Beyond the Enlightenment: Lives and Thoughts of Social Theorists

Beyond the Enlightenment: Lives and Thoughts of Social Theorists

Beyond the Enlightenment: Lives and Thoughts of Social Theorists

Beyond the Enlightenment: Lives and Thoughts of Social Theorists

Synopsis

Important ideas that helped shape 20th-century thought- ideas which continue to hold great significance for anyone interested in the social world- are made accessible in this illuminating volume. Readers will be motivated to delve into the deeper pool of knowledge available on major social theorists and their groundbreaking ideas.

A mixture of biographical and historical ideas, this book was written to introduce social theory to a broad audience. It looks at the intersection between the theorist as a social actor and as a reflection of his or her time. The volume's breadth makes it a useful tool for those interested in sociology and its many luminaries.

Excerpt

This book is written to introduce social theory to a broad audience in the hope that people will come to understand, as Charles Lemert says, [social theory is a basic survival kit.] It distinguishes itself from many other perspectives (such as social philosophy or sociological theory) by its willingness to be both critical and factual and often combines these two approaches. It does not always adhere to strict empirical protocol; yet, its aim is to explore and explain society and culture. Even though social theory seems by its very nature to be abstract and complex, this is not always the case. However, for a book like this one to attempt to present the ideas of Karl Marx in eight pages or the theories of Judith Butler in four is, at the very least, an optimistic if not a quixotic venture.

That said, this book is not so much a traditional introduction to theory as it is a preface to those ideas that underlie some of the most important theories of our time. It is intended to serve up some of these ideas as hors d'oeuvres to those hungry enough for a snack but not yet ready for a heavy meal. Beyond the Enlightenment, in this sense, is in a class of its own.

Although it might be used for a class in introduction to sociology or in a social theory course to supplement more rigorous treatments of theorists and their ideas, or to introduce students to the personalities and some of the theoretical constructs that brought the authors to the attention of serious scholars, it is also intended as a reference that can be of value to the layperson who simply wants to understand a bit more about a name that is familiar but not clearly connected to ideas. If used in a classroom setting . . .

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