Re: [OPE-L] David F. Ruccio, (Un)Real Criticism, Post-Autistic Economics Review, issue 35

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Wed Dec 07 2005 - 01:54:38 EST


On Ruccio's critique of verticality or depth:

>But what if reality is
> taken to be a surface, which comprises a wide variety of social
> agents, processes, and practices, wherein there is no relation of
> depth or verticality? Does such a horizontal array of elements make
> economic and social analysis impossible?

>Nothing behind, nothing underneath; no
> levels of ontological priority or causation. Just the constant
> movement and change that are occasioned by the overdetermined
> contradictions, the uneven pushes and pulls, that define each
> object.

>Postmodernism also suggests alternatives to the vertically oriented
> ontologies of economic modernism.10 Indeed, much postmodern critique
> has taken the form of a refusal or subversion of the idea that there
> are essences to be discovered and that appearances are to be probed
> for the truths hidden beneath the surface.

Again, continuing Ian's theme, I would say that the refusal to recognize a
hierarchy of organization in nature and society does make science
impossible.  Also, as I suggested in a recent post, we need causal
structures to define a scientific object, not uneven pushes and pulls.

Consider some simple examples.  Suppose we want to find out about the
wetness of water.  We might very well find temperature or density
differences that affect water's property of being wet depending on whether
we investigated the surface or depth of a lake -- I don't know -- but really
surface and depth are not relevant here.  Cheers for the horizontal array.

But now suppose we investigate the molecular structure of water.  We are
going to find out that hydrogen and oxygen are not wet, even though arranged
in appropriate proportions and an appropriate structure they will account
for the fact that water is wet.  We need some way to explain this.  Perhaps
there are other ways of expressing the relevant discriminations to be made,
but surely depth -- the distinction between molecular structure on the one
hand and the properties of water manifested to our unaided senses on the
other -- is better than horizontal array.

Second example.  I talked before about pea plants.  Mendel's peas had either
purple or white flowers.  The difference was due to the mode in which a gene
pair expressed itself, though of course he had no way to access the gene as
such.  He could figure out mathematically though, because of the patterns of
inheritance, that there had to be some feature of the plant generating
dominant and recessive traits and that controlled their expression.  Cheers
for mathematics.  But we still need some way to distinguish what he had
sensory access to and what he didn't, and, moreover, the causal priority of
what he didn't have access to.  "Hidden" or "underlying" works; "horizontal"
doesn't.

Third.  Suppose we take butryic acid and propyl formate.  Both are C4H8O2.
One smells pleasant, the other rancid; one boils at 81C, the other boils at
163 C, etc. Yet both are structural forms of C4H8O2.  We can abstract from
their manifested distinctions to study the way they are made up of common
elements in the same proportion.  We need some way to work with this
distinction.  Maybe there is an alternative to speaking of underlying
structure, but 'horizontal array' won't do.

Fourth.  The polarity of the relative and equivalent form in Marx's analysis
are modes of expression of value.  They give expression to an underlying
causal mechanism.  There's nothing wierd about comparing this with the way
different forms of the same gene will give rise to purple flowers or white
or the way different forms of C4HO2 will give rise to different chemicals
that need to be handled very differently.  We might even find that the
causal structure we're after isn't wet, or purple or rancid smelling or a
coat.

Howard



----- Original Message ----- 
From: <glevy@PRATT.EDU>
To: <OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 4:26 AM
Subject: [OPE-L] David F. Ruccio, (Un)Real Criticism, Post-Autistic
Economics Review, issue 35


> Howard, Andy and others:
>
> This article by David Ruccio seems relevant to our recent discussion in
> the "Derrida's Ghosts" thread.  How would you reply to Ruccio's critique
> of critical realism?
>
> In solidarity, Jerry
>
> =====================================================================
>
> David F. Ruccio, "(Un)Real Criticism", Post-Autistic Economics Review,
> issue 35    Issue no. 35, 5 December 2005  article 5
>
>       Symposium on Reorienting Economics  (Part VI)
>
>       Dialogue on the reform of economics with Tony Lawson's Reorienting
> Economics as focal point
>
>
>
>       (Un)Real Criticism
>       David F. Ruccio   (University of Notre Dame, USA)
>
>        Copyright: David R. Ruccio 2005
>
>
>
>
>
>       Reading the work of Tony Lawson and the growing literature on
> critical realism and economics, I am impressed by the power of this
> "underlaboring" philosophy both to shed light on the methodological
> problems that beset contemporary mainstream economics and to help
> create the theoretical space in which we, as heterodox economists,
> can imagine and develop alternatives to the mainstream. At the same
> time, I am troubled by the particular way Lawson and other critical
> realists are endeavoring to fill that space.
>
>
>
>       Let me put this a different way: Lawson and other critical realists
> raise a series of pertinent and probing questions concerning the
> ontological presuppositions of contemporary economic discourse. I am
> not, however, persuaded by the specific answers Lawson and others
> give to those questions.
>
>
>
>       I want to use this essay, then, to explain why I think critical
> realism-at least Lawson's version of it, as spelled out in
> Reorienting Economics-deserves a great deal of credit for
> challenging mainstream economics and recognizing the value of
> heterodox economics, all in the name of "reality." In this, Lawson
> has established the ground for a new set of conversations in and
> about economics. He asks those of us who labor in the discipline of
> economics to become self-conscious about the conceptual schemes and
> methods we use when we take on the task of analyzing one or another
> aspect of reality and how those methods are inextricably related to
> issues of ontology, to how we understand the nature of being. Of
> particular significance to me, since I have never been much
> convinced by the ontological schemes presumed within mainstream
> (neoclassical and Keynesian) economics, Lawson's critical realism
> asks those of us who do heterodox economics to discuss and debate
> the general role that reality plays in our work and the particular
> conceptions of reality with which we conduct our work. How do we
> conceive of social reality and the relations between the various
> parts of that reality? What are the notions of subjectivity and
> identity we deploy in our analyses? What is the relationship between
> economic discourse and social reality? Instead of ignoring such
> questions, critical realism places them front and center, and in
> this has enlivened the conversations within and among the schools of
> thought that today make up heterodox economics.
>
>
>
>       I also want to argue that the specific conception of reality put
> forward by Lawson forecloses another set of conversations. In
> arguing that economic (and, more generally, social) analysis
> requires a specific ontology-an independent reality characterized by
> relations of depth between actual events, practices, and behaviors
> and underlying rules, codes, and structures, and much more-critical
> realism precludes a productive engagement with the constitutive
> effects of different economic discourses. It also leaves unexamined
> the existence of other-particularly, Marxian and
> postmodern-ontologies that have been developed and proven to be
> quite useful in recent years.
>
>
>
>
>
>       Economic and Social Reality
>
>
>
>       While in much of this essay I adopt a critical stance toward
> Reorienting Economics, I want to leave no doubt that I am quite
> sympathetic to a great deal of Lawson's work, and to critical
> realism more generally. And that's the case not only on strictly
> theoretical issues. In my view, credit should also be given to
> Lawson for the ways he has opened his Routledge book series to
> perspectives other than those of critical realism and the extent to
> which he has demonstrated, in contrast to many other economic
> methodologists these days, an interest in and a clear partisanship
> in favor of nonmainstream-feminist, Post-Keynesian,
> institutionalist, and other-approaches to economic analysis.1
>
>
>
>       My interest in and support for Lawson's version of critical realism
> runs through a number of other themes and issues. For example, the
> extent to which the "ontological turn" brings discussions of social
> reality back into economics can only have a salutary effect. This is
> especially true since Lawson (as other critical realists) avoids the
> kind of nave empiricism that still pervades much economic analysis,
> both mainstream and heterodox. (Generally but not always, an issue
> to which I return below.) The complexity and "messiness" of reality
> remind all of us that the theories we develop always leave something
> out; there is always a "remainder," which cannot simply be dismissed
> as unimportant or extraneous to our analyses of history and society.
> The "fullness" of material reality thus makes us suspicious of any
> attempt to derive a single order, whether a Subject or an Origin,
> that can be said to govern or give rise to-that can account for
> every dimension of-what we have before us. Invoking reality in this
> way allows us to raise questions about, and to pose alternatives to,
> both the theoretical models and policy prescriptions of our
> mainstream counterparts.2
>
>
>
>       There is another sense in which putting reality up front aids us in
> confronting mainstream economics and elaborating our own approaches
> to economic analysis and policy. If our conception of social reality
> is such that the economy is "open" with respect to other social
> spheres and practices-such that, for example, economic events and
> practices are affected by and spill over into culture, politics, and
> so on, and no strict lines can be drawn between these areas-then the
> kinds of theories and policies advocated by many mainstream
> economics, which presume a more or less isolated economy, can be
> challenged. Two particular examples might help to illustrate this
> point. Microeconomic analyses of decisionmaking often presume that
> individuals will make rational decisions, unaffected by the "real"
> values (such as fairness and justice) or knowledges (including
> whether or not a decision is warranted or even possible) such agents
> hold. Similarly, if for a particular country a mainstream economist
> conducts a macroeconomic analysis, which uncovers an imbalance for
> which they propose a currency devaluation (or some such measure) as
> the solution, "reality" tells us that those with little or no power
> (women, workers, the unemployed, and so on) may be and often are
> adversely affected by such a policy. In such cases, reality can be
> used to complicate, undermine, and/or transform the usual
> pronouncements of mainstream economists.3
>
>
>
>       But, of course, Lawson claims more than that reality be brought to
> the forefront, that we confront head-on the twin challenges of
> making sense of and intervening to change contemporary social
> reality. He argues that the protocols of science require that
> reality be conceived in a particular fashion. In this arena, too, I
> find much to commend in his approach. A "social world structured by
> social rules or codes" that is "continuously reproduced or
> transformed"; social practices that are both "highly, and
> systematically, segmented or differentiated" and  "constitutively
> other-oriented"; social reality as a "process" of becoming; social
> agents that have consciousness who, at the same time, are often
> engaged in "human doings that are carried out without being
> premeditated or reflected upon"-these and other attributes of the
> ontology elaborated by Lawson (in Economics and Reality as well as
> in Reorienting Economics) are exactly the kinds of things I
> emphasize in my research and teaching (both inside and outside the
> university), in contrast to many of the ways reality is depicted in
> and enforced by mainstream economics.
>
>
>
>
>
>       Reality and Science
>
>
>
>       If Lawson stopped there, then I would have not have cause to
> criticize his approach (except, perhaps, for quibbles around the
> edges). But then his discussion of ontology wouldn't carry the force
> of critical realism. Because Lawson both wants to accord a
> particular status to this ontology and, following on that, to
> attribute to it a structure of "depth" or verticality. I (and I
> presume others) find both of these arguments problematic.
>
>
>
>       Lawson contends that ontology is important because science demands
> it-and the particular ontology he describes is said both to rule out
> the formalist protocols of mainstream economics and to accord with
> his preferred "contrastive explanation" approach to economic and
> social science. Once again, I find myself sympathetic with the
> questioning (particularly of the fetishism of formal, including
> mathematical, models) but not with the answer.4 For the approach
> Lawson adopts is to develop a particular definition of the goals and
> methods of science-to identify "event regularities," to form causal
> hypotheses to explain such regularities, and to choose between
> competing hypotheses-and then to indicate what reality must look
> like in order to follow the protocols of such a conception of
> science.
>
>
>
>       The result is that, instead of putting reality at the forefront, it
> is science-and a specific understanding of science-that governs
> everything else. The ontological turn is, in the way I read it,
> actually a turn to science. The emphasis on reality is further
> undermined by Lawson's frequent references to a kind of common sense
> as the warrant for his assertions about reality. Reorienting
> Economics is replete with such phrases as "we all act on it" (p.
> 33), "highly generalized feature of experience" (p. 38), "we all, it
> seems have" (p 46), and "generalized fact of experience" (pp. 51 and
> 85). Here, in an approach eerily reminiscent of empiricism, the
> requirements of science (reality must be structured in a specific
> way for science to work) are shunted aside in favor of the shared
> observations of the scientists (who are presumed to agree that
> reality looks such and such a way).5
>
>
>
>       My point is not to argue that Lawson is being inconsistent, either
> in moving from reality to science or from the protocols of science
> to commonsensical empirical observations. But I do want to point out
> that Lawson's moves are not the only ones available to us. For
> example, if we want to place reality at the center of our work, then
> why must the protocols of science dictate the rules reality must
> follow? Why should reality behave in a manner that fits a so-called
> scientific method? If reality looks different-if it doesn't seem to
> match the particular model or concepts we are using, if there is
> something left over or unaccounted for-then why not change the
> science?
>
>
>
>       In the end, that's precisely the argument Lawson uses to rule out
> mainstream economics and to embrace heterodox economics: the former
> can't account for reality (at least as Lawson understands it) while
> the latter can. Moreover, Lawson considers the different schools of
> thought that make up heterodox economics to be merely different
> perspectives on-different questions about, different ways of making
> sense of-a common reality. But the only way this approach can work
> is if social reality itself is taken to be both independent and
> singular: independent of the way we think about it, and common to
> all forms of economic and social analysis.
>
>
>
>
>
>       Marxism and Postmodernism
>
>
>
>       There are many alternatives to the way Lawson poses the problem of
> ontology. The two I have in mind, both of which question the
> independence and singularity of reality, are associated with Marxism
> and postmodernism (neither of which receives but brief mention in
> Reorienting Economics).
>
>
>
>       If Lawson's approach hinges on the idea that social reality is
> independent of the process of theorizing, the Marxian tradition
> emphasizes the dialectical, interdependent nature of that
> relationship. Without entering into unnecessary detail, what this
> means is, on one hand, theory and social reality are seen to be
> mutually constitutive and, on the other hand, the conception of
> reality produced by the process of theorizing is considered to be
> distinct from reality itself. The mutual constitutivity of theory
> and reality is a way of focusing attention on the role that each
> plays in determining the other: changes in society lead to changes
> in theory, and vice versa. Thus, for example, social reality
> contains the conditions of existence of economics (both the
> discipline as well as individual schools of thought) and, in turn,
> the process of economic theorizing affects-constitutes, reproduces,
> changes-the society within which such theorizing takes place. This
> is not to say there is a simple, one-to-one correspondence between
> the two (as is often presumed in deterministic renditions of
> Marxism, according to which the emergence of capitalism leads to the
> birth of economics, or different stages of capitalism give rise to
> different economic theories). But it does place emphasis, in a way
> that Lawson does not, on how changes in one lead to changes in the
> other, in a never-ending pattern of interdependent influence and
> transformation.6
>
>
>
>       The contrast does not end there. Marxists also make a distinction
> between the thought-concrete and the concrete-real, between the
> conception of social reality produced in and by the process of
> theorizing and the social reality within which that process takes
> place.7 The two are not the same. From a Marxian perspective, what
> social scientists (including economists) do is produce a conception
> of social reality in thought, and these thoughts are not to be
> conflated with the reality that exists outside of thought; they are
> literally the appropriations within thought of an external social
> reality. Thus, in a classical Marxian formulation, the "movement
> from the abstract to the concrete" is a process that takes place
> entirely within thought-the goal of which is to produce a more
> concrete analysis of society (or of some part thereof) than what one
> began with. It is more concrete in the sense that it includes more
> determinations; it takes into account more factors that are
> constitutive (and, of course, constituted by) the concepts under
> analysis. It makes no sense, then, to imagine or to specify a
> relationship of approximation or correspondence between the product
> of theorizing and the social reality that exists "out there,"
> outside theory.
>
>
>
>       The postmodern way of handling this problem is to refer to the
> discursive construction of social reality.8  Again, proceding at a
> relatively general level, postmodernism emphasizes both the way
> different social discourses produce different social realities and
> the idea that social reality itself comprises social agents and
> entities that use different discourses to construct the reality in
> which they exist. Thus, there are two, different but related, senses
> in which the economy can be said to be discursively constructed.
> First, different economic theories-mainstream and heterodox, from
> neoclassical to Marxian-produce different conceptions of economic
> and social reality. Economists literally see and analyze different
> economies, according to the discourses (or paradigms or theoretical
> frameworks) they use. And such "economic realities" may be and often
> are radically different and incommensurable, produced and elaborated
> according to different concepts and conceptual strategies. Thus, to
> choose but one example, neoclassical economists perceive an economic
> reality characterized by rational choices, factor payments, and
> equilibrium whereas Marxian economists see commodity fetishism,
> exploitation, and contradiction. And, from a postmodern perspective,
> there is no transdiscursive or nondiscursive standard whereby such
> different realities can be validated or adjudicated (although, of
> course, such judgments often do take place within particular
> discourses, leading to quite different conclusions).
>
>
>
>       The second sense in which postmodernists view the economy as being
> discursively constructed pertains to economic events and practices
> themselves. The idea here is that economic and social discourses-not
> just academic or scientific discourses but also "everyday"
> discourses, about the economy and much else-affect the way economic
> agents behave, institutions operate, and events occur. And, again,
> different discourses will have different effects on such behaviors,
> institutions, and events. The discourses I have in mind run the
> gamut from ways of making sense of desire and labor (particulary
> with respect to economic agents) through accounting conventions and
> notions of relevant stakeholders (in the case of economic entities
> such as corporations and international trade organizations) to the
> pronouncements of monetary authorities and corporate officials
> (which affect the movements of interest rates and prices of equity
> shares). The point is that the economy-specific parts or sectors as
> well as the economy as a whole-will be affected by which discourses
> are present, and it is important to analyze such discourses in order
> to understand economic reality.
>
>
>
>       Put the two together-call it postmodern Marxism-and ontology
> acquires a status quite different from the one outlined by Lawson.
> While a clear distinction is made between social reality and the
> discourses about that reality, that's just the beginning of the
> story. It then becomes important to recognize the complex ways
> social reality has an impact on social (including economic)
> discourses, on how those discourses affect social reality, and on
> how social reality itself is constituted by both academic and
> nonacademic discourses. What this means is not only are discourses
> about the economy influenced in important ways by the practices and
> discourses in the wider society; it also means that economic
> discourses are "performative," in the sense that economic agents and
> institutions are constituted-brought into being, reproduced and
> changed-in and through the ideas produced within economics. Thus,
> for example, the "language of class" that characterizes Marxian
> economics serves both to highlight class processes and to offer a
> range of class identities and positions that can be inhabited by
> social agents.
>
>
>
>
>
>       Critical Ontologies
>
>
>
>       Not only do Marxism and postmodernism, alone and together, call into
> question the independence of theory and reality. They also offer
> ontologies that are quite different from the one Lawson articulates
> and expounds as the singular reality appropriate for economic
> science.
>
>
>
>       The ontologies associated with the Marxian and postmodern
> methodologies discussed in the previous section are not based on the
> scheme of verticality or depth that characterizes Lawson's approach.
> For Lawson, all social systems are composed of "surface actualities"
> (actual events and states of affairs) and "underlying causes" (such
> as deeper structures, powers, mechanisms, and so on)-and the point
> of economic and social analysis is to show how the "deep" causes
> account for or explain the "surface" events. But what if reality is
> taken to be a surface, which comprises a wide variety of social
> agents, processes, and practices, wherein there is no relation of
> depth or verticality? Does such a horizontal array of elements make
> economic and social analysis impossible? The Marxian tradition has
> offered up one way of making sense of such a social reality:
> overdetermination.9 Originally borrowed from Freud's interpretation
> of dreams, the concept of overdetermination is a way of producing an
> ontology wherein relations of depth (such as those between essence
> and appearance or base and superstructure) are discarded in favor of
> mutual relations of constitution and contradiction. Each problem or
> event that is under analysis is then seen as being constituted by
> myriad other aspects of social reality-to be the condensed effect of
> those other aspects or dimensions-no one of which is accorded causal
> priority over, or more ontological significance than, any other. It
> is the totality of such effects-the conditions of existence, in this
> language-that accounts for the contradictory constitution of any
> particular social actuality. Nothing behind, nothing underneath; no
> levels of ontological priority or causation. Just the constant
> movement and change that are occasioned by the overdetermined
> contradictions, the uneven pushes and pulls, that define each
> object.
>
>
>
>       What then of the rules of conduct, power, mechanisms, and so on that
> Lawson attributes to a deeper or transcendental level of reality?
> From a Marxian perspective, they are present within the effects of
> the various processes and practices that make up social reality.
> Even stronger: they are nothing but the presence of those effects.
> Thus, for example, the rules of exploitation are contained within
> the practices whereby surplus labor is appropriated from the direct
> producers, practices that are themselves the overdetermined result
> of the other aspects of the social totality-economic, political, and
> cultural-within which that exploitation takes place. And it is that
> contradictory social reality that gives rise to practices of
> exploitation as they exist as well as to the emergence of other,
> nonexploitative class practices. It in this sense that the flat,
> horizontal, surface ontology of Marxism provides the basis for a
> critical analysis of reality, including a project of emancipation.
>
>
>
>       Postmodernism also suggests alternatives to the vertically oriented
> ontologies of economic modernism.10 Indeed, much postmodern critique
> has taken the form of a refusal or subversion of the idea that there
> are essences to be discovered and that appearances are to be probed
> for the truths hidden beneath the surface. Skeptical of all forms of
> determinism-whether of necessary cause-and-effect relations or, less
> strongly, probabilistic patterns that link particular events as
> causes with other events as effects-postmodernists are inclined
> toward ontologies characterized by "depthlessness,"  and emphasize
> the randomness of causation and effectivity of chance, the
> indeterminacy of events, the multiplicity of possible causes, the
> fluidity of the relationship between seeming causes and their
> effects, and the reversibility of positions between putative causes
> and effects. In the particular area of economics, postmodernists are
> critical of both of the main forms of essentialism: theoretical
> humanism (according to which social reality can be reduced to and
> explained in terms of some underlying characeristics of human
> beings) and structuralism (in which underlying structures can
> account for and be used to explain social events). The alternative
> is a surface comprising heterogenous elements-events, actualities,
> behaviors, flows, connections, and so on-that can be analyzed with
> alternative notions of causality-juxtaposition, simultaneity,
> textuality, decentering, and so forth. Based on its refusal of
> ontological hierarchy in favor of flatness, the goal of postmodern
> analysis is thus to read the "text" of social reality, to produce a
> "commentary" on the practices and subjectivities that define that
> reality.
>
>
>
>       Again, the conjunction of Marxism and postmodernism has produced
> alternatives both to mainstream economics and to critical realism-in
> this case, new ontologies and forms of social analysis. "Postmodern
> materialism" is one such example.11 Originally inspired by
> Althusser's notion of the "aleatory," postmodern materialism was
> formulated in order to move beyond the systemic treatments
> associated with traditional Marxism, the homogeneity and fixedness
> of social reality and the certainty of historical trajectory-and to
> bring to the fore the more antisystemic elements of the Marxian
> tradition-the heterogeneity and openness of social reality, the
> incompleteness of the bourgeois project and the imagining of
> alternative economic and social realities. On this interpretation,
> many aspects of Marxian economic and social theory take on a new
> cast. The specificity of Marx's concept of value, to consider but
> one instance, instead of being an expression of an underlying "law"
> of the division of labor (which presumes an aready constituted
> homogeneity of social subjects, of homo faber), is now seen to be a
> way of focusing on the cultural and political mechanisms whereby
> diverse communities are stripped of their identities and needs in
> order to be molded into the subjects of a single economic calculus.
> Thus, the "economy" would emerge not as a primitive foundation, an
> independent and singular underlying reality, but as the forced
> attempt to create a closed space whose principle of existence is
> based on a negation of social specificity, heterogeneity, and
> openness.
>
>
>
>       Similarly, "poststructuralist political economy" is an attempt to
> rescue the Marxian theory of class from the primacy of the
> "capitalist totality"- the capitalist system or mode of production,
> the global capitalist political economy, and so on-itself seen as
> the expression of an underlying cause (such as the "law of
> accumulation").12 A poststructuralist approach suggests a reading of
> Capital that emphasizes class as the discursive entry point of
> political economy instead of being taken as a given of the social
> order. Once reliquished from the limitations imposed by a unified,
> centered ontology, an "accounting for class" suggests both a diverse
> and differentiated economic landscape-comprising both capitalist and
> noncapitalist practices and identities-and a field of theory and
> politics that is open and experimental. In other words, the ontology
> associated with poststructuralist political economy is characterized
> not by closure and certainty but by challenges and possibilities. It
> also clears the way for an active political role for theory in
> creating the terms in which the identities of subjects are
> constituted and through which they can create their futures. The
> result is to defamiliarize existing notions of social reality, to
> make that reality different from itself.
>
>
>
>
>
>       Critical Thought and Realism
>
>
>
>       My aim in this brief essay is not to elaborate or defend
> alternatives to critical realism in any detail. I merely want to
> indicate that alternatives to the ontology proposed by Tony Lawson,
> in Reorienting Economics and elsewhere, have been developed within
> heterodox economics, including Marxism and postmodernism. These
> alternative ontologies have led to projects of economic and social
> analysis that are not only critical of mainstream economics but
> quite productive in their own right.
>
>
>
>       And I certainly don't want to argue that the alternative conceptions
> of ontology I have mentioned are any more "real" than the one that
> can be found in Lawson's work. While I share with Lawson the idea
> that ontology is important, both for the critique of mainstream
> economics and for the flourishing of heterodox economics, I admit to
> being skeptical about the project of finding or producing a single
> ontology that will serve as the shared foundation of the various
> schools of thought that have come together in the post-autistic
> economics movement. In my view, we need to do everything within out
> grasp to keep critical approaches to economics alive by making
> reality as unreal as possible.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>       Acknowledgement
>
>
>
>       I want to express my appreciation to Edward Fullbrook not only for
> the invitation to participate in this symposium (and his
> graciousness and patience in waiting for my contribution) but also
> for all the work he has done to keep the post-autistic economics
> movement alive. I also want to thank Antonio Callari for his
> comments on a previous draft.
>
>
>
>
>
>       Endnotes
>
>
>
>       1. Disclosure: a volume I co-edited with Stephen Cullenberg and Jack
> Amariglio, Postmodernism, Economics, and Knowledge (2001), as well
> as another to which I contributed (Garnett 1999) were published,
> with Lawson's encouragement, in the Economics as Social Theory
> series.
>
>
>
>       2. I take this to be one of the main points raised by the students
> who initiated the post-autistic movement, in France, England, and
> the United States. See the statements and manifestos reprinted in
> Fullbrook (2003).
>
>
>
>       3. In the United States right now, there is a particular poignancy
> to siding with "reality-based" arguments against so-called
> "faith-based" ones. This is the case as much in the discipline of
> economics as in the wider society.
>
>
>
>       4. See, e.g., my critique of the use of mathematical models in
> Marxian economics (Ruccio 1988; Ruccio and Amariglio 2003,
> especially chap. 1).
>
>
>
>       5. Antonio Gramsci (1991) argued that common sense contains a
> "specific conception of the world" and that "in acquiring one's
> conception of the world one always belongs to a particular grouping
> which is that of all the social elements which share the same mode
> of thinking and acting" (324). Clifford Geertz (1983), for his part,
> reminds us that such common sense, a set of presumably shared
> observations about reality, "is not what the mind cleared of cant
> spontaneously apprehends" but rather "what the mind filled with
> [historical and cultural presuppositions]. . .concludes" (84). It
> is, in other words, a historically and culturally specific
> knowledge-in this case, a local ontology.
>
>
>
>       6. To be clear, the Marxian tradition admits of many different
> interpretations. The one I develop here is often referred to as
> antiessentialist Marxism, associated with the journal Rethinking
> Marxism and the work of Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff (1987).
>
>
>
>       7. The difference between the "concrete-in-thought" and the
> "concrete-real" was made prominent by Louis Althusser (1970, 1977)
> as a way of distinguishing the method of the "mature Marx" from that
> of Ludwig Feuerbach.
>
>
>
>       8. The postmodern approach briefly summarized in the text is
> developed at some length by Ruccio and Amariglio (2003). It is also
> more or less synonymous with poststructuralism (Amariglio 1998) and
> deconstruction (Ruccio 1998). See also the different interpretations
> of postmodernism with respect to economics in Cullenberg et al.
> (2001).
>
>
>
>       9. See, e.g., the pioneering contribution of Resnick and Wolff
(1987).
>
>
>
>       10. Within social theory, postmodern ontologies have been developed
> perhaps most prominently within feminism, especially with respect to
> the gendered body. See, e.g., the work of Judith Butler (1990,
> 1993), Jane Flax (1990, 1993), and Elizabeth Grosz (1994). Gillian
> Hewitson (1999) and Suzanne Bergeron (2004), among others, have
> developed similar arguments with respect to economic discourse.
>
>
>
>       11. The concept of postmodern materialism and its effects on social
> analysis are elaborated by Ruccio and Callari (1996).
>
>
>
>       12. This view is developed at length in the essay by Gibson-Graham
> et al. (2001). On the theoretical and political problems created by
> an ontology defined solely in terms of capitalism-what one might
> refer to as capitalocentrism-see Gibson-Graham (1996) and Ruccio and
> Gibson-Graham (2001).
>
>
>
>
>
>       References
>
>
>
>       Althusser, L. 1970. Reading Capital. Trans. B. Brewster. London: New
> Left Books.
>
>
>
>       ---. 1977. For Marx. Trans. B. Brewster. London: New Left Books.
>
>
>
>       Amariglio, J. 1998. "Poststructuralism." In The Handbook of Economic
> Methodology, ed. J. Davis et al., 382-88. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
>
>
>
>       Bergeron, S. 2004. Fragments of Development: Nation, Gender, and the
> Space of Modernity. Ann Arbor University of Michigan Press.
>
>
>
>       Butler, J. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of
> Identity. New York: Routledge.
>
>
>
>       Butler, J. 1993. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limit of Sex.
> New York: Routledge.
>
>
>
>       Cullenberg, S; J. Amariglio; and D. F. Ruccio, eds. 2001.
> Postmodernism, Economics, and Knowledge. New York: Routledge.
>
>
>
>       Flax, J. 1990. Thinking Fragments: Psychoanalysis, Feminism and
> Postmodernism in the Contemporary West. Berkeley: University of
> California Press.
>
>
>
>       Flax, J. 1993. Disputed Subjects: Essays on Psychoanalysis, Politics
> and Philosophy. New York: Routledge.
>
>
>
>       Fulbrook, E., ed. 2003. The Crisis in Economics: The Post-Autistic
> Economics Movement. New York: Routledge.
>
>
>
>       Garnett, R., Jr., ed. 1999. What Do Economists Know? New Economics
> of Knowledge. New York: Routledge.
>
>
>
>       Geertz, C. 1983. "Common Sense as a Cultural System," in Local
> Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology, 73-93. New
> York: Basic Books.
>
>
>
>       Gibson-Graham, J. K. 1996. The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A
> Feminist Critique of Political Economy. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
>
>
>
>       Gibson-Graham, J.-K.; S. Resnick; and R. Wolff. 2001. "Toward a
> Poststructuralist Political Economy." In Re/presenting Class: Essays
> in Postmodern Marxism, ed. J. K. Gibson-Graham et al., 1-22. Durham:
> Duke University Press.
>
>
>
>       Gramsci, A. 1991. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Ed. and
> trans. Q. Hoare and G. N. Smith. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
>
>
>
>       Grosz, E. 1994. Volatile Bodies, Toward a Corporeal Feminism.
> Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.
>
>
>
>       Hewitson, G. 1999. Feminist Economics, Interrogating the Masculinity
> of Rational Economic Man. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.
>
>
>
>       Resnick, S. A. and R. D. Wolff. 1987. Knowledge and Class: A Marxian
> Critique of Political Economy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
>
>
>
>       Ruccio, D. F. 1988. "The Merchant of Venice, or Marxism in the
> Mathematical Mode." Rethinking Marxism 1 (Winter): 18-46.
>
>
>
>       ---. 1998. "Deconstruction." In The Handbook of Economic
> Methodology, ed. J. Davis et al., 89-93. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
>
>
>
>       Ruccio, D. F. and J. Amariglio. 2003. Postmodern Moments in Modern
> Economics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
>
>
>
>       Ruccio, D. F. and A. Callari, eds. 1996. "Introduction: Postmodern
> Materialism and the Future of Marxist Theory." In Postmodern
> Materialism and the Future of Marxist Theory Essays in the
> Althusserian Tradition, 1-48. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University
> Press.
>
>
>
>       Ruccio, D. F. and J. K. Gibson-Graham. 2001. "'After' Development:
> Reimagining Economy and Class." In Re/presenting Class: Essays in
> Postmodern Political Economy, ed. J.-K. Gibson-Graham et al.,
> 158-81. Durham: Duke University Press.
>
>
>
>       ___________________________
>
>       SUGGESTED CITATION:
>       David F. Ruccio, "(Un)Real Criticism", post-autistic economics
> review, issue no. 35, 5 December 2005, article 5, pp .40 49,
> http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue35/Ruccio35.htm
>


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Dec 08 2005 - 00:00:01 EST