Towards an Integrative Study of Right Livelihood

Tetsunori Koizumi, Director

The remarkable progress of science—in natural as well as social scientific disciplines—over the last several centuries has been achieved mostly through an ever-increasing degree of specialization among scientists working in different scientific disciplines, with limited coordination and cross-fertilization among them. The upshot is a certain sense of trepidation we feel over the progress of science that, despite its contribution to the improvement in the material standards of living for most of us, may have led to the friction and tension among social groups and nations, and contributed to the decay and degradation of the natural environment around us.

It is not that one specific scientific discipline is responsible for the sense of trepidation we feel over the progress of science. As a rule, scientists are not concerned about what their discipline is doing to the rest of us through applications of their work, except in the immediate area of their specialty. Moreover, each scientific discipline tends to operate with its own logic of scientific rationality. It is not surprising, then, if the rest of us feel that the lack of coordination and cross-fertilization among scientists working in different scientific disciplines has been mostly responsible for the kinds of problems mentioned above—the friction and tension among social groups and nations, and the decay and degradation of the natural environment around us.

This is the reason why we need to reexamine the role of traditional scientific disciplines in influencing our life and the natural environment around us. This book, which comprises of nine essays, is one attempt at that reexamination with special reference to the three disciplines of ecology, economics, and ethics. Part I of this book contains three essays that argue for the need to reconstruct economics by incorporating the real image of economic man, not the idealized image of rational economic man as depicted in conventional economics. Here attempts are made to incorporate the insights of psychology, physiology, and the humanities into economics in painting a more realistic image of economic man that needs to replace the model of rational economic man employed in conventional economics. Part II contains essays that point out the need to rectify the overemphasis in conventional economics on equilibrium analysis by incorporating the insights of biology, especially those of evolutionary biology. An evolutionary perspective is vital if we are to analyze and understand the complex phenomenon of socio-economic development. Part III contains essays that point to the need to develop an integrated scientific discipline that is more relevant to deal with the real issues of our life in the evolving universe we live in. In particular, it is pointed out that, in order to develop such an integrated scientific discipline, it is necessary to mend the broken circle among ecology, economics, and ethics as these disciplines are practiced today.

The book is intended as a contribution towards developing an integrated scientific discipline—an integrative study of right livelihood, as it may be called—that will combine the insights of ecology, economics, and ethics as these disciplines are widely conceived in the context of the unified space of human evolution.

*Prologue to: The Cricket, the Sprite, and the Little God of Earth: Towards an Integrative Study of Right Livelihood, published by TheIIIS, August 2018.