Rationalities, Social Science and the State: A Still Troubled Symbiosis

In Stuart Holland & Juozas Kasputis (eds.), Social Scientific Inquiry in an Age of Uncertainty, IASK Working Papers 2017. Kőszeg, 9730 Magyarország: pp. 5-32 (2017)
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The growth of knowledge has always included opposing worldviews and clashes of distinct interests. This includes different rationalities which either have served or disserved the State. A Copernican world defied the Catholic Church. Cartesian philosophy and Newtonian physics incited a major split between an allegedly knowing subject and external realities. As an outcome, many dualisms emerged: subjectivity/objectivity, particular/universal, etc. Hegelian dialectics elaborated such approach to its most extreme. The pretension of social science to be value-free assumed a neutral observer collating external facts. Yet both Hume and Adam Smith challenged Descartes cogito as banal, stressing that it is not because we think that we are but rather than how we think is who we have become through the values, dispositions and beliefs that we have consciously or less than consciously acquired from life experience, and that no perception is neutral. Hume anticipated Bourclieu both on habItus and also on reflexivity in his concept of the reflexive mind" yet this then was lost by the presumption, such as by Bertrand Russell, that Hume was a "mere empiricist". Logical positivism then claimed that an appeal to 'facts' could dismiss metaphysics, invoking the logical atomism of Russell and the early Wittgenstein. But which Wittgenstein transcended not in the sense of transcendental metaphysics, though he was deeply influenced by Schopenhauer, but - after a road to Damascus encounter with Sraffa - coming to realise that meanings depend on context and that their context needs to be understood. Which we suggest in this paper is that these issues are highly relevant to the troubled relationship between rationality - or rationalities - and the State.

Author's Profile

Juozas Kasputis
Institute of Advanced Studies Koszeg


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