Monday, January 18, 2010

Kenneth Boulding

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Kenneth Boulding. Boulding is a harder person to categorize than many. His interests and studies ranged across the social sciences. And his academic career was also wide-ranging.

My interest in Boulding stems from his idea of psychic capital, alluded to here. The idea that we can be motivated to act by seeking to accumulate positive feelings or avoid negative feelings is intriguing. For me, it has a resonance to the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, but with a less quantifiable aspect. I also suspect it can provide some foundation for behavioral economics. And to the extent that feelings have social foundations, may even provide a basis for some personal beliefs that affect our decision-making.

I also find this quote of his to be insightful.
"Theories without facts may be barren, but facts without theories are meaningless."
I would welcome any comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe George Will wrote an op-ed piece about this last Fall. I know longer have the article posted in my room, but was wrapped around the rich going away from conspicious consumption to show their wealth towards donated to charity to indicate their wealth to their peers.