The Power of Ideas. The Teaching of Economics and its Image of Man

Silja Graupe


Economics as a science not only investigates what is (as a positive science) and what should be (as a normative science), but influences, through its fundamental ideas, what facts and norms are recognized as such in society. This holds especially true for economic education. My article explains this thesis and elaborates, in particular, how this form of education stipulates a particular vision of human beings worldwide. First, I show how economics actively seeks to influence the inscription of the commonplace image of the human through economics education. Second, I discuss economics as a textbook science in Thomas Kuhn’s sense: as a science incapable of giving the students any plural or critical understanding of their self and the world. In the third step, I identify the essential features of the human image lying at the base of the economic curriculum; an image (so I argue), which splits society into mere cogs in the machine of the economy on the one side and omnipotent social engineers on the other side.


Critique of Economics; economic education; textbook science; historical amnesia; image of man; mechanistic worldview

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DOI: 10.4119/UNIBI/jsse-v11-i2-1200

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