On the strained relationship between philosophy and sociology

Franco Ferrarotti

The main contention of this article is the following: sociology, like all the modern sciences, was born out of philosophy. But, ungratefully enough and perhaps because of a deepseated inferiority complex vis-à-vis the older well established sciences, sociology tends to forget or at least to blurr its philosophical foundation. Thus it turns out to be “social engineering”. The sociologist becomes a technical expert, rather indifferent to a synoptic or global view of society, and ready to offer his or her services to the best offer in the open market. Social theory is reduced to “model building” according to the changing needs of the economic agencies, from government bodies to private entrepreneurs. Contrary to social theory, a model is a purely intellectual arbitrary construct and, although conditioned by a basic congruity among its different parts, it is not historically rooted but essentially a “fictio mentis”. In this way sociology loses inevitably its problem awareness and it runs the risk of “quantifying the qualitative”, that is to say to accumulate bits of knowledge without knowing for what purpose.

Philosophical foundation; Problem awareness; A-historical Model; Social Engineering

Full text available in PDF: Academicus-MMXIV-10-014-019.pdf

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): http://dx.medra.org/10.7336/academicus.2014.10.01

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