Functional Specialization And the Education of Liberty

William J. Zanardi


This article locates Lonergan’s call for a new political economy within a larger project, the “education of liberty,” one aim of which is to have large numbers of producers and consumers voluntarily and intelligently adapting their economic decisions to the rhythms of the economy.  Part I of the article describes several basic obstacles to such adaptations, including a type of economic realism that assumes “rational agency” in the marketplace is equivalent to the pursuit of perceived self-interest.  How are any of these obstacles to be overcome?  The promise of functional specialization is to take what is best in the past and to apply it in future efforts to improve the human condition.  Thus, Part II of the article summarizes this author’s understanding of the eight functional specialties, and Part III singles out an underdeveloped understanding of rational agency as the focus of an experiment in applying the functional specialties to one obstacle to the education of liberty.  The experiment is no more than an invitation to others who may wish to exploit the promise of functional specialization. Leading questions under the eight headings identify parts of possible collaborative projects.  [The second article by the same author in this issue of the journal provides an exercise in the fourth specialty of dialectic in response to this invitation.]


functional specialization, liberty

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