N. Gregory Mankiw’s two textbooks – Principles of Microeconomics (Fourth Edition, 2007) and Brief Principles of Macroeconomics (Fifth Edition, 2009) – have their first chapter entitled “Ten Principles of Economics.” The first four of the ten principles deal with the concept of efficient cause consisting in the subjectivepsychology of human participants as they make microeconomic decisions about their personal economic well-being. In contrast, Lonergan’s Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis (1999) first treats the objective macroeconomic situation to whose laws the psychological participants must adapt in the conduct of their lives. Lonergan seeks the immanent macroeconomic intelligibility of the objectivesystem of production and exchange. Both Mankiw and Lonergan deal intelligently in the micro and macro realms. Lonergan seeks to treat “first thing first.” Continue reading →

This Sampler will be supplemented as time allows, but I want to publish now to 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.

CWL 3, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding

Now the principles and laws of a geometry are abstract and generally valid propositions. 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)

In any analysis there is a right order of questions; and to violate this order is to invite misunderstanding, myth, and disaster. To indicate the wisdom in Lonergan’s analysis, we present excerpts, mainly from his CWL 12, which mandate clearly, for himself and for us, that one’s method and one’s heuristic necessitate putting questions in their right order. The precepts apply whether one is doing physics, economics, philosophy or theology. Continue reading →

Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics acknowledges and affirms a non-systematic manifold of secondary determinations (such as prices and quantities), a Canon of Statistical Residues, and the impossibility of prediction in the general case. However, FMD affirms the existence of both human intelligence and the abstract, primary,immanent intelligibility of the objective, dynamic economic process. It is this abstract, primary, immanent intelligibility by which the process must always be understood so as to be properly managed.

Knocking a pendulum slightly out of its existing oscillation does not necessitate a search for a new theory of the pendulum in order to correct the mishap. The abstract theory of the pendulum in Newtonian mechanics still applies; the abstract intelligibility of the pendular motion is always relevant, in any instance, in any configuration of initial angle and initial velocity. The theory still applies, though the motion may be on a new basis determined by new initial conditions or boundary values. 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 d^{2}θ/dt^{2}, d^{2}x/dt^{2}, d^{2}y/dt^{2}, 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]

A very expensive macroeconomics textbook, having 700-1000 pages, would contain a lot of interesting history, a lot of fuzzy psychology, unscientific analysis, and uncertain conclusions. A reader would not gain a clear theory and complete explanation of the dynamics of the real economic process. However, is there not a superior 228-page, far less expensive textbook right in our hands? How about this? Reword the subtitle of CWL 15 from An Essay in Circulation Analysis to A Textbook of Circulation Analysis, and let the professor instruct the serious student to read the book three times, then report back to discuss the following:

the canons of empirical method

a scientific, dynamic heuristic

the technique of implicit definition; explanatory terms defined by the functional relations in which they stand with one another

velocitous functional unities of scientific and explanatory significance replacing the BEA’s descriptive, commonsense, accountants’ unities

the structure of the lagged, rectilinear productive process

money as a dummy invented by man

the perspective of a hierarchical series of monetary circuits

how a monetary circulation meets the rectilinear production-and-vending process

the primary relativities and concomitance in the Diagram of Rates of Flow

dynamic equilibrium replacing static Walrasian general equilibrium

the velocity of money in terms of magnitudes and frequencies

prices are not a given and not requiring explanation; rather prices are in need of explanation

interpretation of prices, quantities, interest rates in the light of significant explanatory variables

the pure cycle and its constituent phases in the expansion of the objective economic process

the abstractprimary relativities and concrete secondary determinations in the expansion of the economic process

the statistical residue and why prediction is impossible in the general case; predicting weather vs. predicting planetary motion

the significance of investment’s monetary correlate

the ineptitude of manipulating interest rates

the explanation of government and foreign-trade imbalances by the dynamics of superposed circuits

the distinction between efficient cause and formalcause

distinguishing between self-healing and the effect of interventions

the intelligibility and explanatory power of the basic price-spread ratio

Figures 14-1, 24-7, and 27-1 in CWL 15

The student would learn much that is radically different, explanatory, and very useful; and he/she would gain a perspective or framework by which to evaluate and criticize the flawed premises and tenets of conventional textbooks and traditional theories.