11.4. Sociology and the Proliferation of Knowledge La Condition Humaine [chapter]

Bram Kempers, Jaap Maat, Thijs Weststeijn, Rens Bod
2014 The Making of the Humanities  
Cognitive ambiguities and the creation of fields Sociology and its companion social sciences, such as cultural anthropology and psychology, enjoy ambivalent relations with one another, and with sections of the humanities, from cultural history to the study of languages. To complicate matters more, the relations with the natural sciences are ambiguous as well and subject to debate. Intellectuals never created a clear-cut and generally accepted classification of the arts and sciences concerned
more » ... iences concerned with human behavior. The cognitive quality of literature and the visual arts never disappeared. Literary authors still claim to enlighten la comédie humaine, as Balzac coined the subject of his novels. Other professionals have entered the scene and contributed their claim to the truth about humanity. None ever achieved a monopoly on wisdom. Theologians lost their position as authorities, but they still present their views in the public domain and attract followers and believers. Their role was contested more and more in European societies since the eighteenth century, yet people adhered to the religious truths, expressed in various systems of faith. The position of theologians was only partially and temporarily taken over by philosophers, who tended to focus on specific fields of knowledge and language within separate university disciplines. Their authority was challenged by sociologists and anthropologists, who formulated new claims to the truth. However, none of the new disciplines acquired a cognitive monopoly, neither on specialized knowledge nor general wisdom. Each created its own cognitive world, outside of which their authority remained contested. The emancipation of the social sciences at the American and European universities since about 1900 was an ambiguous one, since they did not substitute rival interpretations of societies and individual behavior in various historical and geographical contexts. To understand the dynamics of knowledge, several views, concepts and classifications have been introduced. German philosophers reflected upon the differ-
doi:10.1515/9789048518449-041 fatcat:jkcqrpemtncdbdm5asudrvmbfu