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Beyond Self

Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Economics


Laszlo Zsolnai

This book addresses ethical and spiritual issues in economics. The central idea advanced in the book is that the extreme focus on the self by economic actors leads to the destruction of both material and non-material values.
The assumptions of self-interest in behavior represent the core of mainstream economics today. From this perspective, the welfare of economic agents depends on their own consumption; their goal is to maximize their own welfare; and their choice is guided by the pursuit of their own goals.
Throughout the book the author argues that self-interest-based actions and policies have a detrimental impact on nature, future generations, and society at large. If we want to survive and flourish in the material world we have to transcend the self and embrace wholeness. This value shift requires enormous changes in economics, politics and social life, but there may not be any other option in light of the current state of ecological degradation and human suffering.
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← xi | xii → ← xii | xiii → Acknowledgment

I am grateful to the co-authors of several papers published in this book. They include Albert Bandura (Stanford University), Gian-Vittorio Caprara (University of Rome “La Sapienza”), Antonio Tencati (Bocconi University, Milan), Luk Bouckaert (Catholic University of Leuven), Hendrik Opdebeeck (University of Antwerp), and Knut J. Ims (Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen). It was my pleasure and privilege to work with these excellent scholars and good friends over the last fifteen years.

I am also grateful to another old friend, Peter Pruzan (Copenhagen Business School) who kindly wrote the Foreword. I was greatly inpsired by James March (Stanford University), Edwin M. Epstein (University of California at Berkeley), and the late Jozsef Kindler (Corvinus University of Budapest) for transcending the self-interest culture of our age.

L. Zs.

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