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The Sociologist's EyeReflections on Social Life$
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Kai Erikson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300106671

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300106671.001.0001

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Discovering the Social

Discovering the Social

(p.80) Discovering the Social
The Sociologist's Eye

Kai Erikson

Yale University Press

This chapter investigates the ways in which European thinkers came to recognize the importance of “the social.” It first considers the cultural temper of the medieval mind in more or less the same way that an anthropologist might study the ethos of a distant people in our own time. It then examines the onset of the Age of Reason, characterized by a revolution in both science and thought, that formed the foundation of a new way to comprehend not only the physical but the human social world. It shows that the Age of Reason spawned a vision of social life that came to dominate European thinking for most of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is still a prominent part of the intellectual climate in which we live now. Among the key figures in the development of that vision were Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau.

Keywords:   social life, social world, Age of Reason, science, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau

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