Who misplaced post-modernism? Hume, Adam Smith and economic methodology
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This paper submits that while David Hume and Adam Smith are presumed to be founders of modernism in philosophy and economics they already were what now would be deemed post-modern. It outlines Hume’s concept of ‘the reflexive mind’ and to how this opened frontiers between philosophy and psychology that Russell denied and which logical positivism in philosophy and allegedly positive economics displaced. It links the anticipation of post-modernism in Hume to his influence on Smith, Schopenhauer and the later Wittgenstein, as well as to Gestalt psychology, grounded theory and recent findings from neural research and cognitive psychology. It outlines Kant’s reaction to Hume’s claim that one cannot prove cause and effect and how mainstream economics, since Samuelson’s Foundations, has been Kantian but wrong in claims for axioms that are universal truths. It illustrates how Samuelson’s presumption that language and mathematics are ‘identical’ was wrong and that his premising comparative advantage on no capital mobility both misrepresented Ohlin and has led to ‘dangerous errors’ from premise dependent reasoning against which Smith warned. It then relates Hume’s case on ‘the reflexive mind’ to Soros’ concept of reflexivity and suggests that economics will not evolve unless it recovers some of Smith and Hume’s already post-modern methodology.