I owe an enormous intellectual debt to Ludwig Lachmann. He was a friend and mentor for many years and I missed his wise counsel when working on this book. As the epitome of a gracious scholar he always listened and read with interest. His enthusiasm for his subject was rare, but irresistible, and I hope he would have found the main ideas congenial.
This work started life as a Ph.D. dissertation submitted in the Faculty of Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. It is generally considered unwise to use a Ph.D. dissertation as a vehicle for exploring intellectually controversial, even heretical, themes. Having done so I was fortunate to have been aided and abetted by two very capable supervisors at Wits—Mark Orkin, a sociologist-philosopher, and Karl Mittermaier, an economist-philosopher. Such a coincidence of wants is rare, and without their support the ideas would not have seen the light of day. The Business School at Wits provided a particularly congenial atmosphere for pursuing an eclectic piece of research. Of my many colleagues there, who contributed by their help as well as their tolerance, I would like to single out Nick Binedell, Ian Clark, Di Kruger, and Keith Yeomans.
In deciding to rewrite the Ph.D. as a book, I was heartened by the warm reception that Don Lavoie, of George Mason University, Virginia, gave to the original ideas. I have been delighted to find someone who not only shares the view that hermeneutics holds great promise for social theory but also has been instrumental in building a university department around people with similar interests.
My main debt is to my long-suffering family. Although it is customary to include them in one’s acknowledgements, there would certainly have been neither a Ph.D. nor a book without my wife, Jen, who not only continues to enrich my understanding of hermeneutics and modernism but also, through her companionship and wonderful sense of humour, has contributed immeasurably to the writing process, helping me to keep matters in perspective and generally making the effort worthwhile. I am also very grateful for Robbie’s help. He was particularly understanding about having a neglectful father and I want to thank him for his patience. This book is dedicated to my mother and to the fond memory of my father.