Economic Recession and Self-Deceptions

Messes in Collective Rationality
  • John Oliga


Perhaps the distinctive, positive hallmark of modernity is the monumental technical progress that we have achieved through unprecedented advances in science and technology. And yet this seems to have been achieved only at a monumental cost in terms of new forms of sociopathologies. In relative terms, at the level of “design,” modernity’s progress has been emphatic, but at the level of “debate” and “disimprisonment,” our progress has been pathetic, if not regressive (cf. Flood, 1993, Flood, 1995; Habermas, 1972). We have embraced forms of learning to manipulate and control nature (including the external social world) for purposes of improving our material reproduction. But, we seem to have also embraced other forms of “learning” that are underwritten by motives for strategic success over the rational opponents, or by mere ideological blindness. These latter forms of “antilearning” have thwarted our potential for emancipatory progress in our symbolic reproduction. And yet, given that it is the case that our material reproduction (viewing societies as “systems”), and our symbolic reproduction (viewing societies as “lifeworlds”) are interpenetrative, dialectical phenomena, it is no wonder that the forced disjuncture or uncoupling of the two has unleashed virulent forms of sociopathological crises for modernity (cf. Habermas, 1984, Habermas, 1987).


Real Wage Economic Recession Societal System Retail Price Index Critical System Thinking 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Oliga
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesUniversity of HullHullEngland

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