Science and Art

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The theme of the this issue is the question of whether accounting is a science or an art and how this polarity is mirrored in its different aspects. To this end Sign of Our Time sets the scene with three opinions on the matter, reflecting the continual struggle to find just where the study and practice of accounting should sit.

When preparing accounts one can really feel these opposing methods of working, one often first prepares the income and expenditure account from the bank records, usually in a mood of concentration, drawing down the transactions within the entity to focus on one specific point, the profit or loss. But to complete this picture one then has to turn to the balance sheet, and here one lifts one’s gaze both upwards, in terms of sensing a balance with the other accounts such as fixed assets, debtors and creditors, and also outwards, in terms of looking for third party evidence so as to audit the values held.

The Archive piece features an extract from a course on associative economics given in Neuchatel, Switzerland in July 2004. This continues the theme of polarity by charting the development of money, accounting and the left and right hemispheres of the human brain.

Taking this further, the first Feature, Space and Time by Arthur Edwards looks at the polarity between financial statements in light of the concept of space-time and the possible bridging of the gap to be found in the three kinds of money – purchase, loan and gift, that are central to the associative economic approach. A link is proposed between the income and expenditure account and purchase money, the balance sheet and loan money, and the possibility of a conscious interaction between the two through gift money.

Keeping with the theme of income and expenditure and the balance sheet, the second Feature by Stephen Torr looks at the development of these statements and the contrasting treatments of the Anglo-Saxon world and the countries of Continental Europe. One concentrating on an entity’s net worth, the other having concern for the relationships between this entity and the outside world.

The AE-Exchange features three threads, the first in connection to time, with the second and third both exploring polarities, the former of price and value, and the latter of money and capital. Again one can see the repetition of the differentiation between Science/Space/Purchase/Income & Expenditure/Price/Money and Art/Time/Loan/Balance Sheet/Value/Capital.

Rounding off the issue, Victor’s View expands on the split between Anglo-Saxon and Continental European perspectives to look at the difference between the West and the East, especially when it comes to finance and its connection to thinking and will.

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