Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Recommended reading

1. Omar at orgtheory on "the germanic and french political culture traditions and the titles of classic social theory books."

while joking around with a friend in grad school we noticed that a lot of German classical social theory work were always about something and something else (i.e. Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft), while the titles of a lot of the classic (Durkheimian) works were only about a single unitary process (i.e. Suicide). In retrospect, I now see that Jepperson’s typology provides the crude basis for a “reflection theory” sociology of knowledge account (as in that classic work in the French tradition Primitive Classification) as to this anecdotal observation: in the Germanic tradition, the cosmological order is conceptualized as a “clash” between two highly culturally elaborated and distinct structural orders (state and society); in the French tradition only a “single” collective order exists. This follows if we believe that totemic classifications are simply reflections of society, and if in science concepts are just totemic classifications.

Thus, the Chomskyian “deep structure” for the title of a work in the Germanic tradition will be:

Concept 1 and Concept 2

The corresponding French deep structure is simply:

Big single concept

2. Tyler Cowen on the late Alfred Chandler, and links and obituaries from there. Chandler's Visible Hand was, when I first read it as a junior in college, probably the most challenging and engaging work of social science I'd ever read; it did a great deal to convince me about the complexity of the empirical social world, and the dangers of trying to force that reality into analytical and conceptual categories derived from normative theory.

3. Back at orgtheory, Fabio on your dissertation family.

Mine, I think: Jacob Levy -> Amy Gutmann -> Judith Shklar -> Carl Friedrich [the founder of the ASPLP, as it happens] -> Alfred Weber. (I can't actually tell from wikipedia whetherwas Friedrich's undergraduate or graduate advisor, but in the absence of any further knowledge I'll put him on the tree.)

Michael Walzer was also on Gutmann's commitee (and might have been chair, I'm not certain); I think Walzer studied under Sam Beer.

If we extend through the rest of my dissertation committee, through Jeremy Waldron I reach Ronald Dworkin and Joseph Raz, and thence Lon Fuller and H.L.A. Hart; through George Kateb, Herbert Deane.