Sociological Insights of Great Thinkers: Sociology through Literature, Philosophy, and Science

Sociological Insights of Great Thinkers: Sociology through Literature, Philosophy, and Science

Sociological Insights of Great Thinkers: Sociology through Literature, Philosophy, and Science

Sociological Insights of Great Thinkers: Sociology through Literature, Philosophy, and Science

Synopsis

Sociologists have long recognized that sociological insight can be gleaned from creative thinkers outside their formal discipline. Sociological Insights of Great Thinkers: Sociology through Literature, Philosophy, and Science captures and examines those insights in 32 essays that discuss scholars and writers not normally associated with any sociological school of thought.

Following a tradition of enriching the sociological toolkit by finding influence in philosophy and literature, the volume's contributors—an international group of renowned scholars—eschew biography to focus solely on sociological interpretations that can be drawn from the work of many of history's preeminent thinkers. Among the book's subjects are philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Kant, and Cassirer; scientists such as Darwin and Galileo; and authors such as Kafka, Proust, and Shakespeare. The essays not only allow readers to see such thinkers in a new light, but underscore the fact that sociological questions have lain at the very heart of humanity throughout history.

Excerpt

The idea for this project came to us on a beautiful spring day in Florence several years ago. It was the focus of a light dinner conversation, which later that same evening evolved into a fantasy multi-volume encyclopedia, spanning the history of humankind from Aristotle to Zola. As time passed we would occasionally return to the idea, and to our great surprise it began to shape into something that we actually thought we would like to pursue even in the light of day. One of us (Edling) enjoyed a highly stimulating spell at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin at this time, and that also provided fuel for the idea. Finally, in late 2007 we began to seriously plan for the project, and some months later we tried our bearings on a few colleagues and mentors.

Our invitation to join the project was extended to a number of sociologists from across the world. We suggested interesting thinkers to consider, but by and large we left it to the contributors to decide on whom to write. We regret that we failed to convince everyone that we contacted and that we lost a few unnamed contributors at a late stage. Perhaps you will join us for volume two? Of course there are a few grumpy exceptions to the rule, but from the very first moment we felt that the invitation was met with genuine support, and that feedback truly gave us all the motivation we needed to see the project through to this point.

We wish to extend our deep and sincere gratitude to all the contributors, both for writing stimulating texts on original topics and for infecting us with . . .

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