The Adventure of Reason: The Uses of Philosophy in Sociology

The Adventure of Reason: The Uses of Philosophy in Sociology

The Adventure of Reason: The Uses of Philosophy in Sociology

The Adventure of Reason: The Uses of Philosophy in Sociology

Synopsis

This book is an introduction to the philosophical ideas of Plato, Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Immanuel Kant on the role of reason which have contributed to the evolution of sociological thought. Reason, according to Rickman, has a relevance to sociology that has not been explored. Because he is interested in the philosophical reflections which proved influential for understanding the social world, he deals systematically with the four philosophers' central arguments and one or more of their most important and easily available texts. The book's bibliography lists books quoted and referred to in the text and offers suggestions for further reading in the philosophy of the social sciences.

Excerpt

The aim of this book is to introduce sociologists and indeed anyone interested in the life of society to some philosophic ideas. It is based on the belief that the study of society--like any other search for knowledge--involves broad assumptions and the use of concepts and methods which can be illuminated by reference to philosophy.

Such an approach must be severely selective for a work which tries to pay even lip service to the wealth and variety of philosophic ideas, and the many thinkers who contributed to a continuous debate can too easily degenerate into lists and labels. For this reason I have chosen a single theme--the role of reason. As important to our whole intellectual tradition as to philosophy itself, the role of reason has a relevance to sociology which has been insufficiently explored. To make this study manageable I had to limit myself further to four thinkers who signpost the development of this theme up to the point when sociology developed into an independent discipline in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Once philosophy acquired the new function of entering into a dialogue with that new science, the approach changed, requiring separate treatment. For this reason I have concentrated on the earlier period when concepts vital to the eventual development of sociology, such as causality, function, role, purpose, and types were forged, and fundamental methods of inquiry developed.

The choice of Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, and Kant requires . . .

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