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the general nature of humanistic economics

The General nature of Humanistic Economics can be described as a distinct pattern of economic thought with old historical roots that seeks to understand and explain how the economy works, how it changes, and how it can be managed to enhance the human well-being of all citizens. In the process, one primary element has always been a critical analysis of the dominant economic way of thinking. The human image implicit in mainstream economic science is particularly rejected, while also encouraging a rethinking of economic principles based on a richer and more balanced view of human nature. It's a perspective that leans heavily on humanistic psychology, moral philosophy, humanistic sociology, and last but not least, on common sense. In more formal terms, contemporary humanistic economics seeks to both describe, analyze and critically assess prevailing socio-economic institutions and policies, and provide normative (value) guidelines on how to improve them in terms of human (not merely “economic”) welfare. Basic human needs, human rights, human dignity, human equality, freedom, economic democracy and economic sustainability provide the framework. 

Moreover, the label humanistic also applies as a critique of the naturalistic basic orientation embodied by so many economic approaches. We start from a realization that human nature is both part of and apart from Nature, an important fact that cannot be easily grasped with the tools of an empirical social science imprisoned in materialism. We recognize that being fully human implies a “higher nature” (including moral integrity and a sense for truth, love, and social justice), a “higher consciousness,” and the capacity to embrace and realize “higher values.” These distinctly human characteristics first and foremost involve the transcending of the usual confines of an economics centered on self-interest. Neither are they easily reconciled with a more collective economic way of thinking that focuses on socialization based on class, race, or gender differences, and the so called “social construction” reality intrinsic to contemporary postmodernism.

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