Can space-time ever be discontinuous?
History of space, time, object and self
Can be quoted like this: Ötsch, Walter: On the history and future of basic categories of economic thought: space, time, object and I, working paper No. 9826 of the Institute for Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, November 1998
Based on a cultural-historical approach, an overview of the historical development of the categories of space, time, the object and the I (the subject) is given. The representation begins in the early Middle Ages and extends to the Scientific Revolution. The Middle Ages are portrayed as an epoch where the categories mentioned were not available in both science and everyday life in the way we commonly think of them. This has important consequences for the way in which economics was reflected in theory. The paper describes some differences in the basic categories - compared to the modern era - and their development up to the Scientific Revolution. The last part briefly asks whether the history of these concepts is drawing to a close and what that could mean for the future.
Anyone who deals with the history of economic theories is faced with an enormous selection problem: an enormous amount of information must be arranged according to simple schemes if one wants to make some systematic statements about the most important questions, development directions, main theorems, ... of a period. Even an agreement about which authors are to be included in the presentation as "great" theorists, e.g. of a century, hardly alleviates the problem. A multitude of alternative interpretative schemes are available about every great theorist, each of which addresses different aspects and references. An apparent way out, which even some dogma historians tread, is to renounce the genuine interpretation of an epoch in which only “forerunners” of a theory that is now considered to be “true” or “applicable” can be heard. The past is viewed here entirely and exclusively through the lens of a theory today, the historical “forerunners” of which are described in their - albeit “limited” - “correct” statements.
This “historiography without history” is opposed to a multitude of types of representation that refer to theories and methodological standards that are common in historical studies. In simplified terms, we can distinguish between three types. They are ideally contrasted here as alternatives, even though they overlap in specific representations and complement each other in important sub-areas.
(1) The history of events is linked to historical “facts”, e.g. the development of the economy (with reference to economic history), politics (political history) or important economic institutions (e.g. legal history).
(2) In contrast, representations of the history of ideas relate to a finding that cannot be directly identified using “facts” in the above sense. Here, the history of economic theory is often placed in the context of a general history of ideas with particular importance to the history of philosophy,  sometimes also in connection with developments in other sciences, such as physics  or biology (as in some evolutionary Approaches).
(3) Representations of cultural history, on the other hand, refer less to the history of philosophy and more to general cultural trends that provide the “framework” for the development of economic theories. Examples are the socio-economic approach of Karl Polanyi, where the emergence of the English classical political economy is discussed against the background of a comprehensive “transformation” of society , Foucault's analysis of the physiocrats in the context of the social meaning of the tableau concept of the 18th Century  or Rothbard's presentation of the development of economic theories in the context of a neo-Austrian approach.  Theories of this kind can be assigned to the broad circle of “cultural studies”. Her subject area is the analysis of cultural “backgrounds” and their change, such as the world image, the “economic style”,  of “mentalities” (the French “New History” in the tradition of the Annales school), of symbolic forms (Ernst Cassirer) or of “epistems” as the result of social discourses (Michael Foucault).
Cultural studies approaches are usually transdisciplinary. They emphasize the otherness of people of past centuries, in contrast to and in contrast to the implicit cultural framework of the present. Historical cultural studies analyzes try to explore the “taken for granted” of past epochs (Foucault speaks of an “archaeological level of knowledge”) and to “understand” them. For earlier epochs the existence of other basic categories for general thinking and acting is asserted than those that are common to us today. An “understanding” of scientific action and thinking (including their reflection through economic theories) of past historical epochs must therefore also take into account the respective historical “background” of those thinking categories that were available at that time and were taken for granted.
An example of such a category, which was also relevant to scientific thought, is the category of purgatory from the 12th to the 16th centuries.  The importance of this concept for economic action is well known. In the 13th century, for example, indulgences and prayers became merchandise and can be bought. With the mercantilization of purgatory, a "bookkeeping of the afterlife" arises with its own spiritual and financial cycle.  Many wealthy merchants make large gifts to the poor or to the church to escape hell and shorten the duration of purgatory. For the investigation of this epoch, it is not important that the concept of purgatory, as we understand it, is "wrong" and relates to a reality to which we do not attribute any existence. For the people back then, purgatory was a reality. They believed in it collectively and expressed this “reality” in their economic actions. Understanding some economic activities as well as some economic theories from this period is probably not possible without understanding the concept of purgatory.
A historical analysis of basic categories suggests to understand also basic categories of the present as historically grown and to study their historical development in detail. In this work, I will summarize some cultural studies findings that relate to basic categories that appear as implicit “taken for granted” in many contemporary economic analyzes. These are the categories of space, time, the object and the ego. Most economists tacitly agree with Kant, who understands space and time as unquestionable a priori forms of thought and ascribes an unrecognizable but real status to the concept of the ego (the transcendental ego) and the object (the thing in itself) . With regard to the research results presented here, this claim can in principle be disputed.
The aim of my remarks is a historical relativization of basic positions in economic thought, which - I hope - stimulates the reader to reflect. The material presented here comes mainly from French mentality research (Georges Duby, Jean Favier, Jacques Le Goff, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Georges Minois), Russian (Aaron Gurjewitsch) and German authors (Gertrud Bodmann, Richard von Dülmen , Gerhard Dorn-van Rossum, Peter Gendolla, Hans-Willy Hohn, Werner Sulzgruber, Rudolf Wendorff), which are based on similar approaches; the discourse analysis by Michael Foucault and other approaches to drawing theory (Thomas Kleinspehn, Karl Menninger, Brian Rotman) as well as historical representations of the symbolic languages of art (Martin Burckhardt, Ernst Gombrich, Erwin Panofski).
Despite the heterogeneity of these approaches, also in terms of epistemology and methodology, they agree astonishingly on many results. In the following I will not go into the differences and their backgrounds, but present some results about which, to the best of my knowledge, there is a certain degree of agreement. At the same time, references and cross-references to the history of economic theory are made in some places. This is about indications of how certain theories could be reinterpreted with regard to the results presented here (a detailed elaboration of these indications is reserved for later work). The time span that is considered extends from the High Middle Ages to the Scientific Revolution - a period over which many publications and summaries are available. At the end of my paper, I allow myself to speculate about the future. The question that arises here briefly is whether there are any indications that the history of the basic categories discussed here is coming to an end and what this could mean for the future.
2. The history of the object
I begin my summary with the category of the object. The thesis is to be discussed that the “self-evident fact” of the “existence” of objects is a cultural construction that has its history. For this it is necessary to go back to the high Middle Ages and to contrast the object concept of this time with the (modern) object concept that is familiar to us.
I write this text with a fountain pen. What is an object, e.g. a fountain pen? When we describe an object, we usually speak of its functions (“a fountain pen is used for writing”) and its material properties (“it is so long, so heavy and consists of these materials”), ie we use a scientific one Approach, which as a rule could be converted into a strict scientific definition (e.g. the description of molecular structures).
In the early and high Middle Ages no one would have understood such a definition, neither a scholar nor a "simple" person - and this despite the great differences that existed between the world of the learned and the so-called simple people. In the Middle Ages , “things” are understood fundamentally differently. This can be inferred from an analysis of the most important philosophical currents as well as from everyday discussions and actions. 
Medieval “things” have a richer or more comprehensive nature than modern things. The medieval concept of things contains additional aspects or dimensions that seem strange to us today and no longer find a place in our concept of things.
Medieval "things" have the following aspects, among others:
- Things as “natura communis” do not exist as individual things, but are subordinate to totalities (universals).
- Things are not independent of people (anthropocentrism) and
- cannot be reduced to the measurable.
- Things are not just matter. They also have spiritual - spiritual aspects, such as inner purposes (entelechy),
- inner values and
All of these aspects were considered real. It was thought, both in philosophy and in everyday life, that they point to the real “essence” of things.
In particular, the symbolic aspect creates a clear contrast to the modern concept of an object. In medieval thinking, things are placed in a network of symbolic references. No thing exists in isolation, it always points to other things as well. It was believed that every thing has not only a material side, but also a symbolic-spiritual side. The world was full of symbolic references, a huge network of symbolic connections, of correspondence - an endless bond of attraction and repulsion, of sympathy and antipathy, of similarities and dissimilarities. A walnut is similar to a brain: eating walnuts can cure diseases of the brain. The seven openings in the human face correspond to the seven planets in heaven, etc. Everything is related to everything, everything is symbolically related. Things are not static in this way of thinking, they have dynamic-kinetic aspects. The identity of things arises from their dynamic interplay with other things, e.g. people with the constellation of stars. There are hidden sides in things to which an objective status is ascribed. Knowledge of nature is an interpretative understanding of the secret meaning of things (hermeneutics of the Middle Ages). In visible signs the invisible sense, the values, the purposes, the symbols, the analogies can be grasped. For this it is necessary to pay attention to the signs of nature, to read in the "book of nature" (legere in libro naturae). The knowledge of nature requires a decipherment of the signs of nature (doctrine of signatures). “To seek the meaning means to bring to light what is similar. To seek the law of signs is to discover things that are similar. ”
If things are designed to be valuable, purposeful and symbolic, then value, purposeful and symbolic actions are taken when dealing with things. A sober manipulative handling of things, as is the case in modern times, is here in the - cultural average - imaginable. Behaviors that are later assigned to the field of economics have to be interpreted morally in this system of thought, because they happen in a moral universe. From the concept of things follows the concept of a moral economy, which can be demonstrated in all medieval authors who comment on economic questions. Medieval authors always discuss economic questions within the framework of a theological system; economic activity is explicitly subject to moral rules.
Economic actions are always discussed on the basis of their moral dimension: In scholastic economic theory, mercy (misericordia) was regarded as the economic virtue, and selfishness (avaritia) as the economic sin.  In the economics of Thomas Aquinas (around 1225 - 1274), the undisputed climax of scholasticism, we find a multitude of principles, commandments and prohibitions that subordinate economics to the divine plan of salvation. According to Thomas Aquinas, economic activity is expressly subject to theological ethics. This framework applies to all questions that are of interest to modern economists. Prices - to give an example - are basically conceived as moral prices. The “fair price” of a thing (iustum pretium) is regarded as a normative guide by which current prices have to be oriented. It does not refer, as in modern times, to a single thing, but (as Thomas argues) to the class of things (the genera, the universals) to which a single thing can be assigned. Every thing has an intrinsic value, an intrinsic goodness (bonitas intrinseca). It is determined by the value of its class, which in turn is derived from its order in a God-given hierarchy of things. One aspect of this hierarchy relates to the plan of creation as described in the first chapter of Genesis: things that God created first are worth less than things that God created later. (Man on the last day of creation is the culmination of creation.) 
According to scholastic theory, the fair price in exchange results from the principle of commutative justice: if goods are to be exchanged, there is equivalence between their intrinsic values (equalitas rei ad rem). Prices are thus reflections of the inner values that are inherently contained in things.  This price concept relates to time-stable qualities in the goods. Price increases due to a shortage were considered unethical and contrary to the intended fairness in exchange.
The scholastic economic theorists live in a qualitative value - cosmos, to which every type of economy and every economic theoretical problem is assigned. A purely qualitative discussion of economic aspects, as it later becomes possible in the wake of Descartes' res extensa, has little meaning in this world of thought. Consistent with this, scholastic economic theorists put little effort into operationalizing their concept of fair prices quantitatively.With regard to the specific pricing, arguments are usually made in a case-by-case manner (which opens up a wide range of interpretations from a modern point of view).  Thomas argues that the fair price cannot be determined with mathematical precision, but also depends on the appreciation of people who only insufficiently know the essence of things. 
A modern quantitative economic theory cannot develop in the Middle Ages, because in medieval thought numbers were given a different meaning than we have taken for granted today. Medieval numbers follow the ancient concept of a number as an arithmos. In this concept, a number always stands for something real in the outside world, number and thing are directly connected.  Numbers represent things, they are not empty symbols. Calculating is counting objects,  calculating without counting is impossible. One could say that numbers have no “life of their own”, independent of objects in the outside world. This finding is of great importance for the methodology of a theory because it makes a modern model theory impossible. Let's take a closer look at the medieval number system.
In the European Middle Ages, numbers were written with Roman symbols.  The Roman numerical system is only useful for the representation of a limited number space and is hardly suitable for arithmetic.  There is no historical evidence that the Roman number system was ever used for arithmetic.  Strictly speaking, the Roman numerals are not arithmetic symbols, but abbreviations for writing down and recording numbers.  They are numerical symbols, not arithmetic symbols.
In the Middle Ages, calculations were made with the abacus, among other methods - a table that was divided into strips for units, tens, hundreds, thousands, ...  A number is recorded by stones, coins, balls, ..., from the 13th century also by "arithmetic pennies" - these are "coins" with no monetary value. Arithmetic with the abacus was an art that almost no one could master. Elementary arithmetic operations could only be carried out by specialists. “A multiplication that the average child now does in a few minutes could mean hours of extremely difficult work for these specialists. ... A trader who wanted to know the amount of his monthly income and expenditure had to use the services of one of these calculation specialists. "
In the medieval concept of numbers as representatives of things (like the stones on an abacus), there could be no zero. Zero represents “nothing”, the non-existence of things like stones. In the Roman number system there is no symbol that corresponds to our zero. "Number is ... number, and there is only one sign for a number."  The zero is an invention of the Indians (around 500 AD),  it came to us through the Arabs (the " Arabic "number system).  The Indians invented the pure digit writing: the digit in the whole of a number determines its value as one, tens, hundreds, ...; it needs a character for “nothing” that is about 302 different from 32.  Europe got to know zero through Arab merchants, probably first in Spain.  The Arabic concept could never gain a foothold in the early and high Middle Ages because it went beyond medieval thinking. The people at the time were simply unable to grasp the complex meaning of zero. 
The first Europeans who could actually count on zero were crusaders, who learned this method from the Arabs at the gates of Jerusalem, as it were.  In the 12th and 13th centuries, the works of Greek and Arabic mathematicians were translated into Latin. However, these translations were only accessible to scholars and did not penetrate the people. The first social class to adopt the modern number system were the Italian merchants of the 13th and 14th centuries.  Among other things, they invented double bookkeeping, a basic concept for a modern understanding of economic processes. It needs the Arabic number concept with zero. Modern capitalism is thus also based on a way of thinking in which numbers are “understood” in a modern sense.
A number system with a zero is more abstract and complex than a system without a zero. Zero is a sign with different meanings.  It symbolizes something absent, like the absence of stones in the line of an abacus, a “nothing”. In the number system, the mathematical sign zero refers to the absence of other signs, signs 1 through 9 (which can represent a certain number of things). With the zero a new and additional level of meaning comes into the number system. Zero denotes a specific number (which can be calculated) and at the same time an external position outside of all other positions: the beginning of counting. The zero has a double aspect. It is located as a sign “inside” the number system and at the same time “outside” because it organizes the entire number system and indicates it in a meaningful way.
The northern Italian merchants are the first social class in Western Europe to collectively adopt this form of thought. Together with the other basic categories discussed in this paper (space, time, I) they practice a way of thinking and acting that is simply incomprehensible to other contemporaries and offers them enormous advantages. (In the 13th and 14th centuries they had almost a monopoly on banking and long-distance trade at times). In this way of thinking, the first forms of modern banking and insurance business emerged. One aspect of this thought category is the development of non-material “sign money” (like the first change to foreign currencies), whose economic value has nothing to do with their material value (as with gold and silver coins) (- a way of thinking which has parallels to thinking of “nothing” at zero). 
The rest of Europe can only adopt these ways of thinking much later. In Germany, for example, the Arabic numerals did not become known until the 15th century, first in the trading and writing rooms of large German cities.  From 1500 onwards - after the invention of the printing press - the "arithmetic books" (e.g. by Adam Riese) appear, which ensure that the new processes are spread to the general public. The arithmetic books of the 16th century take great pains to make the "Verglychung tüdtscher vnd ciferzal" clear to ordinary people. However, the use of the new number system is only slowly gaining ground. As late as 1580, the Frenchman Montaigne, one of the most educated men of his time and owner of an extensive library, confessed without shame that he could not do arithmetic. 
The transition from the medieval to the modern number concept marks one of the great upheavals in people's thinking. In the modern history of mathematics, numbers become more and more abstract and move more and more away from their real counterparts in the outside world,  - until mathematics can finally be understood as a theory of logical empty forms, detached from any interpretation of content. Only with the concept of “empty” numbers (“free” number - signs) is both the experimental method and a rationalistic system idea possible. The proof of the isomorphism of geometry and arithmetic (Descartes ‘great discovery), the“ invention ”of the“ Cartesian ”coordinate system and the world as measurable space - world (res extensa) are not possible without this concept of numbers. The modern model economy and the modern quantitative procedures in the economy are based on “forms of thought” that are not given anthropologically, but have developed slowly and step-by-step in a centuries-long process.
3. The history of space
A similar process can be demonstrated in the development of the space concept. Like the concepts of object, number and money, the concept of a three-dimensional physical space is a result of a long process of transforming thought forms. The idea of a general measuring space only emerged in the 17th century (e.g. Descartes ‘res extensa) - reformulated by Barrow and Newton as an absolute and empty space. These “taken for granted” our thinking were not collectively available in the Middle Ages. According to Aristotle, space was “filled space”: the space of a body is the innermost limit of the body that encompasses it (the place of the wine is the inside of the barrel.) Space was not homogeneous and isotropic. For example, there was no scale that stretched from the earth to the stars. The cosmos was thought of as a system of "spheres": spherical areas that lay around the earth like onions, e.g. the "sphere" of the moon, the sun, and Jupiter.
In a concept of the spheres of space, spatial distances are irrelevant. Each sphere is qualitatively different from every other sphere. There is no measurement dimension that has meaning for all spheres. The measurable aspects of the world were not global, general, intrinsic aspects of the world. They only apply to limited parts of the world, to less important aspects, but not to the world as a whole. The "lack of space" also corresponds to the symbolism of the world, symbolic thinking is "spaceless" thinking. Spatial distances (in our way of thinking) do not exist if they are "bridged" by symbolic references. Sympathy and antipathy act instantaneously, without mediated force in between and without time and without a space to be bridged. 
Many findings support the thesis of the “lack of space” in the Middle Ages. Until the 13th century, maps were drawn as spiritual maps. Geographical knowledge mixes with religious content. Actual geographical knowledge, e.g. of the "four rivers of paradise" - Tigris, Euphrates, Ganges and Nile - were reinterpreted when they contradicted Christian geography. It was argued that the actual springs were elsewhere, that they ran underground in places, etc. 
Another finding is the art of painting throughout the epoch. In the entire Middle Ages there is not a single picture that was spatially “correctly” painted. One can show how, from the second to the sixth century, the ancient art of perspective gradually dissolves and gives way to a "spaceless" representation.  Up to the end of the 13th century every picture (without a single exception!) Was painted "incorrectly", and the space in no picture is reproduced "correctly", i.e. according to perspective rules. In this epoch the figures are not clearly and sharply delimited from space, figures and space merge into one another.  A continuous three-dimensional space is not recognizable in any picture of the Middle Ages. In many pictures, every object, every picture element has its own system of perspective representation: "Every element is a self-contained spatial unit, but the unity of the total space has been given up." 
Many art historians attribute the roots of the modern spatial concept to the 12th century. One example is the Gothic cathedrals from the middle of this century. Here a new understanding of space manifested itself, in contrast to and in contrast to the spatial idea of Romanesque churches.  Gothic churches are known to be network constructions due to their construction principle, similar to how we build glass houses today: the statics rests on ribs or belts that are bundled in narrow pillars and run diagonally across the vault. At the highest point of the vault, two ribs, called cross ribs, cross each other. The space between a church nave is not bridged by semicircular arches, as in the Romanesque era, but by pointed arches, two circular segments leaning against one another. An architect who designs a Gothic church must - so the argument goes - think of the church space as a system whole, as a rational unit.  To do this, he needs the idea of a three-dimensional whole, of a unified space that is criss-crossed by lines of force. The pressure distribution of the weight of the ceiling must be precisely located spatially, the pressure must be precisely localized, directed to exact force locations and force points. An architect of a Gothic church must design a model of lines of force in space, where each line relates to every other.
The idea of a geometric construction of space can be found in painting from the 14th century. Giotti di Bondone begins. He is considered to be the great innovator of occidental painting because he was the first to draw three-dimensional pictures.  Since Giotto there has been a unified space for the entire picture. The floor is painted as a horizontal surface that extends into the depths. People stand on the floor in the picture and not, as in medieval pictures, in the “sky” or on the picture bar at the edge of the picture. Each person occupies a unique spatial location, figures stand out spatially from the background. The figures detach themselves from the two-dimensional connection and emerge from the room for themselves. Giotto paints modern individuals. Each person has their own individual facial features and Giotto paints portraits of individual people for the first time.
From the 14th century upwards, pictures are "realistic", ie painted as spatial pictures (a process that came to an end in the last third of the 19th century.) In the 15th century the principle of central perspective was discovered and in the 16th century it became established the idea of space finally established itself as a binding form of thinking in many areas. Many epoch-making innovations of the early modern age are grouped around the idea of space: Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Bruno and Galilei discover the space of the cosmos: the closed spheres - the world is transformed into an infinite space-universe.  Bartholomäus, Diaz, Columbus and Vasco da Gama discover the geographic world of space. At the beginning of the 17th century, William Harvey reinterpreted the anatomical facts about the human body using the concept of space and “discovered” the blood circulation - a closed spatial system.  The theory of the money cycle in the economy (e.g. the physiocrats) is based on the idea of space and transports the idea of space into the economy: the economy appears as a system of space. 
The idea of space is one of the basic creative ideas in the period of (so-called) mercantilism. Many mercantilist approaches (in comparison to and in contrast to scholastic economic theories, for example) are expressions of the new spatial idea. The new term “political economy” e.g. refers to a spatial condition, an economic space area. He unites the political with the economy - areas that were conceptually separated in the Middle Ages (“politics” was the responsibility of the house fathers in the “community”, the economic referred to the house, the oikos). In the Traité de l‘economie politique (1615), Montchretien speaks of the mesnagerie publique and is astonished that such a concept did not exist in antiquity . (He does not understand the difference between his room concept and the ancient room concept).
In this process and in connection with it, the history of the emergence of the modern state is of particular importance. The modern state is a spatial state, a spatially defined territorial state. The modern state concept is based on the spatial concept of the 16th and 17th centuries, which was unknown in the Middle Ages. The modern territorial state defines its territory as a spatial area with exact spatial boundaries.  In the Middle Ages there were no territorial states in our sense. States were defined by centers whose territory was not exactly spatially localized. The borders were permeable and unclear, sovereignties were barely perceptible into one another. Medieval political landscapes often look like patchwork pictures, many domains overlap. Some authorities exercise power at the same time, and responsibilities are often not clearly defined. There are many local legal subsystems that differ greatly from one another. They are relatively independent and little integrated into comprehensive political and social units. In many medieval villages there are several feudal lords at the same time. A medieval village is not a politico-spatial structure in the modern sense with uniform institutions, legal systems and sanction systems.
Under the rule of the modern concept of space, political “space” is being replaced by a political space-world in a centuries-long process. The multitude of local and limited systems of law and rule is gradually being replaced by a uniform system of law and rule.The many local power holders are incapacitated, power is transferred to a higher authority, the territorial state. Its manifestation is the absolutist state. At its head is a king or a prince. He exercises direct control over his subjects. The absolutist sovereign's claim to power prevailed in a long struggle against the individual feudal interests of the estates. “This image of constant struggle with changing coalitions and strengths is indeed different in the individual countries, but the outcome of these struggles is always the same. In all the larger territories of the European continent, but also in England, power is concentrated in the hands of the prince, for whom the estates are no match. The 'autarky of the many' is gradually being replaced: in France, England, Spain, Sweden and the Habsburg countries by the royal power, in Italy and Germany by small territorial lords, duodec princes and oligarchies of the city-states. "
In this process the western social structure changes completely. Not only does a certain ruler gain power, but the ruler's social institution is also redefined. The homogenization idea of space gives rise to a new kind of power that does not tolerate rivals. The new centers of power are royal courts. From here an attempt is made to subject the new area of rule to uniform regulations. The emergence and development of the modern state is identical with the attainment and assertion of the monopoly of force, with the centralization of financial resources and administration, and with the concentration of military power in the hands of the prince. The homogenization project of the absolutist state can be traced in detail in many countries. The goal is a unified legal order, a unified tax system, a unified monetary system, a unified training system, a unified measurement system, etc. The state is gradually becoming a space in a geographical and a political and social sense. It is given clear boundaries to the outside and forms a unified political space inside, designed according to uniform social coordinates.
One example is the extensive reform program of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, general controller of French finances under Louis XIV from 1661. Colbert succeeds in establishing a uniform tax system (which doubles income within a few years.) In 1664 uniform export and import duties (with Exceptions) introduced. Colbert unifies and regulates trade and industry in France (e.g. the textile industry). In 1665 he proposed to unify the fragmented systems of measurements and weights and tried (without much success) to abolish the many local river and road tariffs. (As recently as 1784, river tariffs were payable at 28 points on the Saône over a distance of 600 kilometers.) Colbert's homogenization project is only partially successful. As Eli Heckscher writes, his “executor of wills” is the French Revolution more than a century later - a radical boost to homogenization: abolition of feudal rights (1789), elimination of the old provinces (the basis of tariff fragmentation) and internal tariffs (1790), unification of Weights and measures (the original Paris meter) and the abolition of the guild system (1791) 
4. The history of time
In addition to space, time was also gradually homogenized in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern era, until it finally became the abstract linear time that we have taken for granted today. The history of time is a process intensely researched by the historical sciences. I allow myself a longer summary of this.
In the Middle Ages there were different concepts of time. The two most important were the ancient concept of circular time and the Christian concept of a linear dispensation. The circle concept is likely to have been the most significant for everyday life. In the Middle Ages, people were closely involved in biological rhythms and in the rhythms of nature.  The rhythm of the sun regulated life, especially in the country. People got up at sunrise and went to bed at sunset. Sleep often only lasted three to four hours in summer and up to eleven hours in winter. The “day” was the day of the sun, the time of being awake. It was divided into twelve hours, six hours from sunrise to noon and six hours from noon to sunset. The end of the sixth hour was at noon, when the sun was at its highest point. An hour was different in length, from 30 minutes in winter to 90 minutes in summer. (This concept was called temporal lessons).
In the Middle Ages, time was a complicated structure with many temporal and regional peculiarities. Different time concepts mixed and overlapped. In some ways, medieval time was more complex and layered than our linear time. In the Middle Ages there is no one generally binding time, but a mixture of different types of time. Of particular importance was the idea of “judged dispensation”:  a sequence of “eons” from the creation of the world, to the fall of man, to the appearance of Christ, his resurrection to the last judgment. Judged time was also the Church's official time. The Church kept the calendar and counted the years "after Christ". (This idea arose in the 6th century. Year counts anno domini can only be found in chronicles in the 11th and 12th centuries. The counting of the years before the birth of Christ did not appear until the 17th and 18th centuries.) 
The current year anno domini was unknown to the “ordinary believers” in the Middle Ages. They lived in “profane time” without knowledge of the current “divine time”. The church took care to provide the cyclical "profane" times with many Christian references. The year became a cycle of holidays and saints, a periodic sequence of times interspersed with Christian myths. The average person of the Middle Ages was hardly aware of linearly measured time. He didn't know the year anno domini, his current age or the current time of day. As late as the 15th century, people generally did not know which year was written according to the Christian calendar.  Even educated people did not know how old they were. 
In the medieval imagination, time, like space, was divided into a multitude of heterogeneous areas. Time was not seen as a continuum of homogeneous time. Time consisted of a myriad of times that differed qualitatively. Time was "segmented" time.  It consisted of individual time spans with abrupt changes and discontinuous transitions. One example is the term “day”. In the Middle Ages, “day” only refers to the waking time, the “light day” and not the 24 hours of “day and night”. "Day" is only when the sun is shining. “Day” and night are qualitatively different times. The "day" is a holy time, the time of God. The night is an unholy time, the time of the devil, danger and terror. In people's experience, “24 hours” (that's how we think today) fall into two separate worlds: the waking world and the sleeping world, without any conceptual connection, without a common whole.
In medieval thought, the bright time of light-day also breaks down into separate sections, into qualitatively different times.  There are times of grace, times of sin, times of salvation. Many activities have good times and bad times. Bloodletting, bathing, traveling or haircutting should only be done at certain times. Wednesday and Friday are unlucky days when everything goes bad. Monday is suitable for sowing and planting, Tuesday for people's and judicial assemblies. You shouldn't cut wood or bake bread on Wednesday. Thursday is the day of rest, festivities, compulsory work and meat. Thursday is important for counterspell. Children born on this day can see ghosts. Friday is Witches' Day and the day of green, one should wear emeralds. Sunday is the lucky day. Weddings and christenings should take place on Sundays. Sunday children are happy children. 
In the Middle Ages, time is a sequence of different times, not a continuum, not an incessantly flowing stream of time. Gurjewitsch describes the concept of time in the epics of the 13th century as discontinuous, discontinuous time, "like the time on a chess clock."  Only the time that the story describes exists. There is no time between the individual episodes. If today a poet interrupts a narrative at one point in time and continues it later, we are curious to find out what has happened to the main characters in the meantime and how has developed. Obviously they also “live” in the time that the narrative omits. In the epics discussed by Guryevich, however, the heroes do not develop between the stories. There is no difference, no development. They only “live” in the narrated episodes, outside of the narrative they remain, as it were, in a non-existent state.
The medieval concept of time is closely related to its concept of space and things. In medieval thinking, time takes on aspects of space and things. Medieval time is symbolic time, valuable time, intentional time. Every time has its symbolism, its evaluation. Time is divine time, not a worldly thing and not a commodity. The time thinking of the merchants is considered disreputable. Interest is frowned upon because one cannot sell divine time.  To drive usury with money is a sin that directly contradicts the worldview. Time has no price. Time is not money. Time is life, experienced time, experienced time. It is directly related to whoever thinks it. In historical representations, the categories of the "duration of rule of a person" are thought of, not the years of our calculation. In the church history of Eusebius, the "years" since the creation of Adam are given, but the counting of these "years" is always linked to the life time of persons. “Time is (here) not like a thing in itself. At the same time, this explains why time only ever runs towards the narrating person, who is always their own time. "Time" can only ever be time that has passed, because it is only perceived as the time of people who are or have lived ". 
In the Middle Ages, time does not exist outside and alongside people and their actions. "Time is a parameter of human activity: where nothing happens, there is no time, so to speak, because it is impossible to perceive it."  Time is without experiences nonexistent time, unthinkable time. The "counting" of time is linked to the "telling" of stories.  History is made up of stories. The concept of time and the perception of time are not necessarily tied to numbers. History is interpreted history, rich in symbolic references. If numbers are used, then they often have a different meaning than what we are used to. If in the Old Testament Adam was assigned 230 years of life, Seth 205 years and Noe 600 years, then these numbers symbolize the “filled time” of these persons, not their “actual” duration according to our time concept. Numbers of this kind are not used to measure “time”, but to organize collective memories. The memories do not refer to an empty period of time, to a duration of time, because one cannot think that, but to stories, to events, to "person-time", to "life-time".
Medieval people live a "timeless" life. Cultural attention is not focused on the "flow of time". “In his studies on the history of the French concept of time, Roland Glasser points out that there is no reference to time at any point in the Roland song. The poet of this epic was neither aware of the fall of the leaves in autumn nor of the passing of generations. These were phenomena that did not attract his attention. The essential quality of the world was its impermanence to God and not the visible change that was incessantly taking place in the world. " People live" on an island in time, an island in whose horizon the future is also The past did not lie ".  Events that exceed a certain time dimension are represented internally without any reference to time. You fall into a fog of timelessness, in a timeless space. You know that it happened at some point "before", but you have no knowledge of how long it was before. The further back an event was, the more indeterminate the time specification became. Events more than twenty or thirty years ago are no longer differentiated in time.  You can no longer think of them in terms of time, you can no longer assign them an exact time reference.
There is no concept of "history" in the sense of long periods of time. "The consciousness of the present turns a process that runs through centuries into a unity ... History is experienced" timelessly "."  In stories and narratives, events from different time periods are directly related to one another. How much time has passed between the events is of no importance. The historical dating of long past events is unimportant, you cannot "think" it.  “At the end of the 11th century, the crusaders believe that they will not punish the descendants of Christ's executioners, but punish these executioners themselves.”  In the “timelessness” of the Middle Ages, a thousand years are represented as if they were thirty years!
The roots of the modern sense of time probably lie in the early Christian monastic orders.  Here the daily routine was precisely structured and punctuality established as a new virtue. From the 3rd to the 6th century, the times of prayer in the monasteries were increased from initially two to seven "canonical hours", so that the majority of the day was subject to a time schedule. "The Church is that power that first stood up ... for a measurement of time and a temporal order."  To measure time and to live according to time was considered something special and higher to which the uneducated man of the Middle Ages had no access .
The hours were "measured" in the monasteries with water clocks, sundials or candle clocks and from the 5th century onwards they were transmitted by bell signals, always in the concept of temporal hours. The actual emergence of linear time beyond the walls of the monasteries is closely connected with the invention of the mechanical clock with weight and escapement. It made it possible to measure linear time precisely.  The time of this invention is between 1270 and 1300, place and time are unknown. It is not known who invented the mechanical clock and also not in which country it happened. The invention of the mechanical watch is a major historical event. It was not recognized as such by contemporaries and was completely ignored.  As far as we know today, there is not a single document on the invention itself. The mechanical watch entered human consciousness not with the invention of the escapement, but with the invention of the striking mechanism (around 1300). 
The hour-striking clock was the great technical sensation of the 14th century, it was considered exciting news by contemporaries. Hour-striking clocks were often large tower clocks, sometimes ornately decorated with figures or designed as complicated astronomical calendars. The tower clocks were mostly owned and managed by municipal authorities. They struck the clock every hour and could be heard all over town. (In the English word clock, the hour bell still rings.)
The Italian city-states made the start. From the middle of the 14th century, it was exported to other European cities, first to the large residences. In a short time, the hourly sound could be heard in many cities. There was a real boom in the 1970s, and by 1410, public clocks were installed in almost all major European cities, and several in some.
In the period up to 1450, the spread of the hour-striking clocks in almost 500 cities in Europe is documented. Around the middle of the 15th century, at least four to six public clocks were in operation in large cities such as Paris, Rouen and Milan, four in medium-sized cities such as Lüneburg and at least two in smaller ones such as Moulins in the Bourbonnais.  From the cities, the public clocks gradually conquered the villages. In the 16th century, most of the villages in Central Europe had at least one simple clock.
In the Middle Ages, bells were symbols and signal givers of rule.  Bells were subject to an ecclesiastical or municipal authority. The authority to ring church or city bells was precisely regulated.Abuse was severely punished. City towers and city bells were an expression of the power and autonomy of the cities. Many activities in the city were regulated by bell tones. The townspeople were told to do certain things or not to do certain things with regular bells. The time before the introduction of the hour-striking clock is portrayed in many European cities as the development of increasingly rich acoustic environments. There were a variety of different bells with different functions and meanings. In Milan, for example, in 1288, with a population of 200,000, there were over 200 church bells alone, all of which had their functions and could be heard at certain intervals. A hiker approaching Florence on the morning of a feast day around 1300 could hear the ringing of more than 80 bells from afar. There were prayer bells, council bells, death bells, bells that indicated the beginning of the court session, the beginning and the end of the city watch, the opening and closing of the city gates, bells for markets, schools and universities, sweeping bells to remind the homeowner of the mandatory cleaning of the Streets to remember, etc. etc. Death sentences, banishment, auctions, important public appointments were "hung on the big bell". A citizen who wanted to get to know the city had to know "what had struck the bell" when he "heard something ring".
All regular bell signals were also time signals, but always within the framework of an hour concept that was dependent on the season (the concept of temporal hours). The hour-striking clocks that struck 24 hours of equal length regardless of the season (the concept of the equinox) were initially just an additional chime among many others, the meaning of which was not recognized by most and sometimes also perceived as a nuisance. In the rich sound ensemble of medieval cities, there was no need for a new time counting at the beginning. Public clocks were introduced for reasons of prestige. The city lords exhibited a technological sensation and at the same time their wealth, their openness to innovations and their drive. The rapid spread of public clocks was also a competition between cities for an expensive and prestigious innovation.
The change in time consciousness, first in the cities, was a slow, anonymous change in mentality that was not prescribed by any authority and was not recognized and not reflected upon by contemporaries.  Little by little, very gradually, the hour-striking clocks replaced a multitude of other bells. The citizens learned in an auditory way to think of the hours as “hours of equal length” and to imagine them internally as “distances of equal length”. The multitude of abstraction steps that had to be learned are hard to understand for us today. It had to be about the rhythms of nature such as sunrise, the position of the sun, the light conditions, one's own sleep needs, rhythms of social life such as different lengths of a church mass, a meeting, a production process or other time signals such as the irregular bells other bells are abstracted.
Linear time was collectively invented as a social regulation idea. It occurs first in the form of “social time”:  Church and city authorities use bell signals to regulate social processes that they considered important. The clocks of things come from above, from the towers above people's heads, from people from the upper classes of society, and from there it goes down to the common people, out onto the villages and the open country - and finally after inside.  The new time is internalized, an internal clock begins to tick.
Many aspects of this process can be traced in great detail from the large number of city statutes.  At the end of the 14th century, hour indications appear more and more frequently in hundreds of comparable definitions of meeting times. At the beginning of the 16th century time control techniques were enacted for many committees in numerous cities, from the 16th to the 18th century we also find them in village regulations. Examples are the regulation of working hours of the guilds, the fixed market hours, clock regulations for city schools (the "timetable, - a term that probably did not appear until the end of the 18th century), time regulations for church services, time limits for torture and many specifications in the courtyard - and chancellery regulations of the 16th and 17th centuries. “Despite such examples, the explicitly coordinating time regulations in the late medieval and early modern cities remain relatively rare. The infinite differentiation of the time orders "inward", which is in principle possible due to clocks, has only been partially realized. "
In the first century of their invention, clocks were mostly limited to indicating whole hours. Between the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries, the time was added slowly, then more and more, by emphasizing the quarter of an hour, also by bell signals.  Minutes or even seconds were unknown in common usage until at least the end of the 16th century. They can only be found in theoretical and astronomical texts and there only as theoretical, not as measurable units of time.  A “feeling” for smaller time units was also not yet developed. Around 1450 a medicine professor suggested in a treatise measuring the difference between the pulse of a healthy person and a sick person. Because he does not know a suitable measure of time, he recommends that his colleagues should be instructed by musicians in directing beats. He believes that this art can be learned in eight hours (!). 
Public clocks with dials, i.e. an optical time display, have been popular since the beginning of the 15th century. At the same time, watches are finding their way into wealthy households. Around 1430, the technology with a spring balancer and a worm was fully developed; it accelerated the development of portable clocks ("Nürnberger Ei").  With the clock face and the house clocks and pocket watches, people train themselves in visual time thinking. Clocks were now also always visible. Time could be seen at any point in time, a visual inner time concept could slowly develop.
The building of the modern sense of time has been a centuries-long process. It took a long time before clocks became generally available and the constant gaze at the clock became a matter of course: “Indeed, the possession of a house or pocket watch was for a long time limited to the wealthy classes of the population, the clocks as a sign of their wealth and less regarded as a social necessity. In the middle of the 17th century we find that important government officials such as thirty-year-old Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) did not own a watch. Instead, like most of his contemporaries, Pepys followed the ringing of church bells in London and the occasional sundial. As a result, few appointments were made. Rather, Pepys was constantly shuttling back and forth between public buildings, coffee shops, and inns in the hope of doing some kind of business. He often went to see Lord High Admiral James, Duke of York, at home, only to find that he had gone hunting. For him and most of his show companions, time had a completely different status than it did for us ”. 
In historical retrospect, it is the Italian merchants and bankers in the 13th and 14th centuries who, as a social group, practice dealing with modern linear time for the first time. The time aspect of economic actions, aligned with the concept of abstract and linear time, is one of the mental foundations of capitalism and arises at the same time as it. Italian merchants practice a way of thinking about the future that clearly distinguishes them from their contemporaries. In this way of thinking, the old concept of “segmented time” is blown up - a time that breaks up into qualitatively different times. In the Middle Ages, for example, market and money transactions were strictly fixed at certain times. One example are the Champagne fairs, which played a special role in long-distance trade and credit transactions in the High Middle Ages . In a cycle over a year it was regulated exactly to the day when (and in which of four cities in Champagne) trading was allowed, when financial transactions were to be carried out, when promissory notes could be issued and when they had to be redeemed. The Italian bankers dissolve this time scheme and offer money and financial transactions outside of these dates.  The heterogeneous times of trade and credit become the homogeneous time in which business can be carried out at any time. Time becomes money after all - a saying that probably dates back to the 16th century.
In this way of thinking, time can be coupled with money, and the modern concept of interest arises. Interest is frowned upon in medieval thinking. Time is not money. Aquinas knows very well that interest rates correlate positively with time, but that is precisely where the problem lies in his thinking. He cannot think of economic phenomena as a function of “time” because “the” neutral, abstract time does not exist for him. The sum of money today and tomorrow are essentially identical: Interest payments contradict the principle of commutative justice. They are payments for something non-existent or double payments. He interprets time as divine time. It is available to all people as a common good: someone who lends money at interest is committing a sinful fraud 
5. The story of the self
The basic concepts of object, number, money, space and time are directly related to basic concepts of the subject. The modern concept of an autonomous, free, self-determined individual (an implicit background of Homo Oeconomicus in its various versions) is a historical figure that cannot be found in the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages there is no subject that is in principle separate from the object, the subject-matter.  There is no isolated subject at a distance from the object (in abstract space and abstract time). Subject and object are thought of as symbolic. Everything is placed in a symbolic network: things and people exist in fulfilled space and time. The subject and the object, the ego and the environment are conceptually separated, but they are closely and directly connected. 
In this way of thinking, the “inside” is placed “outside” and the “outside” is placed “inside”. Personal references are attached to nature, it is personified. Clouds, stones, mountains are animated, they act as if of their own volition. At the same time, the characteristics of nature become characteristics of man. “People observe the same characteristics that were found in the entire natural environment. Actually, they were not perceived as “surroundings” or “surroundings”, but felt themselves to be their integral part, which they themselves were directly included in the cycle of natural phenomena. ”
The medieval self is a fascinating construct. It oscillates between the poles of clear egotism and strong egotism. The average person of the Middle Ages felt himself to be a person, separated from the surrounding world, and at the same time as a participating being, fused with the co-world.  These two poles also characterize the Christian ethics of this time - the central regulative of economic action. She gave each person a personal soul and at the same time dampened her ego-like impulses. In the Middle Ages, people believed in the existence of a personal soul. They believed they “were” an indestructible soul, it was their innermost identity core. At the same time, Christian ethics required “keeping the soul pure”, to lead a life without “sin”. Many of the sins of the Middle Ages were "ego-like" acts that are peculiar to the Homo Oeconomicus of modern times. Mumford believes that five of the seven “deadly sins” of the Middle Ages - pride, envy, avarice, greed, and lust - have been transformed into social virtues in modern times.  The medieval concept of the soul strengthened and weakened the ego at the same time. The result is our own states of consciousness, which are difficult for us to understand: People with a personal soul are so deeply "immersed" in social life and in the world that the hard and fundamental boundaries between "I" and "world", between "I" and "You", which shape our feeling for life, are not known.
In this thought-world, people are not isolated objects, but living symbols. They are not individual people, but system people. People are social beings, social beings. They also arise from the symbolic connection with other people. The dominant concept of people corresponds (as in every epoch, by the way) to the dominant concept of things: people are functional, valuable and symbolic. Their ordo concept is based on the medieval entelechy concept: everything was ascribed a “natural place” in a strictly hierarchical system. The “natural place” of a stone is the earth, the “natural place” of a person is its estate. The estate was a universal that possessed a supra-human objective existence. In this concept, individual personality traits take a back seat, social traits come to the fore.
In the Middle Ages, most people were involved in solid social relationships. People thought of themselves as an integral part of social systems. People did not think of themselves as isolated individuals, but as social beings, as beings who are essentially social. “Significantly, the individual as such did not exist for a long time in the Middle Ages. Neither literature nor art portray a person in their own way. The individual is regarded as a representative of his rank, his social position, he is represented according to a fixed type. ” The word“ individual ”has a negative connotation. An individual is someone who has left the group through some wrongdoing. People in this world cannot see themselves as calculating individuals who strive for their personal gain. As a rule, they do not act out of their individual interests, but on the basis of social norms and direct orders. “Such a situation must exert constant pressure on the individual to the effect that his economic self-interest is so far eliminated from his consciousness that in many cases (but by no means in all) he is not even able to understand the meaning of his own actions in terms of such Of interest. "
Purely material-economic goals cannot establish themselves as cultural mass goals in this way of thinking. If there are no "things" and no "isolated individuals" then people in general and on average cannot aspire to personal possession of particular things. The fact that there are things that are privately owned poses a conundrum to economic theory that needs to be specifically explained. Private property is in contrast to the concept of humanity as an integrated whole. Private property is a human invention, not a human trait: "Nature cannot reverse its opposite and sharing is natural," says the late scholastic Gerald Odonis.  In scholastic economic theory, private property was conceived as limiting and subject to moral and moral conditions. The ius necessitatis gives the poor under certain circumstances the right to acquire property for free. In this way of thinking, people with a material orientation, such as traders or moneylenders, are considered morally inferior. (In Dante's Inferno, the lenders are on a lower level than the blasphemers.) Entrepreneurial thinking in the modern sense is frowned upon in the Middle Ages.  The thought of a steady increase in income, of limitless needs is unthinkable in this world picture. The ideal form of economy is the “Christian economy”, a stationary economy. The goal is a recurring “good life” (bene vivere), a decent living according to the principle of “just food”.
A reassessment of the individual is connected with the modern forms of thought of object, space and time.  Descartes radically and in principle separates the ego from the world. The medieval amalgamation of subject and object is dissolved. The modern self sees itself as separate from the world.In this way of thinking, the modern outside world emerges - a complex of categories that did not exist before and which, as a historical mentality, could also come to an end again. With the concept of an objective outer world, the draft of a subjective and private inner world emerges, the idea of an "inner human being". The objective outside world and the subjective inside world are like two sides of the same coin. They arise as collective figures of thought at the same time and condition one another. 
In this process the thinking bases for modern economic theory are created. With the idea of a separate inner world, Homo Oeconomicus emerges: an individual who, thinking and calculating, wants to shape the outer world that is separate from him according to his subjective interests. The outside world, which can be captured by calculation, appears as a formal system, often interpreted as a machine.  The two great metaphors found in many economists were the metaphors of the clock and the scales.  The metaphor of the clock reflects the concept of order of absolutism: the prince controls the state from outside, in analogy to the deistic mechanic-god, who controls the clockwork of the cosmos from outside. (An example of this construction are the physiocrats, whose clock metaphor refers to Malebranche, a student of Descartes.)  The metaphor of the scales reflects the concept of order of the bourgeoisie. Here the economy is described as a self-governing system. (The most popular version is the concept of the market price mechanism.) The "social physics" of this direction relates directly or indirectly to Newton, always in specific translations and applications to economics. Important examples are the natural theological concept of “natural freedom” in Smith and the naturalistic-materialistic system concept in Malthus and Ricardo. The climax of the mechanistic metaphor in economic theory is early neoclassicism.  The economy is conceived here as a completely calculable system (e.g. in general equilibrium theory, an application of Laplace's artificial figure of an omniscient demon to the economic sphere), the inner space (the order of preference) is described as a formal system in analogy to the field concept in physics and time and space appear as objective categories in the Newtonian sense.
6. The future of the categories of object, space, time and the ego
If object, space, time and the ego are historically grown forms of thought, then the question can be raised whether they could also come to an end and whether there are indications in the present that these forms of thought are losing their formative influence.
There can be no easy answers to these questions. An important distinction relates to the implicit “backgrounds” of a scientific field in contrast to those in everyday life. A scientist who creates theories lives in at least two “worlds”: the world of science and the world of everyday life. The two worlds are loosely related to each other. A theoretical economist also sets economic actions, reflects on them and tries to establish a certain coherence with those theories that he advocates as a scientist. In the social sciences in particular, we can assume a complex and loose interaction between “science” and “everyday life”. A change of ways of thinking in one area does not automatically result in a change in the other area, but can still have a long-term effect.
In the following I make a very simple argument. It only refers to mainstream neoclassical economics. If one asks the neoclassical theory about its basic concepts, one quickly comes to the answer that these foundations do not exist - neither in their philosophical, methodological or ontological aspects. Neoclassical approaches are rationalistic systems in the philosophical sense. Rationalism has come under vehement criticism on a broad front in philosophy. For many philosophers today, rationalism is seen as a form of metaphysics. The autonomous a priori posited reason that wants to justify itself, it is said, must necessarily become reflexive and get into an indissoluble circle.  Another argument relates to the formal method itself. The so-called fundamental crisis in mathematics from the beginning of this century has shown that mathematics as a formal method cannot even fully grasp the content of its own area of knowledge. This fact is relevant for all users of mathematics, because it refers to systematic "gaps" in their areas of knowledge, which the formal method cannot in principle cover.  Further arguments relate to the metaphor of the machine and the assumption of an "objective reality" in the field of knowledge of economics. Today's physics has long since abandoned the idea of the world as a machine. Matter is definitely not a machine and cannot be captured in any machine model.
All of these criticisms refer to a specific demarcation between subject and object, which in any case has become questionable. Neoclassicism is based on the assumption that such a demarcation is possible in principle: the subject (e.g. his preferences) can be differentiated clearly and in principle from the object (e.g. the restrictions).  In the opinion of “postmodern” theorists, neoclassicism as a “modern” approach therefore has a problem with justification. Many postmodern theorists argue that the broad categories on which the natural and social sciences were based in the 18th and 19th centuries were irrevocably destroyed in the 20th century. The commonalities of the modern age since the Scientific Revolution are emphasized and the modern age or the modern age is viewed more and more as a coherent epoch.  The summary criticism of the basic concepts of modernity can also be related to neoclassical economic theory, which has not really deviated from the basic assumptions that were formulated when it was first formulated in the last third of the 19th century. The postmodern criticism is not (yet) recognized by neoclassical theorists - probably also because convincing alternative paradigms are not available.
This situation could also have something to do with the discrepancy to the ways of thinking in everyday life. A neoclassical who reads about the destruction of the implicit worldview of his approach may not be able to give this criticism any “meaning” if he cannot perceive a discrepancy to the obvious forms of thought in his everyday economic activity. The everyday life of a capitalist economy obviously follows the mentalities of a popularized Newtonian world: a world with objects, with objective-absolute space and time and with individual subjects, as the metaphor of Homo Oeconomicus means. In other words: the theoretical-principle criticisms of the mechanistic metaphor, of the assumed subject-object dichotomy, of the concept of rationality and of modernity or the modern age in general remain “misunderstood” because they have no significance for the practice of capitalist economic activity can be assigned. It is negated or stored as an interesting theoretical “puzzle”, but not systematically reflected on.
In contrast, there are many indications that in everyday life the old Newtonian categories, which are of fundamental importance for an understanding of everyday life, at least from the 18th century onwards, are gradually changing. In my opinion, this applies above all to the categories of space and the ego. This process, if reflected on by economists, could be of fundamental importance for the economic theory of the future.
The signs of increasing “spacelessness” are well known: the enormous acceleration of transport and communication systems, global corporations, globalized markets, the spread of the Internet and the mobile phone, the outsourcing of work processes from the office, virtual companies, the appearance of new global ones Communities, e.g. for ecological concerns, to virtual communities. A big trend is to organize social and economic activities in a way in which the category of space plays little or no role. Geographical location is meaningless in cyberspace. The category of space is becoming less important and almost all forecasts indicate that this trend will accelerate in the future. In everyday life there is obviously a creeping “paradigm shift” taking place, where “space” as the categorical foundation of social and economic institutions loses its importance. This could be important for the state in the future, among other things. If the modern state as a territorial state is fundamentally based on the (historical) thought-form of space, then an increasing “lack of space” could seriously undermine the conceptual basis of the state. The state as a social category could also lose influence because more and more people organize their social and economic activities in a way in which the thought-form of space is no longer needed. Space loses its “relation to reality”, parts of life are organized and thought “non-spatially” - and all institutions that are based on “space” become less “understandable”.  If people sometimes think of themselves as "spaceless" beings, then the identification with all "spatial" institutions will decrease - a large and profound process comparable to the change of institutions from the "spaceless" Middle Ages to the "spatial" modern times.
The contemporary "spaceless" thinking, however, has nothing to do with the medieval "spacelessness", it is a new phenomenon. In many cases it points to a global consciousness: “The consciousness of belonging to a world is nowadays common to all people as a collective experience and represents the groundbreaking new thing in the contemporary phase of globalization. ... The increasing awareness of being part of a larger whole , ... permeates all areas of life and knowledge " This applies to economic processes in the narrower sense, such as globalized currency, bond or stock markets, transnational companies or global competition on the Internet, as well as to more" cultural "factors such as the ecology movement, feminism or global religious groups. As a rule, global standards apply here, global reference systems are gaining in importance. Many of these new forms are “de-spatialized”: geographical locations as primary reference points for identity and everyday life are becoming less important and are being replaced by communities or contacts across the world. (Another example is the close interweaving of many scientists in a global scientific community.) The emergence of a global consciousness could perhaps usher in a historically new epoch.
Associated with these processes is a change in the mentality of the self.
Many authors agree that the modern ego is undergoing profound transformation. This relates both to the philosophical ego, whose "death" is stated by many philosophers (e.g. Nietzsche, Heidegger, Vattimo, Foucault, Rorty) and to the "lived ego" relevant in everyday life. For the latter, a “dissolution” and “liquefaction” into “part-egos” is asserted. Characteristics of the “old” identity - one could assign it to the “modern” - is a constancy and coherence over a longer period of time. In their self-image, people would have oriented themselves more towards "objective facts" such as their income, their title or their professional status. The ideal was a clear and unambiguous personality with a coherent morality for all areas of life. Ties to other people or institutions were of a principled nature and were long-term, e.g. to a company or a partner. A kind of “core identity” is assigned to the I here. Its hallmark is a solid, unambiguous and recognizable character, it manifests itself in the feeling of a stable and constant identity. The mature person, it was said here, is "self-directed", "solid", "trustworthy" and "constant" - simplified: he possesses unambiguous properties like a physical object.  (The neoclassical variant of this idea is the assumption of a given transitive order of preferences that remains constant for a long time.)
In postmodernism, however, a “dissolution” of the “core identity” is asserted. People are more flexible and variable here, less interested in constancy and coherence. They would have the ability to expand the range and diversity of their social relationships, to enter into short but intensive contacts with more people and to always show a different side of their “being” - and develop them further. The previously stable and coherent identity is thus split up into a multitude of variable, contradicting partial identities. Every person becomes a mixture of identities, Beck speaks of “patchwork identities.”  A person can no longer be clearly described according to stable character traits. The “characteristics” of people are diverse and variable. What is in the foreground depends on the respective social context and the contacts that take place here. Gergen comments on this process as a terrible process, he speaks of "multiphrenia" in analogy to schizophrenia. In summary he says: “With the postmodern consciousness begins the dissolution of the category of the self. One can no longer determine what it means to be a certain person - male or female - or even a person at all. While the category of the individual person disappears from the perspective, the consciousness of the construction comes into focus. We are increasingly realizing that who and what we are is not so much the result of our "personal being" (true feelings, deep beliefs, and the like), but of how we are organized in different social groups. The early stages of this awareness lead to a sense of self as a social metamorphosis artist manipulating one's image to achieve goals. If the category of the “true self” then moves further out of view, one becomes a mixed personality. Context and contradiction become less important. ... With the erosion of the distinction between the real and the designed, manner and substance, the concept of the individual self is no longer understandable. "
Other authors comment positively on the process of "dissolving the ego" or can recognize positive aspects and opportunities in it. Goebel and Clermont (1997) describe the generation of those born after 1965 as “life aesthetes” who live the “virtue of disorientation” (the title of their work) as a positive value. Its characteristic is an apparent amorality, the creation of individualistic life plans according to self-chosen aesthetic criteria. According to this description, the traditional Homo Oeconomicus, controlled by incentives (externally controlled), is losing weight and economic “constraints” are decreasing. Self-esteem has been decoupled from economic success, “McJobs” are experienced without feelings of failure, and unemployment is not considered a disgrace. Linear life courses are not considered attractive here, making money and meaningful activities are largely decoupled. According to the authors, a whole generation has said goodbye to career thinking - but not to thinking about money: “It is rather uninteresting whether the income is earned in the classic salaried relationship, as an entrepreneur, on the informal job market, in the form of social transfers or family support or inheritance . ” The goal is individual self-realization, not the achievement of social prestige.
“Tinkering with one's own life has become a collective experience of our western world,” say Breidenbach and Zukrigl.  In their opinion, the process of increasing differentiation finds its counterpart on a global scale. They describe the globalization of the world neither as increasing homogenization (the cliché of total world adjustment) nor as increasing fragmentation of once intact societies. The authors also interpret globalization as a process that could enable the emergence of a “culture of cultures” in the future, in which individual communities can differentiate themselves on the basis of a global frame of reference.The differentiation of the ego into partial ego, of society into radically individualized persons and the world into increasing partial cultures appears here as a common process. "De-spatialization" and "dissolution of the core ego" become accompanying and mutually reinforcing processes.
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