Book Review: Delusions of Economics and the Way Forward

10 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2018

See all articles by John F. Tomer

John F. Tomer

Manhattan College - Department of Economics and Finance

Date Written: July 31, 2018


Gerald Cory’s book entitled Delusions of Economics and the Way Forward not only summarizes a lifetime of his research but adds significantly to that body. Cory’s research focuses on the human brain, in particular its physiology, evolution, and implications for human behavior. His research also focuses on dual motive theory and economics’ flawed conception of human motivation. Cory draws heavily on the pioneering research of Paul MacLean, in particular MacLean’s understanding of the three phases of the long evolution of the human brain. Cory also draws on MacLean’s recognition that humans’ brains have a tri-level structure involving reptilian, mammalian, and neomammalian modules.

As Cory emphasizes, MacLean’s findings on brain physiology strongly indicate that humans have two core motivations: empathy deriving from our mammalian brain and self-interest deriving from our reptilian brain. This is the heart of Cory’s version of dual motive theory, which contrasts sharply with the one core motive, self-interest, in neoclassical economic theory. Moreover, this is a view that is understandably hard for economists, especially mainstream economists, to accept. In this book, Cory makes it very clear that we need an economics that is integrated with biology instead of an economics based on and emulating mechanical Newtonian physics. Cory’s hope is that the kind of dual motive economics he has outlined can lead us down a new path toward a better society with a better functioning economy.

Keywords: brain physiology, dual motive theory, evolutionary brain science, ego and empathy, reptilian brain, mammalian brain

JEL Classification: B50, D01, Y3

Suggested Citation

Tomer, John F., Book Review: Delusions of Economics and the Way Forward (July 31, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

John F. Tomer (Contact Author)

Manhattan College - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Riverdale, NY 10471
United States
518-273-1851 (Phone)

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