Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities

Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro. Princeton Univ., $29.95 (344p) ISBN 978-0-691-17668-0
Morson (Narrative and Freedom) and Schapiro (The Student Aid Game) explore the benefits of building a stronger dialogue between economics and the humanities. The authors posit that the former, with its ambitions to scientific certainty, has become too focused on all-encompassing theories and rigidly explanatory models that underemphasize the complexity of human behavior and the influence of culture, resulting in a diminished moral perspective. Hoping to enrich the discipline, they propose a cross-disciplinary “humanomics” dialogue. Along with taking human considerations into economic theory and policy, they believe this dialogue will bolster the humanities and highlight its strengths in an era of identity crisis. Focusing mostly on integrating exposure to great realist novels (such as Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, and War and Peace) into economics education, the authors use three case studies on, respectively, higher education, the family, and the economic development of nations to make an insightful and compelling argument. Morson and Schapiro succeed in finding new ways of thinking about big issues as well as new ways to read classic novels. The book employs a scholarly tone and pace, but the case studies read like popular nonfiction. There’s immense joy to be found throughout this work on thinking with creativity and passion. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4008-8484-1
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