The Diversity in US Social Science

By Frazer, Michael L. | Harvard International Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

The Diversity in US Social Science


Frazer, Michael L., Harvard International Review


In the Winter 2010 issue, Kishore Mahbubani laments the fact that American social science has wrongly adopted methodologies modeled on the natural sciences, resulting in a baleful cultural myopia ("Beyond the Universal: The Cultural Myopia of US Social Science")."Quantification, abstraction, and emphasis on model-building and replicability led to a fundamental failure to understand the differences in human societies," Mahbubani writes, adding that the "destruction of 'area studies' made things worse."

Mahbubani's report of the death of area studies is greatly exaggerated. My office complex at Harvard houses a dozen centers for precisely such scholarship--from the Committee on African Studies to the Ukrainian Research Institute.

There are also other corners of US scholarship which have never been infected by the myopic scientism which Mahbubani describes. My own subfield, political theory, is certainly among them. Although there are as many approaches to political theory as there are political theorists, most reject methodologies modeled on the natural sciences in favor of the study of canonical philosophers from Plato onward. Such is certainly the approach of the followers of Leo Strauss--perhaps the most politically influential school of right-wing American theorists active today. Indeed, many have (rightly or wrongly) attributed the decision to invade Iraq to the influence of "Straussians" over the second Bush administration.

Not only do Strauss's followers reject the excessive scientism which Mahbubani describes in favor of the study of canonical texts, but they also reject the idea of an entirely "Western" canon in favor of the study of great works produced in a variety of cultural contexts, including Islamic ones. Strauss himself was an accomplished scholar of medieval Judeo-Islamic political philosophy, which he studied in the original Arabic. Prominent Straussians include not only Paul Wolfowitz's teacher Allan Bloom and William Kristol's professor Harvey Mansfield but also the late Iraqi Muhsin Mahdi, mentor to an entire generation of American specialists in Islamic philosophy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Diversity in US Social Science
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.