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Article citation: Masudul Alam Choudhury, (2009) "Editorial", Humanomics, Vol. 25 Iss: 1, pp. -
The papers on Kautilya's economics of ancient India contributed by Professor Balbir Sihag to this Special Issue of Humanomics comprise a lucid piece of writing. The ideas are clearly explained and scientifically developed. They relate in a comprehensive way to various aspects of Kautilya's ideas on topics that the economics profession today claims to have inherited from classical and neoclassical, and some macroeconomic origins. This claim of the mainstream origin of economic thought is contested. The claim of economists regarding Adam Smith as the founder of the laws of motion of capitalism is brought to question. The arguments presented on this question are explained by well-documented writings of established thinkers.
The scientific nature of economic analysis and its philosophical foundations explaining the inner workings of the economic system along with the interactive effects of economics with society and politics is claimed to have been thought in lucid and compressed way by Kautiliya in his voluminous work called Arthasashtra. The papers here go at length in this direction of explanation.
Such counter claims on the origin of economic thought owing to different schools of thinkers have been made along diverse cultural and regional grounds. For instance, the beginning of Adam Smith's ideas on division of labor has been attributed to Ibn Khaldun. Marx and Myrdal's ideas of complex causality in political economy embedding of economics, society and scientific methods have been attributed to Ibn Khaldun as well. The ideas of jus divinum and jus pretium of the Physiocrats have been attributed to the earlier works of Al-Farabi in his masterpiece, The Perfect State (trans). Even the recent idea underlying input–output matrix formalism can be attributed to the circular causation idea of social interrelations that was formalized and empirically validated by Ibn Khaldun for North Africa during his time.
The central role of morality and ethics in embedding by social, economic and political forces and by changes in human preferences according to the moral law was conceptualized by Abdul Hamid Al-Ghazzali.
Thus in many respects counter claims have been made by varying cultural, religious and regional vintages. The claim of Kautiliya's Arthashashtra is of a similar nature on substantive grounds, though.
Despite such claims, the scientific challenge poses the question of methodology as opposed to methods. Science transcends mechanism of methods and quantification. Thereby, methods too cannot remain independent of their paradigm as methodology. Consequently, the quantitative implications of models and methods cannot be independent of paradigm as methodology.
In Humanomics the paradigm of endogenous ethics studies the nature of ethics as organic learning dynamics within conceptualized and empirical evidences. Methodology is engineered by foundational episteme. This is where the difference between the various claims on the origins of scientific reasoning in social and economic thinking rests. It is the search for the most viable epistemic foundations that establishes methodology and gives form and interpretation to methods and models that matter. Mainstream economics and its own epistemic origins have not addressed the questions of ethics in this way.
Masudul Alam Choudhury