Desires and happiness: the sacred and secret cornerstones of economics (excerpt from my forthcoming book)

Desires drive the world, say economists, without pausing to think what desires are. De gustibus non est disputandum ‒ tastes are not to be disputed ‒ recalled the Nobel Prize-winning economists Gary S. Becker and George J. Stigler in a 1977 article, on the subject of “preferences”. Consumers know what they want and that suffices, they argue, for due respect can then be given to human liberty. Let people wish freely for what they will and decide how to enjoy it. That will make them happiest, and will ensure the greatest bliss to the most people in our common world (or technically speaking, maximise utility at individual and social levels). It becomes ever clearer that this is not so for several reasons.

Many academics fail to question what the nature of desires is and are little concerned with the myriad senses of happiness. We hang out the banner of freedom and leave mankind to flounder amidst the greatest undertaking in human life. By so doing we assume the two cornerstones of the system ‒ desires and the pleasure of fulfilling them ‒ as given without delving into them thoroughly. We have chosen cornerstones of a material whose composition is unknown to us. Does this not bring blind faith into building the house of civilization?

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What is your logo?

What is your logo? What is your symbol, which truly expresses who you are now?

Mine was born partly out of my name: I love to sign my letters to close friends with a simple “O”. “O”, because of its shape, showing completeness, a circle which bonds individual dots, and because of the spaciousness in the middle. I always liked to ponder the beauty of the shape and appreciated that it was given to me as my initial. It led me to the “enso” sign in Zen Buddhism. The circle is hand drawn, and the brushstroke continues in space, entering a new dimension. A circle, which is also a spiral. Complete, whole, but still somewhat irregular, truly human in its implementation. Sacred imperfection, artistic and artful, ever rising.

What is YOUR logo?