A Beautiful Mind imaginatively portrays the John Nash character’s insight that the common good is achieved best by serving the individual and the group. In the movie, Nash claims that Adam Smith’s view that “individual ambition leads to the common good” is wrong and incomplete.” The alternative provides the “governing dynamics” of individuals within groups. The application of the “Nash Equilibrium” in many fields led to Nash receiving a Nobel Prize in Economics.
Similarly, the polymath Bernard Lonergan’s Macroeconomic Dynamics and For a New Political Economy shows that following self-interest and profit maximization does not lead to economic flourishing, instead it leads to recession and economic inequality. Avoiding the Charybdis of relying on “automatic” market mechanisms, and the Scylla of government intervention not based on adequate economic theory, Lonergan’s governing dynamics operates through individual and group intelligent, reasonable and responsible decision-making.
As the economist Peter Burley wrote, ““I know of no work like [Lonergan’s]. Its detailed development of technical details of macroeconomic dynamics is not the sort of thing one normally finds in social ethical treatises. At the same time, its co-operative spirit puts it outside the liberal or socialist literatures.”