Hermeneutics of Capital: A Post-Austrian Theory for a Kaleidic World

Carmelo Ferlito
INTI International College Subang, Subang Jaya, Malaysia, and Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Series: Economic Issues, Problems and Perspectives
BISAC: BUS069030

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In presenting Hermeneutics of Capital, the author fears that most modern economists are not prepared or even interested in the approach that has been taken in this book. Today, economists are more likely to search for “exact” theories functional relationships between often logically independent variables rather than to question the nature of their science and its main task.

This book argues that “economics is about human nature, human conduct and human institutions”, or what Mises called human action. The present book, however, is not an epistemological one. It is about capital theory. The attempt of Hermeneutics of Capital is to reconcile man and capital, which are often presented as competing elements in a conflictual world. What the author tries to do is even more than looking for a simple reconciliation; following Ludwig Lachmann’s application of hermeneutics to economics, the author tries to define capital as the outcome of subjective mental processes, determined by individual intentions and expectations and not by specific physical or economic features.

The author defines the theory as post-Austrian. In fact, the author’s attempt is to further develop the Austrian School of Economics teaching, trying to contribute in enhancing concepts and theories which are believed to be necessarily reshaped. The author connected his capital theory with a consistent entrepreneurship theory, which goes beyond the usual contraposition between Kirzner’s and Schumpeter’s entrepreneurial theories and builds a synthesis centred on the idea of entrepreneurship as a subset of Misesian action involving specific capital formation processes. Moreover, the author took into account the traditional version of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory and critically revised it, arguing that crises are not simply the consequences of monetary manipulations, but they are the natural consequence of every expansionary wave.
Shackle reminded us that a “good economist is like a bottle of wine. He must begin by having the luck to be laid down, as it were, in a vintage year, when he himself and his class companions are the high-quality stuff in which ideas and theories ferment and discourse sparkles in a glow of golden light. But this is not enough. He must mature”. This book helps guide readers to understand reality. (Imprint: Novinka)

Foreword

Appreciations

Preface

About the Author

Chapter 1. For a Hermeneutical Definition of Capital

Chapter 2. Capital and Entrepreneurship

Chapter 3. Capital, Expectations, and Business Cycles: The Natural Cycle

References

Index

“Building on Ludwig Lachmann’s approach, this fascinating and well-written book provides new insights into the philosophical and hermeneutic presuppositions of the Austrian school of economics and explores new directions into fields such as theory of capital, entrepreneurship theory and business cycle theory. Ferlito’s book is an excellent piece of work bound to capture the interest of any scholar who considers philosophy to be a more relevant sister discipline to economics than mathematics.” - Francesco Di Iorio, Southeast University, Nanjing, China

"Ferlito develops a theory of capital grounded in how people with imperfect knowledge interpret the real world and over time learn and adjust their actions to it. He tackles head-on the tough, complex issues surrounding the nature and significance of capital and traces with intelligence and determination their game-changing consequences for economic analysis in general and business-cycle theory in particular." - Sanford Ikeda, Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase, NY, USA

"Original, accessible and brilliantly written, this book provides a stimulating new reading of the core ideas of Austrian economics: capital, expectations and business cycle. Hermeneutics of Capital demonstrates that crises cannot be understood without considering the naturalness of economic fluctuations." - Stefano Lucarelli, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy

"Hermeneutics of Capital is a must-read book for free-market think tank leaders and academics. Dr. Ferlito reframes the Austrian School of Economics idea of capital theory leading us to a new human oriented approach where individual intentions and expectations are not the direct result of economic features but the result of human action." - Lorenzo Montanari, Property Rights Alliance, Washington, DC, USA

"The market is a network of millions of companies that complement and coordinate with each other intertemporally and synchronically, forming an extremely complex production structure. In order to understand how and why this structure is coordinated or discoordinated, we need to apply a theory allowing us to study the way it works, that is, a capital theory. However, despite the fact of its importance, economists have systematically ignored neglected such a need and we do not have a developed capital theory. In Hermeneutics of Capital, Dr. Carmelo Ferlito faces the challenge of building a modern theory of capital. This is a remarkable book that will change the understanding of many economists on how the market actually works." - David Sanz Bas, Universidad Católica Santa Teresa de Jesús de Ávila, Ávila, Spain

"Carmelo Ferlito, tackling controversial theoretical issues, is able to guide the reader, who does not necessarily need to be an economist, as the reading is easy and immediately understandable; indeed the book is not written for specialists only. To investigate capital theory requires a deep knowledge of analytical tools, imposing a documented speculation, in turn the result of rigorous research and personal evaluations. The author, building on his cultural background, shows high scientific rigor, as indeed also testified by his past and qualified publications." - Cristina Spiller, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

"Indeed, the greatest theoretical contribution of Ferlito’s book [Hermeneutics of Capital] is arguably his unusually transparent treatment of the relationships between Kirznerian alertness, Schumpeterian entrepreneurship, and Misesian human action." - David Emanuel Andersson, Senior Lecturer, RMIT University, Hanoi Campus, Vietnam

Click here for the review by - Professor Beniamino di Martino, PhD. Director of StorialLiberia. Rivista di scienze storiche e sociali, Naples, Italy

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The book is specifically written for scholars and economists. It is particularly oriented to scholars with an Austrian economics background. It might be found peculiarly interesting by institutions like George Mason University, Grove City College, Purchase College NY, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn University, Austrian Economics Center.

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