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The Sociology of Philosophies


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Table of Contents

* Preface * Acknowledgments * Introduction The Skeleton of Theory * Coalitions in the Mind * General Theory of Interaction Rituals * The Interaction Rituals of Intellectuals * The Opportunity of Structure * The Sociology of Thinking * Networks across the Generations * The Rarity of Major Creativity * Who Will Be Remembered * What Do Minor Philosophers Do? * The Structural Mold of Intellectual Life: Long-Term Chains in China and Greece * The Importance of Personal Ties * The Structural Crunch * Partitioning Attention Space: The Case of Ancient Greece * The Intellectual Law of Small Numbers * The Forming of an Argumentative Network and the Launching of Greek Philosophy * How Long Do Organized Schools Last? * Small Numbers Crisis and the Creativity of the Post-Socratic Generation * The Hellenic Realignment of Positions * The Roman Base and the Second Realignment * The Stimulus of Religious Polarization * The Showdown of Christianity versus the Pagan United Front * Two Kinds of Creativity Comparative History of Intellectual Communities Part I: Asian Paths * Innovation by Opposition: Ancient China * The Sequence of Oppositions in Ancient China * Centralization in the Han Dynasty: The Forming of Official Confucianism and Its Opposition * The Changing Landscape of External Supports * The Gentry-Official Culture: The Pure Conversation Movement and the Dark Learning * Class Culture and the Freezing of Creativity in Indigenous Chinese Philosophy * External and Internal Politics of the Intellectual World: India * Sociopolitical Bases of Religious Ascendancies * Religious Bases of Philosophical Factions: Divisions and Recombination of Vedic Ritualists * The Crowded Competition of the Sages * Monastic Movements and the Ideal of Meditative Mysticism * Anti-monastic Opposition and the Forming of Hindu Lay Culture * Partitioning and the Intellectual Attention Space * The Buddhist-Hindu Watershed * The Post-Buddhist Resettlement of Intellectual Territories * Scholasticism and Syncretism in the Decline of Hindu Philosophy * Revolutions of the Organizational Base: Buddhist and Neo-Confucian China * Buddhism and the Organizational Transformation of Medieval China * Intellectual Foreign Relations of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism * Creative Philosophies in Chinese Buddhism * The Ch'an (Zen) Revolution * The Neo-Confucian Revival * The Weak Continuity of Chinese Metaphysics * Innovation through Conservatism: Japan * Japan as Transformer of Chinese Buddhism * The Inflation of Zen Enlightenment and the Scholasticization of Koan * Tokugawa as a Modernizing Society * The Divergence of Secularist Naturalism and Neoconservatism * Conservatism and Intellectual Creativity * The Myth of the Opening of Japan Conclusion to Part I: The Ingredients of Intellectual Life Comparative History of Intellectual Communities Part II: Western Paths * Tensions of Indigenous and Imported Ideas: Islam, Judaism, Christendom * Philosophy within a Religious Context * The Muslim World: An Intellectual Community Anchored by a Politicized Religion * Four Factions * Realignment of Factions in the 900s * The Culmination of the Philosophical Networks: Ibn Sina and al-Ghazali * Routinization of Sufis and Scholastics * Spain as the Hinge of Medieval Philosophy * Coda: Are Idea Imports a Substitute for Creativity? * Academic Expansion as a Two-Edged Sword: Medieval Christendom * The Organizational Bases of Christian Thought * The Inner Autonomy of the University * The Breakup of Theological Philosophy * Intellectuals as Courtiers: The Humanists * The Question of Intellectual Stagnation * Coda: The Intellectual Demoralization of the Late Twentieth Century * Cross-Breeding Networks and Rapid-Discovery Science * A Cascade of Creative Circles * Philosophical Connections of the Scientific Revolution * Three Revolutions and Their Networks * The Mathematicians * The Scientific Revolution * The Philosophical Revolution: Bacon and Descartes * Secularization and Philosophical Meta-territoriality * Secularization of the Intellectual Base * Geopolitics and Cleavages within Catholicism * Reemergence of the Metaphysical Field * Jewish Millennialism and Spinoza's Religious of Reason * Leibniz's Mathematical Metaphysics * Rival Philosophies upon the Space of Religious Toleration * Deism and the Independence of Value Theory * The Reversal of Alliances * Anti-modernist Modernism and the Anti-scientific Opposition * The Triumph of Epistemology * Intellectuals Take Control of Their Base: The German University Revolution * The German Idealist Movement * Philosophy Captures the University * Idealism as Ideology of the University Revolution * Political Crisis as the Outer Layer of Causality * The Spread of the University Revolution * The Post-revolutionary Condition: Boundaries as Philosophical Puzzles * Meta-territories upon the Science-Philosophy Border * The Social Invention of Higher Mathematics * The Logicism of Russell and Wittgenstein * The Vienna Circle as a Nexus of Struggles * The Ordinary Language Reaction against Logical Formalism * Wittgenstein's Tortured Path * Form Mathematical Foundations Crisis to Husserl's Phenomenology * Heidegger: Catholic Anti-modernism Intersects the Phenomenological Movement * Division of the Phenomenological Movement * The Ideology of the Continental-Anglo Split Meta-Reflection * Sequence and Branch in the Social Production of Ideas * The Continuum of Abstraction and Reflexivity * Three Pathways: Cosmological, Epistemological-Metaphysical, Mathematical * The Future of Philosophy * Epilogue: Sociological Realism * The Sociological Cogito * Mathematics as Communicative Operations * The Objects of Rapid-Discovery Science * Why Should Intellectual Networks Undermine Themselves? * Appendices * The Clustering of Contemporaneous Creativity * The Incompleteness of Our Historical Picture * Keys to Figures * Notes * References * Index of Persons * Index of Subjects

About the Author

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


This astonishing book testifies to decades of research through the greater part of philosophyÄEast 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 informationÄmeant 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.ÄLeslie Armour, Dominican Coll. of Philosophy & Theology, Ottawa

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. * Canadian Journal of Sociology *
The one work that all sociologists of ideas, novices and veterans alike, hereafter must read... It is beyond question Randall Collins' masterpiece. * European Journal of Sociology *
[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 Sociological Review *
This astonishing book testifies to decades of research through the greater part of philosophy-East and West... It reaches out to the ordinary reader, who could acquire a rich education in the humanities just by following it through. * Library Journal *
What an impressive book Randall Collins has written...so broadly learned, so ambitious in its analysis, and readable to boot!
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.

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