The Competitiveness of Nations in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy

Tetsunori Koizumi



Journal of Cultural Economics, 4 (1)

June 1980, 53-71.




Art as Exemplifier of Humanistic Ideals

Four Ideals of Humanity in Art as Four

  Archetypal Images of Man

The Primitive Ideal

The Greco-Roman Ideal

The Byzantine Ideal

The Oriental Ideal

The Art of Economic Man in the Orient:

  An Illustration - Figure 1




A work of art is a product not only of the creative urge of an individual artist but also of the spirit of his time and place.  And as such, art serves an important ‘social’ function as an exemplifier of humanistic ideals.  An examination of this aspect of art, therefore, promises a fruitful line of inquiry for students of human behavior, including economists, who are interested in the interaction between individual behavior and social values.

Of particular interest to economists is the question of how a specific image of beauty, which an artist strives to express in his work, translates itself into a specific humanistic ideal in the context of the cultural environment in which the work is produced.  This is because a specific humanistic ideal prevalent in a specific cultural environment becomes a guide for economic man to the extent that man’s economic behavior is influenced by the humanistic ideal which is molded by his artistic, religious and other ideas.  The purpose of this paper is to explore possible ways in which man’s “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange” is influenced by his propensity to paint, sculpture, and engrave, with special reference to the mode of behavior of economic man in the Orient.

The plan of the paper is as follows: Section 2 develops a general discussion of how art, defined as a symbolic expression of the image of beauty, can serve as an exemplifier of humanistic ideals.  The four representative ideals of humanity in art noted by Herbert Read in his classic The Meaning of Art -Primitive, Greco-Roman, Byzantine and Oriental are discussed in section 3 where the four corresponding images of man are inferred in relation to the psycho-physiologica1 implications of the works of art which exhibit these ideals.  Section 4 presents an illustration, within the context of the standard theory of production and factor demand, of how economic man in the Orient reflects in his economic behavior that he is committed to the realization of his humanistic ideal.  Finally, section 5 contrasts Oriental economic man with Greco-Roman economic man who is the main character of contemporary ‘Western’ economics.


Art as Exemplifier of Humanistic Ideals

Art serves many different functions in a society, ranging from providing a form of entertainment to becoming a vehicle for social rebellion and reform.  No single definition of art would, therefore, do justice to the full range of its functions.  However, since we are primarily interested in the function of art as it exemplifies-humanistic ideals, we propose a somewhat restrictive definition of art - a symbolic expression of the image of beauty.  We-are using the term “symbolic expression” to justify our limited focus on the visual art of painting and sculpture, and the term “image of beauty” to emphasize our primary interest in the function of art as an exemplifier of humanistic ideals. [l]  But what is beauty?  This question must be answered first if we are to infer a humanistic ideal from a work of art.

Psychologically speaking, beauty is simply a certain type of perception formed in the mind.  Such a perception, a sense of beauty as it may be called, can be restated in physiological terms as a certain pattern - of sensory perception which triggers a sense of agreeableness in the limbic system of the brain.  And this is perhaps as much physical foundation as we can give to the term ‘beauty’ at the present state of our knowledge about the neuro-physiological functioning of the brain.

Beauty, defined as a type of perception, of course belongs to the realm of subjective experience on the part of the artist.  If the artist is to convey his perception to the viewer, he must first translate it into an ‘image’ so that it can be expressed in a work of art.  And it is this image of beauty which results from and reflects the artist’s sensory experience that the viewer is presented with in a work of art.  If the artist is to be effective in conveying his image of beauty, he must then choose an appropriate medium and an appropriate symbol by which the image is best represented.  However, since perception is, after all, a matter of the inner experience of the artist, beauty is not so much in the symbol itself as in what it symbolizes [2].

The subjective nature of sensory perception at once raises a rather intriguing question:  If beauty as a sensory perception is a subjective experience of the artist, how can a work of art serve as an exemplifier of a humanistic ideal for other members of the society who may not be able to duplicate the- artist’s experience?  To answer this question, we must examine for a moment the role of our sensory organs, including the eye which is the key organ for perception in the case of visual art.


The main role of our sensory organs, in relation to the central nervous system housed in the brain, is to provide us with a set of categories or types of sensory perceptions with which we ‘perceive’ the world around us.[3]  Some types of perceptions are genetically determined, while others are molded by social conditioning such as education, language, and religion.  That some are genetically determined suggests that there may exist certain common instinctive patterns of sensory perceptions which trigger the sense of agreeableness in all human beings. [4]  However, it is the latter type of perceptions which are determined by the socio-cultural factors that are mainly responsible for a specific ‘style’ of art which tends to prevail in a specific place at a specific time.  Here the prevalence of a style can be interpreted as being generated by the interaction between the producer and the consumer:  The artist as the producer of art tends to express his image of beauty according to a specific style which he regards as acceptable to the society and the viewer as the consumer of art tends to accept a specific style which, to him, is agreeable with his socio-cultural background.  Indeed, if a work of art is to serve as an exemplifier of a humanistic ideal, it is essential that there be a correspondence - a la topological homeomorphism if you will - between the image of beauty expressed by the artist and the image of beauty perceived as agreeable by the viewer.  Otherwise, art will not be able to perform its ‘social’ function of communicating the artists image of beauty, which reflects his subjective sensory experience, to other members of the society.

From the psychologist’s point of view, the cultural environment of a society which aids this communication and therefore contributes to engender a certain style of art can best be couched in the concept of the “social unconscious”, the seeds of all the common psychological traits of the members of a society. [5]  If a certain psychological trait is rooted in a common genetic characteristic of the members of the society, it will tend to dominate for a long time in view of the extremely slow process of genetic evolution.  If, on the other hand, a trait is due to social conditioning, it follows a much faster process of cultural evolution and is subject to fluctuations, reflecting the changes in the general conditions of the society which take place over time.  This probably explains why history has witnessed the vicissitudes of many artistic styles.

Behind such vicissitudes, however, certain archetypal images of beauty do exist, and emerge and reemerge in works of art in different times and in


different places.  The existence of such archetypal images (as will be shown in the next section) is one evidence that beauty has a physiological foundation in the functioning of sensory perceptions.  And the search for archetypal images of beauty thus becomes a worthwhile venture in that the humanistic ideals implied by these archetypal images of beauty can serve as the archetypal images of man.


Four Ideals of Humanity in Art as Four Archetypal Images of Man

How a work of art which symbolically expresses an image of beauty can serve as an exemplifier of a humanistic ideal was discussed in general terms in the previous section.  With this discussion behind us, we can now proceed to a discussion of representative humanistic ideals which have appeared in the history of visual art.  And in this we shall follow, and expand on, the four ideals of humanity in art noted by Herbert Read in his classic The Meaning of Art: The Primitive ideal, the Greco-Roman ideal, the Byzantine ideal and the Oriental ideal.[6]  Our task here is to carve out the archetypal images of man from these ideals of humanity in art.


The Primitive Ideal

The Primitive ideal, according to Read, is “a propitiation, an expression of fear in the face of a mysterious and implacable world.”  This characterization he draws mainly from his analysis of Bushman rock paintings of Southern Rhodesia and South West Africa.  However, when it comes to the particular type of sensory perception represented, there is no reason why we have to limit ourselves to these painting.  We may expand the Primitive ideal to cover all works of art that appeared beginning with the Franco-Cantabrian cave painting of the Palaeolithic age and ending with the arrival of classical Greek art.

One thing we immediately notice about the works of art of this period is the dominance of animal figures.  And what lovely figures!  They are carved out, and painted, full of movement and vivacity, some with human faces dancing with humans!  It appears as if the human figure, even in a hunting scene, is playing only a subservient role to the animal figure.  Indeed, the way animals are depicted, full of spirit and vigor, is suggestive of the animistic belie of these artists.  But animism here, instead of being treated as a religion which appears in the initial stage of development of man’s religious consciousness in the Hegelian scheme, [7] must be regarded as a way of perceiving world which reflects the particular pattern of - sensory


perception of these artists.  For the same way of perceiving the world, in which animals and humans are treated as equals, is as alive today in the world of fairy tales as it was in the days of these artists. [8]

What, then, is this particular pattern of sensory perception, this particular frame of mind, which prompted these artists to create these works of art expressing the Primitive ideal?  Here we may borrow the term, “bicameral mind”, introduced by Julian Jaynes in his recent book on the Origin of Consciousness. [9]  The bicameral mind, characterized by the independent functioning of the two hemispheres of the brain, explains why man seems to be playing a subservient role in works of art of this period.  For man with his bicameral mind, hearing the voices of the gods in the right hemisphere while communicating with his fellow men with language which is under the control of the left hemisphere, lived in the world of unconsciousness like other animals.  Man was then as much a part of nature as animals and other objects and, like Pope’s poor Indian, saw God in clouds or heard him in the wind.  Even the king was no exception in this regard, for Stele of Hammurabi, believed to be of around 1760 B.C., shows this great king of Babylonia receiving inspiration for his laws from the Sun-God Shamash.

And such has to be the image of man implied by the Primitive ideal.  Primitive man, being a part of nature, derives instructions for his behavior from nature, listening to the voices of the gods in the wind. In the mountain, in the valley, in the stream.  As a model of ‘Primitive’ economic man, we may cite Joseph whose astute dealings in corn futures is recorded in the Old Testament.   How does Primitive man deal with such risky business as corn futures?  By predicting the weather at the harvest time!  How does he, then, predict weather?

By the sun, moon, and stars, by the clouds, the winds,

the trees, and grass, the candleflame and swallows,

the smell of the herbs; likewise by the cats’ eyes,

the ravens, the leaches, the spiders, and the dungmixen,

the last fortnight in August will be - rain and tempest.[10]

The Greco-Roman Ideal

For the Greeks it was human intellect based on reason that set man apart from other creatures in nature.  And they set out to apply this principle to all


of their many activities.  Art was no exception; and beauty, with the Greeks, naturally assumed a new meaning.  A thing of beauty to the Greeks, as Read puts it, was “perfectly formed, perfectly proportioned, noble and serene.”

The attainment of perfection - in form and in proportion - thus became the ideal of humanity for the Greeks.  Nothing expresses this ideal better than their sculpture.  There is the statue of Apollo at the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, looking down on the world with his noble, yet somewhat detached, expression on his face.  Here we find the image of man with ‘godlike’ beauty - godlike because Apollo symbolizes the triumph of reason over passion which enables man to attain godlike wisdom.  And there is Aphrodite of Melos, the very symbol of noble and serene beauty!  Here we find the idealization of reality carried to perfection, with the use of soft and rounded contour lines and of the smooth surface of the stone intended to highlight perfect form and proportion.  In these sculptures we find the application of the Platonic concept of ideal standard which transcends particulars, of ideal type which is abstracted from individual species. [11]

It was this Greek concept of beauty in the Platonic world of ideals that was revived by the Renaissance artists.  Thus Michelangelo carved out the image of an ‘ideal’ young leader in David, watching the approaching enemy with firm determination and in intense expectation, ready to defend the people of Israel, and the image of an ‘ideal’ aged leader in Moses, his eyes expressing anger at his unbelieving people, ready to deliver the Commandments he received on Mount Sinai.  And Leonardo, driven by his passion for perfection, went so far as to apply mathematical principles to ensure the attainment of perfect form and proportion.  A good case in point is his Last Supper, in which he applied mathematical principles to space, with all lines converging on Jesus’ face, and to proportion, with the adoption of geometric ratios.  Needless to say, the use of geometric ratios or harmonic series was pioneered by the Greeks who discovered that ideal geometric proportion called the Golden Section.  And the idea of the Golden Section was applied, for example, by another Renaissance artist, della Francesca, in The Flagellation of Jesus.

Now, what is the image of man implied by the Greco-Roman ideal?  Two things may be noted.  First, the discovery of reason the Greeks was the discovery of consciousness, of the higher cortical function of the brain which sets man apart from other animals.  And with consciousness came man’s awareness of his own individuality which distinguishes him from his fellow


men.  Individuality has thus become an important attribute of Greco-Roman man.  Second, the use of geometric and other mathematical principles suggests Greco-Roman man’s dependency on the mode of perception under the control of the left hemisphere of the brain - the logical and analytical mode of perceiving the world.  Out of this Greco-Roman ideal, therefore, Western man has developed his scientific outlook of the world, which has come to dominate in the West since the Reformation.  And the model of economic man, with his two attributes of selfishness and rationality, has also evolved out of the Greco-Roman image of man which was again to prevail during the Age of the Enlightenment. [12]

The Byzantine Ideal

As a descendant of early Christian art, the Byzantine ideal, according to Read, is “divine rather than human, intellectual and anti-vital.”  And the ideal is best represented in colorful mosaics found in many churches in Ravenna mostly constructed during the fifth and sixth centuries.

There is Christ as the Good Shepherd in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.  A glance at this piece is enough to notice the sharp contrast in style between the Greco-Roman ideal and the Byzantine ideal.  Although six sheep are arranged symmetrically, with three on each side of Christ, the arrangement no longer follows the rigid geometric regularity of Greco-Roman art; it is at best intuitive and loose.  Yet the mosaic, with its use of rich colors, serves as a vivid reminder of Christ’s words: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine...and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14, 15)  The same kind of loose symmetric arrangement of objects is also used in The Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes, a mosaic from the nave wall of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo.  Here we find on the right side of Christ two disciples holding the loaves of bread and on the left another two disciples holding the fishes.  And again with the use of rich colors, the piece recreates one of many of Christ’s miracles recorded in the New Testament: “And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.  And they did all eat, and were filled...” (Matthew 14:19, 20)  And further, there is Christ between Angels and Saints, apse mosaic from San Vitale, depicting the second coming of Christ, flanked by an angel and a saint on each side.  The use of rich colors is again conspicuous with the rainbow colored clouds above Christ and the


four blue rivers below flowing through the green meadows of Heaven.  And once again, we are reminded of Christ’s words: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.” (Matthew 25:31)

What these mosaics are meant to be becomes immediately apparent from the subject matter dealt with.  They are intended as symbolic representations of Christian dogma, reflecting the belief of the church fathers who commissioned these works of art that it is not necessary to read the Bible for a faithful Christian to understand Christianity.  They are symbolic also in the use of two-dimensional- figures rather than the three-dimensional images of Greco-Roman sculpture which are more suited for realistic representations of the human body.  What is represented, then, is not so much the physical beauty of man as the spiritual beauty which emanates from his inner character.

We can infer from the Byzantine ideal that Byzantine man cherished the development of his spiritual character.  The symbolic representation of his ideal suggests his dependence on the right hemisphere’s mode of perception which is intuitive rather than intellectual, impressionistic rather than analytical, synchronous rather than sequential.  And, as Paul the Apostle writes in the first epistle to the Corinthians, he would be guided by “1ove, hope, and charity” in his behavior. [13]  As economic man, Byzantine man would faithfully follow the Christian spirit of charity in his dealings, for it had been preached to him that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)  In short, he is one who is better than his word - like that “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old Ebenezer Scrooge” who awakens himself to this spirit after he has seen the three Spirits on Christmas Eve. [14]


The Oriental Ideal

The characterization of the Oriental ideal by Read as “abstract, non-human, metaphysical, yet intuitive rather than intellectual” is indeed synoptic of the diversity of cultural elements which exists in the Orient from India to China, to Japan.  That the Oriental ideal seeks abstraction and symbolic representation of reality is evident from one of India’s earliest sculptures, Capital of Column, erected by Emperor Asoka in the third century B.C., showing four lions on a disk with four wheels.  The lion itself is intended as a symbolic representation of Buddha who was known as the lion


of the Sakya clan; while the four lions together symbolize the fullness of Buddha’s enlightened mind, and the four wheels on the sides of the disk stand for the wheels of life in the Buddhist teaching of transmigration.

The symbolic nature of representation is also apparent even when Buddha himself is sculptured, for it is the image of Buddha’s tranquillity in meditation that is being represented.  The idea is to remind the viewers of Buddha’s words: “Who are engaged in contemplation, who are steadfast and who take delight in tranquillity born of renunciation, even the devas envy those awakened and mindful beings.” (Dhammapada 14:181)  Seated Buddha at Aurnath combines this image of tranquillity with the subtle sensuality of the curves - a rounded face, a rounded shoulder and a rounded figure.  In fact, the whole figure effuses feminine sensuality.  Such feminine sensuality was cultivated to the full by the Chinese in their porcelain wares.  The porcelain statue, Kuan-yin, made in early Ch’ing dynasty, marvellously captures the feminine quality of compassion and mercifulness in its soft, rounded form combined with its white, translucent porcelain surface.  It is also this soft, rounded form that is expressed in a Japanese wooden statue Miroku, made in the seventh century, showing Maitreya in contemplation.  What we find in these statues are symbolic representations of the ‘anima’, the feminine aspect of human psyche in Jungian psychology, which is asserted as vital for man to attain his spiritual maturation. [15]

When we talk about the Oriental ideal, we can not leave out the important role played by landscape painting, especially a category of paintings known as the “mountain water pictures”.  In these pictures we find the very essence of the Oriental view of man and nature, of Oriental man’s pantheistic love of nature.  For what the artist strives for is the spontaneous reproduction of natural forms - as if Nature herself is painting through the artist.  Take, for example, Travellers among Mountains and Streams by the tenth century master Fan K’uan.  In the background massive rock mountains soar high over the stream.  In contrast, human figures have been reduced to miniscule proportions, suggesting that man is indeed a miniscule part of nature.  Yet the whole picture succeeds in conveying the sense of harmony between man and nature - the sense of harmony that stems only from the artist’s total immersion in nature and the spontaneity of his strokes.

The spontaneity of the creative process cherished by the Oriental landscape painter is indeed a reflection of his perception of the world.  To him things in


nature are in perpetual change.  Moreover, the realization that his own sensory perception is also transient compels him to capture, with a spontaneous stroke of his brush, the image of beauty in this fleeting world.  The same kind of fleeting view of the world is also expressed in Hokusai’s celebrated print, The Great Wave.  Here we find Hokusai’s image of man’s struggle in the fleeting world.  He captures this image by creating the tension of a great wave about to break and engulf precariously floating boats.  The tension created, however, is not an overwhelming kind which would drive man into abject resignation.  Rather, the tension is more of a subtle and transient kind which expresses man’s readiness to accept natural events as they arise. -

Man becomes a part of nature under the Oriental ideal.  And Oriental man achieves harmony with nature by the disciplining of his mind, by the cultivating of the right hemisphere’s mode of perception which enables him to orient himself in time and space.  Indeed, the attainment of totality for Oriental man requires the union of opposites between the animus and the anima in his psyche, between the conscious and unconscious minds, between the left and the right hemispheres’ modes of perception.  When Oriental man reaches his spiritual maturation by the attainment of the union of these opposites in him, he, once again like Primitive man, becomes a part of nature.  But, unlike Primitive man who was a meek follower of nature’s voices, Oriental man becomes a part of nature by becoming one with nature, by acquiring the mind of the universe: “Good is the taming of the mind, which is difficult to be restrained, which is flighty and which falls wherever it wishes; a mind that is tamed brings happiness.” (Dhammapada 3:55)


The Art of Economic Man in the Orient: An Illustration

How does Oriental Man reflect in his economic behavior that he is committed to the realization of his humanistic ideal?  To investigate this, the art of economic man in the Orient, let us take up a simple comparative statics problem which arises in the standard theory of production and factor demand.

In Figure 1 is depicted a pair of isoquants for a producer who produces output (Y) with the use of two factor inputs, capital (K) and labor (L).  The isoquant labelled Y1 refers to the initial level of output and E1 the initial cost minimizing equilibrium for the producer, with the optimal employment of two inputs at K1 and L1.  Suppose now that a recession in the product market forces the producer to cut down his target level of output for the coming year


from Yj to Y2.  The cost minimizing equilibrium for the reduced level of output occurs at E2, resulting in the reduced employment of two inputs to K2 and L2.

[N.B. Figure 1 appears on page 71 of the original publication.]

To infer this much is straightforward, given the framework of the comparative statics analysis as depicted in Figure 1.  What the above analysis fails to take into account, however, is the information regarding the producer as a man and the substantive economy in which he engages in his production activity.  To illustrate how this information is relevant, suppose the producer in question is the head of a family-type operation, or the president of a company (like many Japanese companies) in which the workers form a union within the company.  And further, suppose that our producer is ‘Oriental’ man whose ideal we discussed in the previous section.

The information we have invested in our producer naturally changes our analysis.  To see this, suppose the producer decides to maintain the old level of employment L1 at the reduced level of output Y2.  This decision would be branded as irrational if interpreted within the framework we have carried out analysis so far, for the cost of producing Y2 is certainly higher with L1 than with L2 (as indicated by the higher cost curve passing through E3 than that through E2).  But is the decision really irrational when the information we have invested in the producer is taken into account?

Recall that the Oriental ideal of humanity involves the attainment of the union of opposites.  In the context of our problem, this means that our producer must resolve the conflict between his pursuit of economic rationality (i.e. cost minimization) and his commitment to maintain harmony with his employees.  For our producer, as Oriental man, would probably be heedful of the precept: “Happy is the teaching of the Good Law; happy is the unity of the group and happy is the ascetic life of the united.” (Dhammapada 14:194)  Our producer’s decision to keep all his workers employed may be interpreted in this light.  And, to maintain the unity of the group and to ride out a hard time together, the producer may decide to convince his workers to accept a reduced wage rate such that the cost curve at this reduced wage rate is tangent to the isoquant Y2 at E3, which guarantees the employment of L1.  When he succeeds in doing this, what was before an uneconomic solution, in fact, becomes an economic solution which minimizes cost at a reduced wage rate.

The art of economic man in the Orient is, therefore, the art of attaining this new equilibrium solution by convincing his workers to accept a lower


wage rate to ride out a hard time together.  And the attainment of this goal, in turn, demands the art of providing an environment for his workers in which they will willingly cooperate with him.  Thus, he may promise job security for his-workers by offering, for example, lifetime employment guarantees and/or fringe benefits which more than complement their low wages.  In short, our economic man in the Orient is committed to employ a worker as a total man and not simply as a supplier of labor service which could be substituted for by capital whenever his cost calculations so dictate.  For to him, each worker is as much a part of his operation as himself, and happiness lies in the unity of the group.  Moreover, if the wage rate is indeed negotiable as would make E3 a new cost minimizing equilibrium, our economic man in the Orient, in- fact, becomes a ‘rational’ economic man - rational in a specific socio-cultural environment in which he derives his humanistic ideal.

What happens if the recession continues?  A prolonged recession may render the possibility of making profits a very slim one indeed.  And there is a limit below which the wage rate cannot be reduced.  Now the logic of economic rationality would dictate our producer to cut down the level of employment for the survival of the operation.  But what if he still refuses to do so - even at the risk of bankruptcy?  Could we blame our producer for his economic irrationality who is still committed to the pursuit of his humanistic ideal?  After all, every producer must, sooner or later, live out his story - in the grand scheme of things called - Nature.  And this our economic man in the Orient knows better than anybody else.



Is the art of economic man in the Orient a dying art? - the art which reflects the Oriental ideal of achieving the union of opposites between the logic of economic rationality and the good of human unity, between the pursuit of economic self-interest and the promotion of community welfare?  The answer, unfortunately, must be in the affirmative if economics is to be understood in the specific cultural environment of the West in which it was born and in which it has evolved into what we have today.  For, when put in the context of the rationally conceived economic system consisting of rational economic men, the failure to follow the logic of economic rationality as defined in that system means the failure to survive in that system.

But ponder for a moment the implications of the specific cultural environment of the West which has nurtured this rationally oriented


economics.  It is in this specific culture that economists have been promoting such ideas as the advantages of specialization and division of labor and the economies of large scale production.  It is also in this specific culture that economists have converted man into a supplier of a factor input called labor which is simply just another factor input.  And further, it is also in this specific culture that economic man has come up with an idea of putting workers on an assembly line in the name of economic efficiency.

All these implications follow from the linear mode of thinking, the left hemisphere’s mode of perceiving the world, which has grown out of the Greco-Roman ideal of humanity and which has gained influence in the evolution of the Western mind since the Reformation.  Such ideas as “more is better than less,” “faster growth is better than slower” and “time is a scarce factor input whose usage is to be economized”, all reflect the linear mode of thinking which characterizes the mode of perception under the control of the left hemisphere.  In fact, the very axiom of transitivity that underlies rational choice is a supreme example of the linear mode of thinking.  What is missing in the image of man which has evolved in the left hemisphere culture, or ‘Apollonian’ culture in Nietzche’s terms [16], is the readiness to treat man in his totality, which demands the proper functioning of both the hemispheres of the brain.  Instead, economic man is measured for what he produces as a factor input, which is readily susceptible to the left hemisphere’s mode of perception, and, if cost calculations so dictate, becomes substitutable with any other factor input.  What is also missing is the readiness to perceive man in his proper place in the grand scheme of things called Nature.  Instead, economic man, whose mind has been influenced and molded by this culture, has wrought havoc on Nature which, to him, is just another factor input called land in the pursuit of his economic self-interest - until recently when Nature herself has started to give out ‘visible’ signs that she could take it no more.

More importantly for economists, what has been missing is a serious endeavor to incorporate into economics the image of economic man which is culture-specific.[17]  Put economic man in a different cultural environment, and there emerges a different brand of economics.  For economic man who breathes the air of different cultural values would behave differently, because he is guided by a different humanistic ideal.  We have attempted, in the preceding pages, to illustrate this point with special reference to the mode of behavior of Oriental economic man.  But, as there are other ideals of humanity, there is a need to develop other brands of economics designed to


analyze the behavior of economic men who pursue, whether consciously or unconsciously, these different humanistic ideals.  After all, the brand of-economics which is taught and practiced today, when it comes to the image of economic man represented, is at best an evolutionary episode of a specific human culture.

This is precisely the reason why the development of ‘cultural’ economics is sorely needed - an approach that looks into the cultural factors of a society which play a predominant role in determining human behavior.  And it is in this context that the role of the artist must be examined as an exemplifier of humanistic ideals.  For- the artist is one who is blessed with the mind to ‘perceive’ things which the scientist, with his propensity to reduce, quantify, and measure, often fails to perceive.  With this keen perception, the artist can foresee the end of an ideal for the society.  And, to the extent that the artist’s mind is the mind of the society, he will then strive to carve out a new ideal for the society to come.  For the true artist is one who, like Joyce’s young artist, can say:

So be it.  Welcome, 0 Life!  I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. [18]

And hopefully, the true artist, as he grows old, will acquire the mind of the world and will strive to forge a new ideal for the world to come.

The Ohio State University


1.      It is possible to argue that literary art also seeks symbolic expression with the use of ‘discursive’ symbols of language.  On this- and related topics on the use of symbols in art, see S. K. Langer, Problems of Art, NewYork: Charles Scribners Sons, 1957.

2.      A similar line of argument regarding the use of symbols in expressing the sense of beauty is found in G. Santayana, The Sense of Beauty, New, 1955.

3.      For this and other recent psycho-physiological findings, see, for example,J. Bruner, On Knowing: Essays for the Left hand,


Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962, and R. Ornstein, The Psychology of Consciousness, New York: Harcourt Brace .Jovanovich, 2nd edition, 1977.

4.      That these common types of perceptions do exist is the foundation of the aesthetics of Gestalt psychology.  See W. Kohier, Gestalt Psychology, New York: Liveright, 1947.

5.      The concept of the social unconscious is discussed in relation to the Japanese in their economic activities in T. Koizumi, “The Ways and Means of the Gods: An Analysis of Japanese Religion”, Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 3, No. 2, December 1979, pp. 75.88.

6.      See H. Read, The Meaning of Art, revised ed., London: Faber and Faber, 1968, esp. pp. 21-22.

7.      See G.W.F,Hegel,ThePhenomenology of the Mind, New York: Humanities, 1971. For an interpretation of animism as a humanistic ideal, see T. Koizurni, “Traditional Japanese Religion and the Notion of Economic Man”, Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 1, No. 2, December

1977, pp. 35-46.

8.      One of the earliest pictures of men conquering and ruling over animals appears in a relief from Nineveh, believed to be of around 650 B.C., showing the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal hunting lions.  It is interesting to note the coincidence of the appearance of these pictures with the writing of the Old Testament in which we find the following lines: “...Be fruitful, and , multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) -

9.      See J. Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.

10.     T. Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, New York: Washington Square Press, 1972, p. 185.

11.     Plato’s writings on art are scattered in The Republic, Statesman and also in Symposia.  For these and other views on art and beauty, see A. Hofstadter and R. Kuhns (eds.),Philosophies of Art and Beauty, Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1964.

12.     How the image of economic man as characterized by the two attributes of selfishness and rationality has grown out of the spirit of the Enlightenment is analyzed in T. Koizumi, “Economics as a Study of Man”, Otemon Economic Studies, 11, 1978.


13.     “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these three is charity.” (I Corinthians 13:13).

14.     C. Dickens, Christmas Carol, New York: Washington Square Press, 1963, pp. 13-14.

15.    See C.G. Jung, The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, Vol. 91, Collected Works, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969.

16.     See F. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, in which the two contrasting cultures - Apollonian and Dyonysian - are discussed in relation to the Greek Society, New York: Random House, 1967.

17.     An exception to this is E.F. Schumacher’s, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, New York: Harper and Row, 1973.

18.     J. Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, New York: Viking Press, 1964, pp. 252.253.

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Useful comments on an earlier draft by Tom Wolf and Akio Yasuhara and editorial assistance by Susan Wolf are deeply appreciated.