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Bem como de afins camaradas do PCP e do BE, sempre com o ultra-neo-liberalismo na boca. Talvez estudar mais e fazer menos figuras tristes fosse um bom princípio para sairmos da espiral de degenerescência acentuada do regime. Já aqui fiz referência a uma recente obra de George Soros, que se encontra também online. Falo das suas palestras na Central European University. Logo na primeira, introduz a sua teoria da reflexividade, derivada em grande parte da teoria falibilista de Karl Popper (os negritos são meus). A dedicatória ao PM, sus muchachos e aos camaradas centra-se principalmente nos últimos dois parágrafos que aqui deixo:

 

(imagem picada daqui)

 

I can state the core idea in two relatively simple propositions. One is that in situations that have thinking participants, the participants' view of the world is always partial and distorted. That is the principle of fallibility. The other is that these distorted views can influence the situation to which they relate because false views lead to inappropriate actions. That is the principle of reflexivity. For instance, treating drug addicts as criminals creates criminal behavior. It misconstrues the problem and interferes with the proper treatment of addicts. As another example, declaring that government is bad tends to make for bad government.

 

Both fallibility and reflexivity are sheer common sense. So when my critics say that I am merely stating the obvious, they are right-but only up to a point. What makes my propositions interesting is that their significance has not been generally appreciated. The concept of reflexivity, in particular, has been studiously avoided and even denied by economic theory. So my conceptual framework deserves to be taken seriously-not because it constitutes a new discovery but because something as commonsensical as reflexivity has been so studiously ignored.

 

Recognizing reflexivity has been sacrificed to the vain pursuit of certainty in human affairs, most notably in economics, and yet, uncertainty is the key feature of human affairs. Economic theory is built on the concept of equilibrium, and that concept is in direct contradiction with the concept of reflexivity. As I shall show in the next lecture, the two concepts yield two entirely different interpretations of financial markets.

 

The concept of fallibility is far less controversial. It is generally recognized that the complexity of the world in which we live exceeds our capacity to comprehend it. I have no great new insights to offer. The main source of difficulties is that participants are part of the situation they have to deal with.  Confronted by a reality of extreme complexity we are obliged to resort to various methods of simplification-generalizations, dichotomies, metaphors, decision-rules, moral precepts, to mention just a few.  These mental constructs take on an existence of their own, further complicating the situation.

 

The structure of the brain is another source of distortions. Recent advances in brain science have begun to provide some insight into how the brain functions, and they have substantiated Hume's contention that reason is the slave of passion. The idea of a disembodied intellect or reason is a figment of our imagination.

 

The brain is bombarded by millions of sensory impulses but consciousness can process only seven or eight subjects concurrently. The impulses need to be condensed, ordered and interpreted under immense time pressure, and mistakes and distortions can't be avoided. Brain science adds many new details to my original contention that our understanding of the world in which we live is inherently imperfect.

 

The concept of reflexivity needs a little more explication. It applies exclusively to situations that have thinking participants. The participants' thinking serves two functions. One is to understand the world in which we live; I call this the cognitive function. The other is to change the situation to our advantage. I call this the participating or manipulative function. The two functions connect thinking and reality in opposite directions. In the cognitive function, reality is supposed to determine the participants' views; the direction of causation is from the world to the mind. By contrast, in the manipulative function, the direction of causation is from the mind to the world, that is to say, the intentions of the participants have an effect on the world. When both functions operate at the same time they can interfere with each other.

 

How? By depriving each function of the independent variable that would be needed to determine the value of the dependent variable. Because, when the independent variable of one function is the dependent variable of the other, neither function has a genuinely independent variable. This means that the cognitive function can't produce enough knowledge to serve as the basis of the participants' decisions. Similarly, the manipulative function can have an effect on the outcome, but can't determine it. In other words, the outcome is liable to diverge from the participants' intentions. There is bound to be some slippage between intentions and actions and further slippage between actions and outcomes. As a result, there is an element of uncertainty both in our understanding of reality and in the actual course of events.

 

To understand the uncertainties associated with reflexivity, we need to probe a little further. If the cognitive function operated in isolation without any interference from the manipulative function it could produce knowledge. Knowledge is represented by true statements. A statement is true if it corresponds to the facts-that is what the correspondence theory of truth tells us.  But if there is interference from the manipulative function, the facts no longer serve as an independent criterion by which the truth of a statement can be judged because the correspondence may have been brought about by the statement changing the facts.

 

Consider the statement, "it is raining." That statement is true or false depending on whether it is, in fact, raining. Now consider the statement, "This is a revolutionary moment." That statement is reflexive, and its truth value depends on the impact it makes.

 

Reflexive statements have some affinity with the paradox of the liar, which is a self-referential statement. But while self-reference has been extensively analyzed, reflexivity has received much less attention. This is strange, because reflexivity has an impact on the real world, while self-reference is purely a linguistic phenomenon.

 

In the real world, the participants' thinking finds expression not only in statements but also, of course, in various forms of action and behavior. That makes reflexivity a very broad phenomenon that typically takes the form of feedback loops. The participants' views influence the course of events, and the course of events influences the participants' views. The influence is continuous and circular; that is what turns it into a feedback loop.

 

Reflexive feedback loops have not been rigorously analyzed and when I originally encountered them and tried to analyze them, I ran into various complications. The feedback loop is supposed to be a two-way connection between the participant's views and the actual course of events. But what about a two-way connection between the participants' views? And what about a solitary individual asking himself who he is and what he stands for and changing his behavior as a result of his reflections? In trying to resolve these difficulties I got so lost among the categories I created that one morning I couldn't understand what I had written the night before. That's when I gave up philosophy and devoted my efforts to making money.

 

To avoid that trap let me propose the following terminology. Let us distinguish between the objective and subjective aspects of reality. Thinking constitutes the subjective aspect, events the objective aspect. In other words, the subjective aspect covers what takes place in the minds of the participants, the objective aspect denotes what takes place in external reality. There is only one external reality but many different subjective views. Reflexivity can then connect any two or more aspects of reality, setting up two-way feedback loops between them. Exceptionally it may even occur with a single aspect of reality, as in the case of a solitary individual reflecting on his own identity. This may be described as "self-reflexivity." We may then distinguish between two broad categories: reflexive relationships which connect the subjective aspects and reflexive events which involve the objective aspect. Marriage is a reflexive relationship; the Crash of 2008 was a reflexive event. When reality has no subjective aspect, there can be no reflexivity.

 

Feedback loops can be either negative or positive. Negative feedback brings the participants' views and the actual situation closer together; positive feedback drives them further apart. In other words, a negative feedback process is self-correcting. It can go on forever and if there are no significant changes in external reality, it may eventually lead to an equilibrium where the participants' views come to correspond to the actual state of affairs. That is what is supposed to happen in financial markets. So equilibrium, which is the central case in economics, turns out to be an extreme case of negative feedback, a limiting case in my conceptual framework.

 

By contrast, a positive feedback process is self-reinforcing. It cannot go on forever because eventually the participants' views would become so far removed from objective reality that the participants would have to recognize them as unrealistic. Nor can the iterative process occur without any change in the actual state of affairs, because it is in the nature of positive feedback that it reinforces whatever tendency prevails in the real world. Instead of equilibrium, we are faced with a dynamic disequilibrium or what may be described as far-from-equilibrium conditions. Usually in far-from-equilibrium situations the divergence between perceptions and reality leads to a climax which sets in motion a positive feedback process in the opposite direction. Such initially self-reinforcing but eventually self-defeating boom-bust processes or bubbles are characteristic of financial markets, but they can also be found in other spheres. There, I call them fertile fallacies-interpretations of reality that are distorted, yet produce results which reinforce the distortion.

publicado às 00:11







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