The Macho Magister Ludi : An Analysis of Ernest Gellner’s Thought-Style

History of European Ideas 41 (6):788-803 (2015)

Authors
Stefan Schubert
Lund University (PhD)
Abstract
SummaryErnest Gellner was, by all accounts, one of the most unconventional thinkers of the twentieth century. Not only was the content of his theories often strikingly original, but he also arrived at them by use of a singularly personal thought-style. The article describes the most salient features of this thought-style: his quest for overviews, on the one hand, and for penetrating and unexpected insights, on the other, his opposition to what he perceived as humanistic complacency, his academic elitism, and much else. In the final section, an assessment of the most conspicuous feature of Gellner's thought-style—his tendency to downplay the importance of detail and to focus on high-level theory—is given. It is argued that this characteristic served Gellner better in philosophy and the history of ideas than in the social sciences.
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DOI 10.1080/01916599.2014.991141
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