May 11, 2015

What economics is not about

Comment on Lars Syll on ‘Why the ergodic theorem is not applicable in economics’


Economics is not about the behavior of individuals (this is the subject matter of psychology/ anthropology), neither about the relations of groups/classes (this is the subject matter of sociology/political sciences), nor about the behavior of Nature (this is the subject matter of the natural sciences), it is, rather, about the behavior of the economic system.

Because economics deals with a distinct subject matter, which, no doubt, is interwoven with all other domains, it needs a distinct framework of economic concepts consisting of, for example, price, productivity, profit, wage rate, saving, market clearing, deflation, you name it. Neither Orthodoxy nor Heterodoxy has developed a consistent framework of analytical concepts. This is why economics resembles nothing so much as ‘Babylonian incoherent babble’ (Davidson).

I can understand your preoccupation with power and conflict. What I cannot see is how this relates to Newton’s definition of force, mass, acceleration, inertia or gravitation; or, for that matter, to ergodicity or relativity. It is not the economist's business to reinterpret these well-defined concepts for his alien purposes.

Isn't it curious that economists dabble in virtually all disciplines except economics proper? And isn't it perfectly understandable that they have become a scientific laughingstock?

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke