TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

Gillian Rose and Social Theory

Andrew Brower Latz’s “Gillian Rose and Social Theory” appears in Telos 173 (Winter 2015). Read the full version at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

This article examine Rose’s claim in Hegel Contra Sociology that Hegel’s philosophy, properly understood, is able to provide a better way to do sociology. It understands this claim as one of method and metatheory: by better appreciating the logic of sociology and the social nature of logic, and the relationship between theory and metatheory, social theory may be less prone to make certain errors. Rose found in Hegel’s logic and phenomenology the way to such understanding. By pushing Rose’s work in a direction she did not explicitly take it, this article shows how it nevertheless addresses some central debates in sociological theory. It finds that her version of Hegelian conceptual knowing can speak to and cope with issues of logic and the sociology of knowledge, the repeated recurrence of contradictions and antinomies in sociology, and issues of emergence and the social totality. It finds a possible source of the repeated recurrence of positivism in sociology suggested by Rose’s critique of neo-Kantianism: faulty methodological self-understanding. Rose’s work on social theory can then be seen as in part offering a better account of what good sociology already does. While in no way imagining that this approach does justice to the whole of Rose’s thought, it shows her fiercely theoretical work is effective not only in philosophy but also in sociology, which is consistent with her dismay at their disciplinary separation.

Andrew Brower Latz (Durham University, Theology and Religion) researches social philosophy in the Frankfurt School and German Idealist traditions, and political theology.

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