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Mind & Society

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 177–202 | Cite as

Hegel’s “Objective Spirit”, extended mind, and the institutional nature of economic action

  • Ivan A. Boldyrev
  • Carsten Herrmann-Pillath
Article

Abstract

This paper explores the implications of the recent revival of Hegel studies for the philosophy of economics. We argue that Hegel’s theory of Objective Spirit anticipates many elements of modern approaches in cognitive sciences and of the philosophy of mind, which adopt an externalist framework. In particular, Hegel pre-empts the theories of social and distributed cognition. The pivotal elements of Hegelian social ontology are the continuity thesis, the performativity thesis, and the recognition thesis, which, when taken together, imply that all mental processes are essentially dependent on externalizations, with the underlying pattern of actions being performative. In turn, performative action is impossible without mutual recognition in an intersubjective domain. We demonstrate the implications for economic theory in sketching an externalist approach to institutions and preferences.

Keywords

Hegel Performativity Extended mind Recognition Institutional economics Preferences 

JEL Classification

B40 B49 B52 D03 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Ivan Boldyrev would like to express his gratitude to professor Oleg Ananyin, who first introduced him to the idea of the link between the social ontology of Hegel and Searle. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath pays tribute to Don Ross for his encouragement and inspiration. We would also like to thank John Davis and the participants of the 2012 meeting of the International Network for Economic Method in Saint-Petersburg for their helpful comments. Finally, two anonymous reviewers of M&S helped to improve the paper in substantial ways. Of course, the usual disclaimer applies.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia
  2. 2.East-West Centre for Business Studies and Cultural ScienceFrankfurt School of Finance and ManagementFrankfurt am MainGermany

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