Kirznerian Alertness and Neuroscience

by Roger Koppl

Jake Young of Pure Pedantry has a nice post using the neuroscience of preconscious processing to address the issue of Kirznerian alertness.  He was responding to Sandy’s post, “Stumbling on Profit Opportunities.”  Jake gives a negative reply to Sandy’s conjecture that preconscious processing, whereby we leap away from a snake before processing that it was a snake, might be an example of Kirznerian entrepreneurship.

I think it’s a mistake to look for “the” neuroscience correlate to entrepreneurial alertness.  The praxeological categories of “entrepreneurship,” “alertness,” and “discovery” were constructed for use in social science, not neuroscience.  It would be a surprise if there were precisely one process identified in neuroscience that covers all and only cases of entrepreneurial alertness in social science.  More likely, several processes that are considered distinct and unrelated in neuroscience would all be examples of entrepreneurial alertness and discovery.  And the neurological processes generally corresponding to entrepreneurial discovery might sometimes be activated when there is no entrepreneurial discovery.  Why should social science and neuroscience carve up the world in the same way? Continue reading