Through a detailed reading of Karl Mannheim’s early explorations in the sociology of knowledge, this book argues for Mannheim's relevance for contemporary social and political theory. As a philosophical project of self-reflection, the early sociology of knowledge is distinctive for its blend of Marxist social theory and phenomenological investigation, making it a valuable resource for current philosophical attempts to relate thought to its social conditions. Furthermore, the struggle documented in the early days of this project – against social critique’s tendency to obscure its own perspective – provides the best standard by which to assess its own limitations.
Iaan Reynolds is an assistant professor of philosophy at Utah Valley University. His current research concerns concepts of cultivation and educational development in critical theory and the history of social and political philosophy.
Introduction – The Philosophical Core of the Sociology of Knowledge
Chapter 1 – Critical Social Philosophy
Chapter 2 – Crisis, Disorientation, and the Task of Philosophy
Chapter 3 – “A New Philosophical Regarding of the World”
Chapter 4 – Critique, Self-Orientation, and the Reformulation of Life
Chapter 5 – The Practioners of Critique
Chapter 6 – What is Orthodox Sociology of Knowledge?
Conclusion – Philosophy and the Education of Critique
About the Author
Sympathetically re-reading the neglected legacy of Karl Mannheim, Iaan Reynolds shows the untapped potential of the sociology of knowledge to illuminate the perennial issue of the relationship between the genesis of ideas and their abiding validity. Education for Political Life also provides valuable insight into the constructive role intellectuals, if they humbly acknowledge their own rootedness in the world they hope to criticize, can still play in our anti-elitist cultural climate.
This remarkable book is not only an insightful philosophical interpretation of Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge—against Popper and Adorno’s misunderstandings—but also an outstanding anti-capitalist cultural-political project, aiming to understand the social world in order to transform it. Discussing standpoint and feminist epistemologies, as well as contemporary philosophical approaches to ideology critique, Iaan Reynolds develops an innovative social philosophy.
Education for Political Life is a major accomplishment. The book is a philosophically illuminating depiction of one of the twentieth century’s most under-appreciated minds. Reynolds pays close attention to Karl Mannheim's experimental writings of the 1920s, in which he developed the sociology of knowledge. His interpretation of Mannheim as a philosopher and social and political theorist who attempted to synthesize major trends in inter-war German thought is compelling, imaginative and thought-provoking both for scholars new to Mannheim’s work and for established researchers in the sociology of knowledge.
With an intelligent and detailed analysis of the growing body of literature by and about Karl Mannheim, especially his Weimar years, Iaan Reynolds has fashioned a convincing program for a self-reflexive sociology of knowledge. I highly recommend this book.