SuperFreakonomics & The Greatest Question Ever Asked

I was a big fan of the book Freakonomics and have a copy of SuperFreakonomics on my bedstand. Today on the Freakonomics blog, a blog about human behavior and incentives, Stephen Dubner writes today about what might be the greatest question he's ever been asked. It's from a journalist in India:

You state that your book is based on one fundamental assumption about human nature: people respond to incentives. Which is another way of saying that people are basically selfish. Take someone like Jesus Christ. What was his “incentive” to go on the cross?
Dubner is looking for perspectives on this question. Surf on over to the Freakonomics blog and let him know what you think.

My take: It's difficult to fit kenosis and agape into traditional models of Homo economicus.

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2 thoughts on “SuperFreakonomics & The Greatest Question Ever Asked”

  1. Humans are born "selfish, self serving" for a reason. If they need something they need to let mom know. There is a deep seated need to be sure we are cared is self preservation.

    Jesus comes from "other than". His needs are met even from before our time began. As one with the Father He is not like us and so inherently capable of sacrifice of self for others (us). Our capacity to be sarifice for others comes to us only through the Father, like Jesus. We however find it more difficult to be submerged with the Father and fight for our own will.

  2. Its difficult to fit *human beings* into traditional models of Homo economicus. Parents routinely sacrifice themselves for their children. Friends for friends. Siblings for siblings. We share with others all the time--even until it hurts. Life is not a zero sum game. Even less family life, love, friendship and communities.

    In addition we don't have perfect information, we don't know the true costs of things, and we make our decisions based on many variables that homo economicus pretend don't exist. I find freakonomics et al to reduce to this blazingly stupid insight "its cheaper!" and when you start saying "is it really?" and "for whom?" "when" "under what circumstances?" "what about externalities?" "what about opportunity cost?" "what about regulation?, custom, gender, power,"etc...etc...etc... they quickly retreat and say "well, my model doesn't have to account for that."

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