THIS VOLUME, like the one that preceded it, is based on a course taught at the Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines at the University of Paris a few years ago. These lectures, like the previous ones, were not written down in advance. My friend Irving Kristol succeeded in convincing me that these remarks, which were first mimeographed for the convenience of my students, deserved to be corrected, revised, and finally offered to a larger audience. The indulgence of those who reviewed the first volume—even those who were most severe—prompts me not to reply to them but to point out the purpose and limits of this historical study.
The criticism most frequently addressed to the first volume was the lack of precision in my definition of sociology. How is one to reconstruct the past of a discipline whose objectives, methods, and boundaries are not exactly determined? Such, in one form or another, is the question that was asked of me or the reproach that was addressed to me; a question or reproach that was all the more legitimate because the English title promised something more than, or in any case something different from, the French title.
The course was entitled "The Great Doctrines of Historical Sociology." A doctrine is more than or different from a theory. The word doctrine suggests a complex body of judgments of fact and judgments of value, a social philosophy as well as a system of concepts or of general propositions. Moreover, the adjective historical linked with the term sociology indicated the orientation of my curiosity: I