Keynes and the otium of the masses

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This paper presents a reinterpretation of Keynes' philosophical motivations, focussing on his essay "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren". Keynes' 1930 vision of the world a hundred years hence was not so much a prediction as a polemic. Keynes was sharply critical of our means-ends confusion in valuing the instrumental as if it had more than ultimate value. Less well understood is his belief that the government must play a role in educating the public's aesthetic sensibility if we are not to fall for this "Benthamite heresy". Keynes humanistic motivations and his emphasis on public arts education are taken up here, with reference to the sorts of lives we live today and the sorts of lives that Keynes thought worth living. The failure of Keynes' vision to manifest itself is perhaps not so much an indictment of his speculative powers, but of our diminished sense of the value of cultural education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-372
Number of pages17
JournalCosmos and History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2023


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