Gain Wealth, Forgetting All but Self

Intro to a Mini-Series

The title is a mantra from the Lowell mill girls from over a century ago who exclaimed “Gain Wealth, Forgetting All but Self” because waged labor felt like waged slavery for them.  There are costs to competition, but it is claimed that competition is our nature and is what we do.  The cause of competition of course is self-interest which is deeply woven into the fabric of our language.

Thus, we better be sure that our discourse, with its social norms and simple logic, is not merely a reflection of Western philosophy but a clear window into our human nature.  The philosophy we inherited can thwart us with its entailments and cause us to favor self-interest over empathy.  It is of course ironic that when we oppose self-interest it is because it doesn’t serve our interests.

But the irony goes away once we empathize with others realizing that no one wants to lose a conflict of interest battle to be deemed inadequate.  Morality evolved to restrain self-interest, so we can gain the benefits of cooperation.  It is therefore in our interest to not forget about those that are left behind from competition because we may need them after we lose our conflicts of interest.

Goals of the Mini-Series

This is the intro to a series on how the English language has been corrupted by Western philosophy to favor self-interest that is apparent in its assumptions on human nature and in its logical entailments.  I want to explore the question of how much does language reflect our true nature versus how much does it construct our realities from its embedded social norms.


Conception of Homo Economicus

Destruction of Homo Economicus

Reasoning with Homo Economicus

Resurrection of Homo Economicus

Adam Smith Means to Say

Sleight of the “Invisible Hand”

Chomsky on Friedman’s Freedom

Chomsky on Playing Fair


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[3] Boehm, Christopher. Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior . Harvard University Press.

[4] Coyne, Jerry A.. Why Evolution Is True. Penguin Publishing Group.

[5] Damasio, Antonio R.. Descartes’ Error. Penguin Publishing Group.

[6] Evans, Vyvyan,Green, Melanie. Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction. Taylor and Francis.

[7] Foster, Peter. Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism . Pleasaunce Press.

[8] Haidt, Jonathan. The Righteous Mind . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

[9] Lakoff, George. Moral Politics . University of Chicago Press.

[10] Lakoff, George. Philosophy In The Flesh.

[11] Lakoff, George. The Political Mind. Penguin Publishing Group.

[12] Madrick, Jeff. Seven Bad Ideas. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

[13] Mercier, Hugo. The Enigma of Reason. Harvard University Press.

[14] Pinker, Steven. Enlightenment Now. Penguin Publishing Group.

[15] Smith, Justin E. H.. Irrationality. Princeton University Press.

[16] Waal, Frans de. The Age of Empathy. Random House LLC

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