‘Conscious’ Direction and the Growth of Reason

Edited by Bruce Caldwell

in Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226321097
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226321127 | DOI:
‘Conscious’ Direction and the Growth of Reason

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The ideal of conscious control of social phenomena has made its greatest influence felt in the economic field. This chapter explores the universal demand for “conscious” control or direction of social processes, which expresses perhaps more clearly than any of its other clichés the peculiar spirit of the age. That anything is not consciously directed as a whole is regarded as itself a blemish, a proof of its irrationality and of the need completely to replace it by a deliberately designed mechanism. Yet few of the people who use the term conscious so freely seem to be aware of precisely what it means; most seem to forget that conscious and deliberate are terms that have meaning only when applied to individuals, and that the demand for conscious control is therefore equivalent to the demand for control by a single mind.

Keywords: conscious control; social formation; objectivism; scientistic approach; social science; social phenomena; social interactions; positivists; social behavior; human behavior

Chapter.  3510 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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