# A System is Developed: The Achievements of Euclid, Newton, Einstein, Mendeleev, and Lonergan

Lonergan’s achievement – like the achievements of Euclid, Newton, and Einsteinwas “to bring together many scattered theorems by setting up a unitary basis that would handle all of them and a great number of others as well.”  Note in the excerpts below these phrases

• a field of greater generality
• an enlarged and radically different field
• scientific generalization
• (analytical) level of system
• organized system
• one single organized subject
• a determinate systematic structure
• a determinate field
• a single explanatory unity
• ultimate premises
• the stability of the sets and patterns of dynamic relationships

Consider:

Generalization comes with Newton, who attacked the general theory of motion, laid down its pure theory, identified Kepler’s and Galileo’s laws by inventing the calculus, and so found himself in a position to account for any corporeal motion known.  Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galilei, and Kepler had all been busy with particular classes of moving bodies.  Newton dealt in the same way with all.  He did so by turning to a field of greater generality, the laws of motion, and by finding a deeper unity in the apparent disparateness of Kepler’s ellipse and Galilei’s time squared. … Similarly the non-Euclidean geometers and Einstein went beyond Euclid and Newton. … The non-Euclideans moved geometry back to premises more remote than Euclid’s axioms, they developed methods of their own quite unlike Euclid’s, and though they did not impugn Euclid’s theorems, neither were they very interested in them; casually and incidentally they turn them up as particular cases in an enlarged and radically different field. … Einstein went beyond Newton by employing the new geometries to make time an independent variable; and as Newton transformed the formulation and interpretation of Kepler’s laws, so Einstein transforms the Newtonian laws of motion. … It is, we believe, a scientific generalization of the old political economy and of modern economics that will yield the new political economy which we need. … Plainly the way out is through a more general field. [CWL 21, 6-7]

Euclid, Newton, and Mendeleev each discovered “a determinate systematic structure to which corresponds a determinate field.”

… 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 system.  But 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. [Method,241-42]

Newton set down laws of motion and proceeded to demonstrate that if a body moves in a field of central force, its trajectory is a conic section.  He set out -= with a minimal cluster of insights – definitions, postulates, axioms and proceeded to account for the laws that had previously been empirically established, bringing them into a single explanatory unity.  ¶A single insight yields a conception, a definition, an object of thought; but from a cluster of insights, you build up a system of definitions, axioms, postulates, and deductions.  We have to note that a system is quite an achievement; systems are not numerous.  There are Euclid’s geometry and subsequent developments in geometry, Newton’s mechanics and dynamics and the building upon Newton, and the Mendeleev table in chemistry.  System then is the expression of a cluster of insights. (CWL 5, 52)

… our inquiry differs radically from traditional economics, in which the ultimate premises are not production and exchange but rather exchange and self-interest, or later, exchange and a vaguely defined psychological situation.  Our aim is to prescind from human psychology (so) that, in the first place, we may define the objective situation with which man has to deal, and, in the second place, define the psychological attitude that has to be adopted if man is to deal successfully with economic problems.  Thus something of a Copernican revolution is attempted: instead of taking man as he is or as he may be thought to be and from that deducing what economic phenomena are going to be, we take the exchange process in its greatest generality and attempt to deduce the human adaptations necessary for survival. [CWL 21,42- 43]

It is, we believe, a scientific generalization of the old political economy and of modern economics that will yield the new political economy which we need. … Plainly the way out is through a more general field. [CWL 21, 6-7]

Discovery of the systematics of Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics was achieved by Bernard Lonergan in his two books, Macroeconomic Dynamics; an Essay in Circulation Analysis and For a New Political Economy.  Unless one appreciates a) the depth of Lonergan’s intellectual formation in mathematics, science, and scientific method, and b) his goal and his empirical scientific method, one will likely fail to understand and respect the revolutionary nature of his accomplishment.  Lonergan entered the field of economics from the fields of mathematics and science and, guided by the heuristics and methods of empirical science, – especially the scientific methods in physics and chemistry – he set out to discover and formulate the objective dynamics of production, exchange, and finance.

… no one else considers the functional distinctions between different kinds of productive rhythms prior to, and more fundamental than, wealth, value, supply and demand, price levels and patterns, capital and labor, interest and profits, wages, and so forth … only Lonergan analyzes booms and slumps in terms of how their velocities, accelerations, and decelerations are or are not equilibrated in relation to the events, movements and changes in two distinct monetary circuits of production and exchange as considered both in themselves and in relation to each other by means of crossover payments. [CWL 15, Editors’; Introduction lxii]

Lonergan is alone in using this difference in economic activities to specify the significant variables in his dynamic analysis… no one else considers the functional distinctions between different kinds of (rhythmic production flows) prior to, and more fundamental than, … price levels and patterns, … interest and profits, and so forth….only Lonergan analyzes booms and slumps in terms of how their (explanatory) velocities, accelerations, and decelerations are or are not equilibrated in relation to the events, movements, and changes in two distinct monetary circuits of production and exchange as considered both in themselves (with circulatory, sequential dependence) and in relation to each other by means of crossover payments. [CWL 15, Editors’ Introduction, lxii]

… again, as to the notion of cause, Newton conceived of his forces as efficient causes, and the modern mechanics drops the notion of force; it gets along perfectly well without it.  It thinks in terms of a field theory, the set of relationships between n objects.  The field theory is a set of intelligible relations linking what is implicitly defined by the relations themselves; it is a set of relational forms.  The form of any element is known through its relations to all other elements.  What is a mass?  A mass is anything that satisfies the fundamental equations that regard masses.  Consequently, when you add a new fundamental equation about mass, as Einstein did when he equated mass with energy, you get a new idea of mass.  Field theory is a matter of the immanent intelligibility of the object. (CWL 10, 154)

Lonergan pointed out that this (functional) differentiation of economic activities … is discussed by traditional economists such as S. M. Longfield (1802-1884), John Rae (1796-1872), Nassau Senior (1790-1864), Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk (1851-1914), and in the heavily disputed “Ricardo effect.” But Lonergan credits Piero Sraffa (1898-1983) as having clarified it most thoroughly in his famous essay, “Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities” (1960).  Yet even Sraffa does not use his sophisticated explanation of the “Ricardo effect” and the “roundabout” or “concertina”-like phenomena associated with it in the way Lonergan does. [CWL 15, Editors’ Introduction, lxii]

Now the general theorem of continuity is that this (organic whole) has a nature that must be respected. … to violate this organic interconnection is simply to smash the organism, to create the paradoxical situation of starvation in the midst of plenty, of workers eager for work and capable of finding none, of investors looking for opportunities to invest and being given no outlet, and of everyone’s inability to do what he wishes to do being the cause of everyone’s inability to remedy the situation. Such is disorganizationContinuity, on the other hand, is the maintenance of organization, the stability of the sets and patterns of dynamic relationships that constitute economic well-being in a society. [CWL 21, 74]

[7/18/19] No doubt Keynes was an economist first and a methodologist second, but he was none the less very articulate about his theorizing……..Lonergan, for his part, is perhaps a methodologist first and an economist second, but, as we shall see, he was able to push his economic reflections further than Keynes because he had a firmer grasp of the essentials of an effective theory.   [Gibbons, 1987] [3] [7/22/19]