Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Economics has various “schools” with ideas on "information." There are economic players, or participants. The schools of thought agree that the economic players obtain information. Do we obtain information? No doubt. Sure we do. It is not in doubt that economic theory covers information, as a theoretical component of its understanding. That is for sure. We all know that getting information is important. Information is in there someplace. I don't doubt it. Getting information is important. While getting the right information is important, there are times when we do not get it. There is more to it, somehow. There must be something else. This something else is, however, not usually explicitly spoken about. What is it then, that is not mentioned, when we focus on "information"? The other element is, perhaps, ignorance! The subject of ignorance should not be ignored. This subject may be divided up as follows. Here is how we do this. We can make a division of ignorance into intentional and unintentional, in the sense that one may be keeping the other people ignorant on purpose  or not. That makes two kinds of ignorance. The sense intended is that you either did it on purpose, or you did not – you knew what you were doing or you didn't. (Maybe it just happened that way.) You did not in the later case restrict information intentionally. That's the idea.
     It can be intentional, as in the case where a seller benefits from some of that good ol' ignorance  no doubt  then, the seller wants it, wants the customer to be in the dark. We may now consider that this is not really customary human behavior. We do not like to keep other persons ignorant in general. (This has some important implications we will omit here) On the other hand, we need to be aware of this. We have to allow it in. It is the “study possibility.  
     If we do not study how ignorance works in economic relations, Well: Then, we are ignorant!

This discussion becomes relevant in the case of mercantilism. This is understood as a system where we have an entire country that tries to bring benefit to itselfit uses a certain strategy in getting profit out of its trade life. There is something peculiar about the study of this practice as other countries, not receiving this "mercantilist reward," could perhaps want to know about it. Back in what one historian assures us they used to call “this manor of England,” a phrase he says was widely used, if a man back then were to, say, publish a book on mercantilism? He might give the whole thing away! The trade partner is the other country (usually it supplies raw material?) – which merely has to read the book. This, I would think, brings us back to the point about intentional, or unintentional, ignorance, as an aspect, for both the study of, and the practice of, economics. ("Enquiring minds want to know" and all that...)

     This shows that ignorance was important under mercantilism. I am concerned with ignorance in economics more for today. But, if ignorance was so important under mercantilism, and we note that it was so, at the country level, why could not ignorance be just as important in the next, upcoming phase of the human economic and social system, as it evolved in Europe? But, this time  in this system on the individual level. Let's now say that in this system (the current one), trade should be for the benefit of everyone, the entire society—that does not seem unreasonable. In that case, we get the situation where ignorance is important to the workings of the system. We get to a situation that can only be described as a situation where ignorance is essential to the system. What we get, then, is a system that not only depends on information, or knowledge, and we can include the system's ideas about so-called “perfect information,” but also depends on ignorance, and thus, ignorance is also necessary, for its proper working. 

     And we hardly talk about this, of course. But are we being ignorant intentionally, or, unintentionally?

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