Thinking the Unthinkable: The Riddles of Classical Social Theories / Edition 1

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In his famously eloquent style, Charles Lemert writes of social theory as no one else. Thinking the Unthinkable defies the prevailing assumption that social theory is merely a method for clarifying the facts of social life. Lemert shows how social theory began late in the 19th century as a struggle to come to terms with the failure of modern reason to solve the social problems created by the capitalist world-system. Since then, social theory has developed through twists and turns to rethink this Unthinkable. Hence the surprising innovations of recent years-postmodern, queer, postcolonial, third-wave feminist, and risk theories among others arising in the wake of globalization. Once again, Lemert has made the difficult clear in a book that students and all readers will treasure and keep.

About the Author:
Charles Lemert, the John C Andrus Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594511868
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Series: Great Barrington Bks.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Lemert, a distinguished sociologist, is currently Senior Fellow at the Center for Comparative Research at Yale University. He is the author of Thinking the Unthinkable: The Riddles of Classical Social Theories (Paradigm 2007) and many other books and articles on social theory.
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Table of Contents

Preface     vii
What is Social Theory?: Total Destruction, Bead Lust, and Other Unreasonable Social Things
The Impossible Reasons of Modern Civilizations     3
Social Theory and Modernity's Unthinkable     17
Social Violence as the Bead Lust of the Unthinkable     26
Five Ways to Skin a Cat: Modernity's Five Riddles     34
Unthinkable Social Things: Five Solutions to the Riddle of the Defiant Darkness, 1848-1914
Light and Dark     43
Revolutionary Reasons: Karl Marx and the Melting of Solid Modernity     47
Rationality's Double-Bind: Max Weber and Modernity's Threat to the Human Spirit     61
The Reasonable Hope of a Social Bond: Emile Durkheim and Modern Man's Trouble with Conflict     77
Riddles and Realities     97
Perverse Reasons: Sigmund Freud and the Discontents of Conscious Life     102
Unreasonable Differences: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Logic of the Feminist Standpoint     110
The Exiled Others Think the Unthinkable: The Classic Solutions Encounter Differences and Possibilities
Unthinkable Variations on the Classic Riddles: W. E. B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Georg Simmel, and Ferdinand de Saussure     119
Beyond the Double-Bind: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Gift of Second-Sight     124
A Revolutionary Social Bond: Anna Julia Cooper and the Colored Woman's Office     130
The Strange Social Benefits of Conflict: Georg Simmel and Modern Wandering     137
The Social Structure of Meanings: Ferdinand de Saussure and the Arbitrary Sign     147
Violence, War, and the Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991     159
The Unfolding of Social Theory in the Unraveling of the Twentieth Century into the Twenty-First     164
Bibliographic Essay and Other Acknowledgments     179
Index     187
About the Author     195
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