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
We hope to inspire serious graduate students of economics a) to seek and achieve an understanding of “Macroeconomic Field Theory,” b) to verify empirically 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)
.I. Summary of the Analysis: Heuristic, Observations, and Discoveries
.II. Summary of the Argument (verbatim from CWL 15, 5-6)
.III. Supplement to the Summaries
Economists don’t have the methodological and conceptual toolkit needed for appreciation of FMD’s scientific and historical significance.
- They don’t know what they don’t know.
- They’re not methodologists and don’t know what constitutes good theory.
- They never read CWL 3, pages 3-172 and 490-97 and, thus, they never studied the canons of empirical method, especially the Canon of Parsimony and the Canon of Complete Explanation; they have no idea of the deficiencies of their method.
- Thus, they lack a purely scientific and explanatory heuristic.
- They do not adequately distinguish description vs. explanation.
- They do not know the type of answer they’re seeking, i.e. their known unknown.
- They do not put questions in the right order to discover basic terms of scientific significance.
- They are mired in muddy premises and disorienting assumptions.
- They are unable to employ a scientific, dynamic heuristic adequate for analysis of a current, purely dynamic process.
- They don’t understand what constitutes the normative system’s requirement for concomitance, continuity, and equilibrium of flows.
- They lack a background in theoretical physics. They don’t understand the principles and abstract laws of hydrodynamics, electric circuits, or field theory. Nor do they understand adequately the idea of continuity and the conditions of equilibrium in macroeconomic dynamics. They are unaware of analogies from physics applicable on the basis of isomorphism to the phenomena of Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics. (Continue reading.)
In his book, FREEFALL (2009, Penguin Books), Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979), states that economics is a predictive science. Now, one must distinguish between predicting a) planetary motion in its scheme of recurrence, and b) this afternoon’s weather vs. next month’s weather, or this afternoon’s prices and quantities vs. next year’s prices and quantities, all subject to to conditions diverging in space and time. Continue reading)
In this section, we are contrasting familiar textbook models of macrostatic equilibrium, with Lonergan’s explanatory theory of macrodynamic equilibrium. We are contrasting a macrostatic toolkit with a purely relational field theory of macroeconomic dynamics. Lonergan discovered a theory which is more fundamental than the traditional wisdom based upon human psychology and purported endogenous reactions to external forces. His Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics is a set of relationships between n objects, a set of intelligible relations linking what is implicitly defined by the relations themselves, a set of relational forms wherein the form of any element is known through its relations to all other elements. His field theory is a single explanatory unity; it is purely relational, completely general, and universally applicable to every configuration in any instance. (Continue reading)
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]