Six leading ideas of the "educated" mind

From small-is-beautifulp. 67 1. Evolution 2. Competition, natural selection, survival of the fittest => development, evolution 3. Higher human pursuits e.g. religion, philosophy, art as "superstructure erected to disguise and promote economic interests"; human history consists only of class struggle 4. Freud: life is but the "dark stirrings of a subconscious mind" subject to the Oedipus/Electra complex 5. Relativism, denial of absolutes, dissolution of norms, standards and truth, affecting even mathematics 6. Positivism: valid knowledge obtainable only via science, genuine only if observable

All subjects, no matter how specialised, are connected with a centre; they are like rays emanating from a sun. The centre is constituted by our most basic convictions, by those ideas which really have the power to move us. In other words, the centre consists of metaphysics and ethics, of ideas that—whether we like it or not transcend the world of facts. Because they transcend the world of facts, they cannot be proved or disproved by ordinary scientific method. But that does not mean that they are purely “subjective" or "relative” or mere arbitrary conventions. They must be true to reality, although they transcend the world of facts—an apparent paradox to our positivistic thinkers. If they are not true to reality, the adherence to such a set of ideas must inevitably lead to disaster.

[...] The “centre,” obviously, is the place where he has to create for himself an orderly system of ideas about himself and the world, which can regulate the direction of his various strivings. If he has never given any thought to this [...], the centre will not by any means be empty: it will be filled with all those vital ideas which, in one way or another, have seeped into his mind during his Dark Ages. I have tried to show what these ideas are likely to be today: a total denial of meaning and purpose of human existence on earth, leading to the total despair of anyone who really believes in them. Fortunately, as I said, the heart is often more intelligent than the mind and refuses to accept these ideas in their full weight. So the man is saved from despair, but landed in confusion.

small-is-beautifulp. 73–4

(emphases added)


small-is-beautiful Schumacher, Ernst Friedrich. 2001. Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as If People Mattered. Random House. ↩︎ 1 2