Figurational sociology and the rhetoric of post-philosophy

Stephen Dunne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Norbert Elias's early work - specifically 'Idea and Individual' - offers a positive account of philosophy's potential contribution towards historically oriented concrete sociological investigation. His later work, on the other hand, characterizes philosophical investigation as little more than a distraction from the myth-exposing vocation of the (figurational) sociologist. This later 'post-philosophical' account of figurational sociology predominates today. Within this article, however, I suggest it has come to prominence through a series of dubious rhetorical strategies, most notably subtextual hearsay and disingenuous caricature. By dispensing with the post-philosophical rhetoric, I argue, figurational sociologists might again, following the Elias of 'Idea and Individual', take the possibility of a philosophically grounded sociology seriously. If the article does not convince figurational sociologists to revisit philosophy as a potentially positive sociological resource, however, my effort will not have been wasted for as long as it demonstrates the presently dubious nature of their post-philosophical rhetoric.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-95
Number of pages20
JournalHistory of the Human Sciences
Volume27
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2014

Keywords

  • epistemology
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Norbert Elias
  • rhetoric
  • sociology of knowledge

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