Economics of Good and Evil
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Economics of Good and Evil : The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street

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Tomas Sedlacek has shaken the study of economics as few ever have. Named one of the "Young Guns" and one of the "five hot minds in economics" by the Yale Economic Review, he serves on the National Economic Council in Prague, where his provocative writing has achieved bestseller status. How has he done it? By arguing a simple, almost heretical proposition: economics is ultimately about good and evil. In The Economics of Good and Evil, Sedlacek radically rethinks his field, challenging our assumptions about the world. Economics is touted as a science, a value-free mathematical inquiry, he writes, but it's actually a cultural phenomenon, a product of our civilization. It began within philosophy-Adam Smith himself not only wrote The Wealth of Nations, but also The Theory of Moral Sentiments-and economics, as Sedlacek shows, is woven out of history, myth, religion, and ethics. "Even the most sophisticated mathematical model," Sedlacek writes, "is, de facto, a story, a parable, our effort to (rationally) grasp the world around us." Economics not only describes the world, but establishes normative standards, identifying ideal conditions. Science, he claims, is a system of beliefs to which we are committed. To grasp the beliefs underlying economics, he breaks out of the field's confines with a tour de force exploration of economic thinking, broadly defined, over the millennia. He ranges from the epic of Gilgamesh and the Old Testament to the emergence of Christianity, from Descartes and Adam Smith to the consumerism in Fight Club. Throughout, he asks searching meta-economic questions: What is the meaning and the point of economics? Can we do ethically all that we can do technically? Does it pay to be good? Placing the wisdom of philosophers and poets over strict mathematical models of human behavior, Sedlacek's groundbreaking work promises to change the way we calculate economic value.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 376 pages
  • 165 x 250 x 30mm | 659.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 15 b/w
  • 0199767203
  • 9780199767205
  • 109,530

About Tomas Sedlacek

Tomas Sedlacek lectures at Charles University and is a member of the National Economic Council in Prague, where the original version of this book was a national bestseller and was also adapted as a popular theater-piece. He worked as an advisor of Vaclav Havel, the first Czech president after the fall of communism, and is a regular columnist and popular radio and TV commentator.show more

Review quote

A Washington Post Politics 'Must Read' * Steven Levingston * Beautifully written...A compulsive read * Samuel Brittan, Financial Times *show more

Table of contents

1. The Epic of Gilgamesh: On effectiveness, Immortality and the Economics of Friendship ; 2. The Old Testament: Earthliness and Goodness ; 3. Ancient Greece ; 4. Christianity: Spirituality in the Material World ; 5. Descartes the Mechanic ; 6. Bernard Mandeville's Beehive of Vice ; 7. Adam Smith, Blacksmith of Economics ; 8. Need for Greed - The History of Want ; 9. Progress and Sabbath Economics ; 10. The Axis of Good and Evil and the Bibles of Economics ; 11. The History of the Invisible Hand of the Market and Homo Oeconomicus ; 12. The History of Animal Spirits - the Dream Never Sleeps ; 13. MetaMathematics ; 14. Masters of Truth: Science, Myths and Faithshow more

Rating details

896 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 29% (258)
4 38% (338)
3 23% (210)
2 7% (65)
1 3% (25)
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