Sonya Scott - Crises, confidence, and animal spirits: exploring subjectivity in the dualism of Descartes and Keynes

jpe:10709 - Journal of Philosophical Economics, May 21, 2018, Volume XI Issue 2 - https://doi.org/10.46298/jpe.10709
Crises, confidence, and animal spirits: exploring subjectivity in the dualism of Descartes and KeynesArticle

Authors: Sonya Scott 1

This paper will explore the nuanced epistemological status of the economic subject in Keynes' work, alongside the physiology of the human subject in Descartes' Passions of the Soul and Treatise on Man. In both instances 'animal spirits' serve as an indicator of dualism within the subject. In Descartes, the spirits mediate between the soul and the body, between the rational and non-rational, by their effect on the pineal gland. In Keynes, animal spirits push up against a certain form of economic rationality and represent a non-rational impulse inherent to human nature that is often opposed to economic reason. While Keynes' conception of economic subjectivity extends well beyond the rationalism of many of his predecessors, the dualism presented in his work by means of the animal spirits is worth considering in philosophical terms. Ultimately this paper will conclude that Keynes' work contains an element of what Gilbert Ryle (1949) has termed the 'intellectualist legend,' that is, the philosophical assumption that we must think first, and then act, relegating spontaneous action to the realm of the 'animal' or the 'non-rational.'


Volume: Volume XI Issue 2
Section: Articles
Published on: May 21, 2018
Imported on: December 28, 2022
Keywords: animal spirits,economic rationality,dualism,long-term expectation,epistemological subjectivity,[SHS]Humanities and Social Sciences

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