سیستم های اقتصادی و جهان بینی بودائی: پیوندهای قرن 21
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8595||2005||24 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 34, Issue 2, March 2005, Pages 245–268
The possibility of a fruitful dialogue between Buddhism and economics has generally been repudiated in Western social science discourse. This situation is now changing in recognition of the key role of both social norms and beliefs, and economic matters, in current global political and military tensions, environmental problems, and efforts to change institutions and economies to bring higher levels of welfare. Even within mainstream economics, there are increasing efforts to incorporate socio-cultural influences into the assumptions and analysis of economic behaviour and activities. These developments provide a new basis for mutually beneficial exchange between studies of the economic dimensions of society, and the offerings of the Buddhist world view, logic and potential problem-solving approach. This paper describes some key features of “Buddhist economics” and builds upon Schumacher's original ideas and other more recent work concerned with the close correspondence between economic (or “livelihood”) aspects of human life and the philosophy, world view, and practice of Buddhism. A systematic comparison of the relevant dimensions of Buddhism and neoclassical economics demonstrates that Buddhist philosophy has intrinsic economic implications and highlights the potential relevance and value of integrated socio-economic analyses for application in the contemporary global context.
At first, the notion of a “Buddhist” economics appears as a profound oxymoron. The selfish want-fulfilment and quest for personal material gain associated with economics seems to directly contradict the essence of the Buddhist world view. On greater reflection, this inconsistency is misleading as it is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of economics and the true subject matter and boundaries of this important social science. The central defining feature of economics is, in fact, the identification and understanding of the inevitable patterns of behavior in society that are related to “livelihood”, or the provision for physical and social needs and wants in the face of scarcity of appropriate resources. Daily livelihood activity in the “developed” world does appear to be preoccupied with the maximization of individual, or small family group, materialistic consumption. However, while this specific cultural instance may have broadened its global influence, it does not define the study of economics. Economics involves the analysis of any form and goal of livelihood behavior and is not represented by a particular set of social aspirations and relations characterizing an economic system in a given historical and geographical context.1 The nexus between economics and religion has been discussed since the genesis of modern economics as a separate discipline in the late 18th Century. In his seminal text, the Wealth of Nations, the “father” of economics, Adam Smith set the scene for much contemporary work on the economics of religion by seeking to explain religious behavior and institutions in terms of the same motives of rational self-interested individuals that are applied to any other form of private exchange (see Andersen, 1988). Although alternative emphases in religion-economic studies have developed following Max Weber's work in the early 20th Century, microeconomic analyses explaining religious social phenomena in terms of standard economic motives dominate amongst the spate of studies that have emerged since the 1970s, and especially since the mid-1980s, to form the active shell of the new sub-field commonly labelled as the “economics of religion”. Inspired by the seminal article of Azzi and Ehrenberg (1975), explanations within this sub-field have been largely based upon rational self-interested individuals applying monetary cost-benefit logic to their choices in spiritual “production” and “consumption”. Traditional analyses of consumers, firms and institutions are applied to religious organizations and behavior so that religious phenomena are seen as products of Homo economicus.2 The microeconomics of religion approach can be considered part of a more general economic “imperialism” (or more critically, as economism, or economic determinism or reductionism) seeking to explain a wider range of aspects of socio-economic reality that are not traditionally considered as economic — including key relations associated with family, love, caring and seemingly altruistic motives (for example, see Becker, 1980). An alternative and quite different approach has developed from the highly influential work of sociologists (or perhaps, more aptly labelled, “socio-economists”) such as Weber, 1958 and Weber, 1963 in the early 20th Century. This perspective starts from the notion that, despite apparent variation in the adoption of the related beliefs, teachings and world views, religion should be considered to have profound potential implications for the ethical, normative and motivational foundations that guide livelihood activities. The perspective reverses the causality direction emphasis in the Homo economicus microeconomic studies of religion and analyzes the economic behavioral and systemic impacts of religion. Rather than shifting explanatory power to models of rational economic man (acting in a self-interested way in market exchanges), the general approach involves the acceptance of a range of social, psychological, institutional, and cultural (including religious) influences in order to understand economic behavior and system outcomes. Good examples of this orientation can be found in the reviews and studies of Cameron (2002), Iannaccone (1998), Kuran (1995), Siddiqi (1981), and Zadek (1993). Early Western ideas about the impact of religion upon economics concentrated upon the negative impact of traditional religion and informal institutional constraints upon improvements in the material conditions of life (for example, Boulding, 1952; Parsons, 1960; Weber, 1958). Over time, positivist economics and other social sciences tended to discount “irrational” religious influences on preferences and behavioral motivations in (market) exchange because of the presumed inexorable and global socio-cultural evolution towards secularization and a hegemonic world view structured by science and technology — all founded upon the overwhelming desire for maximum personal accumulation in this life. To the contrary, there is considerable evidence of a persistent, or perhaps strengthening, influence of religious beliefs and practices on the economic (and certainly, the related political and cultural) life of people across higher and lower income nations (Iannaccone, 1998). This recognition has occurred alongside the mergence of a clear sense of disenchantment and skepticism has grown with regard to the possibility, and desirability, of “amoral” or “scientific” Western models of growth and development as relevant solutions for the large proportion of the world's people entrenched in poverty. To compound matters further, despite the economic “success” of the older industrialized nations and the East Asia “tigers”, these nations seem unable to deal effectively with the underlying social and existential problems that prevent marked improvement in the true well-being of their people (Diwan, 1991). This paper clearly lies within the second branch of an “economics of religion” concerned with how beliefs, norms and values affect economic choices and activities (the area labelled as “religious economics” by Iannaccone (1998)). It has similarities to the studies of original Weberian heritage concerned with the economic performance consequences of religion. However, a major focus is the attempt to contribute to an understanding of the nature of positive, adaptive change for economic behavior, and the socio-economy overall, to deal with critical systemic problems such as the environmental and community unsustainability and the apparent failure of economic growth (or growth in the value of economic exchange) to bring true welfare gains or happiness. Growing interest in the critical relations between socio-economic concerns, culture, and the environment has nurtured and sustained a new, and fertile common ground between economics and religion (especially Buddhism) and some fundamental revision of the nature and desirability of economic and welfare goals and outcomes (for more detailed discussion, see Daniels, 2003a and Daniels, 2003b). The primary aim of this paper is to discuss and outline some of the key features and principles of a notional economic system founded upon the views and practice of Buddhism. We outline the introductory, and intentionally rather imprecise, ideal of “Buddhist economics” as suggested by Schumacher (1973) but extend out from the issues covered in his seminal works to cover a broader range of problems and challenges relevant to the contemporary global context. The analysis also draws heavily on the instrumental work of other researchers tackling this laudable topic (see Alexandrin, 1979, Alexandrin, 1981 and Alexandrin, 1993; Pryor, 1990 and Pryor, 1991; Zadek, 1993 and Zadek, 2003). While the paper has an advocacy orientation, it does not consist of a dogmatic interpretation of the economic consequences of key Buddhist texts. Rather, it attempts to lay the groundwork to justify how many widely-appreciated ultimate goals of economic life could be more successfully attained via a new, alternative system organized on principles that are compatible with the long-standing philosophical and ethical basis of Buddhism. Naturally, an overview of the distinctive features that might comprise a Buddhist-compatible economic system is a critical task given the objectives of the paper. However, Buddhism is well-known as a very flexible and adaptive world “religion” with a syncretic impact on the diversity of regional cultures upon which it has been superimposed in the past. Furthermore, Buddhism itself has experienced considerable internal division and adaptation (for example, into the Theravada and Mahayana strands and offshoots of these major schools). The result is considerable variation in the socio-economic expressions of its influence — for example, the extent to which a realization of the transitory and contingent nature of secular phenomena, relations and reality (or “other-worldliness”) in Buddhism is reflected in motives, activity and economic performance in the empirical economic world. Such discrepancies are acknowledged as a limitation in attempting to construct a singular vision of the practical application of Buddhism to economic systems. Nonetheless, there are several pervasive and persistent characteristics of Buddhism that facilitate and justify the construction of plausible generalizations. In developing an overall structural depiction of a Buddhist-compatible economic system, it has been very useful to systematically compare and contrast such a system with the neoclassical market core of mainstream economics. This has proceeded along a number of essential philosophical, metaphysical, teleological, social, and behavioral themes. The juxtaposition of Buddhist and traditional neoclassical economic principles is not intended as a critique of mainstream economics but serves two major functions. Firstly, the ease with which the two world views can be compared, along several key dimensions, demonstrates the inherently economic nature of the Buddhist world view. Secondly, outlining the economic nature of Buddhism indirectly reveals its highly relevant, and potentially very useful contribution, to dealing with the new suite of very serious and inter-related social, economic, political and environmental problems facing humanity in the 21st century and beyond. Before attempting to describe the key principles and the contemporary relevance of an economic system founded on the Buddhist principles, we provide a very brief overview of the essential nature of Buddhism and the Western intellectual origins of the contemporary, and quite active, dialogue between economic studies and Buddhism.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The primary purpose of this paper has been to outline some of the key features of a Buddhist economics and to demonstrate that Buddhism has a very substantial and relevant overlap with the interests and concerns of economics. The linkages with economics are most apparent when economics is correctly recognized as the study of people and society dealing with scarce resources in livelihood activities. The intrinsic and integral economic nature of Buddhism has been reflected in its systematic comparison, along several key dimensions, with the neo-classical economic approach. It is true that the interplay between the religious or spiritual and economic spheres would operate in any context where fundamental metaphysical beliefs are actualized in the social world. However, the profound environmental harmony basis of Buddhist economics suggests that the interface between Buddhism and applied economics will continue to develop in tandem with the increased priority attached to explaining and implementing economic welfare and environmental goals at regional, national and global levels. Ideas drawn from the world view of Buddhism could make a valuable contribution in terms of the mode of analysis, and the formulation and implementation of appropriate solutions for the most significant and challenging problems faced by humankind in the next few centuries. Economic studies must take into account value systems as the management of the economy is inherently aimed at social goals that can only be assessed in terms of these values. Economic development is just a part of more fundamental social processes and end states that should direct and guide action and change (Zadek, 1993). For example, the actual nature of the desired ultimate goals of economic activity involves fundamental assumptions that structure directions and policies for socio-economic development. Current efforts at broadening the concept of welfare, within economics, represent a profound questioning of what human mental, social and physical conditions and end-states are considered desirable and how they might be measured and assessed on some long-term or overall basis. They reveal a need for a re-examination of the nature, and product, of human livelihood activity. In the past, economics has generally and intentionally ignored end-states beyond assumptions about the optimality of maximizing post-labor utility from income generation and consumption of output. It has been unable to deal convincingly with quality of life effects derived from the actual process of achieving such ends (especially in livelihood activity). However, the limitations of assuming that individual welfare or social value grows unconditionally with the total monetary value of unspecified goods or services in market exchanges (without regard for very significant socio-economic and environmental implications) are now very obvious and inadequate as a basis for assessing social and economic policy (Calcott, 2001). The individualistic bias of mainstream economics has also been limited in its ability to integrate collective goals — especially “other-regarding” collective goals based on true altruism and compassion beyond close relatives — into policy analysis (Kiesling, 1999). In the traditional form of neo-classical economics, trepidation about including ethical issues has been embodied in what is now largely considered to be a simplistic and spurious value judgment that the individual has complete knowledge and will follow “rational” self-interest in income or profit maximization (and consequent material accumulation) leading to socially efficient outcomes and true welfare or happiness. If economics is really concerned about “optimality”, and how human activity should be structured to improve human welfare, it must openly embrace and address the need to intensively analyze ultimate ends and the desirability of means.12 The structured comparison used to highlight the key features of an economic system compatible with Buddhism has been based on an archetypical version of traditional neo-classical economics. This simplification has been adopted to highlight the differences between the Buddhist economic perspective and the old neo-classical paradigmatic foundations of most Western economic systems. It has been acknowledged that this conception is not representative of the diversity of modern economics and the many experimental and research areas that have branched out to consider wider non-economic influences and phenomena, satiation, and the influence of social norms and culture, inter-personal relations and collective and altruistic motives in economic choices and behavior. There appears to be an ongoing evolution of mainstream economics towards the acceptance of powerful and inevitable linkages between social norms and collective and ecological interdependence, and economic life and objectives. This evolution is considered a positive trend and evidence of a recognition that economics needs to produce more elaborate and complete welfare or choice frameworks and methods for considering many of those aspects encountered in our discussion of the nexus between Buddhism and economics — (1) the dynamic, endogenous and socially-contingent nature of preferences, (2) the labor process as a source of utility, and (3) external effects associated with the intrinsic inter-connectedness of the social and natural environments (Albert and Hahnel, 1990). In fact, these changes in mainstream economics may well set the scene for greater realization of the potential relevance and contribution of Buddhist perspectives and wisdom in guiding integrated economic and social strategies. Social norms and ethical foundations cannot be ignored. They are contingent, dynamic and highly valid areas for study which deeply affect the assumptions, goals, relevant variables and subject matter, and interpretation of findings, within economics. Although an adaptive value system required to support sustainable human communities into the future may not be uniquely Buddhist in nature, it is reasonable to propose that such as system will share many of the key features described in our exploration of Buddhism and economics. Hence, the relationship is surely worthy of more detailed study. A mix of the lessons of the ancient philosophies and ethical views of the lower income nations and the technological capabilities, tolerance and adaptability of the West may provide an effective means of coping with the critical 21st Century problems of scarcity, environmental pressure and cultural conflict.