Sunday, January 02, 2011

Economists debate ethics
“What disciplines economics, like any science, is whether your work can be replicated. It either stands up or it doesn’t. Your motivations and whatnot are secondary.”
Eric Schliesser: "It is always fine to hear economists pretend that financial incentives do not matter."

It would be nice to hear philosophers agree that culture does. Philosophy and economics both pretend to be sciences
The history of modern intellectual life, more even than the history of modernity itself, needs to be written by a historian from Mars. The sociological “history of the present” doesn’t describe the present any more than cognitive science describes the mind. Their processes are akin politically to discussions among whites about the negro problem or men asking “what do women want?” The history of modern Judaism can not be understood without a history of Palestine written by Palestinians. Absent that the best we’ll get is the equivalent of the feminism exclusively of men.
Still working.
More, from the conclusion. I've quoted the passage from Panofsky's essay before but not in this context.
Another example: The logic of modern economic thought begins in acknowledging our tendency towards self-interest, and this understanding has led to a realist acceptance of it. But without an internal adversarialism the result has been a hypertrophied individualism. The optimism of scientific understanding has resulted in an optimism of greed. “Greed exists” becomes “greed is good” which simply reinforces greed without understanding what it does. Here’s Panofsky in his essay on film.
While it is true that commercial art is always in danger of ending up as a prostitute, it is equally true that noncommercial art is always in danger of ending up as an old maid. Non commercial art has given us Seurat's "Grande Jatte" and Shakespeare's sonnets, but also much that is esoteric to the point of incommunicability. Conversely, commercial art has given us much that is vulgar or snobbish (two aspects of the same thing) to the point of loathsomeness, but also Durer's prints and Shakespeare's plays. For, we must not forget that Durer's prints were partly made on commission and partly intended to be sold in the open market; and that Shakespeare's plays -in contrast to the earlier masques and intermezzi which were produced at court by aristocratic amateurs and could afford to be so incomprehensible that even those who described them in printed monographs occasionally failed to grasp their intended significance— were meant to appeal, and did appeal, not only to the select few but also to everyone who was prepared to pay a shilling for admission.

It is this requirement of communicability that makes commercial art more vital than noncommercial, and therefore potentially much more effective for better or for worse.
Greed is an astringent, but it’s not the only one there is. And the work Panofsky praises -Durer and Shakespeare- is not the simplest or most one sided but the most divided within itself. The most telling contradiction in the academic celebration of self-interest is that the academy itself is founded on a collaborative ethic and an ideal of disinterested reason, and it’s this that is claimed as a foundation for the understanding of the pervasiveness of its opposite. The objective elite of scientists/judges prescribes and regulates the subjectivism of others.

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