chapter  1
Introduction: Japanese Economic Growth, Images and Ideologies
Pages 25

For almost a century the study of economics in the West has been dominated by the Neoclassical paradigm. Within this paradigm, the economy is seen as a system whose operation may be objectively analyzed using scientific principles: just as Newtonian science seeks to discover immutable natural laws in the mechanisms of the physical world, so Neoclassicism aims to disclose the immutable laws hidden in the mechanisms of the economic world. The student of the economy, therefore, is not concerned with opinion or ideology, but "solely with what is."l

This perspective has inevitably framed the perception of many of the most influential English-language studies of Japanese economic development. Ohkawa Kazushi and Shinohara Miyohei, whose painstaking reconstructions of statistical data provide the basis for much recent research on Japanese growth, emphasize the importance of the "historical laboratory" within which the experiments performed should be "as neutral as possible to avoid injecting one's own biases.,,2 The 1960s' debates on Japanese modernization took place within the framework of an "attempt to devise a unified and objective conception of modernization,,,3 while a more recent overview of postwar growth, noting that "history does not belong either to the establishment or to those who fancy themselves to be antiestablishment," attempts "to grasp the flow of

postwar economic history from an objective, neutral position."4 In recent years, however, the limitations of Newtonian positiv-

ism have become increasingly apparent even within the traditional hard sciences themselves. As the physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote in 1958, "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."5