Durkheim, language, and history: A pragmatist perspective

Sociological Theory 11 (2):152-170 (1993)
How do we go about understanding the "classic texts" of sociological theory? This paper begins by reviewing the historicist position of Jones, with its foundations in the work of Quentin Skinner and other historians of political theory. This position then is criticized from the standpoint of the neo-Deweyan pragmatism of Richard Rorty. Specifically, Rorty's pragmatism encourages us to revise Skinner's and Jones's historicism on three specific points: the acceptance of treatments of classical texts that are undeniably anachronistic but nonetheless unobjectionable; the restriction of Skinner's notion of an agent's "privileged access" to his or her intentions; and the adoption of a view of the history of sociological theory as a succession of vocabularies-a view that encourages a new kind of dialogue between historians of sociological theory and theorists themselves. The last point is articulated in a concrete example of the interpretation of one of Durkheim's most characteristic arguments. The conclusion again stresses the benefits to be derived from viewing sociological theory-both past and present-from this pragmatist perspective
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/202140
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

14 ( #184,535 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #118,705 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.