The Godless Religion: Economics, Equilibrium, and the Copernican Revolution

The paper argues that a formal, and fruitful, historical analogy can be drawn between economics and a religious hierarchy, most notably the mediaeval Catholic church. This idea was fully developed in Freeman (2007), ‘Heavens Above: what equilibrium means for economics’, in Mosini (ed) Equilibrium in Economics, London: Routledge.

The paper draws an analogy between the resistance of economics to non-equilibrium formulations, and the resusteance of the Ptolemaics – supported by the church – to Galileo’s cosmological philosophy. This resistance, I argued, revolved around the implicit threat of this cosmology to the social and political order, which relied for its morality on the supposition that the heavens were the location of perfect matter, from which were derived the laws and privileges of the feudal order.