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Spinoza & Behavioral Economics on the Pinball Table

Life is a pinball table, and you are both the player and the ball. You shoot yourself in, you get bumped around by those reflecting bumps in the table, the emotions and the fates, and sometimes you can flip yourself in another direction, not sure of the result.

Spinoza, in Chapter 1 of the Ethics, is very modern. He tackles the problem of the emotions, how they  make humans irrational. You could think of him as the first behavioral economist too.

But Spinoza’s analysis leads him, in the remainder of his book, to suggest how people should change themselves, how they can try to free themselves of the bumps and flips.

Whereas the liberal paternalist Nudgers of today, postmodern behavioralists, use their minor insights to suggest how government and authorities can simply tilt the pinball table so that people will do what authorities think is right.

Big difference.

Published in Opinion