chapter  10
11 Pages

Ten Engineers and Planners

The ideal of conscious control of social phenomena has made its greatest infl uence felt in the economic fi eld.1 The present popularity of ‘economic planning’ is directly traceable to the prevalence of the scientistic ideas we have been discussing. As in this fi eld the scientistic ideals manifest themselves in the particular forms which they take in the hands of the applied scientist and especially the engineer, it will be convenient to combine the discussion of this infl uence with some examination of the characteristic ideals of the engineers. We shall see that the infl uence on current views about problems of social organisation of this technological approach, or the engineering point of view, is much greater than is generally realised. Most of the schemes for a complete remodelling of society, from the earlier utopias to modern socialism, bear indeed the distinct mark of this infl uence. In recent years this desire to apply engineering technique to the solution of social problems has become very explicit;2 ‘political engineering’ and ‘social engineering’ have become fashionable catchwords which are quite as characteristic of the outlook of the present

1 For those who wish to pursue the matters discussed in the previous chapter, a few references to several relevant works may be added which have appeared since this was fi rst published. In addition to the Selected Writings of Edward Sapir, especially pp. 46ff., 104, 162, 166, 546ff., and 553, already mentioned earlier, the reader will with advantage consult Gilbert Ryle, “Knowing How and Knowing That”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. 46, 1945, pp. 1-16, and the corresponding passages in the same author’s The Concept of Mind (London: Hutchison’s University Library, 1949); Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (London: G. Routledge and Sons, 1945); and Michael Polanyi, The Logic of Liberty (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951).