The Notion of a Field Theory, a Purely Relational Intelligibility at a High Level of Abstraction

Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics is a field theory of the immanent intelligibility of accelerations rather than a theory of the external cause of accelerations.  It is a theory of the formal cause.  It is not concerned with instrumental or material causes, or with the subjective purpose (final cause) of individual human agents, or with the utility or time-preference of (efficiently causal) human agents, or with the actions and reactions of human agents. It is concerned with the intelligibility immanent in data.  This intelligibility, i.e. formal cause, is conceptually prior to and more fundamental that these external causes of implementations.

Special Relativity is primarily a field theory, that is, it is concerned not with efficient, instrumental, material, or final causes of events, but with the intelligibility immanent in data; but Newtonian dynamics seems primarily a theory of efficient causes, of forces, their action, and the reaction evoked by action.  [3, 43/67]

Special Relativity’s basic postulate of invariance mandates a methodof analysis.  Newtonian dynamics focuses on corporal bodies subject to laws of motion.

… , Special Relativity is stated as a methodological doctrine that regards the mathematical expression of physical principles and laws, but Newtonian dynamics is stated as a doctrine about the objects subject to laws. [3, 43/67]

Special relativity’s postulate of invariance, with its contents of an immanent intelligibility of space and time, has kept revealing its fruitfulness for the past fifty years. We expect Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics, with its postulates and principles of invariance, interdependence, concomitance, equilibrium, and correspondence and its field theory of the immanent intelligibility of interdependent flows, to reveal its fruitfulness soon and to continue revealing its fruitfulness for the next fifty years.

The principle of inertia made it possible to conceive dynamics not as a theory of motions but as an enormously more compact and more powerful theory of accelerations; and the invariance of physical principles and laws under inertial transformations not only is an extremely neat idea but also has kept revealing its fruitfulness for the past fifty years. [CWL 3, 25/50]

Paraphrasing:

The principles of invariance, functional interdependence, concomitance, equilibrium, and correspondencehave made it possible to conceive macroeconomic dynamics not as a theory of psychology but as an enormously more compact and more powerful theory of rhythmic accelerations; and the invariance of macroeconomic principles and laws not only is an extremely neat idea but also will keep revealing its fruitfulness for the next fifty years.

Scientific discoveries advance over time to higher levels of abstraction.  FMD leaves behind the expectations, behavior, rationality, irrationality, utilities and time preference of the macroeconomic isms; and it does not deal with tallies of hundreds of accountants’ unities.  It exists at a higher level of abstraction.  It operates on a radically different field of greater generality; it discovers and expresses the laws of interdependent, mutually conditioning, functional flows.  It explainsrather than reports. It is a prior and more fundamental scientific generalization.

Generalization comes with Newton, who attacked the general theory of motion, laid down its pure theory, identified Kepler’s and Galileo’s laws by inventing the calculus, and so found himself in a position to account for any corporeal motion known.  Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galilei, and Kepler had all been busy with particular classes of moving bodies.  Newton dealt in the same way with all.  He did so by turning to a field of greater generality, the laws of motion, and by finding a deeper unity in the apparent disparateness of Kepler’s ellipse and Galilei’s time squared. … Similarly the non-Euclidean geometers and Einstein went beyond Euclid and Newton. … The non-Euclideans moved geometry back to premises more remote than Euclid’s axioms, they developed methods of their own quite unlike Euclid’s, and though they did not impugn Euclid’s theorems, neither were they very interested in them; casually and incidentally they turn them up as particular cases in an enlarged and radically different field. … Einstein went beyond Newton by employing the new geometries to make time an independent variable; and as Newton transformed the formulation and interpretation of Kepler’s laws, so Einstein transforms the Newtonian laws of motion. … It is, , a scientific generalization of the old political economy and of modern economics that will yield the new political economy which we need. … Plainly the way out is through a more general field. [CWL 21, 6-7]

Paraphrasing:

Lonergan moved macroeconomics back to premises more remote than Walrasian statics, microeconomic price theory, neoclassical macroeconomics and Keynesian macroeconomics; he developed explanatory formulae quite unlike others’, and though he did not impugn them, neither was he very interested in them; casually and incidentally combinations of prices and quantities turn up as particular coincidental cases in an enlarged and radically different field. … Lonergan employed a new field-theory dynamics to make aggregate, mutually-defining, velocitous functionings the basic interdependent variables; and as Newton transformed the formulation and interpretation of Kepler’s laws, so Lonergan transforms the neoclassical and Keynesian laws of how the economy actually functions. … He achieved a scientific generalization of the old political economy and of modern economics that yields the new political economy which we need. … Plainly the way to settle disputes about the intelligibility of the economic process is through a sublating, more general, dynamics of implicitly defined functionings.

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 of the object. [CWL 10, 154]

Paraphrasing

again, as to the notion of cause, macroeconomists mistakenly conceive of subjective preferences as formal causes.  Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics drops the notion of subjective preferences; it gets along perfectly well without it.  It thinks in terms of a field theory, the set of relationships between ninterdependent, implicitly defined functional activities.  The field theory of FMD 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.  ….  Field theory is a matter of the immanent intelligibility of the object.

We are not going to discuss wealth or value, supply and demand, price levels and price patterns, capital and labor, interest and profits, production, distribution, and consumption. Because we are not, it certainly will be objected that our discussion has nothing to do with economic science, for economics is precisely the study of wealth and value, supply and demand, and so on.  The answer is as follows.  The discussion moves on a more general plane to terminate in a more general conclusion.  Because the general includes the particular, a generalized economics cannot but include the particular economics. [CWL 21, 8]

Not only are scientific discoveries independent of the place and time of their origin but also they can claim to be equally and uniformly valid irrespective of merely spatio-temporal differences. [CWL 3, 40/  ]

Paraphrasing:

Not only are FMD’s terms and relations independent of the subjective and personal utilities and time-preferences of the efficiently causal human agents, but also they can claim to be equally and uniformly valid irrespective of merely precio-quantital differences.