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Monday, November 28, 2011

George Soros and the Open Society

In his Open Society Lectures in 2009, George Soros presently and accurately described the exact nature of our current historical position in a series of philosophical lectures in Budapest, Hungry. I now understand that Soros is not just a great capitalist, a great philanthropist, and a great intellect, he may go into history as one of the 21st century's greatest political philosophers.

I highly recommend this five part lecture series, produced at Central European University, to anyone who is serious about understanding the world we live in. If you are interested in politics, the economy, philosophy, or the best investment for your money, there is something to learn from George Soros. He will no doubt one day be held in the same regard as Andrew Carnegie or the Rockefellers, as one of the most influential people in the fields of economics, philanthropy, and public education.  

Watch the Soros Lecture Series:

  1. Reflexivity
  2. Markets
  3. Open Society - Q&A
  4. Capitalism 
  5. The Way Ahead - Q&A
In Budapest, presented by Central European University. With Collin McGinn, Philosophy of the Mind.

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, the Open Society Foundations implement a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, we build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. The Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

Also see Sacred Economics

1 comment:

Philosopher3000 said...

Remarks at the Festival of Economics, Trento Italy

June 02, 2012

Ever since the Crash of 2008 there has been a widespread recognition, both among economists and the general public, that economic theory has failed. But there is no consensus on the causes and the extent of that failure.

I believe that the failure is more profound than generally recognized. It goes back to the foundations of economic theory. Economics tried to model itself on Newtonian physics. It sought to establish universally and timelessly valid laws governing reality. But economics is a social science and there is a fundamental difference between the natural and social sciences. Social phenomena have thinking participants who base their decisions on imperfect knowledge. That is what economic theory has tried to ignore.

Scientific method needs an independent criterion, by which the truth or validity of its theories can be judged. Natural phenomena constitute such a criterion; social phenomena do not. That is because natural phenomena consist of facts that unfold independently of any statements that relate to them. The facts then serve as objective evidence by which the validity of scientific theories can be judged. That has enabled natural science to produce amazing results.

Social events, by contrast, have thinking participants who have a will of their own. They are not detached observers but engaged decision makers whose decisions greatly influence the course of events. Therefore the events do not constitute an independent criterion by which participants can decide whether their views are valid. In the absence of an independent criterion people have to base their decisions not on knowledge but on an inherently biased and to greater or lesser extent distorted interpretation of reality. Their lack of perfect knowledge or fallibility introduces an element of indeterminacy into the course of events that is absent when the events relate to the behavior of inanimate objects. The resulting uncertainty hinders the social sciences in producing laws similar to Newton’s physics.

Economics, which became the most influential of the social sciences, sought to remove this handicap by taking an axiomatic approach similar to Euclid’s geometry. But Euclid’s axioms closely resembled reality while the theory of rational expectations and the efficient market hypothesis became far removed from it. Up to a point the axiomatic approach worked. For instance, the theory of perfect competition postulated perfect knowledge. But the postulate worked only as long as it was applied to the exchange of physical goods. When it came to production, as distinct from exchange, or to the use of money and credit, the postulate became untenable because the participants’ decisions involved the future and the future cannot be known until it has actually occurred.