Dionysian Economics

Making Economics a Scientific Social Science

  • Authors
  • Benjamin Ward

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Economic Theory as Physics

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 3-7
    3. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 9-14
    4. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 21-29
    5. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 31-37
    6. Back Matter
      Pages 39-40
  3. Branches of Economic Theory—Differential Disappointments

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 41-41
    2. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 43-52
    3. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 67-77
    4. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 79-91
    5. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 93-100
    6. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 101-109
    7. Back Matter
      Pages 111-113
  4. What Now?

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 115-115
    2. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 117-121
    3. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 123-131
    4. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 133-177
    5. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 179-190
    6. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 191-216
    7. Benjamin Ward
      Pages 217-225
    8. Back Matter
      Pages 227-231
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 233-283

About this book


Nietzsche distinguished between two forces in art: Apollonian, which represents order and reason, and Dionysian, which represents chaos and energy. An ideal work of art combines these two characteristics in a believable, relatable balance. Economists, Ward argues, have operated for too long under the assumption that their work reflects scientific, Apollonian principals when these simply do not or cannot apply: "constants" in economics stand in for variables, mathematical equations represent the simplified ideal rather than the complex reality, and the core scientific principal of replication is all but ignored. In Dionysian Economics, Ward encourages economists to reintegrate the standard rigor of the scientific method into their work while embracing the fact that their prime indicators come from notoriously chaotic and changeable human beings. Rather than emphasizing its shortfalls compared to an extremely Apollonian science, such as physics, economics can aspire to the standards of a science that accounts for considerable Dionysian variation, such as biology. The book proposes that economists get closer to their dynamic objects of study, that they avoid the temptation to wish away dynamic complexity by using simplifying assumptions, and that they recognize the desire to take risks as fundamentally human.


approximation permeation reductionism external validity forecasting inertial economy general equilibrium growth theory modeling operational science economic theory equilibrium

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking