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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Jean Piaget is one of history’s most influential developmental psychologists. This morning I was reading his book, Judgement and Reasoning in the Child (1928). In it he writes:

A child hardly ever asks himself whether he has been understood. For him, that goes without saying, for he does not think about others when he talks. He utters a “collective monologue”. His language only beings to resemble that of adults when he is directly interested in making himself understood; when he gives orders or asks questions. To put it quite simply, we may say that the adult thinks socially, even when he is alone, and that the child under seven thinks ego-centrically, even in the society of others.

First – collective monologue – good name for a blog. Second, speaking of blogs, I wonder what Jean would think of them.

Blogging is often done without asking if the author has been understood. Regularly it’s an ego-centric endeavour. And I was wondering about the Cluetrain Manifesto (the book, not the manifesto itself) – which trumpets the blogger’s voice as a grand advancement. Do we enjoy it so much because we yearn to have a voice? Or because we long to be children?

On to a tangentially related item: There are usually two responses when I tell someone I’m an economist. One of them is, “Oh, like an MBA!” The other is, “What’s an economist?”

While leafing through Talcott Parsons’ Theories of Society (where I discovered Jean Piaget), I browsed the list of authors. Handiest thing, Parsons lists the authors by academic discipline. He writes that between 1890-1935 society and culture hit a major turning point. The authors included as theorists played key roles in the convergence of thought which led to the expansion of the disciplines involved. Several of those included were economists.

So, as proof of the diverse applications of economics training, I built the figure below.

It’s a list of all the different disciplines ordered by the frequency of that discipline’s contribution to the Theories of Society.

As you can see, we economists are in good company. We’re more than just bankers, Greenspans, and bureaucrats. We’re world changers too. Hooray!

Well, that might be a bit premature. I had to look up a few other disciplines listed above. Like sinologist, a person engaged in study Chinese language, literature, or civilization. And philologist, a humanist specializing in classical scholarship. Anyway, overall, I’d have been happy with any of those disciplines – except maybe an anatomist.

(graphic leached from www.oldbaileyonline.org)

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