A Fragment of a Sociological Autobiography: The History of My Pursuit of a Few Ideas

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Transaction Publishers, Dec 31, 2011 - Social Science - 227 pages
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Edward Shils was one of the giants of sociological theory in the period after World War II. In this autobiography, written three years before his death in 1995 and never before published, Shils reflects on the remarkable range of his life's work and activities, including founding and editing the journal Minerva, being a central figure in the Congress of Cultural Freedom, serving as a founding member of the editorial board of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and being a member of the International Council on the Future of the University. Shils recognizes that a unity of concern runs through his many theoretical writings and activities. Early in his life the concern was expressed as understanding the character of consensus. During the last fifteen years of his life, he refined his understanding of consensus through investigation of the nature of "collective self-consciousness." That concern was the structure and character of the moral order of a society, and, in particular, liberal, democratic society. Accompanying the autobiography are two unpublished essays, "Society, Collective Self-Consciousness and Collective Self-Consciousnesses" and "Collective Self-Consciousness and Rational Choice," two areas of intellectual concern discussed in the autobiography. The book contains fascinating discussion of many of the people Shils knew throughout his illustrious career: Robert Park, Louis Wirth, Talcott Parsons, Karl Mannheim, Michael Polanyi, Audrey Richards, Karl Popper, Robert Merton, and many others. The volume represents Shils' final formulations on the character of society and its moral order. As such, it is a most important contribution both to the history of the social sciences in the twentieth century and to sociological theory.
 

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Contents

A Fragment of a Sociological Autobiography
13
Society Collective SelfConsciousness and Collective SelfConsciousnesses
163
Collective SelfConsciousness and Rational Choice
195

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Page 7 - Shils' thought. Shils had delivered in 1974 the TS Eliot Memorial Lectures at the University of Kent at Canterbury.
Page 17 - Hans Freyer. Theory of Objective Mind. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Culture...
Page 17 - James Coleman, The Foundations of Social Theory, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.
Page 4 - I thank him for reminding íme of what I should not have forgotten, that the Greek wort had adopted a Latin declension.

About the author (2011)

Edward Shils (1910-1995) was distinguished service professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His books include Tradition, The Intellectuals and the Powers, and Toward a General Theory of Action.

Steven Grosby is professor of philosophy and religion at Clemson University. He is author of Nationalism—A Very Short Introduction and Biblical Ideas of Nationality: Ancient and Modern, and edited, with Athena Leoussi, the four-volume Nationality and Nationalism.

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