The Social Swan

The Social Swan –
where Kahneman, Taleb and Darwin meet Marx

Get the book at Amazon » Get the book at Amazon →

The Social Swan: where Kahneman, Taleb and Darwin meet Marx

The first fundamental concept of the presented work is that human beings are living, self-preserving systems subject to the second law of thermodynamics, and thus constantly need energy to live. This explains their main driving force to interact socially, and especially economically, since this promotes a steady redistribution of energy. Deviations from an optimal energy supply are perceived as emotions. Human cognition facilitates the anticipation of looming supply shortages while also providing the corresponding emotions experienced with this expectation.
Without emotions, there are no preferences. And without preferences, no rational decisions can be made. The concept of rationality in neoclassical economics is a tautology. The hierarchical-modular functional mechanisms of existing brains, as well as the mechanics of adaptive-ecological evolution which formed them, have to be understood in order to understand emotions.
The second fundamental concept follows from the fact that the highest evolutionary pressure on the human brain does not, and never came from climate changes, natural disasters or similar natural selective events with direct impact, but rather from social processes. Cooperation plays a more important role here than competition. There would probably not be such a high redistribution rate of energy without social interaction.
This leads unavoidably to the conclusion that the “cognitive biases”, and “fallacies“ discussed so intensely in behavioral economics can be traced back to mechanisms of social formation. Their existence cannot be traced back on evolutionary pressure alone which existed before the emergence in modern primates of neocortices capable of rationality. The decisions of actors corresponding to the model of “homo oeconomicus” in highly complex civilisations can still very well fail against “biased” competitors.
The third fundamental concept explores that neither the “Rational Choice Theory” nor the “Expected Utility Theory”, nor the “Prospect Theory” are able to plausibly explain behavior like the “Social Rank Theory” when combined with the “Survivorship Bias”.
The present work is subdivided into a “general” and a “specific” part. The general part is a toolbox providing readers unfamiliar with evolutionary behavioral ecology with the proper tools to understand the deliberations exceeding the understanding of neoclassical economics as featured in the specific part.

(The manuscript is translated into US-English. Intended release is Summer 2016!)