Knowledge, Truth and the History of Economic Thought
Edited by Stephan Boehm, Christian Gehrke, Heinz D. Kurz and Richard Sturn
Stephan Boehm, Christian Gehrke, Heinz D. Kurz and Richard Sturn PROGRESS AND CRITIQUE ÔSystematic progress in philosophy is nothing but remembering what oneself has said.Õ Many economists will find this statement by the German philosopher Hegel puzzling at best. If applied to economics, it is likely to be deemed abstruse rather than useful. Yet some reflection shows that this statement casts some light on the situation of historians of economic thought. Discussing and scrutinizing systems of knowledge, theories or particular models in terms of progress is inevitably linked to some idea of critique, that is, to the ability to give some account of the scope of intellectual achievements promoted by these models, theories or systems of knowledge. HegelÕs statement invokes a broad idea of critique not necessarily attached to an evaluative stance. Such an open concept of critique is useful for understanding radical differences between different styles in the history of ideas and may summarize the common ground between quite different approaches to the latter. For instance, it encompasses rational reconstruction as the attempt to clarify the truth of conjectures and the scope of explanatory sketches by means of analytical models. This may be thought of as a positive aspect of critique leading to progress in knowing what exactly can be stated as positive results and what remains a more or less plausible conjecture. This positive critique is essential for a diagnosis of success or failure in terms of a given theoryÕs own explanatory or normative purposes. Hence...