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Purposeless technology and chrematistic: the implicit subordination of homo economicus

Kirkpatrick, Andrew 2017, Purposeless technology and chrematistic: the implicit subordination of homo economicus, Cosmos and history : journal of natural and social philosophy, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 267-293.

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Title Purposeless technology and chrematistic: the implicit subordination of homo economicus
Author(s) Kirkpatrick, Andrew
Journal name Cosmos and history : journal of natural and social philosophy
Volume number 13
Issue number 1
Article ID 13
Start page 267
End page 293
Total pages 27
Publisher Cosmos and History Cooperative
Place of publication Hawthorn, Vic.
Publication date 2017-01-28
ISSN 1832-9101
Keyword(s) Philosophy
Economics
Homo Economicus
Oikonomia
Adam Smith
Hobbes
Descartes
Locke
Aristotle
Xenophon
Mechanization
Technology
Philosophy of Technology
Political Economy
Early Modern Philosophy
Division of Labour
Summary The threat to livelihoods posed by the increased mechanization of labour has led to the question of whether new technologies will eventually render human beings obsolete. However, this immediately raises another more fundamental question: ’what is the function, or utility, of human beings in modern society?’ Mainstream economics and the concept of Homo economicus tells us that human beings are little more than rationally calculating, profit maximizing machines devoted to the accumulation of capital. This paper will argue that the intellectual origins of Homo economicus can be traced to the mechanical philosophies of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke and Newton, and that these philosophies find their expression in the political economy of Adam Smith. It will be shown that the mechanization of labour (along with the subsequent obsolescence of human beings) is a central tenet of classic liberalism, the ends of which is the unceasing increase of capital through the division of labour. In light of this, Ancient Greek conceptions of wealth and economic activity—which prioritize human self-creation and notions of the good life—will be considered as alternatives to the norms presented in classic liberalism. Ultimately, it is argued that in order to avoid being eclipsed by new technologies we must reconsider what it means to be human and in doing so rediscover properly human ends.
Language eng
Field of Research 220203 History and Philosophy of Engineering and Technology
2202 History And Philosophy Of Specific Fields
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2017, The Author
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30090857

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.