What Adam Smith taught us is that cooperation is the source of endogenous growth within an economy. Voluntary exchanges and divisions of labor literally create wealth within society. When it's money rather than goods or services that are exchanged, residual income (i.e., profit) is an excellent proxy for cooperation and endogenous growth. In fact, it's the best the world has ever known.
But several decades ago economist Thomas Schelling pointed out that rational self-interest alone would not determine when people cooperate. Schelling sent game theorists (and economists, political scientists, sociologists -- okay, really all of us) out into the world to watch how people interact with each other, and develop new hypotheses about how and when people cooperate.
Schelling's exhortation has had profound consequences for us. In effect, his theory of focal points has helped avoid many costly conflicts that would otherwise have resulted from plain-old, everyday misunderstandings and miscommunications.
It is puzzling therefore, that game theorists and economists have failed to move beyond where they were decades ago when Schelling gave them their task of identifying focal points. But Schelling could have guessed that this would happen. He knew that the reason that game theorists and economists had confused rational self-interest with symmetry was because symmetric problems were easier to solve. Game theory and general equilibrium theory both assume time symmetry, an assumption that often fails, and always fails in describing growth. It's not that game theorists and economists want their theory to be irrelevant to everyday experience. It's that modeling human interactions is hard.
But some have pushed forward despite the difficulties. Amartya Sen has been pushing a capabilities approach to economics, an approach intended to add dimensionality to the uni-dimensional measure of cooperation provided by profit. The problem with this approach is that it is the uni-dimensionality of profit that has constituted cooperation. By deconstructing profit, you may gain some understanding of the mechanism underlying any voluntary exchange; but without more it won't help you to increase cooperation.
If we stop what we're doing, go out into the world and watch how people are cooperating with each other, I believe another broad hypothesis about cooperation can be identified. Specifically, it is beyond argument that the goal of profit must always be achieved through the means of a cycle of human activity. Thus, both profit and time should be considered as independent variables in a measure of freedom or happiness.
Creative capitalism can stand for the idea of a capitalism that respects and promotes profit that is sustainable in view of the rhythms of life. Both profit and time can be measured quantitatively. By building institutions that measure and are accountable for how they handle both, we can build better institutions.