Updated: Jul 19
Economics is such a subject which cannot grasp a long way of comprehension without proper understanding the surroundings in which it is studied. The more it can analyze the cause & effect, the more it becomes reliable. As it deals with the phenomenon of micro & macro level environment, it cannot but address several other aspects which are not directly in accordance with economy.
It will surely be a great fallacy if someone tries to define & resolve economic notions by utilizing the mathematical tools only. The first & foremost objective of economics is to understand the economic state of individual and/or mass. But psychologists tell us that human being is the only animal in the face of the earth whose behavioral pattern is the most complex one. Eminent personality Dr. Akbar Ali Khan indicates this in this way[i]:
“Most of the time people are rational, again most of the time they don’t bother any logic. Everyone has some paradox complexities in him. Most of the time they don’t even know that. They try to draw a conclusion based on few experiences. Again there are many who never change their minds in which they have faith although a chunk of logics & evidences are presented against that.”
The solicitude of economics is nothing but the understanding economic-life of human being. As I mentioned earlier that this economic activities are influenced by so many other things rather than the economic notions only. Swert Mill[ii] gave an idea of dealing with economics in 19th century. Mill realized that economics can’t explain the whole entity of human beings. According to him, to analyze the economic explanation, segmented definitions are enough. This segmented definitions of human economic activities are agitated by overall environmental factors. This particular way of judging has been addressed by eminent economist Dr. Mahbub Ullah[iii] in the preface of one of his book:
“I believe that the worthless trying of presenting economics in the shade of science has ruined its ambrosia to a great extent. I do believe that in case of discussing economic dealings, there come history, sociology & philosophy as obligatory factors.”
So it is clear from the above discussion that it is not possible to confine the economic activities of human beings within different assumptions & equations. History can be repeated throughout the generations. So an event occurred in the past can be a resolution or some kind of guideline for handling the problem. On the other hand, sociology & philosophy do a mammoth job in keeping symphony among the working forces in an economy. Sociology & philosophy are more in accordance with the morality of the people rather than the laws & regulations of the country.
The discussion-elements of “sociology & philosophy” are generated from some values. Our social mannerism, hospitability, altruism affect our way of living as well as our economic outcomes. You can address these values as ‘natural economic guidance’. These are exercised by the countrymen learning from his or her environment. These values differ country to country, society to society & family to family. Say for example, if I am being reared in such a family, where family members don’t have respect for each other, then it’s quite certain that third parties will not get proper treatment form me in this respect. People of this subcontinent region has a reputation of having well ‘family compactness’. Human being is called ‘social animal’. Why? Because they share, they respect & they care about one another. But this sharing & caring for others doesn’t require any ‘cost-benefit analysis’. You never grant a single Taka to a beggar expecting to receive some benefits from him in the future. At the same time there are some vicious human beings (!) who don’t even care of their own parents; keep aside the altruism for others. So it can be deduced that the more you are self-concerned, the more the greed persist in you, the more you are parsimonious, the more you are selfish & the less is your self-sacrifice, the less your altruism for others. All are inter correlated. Today I am going to focus on effect of ‘altruism’ only here.
Once I heard a quote: “foolish learns from his own mistakes but wise learns from the mistakes of others”. Have you ever pondered why suicide rate is enormously higher in all the developed countries? What are those scarcities, which seduce a bulk number of young, energetic people to die? Do you know that Japan is in the top position of the list? Have you ever thought about what will be the economic consequences of this destruction of huge working force in the long run? Do you know that study shows this depression arises from their family & social life volatility? We live in a world where we do not even know our neighbors? No passionate sharing & caring. Boyfriends & girlfriends can share only a part of life, not the core or the whole! Human life is not confined only in that circle. There are thousands of other factors are natural & fits the living-style of human being. If we want to do otherwise to those factors as some mentioned above, we will just be perished. Some symptoms are already showing up! Indeed nature punishes those who go against it or tries to manipulate otherwise. Think about global warming! Sometime this punishment is so severe that eternal-generations are suffered for the committed sins of their forefathers.
A study was conducted in USA to analyze the concept of ‘homo economicus (economic man)’ and there it was found that students of economics are much more selfish than those of who don’t study economics. They are more concerned about their self-interest like the ‘economic man’[iv]. Dr. Akbar Ali Khan says[v]:
“…...it is proved that students from economics seldom believe other people. So their assistance with others is limited. They are selfish like economic man. But those who have not studied economics are less selfish.”
Theoretically, based on this premise, those who studies economics, are selfish! At this stage, we have come to know that the more a person is self-centered, the less the value of altruism in him, the less he cares for others, the more his contribution of producing dejection for upcoming generations, the more his contribution to social & economic distress in the long run. See! How much is your present state responsible for future consequences?
One may not be able to comprehend this situation in the first time. But things will be distilled to him if he applies ‘law of large number’ here. Think about a society where all are selfish. What will there be then? There will certainly be ‘free-riding problem’. Will there be any social harmony? (forget about law; as I said birth of morality is not from laws). What will happen in the long run if social harmony break down? Try to get in to the midst!
We are hankering after personal economic development. In attaining so, we made ourselves so busy that our family lives are being ruined unconsciously. We are so busy that we don’t have time to think of others. We are so busy that we are losing these norms & values gradually. Only economic growth won’t be able to bring peace in the society as you see USA and other developed economies are far behind listed from poorer countries in the peace index? Isn’t it the high time to realize the fact? Isn’t it the high time to learn from others’ mistakes? Isn’t it the high time to be wise? Think today as if there were no tomorrow!
Writer: Mr. A. Bhuiyan, Experienced Change Management Professional
To reach to the writer email: email@example.com
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[i] Pararthoparatar Arthaniti, Akbar Ali Khan, University Press Limited, p.no.155
[ii] Pershky, Joseph, “Retrospectives: The Ethnology of Homo Economicus”, The journal of Economics Perspective, Spring 1995, vol.9, No.2,p.no. 221-232
[iii] Arthaniti: Chalti Prasanga, Mahbub Ullah, Adorn Publication.
[iv] Frank, Robert L., et al., “Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooreration”, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Spring 1993, vol.7, No,2, p.no. 159-171
[v] Pararthoparatar Arthaniti, Akbar Ali Khan, University Press Limited, p.no.158