Social Inquiry After Wittgenstein and Kuhn: Leaving Everything as It Is

Hardcover | November 4, 2014

byJohn G. Gunnell

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A distinctive feature of Ludwig Wittgenstein's work after 1930 was his turn to a conception of philosophy as a form of social inquiry, John G. Gunnell argues, and Thomas Kuhn's approach to the philosophy of science exemplified this conception. In this book, Gunnell shows how these philosophers address foundational issues in the social and human sciences, particularly the vision of social inquiry as an interpretive endeavor and the distinctive cognitive and practical relationship between social inquiry and its subject matter.

Gunnell speaks directly to philosophers and practitioners of the social and human sciences. He tackles the demarcation between natural and social science; the nature of social phenomena; the concept and method of interpretation; the relationship between language and thought; the problem of knowledge of other minds; and the character of descriptive and normative judgments about practices that are the object of inquiry. Though Wittgenstein and Kuhn are often criticized as initiating a modern descent into relativism, this book shows that the true effect of their work was to undermine the basic assumptions of contemporary social and human science practice. It also problematized the authority of philosophy and other forms of social inquiry to specify the criteria for judging such matters as truth and justice. When Wittgenstein stated that "philosophy leaves everything as it is," he did not mean that philosophy would be left as it was or that philosophy would have no impact on what it studied, but rather that the activity of inquiry did not, simply by virtue of its performance, transform the object of inquiry.

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A distinctive feature of Ludwig Wittgenstein's work after 1930 was his turn to a conception of philosophy as a form of social inquiry, John G. Gunnell argues, and Thomas Kuhn's approach to the philosophy of science exemplified this conception. In this book, Gunnell shows how these philosophers address foundational issues in the social...

John G. Gunnell is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York at Albany. He is currently a research associate at the University of California, Davis. His most recent books include Political Theory and Social Science: Cutting Against the Grain and Imagining the American P...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:November 4, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023116940X

ISBN - 13:9780231169400

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Table of Contents

PrefaceList of AbbreviationsIntroduction1. Thomas Kuhn and the Shadow of Wittgenstein2. Wittgenstein and Social Theory3. Mind, Meaning, and Interpretation4. Investigating the Investigations5. Conventional Objects, Concepts, and the Practice of Interpretation6. Interpreting Science: Kuhn as a Social Theorist7. Wittgenstein on the Moon: Certainty, Truth, and ValueReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

The author's scholarship is exceptional. His grasp of detail and the interrelations between the protagonists, Wittgenstein, Kuhn, Winch, Feyerabend, and others is extraordinary. His knowledge of the texts and of Wittgenstein especially is remarkable and detailed.