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Paul Jorion (born July 22, 1946 in Brussels) is by training an anthropologist, sociologist with a special interest in the cognitive sciences. He has also written seven books on capitalist economics.
Paul was born and raised in Belgium, and has been a Professor at the universities of Brussels, Cambridge, Paris VIII and University of California at Irvine. He was a Visiting Scholar of the "Human Complex Systems" Program at UCLA from 2005 to 2009. He currently lives in France where he runs a popular blog on financial and economic matters. In 2012, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel made him holder of the newly created "Stewardship of Finance" chair.
A student of Claude Lévi-Strauss and of French mathematician Georges-Théodule Guilbaud in modeling kinship systems with algebraic models, Jorion has made several contributions to the field, solving in particular the marriage pattern of the Pende of the Congo (in collaboration with Gisèle de Meur and Trudeke Vuyk), reconciling also conflicting interpretations of the kinship system of the Australian Murngin (from research done jointly with Edmund Leach, his teacher at Cambridge University). Collaborating with Douglas R. White he has published several papers in the formalization of kinship algebra.
Memory and consciousness
In an article published in 1999, Jorion offered a new theory of consciousness which goes beyond the Freudian notion that some of our decisions have unconscious motives by suggesting that in fact all our decision-making has unconscious roots, revealing freewill to be an illusion. Consciousness is shown to be a consequence of a mechanism allowing us to perceive as simultaneous the sensations produced separately by our five senses, a necessary preliminary to creating memory traces, that is, also, the prerequisite to any learning process. Drawing the consequences of an observation made by Benjamin Libet, that intention is an artifact as it springs to consciousness half a second later than the action it is supposed to have generated, Jorion further suggested that consciousness errs when it assumes to be the cause of human actions while it is nothing more than an ancillary consequence of the registration process that allows memory to accrue.
In 1989, Jorion participated in the work of the Artificial Intelligence unit of British Telecom. There he developed "ANELLA" (Associative Network with Emerging Logical and Learning Abilities) whose “intelligence” is guided by a dynamics of affect – acting at the same time as a dynamics of relevance. In his book entitled “Principes des systèmes intelligents” published the next year, he made a wager that psychoanalysis will turn out to offer Artificial Intelligence its genuine theoretical framework.
His interest in behavioral theory has led Jorion to work on stock market behavior as a pricing specialist and, for a period, as a trader on the futures markets in a French investment bank. Despite, or because of, his work Jorion has become a critic of the structure of financial capitalism. He has deplored in particular the shift in accounting standards from a definition of price based on “fundamentals,” i.e. “value,” to “just value” equating with the speculative price (Financial Accounting Standards Board 157). He has been instrumental at reviving Aristotle's theory of price, based on the power balance between buyer and seller, and has applied it to understand our current financial systems (Le prix).
On 4 September 2007, in an op-ed for the French daily Le Monde, he proposes that, as is the case for the political sphere, the economy is given a proper constitution (L’économie a besoin d’une authentique constitution). In an interview in L’Humanité published January 2008, Jorion contends that contrary to the title of his 2007 book Is American Capitalism Heading to Crisis? (Vers la crise du capitalisme américain?), the distinctive form of Capitalism in the United States has already fallen into crisis.
"We are experiencing the consequences of the planned disappearance of welfare by deregulation. By strengthening the law of the strongest, the United States is heading toward a disaster never seen before, which I can only compare to the one of 1929".
In his 2008 book The Implosion. Finance vs. the Economy: what the subprime crisis reveals and foretells (L'implosion. La finance contre l'économie: ce qu'annonce et révèle la crise des subprimes) he emphasizes that the economy - unlike the political system with democracy - has not been raised to the status of a proper human institution and requires a similar self-domestication.
Jorion has also published in the Revue de Mauss, a French anti-utilitarian journal.
Philosophy of science
While not committing himself explicitly to Hugh Everett III’s many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, Jorion demonstrates however in “Why, like cats, we have nine lives” (2000) that many-worlds allows to reconcile within a single conceptual system Descartes’s “cogito,” Leibniz’s “best of all possible worlds” and Hegel’s views on the role of Reason in history.
In “The mathematician and his magic" ("Le mathématicien et sa magie : théorème de Gödel et anthropologie des savoirs" – 2001), Jorion analyzes Kurt Gödel’s demonstration of his second incompleteness theorem on the undecidability of some arithmetic propositions. He shows that the mathematician resorts to modes of proof of various epistemological qualities, ranging from the tight to the lax, including some, like the reductio ad absurdum which Aristotle excluded from scientific demonstration (“Analytics”) to confine it to everyday conversation (“Dialectics”).
- Les pêcheurs de Houat: anthropologie économique, Collection Savoir, Hermann, Paris, 1983
- La transmission des savoirs (with Geneviève Delbos), Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris, 1984, ISBN 2-7351-0113-4
- Principes des systèmes intelligents, Dunod, Paris, 1997, ISBN 2-225-81938-6 (original ed. Masson, 1990).
- Investing in a Post-Enron World, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003, ISBN 0-07-140938-6.
- Vers la crise du capitalisme américain?, La Découverte, Paris, 2007, ISBN 978-2-7071-5092-9; reprint: Éditions du Croquant, Broissieux, 2009, ISBN 9482914968621 (English title: Are we Heading for a Crisis of American Capitalism?)
- L'implosion. La finance contre l'économie: ce qu'annonce et révèle la crise des subprimes, Fayard, Paris, 2008, ISBN 978-2-213-63741-9 (English title: The Implosion. Finance against the Economy: what the Subprime Crisis Foretells and Reveals)
- La crise. Des subprimes au séisme financier planétaire, Fayard, Paris, 2008, ISBN 978-2-213-63860-7 (English title: The Crisis. From Subprimes to Planetary Seism)
- L'argent, mode d'emploi, Fayard, Paris, 2009, ISBN 978-2-213-64404-2 (English title: Money, A Handbook)
- Comment la vérité et la réalité furent inventées, Gallimard, Paris 2009, ISBN 978-2-07-012600-2 (English title: How Truth and Reality Were Invented)
- Le prix, Éditions du Croquant, Broissieux, 2010, ISBN 978-2-914968-78-2 (English title: Price)
- Le capitalisme à l'agonie, Fayard, Paris, 2011, ISBN 978-2-213-65488-1 (English title: The Promised Death of Capitalism).
- Misère de la pensée économique, Paris, Fayard, 360 p., 2012 ISBN 978-2-213-66631-0
- La survie de l'espèce (avec Grégory Maklès), Paris, Futuropolis, 2012 ISBN 978-2754807258
- Comprendre les temps qui sont les nôtres, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2014 ISBN 978-2738130891
- Penser l'économie autrement (avec Bruno Colmant), Paris, Fayard, 2014 ISBN 2213682267
- Reasons vs. Causes: Emergence as experienced by the human agent, eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences, vol. 2, avril 2007
- Althusser (with Armel Jorion), Foucault, Lévi-Strauss in New Makers of Modern Culture, 2 vol., Justin Wintle (sous la dir.), New York : Routledge, 2006
- Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" Revisited. An Agent-Based Simulation of the New York Stock Exchange, Proceedings of the First World Congress on Social Simulation, Kyoto, vol. 1, août 2006
- Stephen E. G. Lea et Paul Webley, Keeping up with the Joneses, Comment on Money as tool, money as drug : The biological psychology of a strong incentive, Behavioural & Brain Sciences, 29 (2), 2006
- Why, like cats, we have nine lives, Papiers du Collège international de philosophie, Reconstitutions, 2000
- Information Flows in Kinship Networks, Mathematical Anthropology and Cultural Theory, vol. 1, novembre 2000
- Aristotle’s Theory of Price Revisited, Dialectical Anthropology, 1999, vol. 23
- What do mathematicians teach us about the World? An anthropological perspective, Dialectical Anthropology], vol. 24, 1999
- An alternative neural network representation for conceptual knowledge, paper presented at the CONNEX conference of British Telecom, Martlesham Heath, January 1990
For a critique in French of Jorion main ideas about capitalism : http://criseusa.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/08/27/lagonie-du-capitalisme-de-paul-jorion-une-refutation-statistique/
- Official website
- Author's blog in English
- Author's blog in French
- Paul Jorion Interviewed By Jacques Coubard “Yes, American Capitalism Is In Crisis”. L’Humanité, Wednesday 16 January 2008.
- Interview German broadcast with Jorion, 09.05.2010: Die Konzentration des Reichtums ist ein sich selbst verstärkender Prozess.
(The concentration of wealth/richness is a self-amplifying process) 
- Critics of Jorion's economic theories : http://criseusa.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/08/27/lagonie-du-capitalisme-de-paul-jorion-une-refutation-statistique/