Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Economics of Good and Evil - Review
The Economics of Good and Evil is a book that will change the way you think about economics, history, religion, and myth. The author blends ancient texts with modern economics, and the results are stunning. This book is one of the best I have read in the past year, and I can promise that it will help you look at things in a new way. Half of my book is already highlighted and I'm ready to read through it again.
The author states the book's purpose in the introduction: "to look for economic thought in ancient myths and vice versa to look for myths in today's economics." Just as economics attempts to interpret the world around us today, stories and ancient texts defined the world around us in the past. The author carefully examines ancient works and shows how economics permeates the text. For instance, in the chapter on the Old Testament there is a long discussion about the introduction of linear time and progress. Before the Old Testament, time was considered to by cyclical by the ancients. Linear time, and therefore real progress, was born when in part by the Old Testament records of creation and the longing for the end of history when the Messiah returns. This is just one of the insights in the Old Testament chapter that economics will shed light on.
The entire book was a great read, but I especially enjoyed the sections on the Old Testament and Christianity. You will walk away from reading this with a better understanding of economics in the ancient and in the modern world. Not only is this book good on its own merit, but it should serve as a shining example of how to combine different genres into a great book. Religion, Christianity, Business, and Economics are some of my favorite genres, and this book fits every category. My highest recommendation.
The Table of Contents is divided into two main parts:
Part One: Ancient Economics
The Epic of Gilgamesh: On Effectiveness, Immortality, and the Economics of Friendship
The Old Testament: Earthliness and Goodness
Christianity: Spirituality in the Material World
Descartes the Mechanic
Bernhard Mandeville's Beehive of Vice
Adam Smith, Blacksmith of Economics
Part Two: Blasphemous Thoughts
Need for Greed: The History of Want
Progress, New Adam, and Sabbath Economics
The Axis of Good and Evil and the Bibles of Economics
The History of the Invisible Hand of the Market and Homo Economicus
The History of Animal Spirits: The Dream Never Sleeps
Masters of Truth: Science, Myths, and Faith