Category Archives: Functions

The Emergence of Science

Lonergan, like Euclid, Newton, and Mendeleyev, moved through his field of inquiry to the level of system.

(Given the failure to implement the basic expansion,) the systematic requirement of a rate of losses will result in a series of contractions and liquidations. … [CWL 15, 155]

… 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. [CWL 14, Method, 1971, 241-42]

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Lonergan’s functional, analytic distinctions are prior to and more fundamental than changes in prices, interest rates, and employment

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 (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]

Modern Monetary Theory Fails to Qualify as Scientific Macroeconomics

Scientific macroeconomics, if it is to be genuinely scientific, must not be contaminated by human psychology.  Gustav Kirchhoff’s laws of the electric circuit do not incorporate the psychology of the human who operates the levers or switches.  So, Lonergan, the scientist, strove to discover the purely relational, purely functional laws of the circuits of the objective economic process.  Unfortunately, many proponents of Modern Monetary Theory exhibit sentiments and inclinations favoring a totalitarian bureaucracy for the management of fiscal and monetary affairs. Their purported science contains some valid assertions, but is not a coherent set of objective laws to which participants must adapt, regardless of sentiment; rather MMT is an admixture of several ideological and psychopolitical sentiments transformed into a contaminated set of mandates for the management of fiscal and monetary affairs.  The tenets of MMT fail to constitute a fully explanatory theory of macroeconomic dynamics. (to continue reading, click here)

The Intrinsic Cyclicality of the Productive Process

The economy is composed of the production of two conceptually distinct, mutually-definitive types of goods.  Depending on the context they may be named

  • basic goods or surplus goods,
  • consumer goods or producer goods,
  • accelerated goods or accelerator goods,
  • point-to-point goods or point-to-line goods.

An expansion of the surplus production function causes a later acceleration of the basic production function.  First one surge, then later the other surge.  Note the symbols for time (t) and (t-a) in the following formula, “the lagged technical accelerator.” (continue reading)

kn[f’n(t-a)-Bn] = f”n-1(t) – An-1        CWL 15, p. 37 

 

Textbook Flaws and Deficiencies

The popular textbooks of Macroeconomics – by N Gregory Mankiw, Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, Olivier Blanchard, Andrew B. Abel and Ben S. Bernanke, William J. Baumol and Alan S. Blinder – suffer in common from several flaws.  Our subheadings immediately below and the pointers thereafter point out flaws and deficiencies in textbooks commonly used in higher education. Though the treatments in this section are not exhaustive, they are sufficiently provocative; they should stimulate careful scrutiny of, and skepticism regarding, many traditional and conventional tenets.  Finally, though the treatments in this section are relatively brief and often primarily referential, there is a lot of ground to cover; so, we will underline and publish as time allows.

  1. This Introduction
  2. The nature of the current, purely dynamic economic process
  3. Scientific macroeconomics explains rather than merely describes
  4. A theory of macroeconomics must be independent of human psychology and anthropology
  5. The author of a textbook must employ a scientific and dynamic heuristic
  6. Real Analysis (read more)

Why Analyze the Rhythmic Pattern of the Productive Process First?

Why did Lonergan analyze the structure and rhythm of the productive process before he analyzed the monetary aspects of exchange and the inner contradictions of the manipulation of interest rates?

Quick answer: Money is to buy goods and services.  Payments of money are congruent with the network of the production and provision of goods and services.  The production of goods and services is prior in the order of understanding to the correlated payments for goods and services. Therefore, the structure of the current, purely dynamic, productive process – as to factoral makeup, functional interdependencies, flow quantities, and timing – sets the pattern for the pattern of payments.  It is conceptually prior to, and really determinate of, the normative flowings of money.

real analysis (is) identifying money with what money buys. … And that is the source of the problem in real analysis.  If you want to treat money that doesn’t make a difference, you can have a beautiful liberal monetary theory.  But it doesn’t say the way the thing works. [CWL 21, xxviii] (continue reading)

A New Paradigm

The Editors’ Introduction in Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis [CWL 15] contains a 4 ½-page Section 5 (pp. liv-lix) titled Macroeconomic Dynamic Analysis as a New Paradigm of Economic Theory.  It is difficult to imagine that any macroeconomist, who has read that section, would fail to be motivated to study seriously Lonergan’s Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics. That section should be read in its entirety. Here are some of the particular items in that section: Continue reading