“Metaphors are powerful. No matter how subtle and sophisticated we would like to believe we are in our thinking, basic visual or tactile images create the very foundations of our thought. Compared to clockwork images of economies, the metaphor of ‘the economy as a beating heart’ seems to be particularly apt. The heart has a particular physical structure (valves and chambers) and regularity of functioning. Imagining the economy as a heart recognizes that it also has structures (institutions) and regularities, which is not different from imagining it as a machine. But because the heart is a living, vital organ, additional highly relevant insights flow from this metaphor.
As a living entity, economic hearts adapt and coevolve with the culture, history, ecology, and institutions that surround them. Just as the heart of a bird differs from the heart of a mammal, there is no one-size-fits-all economy. A heart requires energy and nutrients that come from outside itself—ultimately, from the ecological environment. A sick or injured heart requires treatment by examination, diagnosis, and care. The heart is also the center of love, integrity and conscience and the seat of motivation and courage. To ‘not have the heart for something’ is not to be able to pull yourself together to do it.
The image of the economy as a beating heart not only brings together body and soul, but points us toward action regarding the heartaches of poverty, hunger, injustice, empty consumerism, and ecological destruction. With no machine to do the job of alleviating these for us, it is our job to see that economies become vital and caring. Weak hearts will not be adequate to the task.”
– Adapted from Julie A Nelson, Economics for Humans (The University of Chicago Press 2006) 57-60.
“Banks used to be places for number crunching with this dry and boring image in my mind. After playing the role of the banker Hanzawa Naoki, I realized that they are really about interpersonal stories. In the sense that one can handle financial transactions in the hope of helping people, banking is a job that entails close looks at humans in my opinion.
Jun Ikeido (the author of the Hanzawa Naoki novel series) compared money to blood in his writing. Money has no value by itself. Its value comes from it being circulated around. Like human blood, money is a type of blood that must go around for companies and societies to function and prosper.”
– Masato Sakai, the lead actor in Hanzawa Naoki, a 2013 television series depicting a bank manager’s fight against unethical superiors and clients in a David-versus-Goliath scenario. Its finale garnered the highest ratings for a Japanese evening drama in 30 years. This type of blood-money analogy was itself already in circulation during the 14th to 18th centuries.
“During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which coincided with the outbreak of chicken influenza in Hong Kong, Anglophone reporters dubbed the economic ills afflicting tiger and tiger cub economies such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Korea the ‘Asian flu,’ or with greater euphony, the ‘Asian contagion.’ The tigers were thus transmuted into morbid chickens, threatening to infect the economies of the West.
By troping economic illness as a communicable condition that transmigrates across oceans, the metaphor attributes the cause of plunging stocks and evaporating capital around the world to specific foreign bodies than to global commerce itself—the efficacious ‘flow of the world’s aerial circulatory system[s]’—which is figured simply as the disease’s indifferent medium. What tends to get effaced in fears of metaphorical and ‘natural’ diseases from abroad is how the origin of the ‘pathological’ need not be straightforwardly foreign; it can be equally domestic or globally systemic.”
– Adapted from Jonathan G Harris, Sick Economies: Drama, Mercantilism, and Disease in Shakespeare’s England (University of Pennsylvania Press 2004 ) 1-2, 189.
This is a response to the Three Day Quotes Challenge by Kwon Sang Seung from Dramajjang. Nominees are free to present any quote from any source. The only guidelines are to share one quote a day for three days and nominate three bloggers to do the same, but feel free to turn down the challenge or respond in a way that is more convenient to you. The A-Philosopher’s Chair is taking care not to nominate bloggers who have responded to such challenges recently or expressed difficulties with finding time for blogging. The nominees are:
Day 1 (Jan 16): apqaria