Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology

Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology

Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology

Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology

Excerpt

If a man has been successively university professor, government adviser, member of parliament, director of a study of the Negro in American life, cabinet minister, bank director, chairman of a planning commission and international civil servant; if, a citizen of a small country, he has occupied these positions in the last thirty years in different countries, has travelled widely both east and west, and has remained all the time a curious observer, we should not be surprised if he came to ask himself certain fundamental questions: Can one be at the same time objective, practical and idealistic? What is the relation between wanting to understand and wanting to change society? How can we free ourselves from thinking in terms possibly appropriate to an earlier age, but no longer appropriate to ours, though still powerful in our intellectual tradition? What are the new presuppositions of social thought which can do justice to the changes in social organization?

Yet, Gunnar Myrdal asked himself these and similar questions as a young man in Stockholm, before embarking on the voyage described above. His subsequent career looks almost like a series of attempts to extort from concrete problems time and time again the replies to these and similar fundamental questions. His biography might be an exercise in practical methodology.

So at least it may appear from the point of view of this book. The following collection of essays is intended to illustrate his repeated attempts to explore the logical, political and moral foundations of social thought and action, as he pursued diverse academic and political activities.

The volume is a companion to Myrdal's youthful and iconoclastic Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory. From his young days as a rebel against the firmly . . .

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