Homo Economicus

One of the key principles of the empirical method used for the discernment of the social sciences in Anglo-America is the principle of change. This principle suggests that if one were to change a person’s circumstances and environment, one would in effect change the basic nature of a person. Hence, America’s fostering of homo economicus out of what is otherwise a hylomorphic being. But in a higher sense, and as René Guénon wrote, the method stems from a “state of mind” which:

 “consists in more or less consciously putting material things, and the preoccupations arising out of them, in the first place, whether these preoccupations claim to be speculative or purely practical; and it cannot be seriously disputed that this is the mentality of the immense majority of our contemporaries.”

Guénon was wise in pointing out that those who do not espouse such a state of mind are relegated to a second-class status and are ignored as an irrelevant minority. Guénon also wrote:

“It is true that the masses have always been led in one manner or another, and it could be said that their part in history consists primarily in allowing themselves to be led, since they represent a merely passive element, a ‘matter’ in the Aristotelian sense of the word. But, in order to lead them today, it is sufficient to dispose of purely material means, this time in the ordinary sense of the word, and this shows clearly to what depths our age has sunk.”

Guénon added:

“At the same time, the masses are made to believe that they are not being led, but that they are acting spontaneously and governing themselves, and the fact that they believe this is a sign from which the extent of their stupidity may be inferred.” 

It follows that:

“If modern civilization should some day be destroyed by the disordered appetites that it has awakened in the masses, one would have to be very blind not to see in this the just punishment of its basic vice – or, without resorting to the language of morality, the repercussions of its own action in the same domain in which this action has taken place.” 

Hence, Donald Trump being dislodged from Twitter. 

Previously, I touched upon the intellectual and moral aspects of virtue. Among the latter virtues – namely, the moral virtues – temperance and liberality are considered to be the greatest of all, according to Aristotle. However, what is extolled more than anything from a social standpoint today is excess and snubbing. 

But the gravest condition of all from a political and social standpoint is the failure of politicians and legislators in achieving the purpose for which they were made, namely, to ensure the general welfare of their respective societies. The statistics demonstrate that at least in the United States, this purpose is not being fulfilled by American legislators, considering that 85 percent of Americans who suffer from pain go untreated, along with the fact that the United States ranks 47th out of the top 50 economies in the world in terms of the overall health of its population, and the fact that 75 percent of the world’s drugs and medicines are consumed in the United States despite possessing only 4 or 5 percent of the world’s population. 

But as Aristotle said, happiness – which is the ultimate end of human life – is something God-given. Virtue assists in the attainment of happiness, but the ultimate attainment of happiness is something that is God-given. Given that happiness is virtue, and virtue is both intellectual and moral in nature, it follows that knowledge is also God-given, as suggested by previous blog posts. And with a diminution of God-given happiness comes a diminution of knowledge, which in turn has grave consequences for all involved. 

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