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Involvement and Detachment

"Involvement and Detachment" is much more than a discussion of ’objectivity’ in the social sciences. It is Elias’ major exposition of his sociological theory of the growth of knowledge and the sciences as an aspect of overall human social development. The essay ’The fishermen in the maelstrom’ takes its title from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, and is used to illustrate how fears have to be overcome in order for ’reality-adequate’ knowledge - necessary to tackle the dangers from which the fears arise - to accumulate. Discussions of rising dangers in international relations show how far the theory of civilising process is from being a model of unilinear ’progress’. Two fragments on ’The great evolution’ discuss the long-term development of the various levels of scientific knowledge - physical, biological and social. Originally written in English, it includes various passages omitted from the previous edition.

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Table of Contents

Norbert Elias, 1897-1990 Note on the text Introduction (by Norbert Elias) Problems of involvement and detachment The fishermen in the maelstrom Reflections on the great evolution - two fragments Textual variants Bibliography Index.

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