Farewell to Homo Oeconomicus

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http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2015/08/430440.shtml

Capitalism is not running so well. Is this because people are judged wrongly with misguided models? We must listen to our social side, says researcher Tania Singer

The model of homo oeconomicus is antiquated and over-simplified. Dominant economic models are not based on a realistic picture of humans… In the economic model, we act as egoistic beings who are only interested in optimizing our own advantages. The model does not know different human motives that could be differently activated depending on the context… We are more complex, more contradictory and more changeable than the homo oeconomicus.

“The old narrative must be replaced with a more realistic view of the person based on psychological and neuro-scientific findings which could encourage more pro-sociality and global cooperation,” Singer says. The question is only how these values can be strengthened in our present economic systems and a politics that moves economic and financial interests in the limelight.

How important it would be if children in school could cultivate their sympathy and pro-social conduct alongside learning leaping, geography and the xylophone! If children would learn how they could react without pre-judgments to foreign conceptual and faith systems and simultaneously had in hand a method that helped them cope better with difficult emotional situations and daily stress. How important would all this be for persons working in health care systems, schools and war zones or who find themselves in muddled family constellations! How path-breaking it would be for our politics if these abilities were promoted and included in its decisions.

If an investor is found, a social business will arise out of the ReSource Project to bring the developed exercise methods into the world. “A simple meditation app without a teacher and training is impossible,” says Tania Singer, “even if everyone wants this. Our project has nothing in common with the so-called McMindful attitude that can be seen everywhere in Silicon Valley.” A little sympathy training and reducing stress only to be more efficient cannot be the point. Altruistic alternatives must be discovered besides the service motivation. That is one of Tania Singer’s goals.

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