Saturday, July 07, 2012

Interacting Economies, Institutions, and the Effects on Other Economies

In The Sociology of Philosophies, Randall Collins argues that
intellectual creativity is no mere reflex of economics and politics. There are three layers of causality: (1) economic-political structures, which in turn shape (2) the organizations which support intellectual life; and these in turn allow the buildup of (3) networks among participants in centers of attention on intellectual controversies, which constitute the idea-substance of intellectual life. Economic-political conditions determine ideas not directly but by way of shaping, and above all by changing, the intermediate level, the organizational base of intellectual production. (324)
However, the dominant philosophy of a culture in turn affects economic-political structures. In fact, one could argue that philosophical-political structures shape the organizations with support economic life, which in turn allow the buildup of certain kinds of economic activity. Also, economic-philosophical structures shape the organizations that support political life, which in turn allow the buildup of certain kinds of political activity. In other words, if we consider the fact that civil society is made up of the gift, market, political, and divine economies, the interactions of any three affect the organizational structures of the remaining one, and thus influence its network structure. Collins is focused on how the market and political economies interact to create the institutional structures underlying evolution in the divine economy, but there is no reason we could (or should) not consider how two or three economies interact to influence another one. In fact, Collins -- in this section, at least -- ignores the effect of the gift economy. I think there is little question that science and the arts have have a significant effect on the evolution of philosophies around the world. One could spend a considerable amount of time writing papers exploring the different combinations, what institutions they create, and the effects of those institutions on different economies' networks.
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