Saturday, April 16, 2016

In What Way is Knowledge Available to US?

Knowledge is not available as such, although we point to an exception: the field of philosophy. But, if this is the case, then what do the philosophical treatments of knowledge depend on. Surely, they depend upon arguments. In order to make others believe something we are saying, we need the argument. This applies to products, firstly. Since this is an economics blog? So, then: A “Snickers” bar presents the us with an argument that a the “Snickers” bar in question is not some kind of junk, but actual food. I never quite bought that argument. I have bought them on occasion. But, I do not buy the argument. I think I have rarely had a really ‘yum’ experience with the candy bar. My body seems to reject these things, out of hand. But it is an argument, and the same goes for other products. They are an argument for us to buy them. But, leaving that aside, beliefs as well are “sold” as arguments, and, in some cases, if something was to be disseminated (to the ‘market’ or) to the public, that meant it had to be sold. It had to be packaged in a commercial form. Thus, persons live both capitalistically and culturally. In the book trade (as opposed to something like iron, or natural gas) very often ideas are the items being sold. But these are still commercially packaged.

     Don’t all cultures always have all kinds of cross-currents? Some ideas are purely non-commercial, but some are only slightly related to commerce, and some are close. "Arguments" get closer and closer to the real thing.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Business Humanism

The truth is there's an element of disruption, in business, and, in the society. This truth applies to retail, or other, business. And therefore it applies to the situation of successful capitalism. In real capitalism there is this element of disruption. I am not saying  this is good. But only that it is not all goody two-shoes or "virtue" or nice. This is all I am saying. The "bourgeois" are not all "virtue." There is plenty of non-virtue! [example follows]:
     I worked, very briefly, for a furrier store and, upstairs, the craft shop. During my childhood, this was my very own dad's business. He seems to have liked this kind of work. I didn't. It made me uncomfortable, and by actually working there for a few months I knew more than I wanted to about that world. I worked in the upstairs shop, sometimes, as a child or adolescent, but this is when I was an adult. And, after what passed for a day's "work" in retail, the day ended. I got off the job, finally, but the bad mood didn't leave me. Next, I must have stopped at a service station. There I encountered a similar retail experience, and now I knew it from the inside. This of course represented the same ethos as dad's store, and here we find a variety of candy in open bins. So, I just started stealing the candy. That's how angry I was after a day working the downstairs, interacting with both salesmen and customers and dad's store—and with dad. The end result? Snatching candy! The proprietor saw this. I didn't care. I was not going to change my attitude, knowing what I did about the way business worked! He turned out to be one hostile fucker, too, a rather mean fellow.
     But it forces me to ask: this is what McCloskey calls "virtue"? I cannot quite go along with that. I think that no businessman would accept these proclamations she makes, concerning the culture of business. It doesn't work this way. Her dad was a Harvard man; my dad was a retail business man. They are indeed honest enough persons in this world, who could tell you that such a view does not accurately capture life in the business world. Nevertheless, I still like McCloskey's theories.
     The element under discussion is that of disruption, or "rough trade." And, this is a known part of life to all hustlers, playboys, sharks and I am afraid small, sharp little businessmen. Now let us look to the blacks: they have a music called "blues." (They also buy a lot of fur coats don't they? Dad?)
     The blacks integrated into the society of capitalism. They took their culture North, actually, and, yes, they have this music, which may be a dirty, disruptive music. There is a rough feel to it. Blues starts with acoustic guitar, then goes north on the train and gets even rougher for a while, what with electric guitars and all (and "Chess" Records, run by a typical Jewish businessman). Then it suddenly turns around and gets more "smooth," starting with B. B., who I saw on television once explaining his mission in life for blues to get more respect(able). I see a tendency for the disruptive, raggedy element (and this, in turn, is a part of a capitalistic society) to get cleaned-up. Certainly, human behavior has a potential range to it. (For the academic to clean it with mathematics has, of course, absolutely no impact.) It goes from one end of a spectrum of human behavior to the other, as music, too, goes from falsetto to bass. Whose job is it, to provide for us the answerwhether to be smooth, or disruptive?
     Now Ms. McCloskey has given us her word: "virtue." What it indicates is a moral or ethical character, and also the element of conduct. There are persons who are virtuous but also act a little rough on the outside. They are of major interest, in capitalism. The interesting question is this. Does capitalism need this aspect of roughness that so upset me, at the fur store?

There's Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton. There is a spectrum from clean people like Ryan, who are super-conservatives and also look like some kind of porcelain dolls, to rougher, radical types. And, come to think of it, they, predictably enough, have tousled hair. Which one is the "virtue" element?