05/02/2014 Counting the Dust: A Literary and Theological Incursion into the Field of Socio-economic Theory

Dr Brian Nail
(Marie Curie Fellow, University of Luxembourg):

This paper interrogates an understanding of economics as an empirical science based upon theories of rational decision-making that informs the prevailing approaches to the study of economics today. Although it is not possible to pinpoint a precise moment in history when the study of economics and the study of religion part ways, it is possible to trace the origins of modern economics as a supposedly secular science back to the time of the Enlightenment in late eighteenth century and the rise of classical utilitarianism in the early part of the nineteenth century. Despite its secularist proponents, modern capitalism and the expressions of political and economic liberalism which it has helped to produce continue to demonstrate a certain commitment to notions of transcendence that are essentially religious in nature. Therefore, in light of the many economic debates that have come to the forefront of public discourse in recent years, most notably the politics of austerity, this presentation will explore the various ways that literary scholars and theologians may be capable of overcoming the disciplinary boundaries which have mainly served to insulate mainstream socio-economic theory, and the economic policies it seeks to influence, from critical interrogation.

First published: 17 October 2014