Ideological Through-and-Through

Homo economicus is a myth. This alleged “rational man” is as non-existent as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and (perhaps) moderate Republicans. Yet the idea that we’re essentially rational creatures is a very seductive myth, especially as and when we relate the concept to ourselves (few lose money preying on another’s ego). In fact, we tend to think that we’re almost superhuman in our ability to invoke reason to our advantage.

Think of Hamlet (Act II, scene 2), for example (with Sir Kenneth Branagh as the melancholy Dane in the clip below).

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!”

Of course, there are some very good reasons to stand awestruck at what human reason can accomplish, particularly in the areas of science, technology and engineering. But you might also recall what became of Hamlet. We are much less rational than we assume. Continue reading