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Heavens above: what equilibrium means for economics. With an appendix on temporality, equilibrium, endogeneity and exogeneity, in the inductive sciences and in economics

Freeman, Alan (2015): Heavens above: what equilibrium means for economics. With an appendix on temporality, equilibrium, endogeneity and exogeneity, in the inductive sciences and in economics.

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Abstract

This paper presents in formal terms the key notions of the temporalist approach in economics as I have presented it over the years, with an appendix providing a formal definition of such terms as endogenous, exogenous, temporalism, and equilibrium. I thus hope this paper can serve as something of a reference work for these concepts as well as the key terms ‘esoteric’ and ‘exoteric’ which are widely used in my writings. The paper incorporates, but supersedes, the prepublication version of a chapter of the same name originally published in Mosini, V. (ed) 2007. “Equilibrium in Economics: Scope and Limits”, with a previously unpublished appendix.

It provides the background to the argument I have made in a number of other pieces, (for example Freeman 2004, most recently Freeman 2015) to the effect that economics plays a religious, not a scientific role, in the social sciences.

I argue that the concept of equilibrium in economics plays a special and defining role in this respect which is not adequately recognised either by its defenders, nor by the critics of economics. I term this role esoteric, by which I mean that its primary function is not to explain what we experience or observe, but to justify it.

This is a work in progress but summarises, hopefully with as few typographical and mathematical errors as possible, the general arguments that have been developed, or deployed, in my various writings on equilibrium, self-restoration, crisis, and the esoteric function of economics, to this date.

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