About The Author

I’m currently doing an MA in Economics of China at Fudan University in Shanghai. After that, I hope to go to get a job in China, likely in finance, and someday do a Ph.D in economics.

I’ve decided to specialize in computational economics, delving into topics such as algorithmic game theory, recursive models in macroeconomics, and the use of machine learning in econometrics. I’m very much attracted by the mix of very abstract notions—such as Turing machines, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, and game semantic models for programming language verification—integrated seamlessly with very practical applications. Having a language- and writing-based educational background, I’m currently trying to ‘catch up’ by learning to code in Python and R, as well as learning as much mathematics as I can. As I get better, I’ll likely post tutorial-like posts to help consolidate my knowledge. On the philosophical end, I think that computational methods open up many interesting questions about how it is that models represent the world, and I think it would be worthwhile to outline how algorithmic economics constitutes a ‘school of thought’ rather than just a set of tools.

To keep myself motivated, a long-running project of mine involves interpreting economics (as well as finance and business) through François Laruelle’s Non-Philosophy. I’m calling this ‘econo-fiction’. Its main purpose is to oppose the typical account of how economic models are imposed on the world to find out more about it—which I think is far too abstract, since economists never have direct access to a ‘world’ by which we can judge our models. (And if we did, then the model would be redundant.) If economists actually believed this story, the discipline would be structured in a completely different way than how it is. In fact, I think that many of the arguments of heterodox economics arise from treating economic statements as representational. In contrast, I use avant-garde Continental philosophy to develop an interpretation of economics (in the manner of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory) that is non-representational. I define economics as the science of non-conceptual social relations, and argue that the most valuable elements of economics are precisely what can’t be expressed discursively. So as you can imagine, it’s kind of tough to write about.

Consequently, there’s very little (interesting) work integrating Continental philosophy and business. A major motivation for me is that I find Marxism incredibly dull, which ticks off a lot of philosophy people who think that Marx’s conclusions are obvious. They aren’t. On the other hand, most businesspeople see little point in grandiose concepts, or else feel that I’m talking about simple ideas in overly complicated language. I therefore make a great deal of effort to write accessibly, and my TL;DR section at the bottom of each entry is intended to make these simple ideas explicit, while my actual entries are geared toward showing the ‘math’ behind each idea. I also plan to integrate more actual math into my posts over time.

What draws me to (applied) critical theory is mainly how its intricate concepts and methods can be combined with otherwise dry subject matter in order to make it ‘sexy’. In other words, injecting boring topics (e.g. accounting, real estate) with theory helps me to take an interest in them, whereas typically I would not have had the motivation to investigate them on their own. It’s like cheating at life. My goal is to be able to write about econometrics (or whatever) in a way that makes people, including you, want to learn more about it.

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  1. An interesting series of influences. Much luck on learning the Russian, however. It’s a difficult but worthwhile language.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I ask myself on a somewhat regular basis, “Why oh why did I have to pick such a hellish language?”, so I’m actually quite glad to hear that. By the way, as a fluent speaker, have you noticed any Sapir-Whorffian nuances of thought that Russian allows and English doesn’t?

    It’s funny, I was just thinking about you: last night I randomly came across your comment on a Circle Takes The Square interview here. I agree with you, of course; it appalls me how so many amazing artists are so poorly-spoken (especially CTTS, of all bands!). It’s precisely that disparity between the artist’s conscious & unconscious thought that I find fascinating, however.

  3. I generally agree with the Kantian premise that the artist is unable to fully express the conceptual underpinnings of his work of art, and that his relationship to his own work is rather intuitive. The Modernist avant-garde was perhaps better equipped to make sense of their own work, since they developed such elaborate theoretical systems to explain their artistry. However, I’m really not a fan of Circle Takes the Square at all. I wrote up a joke review of As the Roots Undo in the style of a Spinozist geometrical proof. You can access it here: here.

  4. I am vanquished.

    At least allow me to minimize the damage by stating that music (and art in general) is not particularly important to me.

    This is going on my list of awesome anecdotes.

  5. In answer to your question about Russian, I can say that certain words carry a sort of metaphysical importance. There are catchalls, which come in handy in nearly every situation (“давай!”), but also words like the noun-form of быть, which signifies everyday life as well as a mode of being, a general state of existence in the world. There are also certain jokes which register only in a Soviet mentality, which are even more specific than Russian as a language. All the jokes revolving around things people heard “у армянского радио” are of this variety.

  6. HEYY GRAHAM! Alex and I say hi(:

  7. Cintra Cady Agee

    This is a message from the future you…

    Thesis Antithesis
    /\
    \/
    Synthesis

    Read Hegel before Marx, Marx before Foucault, and Foucault before Scott’s ‘Seeing Like a State’ (quite simply a brilliant book).

    PS: Read ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence’–you have the mind for it.

    PPS: Keep going, please. You’re walking a beautiful path.

    • Thanks CCA,

      I’ve actually read Hegel’s Phenomenology (as well as some of his auxiliary texts), and the only reason I haven’t begun to peruse Marx closely is that I want to finish Ricardo first, who influenced Marx’s economic thought considerably. As for Foucault, I’ve been put off reading him until I go through Heidegger, since on his deathbed Foucault admitted that the philosopher who had influenced him most was, in fact, Heidegger. (Interestingly, however, he had a book by Spinoza on his bedside table.) I’ve drawn numerous flowcharts for who influenced whom, and have resigned myself to a semi-chronological trek through intellectual history.

      I have heard of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but what I heard made it sound like yet another example of nebulous humanism of the ‘inspirational’ variety, but you seem discerning enough that I’ll give it a try sometime. As well, I’ve read an excerpt from Scott, and was particularly impressed by his use of beekeeping as a metaphor for the simplification performed by states; I’ll keep it in mind.

  8. Your blog is very cool, man! But I think that it will be more cool if you could explain in which way the use of capitalism will be a positive source for getting society to a place where owners and workers would have a good life.

  9. I’d skip Zen & Motorcycles etc—you’re on a more interesting path yourself. Thane Plambeck (here posting as Dr. I.J. Matrix, for some reason, probably because you’re using WordPress).

  10. Hey buddy! Just dropping by to say hi :)

  11. if you don’t contact me in 5 mins, I swear I will leak everything I can

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