chapter  2
29 Pages

BROADENING ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: THE EARLY CONTRIBUTION OF THE GENERAL THEORY OF ORGANIZATION

Chapter 2 of this work initially concerns itself with a background review of the theoretical and epistemological difficulties encountered at the end of the last century. The crisis of physics, the appreciation of principles of thermodynamics, together with elements of phenomenological epistemology and the concept of open systems were formative elements in the emergence of an alternative paradigm for economic analysis. In particular, it is argued that the discovery of the fact and principles of thermodynamics together with controversial speculations in the physical sciences presented philosophical materialism with a challenge to renew itself. It shall be argued that this challenge was first countered sociologically by Ostwaldian "social energetics" and philosophically by phenomenology. A growing appreciation of the role of energy in the economy provided an impetus for a reevaluation of economic analysis along Physiocratic lines. It tendered a biophysical basis of the economy. This train of thought, in some cases, however, substituted the reductionism of mechanical materialism for a form of energy reductionism known as "social energetics." Moreover, seeking to meet Engels's bequest that Marxism renew itself and seek a unity of scientific knowledge, a number of Soviet Marxists, inspired by Mach's phenomenological perspective, sought the unity of science in a general theory of organization. In the explication of the open-systems coevolutionary model it is necessary to review briefly the methodological and epistemological predisposition that had infused conventional economic thought-the crisis that is bringing about a substantive reformulation of a political economy in the broad sense; a political economy for

the epoch of the Noosphere. In the following pages I shall endeavor to summarize the discoveries that coincided with this development and argue that these seminal contributions provide the substantive basis for a contemporary broadening of economic analysis.