Spriritus animalis(memo)

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism

ということで、George A. Akerlof & Robert J. Shiller Animal Spiritsから少しメモ。

(…) In his view the economy is not just governed by rational actors, who “as if by an invisible hand” will engage in any transaction that is to their mutual economic benefit, as the classicists believed. Keynes appreciated that most economic activity results from rational economic motivations―but also that much economic activity is governed by animal spirits. People have noneconomic motives. And they are not always rational in pursuit of their economic interests. In Keynes' view these animal spirits are the main cause for why the economy fluctuates as it does. They are also the main cause of involuntary unemployment. (“Preface,” p.xxii)

In the original use of the term, in its ancient and medieval Latin form spiritus animalis, the word animal means “of the mind” or “animating.” It refers to a basic energy and life force. But in modern economics animal spirits has acquired a somewhat different meaning; it is now an economic term, referring to a restless and inconsistent element in economy. It refers to our peculiar relationship with ambiguity or uncertainty. Sometimes we are paralyzed by it. Yet at other times it refreshes and energizes us, overcoming our fears and indecisions. (pp.3-4)

The term animal spirits originated in ancient times, and the works of the ancient physician Galen (ca. 130-ca 200) have been widely quoted ever since as a source for it. The term was commonly used in medicine through medieval times and up until Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy (1632) and Rene Descartes' Traite de Homme (1972[1664]). There were said to be three spirits: the spiritus vitalis that originated in the heart, the spiritus naturalis that originated in the liver, and the spiritus animalis that originated in the brain. The philosopher George Santayana (1955[1922], p.245) built a system of philosophy around the centrality of “animal faith,” which he defined as “a pure and absolute spirit, an imperceptible cognitive energy, whose essence is intuition.” (p.178)