First Session : Economics and Spirituality: Ethics, Trust and Loyalty in the Marketplace

Speaker: Prof.dr.H.Opdebeeck (University of Antwerp)

The importance of an appropriate individual behaviour to surpass the limits to globalisation: Rediscovering the legacy of E.F.Schumacher

Increasingly our globalized society risks taking the shape of egocentrically organised structures at national, international and global level, which bring to the fore enormous consequences for man and the environment. Increasingly these structures are being called into question today by a variety of non-governmental organisations. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of E.F.Schumacher's death, it's worthwhile to (re)discover that the author of Small is Beautiful was one of the first authorities to reflect on such ethical choices in society. Ernst Friedrich Schumacher (1911-1977) introduced the idea of Buddhist Economics. In his publications he clarified the significance of the impact of an appropriate individual behaviour that is required if we are to surpass the limits to egocentric oriented globalized structures founded upon the narrow base of the war of all against all, or the threat that the other poses to one's own freedom. Therefore Schumacher always insisted on the importance of a spiritual attitude shaping the behaviour of economic agents. Humanity does not yet perceive its own egocentrism as unworthy of a human person.