Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Theology of Popular Economics

A post made by secular economist Tyler Cowen;

Once I pick up a popular economics book, I ask myself: what is this book's implicit theology? (How would you in this regard classify Freakonomics? Undercover Economist? Steve Landsburg?)

That is one of the best first questions to ask about any non-fiction book.

I view Discover Your Inner Economist as largely Thomist and more Catholic than anything else.

It is suggested that people are capable of simply doing the right thing, although we should not necessarily expect them to do the right thing.

It is suggested that a unified perspective of faith and reason, applied in voluntarist fashion, can indeed give people better and more complete lives.

It is suggested that not everything can be bought and sold, yet markets have a very important role in human life.

The chapters on food, or the seven deadly sins, are too obvious to require explanation.

The book is highly cosmopolitan, and it is suggested that acts of will and understanding can open up the sacraments to us. The possibility of those sacraments lies right before our very eyes, and they are literally available for free. Except the relevant sacraments are those of culture, and not of the Roman Church.

I am not a Catholic or for that matter a believer, but as I tried to solve various problems in the exposition, the argument fell naturally into religious ideas. Religion has so much power over the human mind, in part, because its basic teachings about life are largely true. Furthermore classical liberalism is far more of an intellectual offshoot of Christianity than most non-Christians are keen to admit. (Muslims and Chinese often see this more clearly.)

So when I realized that Inner Economist had this strongly Thomist philosophic flavor, I was greatly comforted. Link

I think that Tyler Cowen is satisfied with the scraps from the Catholic table but is missing out on the banquet. I have to admit that it is refreshing that someone from the secular side of things can acknowledges at least some of the truth of the Catholic Faith.

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