I hope that this Sampler will a) demonstrate the breadth and depth of the knowledge that Lonergan brought to Macroeconomic Dynamics, and b) inspire readers to compare their perspective to his in regard to science and macroeconomics. His thinking ranged over mathematics, natural science, method, history, philosophy, theology, and art. This sampler is arranged in groups of excerpts from particular books of Lonergan. Scroll down to see the arrangement.
CWL 3, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding
“The most significant book of the twentieth century,” (Philip McShane)
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]
The concrete intelligibilityof Space is that it grounds the possibility of those simultaneous multiplicities named situations. The concrete intelligibility of Time is that it grounds the possibility of successive realizations in accord with the probabilities. In other words, concrete extensions and concrete durations are the field or matter or potency in which emergent probability is the immanent form of intelligibility. (CWL 3, 172) Continue reading →
“The road up and the road down is one and the same. (Heraclitus)
ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή
Archaeologists and scholars have not found the context of this isolated fragment of Heraclitus. What “road” was he referring to, and was he was speaking literally or figuratively? I simply like the statement as an introduction to the ups and downs of distinct price-quantity flows, whether in a pure cycle of expansion or in a distorted cycle of boom and corrective slump. Continue reading →
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. The two are not totally independent, for they deal with the same things and, as we have seen, 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]
Lonergan’s basic explanatoryterms are rates of so much or so many every so often; i.e. the foundational and superstructural explanatory terms of the economic process are velocities. What at first seem to be everyday commonsense descriptive utterances are “remeaningized”, given another meaning, or redefined, and precisely distinguished and related as functional point-to-point activities or functional point-to-line activities; and they are scientifically employed as abstract technical terms in an explanatory formulation.
The economic process always is “the current process” constituted by current interdependent velocitous flows of so-much or so-many every so often.
The productive process is, then, the (current)aggregate of activities proceeding from the potentialities of nature and terminating in a standard of living. Always it is the current process, and so it is distinguished both from the natural resources, which it presupposes, and from the durable effects of past production. [CWL 15, 20]
The goal of scientific analysis is explanation of the objective economic process, i.e. to discover the abstractimmanent intelligibility which explains any particular configuration of flows of products and money in any instance. Such immanent intelligibility would be always relevant and universally valid. (Continue reading)
Presenters John Siegfried and David Colander, and discussants Daron Acemoglu, Melissa S. Kearney, John A List, N. Gregory Mankiw, Deirdre McCloskey, and Betsey Stevenson recently collaborated in a virtual ASSA meeting entitled “What Does Critical Thinking Mean in Economics, the Big and Little of It?” Handouts from the meeting can be found in an Announcement in a blog of Saturday, January 2, 2021 on N. Gregory Mankiw’swebsite.
Preliminarily, note the subtitle in Lonergan’s seminal work,Insight: A Study of Human Understanding. In the present context we might reword the subtitle A Study of Critical Thinking. A very smart person – learned in advanced mathematics and theoretical physics – called Lonergan’s book “The Most Significant Book of the Twentieth Century.”(Continue reading)
A systematic explanation, then, requires a normative theoretical framework. The basic terms and relations of such a framework would specify the distinctions and correlations that articulate the causes, which are not necessarily visible, of events that are apparent to all. (CWL 15, Editors’ Introduction, lv) (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)