Tuesday, November 02, 2010

James Joyce On Identity Economics

I think that if one looked, one would be able to find in lots of depictions in literature of multiple selves. Here's an example:
"...he had heard about him the constant voices of his father and of his masters, urging him to be a gentleman above all things and urging him to be a good catholic above all things. These voices had now come to be hollow-sounding in his ears. When the gymnasium had been opened he had heard another voice urging him to be strong and manly and healthy and when the movement towards national revival had begun to be felt in the college yet another voice had bidden him to be true to his country and help to raise up her language and tradition. In the profane world, as he foresaw, a worldly voice would bid him raise up his father's fallen state by his labours and, meanwhile, the voice of his school comrades urged him to be a decent fellow, to shield others from blame or to beg them off and to do his best to get free days for the school. And it was the din of all these hollow-sounding voices that made him halt irresolutely in the pursuit of phantoms." -- James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Does how artists depict human beings carry any weight for how economists choose to portray agent's choices? Should it?


Mathew Toll said...

From what I’ve read, behavioural finance and economics and the notion of bounded rationality have come to the fore in the aftermath of the crash. That’s what I’ve been lead to believe so far. This would completely break with John Muth’s rational expectations hypothesis and the New Classical schools approach to macroeconomics in particular.

The passage from Joyce’s reminds me of Lacan’s notion of the decentered subject. That being said, Lacan was heavily influenced by James Joyce through his association with Shakespeare and Co. As to the link between artistic expression and economics, I do think it can be fruitful to look to the engineers of human souls for inspiration from time to time.

Also, isn’t there a theorem developed by Kenneth Arrow to the effect that preferences are unstable if too many items to select between are introduced? That is to say, the choice-theoretic framework completely breaks down if we go beyond apples and pears?

Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood anything.

Mathew Toll said...

I looked it up, I think i'm wrong on Kenneth Arrow's theorem. It deals with the extrapolation from individual chocies to group dynamics.

Robert Vienneau said...

I'm not going to claim any familiarity with Lacan. I have tried to read some of Zizek. You'd probably find Ruccio and Armariglio (2003) of interest.

Anyways, I think Arrow's theorem does apply to the self. I've argued this before.