What is this website about?

My view is that Adam Smith got it right when he noted that pin-making could be made more efficient by dividing the work intelligently.

“The division of labour, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportional increase in the productive power of labour” (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations).

But what about the pen? Intellectual labour has been dividing and divided throughout the past five hundred years in a way that fosters isolated (and often irrelevant) specialization. Is there another way of moving forward in the search for relevant understanding, patterns of genuine progress?

That is what this website is about. It is about a revolution in the way those committed to intellectual labour collaborate.

But the revolution is a quiet revolution: it is about a revolving of ideas that would recycle the ideas that contribute to progress. Every area of inquiry is unwittingly struggling towards such a revolving. The website aims at bringing unity and efficiency and light into that struggle. It points towards a collaboration that would link our efforts together so that, instead of each zone and sub-zone of inquiry tunneling along alone, there would be a towering of significant meanings, a twister of truths, a vortex of growing understanding of human possibilities.

In FoeRaum 4, “A Forum for Church and State, School and Bank,” I invite you to think of collaboration as a matter of facing the history of caring and not-caring in all its muddled details. In this essay I parallel the four movements of Beethoven’s 7th symphony with the four paragraphs of Bernard Lonergan talking about “The Problem of History” in the final chapter of Topics in Education. In addition, I ask whether telling the story of the Pygmies, who spent much time in the flow of singing and dancing, has been a victim of  liberalism. In FoeRaum 3, “Forcing Attention,” I parallel the liberal tradition of nation states with the liberal behavior of isolated and inefficient academic disciplines.

For a brief outline of my efforts, beginning in 1966, to understand the way of omni-disciplinary collaboration leading to progress, see Interpretation 21, “Interpreting Lonergan: Trieste I.”

1. “This Is Worth a Life”

McShane begins by quoting Stephen McKenna, who, when he discovered Plotinus and pondered the possibility of translating the Greek into English, said “This is worth a life.”  He then introduces the challenge of identifying the basic variables of economics as an empirical science, providing examples from the emergence of the elementary sciences.

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With Éamonn de Valera, 1968

Éamonn de Valera was the only leader of the 1916 Easter Revolution in Dublin not executed by the British. The photo of McShane and de Valera was taken in 1968 while de Valera was still President of Ireland.

Nashik, India, 2010

McShane gave the keynote address, and led discussions, for a three-day conference on economic theory in Nashik, India. McShane used examples from his father’s bakery business to introduce the distinct basic and surplus circuits in a dynamic exchange economy.

With Bernard Lonergan, 1971

This photo of Bernard Lonergan and McShane was taken during the summer of 1971 in Dublin. At the time Lonergan was lecturing on Method in Theology at the Milltown Institute.