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New Directions and Perennial Challenges in the Sociology of Philosophy: Theoretical and Methodological Notes on Neil Gross's Richard Rorty

Joseph M. Bryant
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
Vol. 47, No. 1 (Winter 2011), pp. 3-27
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/trancharpeirsoc.47.1.3
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/trancharpeirsoc.47.1.3
Page Count: 25
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New Directions and Perennial Challenges in the Sociology of Philosophy: Theoretical and Methodological Notes on Neil Gross's Richard Rorty
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Abstract

Abstract Gross's monograph is committed to specifying the ““causal mechanisms”” at work in the shaping of thought-processes and careers. Rather than situate thinkers within the wider socio-historical constellations of their time and place, this ““new sociology of ideas”” focuses on the micro-settings of intellectual life, such as universities, academic departments, and scholarly networks. This sectorial approach cannot yield the explanatory accounts promised, since it fails to encompass the full range of possible existential determinants in ideational production. Notable developments in Rorty's career are examined to test the cogency of Gross's explanatory claim that the philosopher's intellectual choices were decisively shaped by the mechanisms of careerist strategizing and fidelity to his intellectual self-concept. Exemplary studies by Mannheim, Goldmann, and Bourdieu are reviewed for purposes of affirming the integrative logic of interpretation on offer in the traditional sociology of knowledge.

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