The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change

The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change

by Randall Collins
     
 
Randall Collins traces the movement of philosophical thought in ancient Greece, China, Japan, India, the medieval Islamic and Jewish world, medieval Christendom, and modern Europe. What emerges from this history is a social theory of intellectual change, one that avoids both the reduction of ideas to the influences of society at large and the purely contingent local

Overview

Randall Collins traces the movement of philosophical thought in ancient Greece, China, Japan, India, the medieval Islamic and Jewish world, medieval Christendom, and modern Europe. What emerges from this history is a social theory of intellectual change, one that avoids both the reduction of ideas to the influences of society at large and the purely contingent local construction of meanings. Instead, Collins focuses on the social locations where sophisticated ideas are formed: the patterns of intellectual networks and their inner divisions and conflicts.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This astonishing book testifies to decades of research through the greater part of philosophy--East and West. Collins, a University of Pennsylvania sociologist who has written many basic theoretical works (Sociological Insight, Oxford Univ., 1992) attacks myths of the origin and spread of ideas about knowledge and the world. He demolishes at least two. One is that ideas flow ready-made from the heads of a few great men. The other is that ideas are created by "cultures." Collins shows again and again that small groups are the source of innovation. They are often stimulated by a single figure who tends to move from group to group, but several people make a contribution. Small factual errors inevitably turn up in such a book, but overall the research is deep and sound, and years of debate should lead to refinements. Right now, this is a mine of valuable information--meant for academic libraries but really fostering the oldest aims of the public library. Written without pretense or jargon, it reaches out to the ordinary reader, who could acquire a rich education in the humanities just by following it through.--Leslie Armour, Dominican Coll. of Philosophy & Theology, Ottawa
A.C. Grayling
. . .[B]reathtakingly comprehensive and ambitious. . .[however], he invariably takes on trust what is stated by commentators he has read. . .ignoring the energetic debate surrounding interpretation. . .although he is discussing the history of ideas, he all but ignores the ideas themselves. . .-- The New York Times Book Review
Anthony Quinton
An astonishing achievement... I plan to read the book again at leisure, concentrating on the fine structure rather than the overall picture.
New York Review of Books
William H. Mcnaeill
What an impressive book Randall Collins has written...so broadly learned, so ambitious in its analysis, and readable to boot!
Benjamin I. Schwartz
The Sociology of Philosophies is a truly astonishing work of scholarship based on a vast global erudition...it offers rich, highly illuminating and provocative insights on a vast array of topics.
European Sociological Review - Ilan Talmud
[A] rich, systematic and empirically grounded account of intellectual change in three civilizations. The Sociology of Philosophies is an ambitious, comprehensive, and brilliant account of the rationalization process of three world philosophies: Western, Indian, and Asian. In Collins' analysis, this developmental process is shown to be generated via social and conceptual networks...The book expounds upon an immense range of intellectual history, and certainly makes inspiring and interesting reading. And, despite the heavy subject and incredible scope, Collins' writing style resembles an oral lecture more than an abstruse disquisition.
European Journal of Sociology - Charles Camic
The one work that all sociologists of ideas, novices and veterans alike, hereafter must read It is beyond question Randall Collins' masterpiece.
Canadian Journal of Sociology - Peter Baehr
No sociologist who is seriously concerned with understanding intellectual life can afford to ignore it...Randall Collins has rendered a service to sociology second to none.
William H. McNaeill
What an impressive book Randall Collins has written...so broadly learned, so ambitious in its analysis, and readable to boot!

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674816473
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1998
Pages:
1120
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.20(d)

Meet the Author

Randall Collins is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >