Guest post by Paul Roth on Neil Gross’s Richard Rorty

Paul Roth is distinguished professor of philosophy and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Roth has written extensively on the philosophy of social science, philosophy of history, and the history of analytic philosophy. His most recent book is The Philosophical Structure of Historical Explanation (Northwestern, 2019). Thank you, Paul, for this substantive contribution. (Interested readers …

The sociology of scientific discipline formation

There was a time in the philosophy of science when it may have been believed that scientific knowledge develops in a logical, linear way from observation and experiment to finished theory. This was something like the view presupposed by the founding logical positivists like Carnap and Reichenbach. But we now understand that the creation of …

Science policy and the Cold War

The marriage of science, technology, and national security took a major step forward during and following World War II. The secret Manhattan project, marshaling the energies and time of thousands of scientists and engineers, showed that it was possible for military needs to effectively mobilize and conduct coordinated research into fundamental and applied topics, leading …

Gross on the history of analytic philosophy in America

Neil Gross has a remarkably good ear for philosophy. And this extends especially to his occasional treatments of the influences that helped shape the discipline of philosophy in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. His sociological biography of Richard Rorty is a tour de force (Richard Rorty: The Making of …

The luminaries and the researcher

Social theory is a well-defined field that is centered on a group of core thinkers that we might refer to as "luminaries". These are figures from the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries like Weber, Durkheim, Marx, Simmel, and Tarde; mid-century thinkers like Bourdieu, Foucault, Gramsci, and Habermas; and more recent thinkers such as Tilly, Merton, …

Relevant to what?

source: Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature (cover) source: Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, p. 15 An earlier post raised the question of the value of academic research and concluded that we shouldn't expect academic research to be "relevant" (link). That is a strong conclusion and needs some further dissection. Plainly research needs to …

Intellectuals tell their stories

image: Holcombe Austin and Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, Wheaton College Since reading Neil Gross's book Richard Rorty: The Making of an American Philosopher I've been once again thinking about the ways that a given thinker takes shape throughout his or her life. (I touched on this question in a post several years ago on influences, and most recently …

Sociology of knowledge: Camic, Gross and Lamont

  The sociology of knowledge has received a new burst of energy in the past few years, with quite a bit of encouragement and innovation coming from Science, Technology and Society studies (STS).  (STS overlaps substantially with the SSK research tradition described briefly in an earlier post.)  Charles Camic and Neil Gross have made very substantial contributions …

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