Kant, the Light of Nature, and Economic Theory

This blog post is under construction, like the urban 1/3 of Florida.  Please be patient as I actually construct this page, unlike certain other locations. Ahem.

Questions remain: Given that trade, the transfer of economic value, seems built into the human condition, where “the bottom line IS the bottom line,” we ought to ask after the transcendental character of economic value (See J.S. Mill et al), not merely moral values. For every moral law within, there is a tax-man without.   The regulations we pass because of the moral law within cost money, and someone has to pay those bills.

Supply and demand relations form a transcendental for understanding human experience IN THE COLLECTIVE, but not necessarily individually.  Dr. Kant’s original investigation was one of “individual understanding” — how the individual will understand the world.  Dr. Kuhn expanded the conversation to ask how GROUPS (that share paradigms) understand the world (and thus individuals within those groups).  My point here is this: Kant’s investigation did not go far enough, since it did not explain or render intelligible the relationship of the individual to the collective (which necessarily includes the production and transfer of economic value).

But one will say: this kind of grasp (economic) does not seem necessary to knowledge PER SE (until you get the tuition bill from Yale University).  I rejoin that Kant’s categories do not render intelligible a fundamentally necessary human activity.  His transcendentals have formal (by analogy), but not MATERIAL, adequacy.   Or said a bit differently, Kant’s categories render intelligible to the human individual the deterministic aspects of the natural world, but not by themselves the socio-economic (contingent) aspects of the natural world.

And then — there’s SET THEORY!   According to the battle that transpired for over a century, between mathematicians and logicians, over the question of which theory-construction activity was the more “properly basic,” the set theory guys won the debate, proving that in order to understand Kant’s “quantities” (including math systems), one would first need to understand sets as basic as well.  Here, the run “basic” as a bridge that frames the set of relations that properly obtain, linking the disciplines of math and logic.   One must in math (to manage quantities) impose and group separately from numbers, kinds of things like “operations,” “sums,” “quotients,” “properties of equality,” and the like.  (S) he must also group numbers in sets like the set of “real numbers,” “nonpositive numbers,” “imaginary numbers,” “fractions” and “decimals.”

Sets (classes and their members) seem necessary for all different kinds of “classification schemes” – taxonomy of animals, sports stats, kinds of diseases and disorders, study of epidemics AND (get this) — elements of knowledge, like quantities, qualities, modalities and relations.  Sets seem basic to both math and logic, and these to knowledge.  Understanding human experience in the collective (groups), as Dr. Kuhn has shown, is necessary for rendering intelligible human experience — because the production of knowledge does not transpire merely as an INDIVIDUAL enterprise — Kant’s would be the “fallacy of individual, epistemic reductionism” — where human knowledge falsely reduces to individual human knowledge, apart from “group knowledge.”  Remember that Kant’s phenomenology was performed individualistically.  He seemed to take for granted that all people experienced knowledge (more or less) the way that Dr. Kant did.

My challenge here is this: Dr. Kant is not a group. Groups do not necessarily do their knowing the way that individuals do.  Long live St. Thomas (of Chicago).

Conclusion:  The language native to a basic grasp of those (now fairly advanced) disciplines that we might call extra-transcendental — economics, set studies and other fields (e.g. future studies) — will need a dynamic equivalent from the English (or else a purely innovative form) to add to our New Greek tongue for optimal profitablility and finesse, as we advance in wisdom and understanding in the future.


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