Conscious Economics is an ecological economics built around a humanism of mindfulness practices, group process, and archetypal/participatory-psychology. The model of the economic agent — “homo economicus” — is dynamic, evolutionary and emergent, not static, statistical and fixed. The human being develops psycho-emotively and spiritually in its lifetime. Therefore its intentions regarding work, lifestyle ( “production” and “consumption”) and values will change in its lifetime.
Personal growth is contingent on the person’s engagement with the world, particularly his/her fellow humans and the more-than-human biophysical world. There is a mutual informing of self and its field, all of which moves the human toward a deeper “soul consciousness” and away from a conditioned, consensus-reality, “cookie-cutter” personality.
By the term “soul,” I merely mean the mysterious yet all-important propensity — strong or weak — to make meaning of one’s existence in the world (see James Hillman).
These dynamics of soul, of course, are off the radar of conventional economics. Indeed, they fly in the face of the current scientific paradigm of a meaningless, deterministic, reductionist, material-only universe.
But it is important to realize that the radical dynamism of mutuality, of transcendental self-reflection, and of soul changes the individual’s as well as the collective’s potential economy.
Mainstream economic thought holds — unconsciously — that there is a fixed, objective economic reality including human being. This is an ideological consensus reality. To paraphrase UC Berkeley philosopher John Searle, this consensus is real (i.e. is epistemologically objective) and each of us must acknowledge it in order to coordinate action with others. But it also only exists in our minds (i.e. is ontologically subjective) and is therefore malleable. It is changed if enough of us choose to “see” another consensus reality. In any event, my point is that there is an economic cost and benefit, measured in qualities of freedom and communion, to any economic consensus. The inability of mainstream economic thinking to recognize this is its most severe limitation.
The primary source of the blindness of mainstream economic thinking (which in its most extreme form is neo-liberalism and individualist libertarianism) is not so much its manifest content, but in its self understanding and methodology as a social science. Putting it crudely, professional economists and everyone’s “inner economist” are not aware of the group consensus and collective intentionality behind what we believe to be economic “common sense” and action.
There could be a much greater fulfillment, much less suffering, and an ease of life for humanity and all of life if people saw that their individual purpose and meaning in life came from their engagement with and connection to all of life and all that there is. Due to our blindness and unconsciousness, ironically, we suffer a tremendous opportunity cost in our adherence to prevailing economic science. Today’s economic science has become very uneconomic.
The key to opening to greater economy is self reflection, the observer within, presence, intuition and seeing one’s situation in new eyes, moment-to-moment. These are all aspects of, what is also called non-dual, integral, unitary, heart-based, participatory consciousness. By cultivating these aspects in greater proportion (than currently) throughout the day in the ordinary business of living, and the human species through the individual can change, not the gross forms of matter and energy, but its alignment to them.
Through mindfulness and depth, the human community may discover greater instrumental and interpersonal capacities that can lead to diminished material throughput, less physical transformation of the biosphere and reduced financial stratification of community. Fulfillment, even greater than today’s, is possible with fewer things, and simpler lifestyles. Yet it requires new understandings of self and new modes of conduct, particularly intuition-in-relationship, trust, cooperation and compassion.
Conscious economics is a meditation on what human economy would look like if it were based on self-realization, “involution,” rather than self assertion, “evolution.”
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(Note: This site is in transition. Another of my sites, ConsciousEconomics.org, was the original home of my Conscious Economics blog. I am shifting off of that platform (Posterous) to this one (WordPress). While I have enjoyed Posterous’ simplicity, WordPress has more functionality (page depth and better management of tags and categories). Also, I am moving my site as a preemptive maneuver. Posterous was purchased by Twitter. I anticipate that it will be shut down sooner or later.)