Reflexivity: A Response
As promised, here is Mike’s response to the previous post.
Thanks for your reply, and your willingness to engage in a little conversation around our new friend George Soros and his Theory of Reflexivity. Your suspicions were correct of course. You’ve told me before that the economic waters are not your favorite place to swim. However I appreciate your wisdom, and they way you bring critical thinking to bear on a subject (your undergrad degree in philosophy helps too). To be honest, it was not your view of the economic aspects of the theory that I was after.
Having said that, your synopsis of Soros’ theory is bang-on. George’s main complaint is that the way we have been rightly taught to consider the natural sciences (see a fact, make a statement about said fact, statement is either true or false depending on whether or not it corresponds with the fact) is completely inappropriate when it comes issues that involve, as he puts it, “thinking participants.” He goes on to say that this is the problem as he sees it with the generally accepted economic theory: that markets tend towards equilibrium, and that market participants tend to discount (or anticipate the future and react accordingly) correctly. He believes, and I tend to think he is right, that it is the very actions of those same market participants, believing that they are simply reacting to the anticipated (and rigid) future, which actually shape or create that future.
George sums it up with this conundrum: “Therefore, the situation participants have to deal with does not consist of facts independently given but facts which will be shaped by the decision of the participants.” I think that is brilliant economic thinking.
But, we’re not here to talk about economics.
Why did this theory resonate with me on a “Kingdom level”?
I appreciate your kind words in your introduction of me in your previous post. Let me draw a direct connection between two points you raised there, those being my view that “the kingdom of God really does entail a new way of living, loving, believing, and acting in the world, ” and my conviction that “following Jesus ought to be a force for revolutionary change in this world not just the world to come.” (This is also part of the reason I like interacting with you: You articulate my own views better than I can!)
I believe that God has a plan to redeem all of Creation. In fact, I believe that is what God has been up to since the fall of humanity; God is moving us back to communion with the Divine, just as it was in the garden. This is the future that we are inevitably moving towards: The kingdom will come in its fullness, and God’s will will be done on Earth, as in Heaven (I believe that Heaven comes to us, and not the reverse, but that is an eschatological debate for another day).
This is where my thinking dovetails with George’s view: We have an active role to play in the redemption of Creation. Like those anonymous financial market participants, it is our actions in anticipation of this God-guaranteed future that actually assist in bringing it about (and I believe the inverse is true—our lack of action delays this ultimate yet perhaps unscheduled future). In my view this is not forcing God’s hand, or compelling God to act, but simply the execution of God’s plan for Creation as announced and exemplified by Jesus.
I could go on forever on this point; in fact this is basically what the book I am writing is about. But let me stop there and check for responses.
What do you think?