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Adam Smith

Adam Smith

ANIMAL SPIRITS

Call For Papers: Animal Spirits

International Conference organised by Micheline Louis-Courvoisier (UNIGE) and Sylvie Kleiman-Lafon (Université Paris 8)

4-5-6 February 2016, the Hardt Foundation, Geneva.

In the opening chapter of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne presents the animal spirits as a biological inheritance passed on from father to son. Because of their movements and activity, they are responsible for all the events — successes or failures — of human existence. Almost two centuries later, John Maynard Keynes used the same concept in his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), and attributed the irrational behaviour of economic operations to the animal spirits: they are the driving force behind the actions of homo economicus, inciting action despite the uncertainties and risks inherent to the profession.

Before becoming a metaphor, animal spirits were conceived of as minute and subtle bodies by philosophers, theologists and physicians. Invisible but real, they were thought to be a pneumatic link between body and soul, matter and spirit. They replaced the pneuma of the Ancients and became an indefinable and vaporous substance: air or fire for Francis Bacon, a bright, mobile and pure flame for Descartes, an oily fluid for John Quincy and comparable to air or wind for Willis, who defined them as infinitesimal particles circulating through the nervous system, while for Mandeville they evolved in our blood vessels and digestive system. Responsible for our movements and sensations, they were also thought to influence our imagination and understanding. Their behaviour and their texture were directly determined by their environment (sleep, physical exercise, food, intellectual activity and even breathing) and they, in turn, influenced the good health of the body and mind (in Ficino, Montaigne, Bacon, Du Laurens, Purcell or Kinneir). In epistolary consultations, English-speaking patients often referred to the animal spirits to describe their conditions to their physicians, while this was rarely the case in the medical correspondence of French-speaking patients.

Much discussed through the end of the eighteenth century, they quickly disappeared from the general economy of the body as they failed to fit into an increasingly rational scientific discourse. Largely ignored by twentieth-century historians, they have recently attracted the attention of researchers and are now considered as transversal objects of study in a renewed scientific approach to the history of the body, of passions, and of the organic link between physiology and psychology (see, for example, the work of Elena Carrera, Heather Beatty, Clark Lawlor or Richard Sugg). We invite proposals for 20mn papers, in English or French, on a wide range of topics related to the animal spirits, without any chronological constraint.

Topics might include:

  • Animal spirits and the passions
  • Animal spirits, experience, and the writing of the self
  • Animal spirits and literature
  • Animal spirits and philosophy
  • Animal spirits and rhetoric
  • Animal spirits as metaphor
  • Animal spirits and bodily economy (digestion, the nervous system, sexuality, diseases)
  • Animal spirits and economic theory
  • Animal spirits and music

Proposals should be sent, with a short resume and a list of recent publications, to Micheline Louis-Courvoisier (Micheline.Louis-Courvoisier@unige.ch) and Sylvie Kleiman-Lafon (skleiman-lafon@univ-paris8.fr) before May 22, 2015.

 

Appel à communication : Les Esprits animaux

Colloque international organisé par Micheline Louis-Courvoisier (UNIGE) et Sylvie Kleiman-Lafon (Université Paris 8)

4-5-6 Février 2016, Fondation Hardt, Genève.

Dès la première page de The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne fait des esprits animaux une sorte de patrimoine biologique transmissible de père en fils et rend leur mouvement et leur activité responsables de tous les événements, succès ou insuccès de l’existence humaine. Presque deux siècles plus tard, John Maynard Keynes récupère ce concept pour attribuer aux esprits animaux, dans sa General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), les comportements irrationnels liés aux processus économiques ; ce serait eux qui pousseraient l’homo economicus à agir malgré l’incertitude et le risque inhérents à sa profession.

Avant de devenir métaphore, les esprits animaux ont été considérés, aussi bien dans les théories philosophiques, théologiques que médicales, comme de minuscules corps, subtils, invisibles mais bien réels. Pour tous ils forment le lien pneumatique entre le corps et l’âme, entre l’esprit et la matière. Ils prennent la place du pneuma antique pour former une substance vaporeuse indéfinissable : air ou flamme pour Francis Bacon, flamme pure, mobile et vive pour Descartes, fluide huileux pour John Quincy, ils sont semblables à l’air et au vent pour Willis, qui en fait des particules infinitésimales circulant dans les nerfs (dans les vaisseaux sanguin et le système digestif pour Mandeville). Ils sont responsables de nos mouvements et de nos sensations ; ils influencent notre imagination et notre jugement. Leur comportement comme leur texture dépendent directement de leur environnement (respiration, sommeil, exercice, alimentation, activité intellectuelle) et influent en retour sur la bonne santé du corps et de l’esprit (voir Ficin, Montaigne, Bacon, Du Laurens, Purcell, Kinneir). Dans les consultations épistolaires, les malades anglophones s’y réfèrent souvent pour exprimer à leur médecin l’expérience de leur mal-être, contrairement aux malades francophones qui ne les mentionnent que très rarement.

Omniprésents jusqu’à la fin du dix-huitième siècle, ils disparaissent rapidement de l’économie corporelle n’ayant plus leur place dans l’essor d’une science de plus en plus rationalisante. Objets d’études délaissés par les historiens durant le 20e siècle, depuis quelques années, plusieurs chercheurs en ont fait des objets de recherches transversaux qui renouvellent une histoire du corps, des passions, du lien organique entre physiologie et psychologie (voir par exemple Elena Carrera, Heather Beatty, Clark Lawlor, Richard Sugg).

Nous vous invitons donc à proposer des communications d’une durée de 20mn, en anglais ou en français, sur les sujets suivants (liste non exhaustive), sans limitation chronologique :

  • Esprits animaux et passions
  • Esprits animaux, expérience et écriture de l’intime
  • Esprits animaux et littérature
  • Esprits animaux et philosophie
  • Esprits animaux et rhétorique
  • Esprits animaux et métaphore
  • Esprits animaux et économie corporelle (digestion, système nerveux, sexualité, maladies)
  • Esprits animaux et économie
  • Esprits animaux et musique

Les propositions, accompagnées d’un bref C.V. et d’une courte liste de publications récentes, sont à envoyer conjointement à Micheline Louis-Courvoisier (Micheline.Louis-Courvoisier@unige.ch) et Sylvie Kleiman-Lafon (skleiman-lafon@univ-paris8.fr) avant le 22 mai 2015.

**END**

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Karl Marx

MARXISM AND PHILOSOPHY REVIEW OF BOOKS – UPDATE 15th FEBRUARY 2011

New reviews just published online in the Marx and Philosophy Review of Books:
·        Morgon on Badiou
·        Melançon on Therborn
·        Weislogel on Kierkegaard
·        Bunyard on Negativity
·        Melrose on `scientific’ socialism

New comments and discussion
And a new list of books for review all at: http://www.marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Professor Sean Sayers,
Editor, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books
School of European Culture and Languages
University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NF, UK
Tel +44 1227-827513; Fax +44 1227-823641
http://www.marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Karl Marx

SYMPOSIUM ON KARL MARX’S ‘NOTES ON JAMES MILL’ (1844)

Marx and Philosophy Society
Symposium on Karl Marx’s ‘Notes on James Mill’ (1844)
2-6pm, Saturday February 5, 2011, at the London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald Street, London WC1

Andrew Chitty and Martin McIvor will lead a discussion of this fascinating early text by Marx.

An English version of the text is available at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/james-mill/index.htm . An alternative translation is in the Penguin Early Writings collection, titled ‘Excerpts from James Mill’s Elements of Political Economy’.

Attendance is free and open to all. To register e-mail Meade McCloughan: m.mccloughan@ucl.ac.uk

Directions and map: http://tinyurl.com/ywmsvc  Tube stations: Holborn and Russell Square.

Marx and Philosophy Society: http://www.marxandphilosophy.org.uk/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sean Sayers, Professor  of Philosophy,
School of European Culture and Languages
University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NF, UK
Tel +44 1227-824945; Fax +44 1227-823641
http://www.kent.ac.uk/secl/philosophy/staff/sayers/
Editor, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books: http://www.marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/

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Piero Sraffa

THEORIES OF VALUE FROM ADAM SMITH TO PIERO SRAFFA

A new book by Ajit Sinha

Ajit Sinha’s Theories of Value from Adam Smith to Piero Sraffa exemplifies the best characteristics of proper scholarship. Sinha has combined critical yet sympathetic analysis of primary sources with keen understanding of the secondary literature. He has definite points of view which are always established by deep analytical arguments combined with careful attention to the relevant evidence. His book is a splendid example for all those interested in the best ways of understanding the relevant links between the past of our discipline and the present. — G.C. Harcourt, Emeritus Reader in the History of Economic Theory, University of Cambridge, Professor Emeritus, University of Adelaide, Emeritus Fellow, Jesus College, University of Cambridge

The excess confidence of contemporary economists in the strength of the existing body of their knowledge has been struck by the recent crisis. The same excess confidence had often fed the belief that the history of ideas did not matter. In fact, the understanding of the limits of any knowledge in the field of social sciences cannot be separated from the understanding of the conditions of its construction. The work of Ajit Sinha, as conveyed in the present book, provides a brilliant illustration of the fact that the history of economic thought, on the one hand, and economic analysis, on the other, are neither antagonistic, nor substitutes, but necessary complements.– Roger Guesnerie, Chair, Economic Theory and Social Organisation, Collège de France, Paris 

OUTLINE:

This book presents a comprehensive account of more than 200 years of controversy on the classical theories of value and distribution. The author focuses on four, perhaps most critical, classics, viz., Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, David Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy, Karl Marx’s Capital and Piero Sraffa’s Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. The book highlights several significant differences in the theories of the four authors as it searches for the ‘classical standpoint’ that separates them from the ‘moderns’. It throws fresh light on some old questions while introducing new, controversial interpretations in the literature surrounding it. It is unique in its organisation as it first presents the author’s close reading of the theories of value and distribution in the four classics and then critically engages with the major alternative interpretations and criticisms of the theories discussed therein.

Bringing original insights on theoretical positions, the book challenges canonical interpretations so as to discuss and analyse the flaws and weaknesses, in addition to the already obvious strengths, of widely celebrated theories. The theories discussed here emerge from questions like: what role does demand or human psychology play in the determination of value in classical theory? Do classical economists determine the distribution of income within the context of a theory of prices and resource allocation? What role does the notion of ‘equilibrium’ play in classical theory and the theory of Sraffa?

It will appeal to academics and students of economic theory and philosophy, as well as to the general reader.

Ajit Sinha is currently Visiting Professor at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai. He has published extensively in the area of history of economic theory. 

ISBN: 978-0-415-56320-8, Pages: 368, Edition: Hardback, Price: INR 895/USD 95/GBP 55

For orders from the UK, Europe and the Middle East, please e-mail: book.orders@tandf.co.uk

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