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Facing the Global Crisis. The Role of Philosophy in Challenging Economic Powers

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In a 1987 Arizona State University lecture on "Religion and the Tech-nological Revolution in Japan and the United States," Robert N. Bellah ar-gued that comparisons between Americans as "more individualistic and self-oriented" and Japanese as placing a "stronger emphasis on social solidarity" need to be modified to take into account the restraints imposed upon the egoism of American capitalism, at least until recently, by the ethical and religious doctrines previously dominant in American society. And in the "In-troduction" to the 1989 edition of his by now classic Tokugawa Religion, Bellah had earlier suggested that in Japan a variety of recent changes are making Japanese more like Americans: "Children will learn, as they do in the United States, that the accumulation of things and the expression of one's own feelings are the meaning of life." Yet what the detail of Bellah's dis-cussions suggests to me is that comparisons of American moral culture with Japanese, in terms of a contrast between the greater individualism of the for-mer and the greater solidarity of the latter, and tentative predictions of a future convergence of Japanese attitudes with American, under the impact of those very same forces and practices which have strengthened American individualism—television, the weakening of family ties, economic acquisi-tiveness, and competitiveness—may be even more fundamentally mistaken than he suggests, just because and insofar as they presuppose what is taken to be, perhaps under the influence of a certain kind of sociological theory, a culturally neutral conception of the distinction between the social and the individual. It is in terms of this type of distinction that Americans have generally—by authors less sophisticated than Bellah—been ranked as more * This article was originally delivered as a response to a paper by Robert N. Bellah, the text of which has not been made available. I have therefore restricted my references to Bel-lah's theses and have said nothing about the specific content of his paper, in order to avoid misrepresentation.
In this collection of writings, Nobel laureate Friedrich A. Hayek discusses topics from moral philosophy and the methods of the social sciences to economic theory as different aspects of the same central issue: free markets versus socialist planned economies. First published in the 1930s and 40s, these essays continue to illuminate the problems faced by developing and formerly socialist countries. F. A. Hayek, recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, taught at the University of Chicago, the University of London, and the University of Freiburg. Among his other works published by the University of Chicago Press is The Road to Serfdom, now available in a special fiftieth anniversary edition.
More Heat Than Light is a history of how physics has drawn some inspiration from economics and also how economics has sought to emulate physics, especially with regard to the theory of value. It traces the development of the energy concept in Western physics and its subsequent effect upon the invention and promulgation of neoclassical economics. Any discussion of the standing of economics as a science must include the historical symbiosis between the two disciplines. Starting with the philosopher Emile Meyerson’s discussion of the relationship between notions of invariance and causality in the history of science, the book surveys the history of conservation principles in the Western discussion of motion. Recourse to the metaphors of the economy are frequent in physics, and the concepts of value, motion, and body reinforced each other throughout the development of both disciplines, especially with regard to practices of mathematical formalisation. However, in economics subsequent misuse of conservation principles led to serious blunders in the mathematical formalisation of economic theory. The book attempts to provide the reader with sufficient background in the history of physics in order to appreciate its theses. The discussion is technically detailed and complex, and familiarity with calculus is required.
Modernisierung und Tradition in Japan
  • Nishitani
Nishitani, "Modernisierung und Tradition in Japan," pp. 194-95.
The Problem of Self-Centeredness as the Root-source of Human Suffering
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Masao Abe, ''The Problem of Self-Centeredness as the Root-source of Human Suffering," Japanese Religions, vol. 15 (1989), p. 17.
The Basho of Economics
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Graupe, The Basho of Economics, pp. 246-25 I.
  • Mises Ludwig Von
Ludwig von Mises, Human AClion. A Treatise on Economics (London: Hodge, 1949), pp. 755-46. In the Face of Global Crisis 105