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Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,125 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Tomas Sedlacek has shaken the study of economics as few ever have. Named one of the "Young Guns" and one of the "five hot minds in economics" by the Yale Economic Review, he serves on the National Economic Council in Prague, where his provocative writing has achieved bestseller status. How has he done it? By arguing a simple, almost heretical proposition: economics is ulti ...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published by oxford university press (first published 2009)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,125 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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Though I didn't agree with all of his conclusions, Sedlacek's book left me with many things to consider. I do think he's correct in his main argument, that the study of economics has become too focused on econometrics to its detriment. A return to a more philosophical, ethical approach might be of use. And I also found his comments on consumer culture to be profound. Can we reach a 'bliss point' by buying things or raising our income? Or can myths and other old views of economics have something ...more
Adam Shields
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Short review: This is one of the best economic books I have read. It is a wide ranging book about the purpose and history of economics. The first half is about how economics have been understood by looking at ancient historical documents (Epic of Gilgamesh, Old Testament, New Testament, various Greek philosophers). Then it moves to how early economics viewed economics. The last section is about the limits of economics and a call for economics to move away from mathematics determinism and to a re ...more
Tomáš Daněk
Mar 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
1) Economy is not a real (exact) science.
2) Money is not everything.
Wow, big deal.
Save yourself time and money and read Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Musím říct, že jediný důvod, proč jsem knihu četla, byla přednáška na TV Noe :) Zní to zvláštně, ale jednou jsem při přepínání televize narazila na kanálu Noe na jakousi přednášku, byla tam spousta starších lidí a přednášel jim velice zvláštní výřečný pán, který vesele, výrazně a taky svérázně gestikuloval. Neviděla jsem to od začátku, takže jsem se jen chytala náznaků a došlo mi, že se jedná o snahu poukázat na ekonomii v Bibli. Tenhle pořad mě naprosto dostal, protože jsem se poprvé v životě s ...more
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Definitely an erudite book on many levels... but sort of boring in other ways. It would be perfect as a series of talks belonging to some "humanities festival" for a liberal arts college, or an undergraduate course that is aimed at giving students a chance to do close reading of major western texts focused on a single theme (economics).

Which is another way of saying that I think plenty of people will enjoy this book, but it wasn't really what I was hoping for; I ended up mostly skimming it. I do
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
If you want a short textbook on philosophy, this is for you. Don’t expect much economics though.
One of very few things I’ve learnt from this book is that the author is well-read. Unfortunately that doesn’t make it readable. The quotations that amaze you at first begin to feel annoying as you progress and make you think ok, we have heard this a thousand times, do you have an idea of your own? He has indeed, in the end, but nothing more than sheer common sense. Spoiler: overconsumption is bad.
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
I heard Sedlacek had problems to submit his PhD thesis which he then published (reworked) in a book form.
I initially thought this is just another example how wretched current economics is, but in fact I tend to agree now - at best this belongs to the literature department.

The book is roughly split into 2 parts. The first part is a tour of western literary cannon (well small part of it - Gilgamesh, Bible, bit of jewish tradition, scholastics...) ending with Adam Smith. Sedlacek provides literary
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Táto kniha je iná, ako píše Der Spiegel. Začala som ju čítať asi pred rokom (a pol!) a niekde pri strane 100 som sa uzniesla, že toto bude asi ďalšia z múdrych kníh, ktoré nedočítam. No a teraz na ňu asi dozrel čas, lebo som ju nedávno znova vzala do rúk, a strašne ma baví.

"Akú má dobro logiku? Koreluje vôbec nami konané (outgoing) dobro či zlo s dobrom či zlom (spravodlivou odmenou), ktoré sa nám deje?"

"Aký zmysel má merať bohatstvo, ak som si naň požičal?"

"Ak ľudia maximalizujú úžitok, čo sa p
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Although the title contains the word economics, the book is more a concentrated history of philosophy, human culture, and civilisation. As the reader learns at the end of this book, Sedlacek's treatise is meant as a plea for refocusing on normative economics than the mathematics dominated positive economics of today.

Despite that the text often lacks drawing conclusions and does not explain how the risen questions and topics apply to economics.

Readers should have basic knowledge in macro economic
تاريخ رشته اي خاص، مطالعه گسترده ترين دامنه ممكن فهرست مطالبي است كه در آن رشته عرضه مي كند.
اين كتاب سعي مي كنه به سوال جواب بده كه معني اقتصاد چيست؟ چگونه مي توانين آن را عملا به كار ببريم؟ و چگونه مي توان آن را به ديگر رشته ها به روشي قابل فهم پيوند داد؟
كتاب خوانشي با پستي و بلندي فراوان دارد و گاهي به شدت انتزاعي مي شود. هرچند خود نويسنده در پانويس كتاب توضيحات بسيار مبسوطي از مسائل داده با اين حال با توجه به اطلاعات كم در مورد كتابهايي مثل عهد عتيق و عهد جديد يا درباره مسحيت و آدام اسميت خي
Radek Saturka
Dec 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Nečekal jsem mnoho, nedostal jsem mnoho. Z mého pohledu zbytečná kniha.
Mike Peleah
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The guy drives me crazy trying to persuade that gender equality is much higher at distant districts of that (quite patriarchal) country, than in capital. The best argument he uses “econometrics shows this, and you know, math doesn’t lie”. When we run down devils in details, it turned out that the guy used share if girls among higher education students as a metrics of gender equality. In distant districts higher education facilities are limited to medical and pedagogical ones, overpopulated by gi ...more
Vladimir Baydin
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You will find this book controversial at the very least. Sometimes, it’s illogical, repetitive, and purely structured.
Still, I highly recommend to read this book for its anti-mainstream spirit. The author has brought brilliant questions everyone should ask him/herself once in a while.
Ffion Wyn
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I will confess that i didn't really read this from cover to cover but I enjoyed dipping in and out
Capitalism is messed up man....
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Economics of Good and Evil is certainly different. Despite its title, one won't find any fomulas, models, graphs or statistics inside of its covers. It discusses current (messy) state of the world economy but it doesn't offer any solutions. No easy steps to follow to become super-successful or 5 worst actions to avoid in your life if you want to become healthy and happy.

The first part argues that economics is more than just mathematics. It evolved from philosophy, ethics and other "soft" discipl
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Seth by: Adam Shields
This is a difficult book to classify, and thus to review. It's not a book of economics, but rather about economics, particularly the modern focus on mathematics to the exclusion of ethics. It's pretty abstract and philosophical. I almost gave up a number of times in the first 150 pages, as I slogged through Sedlacek picking out and commenting on the economic bread crumbs found in the most ancient of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh, followed by Greek thought, Stoicism, historic Christianity, an ...more
Iva Jar
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Podobně jako Descartův důkaz existence boha přesvědčí ty, kteří jsou už o Jeho existenci předem přesvědčeni a nepřesvědčí ty, kteří o jeho existenci pochybují, tato kniha potěší ekonomické nadšence a naopak ekonomické "odpůrce" asi nenadchne.
Sama nemám moc ráda ekonomické bláboly, ale protože Tomáš Sedláček je pro mě jediný současný ekonom, který hlásá vtipné a trefné myšlenky, rozhodla jsem se podívat na to, jak vidí ekonomii on.
Bohužel, ani jeho přednes mě nepřesvědčil o tom, že by ekonomie ne
Bronislava Sencakova
Pre mňa, matfyzáckeho ekonomického neznaboha, veľmi podnetná a prekvapivá kniha. Prekvapivá v oboch smeroch - že ekonómia nie je až taká paveda, ako som si myslela, ale ani taká exaktná veda, ako sa často tvári.

Kniha mi dala pomerne slušnú základnú odpoveď na moju večnú otázku: prečo (si myslíme, že) je nutný/dobrý neustály rast. Počas študentských krčmových debát som sa vždy dozvedela len to, že "je to zložité a na dlhšiu debatu" a proste celkovo zahmlené viac než Avalon. No a sama som nemala c
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very intellectual and informative Book, but his style of writing is pleasant . Sedlacek manages to explain difficult topics in comprehensive manner, so that everyone could understand it even, if one doesn't know much about economy. I particularly liked the fact that he criticized the domination of mathematics in the economy and regret the lack and disregard of other subjects like philosophy, history, ethnology, etc.
He suggest to change some of our habits (egoism, to achieve fame and profit, t
Na knížce se mi paradoxně nejvíce líbil konec - tedy ne úvahy a exkurz do historie ekonomie a hledání odpovědi, zda je lepší "být zlý či hodný", ale zamyšlení nad současnou situací (krize) a úvahy na ekonomií jako takovou. Autor má v oblasti velký přehled, na můj vkus vše ale příliš provazuje s křesťanstvím, sem tam odbíhá a občas se i opakuje. Osobně by se mi více líbíla forma sbírky úvah, než historický výlet. Na druhou stranu jsem si odnesl spoustu podnětů k zamyšlení, takže knížku můžu jenom ...more
Birdbath Birdbath
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book googling "economics of good" so I was primed to enjoy it and was in the mood. It delivered. The author meandered a bit but in the end I was left full and satisfied. Do read it. I found it free online.
Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd
A painstakingly researched new approach to assessing and shaping economic policy with visionary ideas and an extreme end.

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

It should be noted in advance that, in contrast to some favorite science books and thus designed for easier accessibility work, the author can not obscure some dry text passages. What stands between the histories and religious narratives, namely the great interpretations
Lars Sanders
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
everyone whit an opinion about the current economic crisis should study this and think again
Nathan Albright
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge-2018
I read this book because it was mentioned so often in a book I read on strong towns that I figured it was worth a read simply to better understand the context it was mentioned in, and my feelings on the book are somewhat complicated.  It is hard to understand exactly what this writer is about.  It is sure, for example, that he has an ulterior motive and is not laying his cards on the table openly, but at the same time he says much that can be appreciated and enjoyed even if I cannot find him to ...more
Jelle de Jong
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jelle by: Hans de Jong
De heer Sedláček heeft een boek geschreven. Dat is opletten geblazen, want hij is geen kleine jongen. Hij was adviseur van Václav Havel (de laatste president van Tsjecho-Slowakije en de eerste van Tsjechië).. Door Yale Economic Review is hij uitgeroepen tot een van de 'vijf spannendste denkers in de economie', wat overigens een twijfelachtig compliment is. Tegenwoordig is hij de eerst macro-econoom van de grootste Tjeschische bank en lid van de Nationale Economische Raad in Praag.

Het onderstaand
David Shelton
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good book but it didn't quite get to the level I was hoping. The main premise is that the field of economics has become too dependent on math and data and has become disconnected from other fields such as moral philosophy and theology. In other words, it's become to disconnected from real life. The author spends the first half of the book showing how people in the past saw economics through these very different lenses. The author then uses these sources to show how modern day e ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Na Fakultě humanitních studií se běžně stává, že student po prvním roce nabyde dojmu (tedy pokud není vyhozen), že se po přečtení dvaceti knih seznamu povinné literatury stal mudrcem 1A kategorie a může kecat do všeho (ano, přiznávám, i já jsem podlehl). Naštěstí se z tohoto dojmu většinou dříve nebo později vyléčí a do světa vstupuje jako celkem normální zdravý jedinec. Panu Sedláčkovi se bohužel z přesvědčení o dokonalosti svého ducha vystoupit nepovedlo a dokonce napsal i knihu, kterou mu boh ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ekonómia bola kedysi úzko spätá s morálkou a etikou. Bývavalo. Dnes (aspoň v dobe vzniku tejto knihy, v čase ekonomickej krízy) však ekonómia o niečom takom ako hodnoty nechce počuť. Dnes je to veda, plná matematických funkcií, štatistík a na mieru presných formuliek či nič nehovoriacich modelov. Sedláček toto kritizuje. Najprv pár osobných postrehov.

Mne osobne sa na knihe páčil Sedláčkov spôsob uvažovania a práca s použitými textami. Myslím si, že táto kniha je povinná jazda pre každého študen
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Світ сам по собі, без спостерігачів - хаотичний. (...) Конструкт (математична формула, принцип, закон), відповідно до якого світ "поводиться", полягає не в самому світі, а в нас" (с).

Одна з "найдовших" книг останнього мого часу - читала більш ніж пів року, а саме з минулого літа аж до теперішньої весни. Читала зважено, повільно, з мільйонами підкреслень та коментарів на полях - це книга, яка не приносить цілісності, але безсумнівно формує у твоїй голові усвідомлення нових, ще не поставлених зап
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book that you need a bit of knowledge in philosophy, psychology, religions and economics to fully savour it.

I was thinking it is a book mainly about economics, but I think it is more about philosophy, which is great because I like interdisciplinary topics.

The book is getting better every moment you read, so read to the end. It begins a bit slow with a journey through mythology and religions and afterwards switches to philosophy and the ending is great when all the reading you've do
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Tomáš Sedláček is a Czech economist and university lecturer. He is the Chief Macroeconomic Strategist at ČSOB (a Czech national bank), a member of a group Narrative of Europe commissioned by Manuel Barroso and Council Member of World Economic Forum focused on New Economic Thinking. He is a former member of the National Economic Council of the Czech Republic and an economic advisor to former Presid ...more
“We are not exactly sure what we are growing toward, but we compensate for this shortcoming by accelerating.” 1 likes
“According to Plato, a hierarchy of being and a hierarchy of knowledge exist, knowledge of ideas rests at the top, while at the bottom lies knowledge of trickery, illusions, shadows dancing on cave walls. By the way, mathematical knowledge is not in the highest position; philosophical knowledge is. Mathematics can’t describe the whole truth—even if we were to describe the entire world in precise mathematical equations, we would not have full knowledge.” 1 likes
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