[9/22/2020] (Bernard Lonergan, Albert Einstein) Because insights arise with reference to the concrete, mathematicians need pen and paper, teachers need blackboards, pupils have to perform experiments for themselves, doctors have to see patients, trouble-shooters have to travel to the spot, people with a mechanical bent take things apart to see how they work. But because the significance and relevance of insight goes beyond any concrete problem or application, men formulate abstract sciences with their numbers and symbols, their technical terms and formulae, their definitions, postulates, and deductions. Thus, by its very nature, insight is the mediator, the hinge, the pivot. It is insight into the concrete world of sense and imagination. Yet what is known by insight, what insight adds to sensible and imagined presentations, finds its adequate expression only in the abstract and recondite formulations of the sciences. [CWL 3, 6/30] [#89] (Click here for previous “Single Paragraphs” or “Brief Items”)
Philip McShane had a strong background in mathematics and theoretical physics; thus he was able to understand the scientific significance of Bernard Lonergan’s macroeconomic field 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 and Einstein, 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
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)