or the planet, one must think long-term. If people are too concerned about immediate gratification, all these goals will be hindered. Amoral economic policies will be seen as 'simply life' because they are going on right now, the disadvantaged will fight amongst themselves, people will not take good care of their health, the joy of a newborn will outweigh the cost and cloud one's view of other means of self-fulfillment. Time horizons are vital to the making of decisions and though outside the orthodox economic model, they unite these diverse commonsensical goals of humanity. Only, they are outside the model for a reason; they are deeply rooted in culture, which dictates

what goals are considered right or natural. Market mechanisms and legislation change incentives, and the rest is all commentary, teaches orthodox economics. But even orthodox economists recognize that underlying time preferences are parameters by which people interpret incentives. Orthodox capitalism cannot and should not escape with its standalone mathematical purity, and thus we must further explore capitalism through a metaphysical lens to question various dimensions of its validity in the evolutionary trajectory of our civilization. Returning to the Foundations of Capitalism An entry point into the metaphysics of capitalism is etymology. Why is capitalism named as it is? Per EtymologyOnline.com, capital is a concern for what is primary, for life, death, for existence itself, thus capitalism is of foundational importance to the world as it actually functions. The capitalist is no mere legislator of matter, no simple conductor of supply and demand, but to be a capitalist is to first be a philosopher and steward of existence. The capitalist must therefore understand reality in order to use market forces to maximize realitys expression (capital). The capitalist must thus acknowledge though she is mandated to think about human welfare without the distorting symbols, metaphors, and metaphysical assumptions. How is our capitalist to reclaim her role as philosopher? A capitalist must now be concerned with the spectrum of life/death, the generational continuum of the human story, of first things, of the nature, essence, center and edge of existence. Therefore, a capitalist must apprise herself of the historical developments in the fields of philosophy, physics and psychology, such that the implications of said developments inform an ever-evolving and evermore-comprehensive worldview and ethics. Here are a handful of the hundreds of significant developments in these fields: 50000 B.C. Man meditates and has direct experience of non-material reality. 10000 B.C. Man, inspired by this experience, creates gods and cosmologies to point others to the non-material reality, and binds these cosmologies to socially expedient ethics, solidifying his power and influence (aka institutional religion). 450 B.C. Socrates empowers man to use his cognitive faculties to understand meaning, challenge faith and undermine outmoded structure. 1641 A.D. Descartes rekindles the Socratic tradition after many dormant centuries by turning the mind upon itself and begins a cultural revolution of utilizing reason over faith, aka the Enlightenment. 1677 A.D. Spinoza articulates the possibility of a humanist ethics devoid of faith. 1885 A.D. Nietzsche proclaims God to be dead, inspires us to divorce ourselves from the ends of society/religion and become God ourselves. 1902 A.D. William James publishes the first cross-cultural study of human potential, introducing the Western world to paranormal psychology and mysticism - chronicling the archetypal similarities between religious experiences.

1921 A.D. Jung systematizes myth and religion, characterizing human experience as archetypally inspired, i.e. we subconsciously fit ourselves into pre-existing characters and worldviews. 1923 A.D. Einstein articulates the mutability of matter, time, energy and space, destroying the materialist worldview. Heisenberg demonstrates that we can only know one of two things at a time a things location or its movement, forever damaging our sanity if we assert the Cartesian / Lockian / Newtonian dualistic worldview that emerged during the Enlightenment. Nothing can be said to exist independently. The science of quantum entanglement emerges, establishing non-dualism as more than an article of faith. 1943 A.D. Maslow articulates self-awareness, transcendence, creativity and service as the utmost potential of man. 1946 A.D. Frankl show us that it is our nature and salvation to take up the task of meaning creation. 1953 A.D. Wittgenstein destroys the universality of meaning, suggesting that it is not possible to ever fully understand the words of another human. There is no cognitive or linguistic certainty possible. All is relative. This buttressed Existentialism, a growing school of philosophy that began with Kierkegaard 100 years prior. 1982 A.D. Alain Aspects Bell Test Experiments begin to document they entangled nature of reality. 1990 A.D. Csikszentmihalyi chronicles optimal human function across cultures, describing the optimal psychological state as "flow' - characterized by single-minded immersion, joy, learning, creativity and rapture.

What is our capitalist to do with this information? She now knows there is no certainty, no meaning, but yet a growing body of physical science demonstrating that we are all connected. Man can now write his own narrative, optimizing flow states, and develop an ethics to advance himself and those for which he has affinity (as protagonists in this narrative), which depend on his time preferences. Thus orthodox economics encounters challenges that drive it right back into metaphysics and culture, forcing it to account for important parameter of human behavior, a concern for the future. Empathy and the Capitalist Before Adam Smith invented the modern study of economics, he had written a wonderful book on sympathy, a category that necessarily includes both our 'empathy' and our 'sympathy', the definition of similarity between ourselves and others being a wholly subjective affair in the book's arguments. It was with the understanding that empathy is a natural human propensity (in the way that gravity is a physical propensity), and not the product of a religion, that Adam Smith set out to study ways of improving human welfare through material means. The empathy is just there, but what form it takes varies without bound. While we should not be afraid of innovation due to a superstition that the form of empathy we celebrate depends on a religion, or a cultural order, or things being just as they are, we should not think it invariable either. One of the principal variables with which empathy varies is time horizon, in that we are more likely to

empathize with others the longer our time horizons. Our behavior asymptotically approaches traditional wisdom or divine grace as the time considered reaches out to the horizon. Further, our actions color our beliefs about what can be done for other people and set social precedent, via a vehicle to be discussed shortly narrative, for what should be done. If you want to keep our Smith and be ethical too, we must accept that our time preferences are rationally amenable. In the dawn of capitalism - the 18th century -, the context of enterprise was feudal class upheaval, through empowering people to reach material and social goals they had long understood but never were able to achieve. In this light, 'orthodox capitalist metaphysics' made perfect sense. However, that era's cultural context is no longer, as the Western ideals of equality and freedom have become manifest, yet the possibility to achieve them has been squashed by the very institutions that spread them. Throwing out a concern for culture as relevant to economics is thus a mistake, as our new situation and context, especially in light of the last 200 years of advances in the fields of psychology, philosophy, physics and comparative religion, requires the reexamination of the ends of capitalism. It is now evident that capitalism shapes culture, and if we fail to admit it, we are cultural reactionaries. Thus, the capitalist is a cultural steward at the helm of the entirety of mankind. Horizon and Narrative To be more specific about the role of culture in shaping time horizons, we must understand the critical concept of narrative. Narrative is the set of stories we learn in our formal and informal education that guide our interpretation of life. It determines what is seen, and what is unseen. It is now broadly recognized that it is not simply history; what happens to have happened is half unseen because we had preexisting narratives interpreting it. This does not mean that you can't deliberately change narrative. On the contrary, it means you can through education, formal and informal. Towards a Capitalist Ethics What narrative would support this understanding of reality, that is as connected as it is epistemologically uncertain? David Eagleman's philosophy of Possibilianism comes pretty close to holding much of the aforementioned mess of uncertainty, reason and entanglement. Simply, it states that mankind knows too little about existence (especially with respect to physics, origin of the universe, neuroscience, perception and DNA) to support a position of atheism, and far too much about existence to believe in an organized religion. It is Voltairean ("Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd position.") and Heisenbergian in origin. It is a philosophy of anything goes... at first, and then rests upon the light of reason and science to either eliminate an assertion from the set of possibilities describing one or many aspects of reality, or to reject it as not having any explanatory power. To support this worldview and narrative, we need an ethics to act upon it. Humility - To account for the vastness of our ignorance, especially with respect to fields of knowledge most pertinent to our ontology (physics, neuroscience/perception/philosophy, psychology and DNA). Wonder, Tolerance & Compassion - In light of this ontological ignorance,

the body of knowledge is divided into roughly 1 part things we know and 99 parts we do not know. The issue of dark matter is explicative in that it comprises 85% of the universe, and we've only just discovered it exists. Thus, to stay seated in this situation, we must both humbly accept our unfortunate self-awareness and continue to wonder and hypothesize about the nature of the remaining 85%. If we know so little, what justification could there be to discriminate or hate? Creativity - This wonder is not merely an attitude towards earnest exploration, but the assertion of our creative faculties to continue to hypothesize, to generate new theories, art, expressions, questions and syntheses. In addition to engaging in the arts - storytelling, drama, creative arts, etc., we must hone our creative capacities through the cultivation of metaphorical intelligence - the capability to see and create agency/story ourselves. Knowledge - We must thus orient towards understanding, towards refining, organizing and networking our existing knowledge base, as well as continue to question, examine and expand our methods of knowing beyond the cognitive, and into experimental and experiential (prayer, meditation, love, hallucinogens, relationships, service, adventure/travel). The expression and transmission of this knowledge is unfortunately still quite static and analog (text, video, audio, etc.), so we must not only be oriented to knowledge we can create, but to consume and expand upon the knowledge created by previous generations, through schooling, reading and writing. As most humans have only 7 decades (+/- 3) to develop and learn, it is nearly impossible for any one human to consume all the existent knowledge (and yet this is still only 1% of all knowledge), so we must document and network knowledge so that the aggregate of our accomplishment may do and express that which any single human cannot. Survival -As such, the march of the 1% we know upon the 99% do not know is dependent on our survival as a human species. Each generation benefits from the knowledge of the past, and relies on the whole of humanity to both survive, as well as to thrive and add to the experience and understanding of existence. Sustainability -To support the survival of the species, we must optimize the physical cycles of the economy and planet towards stasis, whereupon we neither irreparably take down nor injure the generative capacity of biosphere. It is a focus on interspecies dependence, affinity and wonder. Systems - Core to the preceding ethics is a focus on systems, or means of relatedness and interdependence. Our education should continue to tease out the relationships of the physical world and the meaning ascribed to them, such that ever more complex systems may be understood and made to function within the confines of sustainability/harmony. There's an old saw that it's not what we don't know that hurts us, but what we know that just aint so. Or, beyond what we dont know, much of what we do know we have incomplete perspectives on. Let us explore a few specific items: GDP equates to the plain fact of how much income is being made in a place; this might have made some kind of sense when William the Conqueror wanted to know how much could be milked out of his new toy, England, and compiled the book nicknamed Doomsday book, but it makes no sense now. Reducing costs in an industry saves money for everybody. Except whoever happens to be employed in an industry. This perversion of already halfway dubious social savings methodology poisoned any sensible debate leading up to the Obama Healthcare law, to name the latest prominent example

of this intellectual incoherence. Working conditions in Chinese factories may be terrible, but 'free trade' with China (it is in reality a bunch of deals between concentrated wealthy interests in America and concentrated political power in China) will provide goods for us and eventual freedom and prosperity for them. Two things are wrong with this: (a) we just don't know that for sure, and if we expand our view systemically, we can see that it isnt true, and (b) as stressed throughout here, there is no temporally stable measure of wealth, which means we had better pay attention to the form of wealth, and the forms of poverty, created by this dangerous arrangement in addition to voicing concerns about the newfound power of a fascist government that isn't going away. Strategies for Reworking Economic Narrative and Culturally Elevating Ethics Maximal Narrative Awareness: The famous critic of capitalism Karl Marx opined famously that 'men make their own history, but they do not make it precisely under the conditions of their choosing. The nightmares of dead generations hang over the soul of the living like ghosts.' From the contemporary point of view, wherein we are no longer able to navely associate actual history with the narrative we are presented with, what this suggests is that knowing whatever narrative consciousness we come up with will have to be largely inspired by the past, to come up with novel ways of looking at narrative for the purpose of increasing time horizons, we must be aware of as many models as possible. Thus, the explicit cultivation of metaphorical intelligence is necessary for us to become fluent in meaning, and learn to derive meaning from our lives, where markets often do so inefficiently and/or immorally. Balance Sheet Focus: Corporations will find it easier to act ethically by shifting GAAP accounting of labor and biosphere from the income statement to the balance sheet. In addition to strengthening existing clean air/water/soil, federal organic/biodynamic food policies, governing bodies ought to implement a progressive consumption tax on resource consumption. Liberal Arts Education: What is missing from the current day educational landscape is not technical skills. We've got those in spades. What is missing is the deepening of the human experience, regardless of the distribution of capital. As such we need to balance the scale of wisdom and knowledge with activities that deepen the soul, such as the study of literature, art, politics, poetry, linguistics, etc. and perpetual the fluid identity for academic subjects. There arent two separate 'cultures' called art and science, and either is harmed by allowing it to segregate itself from the standards of the other. While the point can be made that the verification procedure in science is independent of culture, the discovery process, however, is certainly not. Engineers, who speak of heuristics, know this. Some scientists don't. A Fluid and Integral View of Culture and Identity: The best guide to empathy is an unbiased reliance on the whole of one's human experience. While current-day multiculturalism appears to share this aim, it is mistaken in its

celebratory emphasis on identity, which by mere stint of labeling to celebrate actually replaces old bias by new. We should instead embrace the view that a person's actual cultural identity is otherwise known as her/his mental synthesis of her/his own actual experience. While radical individualism may be deluded given the emerging connectedness of physics, the uniqueness of every person is one's best guide to tolerance and diversity. Widespread Economic and Statistical Literacy: Keynes seems to have thought that because men were often guided by the saws of defunct economists, someone of superior intellect and wit ought to join the club of defunct economists. Unfortunately, weve had many brilliant economists, many who have seen the undoing of capitalism since its start, but yet capitalism remains unchanged. It takes economic awareness by broad groups of people acting in the usual microeconomic fashion to change anything. There is no macro-economic magic bullet, as current events make us painfully aware. In conclusion, we posit the guiding philosophy of capitalism needs three fundamental revisits:
a) The time frame of consideration needs to be much longer term than the

average human gratification horizon currently employs. b) The stakeholder base of capitalism needs to include a much larger we space that our socio-political psyche is geared to embrace.
c) The epistemological foundation of understanding reality needs to adopt a

more transdiciplinary orientation towards wholeness, both in its constitutive and its hermeneutic dimensions, weaving the mind of the natural/ social sciences with the heart of the humanities, and the soul of noetic sciences/ consciousness cultivation practices.