Are Sociological Concepts of the Unprecedented Possible? An Essay on the Limits of Understanding Sociology Cover Image
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Are Sociological Concepts of the Unprecedented Possible? An Essay on the Limits of Understanding Sociology

Author(s): Svetlana Sabeva
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Институтът по философия и социология при БАН

Summary/Abstract: The article discusses a possible extension of the cognitive scope of contemporary sociology to the direction of thematizing the ‘unprecedented’ (of events like the Holocaust, the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl, the attacks of September 11, 2001 etc.). In the search of a paradigm for this field, a reference is made to Hannah Arendt’s concept of ‘the banality of evil’ (regarding the uniqueness of the Nazi destruction camps); the sociological relevance of this concept is demonstrated, a relevance which Arendt herself overlooked and left unexplicated. Basic requirements are outlined for the construction of concepts of the unprecedented which are analogous in the methodological aspect. The emphasis is on two of these requirements: to retain the autonomous level of actions, and the hermeneutic justification of the said concepts. In the spirit of Weber and Schutz, the classical proponents of understanding in sociology, the latter requirement involves ‘adequacy’ between interrelations of meaning inherent in social science construction, and the meaning formation taking place in the contexts of action in the studied social world. The central problem of the article is how a ‘Gestalt switch’ is possible from the hermeneutic of the everyday, which represents the fundament of classical understanding sociology, to the hermeneutic of the unprecedented

  • Issue Year: 34/2002
  • Issue No: 1+2
  • Page Range: 27-39
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Bulgarian