Sunday, July 12, 2009

The connection of Churchly doctrine to basic economic assumptions

For, as in all great pagan mythologies, in the Celtic there is throughout an essential reliance on nature; whereas, according to every churchly doctrine, nature had been so corrupted by the Fall of Adam and Eve that there was no virtue in it whatsoever.
-Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology

In reading this, I instantly thought of the assumption of scarcity in economics. Did this fundamental economic axiom grow out of the Christian world view of corrupted nature? The idea that nature cannot ultimately provide us with full, absolute satisfaction, while technically sort of true, seems to be related back to the notion that the world is both corrupted and a corrupter in that there is no sense seeking this absolute satisfaction from natural sources, only the supernatural sources available through the sacraments of the church. Scrubbed down to secularity, we come to scarcity, opportunity costs, and necessary trade-offs in economic pursuit of some acceptable level of overall group satisfaction through the 'efficient' use of resources (as seen through the prism of the short-term, as human life is relatively short).

I would say that the church's super-natural is nothing more than the natural abilities of the human brain to find a certain human absolute satisfaction in the mystic experience of spirit, mind, god, what have you. Whether such abilities were crafted by some white bearded man or Vishnu or the creator's computer is beside this particular point. The point is that church dogma may have clamped down on the ability of Europe and beyond to experience the divine through the particularly wrong-headed condemnation of nature, and that this dogmatic view was quite possibly the underpinning of the probably enlightenment era idea of scarcity in political economy. Possibly. Who really knows? I just make things up as I go along.

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