Friday, October 28, 2005

Demand for Thomas Schelling is up

A few weeks back I had gotten Thomas Schelling's Choice and Consequence out of our local library system (which is somewhere between pathetic and not-that-bad for the suburbs). Under normal circumstances they would have let me keep on renewing it for a couple of months, but now other people are putting holds on it, for some reason, and the library is calling it back

Unfortunately I haven't gotten around to reading much of it. One bit I did read is delightfully metacircular:
People behave sometimes as if they had two selves, one who wants clean lungs and long life and another who adores tobacco, or one who wnats a lean body and another who wnats dessert, or one who yearns to improve himself by reading Adam Smith on self-command (in The Theory of Moral Sentiments) and another who would rather watch an old movie on television. The two are in continual contest for control
-- "The Intimate Contest for Self-Command"

Yeah. Well, this feeds into one of my old interests, the multiple-centers-of-control problem for minds, as described by Minsky for humans and Tinbergen for animals. It's interesting to get the economist's view. If you stare at this stuff long enough you have to take up Buddhism though, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.

Schelling gets extra points for going against the prime directive of economics, which is a picture of a person as a rational agent with a unified self, well-ordered goals and desires, and a perfectly rational approach to achieving them. And for coining a good word to describe what he's talking about, egonomics.

I'm going to try to keep my self-improving self in charge long enough to at least finish reading that essay before the library sends their goons around to grab it out of my hands. Have to make the blogreading self go to sleep somehow...

No comments: