From a Philosophy of Science to a Philosophy of Universal Self-realisation
It is a real pleasure to be here with you in Mumbai and to be the guest of this institute. What I want to do is to talk this morning and tomorrow about the progressive development of critical realism starting out from a concern with science, through various stages, to a concern with questions of human realisation and ultimately universal self-realisation. There are fi ve stages, as I understand it, in the development of critical realism. It started out as a philosophy of science, a critique of positivism but also of neo-Kantianism and radical philosophers of science like Kuhn and Feyerabend who said many shocking things which have also been resumed in postmodernist discourse today. That I call transcendental realism . Then it moved on to critical naturalism and concerned itself with the dispute between naturalists and anti-naturalists, between positivism and hermeneutics, and it tried to resolve this dispute. Basically it was oriented against the dualisms that beset social theory in the mid-to late 1970s
and still to a large extent do today. Those are the two things that I will concentrate on today, that is problems in the philosophy and methodology of science, but particularly leading on to social science. Tomorrow I will go through the next three phases of critical realism, which I will briefl y mention today. The third stage in critical realism broke down one particular dichotomy, characteristic of the dualisms of social science, which was very popular and insistent particularly in western thought: that one could not move from a factual statement or any set of factual statements to a value judgement. This prohibition was called Hume’s law, and I argued that one could move from facts to values. And I did this through what I called the theory of explanatory critique . This then provided the lynchpin by means of which I moved from a concern with science to a concern with questions of values and human freedom and emancipation. The fourth stage of the development was a dialectical one in which I developed a system which I called dialectical critical realism , which went into dialectical notions such as absence, totality, negativity and so on. In the latest stage of my work I have gone on to questions of the convergence of east and west liberatory thought around what could be loosely called a spiritual dimension. This I have called transcendental dialectical critical realism . Those later stages, particularly the dialectical and the spiritual turns within critical realism, I will be dealing with later. Here I will mainly be talking about science and social science.