The Origin and Future of Economics - Time, Attention and the Attention Economy

in life •  2 years ago


The word economics is related to management. But management of what? Is it only concerning the management of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services? Or is there more to the word economics?


Here are some etymological origins of the word economy:

from Greek oikonomikos, oikonomia "household management"
from oikos "house, abode, dwelling" + nomos "manage, custom, law, usage"
from PIE root nem- "to divide, distribute, allot"

Ancient Greece

Since the etymology of the word originates in Greece, let's look at Ancient Greece.

In Ancient Greece, the household was divided into various areas for various activities. Some were assigned as roles for men and women to perform. The man was the husband, the male head and master of the house, the householder. The man represented the local family micro-economic (oikos) activities as a citizen within the larger marco-economic political city-state (polis). The production, distribution and consumption of goods and services starts at the individual and local-level to then aggregate into a state global-level dynamic of interchange.

Domain of Property

The master of the local family economic model, the man (kyrios), had control of the distribution, division and allotment (nem) that was sanctioned by custom, law or common usage (nomos) within the society or city-state (polis). Slaves were also included into the household as what the man was master over, along with the rest of his family. The house held "property" in it, and was hiding the "property" within its walls to protect the "property" from others taking it.

The man controlled, grasped and held the reigns of the direction of the household economics. He was the holder and possessor of property and ownership that encompassed the rest of the family and slaves. What was viewed as property from ownership, had value.

This directly ties into understanding economics related to money, as the possessions the householder controlled, had value assigned. The division, distribution and allotment of value within a society was why currency and coin was invented. Coinage and currency is numismatics (nomos) which has the same root as the word economics.

Euphemisms of Control, Domination and Enslavement

Hold has this meaning of hiding, and euphemism of being a guardian, protector, keeper, watching over and tending of the "flock". It can be for good, or for evil to protect and hold onto property. When it goes wrong and dark, anything can be viewed as property of ownership, such as other beings. This is not legitimate property rights. The maser and owner of others, can indeed be seen as a "guardian" or "protector", because they want to guard and protect their possessions, such as those they enslave through domination.

To hold other beings under your control for possession and domination, to be master over them, is not right. You can hold a thought, and be master over it, and you can hold other material things and be master over them, but not be master and hold other free beings. This then becomes overt predatory dominator living and is immoral at its core.

This is an authoritarian domination mindset to control others as your property because they have value for your survival. The authoritarian state also holds citizens as valued property for it's own survival.


The State "Family" as the Larger Master and Ruler of Slaves

For the centralized authoritarian state, the local family is viewed as a part of the regional or global statist "family" that are connected through economic valuation. Just as the man, the "husband" of the household, was the master and owner of his property within it, so too is the larger city-state (polis) the owner of all the citizens within it. These are circles within circles of ownership and domination. From the state (polis), politics (politikos), to citizens (polites), husband (kyrios), wife, down to the outright obvious slaves. Each rung is owned and controlled by the rung above.

Anything we take grasp of and hold, we dominate over as long as we can keep our grasp on it. The state seeks to maintain a grasp and control of it's citizens to ensure it's survival. We are obedient slaves with degrees of freedom, but most of us think we are truly "free".

We take control and dominate to do with as we please. Men adopted this worldview to dominate any being they could through the power of their hands, including their woman. This dominator mindset, through thinking anything can be possessed as property, leads to trying to conquer others: to conquest, war, murder, pillage and rape.

All of this dealt with theft of other's property: from life, to material and sexual property of the body. Whatever the delusional calcified ego, in psychopathic predator domination, can take hold of and manipulate, they view as theirs, owned. Anyone subjectively weaker than them in some way, such as physically, is an open target for their domination.

This also applies psychologically, through the manipulation of consciousness, whereby someone can dominate the consciousness and will of another to subtly and covertly direct their actions and behavior accordingly (as much of my work on the Power of Consciousness has emphasized).

Even today, men, women and children all over the world are sold into horrors, they are helpless. Psychopathy in behavior towards other innocent beings is rooted in the same underlying disunity and disharmony with Moral Truth/Law.

A Lower, Falser, "Unrealer" Eonomic Model

This may be the origin of economics in Ancient Greece, but it's not the ideal of economics that we can use as a model or framework to exchange value.

Anarchy means no masters or rulers over others, hence no slaves. These earlier economic models and word meanings emphasized being a master over others in many ways, even promoting outright explicit slavery.

For economics to be be a better model for us to use, greater morality is required. This can lead us towards greater anarchistic models of living and a more prosperous economic model for living.

Origin and Future of Economics

If we think about the development of economics prior to Ancient Greece, we can already see that it started with the family unit.

It starts with the family. Before there is a social economics with a medium of exchange for goods or services like coins or currency, there was reciprocal exchange of other kinds.

We are each born, which necessitates a father and mother. This is the first setting for social interaction and reciprocal exchange. We start with ourselves, and then include others in a social setting. The first such social setting is of the family and where the family dwells, a home, or household if there was indeed a an actual "house". Regardless, we can assume people have always built some form of shelter as a dwelling for their family kin.

Awareness, Time and Attention

Before any medium of exchange like money, the basic economics is what we spend time on and pay attention to within the social settings of our family. This is the first form of currency. The current of energy from of conscious awareness that is directed towards aspects of living, such as towards others we live with. We spend time with others, and we pay attention to them.

This is the original economic root causal source. The original currency. The original exchange between each other. It all started with an attention economy.

Attention Economy

We can recognize that our time and attention is limited in life, and is itself an underlying force of energy, a current and currency, that drives other derivative currencies we place value on, such as goods and services for us to exchange. What we value, put weight and importance into, is determined by the attention and focus of our awareness.

Our attention being directed towards one thing or the other, is what we tend to value more than other things we pay less attention to. This is how we assign value and worth to much in our lives, regardless of it being a good or service, or not.


Advertising and marketing understands this and tries to direct our attention towards what they are selling for us to buy into. We can buy into ideas being sold, from politics, religions, "New Age" thought, and anything else, true or false. There is a lot around us that is being sold to our consciousness through the awareness of what we pay attention to.

How is our attention and valuation being done? Can it be done on a more authentic basis of accurate knowledge about what benefits, harms or stagnates our own personal development or the development of the world as a whole?

We can circle back around to the original source. We can learn how to better manage our own economic currencies of awareness, time and attention. We can change how we value certain things in life. We can pay more time and attention to learning about ourselves and the world. We can learn more about the basic "capital", the most important and chief value that determines the quality and condition of our lives: Moral Truth/Law.

This is the capital and currency that has been lacking in much of human history for us to really progress forward as a species and bring about true prosperity, peace and the freedom of anarchistic living. We can stop participating or supporting violence, harm, enslavement and murder of other innocent beings. Moral Truth is the Way and Path.

No masters. No rulers. No slaves. Freedom for all. Anarchy with Moral Truth, Law and Rules.

As has been shown in history, many people have valued domination, control and enslavement of others. This is shown in the etymology of our words relating to economy, as I have demonstrated above. We need to understand what we have been doing in our past history, and how we are still doing the same things now. Then we can move forward into the future more accurately with clarity and vision to derive better purchasing power over goods and services that help us as individuals and as a society.

First comes the economy of managing our consciousness and conscious awareness: what we pay attention to and spend time on. Secondly comes the economy of managing our conscience valuations: how we morally or immorally treat others. Third comes the economy of managing our goods and services that is determined by the quality of the first two economies. These are all factors of value, weight and importance in our lives that we can produce, distribute and consume as a society.

We need to get back to the root causal source of how this all begins: our consciousness. Then we can build up from a grounded solid foundation of willful, voluntary, consciously aware self-direction of our time and attention, rather than involuntary, unconscious, unaware, automated and conditioned direction of our time and attention. We can direct ourselves in a more moral capacity and shift our way of life away from weaponry, wars and oppression. It all starts with evolution in consciousness to educate ourselves out of our attachment to our current condition of reality.

[Image sources: 1, 2, 3]

Thank you for your time and attention! I appreciate the knowledge reaching more people. Take care. Peace.

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Author: Kris Nelson / @krnel
Date: 2016-09-26, 1:20am EST

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Enjoying the series and it's changing how I look at things. I look forward to how this evolves.

Thanks for sharing Kris, important lessons to be learned from history...

I'm not sure if you have read Mises, since I have not seen any mention, but in his book Human Action ( ) 'attention economy' is in fact the centre of the entire treatise. Specifically, the process of decision between what one will do, and what one will not do, since the time of our life is the most scarce resource we have.

The central axiom of this book also is all about how we do the decision making process, the Action Axiom, which gives you the primary rules by which we evaluate and economise our use of our time (and attention). It is about minimising pain, and increasing pleasure.


No, I have not read anything on attention economies, so I don't know if what I say is what other people say. I'm just saying what is logical related to word meanings. Thanks.

I don't accept basing decisions on pleasure vs. pain alone. The pleasure trap and "feeling-good" is a convenient deception that blinds one to moral understanding.


It is central to the psychology of motivation, and morality is not the only criteria, though it is important. Feeling bad can be also caused by regrets from violating one's moral code.


Yes, I understand the role of pleasure seeking vs. pain avoidance in motivation. These are subconscious unconscious low consciousness bio-nature automated involuntary unaware motivations and drives in life. Morality is about higher consciousness awareness, willful, voluntary decision making that can rise above the lower base "feelings" that drive, motivate and control us in life.


Regret is higher order, but it can feel no less horrible than physical pain, in acute moments, as well as a chronic, low grade persistent feeling, and in fact all high order, negative judgements shape motivation no less. But for much longer. Moral codes tend to refine and improve through experience of high order positive feelings also. Like for me, realising the central importance of property rights, massively altered my attitude, more than any petty base emotion.


And that understanding of property rights, is based in higher order thought, not in emotions. This emphasizes my point about higher vs. lower consciousnesses processes, of conscious awareness processing to direct ourselves, vs. unconscious unaware processing to direct us. I don't deny the use of both positive and negative emotions as positive or negative themselves. I'm talking about not being led by the low limbic brain of emotions alone, the commander needs to be the neocortical higher functionality to further process emotional feedback.


Upvoted for Mises Human Action. I never thought I'd ever interact with anyone else who knows what praxeology is.

If you interested in Mises you're most likely interested in Rothbard. I'm doing a series on Freedom where I am essentially giving my perspective on Rothbard's point of view from Ethics of Liberty. I do disagree with him on the foundation of natural rights. He takes a very objective approach and I tend to disagree with how he reaches his foundation of self-ownership, but I do reach the same conclusion - just through a subjective route. Anyway, check it out. Follow. Let me know what you think.


I take the view that self ownership springs from the exclusive capability control the vessel of the body, the primary piece of property. The fact that any other party must threaten the interests of life of a person to force action is the inverse and confirming complement of the assertion that the individual voluntarily acts. From there, for me, it is about verifiable transfers of property, such as rent of labor or selling something acquired. I don't even think you have to go into homesteading anyway. I don't think that nothing has been unowned in this world for at least 10,000 years, though sometimes they are absentee landlords or lack a concept of private property, such as the absurd concept of public property.

I have yet to read any significant amount of Rothbard, his writing style is too dry and methodical. Mises is methodical but drips with the juice of - I can't put my finger on it exactly but I read Human Action twice, I don't think any other academic text ever written has inspired me to plough through 900 pages, twice. In my view, Rothbard really achieved nothing other than to make explicit the un-drawn conclusions that Mises refuses to make. Like the thing about God and the thing about Government... He says central control is bad, and the 'third way' is even worse, because it distorts the market even more unpredictably than a central bureau like in communist or fascist governments.

Well, yeah, I'll have a look at that :> There is often ideas I stumble on when I look at other people's way of expressing a concept. My hobby is learning things, especially conflicting theories, and then discerning the higher level abstract glue between them and then restating both models modified by this insight. Doesn't matter what the subject is, if there is a controversy, I have an eye for that overlap and eliminating the conflicting premises while retaining the consistent.

I was happily surprised to see that my methodology seemed to satisfy questions about a physics theory of mine, and I think that in any field, many times there is makeshifts people don't realise they have in their model, that is incorrect, and that's how there comes to be a controversy in the first place. Like the idea that gravity is a primary force, causing a rift between Newton, Einstein and Quantum physics, for which many makeshifts like String Theory, Dark Energy and others have sprung up. But they are all makeshifts. The answer, in my view, lies in looking at the data, and finding the way in which it all links together. The controversy is gone and conflicting theories are integrated.


Exactly, free will over the actions you take proves self-ownership. The problem, I find, is convincing someone that using force to exert your will over another person should be abstained from. People have been so thoroughly indoctrinated by state education that they believe it a necessary evil. I guess that's why I enjoy Rothbard, like you said, he does explicitly lay this problem at the feet of government. Rightfully so, I think. I believe what he calls for in many of his writings is not a political shift but a ethical shift. That even the best government we could envision when given a clean slate in 1776 in the United States still uses coercion to enforce its policies and is inherently immoral when examined through the lens of ethics. That government along with all other coercive institutions should be abolished.

I upvoted you for having my attention for a while :-)

I agree with article.

Question I have - do you think that this economic model can be implemented in practice?


Yes, if we choose to do it by evolving consciousness to be able to.

Hi @krnel, just stopping by to let you know you were one of my favourite reads today and I've included you in my Steemit Ramble. You can read what I wrote about your post here

Loved the post, look forward to reading more