Enlightenment and Despair

A History of Social Theory

Enlightenment and Despair

Geoffrey Hawthorn has written a substantial conclusion for the second edition of his widely acclaimed critical history of social theory in England, France, Germany and the USA from the eighteenth century onwards. Hawthorn begins with the 'prehistory' of the subject and traces, particularly in the thought of Rousseau, Kant and Hegel, the emergence of certain fundamental distinctions and assumptions whose existence is often overlooked in studies of the traditional 'founding-fathers' of sociology like Marx, Durkheim and Weber.


'Hawthorn's approach has the merit of transcending a number of familiar and overworked polarities often used to give shape to the apparent heterogeneity of sociological thought … [His] accounts of France, Germany and Britain are terse, but rich, blending intellectual history with the sociology of knowledge in a way that avoids the reductionism to which the latter is so notoriously prone. [He] has summarized with extraordinary economy and lucidity the major developments in the rise of European Sociology.' The Times Literary Supplement

'This book shows more effectively than any other I know, the relationship of social thought and social context.' History

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