Growth and Well-Being, Economic and Human

Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 1 (2):54-67 (2017)
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to trace how a perverted understanding of the human – of human nature, growth, and well-being – came to form the foundation for classical liberal economic thought and to identify some of the negative consequences of this development. My suggestion is that, in response to the social upheaval of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries that would lead to the rise of capitalism and make possible the industrial revolution, moral philosophers applied to humans and to human society mechanistic principles from the highly successful natural sciences in an effort to make sense of a social world that had ceased to make sense. Thus emerged the impoverished view of the human that lies at the foundation of mainstream economic thinking: homo economicus – the human as a rational, utility-optimizing machine, driven by unlimited desires.

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Ken Stikkers
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

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