The School Drop-Off And Social Trust

Three or four times every week, I drop my daughter off at our local public school. We leave, on almost every occasion, in a bit of a rush. My daughter’s school is close by, a mere ten minutes walk, but the window for her to eat breakfast school is quite narrow–thirty minutes–so I’m keen toContinue reading “The School Drop-Off And Social Trust”

Durkheim On Social Facts As Things: Methodology As Metaphysics

In The Rules of Sociological Method (The Free Press, 1982, pp. 35-36) Émile Durkheim writes: The proposition which states that social facts must be treated as things…stirred up the most opposition. It was deemed paradoxical and scandalous for us to assimilate to the realities of the external world those of the social world. This was singularly toContinue reading “Durkheim On Social Facts As Things: Methodology As Metaphysics”

Max Weber On The Ubiquity Of ‘Meaning’ In ‘Social Life’ And ‘Nature’

In “The Concept of ‘Following a Rule’” (Weber: Selections in Translation, ed. W. G. Runciman, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 107) Max Weber writes: If we separate in our minds the ‘meaning’ which we find ‘expressed’ in an object or event from those elements in the object or event which are left over when weContinue reading “Max Weber On The Ubiquity Of ‘Meaning’ In ‘Social Life’ And ‘Nature’”

The Contingency Of Academic, ‘Disciplinary’ Classification

The textbook I use for my Social Philosophy class, Social Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Present (ed. Alan Sica, Pearson, 2005) is a standard anthology featuring selections from a wide range of historical periods and schools of thought (and the theorists identified with them). This collection may not only serve as ‘a textbook of socialContinue reading “The Contingency Of Academic, ‘Disciplinary’ Classification”

Gramsci And Nietzsche As Philosophers Of Culture

In ‘Socialism and Culture’ (reprinted in The Gramsci Reader, Selected Writings 1916-1935, David Forgacs ed., New York University Press, 2000) Antonio Gramsci writes: We need to free ourselves from the habit of seeing culture as encyclopaedic knowledge, and men as mere receptacles to be stuffed full of empirical data and a mass of unconnected raw facts,Continue reading “Gramsci And Nietzsche As Philosophers Of Culture”

Max Weber’s ‘Iron Cage’: Who Will Bend Its Bars?

Yesterday morning, as the students in my Social Philosophy class and I discussed an excerpt from Max Weber‘s The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit of Capitalism, we ran out of time. As my students got up and started to head out for their next commitment (work or the next class), I began reading out loudContinue reading “Max Weber’s ‘Iron Cage’: Who Will Bend Its Bars?”

Back To Teaching – I

On Wednesday, I return to teaching after a one-year hiatus (on sabbatical). Here are the–admittedly skimpy and sketchy–course descriptions of the three classes I will be teaching this coming fall semester. I am looking forward to them. I’m sure my enthusiasm will soon be tempered by encountering my university’s mind-numbing bureaucracy (and the dubious pleasuresContinue reading “Back To Teaching – I”

Studying the Social

This coming fall semester, I will teach, ostensibly for the second time, a class titled Social Philosophy. I say ‘ostensibly’ because, though I have taught the Class Formerly Known as Social Philosophy, this is most assuredly not your grandfather’s Social Philosophy. Brooklyn College’s philosophy department offers a pair of related classes: one titled Political Philosophy, andContinue reading “Studying the Social”