Economics is Philosophy/Theology

Most of all the theorizing one hears today in the area of economics is surface nonsense that either completely glosses over the deeper realities or simply presumes the modern categories and understandings.  This is to say, it hides or forgets that it is just another theology masquerading as something neutral or objective.  Whether it is classical, Keynesian, Laissez Faire Capitalism, or the myriad other schools out there- they are not “sciences”- they are always theologies/philosophies trying to pass themselves off as something else.

Until people are ready to recognize these underlying truths and realize that “economics” is ultimately about spiritual and moral realities and will always be governed by such, all the current blather will lead to one excess after another.  The truth has a way of making itself relevant, no matter how hard we try to fool ourselves into thinking we are talking about something else in some objective neutral scientific way.
Greed, generosity, compassion, justice, fairness, love, community, hate, and all the other deep things of life are what “economics” tries to address is a “scientific” language of exchange, property, value, goods, labor, statistics, graphs, and as many other terms and methods it can come up with to hide what it is really trying to address.


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2 Responses to Economics is Philosophy/Theology

  1. Burk Braun says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    I think you and your citee may misunderstand the nature of debt. Debt is a claim on someone else's resources, labor, etc. typically as they get them over future time. It is not making things from nothing, unless the collateral isn't what you thought it was.

    There are certainly moral aspects to this.. how long can one hold others in debt bondage? Are such claims inherently sinful (usury?). But that is separate from the mechanical aspects of how the monetary system works, which unfortunately is subject to a great deal of ignorance and posturing as well.


  2. Darrell says:


    Where did we (I or Cavanaugh) address the issue of debt per se or outside of the context of his whole essay?

    Unless one is literally reducing something to math, in complete isolation from context and all other questions or concerns, and speaking to nothing else, one could say he was speaking to the “mechanical” aspects but this would be the language of auditors, accountants and bookkeepers. An economist and all those who comment holistically in these areas, including policy makers and so forth, are doing much more—they are doing philosophy/theology—that is the point. The moment someone says what we “ought” to do, some philosophy/theology is in play.

    And I don’t believe these are separate issues. The “mechanical” aspects of anything are always being put to some use, for some end. They always and only make sense, as tools, within the “context” of the greater narrative, within the “economy” of their role and purpose. And when this is forgotten, such is what allows corporations and states to use the language of “mechanics” to lend some sort of inevitability or law-like certainty to their pronouncements about what must supposedly be done to “fix” whatever problem is being addressed.


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