War in Social Thought: Hobbes to the Presentby Hans Joas, Wolfgang Knöbl
This book, the first of its kind, provides a sweeping critical history of social theories about war and peace from Hobbes to the present. Distinguished social theorists Hans Joas and Wolfgang Knöbl present both a broad intellectual history and an original argument as they trace the development of thinking about war over more than 350 years--from the premodern
This book, the first of its kind, provides a sweeping critical history of social theories about war and peace from Hobbes to the present. Distinguished social theorists Hans Joas and Wolfgang Knöbl present both a broad intellectual history and an original argument as they trace the development of thinking about war over more than 350 years--from the premodern era to the period of German idealism and the Scottish and French enlightenments, and then from the birth of sociology in the nineteenth century through the twentieth century. While focusing on social thought, the book draws on many disciplines, including philosophy, anthropology, and political science.
Joas and Knöbl demonstrate the profound difficulties most social thinkers--including liberals, socialists, and those intellectuals who could be regarded as the first sociologists--had in coming to terms with the phenomenon of war, the most obvious form of large-scale social violence. With only a few exceptions, these thinkers, who believed deeply in social progress, were unable to account for war because they regarded it as marginal or archaic, and on the verge of disappearing. This overly optimistic picture of the modern world persisted in social theory even in the twentieth century, as most sociologists and social theorists either ignored war and violence in their theoretical work or tried to explain it away. The failure of the social sciences and especially sociology to understand war, Joas and Knöbl argue, must be seen as one of the greatest weaknesses of disciplines that claim to give a convincing diagnosis of our times.
"This excellent book is the best in its field, and it deserves and will surely gain wide readership."Choice
"War in Social Thought issues a provocative warning to those who engage in theoretical and political debates without taking account of the history of ideas. Indeed, Hans Joas and Wolfgang Knöbl demonstrate that seemingly new structural ideas about war and peace in fact have antecedents in the past and are discredited by the bloody history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."Ingo Trauschweizer, Michigan War Studies Review
"That this book provides a good recounting of the effects of warfare within the world stage of competing nation-states bound by their own domestic dilemmas of economics and politics is what makes it useful."Jerome Braun, Society (Springer)
"This book is an excellent synthesis of the literature on war, and the authors' own perspective on the debates is often incisive."Michael Mann,American Journal of Sociology
- Princeton University Press
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Meet the Author
Hans Joas is professor of sociology and social thought at the University of Chicago and a permanent fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Freiburg. Wolfgang Knöbl is professor of sociology at Göttingen University. They are the authors of many books and the coauthors of Social Theory: Twenty Introductory Lectures.
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