Friday, 26 August 2016

Ucalegon & Deliberative Democracy.

Ucalegon, proverbially, is a neighbor whose house is on fire. His uncouth cries may well disrupt the august proceedings of Deliberative Democracy. Thus, by the McKelvey-Schofield chaos theorem, there is likely to be an overlapping consensus among all 'agenda control' seeking agents such that procedural rules are adopted to stop up our ears to Ucalegon's piteous entreaties.

One easy way to exclude Ucalegon's cry is to eagerly demonstrate impotence- i.e. divorce Deliberative Democracy from any Executive function or Judicial competency.  Indeed, to escape McKelvey's result re. agenda control, deliberation must restrict itself to a dimension orthogonal to policy space. However, rational agents- as opposed to antagonomic blathershites- no longer have an interest in participating in such deliberation.

As for the rest of us- poscit aquam, iam frivola transfert ucalegon- we might cry out for the fire brigade's salvific jets of water, but are better employed carrying our trashy little possessions away to some unpeopled Cumae & its Oracle of indifference.




Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Now the Saqi has turned Muslim

By my prayer, tho' the sweat of our every Farhad run as canals of free milk
By my prayer, tho' even our Khusrow's Shirin rise to Khadijah's ilk
By my prayer, tho' the Saqi turn Muslim & the Mujahid serene
How, pray, convert Sorrow while it's yet my Qarin?


Friday, 19 August 2016

Hadrian's animula vagula



Animula, vagula, blandula 
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos…

My breast's guest would rest in dirt
But, sweet cheat, must longer flirt
Stripped of wit, pallid, nude,
Yet onward tryst. The jest is crude

Thursday, 18 August 2016

All things that are, are- to Faith- as a slow burning fuse

All things that are, are- to Faith- as a slow burning fuse
Every Credo a Cartridge whose powder alone is of use
Be it by Manichean mendacity or through Trinitarian tricks
Our own is the arse all Theology licks

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Cavafy's The City


By other seas, to some other land
To another City of fairer renown
You said you'd go rather than let stand
Your every ardor a sentence handed down
Your heart its own corpus delecti, your mind
A punitive treadmill & wherever your eye went
Your life's smouldering ruins rising up to remind
Your years here were rather squandered than spent.

You will find no new Strand, cross no new Sea
The City will shadow you relentlessly
You will wander the same labyrinth of lanes
Dessicate among the same tenement drains 
Always returning to this now and here
Give up Hope. No Ship will appear
To take you from yourself. The Earth is round
What you've ruined is ruined for every patch of ground.



Lawrence Durrell's translation of this poem, given below, was perhaps the first 'modern' poem I read which gave me goose-bumps. It's a pretty free translation. I suppose Greek readers would find things like 'no ship exists/ to take you from yourself' to be crude or otiose. But it isn't so in English. At least, what used to be English. Or, since Durrell was born in India, Indglish.


You tell yourself: I'll be gone
To some other land, some other sea,
To a city lovelier far than this
Could ever have been or hoped to be-
Where every step now tightens the noose:
A heart in a body buried and out of use:
How long, how long must I be here
Confined among these dreary purlieus
Of the common mind? Wherever now I look
Black ruins of my life rise into view.
So many years have I been here
Spending and squandering, and nothing gained.
There's no new land, my friend, no
New sea; for the city will follow you,
In the same streets you'll wander endlessly,
The same mental suburbs slip from youth to age,
In the same house go white at last-
The city is a cage.
No other places, always this
Your earthly landfall, and no ship exists
To take you from yourself. Ah! don't you see
Just as you've ruined your life in this
One plot of ground you've ruined its worth
Everywhere now-over the whole earth?






Sunday, 14 August 2016

Dotan Leschem's dotty Economics- part II

Has Prof. Dotan Leschem discovered a way to cure our current ills? It is a difficult and an obscure path he would have us take but apparently a necessary one if we moderns are ever to regain that felicity enjoyed by the ancients. As his publisher tells us, 'Only by relocating the origins of modernity in Late Antiquity, Leshem argues, can we confront the full effect of the neoliberal marketized economy on contemporary societies'
It seems entirely reasonable to me, an overweight 53 year old Babu, that some Semitic Imperator's 'Saeculum Novum' bred a Foucauldian biopolitics whose phramakon we must trace in the pharmakoi of Patristic literature so as to be free of this compulsion to offer up own bodies as korban- or in my case, endure this shrill bat kol in my ears demanding I go right now to the gym and suffer the tortures of the damned upon those infernal machines rather than hearken joyfully to the gospel of a bottomless prosecco brunch.
It is a beautiful dream, but alas not one dear dotty Dotan can recast in the shining garments of our wakeful world.
Why?
Well, for a start, he believes strange things like this- 
'Although word choices, whether innocent, contingent, or deliberate, can have little to no influence on the nature of what it names, this is not the case with oikonomia.'
Wow! What an astonishing discovery! Some Indians called Artha Shastra 'oikonomia' just as some called 'dharma' 'eusebia' because some Greeks once ruled bits of the country. Those bits necessarily had a completely different mode and means of production than the rest of the land but nobody noticed! This proves the ancient Indians were blind.
Or maybe I'm being hasty. Perhaps the ancient Indians weren't blind. Perhaps Dotan is simply dotty.
Consider the following-
 As the latter history unfolds in the book, it becomes evident that, upon migrating from the institution of the ancient oikos to the Christian ecclesia and later to the liberal market, the economization of these institutions was framed within the limits of an invariant question because of its seemingly divergent previous meaning and not in spite of it. 
Whoa there! Hold your horses Dotan. What exactly is migrating and from whence and to where is it migrating? Is it really something called 'economization'? Perhaps you think of it as being like a yeasting process based on airborne cells. So economization migrates in the manner that yeast migrates. But what type of microscopic animalcule is involved in this migration? What is its vector? Why does it migrate only to the Christian eccleisa and not the Jewish Sanhedrin? Why does it sullenly refuse to migrate to an 'illiberal market'? Why does it insist the market be liberal? 

You tell us that this particular migrating yeasting agent was framed within the limits of an invariant question.

 What was that question? How is it that it remains invariant? Why couldn't it evolve over time? 

The answer it turns out, is that you have created a magical realm- your book- in which you are the one true and great Wizard who can do what he likes.
But what is it you are going to do in your book with your amazing Wizardry?
You aren't shy. You tell us immediately what you are up to.
Reinserting the relegated Christian chapter into the history of the economy provides the essential hermeneutical key for the explication of its core invariant meaning, one that is simultaneously open to broad variations and compelling. 
Though Hindu, I know there are a lot of good people spread across the five continents who don't think 'the Christian chapter' in the history of the economy has been 'relegated' at all. On the contrary, there is not a day of their lives which goes by when they don't think about their own Christian duty, to provide 'oikonomia'- that husbandry productive of fellowship with what us Indians call 'daridra narayan'- that God amongst us who is always lonely and poor.
Some mathematically inclined Christian Economists seek to follow in the footsteps of the great Quaker poet, Ken Boulding. They incorporate a mindfulness of Gaia's fragility into their daily life. Others, whom I know of, embrace the message of the Sage Ninomiya in order to set at nought the 'paradox of thrift' and, by acting locally, contribute to truly global, for truly sustainable, solutions.
Tell me Dotan, are you going to highlight this 'Christian chapter' which is still being read, it may be more passionately, more urgently than ever before, and which also informs Anglo-American  'neo-liberalism' through the path-breaking work of people like Rev. Wicksteed- whom the late Ronald Coase claimed as a major influence? (Indeed Coase thinks the Americans never fully grasped the latter's global conception of opportunity cost- one reason why Coase's theorem was hijacked by the Right in my youth.)
Where is 'neo-liberalism' without Coase? As Aneurin Bevan was the first to point out (thus proving that the Worker's Education Assoc. was ahead of Cambridge and the LSE back then) the existence of a single benefit or cost received outside the market is sufficient to vitiate the mathematical theodicys of Gossen, Walras, Pareto et al. It was Coase's theorem which resurrected market liberalism. As a Curry & Chips Cockney, what's more a declasse LSE alumni, I rejoice in its harmonization of 'the boy preacher' Guy Aldred's 'Harbhat Pendse' and the Rev. Wicksteed's actually quite post-modern housewife (she doesn't make jam or bake cookies but preserves her looks and her temper by outsourcing noisome chores).
Oddly, this is sound Patristic 'oikonomia'. The pious Roman- like the Brahmin patriarch of my father's generation- considered himself ill served if his showbread was not baked, his oils and unguents not pressed, nor his wind-fall preserves thriftily cellared under his own roof-tree.

Christianity formally, not abolished-it hadn't the power- but anathematized, by revealing the ridiculousness of, the taboo on meat sacrificed to strange gods, bread baked by strange fires, a leaven not ancestral. The result was that wives could, girdled or garlanded with a superior normativity, better fulfill their domestic duties while out shopping in the light and open air of the market place rather than sweating solitarily over smoky ovens.
No doubt there is a wide difference between St.Monica getting into a drunken brawl and having her teeth knocked out while traipsing from Church to Church to glug Communion wine and the recurrent motif of the meltingly beautiful Quaker or fair Jansenite which is a stock figure in the ongoing romance of Christianity- yet, there is here a sisterhood under the skin.

Dotan, if you had indeed written a book which pays tribute to the ever yeasting spirit of Christian oikonomia- from Amal Clooney to St. Monica with her teeth bashed in- you would have done a worthy thing. 
But you haven't have you?
What you have done instead is write an antagonomic, availability cascaded based, entirely self-serving screed based on an- perhaps exemplary?- impartial ignorance of both Christianity and 'liberal markets'.
What's more, you are pretty up-front about it. You say-

A comparative account of the economy of the oikos, ecclesia and market based on such a philological history suggests a typology of four criteria according to which a model of human action is called an economy: 
1. it involve the acquisition of a theoretical and practical disposition of prudence;
2. which faces the human condition of excess that transcends human rationality;
3. this rational engagement with excess generates surplus;
4. Finally, this action takes place in a distinct“economic” sphere alongside other spheres such as the political and the philosophical. This fourfold typology of economy also establishes the Christian moment as the missing link, which, nevertheless, functions as the turning point in the use history of the economy between the ancient oikos where excess was despised, the economic sphere kept to minimum,and the neoliberal marketized economy where excess is desired, the economy infinitely growing.
Let me try to parse this sublime utterance phrase by phrase.
A comparative account of economic activity in the household, the forum and the bazaar can either be based on economics or else it is nonsense. You want to base it on your own private, wholly idionomic, 'philological history' which isn't actually philological at all. It's just ignorant. Why? Well good philology is concerned with pragmatics. In this case, the pragmatics involves economics and nothing else. Take the word 'villein'. The philologist might initially be consulted by the Jurist or Economic historian doing research. However, it is their findings which alters the philologist's view of its pragmatics and acceptation. Words don't really have magic powers. The can't protect or alter the 'essence' of what they name.
If I wished to emulate you, I could, with equal cogency say, 'I'm going to give a comparative account of newts and Newton based on a philological genealogy such that the great Physicist was actually the son of a newt. This suggests that newts keep getting hit on the head by apples while splashing about in their ponds.' 

What about your four criteria for 'a model of human action being called an economy'?
They certainly fit my proposal that all human action should focus on observing apples fall on the heads of newts so as to eventually recover the one belonging to Eris, for once strife is abolished from the human realm, we will enter a second Eden.
According to your criteria- I have created an economy because, granted my premise,
1) it is prudent to acquire the theoretical and practical knowledge it calls for
2) it transcends human rationality in that it monstrously previsions an incompossible regret which it nevertheless must most rigorously minimize.
3) it generates surplus- lots of apples not belonging to Eris yet giving rise to discord.
4) is a distinct 'economic' sphere because politics and philosophy won't stop till we get Eris's apple or the World ends.

By contrast, Samuelson's famous textbook is not 'a model of human actions' and thus has nothing to do with the Economy or Economics. Why?
Start with (4)- The Economy can't grow infinitely. If it did there would be at least one asset with an infinite present value.
(2) refers to 'regret minimization' which is incompatible with Samuelson's turnpikes
(3) is held to be meaningless thus trivial.
(1) is false because prudence is satisfied by a procedurally rational solution- e.g. a Tardean mimetic decision rule- it being too cognitively costly to compute substantive solutions. In any case co-ordination problems tend to be mathematically intractable.



Saturday, 13 August 2016

Dotan Leschem's dotty Economics- part 1

Economics is about economizing- making tough choices because wants are many and means are few.
Was there ever a time when this was not true?
Prof. Dotan Leschem thinks so. He says in a published article in an Economics Journal (albeit a crap one) that-
'In contrast, ancient economics was deeply concerned with ends as such, and in the selection between possible ends. In addition, ancient economics was a science that studied human behavior as a relationship between ends and abundant means, which have alternative uses.'
Wow! It sure must have been swell to live in ancient economies! You could attend a Philosophy lecture and go swimming and climb Mt. Olympus all at the same time! You didn't have to make difficult choices because your time wasn't scarce- it was abundant. So was your land. Did you have to make a choice between growing spinach or carrots on your half acre? Nope! You could grow both simultaneously on the same patch of land. What's more you can also graze sheep upon that land as well as build a house on it.
Does dotty Dotan really believe this shit?
Nope.
He goes on to say- 'In the writings of the ancient Greeks, the life of the head of the household—the oikodesptes who was the addressee of these texts—was conducted in three dimensions: the spiritual realm of philosophy, the heroic realm of politics, and the economic realm. The role of the economic dimension was to secure the means necessary for existence and to generate a surplus that sustained the two other dimensions that were deemed worthy of man. This could be done in two ways: either by increasing production or by moderating consumption.
If means were indeed 'abundant' production could be increased without limit. Even if a man wanted to 'moderate' his own consumption for some 'spiritual' or 'heroic' reason, he would have to be a horrible meanie not to increase his production so as to feed all the hungry people and animals the globe contains.
Clearly Dotan was either lying when he said that ancient economics held means to be 'abundant' or else there is some special meaning which he and he alone invests that word with.
It must be a view at least one or two other Professors find plausible because everything I quote him as saying has been published by a proper Academic Journal or Publishing house.
He writes as follows (my comments are in bold)
The surplus generated by the oikonomia was destined to allow the head of the household to participate in politics and engage in philosophy. 
Dotan lives in a world where surpluses have 'destinies'. Who ordains these destinies? Zeus? Pan? Apollo?
Dotan won't tell us. 
Were there 'heads of households', possessing a surplus, who did not 'participate in politics' or 'engage in philosophy'? 
Yes. It turns out that the vast majority of heads of households, then as now, did not 'participate in politics' save in so far as it safeguarded their surplus or enabled them to appropriate the surplus produced by others. As for 'engaging in philosophy', very few people went in for it because it was widely recognized to be worthless shite- at best providing comic fodder for an Aristophanes, at worst requiring the salutary administration of hemlock.
Dotan may believe that there is some occult alloter of Destinies to 'surpluses' but even he must recognize that most 'heads of households' have kicked that Destiny in the bollocks and used their 'surpluses' in a manner that was only tangentially political or philosophical.
One might indulge in a bit of windy talk at the Symposium- the word means a drinking party, not an Academic talk-fest- and one might attend the Eccllesia to hear a pungent orator rip apart his rival but neither one's getting drunk with Socrates nor voting with Demosthenes constituted genuine 'methexis' or 'participation'. At any rate, that's what we learn from Plato.

If he chose to follow the political ideal type instead of the philosophical one, it also enabled him to be benevolent towards his friends by allowing them leisure time that would enable them to participate in politics and engage in philosophy, as well as supporting the institutions and activities peculiar to the polis—that is, the city-state. This perspective is based on three key concepts: abundance, economic rationality, and surplus. Abundance is an attribute of nature, which is assumed to be able to meet everyone’s needs and beyond—if economized rationally.
The Greeks, like everybody else, had myths of an age of Edenic abundance but believed that it had vanished long ago. Their politics- like that of the Indian Janapadas- arose in the context, not of natural abundance, but contested occupation. Lord Buddha came from a wealthy family. But his community was involved in a dispute about access to a river. If they lost that access, they would slowly but surely perish as an affluent and independent people. 

The same was true of the Greek Polis. A successful expedition meant 'primitive accumulation'- booty and slaves- an impolitic alliance, on the other hand, might mean famine and enslavement.
The Greeks understood that household wealth management could only take you so far. If the gentry lived on their estates practicing autarky they would be overrun and enslaved by marauding tribes or expansionary City-States.  There was no choice but to hang together or be hanged alone. The Polis existed because land wasn't abundant, it was scarce and viciously contested.

However, the mutual dependence associated with the Polis or Theme, which was required to secure one's bare existence, offered a new horizon- that of 'chrematistics', that of wealth as something de-linked from household consumption and production. This wealth could strengthen fortifications and buy allies but it could also invite marauders or hostile armies.

No doubt, Philosophers- except for Pyrrho who got to Punjab- were just as shite then as they are now and didn't say all this in plain words. However, for most people, it was an 'unthought known'. 
 Surplus, on the other hand, is the product of people’s rational economization of nature’s abundance that is not used for securing existence.
Urm... were surpluses never contested? Was it not the case that, if a man had a nice farm and plump sheep and nubile maids, some other guy didn't want to take all that from him? Was there really no 'mimetic desire' in the ancient world?
Even if land is plentiful, some land will be more advantageous located or have higher productivity and thus command a premium or give rise to contestation. 
Thus, the ancient philosophers thought of the oikonomia as a sphere in which man, confronting abundant means, must acquire an ethical disposition of economic rationality enabling him to meet his needs and generate surplus to be spent outside the boundaries of the economic sphere (that is, in philosophy and politics). 
The ancient priests thought wealthy men should become their patrons because their surpluses should be used to buy them a place in heaven. Ancient prostitutes, however, thought that money was best expended buying a place between their legs. No doubt, there were pedants hawking their wares alongside horse-breeders and hair-dressers and so on but philosophy then as now was widely recognized to be worthless shite.
It is useful to consider these three key closely interrelated components of oikonomia—abundance, economic rationality, and surplus—in more detail.
Useful to whom, Dotan?
Abundance does not exist. Economic rationality does but you have to be rational in order to 'usefully consider' it. Also you have to know a lot of heavy duty Math. As for 'surplus', why consider it at all if it can be used up in a philosophical potlatch? Either a surplus gives rise to what Aristotle and Aquinas and Marx term 'chrematistics'- id est what we call Financial Engineering- or else it doesn't greatly matter if it was expended in an orgy rather than a symposium. In either case, its existence was ephemeral.

Aristotle, like other pedants, castigates spending on luxuries because he was competing with hair-dressers and horse-breeders for the limited amount of time available to the gilded youth of his day. However, like all other ancient people, he was aware of the 'curse of Wealth'- a Polis which accumulates Treasure invites invasion from without and internecine rent contestation within.
There is a way to 'hedge' against both evils such that security can increase in proportion to affluence. This has to do with 'Mechanism Design'- changing the incentives that prevail- and 'Chrematistics' in which Financial Engineering plays a big part.
However, it takes brains to understand this subject- which is why Physicists command a premium over Philosophy Majors in the relevant job market.
Aristotle may not have been much of a physicist but he wasn't entirely stupid.
Dotan writes-
The ancient Greeks saw economic behavior as rational when it was frugal in its use of means towards what they deemed as worthwhile ends. In order to assure the achievement of economic rationality in the sense of the use of means towards praiseworthy ends they appointed the virtue of “soundness of mind” (sophrosyne) as the virtue in command of the economy. Aristotle (Eth. Nic. 1140b) said that this virtue is called “sophrosyne” because it keeps unharmed (suzei) economic rationality (phronesis). “Economizing with a sound mind” meant keeping the distinction between needs and desires intact and making sure that the two were incommensurable: needs are to be fully satisfied, while a limit must be set to the otherwise never-ending pursuit of desire gratification. Such an ethical oikonomia generates surplus, and the nature of the surplus generated serves as the ultimate test to the quality of oikonomia.
It wasn't just the ancient Greeks, was it Dotan? Everybody at all times has had the same belief. Nobody ever said 'Rational Economic Behavior is about being prodigal in the use of means towards unworthy ends.' At Harvard Business School, the Professors don't say 'take plenty of l.s.d. Go completely nuts. Cultivate Schizophrenia not 'sophrosyne'.'
It is quite true that worthless pedants, like Amartya Sen, pretend that their more utile rivals are all evil little shits so as to pose as 'the Mother Theresas of Economics'. However, Sen also believes that Bengalis are gluttonous sociopaths. Back in '42, those in the Cities managed to eat twenty times as much food as they ordinarily did so as to ensure that their cousins in the countryside starved to death.
An 'ethical oikonomia' does not 'generate a surplus'. It redistributes it in an incentive compatible manner. 'The nature of the surplus generated' does not serve as any sort of test of the quality of oikonomia. Suppose we have a surplus of grapes. We turn it into wine and sell it in return for something in which we have an absolute or comparative disadvantage. What if we have a shortfall of grapes but a surplus of olives? It does not matter. We sell olive oil and buy wine.
Perhaps Dotan meant to write- 'how a Society distributes its surplus is the ultimate test of the quality of its oikonomia'. If so, why did he not write it? 
Moreover, in the literature concerning oikonomia, acquiring a rational disposition was seen as reflecting an ethical choice. This position is very different from contemporary economic theory, which presupposes every economic action as rational without moral qualification and assumes that people’s rational disposition can be inferred from their revealed preferences.
Contemporary economic theory is stuff we know a lot about unlike ancient literature on the subject which has come down to us only in fragmentary form.
No economist has ever said that every agent's revealed preference is a proof of rationality and mental competence. Suppose a modern day Sophocles, suffering senile dementia, decides to liquidate the Family Trust so as to buy goblins from Mars. His son asks the Court to declare the old man mentally incompetent. The Judge may say 'I find this old codger's literary skill to be un-impaired and so decline your petition.' This is not wholly unreasonable though, in my view, an appeal is likely to succeed because modern Medical Science has advanced to a point where it can refute the empirical supposition on which the Judge's decision is based. What can't happen is the Judge saying 'A widely respected Professor of Economics has explained that on the basis of the old man's revealed preference for goblins from Mars it is clear that he possesses unimpaired economic rationality.' Why? No such 'widely respected Professor of Economics' exists now or has ever existed.
Many Economists do believe that 'by the law of large numbers' something like 'Rational Expectations' exists at the macro level and this hypothesis can be empirically tested, if not refuted completely. But this is a statistical regularity based on ergodic processes of a Darwinian sort.

Dotan may be excused ignorance of contemporary economic theory- after all, we have plenty of senile Professors still coining money out of beating up straw men- but he seems to misunderstand even the work of a specialist in his own field- viz. Cosimo Perrotta, who teaches in the lovely city of Lecce.
Perrotta (2004, p. 9) uses the economic concept of surplus, defined as “wealth which exceeds a society’s normal consumption,” to distinguish between ancient and modern economics. 
The economic concept of wealth is that which can be expended without reducing future income. Under Knightian Uncertainty- i.e. in real life- we can never tell how much wealth we have. If Income falls tomorrow, we realize that we had less wealth than we thought. This is why 'Chrematistics' is difficult. It's about risk and predicting the future. Stupid pedants need to stay away from it. That's why they say 'Don't spend. Save. Instead of going to the barber, grow a beard and talk philosophy.'
He argues that in modernity the surplus is channeled back into the economic sphere of production, as part of the process of generating economic growth. 
Perrotta is not an idiot. He knows that ancient civilizations weren't potlatch based. The guy has been teaching for more years than I've had to shave. He knows very well that successful- i.e. relatively long lived- ancient economies were highly innovative in chrematistics. That's why they were successful. They got the mechanism design right. 
In contrast, the ancient Greek philosophers distinguished between four uses of surplus (as discussed in Leshem 2013b). The first use of surplus was channeling it back to the economy. This choice was deemed slavish, as it entailed submerging oneself to never-ending economic activity. 
This choice was only deemed slavish by pedants peddling shite. Ultimately, they became slaves and peddled their shite to their new masters in Rome or wherever mechanism design was being done right.
As such, it missed the end of economic rationality—which was meant to free the head of the household from economic occupations altogether. 
No. The patron was still doing something economic- i.e. hedging- with his time. If you study philosophy and end up a slave, you have the consolation of philosophy. It is a hedge against misfortune. So is religious askesis or aesthetic cultivation.
The latter three uses of surplus are found outside the economic domain and are labeled by Aristotle (Nic. Eth. 1095b) as political, philosophical, and luxurious forms of life. Although a few schools of thought (such as Cynics and Epicureans) disagreed with Aristotle’s assertion the good life could only be philosophical or political, they all agreed that a luxurious life (as well as an unending focus on economic life) is a perversion of the good life.
Philosophers were competing for the limited time and cash, or carnal attention, of a certain class of males. Those that succeeded did so by crying up their own wares and denigrating those of purveyors of 'gross substitutes'. Philosophers who wrote well or who analysed literary culture gained salience in literary circles. Some of that literature has come down to us. In addition, pedagogues saw a method of defending their amour propre by pretending that their witless shite wasn't witless shite but actually something ennobling and worthwhile. Economic theory explains why worthless Academic Credentials can nevertheless give rise to a 'separating equilibrium'. 
These texts offer some embryonic discussions of how to set incentives for labor in the context of what we would now call a principal-agent problem. The authors suggest various ways of managing slaves by setting up complex schemes of positive and negative incentives that are meant to make the slaves act in a way that will best serve both their interest and the interest of their master. The incentives recommended were mostly material incentives, and a preference for positive over negative incentives can be easily detected. Theano, for example, justified this preference in her letter to Kallisto on the grounds that “the greatest thing . . . is good will on the slaves’ part. For this will is not bought with their bodies.” In setting his scheme of incentives for slaves, Xenophon’s Ischomachus set negative incentives for conduct he deemed unworthy and positive incentives for conduct he deemed worthy (Ec. 14: 3–6).
So there you have it. Botan just gave his own game away. Philosophers pretended that no incentive compatibility was required in their own field because no tradesman wishes to call the quality of his own wares into doubt. But, since slaves couldn't be patrons of philosophers, incentive compatibility came back into its own once their management was concerned. Philosophy turned out to be useless for the flourishing of the Polis and became an occupation for slaves and eunuchs and mendicant miracle mongers. Still, there was a period when an adolescent Squire sent to Athens to acquire a bit or urbane polish might have heard a little common sense from his tutors as this extract from a recent book on Philodemus of Gadara's Epicurean critique of the hoary & risibly sententious literature on Property Management illustrates-


Philodemus, as becomes a poet praised by Cicero for elegans lascivia, has no truck with the older notion that the master should curtail his own sleep so as to spy upon or set an example for his slaves. A true Epicurean doesn't hedge every risk and maximize every profit- rather, wealth is a means to a hedonic end which aesthetic cultivation can qualitatively enhance. This is a Pateresque, not Ruskinian, critique of such stodgy fare as adolescent Squireens were obliged to endure and its chief interest arises out of the circumstance that Philomedus inspired this portion of the In Pisonem.


'For though you have perhaps considered him (Piso, father of Calpurnia, Ceasar's wife) previously only dishonest, cruel, and a bit of a thief, and though he now appears to you also voracious, and sordid, and obstinate, and haughty, and deceitful, and perfidious, and imprudent, and audacious, know, too, that there is also nothing which is more licentious, nothing more lustful, nothing more base, nothing more wicked than this man. But do not think that it is mere luxury to which he is devoted.
67For there is a species of luxury, though it is all vicious and unbecoming, which is still not wholly unworthy of a well-born and a free man. But in this man there is nothing refined, nothing elegant nothing exquisite; I will do justice even to an enemy,—there is nothing which is even very extravagant, except his lusts. There is no expense for works of carving. There are immense goblets, and those (in order that he may not appear to despise his countrymen) made at Placentia. His table is piled up, not with shell-fish and other fish, but with heaps of half-spoilt meat. He is waited on by a lot of dirty slaves, many of them old men. His cook is the same; his butler and porter the same. He has no baker at home, no cellar. His bread and his wine came from some huckster and some low wine-vault. His attendants are Greeks, five on a couch, often more. He is used to sit by himself, and to drink as long as there was anything in the cask. [Note] When he hears the cock crow, then, thinking that his grandfather has come to life again, he orders the table to be cleared.
68
'Some one will say, “How did you find out all this?” I will not indeed, describe any one in such a manner as to insult him, especially if he be an ingenious and learned man, a class with whom I could not be angry, even if I wished it. There is a certain Greek (Philodemus) who lives with him, a man, to tell the truth, (I speak as I have found him,) of good manners, at least as long as he is in other company than Piso's, or while he is by himself. He, when he had met that man, as a young man, though even then he had an expression of countenance as if he were angry with the gods, did not disdain his friendship, as the other sought for it with great eagerness; he gave himself up to intimacy with him, so as indeed to live wholly with him, and I may almost say, never to depart from him. I am speaking not before illiterate men, but, as I imagine, in a company of the most learned and highly accomplished men possible. You have no doubt heard it said, that the Epicurean philosophers measure everything which a man ought to desire by pleasure;—whether that is truly said or not is nothing to us, or if it be anything to us, it certainly has no bearing on the present subject; but still it is a tempting sort of argument for a young man, and one always dangerous to a person of no great intelligence.
69Therefore, that profligate fellow, the moment that he heard that pleasure was so exceedingly praised by a philosopher, inquired nothing further; he so excited all his own senses which could be affected by pleasure, he neighed so on hearing this statement, that it was plain he thought that he had discovered not a teacher of virtue, but a pander to his lust. The Greek first began to distinguish between those precepts, and to separate them from one another, and to show in what sense they are uttered; but that cripple held the ball, as they say; he was determined to retain what he had got; he would have witnesses, and would have all the papers sealed up; he said, that Epicurus was an eloquent man. And so he is; he says, as I conceive, that he cannot understand the existence of any good when all the pleasures of the body are taken away. Why need I say much on such a topic?
70The Greek is an easy man, and very complaisant; he had no idea of being too contradictory to an “Imperator” of the Roman people.
But the man of whom I am speaking is excessively accomplished, not in philosophy alone, but also in general literature, which they say that the rest of the Epicureans commonly neglect. He composes a poem, so witty, so neat, so elegant, that nothing can be cleverer. In respect of which any one may find fault with him who pleases, provided he does so good-humouredly, treating him not as a profligate, or a rascal, or a desperado, but merely as a Greekling, as a flatterer, as a poet. He comes to, or rather, I should say, he falls in with him, deceived by the same rigid brow of his (being, too, a Greek and a stranger) as this wise and great city was beguiled by. He could not withdraw when he had once become entangled in his intimacy, and he was afraid also of getting the character of being fickle. Being entreated, and invited, and compelled, he wrote so many things which he addressed to him, so many things too about him, that he has described in the most delicate poetry possible all the lusts of the man, all his debaucheries, all his different suppers and revels, and even all his adulteries.

71And, in that poetry, any one who pleases can see that fellow's way of life reflected as in a mirror. And I would recite you much of it, which many men have read or heard, if I were not afraid that even the kind of speech which I am indulging in at this moment is at variance with the general usages of this place; and at the same time, I do not wish to do any injury to the character of the man who wrote it.
For if he had had better fortune in getting a pupil, perhaps he might have turned out a more strict and dignified man himself; but chance has led him into a habit of writing in this manner, very unworthy of a philosopher; if at least philosophy does, as is reported, comprehend the whole system of virtue, and duty, and living properly; and a man who professes it appears to me to have taken on himself a very serious and difficult character.


72But the same chance has polluted the man, who was quite ignorant of what he was professing when he called himself a philosopher, with the mud and filth of that fellow's most obscene and intemperate flock.
Cicero's point is that Philosophy had become a servile trade. Chance alone determined whether the Philosopher would be ennobled by his student or debased by him. Poetry, on the other hand- such as Cicero's own verse which his adversary blamed for the orator's misfortunes- retained a sovereign maieutics such that the poet in giving birth to himself gained a manumission from even the stigma of being a 'novus homo'.
Dotan, by his usual method of stating arrant falsehoods as incontrovertible facts, finds something very novel in Philodemus-
As a result of the emphasis of the ancient Greeks on human resources, the economy of property is barely discussed. Philodemus criticizes his predecessors for treating 'human resources' as chattels- including Socrates's self-parodic notion that a man's enemies made their enmity his property. The problem with the theory of property management was that those who knew the subject weren't literary stylists and, in any case, one could always buy a slave with the necessary 'expert cognition'- thus little could be said on the subject which wasn't obviously trite or foolish. Most of their discussion aims over and again at defining the proper limit to the production and accumulation of wealth, either for the political or the philosophical ideal type. There is no discussion at all about how to limit or reduce the profit from one's possessions. No one in their right mind would read, let alone write, a book titled 'how to get poorer' unless it were penned by a genuine humorist. The discussion of methods of production, distribution, and accumulation, once the proper limit has been set, is rather dull. No 'proper limits' were set on revenue. Only  on expenditure. Why? Because Nature is not abundant at all. In general, it does not go beyond prosaic advice such as “the oikonomos must . . . have the faculty of acquiring, and . . . that of preserving what he has acquired; otherwise there is no more benefit in acquiring than in baling with a colander, or in the proverbial wine-jar with a hole in the bottom” (Pseudo-Aristole, Econ. I: 1344b). Philodemus of Gadara, WHO WAS NOT the only author who dedicates his book solely to property oikonomia, essentially focuses on offering a critique of the commonly held view that one should maintain a fixed level of expenditure and spread one’s investment in order to minimize risk. Instead, he argues for more flexibility in asset management on the philosopher’s behalf (Philodemus 2012: 30–32). Rubbish! Philodemus is saying that an Epicurean Philosopher would look ridiculous if he sacrificed his own comfort in order to maximize profit. 'Satisficing' was the way to go. Furthermore, mindful of the altered conditions in which he was writing, Philodemus quite sensibly values fungibility over 'high beta' realty.
Dotan ends his article by giving us a valuable clue as to why he has told us a bunch of obvious, utterly risible, lies about 'ancient economics'- which, clearly, had nothing at all to do with ethics, as we understand the term, because the whole thing was based on pitilessly exploiting slaves and women.
 Dotan, poor fool, has been reading Amartya Sen and is seeking to emulate that clown.
One recent attempt to rejoin economics and ethics is Amartya Sen’s “capability approach.”  Mahbub ul Haq, Sen's pal from College, was hired by the World Bank in 1970. He came up with 'Human Development indices' as an alternative way to measure the neediness of a Nation so that really poor countries could be denied assistance if that's what Washington wanted. Dictators of really needy countries liked having a high 'HDI' index based on imaginary achievements in Health and Nutrition and Education and so on.  Sen jumped on the bandwagon because he thought that proving that Bangladesh was actually richer than the U.S was a patriotic thing to do. Sen's 'Capabilities', like his 'Entitlements' are things which can't be defined or measured. So, you can massage the figures to prove anything you like. Thus, if you like Cuba but don't like Costa Rica, you can prove that Cubans are flourishing- though they keep trying to escape- while Costa Ricans are miserable slaves. 
This sort of shite has nothing to do with either Ethics or Economics. It's just shite is all- fit for aspiring bureaucratic turds or academic blathershites.
 As Sen (1993) notes, his approach has links to Aristotle’s understanding of human flourishing. Sen may have noted this, but he was wrong. Aristotle's 'eudaimonia' depends on 'phronesis' which includes foresight- i.e. it aims at a dynamically sustainable equilibrium. Sen, however- as Partha Dasgupta has pointed out- can't distinguish between an increase in 'Capabilities' or 'Entitlements that are economically unsustainable and those which follow an incentive compatible 'golden path'. Sen’s approach argues for assessing the performance of the  economy based on people’s “capability” to attend to “functionings.” So Venezuela under Chavez was worthy of a gold star though clearly headed for ruin! The former includes both life necessities such as access to food and shelter, as well as access to functionings necessary for what the ancient Greek philosophers deemed as prerequisites for a good life, such as access to literacy and participation in democracy. For slave owning males soon be enslaved themselves, which is why their worthless psilosophy survived as part of the Credentialized ponzi scheme we miscall PaideiaThe functionings sought after are not solely based on people’s subjective assessments of their own situation as with approaches based on ordinal utility or, more recently, happiness indices. Sen shite isn't based on anything at all except lies and fabrications.  It has nothing to do with Economics because it has no means of, or interest in, tracking sustainability. That's why Sen's policy prescriptions are always shite. He talked about a 'Kerala model'. It didn't exist.  Kerala exported a lot of people who sent money home specifically for things like housing, education and health as opposed to brandy and tickets to the cinema. Of course, a lot of the money supposedly earmarked for getting younger brother a degree, or sister a dowry, or Daddy a hernia operation, actually leaked away into expenditure on booze and biryani. Still, there was a 'Demonstration effect'- mimetics, and laziness, dragged up wages. Demographic transition, however, was what did the heavy lifting. This is because people who face lives of deprivation, sickness, and limited opportunities may not be able to know or to enunciate what they are capable of, or what they should want. Sen believes that reported morbidity is lower in low income households. It isn't. It is higher.  The problem is not that those with shitty lives don't know they have it bad but that the incentive for reporting morbidity is lacking. Sen’s approach is also different from indices that measure the overall performance of the economy in terms of aggregate GDP.  Which idiot does that? Per capita Income is useful but we don't know what that is because the future is uncertain. The word 'Income' in Econ. means what you can spend without having a lower Income later on. We don't know how much we need to be saving or whether that saving is being properly invested.  We can get a sense of the dynamics- if there are properly functioning futures' markets but there is a good reason why Mass Poverty militates for badly functioning or wholly black futures' markets. Sen chooses to remain blissfully ignorant of all this.  Sen’s approach is not indifferent to how income is distributed among the members of society or the extent to which people have basic human and civil rights. Sen's approach is indifferent to the Truth. According to his acolytes, Communist West Bengal had human and civil rights. Gujarat didn't. That's why evil Capitalists pulled out of Bengal and set up factories in relatively high wage Gujarat. It's also why North Korea is such a paradise compared to its Southern sibling. Much like the ancient Greek philosophers, Sen’s vision of capabilities is not neutral between ends. Ends means something that happens after the Means have been implemented. The notion is quintessentially dynamic. There is no dynamics in Sen's Capability approach whatsoever. That's why it is useless. Sen abstains from enunciating a precise and explicit definition of what functionings should count as necessary for a good life, in part because he is taking into account the extent to which perceptions of this may vary across countries with different income levels and cultural traditions. Sen, as a Moral Philosopher, refuses to answer any substantive questions which are essentially ethical.  The ancient Greeks weren't so pusillanimous. Is abortion good or bad? Sen is clear that killing female fetuses is bad but won't condemn the killing of male fetuses. Why? The Social Evil in question could too easily remedied by returning to customary morality. But that would make him look bad to the Feminists. Of course, one can also suggest a variety of other ethical underpinnings for a modern economics. But many of these approaches would argue that the ends of economic analysis should be open to an ethical discussion and that economic rationality should be defined in terms of how best to approach the goals that emerge from an ethical framework. Quite false. Economics is about economizing on one's time and resources. Talking to Ethics guys is a waste of time. Mechanism Design, however, has to be ethical because it deals with human beings- i.e. agents with an inward ethos affected by their actions. This ethos can support superior correlated equilibria and that is why research in behavioral econ pays for itself. By contrast, Sen-tentious shite wastes money and time. Indeed, as many parts of the world attain an ever-higher state of economic progress, an ethical framework might call into question the pursuit of economic goals as an end in and for themselves. Either what Dotan calls Ethics is about human behavior or it isn't. If it is, there is an incentive to do ethical mechanism design and so it will happen anyway. Ethics can call anything it likes into question. The rest of the world hasn't just called its own utility into question, it has made up its mind that Ethics is just a wank. At least in this sense, the ancient ethical oikonomia—stripped of the abusive qualities characteristic of its time—may serve as a source of inspiration for seeking to mix the practicalities of economic life with an articulated ethics of human purpose. Dotan, your essay is the only evidence you provide but it is evidence that wholly refutes your case. Your 'source of inspiration' has proved to be utterly noxious. Come to India and smoke some weed. That's a type of 'inspiration' young Israelis in India appear to find quite salutary. Indeed, I understand they have chased out the Nigerians from that particularly lucrative field of oikonomia.