Friday, May 8, 2009

Laws of nature and laws of human nature

The current crisis is a welcome opportunity to rethink politics, economy and “all that”. In this and related short blogs to come, I will write down my current understanding of “how the world works”. I start with what I think is fixed and cannot be changed by humans within the time frame of human history:
  1. The laws of nature; physics, chemistry etc.

    Lawrence Lessig (Code, 2000) has pointed out that the laws of nature apply to everybody and nobody can escape them. Water flows downhill for everybody!

  2. The fundamental aspects of human nature.
    In principle, human nature is changeable but within the timespan of history, it must be accepted as constant. Human desire for love, fear of death and pain, hope and all, is a constant. Ignoring or maintaining illusions about the human nature is equally damaging as ignoring the laws of nature.

Contrasting with the constant nature of these laws, our knowledge and understanding of the laws of nature and the laws of human nature is greatly changing over time. Economically relevant is the current knowledge of these laws and how they can be used in production processes.

Changes in the knowledge of the laws of nature and the laws of human nature change the technology in a wide sense and thus the economy; values of things owned change, some become more valuable. Examples: the oil buried under the sand of Arabia became valuable with the advent of individual motorization, the quarries of limestone suitable for lithography lost value when other less demanding printing methods were found.

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