The Rise of Social Theory

The Rise of Social Theory

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This work gives an account of the birth of social theory as a distinctive and modern intellectual genre. Focusing mainly on France, Heilbron traces the origins of modern social theory in the Englightenment, and discusses the work of early theorists such as Montesquieu, Rousseau and the Scottish moral philosophers. He examines the trend towards scientizing social theory in the decades around 1800, and analyzes the first attempts to formulate sociology as a relatively autonomous discourse, culminating in the writings of Comte. The book argues that it was the natural sciences, rather than moral philosophy or natural law, which became the leading intellectual model in the 19th century. The mathematician Cordorcet and a physiologist, Cabanis, were the most prominent representatives of this trend. Combining social and intellectual history, it examines changes in social science within the context of wider developments in the intellectual domain, and discusses the social conditions under which these changes more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 152 x 229mm
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • notes, index
  • 0745611052
  • 9780745611051

Table of contents

Part 1 The rise of social theory: intellectuals between academy and salon; rivalry for reason; French moralists and the social order; the contruction of social theory; theoretical models compared - France and Scotland. Part 2 From social theory to social science; reform, revolution and the Napoleonic era; intellectual transformations around 1800; natural science and revolution; the literary opposition; models for a social science. Part 3 Foundations of sociology: the interrrupted career of Auguste Comte; politics, science and philosophy; the turn to the philosophy of science; response and more

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