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By Peter Wagner

This e-book argues that sociology has misplaced its skill to supply severe diagnoses of the current human situation simply because sociology has stopped contemplating the philosophical standards of social enquiry. The publication makes an attempt to revive that skill by way of retrieving a few of the key questions that sociologists are inclined to gloss over, inescapability and attainability. The booklet identifies 5 key questions during which problems with inescapability and attainability emerge. those are the questions of the knowledge of our wisdom, the viability of our politics, the continuity of our selves, the accessibility of the previous, and the transparency of the longer term. The ebook demonstrates how those questions are addressed in several kinds and by means of assorted intellectua

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Additional info for Theorizing Modernity: Inescapability and Attainability in Social Theory

Example text

About 1960, many sociological texts exuded an air of conWdence over the validity of concepts and methods and over the degree to which social scientists would actually analyse and explain social phenomena adequately. Robert Fraisse (1981), a former French research administrator, reviewing his experience called this attitude ‘epistemic optimism’. By 1980, such optimism had clearly waned and had given way to profound scepticism, persisting up to this day, as to the possibility of understanding societies sociologically.

The attempt to include all that is doubtful within the Wxed grasp of that which is theoretically certain is committed to insincerity and evasion, and in consequence will have the stigmata of internal contradiction. In the light of our earlier considerations this statement may be read as an indictment of the modernist social sciences. They rested on assumptions about the certainty of the social world, and that is indeed where they failed – proved both contradictory and evasive, sometimes also insincere – when nature proved to be more uncertain than expected.

The trajectory of the social sciences that I tried to describe is constitutively historical in the sense that a double – socio-political and intellectual – process of construction was at work in which the success of the one validates the success of the other. The social-scientiWc quest for certainty was made under conditions of great uncertainty. This quest for certainty was answered by a socio-political transformation that – by and large – produced those social relations and structures that had epistemically been hypothesized at the beginning.

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