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 I-Thou State of Existence Means Balance in the Self&Other-Interest, as in I&Thou

"TO MAN THE WORLD IS TWOFOLD, in accordance with his twofold attitude. The attitude of man is twofold, in accordance with the twofold nature of the primary words which he speaks. The primary words are not isolated words, but combined words. The one primary word is the combination I-Thou. The other primary word is the combination I-It; wherein, without a change in the primary word, one of the words He and She can replace It. Hence the I of man is also twofold. For the I of man is also twofold. For the I of the primary word I-Thou is a different I from that of the primary word I-It. . . . Primary words do not describe something that might exist independently of them, but being spoken they bring about existence. Primary words are spoken from the being. If Thou is said, the I of the combination I-Thou is said along with it. If It is said, the I of the combination I-It is said with it. The primary word I-Thou can only be spoken with the whole being. The primary word I-It can never be spoken with the whole being." (Buber, Martin:  R.G. Smith translation, 1958, p. 3).


Metaeconomics contends that Buber's:

  • I-Thou overlays with the same phenomenon as the Distinct Entity, a concept offered by Khalil (1990), and with the notion of self&other-interest.

  • I-It overlays with the usual practice of the self-interest concept in standard Microeconomics.

  • I-It (I-He or I-She versions) overlay with the null type of sociality (Fiske, 1992) that is often presumed in the practice of Microeconomics/ Market-only theories.


Metaeconomics focuses on the distinct state of I-Thou, as in I&Thou.  One is taking command over actions beyond  the focus in Microeconomics on self-interest (I-It, and the I-He and I-She versions). I&Thou in Metaeconomics reflects the Individual&Community, Self&Other... the result of paying attention to the Impartial Spectator (Smith, 1759) arriving in the state of a Distinct Entity (Khalil, 1999). 


Intriguingly, some  commentary on Buber claims the I-Thou state also describes the existence in an I-God, or I&God, relationship, i.e., the Thou is a spiritual dimension. If one takes this position, it can be claimed that Metaeconomics can also then include this Spiritual part of Community, making this aspect part of Making a Good Capitalism. 


I-Thou State Ensures Emerging as a Distinct Entity

Metaeconomics is an intrapersonal model of self-command, self-discipline, self-control over the I. Through self-control, the Thou is brought to bear, to influence, bring about a good, moral choice.  Also, it is the I&Thou within Own-self on which the theory is focused, and not on the interpersonal or on the collective; this is not about other-regarding, or concern for others, per se. Rather, one is within own-self, emerging  as a Distinct Entity with a good, moral, ethical economic choice, due to having tempered and restrained the self-interest only tendency.  This is about what is within the individual, who is pursuing the I&Thou, the self&other-interest, a richer concept than the idea of pursuing the self-interest only, due to the latter generally including only the I-It (I&It) state of interest. I-Thou (I&Thou) means everything is ongoing within the own-self, but the I is also integrated, joint with the Thou/Others (shared with others, but internalized within own-self, within the own-interest), like  Smith (1759), which is about how to temper the self-interest in Smith (1776). Microeconomics misrepresents Adam  Smith, in that at best it ,  is addressing an I-It (including I-He, I-She... so, perhaps a household theory), but in extreme renditions being  focused absolutely on Self-interest only, resulting in an  I-It (-He, -She) in the framework and theory. As Marglin (2008) makes clear,  neoclassical economics, which uses Microeconomics Framing and  Single Interest (Self-interest only) Theory, has extricated community and continues to undermine it. Metaeconomics puts community back into the framework and theory, which can contribute to building rather than undermining community, seeing community  as a key feature of a good capitalism, through making the Other-interest visible. 


Buber, Martin. I and Thou (translated by R.G. Smith from the 1923 German version, Ich and Du). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958.

Fiske, A.P. "The Four Elementary Forms of Sociality: Framework for a Unified Theory of Social Relations." Psych. Rev. 99,4 (1992): 689-723. 

Khalil, E. L. “Beyond Self-Interest and Altruism.” Econ. and Phil. 6 (1990): 255-273.

Marglin, Stephen A. 2008. The Dismal Science: How Thinking like an Economist Undermines Community. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Smith, A.  The Theory of Moral Sentiments, edited by D.D. and A.L. Macfie Raphael. Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1759/1790.

Smith, A.  An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

edited by E. Cannan. New York: Random House, 1776/1789.

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