By Clair Brown
Traditional economics measures the ways in which we spend our income, and doesn't attribute worth to the crucial human interactions that give our lives meaning.
Clair Brown, an economist at UC Berkeley and a practicing Buddhist, has developed a holistic model, one based on the notion that quality of life should be measured by more than national income. Brown advocates an approach to organizing the economy that embraces, rather than skirts, questions of values, sustainability, and inequality. Complementing the award-winning work of Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs, and the paradigm-breaking spirit of Thomas Piketty and Amartya Sen, Brown incorporates the Buddhist emphasis on interconnectedness, capability, and happiness into her vision for a sustainable and compassionate world.
Buddhist Economics leads us to think mindfully as we go about our daily activities, and offers a way to appreciate how our actions affect the welfare of those around us. By replacing the endless cycle of desire with more positive collective priorities, our lives can become more meaningful as well as happier. Inspired by the popular seminar course Brown developed for UC Berkeley that has garnered international attention, Buddhist Economics represents an enlightened approach to our modern world infused with ancient wisdom, with benefits both personal and global, for generations to come.
Anonymous on Kirkus Review wrote:
"The core value for Brown in Buddhist economics is interdependence expressed in three ways. The first expression of interdependence posits a way of being with others that strikes at the very center of capitalism – the aggrandizement of the self through accumulation of goods, friends and honors. The second expression finds its outlet through a long view of environmental resources, not unlike the Native American seven generations perspective. On the contrary, the cost-benefit calculations of capitalism, as we all know, focus on immediate profit and loss and are integral to its functioning. And the third expression resembles a radical form of what is termed the care economy – primarily the unpaid work of women –generalized beyond gender and geography. In a Buddhist economy the elimination of suffering becomes a top priority. [...] Brown’s criticism of capitalism falls generally within the liberal orbit. [...] Brown’s Buddhism fails to apply the devastating implications of its ethic and essentially falls back on Christian redemptionism. For example, the interdependency of Buddhism presumes something more than being kind to friends and neighbors, and certainly more than empathetic universalism for the poor of the world.
"In a Hobbesian marketplace full of predators and lambs, an economist offers a case for being a little nicer—and more mindful. [...] Brown’s portrait of an ideal market is speculative in the ordinary sense of the word, but, even if likely to be dismissed by the financier class, it makes for an attractive prospectus."
Short Video about the Book
- Reading Group Guide for the book
- Podcasts by the author on the book
- Article on the author's experience with teaching Buddhist economics
- Article by the author in scholarly journal Challenge
About Clair Brown
Clair Brown is a Professor of Economics, and Director of the Center for Work, Technology, and Society at the University of California, Berkeley. An economist focusing on work and economic justice, she is a past Director of the Institute of International Relations at Berkeley, and Chair of the Committee on Education Policy of the UCB Academic Senate.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Why We Need a Holistic Economic Model
- Chapter 2: What Is Buddhist Economics?
- Chapter 3: Interdependent with One Another
- Chapter 4: Interdependent with Our Environment
- Chapter 5: Prosperity for Both Rich and Poor
- Chapter 6: Measuring Quality of Life
- Chapter 7: Leap to Buddhist Economics