Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry

By Dick Pels | Go to book overview

8

TOWARDS A THEORY OF INTELLECTUAL RIVALRY

Theory-work is not done just by ‘adding another brick to the wall of science’ but often involves throwing bricks as well; it not only involves paying one’s intellectual debts but also (and rather differently) ‘settling accounts’.

Alvin Gouldner


MIXING THE METAPHORS: KARL MANNHEIM

The notion that intellectual rivalry is a basic energetic force in the development of knowledge and science is one of the few ideas which modern philosophers and sociologists of science agree upon without reserve. In this context, the economic metaphor of the ‘market-place of ideas’ is as much favoured as the political model of contained ‘parliamentary’ dialogue, and in either case descriptive purposes are intimately wedded to normative ones. Free competition is traditionally associated with liberty, tolerance, and progress, while its absence is interpreted as a definite cause of intellectual vegetation, dogmatism, and arrogance. However, such consensus as may exist is only a thin film which scarcely subdues the differences of opinion which lie underneath. These disagreements not only concern the specific balance of competition and cooperation which obtains in scientific work, and hence how far their psychological and structural impact should extend, but they also touch the question to what degree scientific developments are steered by local, position-, or group-bound interests, and what this signifies for the alleged ‘truth’ or global rationality of the scientific enterprise.

If we attempt to impose some order upon such disputes, it appears that they can be deployed along a continuum which is limited by two extreme positions. One of these says that intellectual competition is a struggle between true and false ideas, and that truth radiates with such irresistible force that it ultimately prevails against all superstition and ideology. Although this model acknowledges the presence of competition, its effect is neutralized by a primordial consensus about the rules of the scientific game, which are in turn

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Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Liberal Dichotomy and Its Dissolution 18
  • 2 - Inside the Diamond 47
  • 3 - Marxism Vs. Anarchism 74
  • 4 - Fascism and the Primacy of the Political 101
  • 5 - Social Science as Power Theory 126
  • 6 - Power, Property, and Managerialism 164
  • 7 - Intellectual Closure and the New Class 192
  • 8 - Towards a Theory of Intellectual Rivalry 225
  • Notes 260
  • Bibliography 287
  • Index 311
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