Animal spirits (Keynes)

Animal spirits (Keynes)

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"Animal spirits" is the term John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

 used in his 1936 book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money to describe emotions which influence human behavior
Human behavior
Human behavior refers to the range of behaviors exhibited by humans and which are influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority, rapport, hypnosis, persuasion, coercion and/or genetics....

 and can be measured in terms of consumer confidence
Consumer confidence
Consumer confidence is an economic indicator which measures the degree of optimism that consumers feel about the overall state of the economy and their personal financial situation. How confident people feel about stability of their incomes determines their spending activity and therefore serves as...

. Trust is also included or produced by "animal spirits". Several articles and at least two books with a focus on "animal spirits" were published in 2008 and 2009 as a part of the Keynesian resurgence.

The original passage by Keynes reads:

Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits - a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.


Keynes seems to be referencing David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

's term for spontaneous motivation. The term itself is drawn from the Latin spiritus animales which may be interpreted as the spirit (or fluid) that drives human thought, feeling and action.

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