Thursday, October 06, 2005

Me and Homo Economicus

I do not think that I am a classic Homo economicus. I certainly do have feelings for others, I enjoy giving gifts and receiving gifts. I love being apart of my community, active in clubs and bible studies. I do care what people think of me and I want to be seen as a noble upstanding person in society. I think that I seek a higher quality of life, which is why I’m at A&M, but I am not endlessly seeking commodities and pleasure. Like the example of the rats, just because something causes pleasure, it does not mean that it’s good for you. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins, which can be seen through the rat’s actions.

Homo Economicus

Homo economicus is very self interested. It involves the idea that I will never be satisfied by my wants or that I’m continually seeking more wants, endlessly greedy. It also points out that once someone has a commodity the value they will want it again diminishes. This is not necessarily true of things that I need, like toilet paper, which has the same value to me, and it is not true of the giving of gifts, just because I buy one gift for someone does not mean that it will diminish for someone else.


Sustainability can be applied to almost anything: is a company sustainable, is the environment sustainable, is the lottery sustainable, is my body sustainable, and the list goes on. When we talk about sustainability in the design or urban planning profession, what exactly kind of sustainability are we talking about. Yes, something that lasts, and is adaptable and flexible and all the other things on that sustainability list, but it doesn’t mention environmental aspects. I thought the sustainability that designers focused on was environmental sustainability.


As humans and especially as Americans I don’t think we treat our bodies in a sustainable way. We do not treat our body with respect. We put things into our bodies that do promote health and well-being but deter it. Our bodies adapt to these negative behaviors and accept its neglect. It is not an efficient way to live. It is not close to a survival mind set. We also do not hold ourselves responsible for these negative actions and definitely do not look toward the future. Our bodies will not last if we continue to abuse them through obesity. It is not sustainable, it is not even natural.

Misplaced Concreteness

Misplaced concreteness basically suggests that the ‘science’ of economics is based on, successfully determined, and with conclusions drawn by use of varying abstractions, which therefore points out the fallacy in the economics as a science. This relates to sustainability because the economy is a market driven economy suggesting that all people gain from this, which is of course an abstraction. If everyone is gaining or making profit that does not necessarily mean that the environment is gaining or the idea of a sustainable environment.


I think Christianity as a religion is sustainable. It is something that has lasted and been a successful religion over time. The church works together in community and also independently for a higher goal. You are accountable and responsible for your actions and you are encouraged to learn and educate yourself on the beliefs and Word of God. Everyone has an equal opportunity and ability to know and seek God and of course it takes a great deal of risk just to believe.


The traditional formal garden is western in origin and lacking in sustainability. It strives for symmetry through geometry. This is interesting because nature is very ordered, mathematical and symmetric in its individual parts, but not as a whole. The growth of all vegetation is natural, almost chaotic seeming, and certainly not perfectly geometric. The idea of formal gardens is almost silly, constantly trimming and shaping nature into something that it is not, something almost man-made. You can not contain nature.