This book reformulates the sociological subdiscipline known as the sociology of knowledge. Knowledge is presented as more than ideology, including as well false consciousness, propaganda, science and art.
Recently, many historians of science have chosen to present their historical narratives from the ‘actors’-eye view’. Scientific knowledge not available within the actors’ culture is not permitted to do explanatory work. Proponents of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge purport to ground this historiography on epistemological relativism. I argue that they are making an unnecessary mistake: unnecessary because the historiographical genre in question can be defended on aesthetic and didactic grounds; and a mistake because the argument from relativism is in (...) any case incoherent.The argument of the present article is self-contained, but steers clear of metaphysical debates in the philosophy of science. To allay fears of hidden assumptions, the sequel, to be published in the following issue, will consider SSK’s prospects of succour from scientific realism, instrumentalism, and a metaphysical system of Bruno Latour’s own devising. (shrink)
Historians of science have frequently sought to exclude modern scientific knowledge from their narratives. Part I of this paper, published in the previous issue, cautioned against seeing more than a literary preference at work here. In particular, it was argued—contra advocates of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge —that a commitment to epistemological relativism should not be seen as having straightforward historiographical consequences. Part II considers further SSK-inspired attempts to entangle the currently fashionable historiography with particular positions in the philosophy (...) of science. None, I argue, is promising. David Bloor’s proposed alliance with scientific realism relies upon a mistaken view of contrastive explanation; Andrew Pickering’s appeal to instrumentalism is persuasive for particle physics but much less so for science as a whole; and Bruno Latour’s home-grown metaphysics is so bizarre that its compatibility with SSK is, if anything, a further blow to the latter’s plausibility. (shrink)
1. The Place of Intellectual Life: The University -- The University as an Institutional Solution to the Problem of Knowledge -- The Alienability of Knowledge in Our So-called Knowledge Society -- The Knowledge Society as Capitalism of the Third Order -- Will the University Survive the Era of Knowledge Management? -- Postmodernism as an Anti-university Movement -- Regaining the University's Critical Edge by Historicizing the Curriculum -- Affirmative Action as a Strategy for Redressing the Balance Between Research and Teaching -- (...) Academics Rediscover Their Soul: The Rebirth of Academic Freedom' -- 2. The Stuff of Intellectual Life: Philosophy -- Epistemology as 'Always Already' Social Epistemology -- From Social Epistemology to the Sociology of Philosophy: The Codification of Professional Prejudices? -- Interlude: Seeds of an Alternative Sociology of Philosophy -- Prolegomena to a Critical Sociology of Twentieth-century Anglophone Philosophy -- Analytic Philosophy's Ambivalence Toward the Empirical Sciences -- Professionalism as Differentiating American and British Philosophy -- Conclusion: Anglophone Philosophy as a Victim of Its Own Success -- 3. The People of Intellectual Life: Intellectuals -- Can Intellectuals Survive if the Academy Is a No-fool Zone? -- How Intellectuals Became an Endangered Species in Our Times: The Trail of Psychologism -- A Genealogy of Anti-intellectualism: From Invisible Hand to Social Contagion -- Re-defining the Intellectual as an Agent of Distributive Justice -- The Critique of Intellectuals in a Time of Pragmatist Captivity -- Pierre Bourdieu: The Academic Sociologist as Public Intellectual -- 4. The Improvisational Nature of Intellectual Life -- Academics Caught Between Plagiarism and Bullshit -- Bullshit: A Disease Whose Cure Is Always Worse -- The Scientific Method as a Search for the (Piled) Higher (and Deeper) Bullshit -- Conclusion: How to Improvize on the World-historic Stage -- Summary of the Argument. (shrink)
In this paper, I show that there are important but hitherto unnoticed similarities between key figures of the Vienna Circle and early defenders of sociology of knowledge. The similarities regard their stance on potential implications of the study of science for political and societal issues. I argue that notably Otto Neurath and Karl Mannheim are concerned with proposing a genuine political philosophy of science that is remarkably different from today’s emerging interest in the relation between science and society in (...) philosophy of science. (shrink)
Several, seemingly unrelated problems of empirical research in the 'sociology of scientific knowledge' can be analyzed as following from initial assumptions with respect to the status of the knowledge content of science. These problems involve: (1) the relation between the level of the scientific field and the group level; (2) the boundaries and the status of 'contexts', and (3) the emergence of so-called 'asymmetry' in discourse analysis. It is suggested that these problems can be clarified by allowing for cognitive (...) factors as independent ('heterogeneous') variables, in addition to and in interaction with (i.e., not only as attributes of) social factors. In the 'sociology of translation', 'heterogeneity' among scientists, cognitions and textual elements has been made a basic assumption. This heterogeneity is bound together in an 'actor network'. However, since the 'actor network' is an empirical category, the methodological problems remain unresolved. This has consequences for the relation between empirical data and theoretical inferences. (shrink)
The focus on discourse and communication in the recent sociology of scientific knowledge offers new perspectives for an integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches in science studies. The common point of interest is the question of how reflexive communication systems communicate. The elaboration of the mathematical theory of communication into a theory of potentially self-organizing entropical systems enables us to distinguish the various layers of communication, and to specify the dynamic changes in these configurations over time. For example, a (...) paradigmatic discourse can be considered as a virtual communication system at the supra-individual level. Communication systems, however, cannot be directly observed. One observes only their instantaneous operations. The reflexive analyst is able to attribute the observed uncertainty to hypothesized systems that interact in the events. The implications of this perspective for various programmes in the sociology of scientific knowledge are discussed. (shrink)
This unusually innovative book treats reflexivity, not as a philosophical conundrum, but as a practical issue that arises in the course of scholarly research and argument. In order to demonstrate the concrete and consequential nature of reflexivity, Malcolm Ashmore concentrates on an area in which reflexive "problems" are acute: the sociology of scientific knowledge. At the forefront of recent radical changes in our understanding of science, this increasingly influential mode of analysis specializes in rigorous deconstructions of the research practices (...) and textual products of the scientific enterprise. Through a series of detailed examinations of the practices and products of the sociology of scientific knowledge, Ashmore turns its own claims and findings back onto itself and opens up a whole new era of exploration beyond the common fear of reflexive self-destruction. (shrink)
Academic inquiry, in devoting itself primarily to the pursuit of knowledge, is profoundly and damagingly irrational, in a wholesale, structural fashion, when judged from the standpoint of helping to promote human welfare. Judged from this standpoint, academic inquiry devoted to the pursuit of knowledge violates three of the four most elementary rules of rational problem-solving conceivable. Above all, it fails to give intellectual priority to the tasks of (1) articulating problems of living, including global problems, and (2) proposing and critically (...) assessing possible solutions – possible social actions. This gross, structural irrationality of academic inquiry stems from blunders of the 18th century French Enlightenment. The philosophes had the brilliant idea of learning from scientific progress how to achieve social progress towards an enlightened world, but in implementing this idea they made three disastrous blunders. They got the nature of the progress-achieving methods of science wrong; they failed to generalize these methods properly; and most disastrously, they applied these methods to acquiring knowledge about society, and not directly to solving social problems. These blunders are still inherent in academia today, with dire consequences for the state of the world. All this has been pointed out prominently many times since 1976, but has been ignored. (shrink)
Much has been written in the last decade about how we should understand the value of the sociology of bioethics. Increasingly the value of the sociology of bioethics is interpreted by its advocates directly in terms of its relationship to bioethics. It is claimed that the sociology of bioethics (and related disciplinary approaches) should be seen as an important component of work in bioethics. In this paper we wish to examine whether, and how, the sociology of (...) bioethics can be defended as a valid and justified research activity, in the context of debates about the nature of bioethics. We begin by presenting and arguing for an account of bioethics that does justice to the content of the field, the range of questions that belong within this field, and the justificatory standards (and methodological orientations) that can provide convincing answers to these questions. We then consider the role of sociology in bioethics and show how and under what conditions it can contribute to answering questions within bioethics. In the final section, we return to the sociology of bioethics to show that it can make only a limited contribution to the field. (shrink)
This paper considers the charge that—contrary to the current widespread assumption accompanying the near-universal neglect of his work—Wilhelm Jerusalem (1854–1923) cannot count as one of the founders of the sociology of (scientific) knowledge. In order to elucidate the matter, Jerusalem’s “sociology of cognition” is here reconstructed in the context of his own work in psychology and philosophy as well as in the context of the work of some predecessors and contemporaries. It is argued that while it shows clear (...) discontinuities with the present-day understanding of the sociology of (scientific) knowledge, Jerusalem’s sociology of cognition was not only distinctive in its own day but also anticipated in nuce a much-discussed theme in current history of science. (shrink)
This paper presents a survey of the philosophy of science in Estonia. Topics covered include the historical background (science at the 17th century Academia Gustaviana, in the 19th century, during the Soviet period) and an overview of the current situation and main areas of research (the problem of demarcation, a critique of the traditional understandings of science, φ-science, classical and non-classical science, the philosophy of chemistry, the problem of induction, the sociology of scientific knowledge, semiotics as a methodology).
Much of Arnold Hauser’s work on the social history of art and the philosophy of art history is informed by a concern for the cognitive dimension of art. The present paper offers a reconstruction of this aspect of Hauser’s project and identifies areas of overlap with the sociology of knowledge—where the latter is to be understood as both a separate discipline and a going intellectual concern. Following a discussion of Hauser’s personal and intellectual background, as well as of the (...) shifting political and academic setting of his work, the paper addresses one of Hauser’s central questions, viz. how best to square a thoroughgoing commitment to the social nature of art with the reality of successive artistic styles, given that the latter seem to be characterizable on purely formal grounds. This is followed by a discussion of Hauser’s conflicted views on the relation between art, science, and technology. This injects a tension into Hauser’s work, due to his initial reluctance to explain just how the aesthetic and the cognitive realms relate. The final part of the paper, through a closer examination of the analogies and disanalogies that Hauser sees between art history and the history of science, attempts to give a positive answer—“on Hauser’s behalf”, as it were—to the question of whether art may be credited with a specific cognitive dimension of its own, and if so, what its contribution to our cognitive enterprise may consist in. (shrink)
Contemporary sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) is defined by its relativist trend. Its programme often calls for the support of philosophers, such as Duhem, Quine, and Wittgenstein. A critical re-reading of key texts shows that the main principles of relativism are only derivable with difficulty. The thesis of the underdetermination of theory doesn't forbid that Duhem, in many places, validates a correspondence-consistency theory of truth. He never said that social beliefs and interests fill the lack of underdetermination. Quine's idea (...) of a selective revision of hypotheses, as well as the neat incompatibility between holism and conventionalism, openly challenges the principles of relativism. Wittgenstein's work, which is not presented in book-form but rather as a tree, forces us to avoid aphoristic choices that credit any text-excising. This remark allows us to tackle the passages that sociological relativism is based on.Mathematical conventions are not anthropological objects. When Wittgenstein examines the "language-games," he only speaks of the functioning of natural language, not to be confused with scientific formal languages. We then should render the formula "language-game" by "well-defined, explicit and compulsory rules of communication", which is a much less attractive formula for relativism. Consequently, there does not exist a real continuity between the epistemologies of Duhem, Quine and Wittgenstein, and the recent works of the SSK. (shrink)
Drawing upon Marxist, French structuralist and American pragmatist traditions, this lively and accessible introduction to the sociology of knowledge gives to its classic texts a fresh reading, arguing that various bodies of knowledge operate within culture to create powerful cultural dispositions, meanings, and categories. It looks at the cultural impact of the forms and images of mass media, the authority of science, medicine, and law as bodies of contemporary knowledge and practice. Finally, it considers the concept of "engendered knowledge" (...) through a consideration of the complex and often troubled relationship between women and science. The sociology of knowledge has sometimes been marginalized as a narrow academic specialization. This lucid study reclaims it as an essential tool for all serious students of culture in all its forms. (shrink)
Publisher's blurb: In this bold and original study, Jeff Kochan constructively combines the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) with Martin Heidegger’s early existential conception of science. Kochan shows convincingly that these apparently quite different approaches to science are, in fact, largely compatible, even mutually reinforcing. --- This open-access book can be read/downloaded for free at the publisher's website -- https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/670 -- where the interactive HTML version may also be translated (automatically but imperfectly) into several other languages.
2015 Reprint of Original 1936 American Edition. Exact facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Karl Mannheim was a Hungarian-born sociologist, influential in the first half of the 20th century and one of the founding fathers of classical sociology as well as a founder of the sociology of knowledge. His essays on the sociology of knowledge have become classics in the field. In "Ideology and Utopia" he argued that the application of the term (...) ideology ought to be broadened. He traced the history of the term from what he called a "particular" view. This view originally saw ideology as the perhaps deliberate obscuring of facts. Over time this view gave way to a "total" conception (most notably in Marx), which argued that a whole social group's thought was formed by its social position (e.g. the proletariat's beliefs were conditioned by their relationship to the means of production). However, he called for a further step, which he called a general total conception of ideology, in which it was recognized that everyone's beliefs-including the social scientist's-were a product of the context they were created in. Mannheim points out social class, location and generation as the greatest determinants of knowledge. He feared this could lead to relativism but proposed the idea of relationism as an antidote. To uphold the distinction, he maintained that the recognition of different perspectives according to differences in time and social location appears arbitrary only to an abstract and disembodied theory of knowledge. (shrink)
On the Importance of the Institution and Social Self in a Sociology of Conflicts of Interest Content Type Journal Article Category Case Studies Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11673-012-9355-1 Authors Christopher Mayes, Rock Ethics Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802-1601, USA Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529.
Despite the enormous growth in happiness research in recent decades, there remains a lack of consistency in the use of the terms happiness, satisfaction, contentment and well-being. In this article I argue for a sociologically grounded distinction between happiness and contentment that defines the former as positive affect and the latter as positive reflection. Contentment is therefore understood as a fulfilling relationship with the self and society and happiness involves pleasurable experiences. There is a history of similar distinctions in philosophy (...) and psychoanalysis, but much of the contemporary discourse fails to distinguish between individual and collective definitions of happiness. This article will argue that happiness and contentment ought not to be treated as competing approaches to the good life, but as complimentary forms of emotional experience. Further, I argue that the current interest in happiness can be linked to larger culture shifts involving neoliberalism and individualism. (shrink)
This chapter discusses Kuhn’s conception of the history of science by focussing on two respects in which Kuhn is an historicist historian and philosopher of science. I identify two distinct, but related, aspects of historicism in the work of Hegel and show how these are also found in Kuhn’s work. First, Kuhn held tradition to be important for understanding scientific change and that the tradition from which a scientific idea originates must be understood in evaluating that idea. This makes Kuhn (...) a historicist in a sense we may call conservative. Secondly, Kuhn held that there is a pattern to the development of science. In the light of the fact that he held scientific change to be law-like, we can call this second aspect of Kuhn’s historicism determinist. I discuss the relationship of Kuhn’s historicist historiography to the philosophical purposes he had for his history of science, namely to refute a conception of scientific progress as driven towards increasing truth by something like ‘the scientific method’. I argue that while this determinism refutes certain positivist conceptions of scientific change, it also requires internalism—the view that the causes of scientific change come from within science, not from outside. Consequently, Kuhn’s historiography of science contrasts with that implicit in much of post-Kuhnian science studies. (shrink)
Starting from the metaphor of “playing chamber music at a rock festival” used by Peter L. Berger in 1992 to describe the impact of The Social Construction of Reality on US sociology, this article works out how the book’s somewhat puzzling legacy as a bestseller and a classic with remarkably rare direct follow-ups in the US discourse can indeed be conceived. I argue that one needs to take into account the theoretical-historical context in which Berger and Luckmann developed their (...) ideas, including the specific forms of knowledge production in US sociology at the time, the institutional background of the book’s emergence at the New School for Social Research and the author’s biographical trajectories. On this basis, on can explain why Berger and Luckmann’s reformulation of the sociology of knowledge both perfectly met the 1960s Zeitgeist and at the same time remained theoretically marginal. (shrink)
The article presents results of an ongoing study of centers of intellectual innovations in post-Soviet Russia. Using the European University at St. Petersburg as the main object of their analysis, the authors demonstrate how new models of academic careers, which became available in the 1980s and 1990s, were eventually institutionalized as new models of knowledge production and educational practices. Supported by American foundations, this private university had to invent a new institutional structure and to position itself within the field of (...) higher education, still mostly dominated by the state. (shrink)
Mother-blame, the propensity to explain negative outcomes for children by focusing on the failures of mothers, has a long history in the social-scientific study of adolescent deviance. We examine trends in mother-blaming over time by performing a textual analysis of scholarly accounts of the etiology of anorexia nervosa. Our reading of these expert accounts suggests that mother-blaming for child pathology is interconnected with changing ideas about proper social roles for women. Deficient mothering, that is, was often linked to a woman's (...) ambitiousness, willingness to abandon familial duties in favor of careers, or, conversely, her embracement of patriarchal proscriptions for what a woman should be. Poor maternal parenting was a consistent and dominant theme through much of the period we analyzed, however, the structural and cultural explanations appeared to change substance and form in synchrony with prevailing ideas about a woman's rightful relationship to the paid labor market. Other social explanations for changing rhetoric, including the gender composition of published accounts, are also explored. (shrink)
A review article of Dr. Henk E. S. Woldring. Karl Mannheim: the Development of his Thought Philosophy, Sociology and Social Ethics. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1986.Henk Woldring's extensive analysis of the life and thought of Kar! Mannheim raises many questions. It is a complex work, difficult to review within a short compass. Woldring has adopted (at least) three roles on the writing of this important work. He is the intellectual biographer, the critical theorist and also the critical commentator. As biographer (...) he reserves the first 60 pages far an outline of the colourfulllife and career of his subject. As critical theorist he seeks to construct an account of Mannheim's intellectual development in order to let hirn 'speak for hirnself', leading the reader to a deeper apprecia- tion of the inner tensions within his (i.e. Mannheim's) perspective. As a critical commentator Woldring reviews Mannheim's theoretical contribution as a 20th century attempt to relate science and culture, social planning and democracy, religious belief and the future of civilization. By these three routes Woldring places Mannheim within the thought climate of the 20th century. (shrink)
Can sociology comprehend evil? The contemporary relevance of Kurt H. Wolff’s sociology is his lucid, critical vision of modernity which does not shy away from understanding what evil is. This is accompanied not by pessimism, but by trust in human beings and their positive ability to appeal to the moral conscience. Read today, Wolff’s pages must be placed in the category of a new understanding of the human subject and the diagnosis of our time, the request for which (...) threads in and out of contemporary social theory. Awareness of history, rejection of sociological nominalism, emphasis upon the role of the human subject in an unprecedented situation: in Wolff, these themes converge and invite us to open ourselves to the re-enchantment of the world. After describing with some detail the main concepts of Wolff’s sociological theory and phenomenological approach, the paper suggests a reading of the re-enchantment of the world in terms of a sociological confrontation with evil, which has all too often been bypassed by sociology. We cannot grasp the evildoer's motivations from the perspective of an autonomous, rationally disengaged and masterful subject which tends to eclipse emotive and embodied senses of selfhood. By suspending the taken-for-granted definitions which exist in mainstream literature, by making an excruciating effort in looking at or reading detailed descriptions of evildoing, by assuming the victim’s suffering as part of our sociological explanation, we can start understanding what evil is today and in what way it is connected to modernity. (shrink)