My objective is to deepen and thicken public and private policy debate about the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge–based economy. To do so I first demonstrate the inadequacies of the Standard Model of economics, the last ideology standing after the Market-Marx Wars. Second, I develop a methodology (Trans-Disciplinary Induction) to acquire ‘knowledge about knowledge’. In the process of surveying the event horizons of seventeen sub-disciplines of thought, I redefine ‘ideology’ as the search for commensurable sets or systems of ideas shared across knowledge domains and practices. Third, I create a definitional avalanche about knowledge as a noun, verb, form and content in etymology, psychology, epistemology & pedagogy, law and economics. Fourth, I establish the origins and nature of the Nation-State, the shifting sands of sovereignty on which it stands and the complimentary roles it plays as curator, facilitator, patron, architect and engineer of the national knowledge-base. Fifth, I examine the competitiveness of nations with respect to a production function in which all inputs, outputs and coefficients are defined in terms of knowledge. In the process, I demonstrated that competitiveness, as win/lose against rivals, is inadequate because it does not account for symbionts and environmental change. Accordingly, I propose ‘fitness’ as a more appropriate criterion. Finally, I consider the comparative advantage of nations given their initial and differing national knowledge endowments.
HHC © February 2006
the collapse of the
If technology enframes and enables us as physical beings creating a human built ecology then ideology (inclusive of religion) enframes and enables us as mental beings within local, regional, national and global communities of ideas. It is this enframing and enabling of minds within systems of ideas that forms, in part at least, what theoretical biology calls the noösphere or that part of the world consisting of conceptual thought as opposed to the geosphere or nonliving world and the biosphere or living world.
Ideologies exhibit avalanches of speciation and extinction. It should not therefore be surprising that just as the Second World of centrally planned economies melted into a single global marketplace the economies of the First World shifted from a foundation based on manufacturing to one based on knowledge. Similarly, just as the knowledge-based economy emerged the definition of knowledge underwent a revolution with the old ‘positivist’ ‘when-then’ causality displaced by causality by purpose, both natural purpose as in biology and human purpose as in works of aesthetic, intellectual and technological intelligence. It is in the emerging sciences of genomics and proteomics that this marriage of natural and human purpose is most apparent.
I am concerned with the meaning of ‘knowledge’ and how it affects the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy. It is that part of the noösphere engaged in the buying and selling of ideas as well as the free exchange of knowledge within the public domain. Unfortunately in the Standard Model of economics such an economy is a theoretical contradiction in terms, an oxymoron.
The Standard Model is the offspring of a marriage. In the 1870s, just as socialism was rising, this progeny displaced growth and division of national wealth among social classes as the primary focus of economic thought. The ‘felicitous calculus’ of Jeremy Bentham who, in the early 1800s, reduced human being to a unit measure of pleasure/pain called the ‘utile’ married Newton’s calculus of mechanical motion. Satisfying Descartes’ requirements the new ‘hedonic’ economics became a science through use of deductive logic based on key assumptions whose conclusions are subject to geometric and mathematical proof. Graphic expression was and is critical to its acceptance. The resulting Standard Model, alternatively called the Marshallian, the Neo-Classical or Perfect Competition model, led Thomas Kuhn to single out economics among the social sciences as best approximating puzzle-solving normal science. It is, however, radically materialistic focusing on the pleasure/pain of agents – the consumer and the producer. The Standard Model became the economic compliment to Republican politics – one person, one vote – expressed as ‘dollar democracy’ and consumer sovereignty.
Three Standard Model assumptions are relevant. First, assume all consumers and producers have perfect knowledge in which case there can, of course, be no market, i.e., there can be no knowledge-based economy. Second, assume human beings are strictly rational, i.e., they are constantly calculating the probability and magnitude of present and future pleasure/pain. This is ‘calculatory rationalism’. It excludes all forms of knowledge not subject to calculation, e.g.,
the aesthetic experience as well as pattern recognition and tacit knowledge in performance both generally considered critical in a knowledge-based economy. Third, while the utile cannot be measured assume it can be reified, i.e., an abstraction made concrete, specifically as money. The presence of money brings pleasure; its absence brings pain. It is ironic that the Standard Model achieves what Plato, writing about Art in his Republic, feared most, that: “not law and the reason of mankind, which by common consent have ever been deemed best, but pleasure and pain will be the rulers in our State”.
In summary, the Standard Model treats knowledge as a probabilistically certain, culturally blind, monotonic public good that affects the production function of a firm or Nation-State by increasing output, i.e., it is an input. It does not recognize knowledge as a final, highly differentiated output, i.e., as an end in-and-of-itself. The source and nature of knowledge is of no concern, only its quantitative impact on output. Even within this constrained framework, however, knowledge exhibits non-diminishing marginal product and increasing returns to scale incompatible with a competitive outcome leading instead to monopoly – the bête noir or ‘black beast’ of the Standard Model.
Model is empirically flawed given a poly-differentiated global knowledge-based
Given the inadequacies of the Standard Model and the thinness of public policy debate about the knowledge-based economy, a methodology was required to reach beyond the disciplinary frontiers of economics to collect, compile and collate ‘knowledge about knowledge’. My solution was Trans-Disciplinary Induction (TDI) used to harvest knowledge about knowledge from the event horizons of five disciplines of thought and interdisciplinary fields of study: economics, philosophy, psychology, science and technology. My findings are a sampling of seventeen of their sub-disciplines plus etymology, i.e., the origin and meaning of words.
TDI, in effect, redefines ideology as the search for commensurable sets or systems of ideas shared across knowledge domains, practices, disciplines, sub-disciplines and specialities of thought. Given the increasing incommensurability of knowledge such common conceptual structures may permit “a glimpse of a constructivist companion to the reductionist thesis”. I first summarize findings about the nature and causes of knowledge. I then define the Nation-State and management of the national knowledge base. Finally I apply findings of ‘knowledge about knowledge’ to the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy.
I present my findings by overlapping and mutating two of the oldest theories of knowledge (epistemologies) in Western civilization: Pythagoras’ Tetraktys and Aristotle’s Four Causes of why things are the way they are. In genomics such a creature would be called a ‘hybridomas’. To change my metaphor, I will toss a snowball down the slopes to transform into an avalanche of increasingly detailed definition of knowledge as noun, verb, form and content. This is done in Boulding’s belief that “where knowledge is an essential part of the system,
knowledge about the system changes the system itself”. I also do so in imitation of Kauffman’s patchwork procedure to optimize understanding by considering each of its critical facets.
Knowledge is an abstract Platonic noun like beauty, truth and justice. It corresponds to Pythagoras’ Monad, i.e., that out of which all proceeds, and Aristotle’s material cause, i.e., that out of which something is made. As a Monad knowledge is also “a succession of sounds at the same pitch” or a monotone which introduces another characteristic of knowledge – Time. Other than the changing seasons, sun and stars, the first human time piece was music. Music paces human activity in dance and celebration and at work and war. It should be remembered that music was the first experimental science. Thus Pythagoras (about 530 B.C.E.), using the strings of musical instruments, revealed an audible, measurable, cognate relationship between number and matter - one of the most important bits of ‘knowledge’ inherited from the Ancient World.
According to Heidegger human thought operates only in Time, not in Space. Movement along and across timelines is alternatively called memory, planning, intentionality or imagination of spaces, places and times without leaving the comfort of one’s own head. The uni-dimensionality of thought with Space folded up into Time produces what Descartes called “the ghost in the machine” or our sense of the ethereal, spiritual or transcendental. For my immediate purposes it is sufficient to say that knowledge exists like a focal monadic ‘I know’ located in Time but nowhere in Space.
A Platonic noun describes an abstract concept that exists independent of any name given it. Such nouns do not exist in all languages. Where they do, they have an ‘awe’ factor, or ‘numinosity’ and hence the attraction of phrases like ‘knowledge-based economy’. This awe results from the polymorphous biological human need to know, the immeasurability and incommensurability of knowledge and its general expression through inherently limited and biased human language including mathematics and English.
According to William James “unless consciousness served some useful purpose, it would not have been superadded to life”. That useful purpose is that “all knowledge is orientation” for “finding one’s way in an environment”. Every organism perceives an active environment in which it must make a living or die seeking information about “invariants” that enframe and enable that environment and “affordances”, i.e., opportunities and/or dangers, presented by it. All organisms have a purpose - to survive and reproduce.
In the ascent of humanity we made art, language and tools new ways of transmitting information from one generation to the next, i.e., an external genetic code. Coevolution refers to reciprocal evolutionary change in interacting species. In this case it refers to the coevolution of culture, or Carl Sagan’s extra-somatic knowledge, and somatic knowledge, e.g., instincts. This coevolution has allowed us to transform ourselves from hunter gatherer to farmer to industrial to knowledge worker.
In this regard, humanity not only adjusts to its environment but, like other organisms, adjusts the environment to itself. This enframing and enabling of the environment to serve human purpose making it ready at hand as a standing reserve is called technology by Heidegger. For my purposes it is tooled knowledge passed on generation to generation, e.g., buildings, roads and sewers. In effect, following the Scientific Revolution, the human species has progressively enframed its own ecological fishbowl at the expense of all other ecologies on the planet.
In spite of such cultural inventions only the individual can ‘know’. Books, pictures and computers do not know that they know, nor does any other species, at least on this planet. Companies, corporations and governments or, in Common Law, ‘legal persons’, cannot know. Only the solitary flesh and blood ‘natural person’ can know. And the biological imperative to
know one’s environment in the geo-, bio- or noösphere constitutes the Aristotelian material cause of knowledge, i.e., that out of which something is made.
Beyond the polymorphous biological need to know three other facets of knowledge contribute to its numinosity. First, there is no equivalent to the binary bit (0, 1) in information theory. There is, as Kenneth Boulding puts it, no ‘wit’, no single unit of knowing like an atom or a utile or a zero and a one to equate a pirouette and a quark.
Second, as highlighted by Thomas Kuhn, knowledge in related fields tends to become increasingly incommensurable, one to the other, as puzzle solving normal science proceeds. Or, as de Solla Price put it, there are ‘invisible colleges’ of perhaps forty or fifty people in the world who understand what a leading-edge scientist really knows.
Third, there is language. With the exception of tacit and tooled
knowledge, most is expressed using a human language including mathematics. Each is inherently limited. In the case of English, for example, one
verb, ‘to know’, etymologically veils four distinct meanings: to know by the
senses, mind, doing and experience. In
this way, the English ‘knowledge’ is an etymological monad. In German, by contrast, there are four
separate and distinct verbs to express each of these meanings. To cite another example,
Since the beginning of Western philosophy there has been a tradition of a non-rational way of knowing that rivals or even surpasses rational knowledge. While the rational is embodied in our concept of Science, the non-rational has remained a wraith taking many forms, assuming many names and evading systemic identification. First, I will define Science and the rational way of knowing then the non-rational. Second, I will propose that ultimately all knowledge is the inter-play of the two. In effect, knowledge is diaphonic, i.e., it speaks in two voices, in Pythagorean terms. These are the efficient cause of knowledge in Aristotelian terms.
As demonstrated above language filters knowledge. In the West, logic has been accepted as the preferred path since the ancient Greeks. It distances us from our passions; it frees us from the distracting world of sensation and emotion. For the Romans the Greek logos became ‘reason’ derived from the Latin ‘ratio’ as in to calculate. And from the Romans we derive Science from the Latin scire “to know” which, in turn, derives from scindere “to split”. Science is the epitome of reason deriving knowledge by splitting or reducing a question into smaller and smaller parts or elements until a fundamental unit or force is revealed, e.g., Bentham’s utile or Newton’s gravity. Until innovation of the experimental method, however, such splitting and reducing was restricted to words. Arguably, the unprecedented evolutionary ascent of our species to global dominion, achieved in some twenty-five generations, results from institutionalization of this new way of knowing - the experimental method, or, as originally called, ‘experimental philosophy’.
Reductionism extends to epistemology or the theory of knowledge. Knowledge is split into domains, disciplines, faculties and specialities with an inevitable increase in incommensurability. Reductionism has, however, a significant advantage. It strips away secondary phenomena distinguishing cause from effect revealing in the natural sciences the ‘laws of nature’. Its success rests on ‘when-then’ causality with Time’s Arrow moving from the Past into the Present and then into the Future by way of prediction.
The non-rational way of knowing has had many names. To Plato it was Art; to the Church Fathers Revelation; to the Scholastics analogy; to Adam Smith moral sentiments; to Kant productive imagination; to Michael Polanyi subsidiary or tacit knowledge; to Thomas Kuhn aesthetics, gestalt switching or intuition with “scales falling from the eyes”, “lightning flash” and “illumination”. To Erich Jantsch, it was Design. The idea of Design, however, is eternally linked to a form of causality utterly rejected by physics and positivist philosophies of science – teleology: “the doctrine or study of ends or final causes”.
With the discovery of perspective in the Renaissance a new word entered the English language – design. The word derives from the Latin designare “to mark out, trace out, denote by some indication, contrive, devise, appoint to an office”. In Renaissance Italy it assumed its contemporary aesthetic sense of geometric composition as distinct from its social sense of planning. In French, these two are expressed by separate words: “dessein meaning ‘purpose, plan’; and, dessin meaning ‘design in art’”. In English, however, both meanings are combined in the single word ‘design’. What they share is intent, specifically the intent to make as opposed to understand. Design involves making patterns out of matter and/or mind, i.e., construction, as well as recognition of purpose even in natural patterns such as ships of clouds sailing across the living skies. At the extreme, this becomes ‘intelligent design’, one reason why positivistic science resists teleology as an explanatory principle.
Successful imitation of Nature in the Renaissance led to Baumgarten’s aesthetics in the mid-18th century that liberated Art from religion and politics just as Robert Boyle’s ‘Latitudinalist’ compromise liberated experimental physics and mechanics in the 17th century. In this regard “the original meaning of the term aesthetics as coined by Baumgarten… is the theory of sensuous knowledge, as a counterpart to logic as a theory of intellectual knowledge”. Then in the early 20th century Gestalt psychology demonstrated that one can know the whole only if one ignores the parts. In mid-century Michael Polanyi formulated what can be called ‘gestalt knowing’ of which more below. Then, in the last quarter of the century, ‘pattern recognition’ emerged as a distinct sub-discipline or field in both neural psychology and computer science.
Michael Polanyi’s epistemology is explicitly rooted in gestalt psychology and his ‘tacit’ knowledge is a critical component in contemporary discussion of the knowledge-based economy. Three concepts define his ideology: subsidiary/focal knowledge, indwelling and displacement. First, we know in a stereoscopic manner conjoining subsidiary and focal knowledge. Thus we know “subsidiarily the particulars of a comprehensive whole when attending focally to the whole which they constitute”. It is subsidiary knowing that is called “tacit, so far as we cannot tell what the particulars are, on the awareness of which we rely for attending to the entity comprising them”.
Polanyi’s focal/subsidiary knowledge is commensurable in aesthetics as figure/ground or melody/note, in Grene & Depew’s biology as invariant/affordance, in Heidegger’s enframing/enabling technology, and in Thomas Kuhn’s puzzle-solving normal science. Critically, however, Polanyi concludes that it is through integration of subsidiary and focal knowledge that we ultimately know and this process itself is tacit or subsidiary.
Second, the ultimate in tacit knowledge is the human body. Everything we do in and know of the world is through our bodies. The body, however, is normally transparent to the mind in its doings and knowings. This transparency Polanyi calls “indwelling”. Third, indwelling has a powerful corollary that Polanyi uses to treat experimental instrumental science: displacement. It is here that Polanyi meets Heidegger. A characteristic of human being is displacement of sensation from point of contact to distant source. Thus in the use of a hand tool “the impact that their handle makes on our hands and fingers is not felt in itself at the place where it happens, but as an impact of our instrument where it hits its object”. This displacement allows humans to indwell in their tools and technology.
The conclusion is that the reductive method of experimental Science is always conducted in the context of Design, e.g., an experimental design whereby all factors are held constant except one to play the cause of an instrumentally measurable change in an experimental or “epistemic system”. In this sense, all knowledge is obtained through Science by Design or gestalt knowing.
Form, according to Francis Bacon, is “the real or objective conditions on which a sensible quality or body depends for its existence”. Knowledge takes three forms – personal & tacit, codified and tooled. These are the Aristotelian formal causes of knowledge, the shapes it takes. As seen below, these, in turn, take economic form as inputs to the production process as codified & tooled capital, personal & tacit labour and toolable natural resources then as economic outputs in the guise of the Person, Code and Tool.
Personal & tacit knowledge is fixed in a natural person first as a matrix of neurons that constitute memories (knowledge) as part of one’s voluntary wetware, i.e., subject to conscious control specifically to recall. Memories can usually be described and codified, i.e., spoken and transcribed into language or drawn as a picture. The second are reflexes, i.e., knowledge fixed in one’s muscles and nerves. This may be the fine practiced motor skills of a brain surgeon or bricklayer. They are both tacit in performance, i.e., not subject to articulation and codification.
Codified knowledge refers to encoding knowledge in written language, symbols (including mathematics), sounds or pictures. In effect, the knowledge of one person is fixed in a communications medium that subsequently – distant in time and/or space – can be decoded and assimilated by another human mind into personal & tacit knowledge. It is semiotic in nature, i.e., conveyed in signs and symbols. Accordingly codified knowledge refers only to ‘human-readable’ code excluding machine-readable computer code and the machine/molecule-readable ‘code of life’. The distinction is between semiotic meaning communicated from one mind to another versus operating instructions for a machine or a molecule. As will be seen below, machine/molecule-readable code is a form of ‘soft-tooled’ knowledge.
Tooled knowledge refers to knowledge embodied in a functioning physical matrix as an instrument such as a sensor, tool or toy, or more generally, as a work of technological intelligence. Such works constitute ‘hard-tooled’ knowledge. That knowledge is tooled into matter is demonstrated by reverse engineering. Operation of an instrument, however, is associated with tacit and/or codified knowledge as operating programs, mathematics, standards and techniques. These constitute ‘soft-tooled’ knowledge. In summary, computer programs are machine-readable code used to operate instruments. Genomic programs are molecular/machine code read by machines to analyze and/or synthesize biological structures and entities. Standards are codified knowledge designed into an instrument defining its operational properties, e.g., a 110 or 220 volt electric razor. Mathematics is the language in which such standards are usually set and in which instruments are calibrated. Techniques are personal & tacit and/or codified knowledge defining the manner of use and application of an instrument to realize its intended purpose. Knowledge tooled into an extra-somatic matrix remains, however, a functionless artifact until someone makes it work by pushing the right buttons. This requires personal & tacit knowledge gained through practice and experience. Again, all knowledge is personal and tacit.
Personal & tacit, codified and tooled knowledge enter the economic process as codified & tooled capital, personal & tacit labour and toolable natural resources. Capital is “knowledge imposed on the material world” or “frozen knowledge.” It includes codified and tooled knowledge. Both are fixed in material form; both have vintage; both are extra-somatic, i.e., they exist outside the natural person. Personal & tacit labour, however, exists only in the natural person and takes three forms: productive, managerial and entrepreneurial. At first glance, natural resources appear to have no relationship to knowledge. They exist as John Locke said in “the
State that Nature hath provided”. They remain just part of the environment, however, only until a knowing mind recognizes them as useful. Just as a tool is recognized by its purpose, we identify natural resources by human purpose. In this regard genomics has opened up a whole new spectrum of toolable natural resources in the success stories told by the genes of every living organism on the planet.
In a knowledge-based economy there are three outputs: the Person, the Code and the Tool. They come in two forms: as intermediate and final goods. As an intermediate output the Person is utilitarian, i.e., valued for a purpose other than one’s self. As a final output, the Person is non-utilitarian, i.e., valued in-and-of-oneself, e.g., the celebrity. Arguably, the Person is the ultimate output of a knowledge-based economy. This reflects, among other things, Republicanism and its principle of one person one vote as well as the U.N.’s Declaration of Universal Human Rights. It is through education, training and experience that personal & tacit knowledge is somatically fixed into neuronal bundles of memories and conditioned reflexes of the Person. Or, in Shakespeare’s phrase, “What a piece of work is Man’. In other words, if one is what one knows then personal & tacit knowledge is the definition of human being.
Code, excluding speech, is extra-somatically fixed in a communications medium permitting access by another mind distant in time and space. As final and intermediate output Code takes form as articles, books, correspondence, magazines, technical and training manuals, memoranda, motion pictures, paintings, radio and television programs and sound recordings insofar as they are carriers of semiotic meaning. As seen below, it is the distinction between the non-utilitarian or utilitarian matrix that distinguishes Code, protected by copyright and trademark, from Tools, protected by patent and industrial design. Ultimately, however, Code, as intermediate or final output, requires a Person to convert it back to personal & tacit knowledge.
Like the Person and Code, the Tool takes the form of an intermediate or final good. A Tool fixes functional knowledge into a material matrix as a work of technological intelligence. Sensors and tools are intermediate and utilitarian while toys are final, non-utilitarian goods. Like Code, a Tool is frozen knowledge and has vintage. Ultimately, however, a Tool requires a Person to operate it using personal & tacit knowledge.
It is, however, content rather than form that constitutes the final or teleological cause of knowledge. It is the ‘what, why, when, where and who’. To sum up: the biological need to know is the material cause of knowledge; Science by Design is its efficient cause; the Person, the Code and the Tool are its formal cause; and, content is its final cause. Content completes the puzzle.
The content of knowledge, however, is accelerating as the second Cambrian Explosion roars on. From biology, chemistry and physics to anthropology, economics and sociology to language, literature, music and religion to accounting, engineering, law and medicine, human knowledge is continually splitting and expanding. It is becoming increasingly incommensurate, one field to the another. While content may be incommensurable, the question is: Are there common or shared patterns for the presentation of knowledge across domains? One previously identified is gestalt knowing. Another is a qubit or four-fold unit of knowledge. The traditional binary bit of information theory (0, 1), ‘on-off’, is extended and alternatively expressed as (0, 1, 2, 3) or (1, 2, 3, 4). It is explicit in sub-atomic physics as the quark, in genomics as the four bases of life and, as will be seen, in analytic psychology. It is also evident, of course, in Pythagoras’ Tetraktys and Aristotle’s Four Causes. It is used here to present in a ‘nutshell’ findings about knowledge in etymology, psychology, epistemology & pedagogy, law and economics.
First, in etymology, the English verb ‘to know’ has absorbed the meaning of three other verbs (two now obsolete): can, wit and ken. In German, all four survive and define distinct ways of knowing. The English ‘to know’ means to know by the senses, mind, doing and/or experience.
These four meanings constitute the qubit WIT. Given ‘can’ derives from the same root as ‘to know’, the old English cnáw, much discussion about the knowledge-based economy is actually about a ‘know-how’ or ‘can-do’ economy, not an economy of the mind.
Second, in analytic psychology there are four faculties of knowing: thinking, intuition, feeling and sensation. I rename these Reason, Revelation, Sentiment and Sensation. Collectively, they constitute the qubit PSI. In an individual, all four function. Like quarks, they do not exist alone. There are no free faculties. Rather they exist entangled in the ‘self-awareness’, ‘consciousness’, ‘knowing’, ‘mind’ or ‘wit’ of a human being living in a particular place and time and subject to social conditioning. Finding one’s unique blend and balance is a life passage Carl Jung calls ‘individuation’. Uniqueness, however, creates a meta-methodological dilemma. If knowledge exists only in the individual then ‘knowledge about knowledge’ is comparatively impossible. The individual is, however, not just unique but also social as captured in Bronowski’s phrase ‘social solitaire’. Individuals share the same faculties; their uniqueness is the gestalt resulting from the interplay of these shared faculties.
Third, it is through sharing knowledge that socially useful categories – epistemologies – emerge as a social genetic transmitted through pedagogy. For my purposes there are two epistemic/pedagogic categories: Domains and Practices. Domains include: (i) the Natural & Engineering Sciences (NES); (ii) the Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS); and, (iii) the Arts. The Practices include the self-regulating professions such as accountancy, architecture, dentistry, engineering, law and medicine. Taken together these four constitute the qubit EPI. While the EPI provides a taxonomy for epistemology, another qubit exists at the pedagogic level. Knowledge can thus be classified according to domain/practice, discipline, sub-discipline, specialty. This quartet constitutes the qubit PED.
There are three primary natural science disciplines – biology, chemistry and physics. Each breaks out into sub-disciplines and cross-disciplines, e.g., biochemistry. In each there are engineering specialties, e.g., chemical, genetic, mechanical and electrical. It is from these that most physical technology flows. Arguably, the success of the NES can be attributed to three factors. First is the Pythagorean Effect, i.e., exploitation of the cognate relationship between mathematics and the world of matter and energy. Second is the Instrumentation Effect, i.e., scientific instruments generate evidence not requiring intermediation by a human subject and provide readings at, above and below the threshold of human sensibilities. Third is the Puzzle-Solving Effect of normal science which permits vertically deep insight into increasingly narrow questions, i.e., depth at the cost of breadth of vision.
is written about the Scientific Revolution and its implications but one seldom
hears about the preceding ‘Humanist’ and subsequent ‘Social Science’
revolutions. With the Reformation, the
Renaissance of the artist/engineer/humanist/scientist genius ended and all of
success of the NES in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by the first
‘research’ university at
The limited success of the HSS, however, reflects lack of the Pythagorean, Instrumentation and Puzzle-Solving Effects.
The Arts consist of four primary disciplines: the literary, media, performing and visual arts. Each uses a distinct medium of expression: the written word; the recorded sound and/or image; the live stage; and, the visual image, respectively. Each is composed of distinct sub-disciplines and schools. Each has a five stage product cycle: creation, production, distribution, consumption and conservation. And each takes on five distinct functional forms including the amateur, applied, entertainment, fine and heritage arts.
the Renaissance imitators approximated the original – natural or ancient - the
Arts, specifically the visual arts (including architecture), attained a
significantly higher social status and the visual artist attained to
celebrity. Thus in 1563 in
If Domains are concerned with the growth of knowledge then the Practices are concerned with its application to satisfy specific and pressing human wants, needs and desires. For my purposes, a practice is the “carrying on or exercise of a profession” which involves ‘praxis’. The Practices centre on the self-regulating professions such as accounting, architecture, dentistry, engineering (applied), law and medicine. They engage knowledge in real life situations. Praxis is not academic speculation. And unlike the atoms, cells and physical structures of the NES, people can and do sue for malpractice.
Fourth, if all knowledge is ultimately personal & tacit then the question arises: how does knowledge become legal property that can be bought and sold? Property means ownership together with rights of access, or, in this case, ‘rights to know’. This is done through intellectual property rights (IPRs). The legal principle behind IPRs is that an idea, a.k.a. knowledge, is not protected, only its expression fixed in material form or a matrix. IPRs are granted for new knowledge fixed in a matrix for a limited time. The matrix may be utilitarian as with patents & designs (a Tool); non-utilitarian as with copyrights & trademarks (a Code); or, a Person – natural or legal - as with trade secrets and know-how. All other knowledge (new and old) falls into the public domain where it is freely available to all. These four matrices – utilitarian, non-utilitarian, the Person and the public domain - constitute the qubit IPR. IPRs are justified as a reward for creative genius in order to benefit the public, i.e., to grow the public domain. The public domain is thus a national asset, a pearl without price. The public domain is also historically linked to Republican political freedoms of assembly, expression, of the press and privacy.
Fifth and finally, it is in economics that knowledge as an abstract Platonic noun finds most explicit expression as technological change. Technological change is the effect of new knowledge on the production function of a firm or nation. Its content is not a concern; only its effects which are conventionally broken into two dichotomous complimentary categories: disembodied/embodied and endogenous/exogenous. These four constitute the qubit FLX. The first two refer to the form while the second set refers to the source of new knowledge. Disembodied technological change refers to generalized improvements in systemic factors such as communications, energy, information and transportation networks. Such change is disembodied and spread out evenly across all industries and sectors of the economy. Embodied
technological change, on the other hand, refers to specific knowledge fixed in specific products and processes, e.g., the transistor in the transistor radio.
The source of exogenous change is outside the economic process. New knowledge may emerge from the curiosity of inventors or pursuit of ‘knowledge-for-knowledge-sake’. In effect, exogenous technological change, for the firm or nation, falls from heaven like manna. By contrast, endogenous technological change emerges from the economic process itself in response to profit and loss. For Marx and Engel all technological change is endogenous. Endogenous change includes industrial research and development or R&D programs.
modern Nation-State is the product of the Republican Revolution with its call
of “We, the People’. While the term
‘Nation-State’ is less than one hundred years old, it has become locked in as
the dominant form of nationhood today. Only
Nation-States can be members of the United Nations (UN) and, with the
historical exception of
Sovereignty as “supreme controlling power” over the territory of a Nation-State is a myth with a twist. Many, if not a majority, of United Nations members do not exercise military sovereignty but rather share it in alliance with other Nation-States. Economic sovereignty has similarly been eroded by the WTO which defines the rules of a global marketplace in which arbitrary action in one’s national self-interest carries with it the threat of countervailing measures authorized by the WTO. Culture, on the other hand, remains an arena in which sovereignty is still exercised under exemptions granted by the original 1948 GATT agreement. Similarly, IPRs are an arena of competition subject not to strict ‘harmonization’ but rather to milder ‘national treatment’ under the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement.
The Nation-State plays five distinct and overlapping roles with respect to the national knowledge base. First, it acts as Custodian of its patrimony, i.e., codified and tooled knowledge linking its present to its historical foundation. Second, it acts as Facilitator for creation and preservation of knowledge by private nonprofit and for-profit agents using tax policy, e.g., research & development tax credits. Third, it acts as Patron endowing arm’s length agencies to distribute public funds generally to nonprofit actors to foster and promote ‘art-for-art-sake’ or ‘knowledge-for-knowledge-sake’. Fourth, it acts as Architect providing direct grants and contributions to public, nonprofit or for-profit agents to construct, maintain and operate national networks that, in the case of knowledge, constitute the national innovation system. Fifth, the Nation-State acts as Engineer owning, operating and/or regulating networks critical to sovereignty and/or national identity, e.g., regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum within its territory.
Competitiveness or fitness? Which is the more appropriate metaphor for the success of a Nation-State in a global knowledge-based economy? Each carries ideological baggage. The competitiveness of sports brings with it the sense of win/lose against an opponent and winner takes all. The fitness of biology brings with it the sense of survival/reproduction of the Nation-State in an environment increasing enframed and enabled by human technology and populated by many more symbionts than predators. The first metaphor is hostile and aggressive; the later, cooperative and coevolutionary.
In effect most Nation-States have opted for coevolution in the guise of trading blocs such as NAFTA and the European Union. Division and specialization remains limited by the extent of the market and most are not large enough in population and/or natural resources to do everything. Like Kauffman’s two bacterial species - red and blue – or prokaryotes coevolving into eukaryotes, they can no longer independently survive and/or reproduce themselves.
it is critical to recognize that human technology, transcendent to all
Nation-States, is enframing and enabling the entire planet – the geosphere,
biosphere and the noösphere, e.g., the WWW – making it ready at hand to
satisfy human wants, needs and desires. This physical technology, rooted in the early NES
success of the West, has successfully been adopted in the East, e.g.,
A global knowledge-based economy seen in a biological light raises radical questions about economics itself. The word ‘economy’ derives from the ancient Greek oikos meaning ‘house’ and nemo meaning ‘manage’, i.e. managing the house. It shares its root with ecology from oikogie meaning modes of life and relations within the house and with ekistics, or the science of human settlement. The question becomes therefore what is the ‘house’ needing management?
Its original sense was the self-sufficient ancient estate. Its management, however, ascended to progressively higher orders of human settlement as the village, town and city. While Adam Smith moved management up to the level of the State arguably a detour occurred during the Market/Marx Wars. Economics turned away from questions about the State and towards management of the firm. Microeconomics was born. It was not until John Maynard Keynes’ General Theory in 1936 that macroeconomics returned. Nonetheless, mainstream resistance to economic management of the Nation-State continues, witness the dominant policy role played by the school of rational expectations and the monetarists. In a global knowledge-based economy such resistance is, however, futile. Such an economy can only exist because of the Nation-State, not in spite of it. It defines the rules of the game, its tokens and talismans – intellectual property rights. And it enjoys more degrees of freedom to foster comparative advantage in IPRs than in any other industrial sector.
But seventy years after Keynes’ General Theory economics now confronts a global knowledge-based economy with the visible and global consequences of human technology progressively, and in my opinion inevitably, enframing more and more of the geosphere and biosphere, enabling it, making it ready at hand to serve human purpose. This is the way of life. In effect, the globe has become the house in need of management. If mainstream economics cannot find its way then perhaps a new discipline of thought, perhaps out of the old American Institutionalism rooted in biology and law rather than physics and mechanics, may be in order. I offer therefore, as my last word, the neologism: Econology.