An Eidetic Reduction of the Economy

Husserl5

1: PHENOMENOLOGY

In order to achieve proper and objective understandings of things, we need to disclose all the subjective or cultural presumptions we have about the particular thing being studied. This is one of the prime objectives of phenomenology, a branch of philosophy conceived by Edmund Husserl to be a scientific approach capable of achieving such a disclosure. Phenomenology for Husserl was a “presuppositionless” discipline, which he called “the science of all sciences.”[1]

In order to do this, Husserl proposed a method of investigation that would take the philosopher’s enquiry into the realm of pure essences, where an intuition of the eidos (Greek: “shape”) of a thing could be uncovered. The reduction was designed to reveal an essential structure of things, apart from all that is accidental to them. He called this approach eidetic reduction.[2] It is a transempirical process, and its methodology can be juxtaposed against the empirical sciences.

In eidetic sciences, the ultimate grounding act is not experience or experiment, but rather the seeing of essences.[3]

 

2: THE ECONOMY

The economy is a science. The economists themselves tell us so and they win Nobel Prizes for Economic Sciences. So, it must be a science. But it works more in an engineering fashion than in a descriptive way of unveiling facts. It is used to construct the Matrix that we are immersed in, it drives political policies, motivations and will, and it seems more like a doctrine than an investigation – but surely, science cannot be a doctrine; so, is it really a science?

If it were a pure science, the economy as science would necessarily have to preclude any incorporation of cognitional results yielded by an empirical understanding of the human experience of labour and exchange because people are never truly predictable. But this is absurd, the economy can never be separated from the human factor that drives it. In fact, the essence of the economy has to be people exchanging things, and yet there is a sense that this fact has been forgotten and the fundamental purpose of the economy is to control society via the economic matrix it builds around them. It has its weapons – debt, interest rates, risk premiums – all of which control national policies with all the subtle and non-subtle effectiveness of a dictatorship. Because of this economists call the economy a social science, although the laws of economy are not very scientific, and, we would argue, the goals of economics (for it is structured to serve a predetermined purpose) are not very social. Yet, if the economy is neither a science nor a social science, what is it? Didn’t we say at the beginning of this section that it was a science? What kind of science can be a science and not a science at the same time?

Well, let’s see what happens if we look at it from a philosophical viewpoint, in an eidetic way (albeit briefly).

Eidetically, the science of the economy can be understood as the eidetic science called economics – the market is observed, not by watching people going out and buying things, but according to a study of charts and figures applied to formulas with a hope of making some essential or eidetic prediction. The essence of the science of the economy lies in its own denomination. If the economy is to be studied it should be done economically. The only conclusions or predictions that can be made are those that have validity as an essential factor in essences originally seen or else inferred from the axiomatic model of itself by pure deduction. There is nothing matter-of-fact about economics. The fact that the predictions made by economists affect our daily lives does not make economics a matter-of-fact science any more than the 90º that is always in the right-angle at the end of the street makes geometry a matter-of-fact science.

According to Marshall’s Principle of Economics[4] the purpose of economics is, firstly, to acquire knowledge for its own sake, and, secondly, to throw light on practical issues. Yet for most of us today, the idea of the macro-economics narrative throwing light on practical issues and the day the day problems of having to make ends meet is laughable. From an ethical stand-point, Marshall was right. If we are to have an economic science it should be geared toward helping humanity by illuminating the practical issues that affect us all. However, Marshall’s 19th century view of economics viewed in the context our current global-economy environment sounds naïve. When national economic policies are determined by the IMF and the World Bank, our economies obfuscate reality rather than shed any light on it.

Positive economy-spin tells us that the aims are “sustainable growth” and “increasing wealth” or the establishing of “economic opportunities” for as many people as possible, but these ideas become quite abstract when applied to hundreds or thousands of millions of people, and economic data becomes a weapon of war between the sectors competing for political power; each one attempting to convince the people of the healthy or ill state of the economy … because the economy wins votes; probably more than any other factor in contemporary politics.

But what we do not learn from this economic-science is what the final-cause of a global economy is. What is the final-cause of continual, sustainable growth? What is the final-cause of increasing wealth? What is the final-cause of “economic opportunities for all”?

In reality, the final-cause is always the next election, just as in sport the final cause is this year’s grand-final. The economy is, through our so-called democratic system, twisted into a game. Or, economics turns democracy into a game, albeit a perverse game that is rigged so that the same owner always wins. While on the national level the people are praying to see their team (national economy) win the championship, on the universal, human level, the real economic engineers are busy building the great economic network, a huge, invisible mesh which has entrapped us all.

What can be the final-cause then of that global matrix: Perpetual acquisition of increasing wealth for the world’s elite; An aristocratic-type dictatorship hidden behind a veil of promises of economic opportunities for all? In any case, the final-cause is conservative and non-progressive, because its main intention is to preserve the status-quo of Wealth. In that sense, it is aristocratic. It is bolstered by the great lie of democracy that it itself created and uses to perpetuate itself with. It knows that democracy is only a name and a superficial fantasy to thwart the revolutions that the real plutocratic system that exists would engender if the demos were fully aware of its condition.

[1] From the New World Encyclopaedia online: Eidetic Reduction https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Eidetic_reduction

[2] Ibid

[3] Edmund Husserl, IDEAS, p. 16

[4] Albert Marshall, PRINCIPLE OF ECONOMICS, 1890

Zombies, the Brexit and Dystopia

“…man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself.”

Merleau-Ponty, PHENOMENOLOGY OF PERCEPTION, Preface, p. xii

 

Man is in the world … And if this is true for humanity, we need also to remind ourselves of it whenever we examine societies and our civilisation.

Civilisation is only realistic when it is perceived within the context of the world – or, in other words, within its ecological context.

Nevertheless, democracies largely ignore their relationship to the environment and give precedence, time and time again, to their own self-made fantasy-reality that it calls ‘the economy’.

Civilisation has always been a challenge to the natural world; an audacious move by human beings to harness nature for our own ends in order to create a mode of existence that is superior to nature itself. But what Civilisation has gained by developing beyond the in-the-world context, it has also had to sacrifice its authenticity. It has become a fantasy form of its own potentialities, manifested in the madness of the economic doctrine of perpetual growth.

For authenticity to be returned to civilisation, there needs to be a re-establishment of partnership with the world, rather than a continuation of conquests of land-spaces and a pillage of non-renewable resources.

We are driving a juggernaut along a road which leads directly to a cliff edge. If we go straight, we will topple into an abyss.

To avoid this, we have two choices: we can either turn left toward a Utopia, or right into a Dystopia.

Given this scenario, why is it so hard to decide which way to go?

Driving forward the way we are, will only bring about deeper and deeper systemic crises. Technological advancement has to create more automation and the digitalisation and robotisation of societies, combined with the continual increases in population density, can only further decimate jobs. Concentration of wealth and the centralisation of job opportunities to the growing megacities will continually draw desperate, poverty stricken outsiders to those centres.

The easiest solutions are the Dystopic ones: the erection of walls to keep the immigrant invaders out. Ties between capitalism and zombie invasion metaphors have been made over and over again by many bloggers[i] and intellectuals like Slavoj Zizek[ii].

In the Brexit, we’ve been able to witness how easily a society can be swayed toward a Dystopic solution. When the outside world is too frightening to face, then the safest thing to do, say the Dystopics, is to retreat and gather together in a fortress with walls that are strong enough to withstand the encroaching invasion.

The idea of the Brexit is to allow Britain – probably in a diminished form from what it is now – to do its business with the world in a safe position, removed from the very chaos that that ‘business’ has created and will continue to create.

Essentially, the Brexit is riddled by the paradox inherent in all Dystopic solutions. The Dystopian is terrified by our world, but, instead of trying to imagine that world as a better place, it continues throwing more fuel into the motor of the chaos that scares it so much. In a sense, we have the capitalist Doctor Frankenstein hiding himself from his plague of monsters, but it doesn’t mean he wants to eradicate the plague. Quite the contrary, his retreat is merely a tactical one, in order to observe his beasts from a safe place: behind the walls that are heavily guarded, and with special forces that will occasionally venture forth to stir up the chaos even more.

Utopic vision, on the other hand, embraces our world, and looks for ways of turning technological advances into a working alternative that offers an immensely better world – primarily much better because it promises a long-term survival for humanity in this world.

[i] https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/are-we-the-walking-dead/

[ii] http://revoluciontrespuntocero.com/the-walking-dead-y-la-ideologia-del-capital-post-industrial/