¹ 3 - 2000
Ratz M.V.

How We Perceive the World We Live In (On Methodological Problems of Interpreting the Post-Industrial World)

The article is, by its form, an extensive review of a 4-volume collective work created, basically within a major scientific project, mostly by scholars from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences. The title of the work as a whole repeats the theme of the project: «The Post-Industrial World: Centre, Periphery, Russia». The titles of the volumes are, respectively: «General Problems of the Post-Industrial Epoch»; «Globalization and Periphery»; «The Specific Case of Russia»; «The World Culture on the Threshold of the 21st Century». This collective work, the reviewer presumes, is of major interest for its being aimed at the comprehension of the contemporary world in its entirety, though the authors, as he notes, confine themselves to those modes of perceiving the world we live in, and to those ideas of it, which involve the formation and civilization approaches and appeal to the modernization and globalization processes. Without contesting directly the conceptual content of the volumes, the reviewer, nevertheless, lays down, in the basic points, his own vision of a fruitful methodology of the said comprehension. This methodology, in his opinion, could involve, for example, making use of G.Soros’ typology of social systems; it, then, would make a point of the fundamental distinction between the processes of evolution, modernization, progress, and development, between such notions as administration and management, resourses and material, etc. In the long run, with due reference, especially to G.P.Shchedrovitzky and the Moscow methodological study group, the reviewer discloses, as if reluctantly, the methodological approach professed by himself - one that proceeds from human thinking and activity - to set it off against the naturalist approach within which, in his opinion, the methodology of the work reviewed, after all, remains. And It is, finally, in conceptual connection with the basic principles of the human/social activity approach that he cites the definition of culture he is himself guided by; the definition he cites, was, with due argumentation, published as early as 1967, but up to now has not been made by our human sciences elite its own property.