Table of Contents of Editors’ Introduction in CWL 15

To indicate the editors’ helpfulness in placing Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics in its historical and theoretical contexts, we list below the headings of the EditorsIntroduction to Lonergan’s Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis (CWL 15).  It is ironic that philosophers and theologians, with acknowledged help from polymath Philip McShane and economist Peter Burley, seem to have come to understand the key intelligibilities of macroeconomic dynamics better than professors of macroeconomics themselves. We encourage  all in the community of economists – graduate students, professors, investment analysts, corporate and government economists – to read the Introduction.

Editors’ Introduction, Frederick G. Lawrence ; xxv

  1. Lonergan’s Entry into Economics, 1930-1944 / xxvi
  2. Democratic Economics: An alternative to Liberalism and Socialism / xxxii
    1. Liberalism and Socialism as Economistic Ideologies / xxxv
    2. Free Enterprise as an Educational Project
  3. Lonergan’s Reentry into Economics, 1978-1983 / xxxix
  4. Lonergan’s Interlocutors in Economics / xliii
    1. Lonergan and Marx / xlvi
    2. Lonergan and Marshall / xlvii
    3. Lonergan and Keynes / xlviii
    4. Lonergan, Kalecki, and Others / li
    5. Lonergan and Schumpeter / li
  5. Macroeconomic Dynamic Analysis as a New Paradigm of Economic Theory / liv
  6. The Systematic Significance of the Fundamental distinction between Basic and Surplus Production and Exchange: A Normative Theory of the Pure Cycle
    1. Profit / lxiii
    2. Interest / lxvii
    3. Lonergan’s Critique of ‘Supply-Side’ and ‘Demand-Side’ Economics / lxvii
  7. Lonergan’s Critique of Secularist Ideologies: The Need for a Theological Viewpoint / lxix

Lonergan was a polymath.  He was expert at systematizing fields in which others could not discover an order. As the Editors’ Introduction states, his work in macroeconomics is of systematic significance.

In brief Lonergan is looking for an explanation in which the terms are defined by the relations in which they stand, that is, by a process of implicit definition. … No doubt Keynes was an economist first and a methodologist second … Lonergan, for his part, is perhaps a methodologist first and an economist second, but he was able to push his economic reflections further than Keynes because he had a firmer grasp of the essentials of an effective theory.  … Lonergan’s critique (shows that) … the emphasis shifts … to searching heuristically for the maximum extent of (functional) interconnections and interdependence; and that the variables (of the mechanism) discovered in this way might not resemble very much the objects (or the aggregates) (such as coincidental prices) which, in the first instance, (the non-methodologist) was thinking about.   [Gibbons 1987]

… A science emerges when thinking in a given field moves to the level of system. Prior to Euclid there were many geometrical theorems that had been established.  The most notable example is Pythagoras’ theorem on the hypotenuse of the right-angled triangle, which occurs at the end of  Book 1 of Euclid’s elements.  Euclid’s achievement was to bring together all these scattered theorems by setting up a unitary basis that would handle all of them and a great number of others as well. … similarly, mechanics became a system with Newton.  Prior to Newton, Galileo’s law of the free fall and Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion were known.  But these were isolated laws.  Galileo’s prescription was that the system was to be a geometry; so there was something functioning as a systemBut the system really emerged with Newton.  This is what gave Newton his tremendous influence upon the enlightenment. He laid down a set of basic, definitions, and axioms, and proceeded to demonstrate and conclude from general principles and laws that had been established empirically by his predecessors.  Mechanics became a science in the full sense at that point where it became an organized system. … again, a great deal of chemistry was known prior to Mendeleev.  But his discovery of the periodic table selected a set of basic chemical elements and selected them in such a way that further additions could be made to the basic elements.  Since that time chemistry has been one single organized subject with a basic set of elements accounting for incredibly vast numbers of compounds.  In other words, there is a point in the history of any science when it comes of age, when it has a determinate systematic structure to which corresponds a determinate field. [CWL10, 241-42]

Readers may find it helpful to peruse the image below, What Lonergan Brought to Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics.

2 thoughts on “Table of Contents of Editors’ Introduction in CWL 15

  1. Jack D. Burgess

    From the 30’s through the ’60’s we learned–and many economists and politicians followed–something called a “Mixed Economy,” Elements of “free enterprise” and socialism. The New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the Great Society legislation are the best examples. We still follow this system, by whatever names we make up for it. Some things are done by individuals and corporations; some by government. It’s a matter of getting the right balance or mix.

    1. Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics Post author

      Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics does not distinguish between individuals, firms, and institutions. Lonergan made precise analytic distinctions between abstract explanatory functions, and from these he deduced a superstructure of relations comprising a complete explanatory theory. To quote:

      … the productive process was defined as a purely dynamic entity, a movement taking place between the potentialities of nature and products. In the present section, there has been attempted a dynamic division of that entity.. Elements in the process are in a point-to-point, or point-to-line, or point-to-surface, or even some higher correspondence with elements in the standard of living. … The division is not based upon proprietary differences, … for the same firm may be engaged at once in different correspondences with the standard of living. Again, it is not a division based upon the properties of things; the same raw materials may be made into consumer goods or capital goods; and the capital goods may be point-to-line or point-to-surface or a higher correspondence; they may have one correspondence at one time and another at another. … the division is, then neither proprietary nor technical. It is a functional division of the structure of the productive process: it reveals the possibilities of the process as a dynamic system, though to bring out the full implications of such a system will require not only the next two sections, on the stages of the process, but also later sections on cycles. [CWL 15, 26-7]

      The analysis of the overall dynamic functioning, which we call in nominal terms the economic process, must seek the explanation of the process. It must seek the immanent intelligibility of the interdependent, dynamic “functionings” which constitute the process. It must be in terms of abstract, implicitly-defined, explanatory conjugates rather than in descriptive terms of merely legal or proprietary entities called “firms.”


Leave a Reply