The research project, generically labelled Philosophy and Economics, began in 2015 and had been materialized in the two volumes already published by the ASE Publishing House, entitled Contemporary Themes and Realities and Ethics and Economic Rationality, respectively. This third tome – which has as its theoretical core the Meanings of Utility in Social Sciences – is published – like the previous ones – as a continuation of a long and fruitful collaboration between the members of the Department of Philosophy and Social and Human Sciences of the Bucharest University of Economic Studies – since 2015 organized under the form of a Research Center – and researchers of the “Constantin Rădulescu-Motru” Institute for Philosophy and Psychology of the Romanian Academy, led by Member of the Romanian Academy Alexandru Surdu. The collaboration was also facilitated by the fact that some of the members of this department also have the status of researchers of the mentioned institute.
The general theme proposed for being reflected upon is of an evident topicality, for the simple reason that we live in a world structured by a true cult of utility, by the myth of the omnipotence of the market and the ideal of homo oeconomicus; that is why we consider that the thematic proposal has succeeded in stimulating research and collaboration initiatives of specialists from the most varied fields, so as to obtain – without any precise initial plan – a coherent, mixed, uninhibited relief of the areas of confluence and communication that can be encouraging directions for future inter-, multi- and transdisciplinary theoretical projects. Therefore, it is significant that many studies are authored by professors from the University of Economic Studies, the Bucharest University or other higher education or research institutions, aiming to harmonize the specialized research with open interrogations to complementary perspectives and to philosophical reflection.
The texts of the volume succeeded in offering a kaleidoscopic image of the utility hypostases in the specific sphere of economic practices – whether productive or related to market, marketing, management, advertising, etc. – from the perspective of the consequences on the human being in its entirety. As a natural extension, there are many other valuable facets of utility: morals, art, traditional ceremonies, performances and sports competitions, etc. Every domain of social life has its own criteria for determining utility, so there is a qualitative variety of utility forms – disposed between strictly economic concepts and situations in which the usefulness of unnecessary goods, creations and activities, lacking – through their very nature – a pragmatic purpose, is evident.
From a philosophical point of view, it advocates an axiological hierarchy in which utility is treated as a means of fulfilling other values, of a spiritual nature and with direct involvement in the everyday life of the people. The primacy of the values of utility in the system of values of life is seriously questioned, the critical positions challenging its moral legitimacy. Significant, in this sense, is the attempt to reveal the spiritual foundations that make possible and effectively motivate the immediate-pragmatic meanings of utility, as well as the investigation of the criteria and the standards of utility from the perspective of the complex relations between symbolic and instrumental in contemporary civilization.