We hope to inspire serious graduate students of economics a) to seek and achieve an understanding of “Macroeconomic Field Theory,” b) to verifyempirically Lonergan’s field relations, and c) to use the explanatory field relations as the basis of influential scholarly papers.
We trace developments
in physics from Newtonian mechanics to modern field theory, and
in economics from Walrasian supply-demand economics to purely relational, Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory.
Key ideas include a) abstraction and implicit definition as the basis and ground of invariance in both physics and macroeconomics, b) the concept of a purely relational field, c) immanent intelligibility and formal causality, and d) the canons of parsimony and of complete explanation. We highlight some key ideas: (continue reading)
Special Relativity and Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics are field theories. (Click here and here and here) We wish to gain further appreciation of FMD as a field theory by juxtaposing it with Special Relativity.
… Special Relativity is primarily a field theory, that is, it is concerned not with efficient, instrumental, material, or final causes of events, but with the intelligibility immanent in data; but Newtonian dynamics seems primarily a theory of efficient causes, of forces, their action, and the reaction evoked by action. … Special Relativity is stated as a methodological doctrine that regards the mathematical expression of physical principles and laws, but Newtonian dynamics is stated as a doctrine about the objects subject to laws. [3, 43/67] (Continue reading)
Philip McShane had a strong background in mathematics and theoretical physics; thus he was able to understand the scientific significance of Bernard Lonergan’s macroeconomicfield theory in an Einsteinian context.
First we display, in brief, key excerpts, many of which contain analogies from physics and chemistry, relevant to the science of Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics; then we show the same excerpts more fully within lengthier quotes. Continue reading →
To help the reader gain an appreciation of Lonergan’s achievement of Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory we will, in each section, print leading excerpts, then highlight the key concepts of those excerpts. We will comment on the historically-significant advances in geometry of Euclid and Hilbert, in physics of Newton andEinstein, and in macroeconomics of Lonergan.
Euclid’s great achievement was his rigorous deduction of geometry.
Hilbert’s great achievement was his employment of implicit definition to reorder Euclid’s geometry.
Newton’s two great achievements were unifying the isolated insights of Galileo and Kepler into a unified system of mechanics and his invention of the calculus.
One of the great achievements of Einstein was the invention of the field theories of Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Gravitation.
One of Lonergan’s several great achievements was his systematization of macroeconomic phenomena in his Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory. He combined the technique of implicit definition introduced by Hilbert and the concept of a field theory developed by Faraday and Einstein; and he developed an explanatory macroeconomics, which is general, invariant, and relevant in any instance. (Continue reading)
Our aim is to prescind from human psychology 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]
Taking into account past and (expected) future values does not constitute the creative key transition to dynamics.Those familiar with elementary statics and dynamics will appreciate the shift in thinking involved in passing from equilibrium analysis…to an analysis where attention is focused on second-order differential equations, on d2θ/dt2, d2x/dt2, d2y/dt2, on a range of related forces, central, friction, whatever….. What is significant is the Leibnitz-Newtonian shift of context. [McShane 1980, 127]
A distinction has been drawn between description and explanation. Description deals with things as related to us. Explanation deals with the same things as related among themselves. … description supplies, as it were, the tweezers by which we hold things while explanations are being discovered or verified, applied or revised. … [CWL 3, 291/316]
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 nobjects. 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 ofthe object. [CWL 10, 154]
[2/8/20] Albert Einstein, Bernard Lonergan: In a paper recently presented before the Boston Colloquium of the History and Philosophy of Science, Prof. Max Jammer of Bar-Ilan University surveyed the history of the attempts to provide axiomatic (or conceptual) foundations for the Special Theory of Relativity (hereafter abbreviated as “STR”). Among other things, Prof. Jammer’s paper revealed that, in contrast to quantum mechanics, no generally accepted axiomatic foundations for STR have yet emerged. Furthermore, Jammer’s paper showed that several attempts at axiomatic foundations were beleaguered with problems not to be found in the use of the theory by Einstein or the successive generations of practicing physicists. ¶ The shortcomings of these efforts to develop axiomatic foundations for STR – and indeed of any parallel efforts directed towards the search for axiomatic foundations for the General Theory of Relativity as well – are, in my judgement, inherent in the theories themselves. That is, the proper foundations of the theories of relativity reside, not in conceptual axioms, but in the foundational reality of the subject as subject. It is not my purpose in this paper to enter into a detailed critique of the various attempts at axiomatization discussed in Prof. Jammer’s paper. Rather on this occasion celebrating the achievements of Bernard Lonergan, I simply intend to show how his phenomenological appropriation of the structure of consciousness has opened up the possibility of approaching the question of the foundations of the theories of relativity from the viewpoint of the subject as subject. [ Byrne, Patrick H. “Lonergan on the Foundations of the Theories of Relativity,” Creativity and Method, Matthew Lamb (ed.), Milwaukee: University of Marquette Press, 1981, pp. 477-478 in pages 477-94.]