A Poetic for Sociology: Toward a Logic of Discovery for the Human Sciences

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University of Chicago Press, Mar 7, 1989 - Social Science - 302 pages
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For too long, argues Richard Harvey Brown, social scientists have felt forced to choose between imitating science's empirical methodology and impersonating a romantic notion of art, the methods of which are seen as primarily a matter of intuition, interpretation, and opinion. Developing the idea of a "cognitive aesthetic," Brown shows how both science and art—as well as the human studies that stand between them—depend on metaphoric thinking as their "logic of discovery" and may be assessed in terms of such aesthetic criteria of adequacy as economy, elegance, originality, scope, congruence, and form.

By recognizing this "aesthetic" common ground between science and art, Brown demonstrates that a fusion can be achieved within the human sciences of these two principal ideals of knowledge—the scientific or positivist one and the artistic or intuitive one. A path, then, is opened for creating a knowledge of ourselves and society which is at once objective and subjective, at once valid scientifically and significantly humane.
 

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Contents

Preface
xi
Acknowledgements
xiii
Poetics and sociology an invitation
3
Assumptions and methods of approach
6
a budget of crises
11
The central problematic
23
Cognitive aesthetics symbolic realism and perspectival knowledge
26
Positive science against romantic art
27
Metaphor in art science and social theory
90
Objections of our scientific critics
93
Criteria of adequacy for metaphors in sociology
101
Illustrative metaphor
109
Metaphor as model
115
The root metaphors of sociological thought
127
Irony
174
Of irony
177

Philosophic background to symbolic realism
29
Toward a cognitive aesthetics
36
Form and content
42
Subjective symbols versus objective science
46
Point of view
51
Point of view
52
Sociological distance
55
Point of view as a resource
60
Point of view as an instrument of selfreflection
74
Metaphor
79
The cognitive status of metaphors
81
Irony in sociology theory
180
two styles in ironic social thought
199
Ironism as a humanism
210
Irony as a logic discovery
216
Coda
223
On theory and practice
229
Notes
237
Bibliography
268
Index
297
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About the author (1989)

Richard Harvey Brown is associate professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of Structure, Consciousness, and History and Society as Text, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

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