Soul, Spirit, Market & Development…
With India going through an economic crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, reportedly, mentioned that his Government would do everything possible to bring back the ‘Animal Spirit‘ of the Traders!
Naturally, it seems that the majority of Indians has failed to realise what their PM actually wanted to state through this. It is quite natural, as less than a handful of them seem to possess basic ideas about the ‘General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’… also, most of them have never heard the name of John Maynard Keynes, the English Economist who is popularly known as the Father of Modern Economics! As the Indian Premier did not mention the name of Keynes and his General Theory…, one might have pondered about the Animal Spirit the PM was talking about on television…
The Greeks had reportedly used the term in a rare first 2,500 years ago! Erasistratus (304 BC – 250 BC), a Greek Anatomist and Royal Physician under Seleucus I Nicator of Syria, had conducted researches on the Human Body and came to the conclusion that various types of energies were there inside the human body. He mentioned that these energies are ‘Spiritus Naturalis’, ‘Spiritus Vitalis’ and ‘Spiritus Animalis’. According to the Greek Anatomist, the birthplace of Spiritus Animalis is the Brain, as this energy controls the thoughts and emotions of people!
Nearly 2,000 years later, French Mathematician and Philosopher René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650) came out with a slightly different definition, as he stressed that animal spirits are produced in the blood and are responsible for the physical stimulation, which causes the body to move. In affecting the muscles, the Animal Spirits “move the body in all the different ways it is capable of”… in other words, Animal Spirit is the connecting force between the Human Soul and the outside world. Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist and essayist David Hume, too, accepted Descartes’ definition!
Business leaders would be in deep trouble if they consider these definitions because the method of utilising this internal energy in the commercial field was not known until the 19th Century. John M Keynes brought the term Animal Spirit in mainstream politics in the 20th Century! However, he mentioned the phrase only thrice in his General Theory…. Actually, the business experts have popularised the term. In fact, they use two phrases: ‘Animal Spirit’ and ‘Invisible Hand’.
Perhaps, it is not a coincidence that when Adam Smith penned his ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ in 1776 (250 years before Keynes!), he did not give much importance to the concept of Invisible Hand. Business experts also deserve the credit for establishing this term in mass culture!
Nowadays, when we use this particular term, we tend to deviate from its original meaning. The Indian PM is no exception to this. The concept of Animal Spirit is closely linked to Intuition, which cannot be established by reasoning, as it depends mostly on reasonings in the mind. It is basically an invitation to take risk, as well. Unlike the business experts, Keynes clearly mentioned in his writings that the concepts of profit and loss are closely linked to the Invisible Hand! The Indian Premier, too, did not spend much time (in fact, any time) to discuss about profit and loss.
Meanwhile, investors are well aware of the fact that it is better to keep the boat in an anchor during a storm. It seems that the current state of the Indian Economy would not encourage them to invest (their money) in big projects, despite the PM’s assurance that he would bring the Animal Spirit back among business leaders…
If a person wants to attract Capital with the help of the concept of Animal Spirit especially after leaving the responsibility of development to the market, can it then be conjectured that the person has somewhat misplaced the relevant ideas in this regard?
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