Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Personal econ--Natural law, Newton

Personal Econ--Natural Law, Newton
Isaac Newton gave us modern science. He took the work of his forerunners, Galileo and Kepler, stripped them of their sarcasm and mysticism, respectively, added his own remarkable insight, and gave us the book that launched modern science. At the end of his book, he adds a postscript in which he explains his motivation. There were problems with the theory of vortices--the theory with which Des Carte had attempted to explain the universe. The problems, Newton claimed, stemmed more from Des Carte’s philosophy than from his science or his mathematics. He failed to recognize that God is a governor and, as such is interested in the affairs of those over whom he has governance.
The French, predictably, did not care for Newton’s explanation. After all, the French and the English did not get along. Rather than admit that their objections were political, they attempted, as is so often the case, to show that Newton’s work was unscientific. Newton, they claimed had the universe held together by a "perpetual miracle". The "miracle" was the "action at a distant" force, gravity. We no longer consider "action at a distance" miraculous, because, it is necessary to our understanding of science. Einstein was able, in a way, to eliminate the Newtonian miracle, but his efforts to do so with the similar miracle of Gauss, Faraday, and Maxwell was not so successful.
In my history of science class, our teacher referred to Des Cartes theory, admittedly, somewhat derisively as "the whirlpool theory". It is my conviction that when we attempt to eliminate God as a governor, we wind up with a lot of "whirlpool-like" theories, i. e. theories that sound plausible enough but when applied the results are most unsatisfactory. This is particularly true in the field of economics.
It was, in my opinion, Adam Smith’s belief that interpersonal relationships between men was subject to law, what we call natural law, in the same way that the relationship of physical matter is subject to law. In writing "the Wealth of Nations" , he attempted to explicate some of those laws.

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