Economics, Enlightenment, and Canadian Nationalism
Orthodox economics has played a role in the gradual narrowing of the concept of man from a being involved with the fullness of life to "economic man" an efficiently functioning mechanism within present-day technological society. The current subservience to economic and technological efficiency has produced a spiritual malaise that Wright believes must be challenged. He argues that the reconstruction of "economic man" involves the recuperation of both "universal" knowledge from the past and "local" knowledge from within one's own culture. Citing the Bible as the text for universal knowledge for the West, Wright examines the work of Blake, Kierkegaard, and Tillich as representative figures who have challenged the narrow scientism of the "idea of progress" and "economic man." For local knowledge, he turns to the work of Margaret Atwood, Harold Innis, and Alex Colville representative figures who speak to the dissonant tensions that lie at the heart of Canadian culture. Each has identified the main features of Canadian existence and potential and, in spite of the diversity of their intellectual orientation, shares the view that we are burdened with bias and domination men over women, civilization over nature, space over time, foreign control over nationalism, and centre over margin. Wright believes it is imperative to have a positive theory of Canadian nationalism available if the free-trade agreement begins to collapse, and argues that Canadians would recognize the enormously privileged position of their country if they could only summon the political will to go beyond the narrow confines of "economic man" and abandon their acceptance of the debilitating pursuit of the "idea of progress." The book includes six paintings by Alex Colville reproduced in black and white.
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abstraction Alex Colville argues Atwood axiom become behaviour Blake Canada Canadian capital capitalist Cartesian commodity fetishism competition complex concept create culture deﬁned deﬁnition Descartes deterministic dialectic analysis dialectic method difﬁcult dimensions domination dynamic economic processes economists effective efﬁciency elements essence example ﬁeld ﬁrst ﬂow forces Foucault framework freedom fundamental opposites Furthermore gestalt Harold Innis Hegel human condition humanists idea of progress identiﬁed imagination individual industrial inﬂuence initiatives Innis insight intellectual discipline interest interpretation intrinsic involves Kierkegaard manís Margaret Atwood Marx Marxism Meech Lake Accord mentation monopoly nationalism nationalistic nature nomic normative normativer objective ontological orientation orthodox economics paradigm Paul Tillich perspective phenomena political potential praxis provides reality realm reference reﬂected regional reinforced requires Ricardo scientiﬁc seek signiﬁcant Smith social arrangement society spatial speciﬁc structure sufﬁcient symbol tension theme theory thought concreteness Tillich Toronto transcendence truth universal knowledge William Blake