Social Scientist. v 26, no. 302-303 (July-August 1998) p. 32.


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MTAMITRA* Power and Planning

The 'interpretative turn' that critical theory or critical practices - so called practical criticisms, structural analysis, hermeneutics1 etc., have given to social sciences, has produced interesting new approaches in a number of disciplines. Moreover, by forging an interdisciplinary language, it seems to have brought the diverse disciplines together.

The insights gained from Althusser, Derrida, Foucault or with modernism and post-modernism or structuralism and post-structuralism, in what ever way it may be put, show why it may be necessary to rework some of our fundamental concepts and methods. Critical theory and the phenomenological studies2 do give rise to questions regarding concepts and understanding of phenomena.

To the economist, what is significant is not that a single phenomenon may be amenable to different interpretations. He is aware of the lively debates within his discipline. What is significant rather, is that, his claim to reason or 'rationality^ may not be as objective as he would like it to be. There may indeed be 'subjectification' of objectivity3. The usefulness of the interpretative approach to economics, which may include among others, McCloske/ s4 'rhetoric' approach is that, it might give the economist a place to stand outside the field, so as to be able to see within. These points become useful when he is called to assess the true nature of events and issues. In fact, all disciplines seek the experience of truth. But the question becomes tricky when one realises that a large part of human experience may be joined with modes of experience that may lie outside the domain of natural sciences. As the phenomenologists would like to stress, truth5 always may not be verified by the methodological means proper to science especially in such other than-science modes of experience in which truth may be communicated.

* Department of Economics, University of Calcutta.

Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 7 - 8, July - August 1998



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