The Idea of Social Science and Proper Phenomenology

Springer Verlag (2018)


This monograph examines an academic discipline in crisis. The author claims that this field concerned with society and relationships is in trouble. No one can seem to agree on what it does or how to go about doing it. His insightful argument revives the thought of key phenomenologists often no longer considered in social science. Looking predominantly at debates within religious studies, this book uncovers certain misguided presuppositions which have strongly influenced scholars in the field. This reflects itself in a Weberian Ideal regarding the institutional place of science in the universities and a failure to properly consider the epistemic status of knowledge produced for its own sake. But even recognizing these issues will not get to the core of the crisis. It will not help scholars better understand what it is to be human. To address this, the author digs deeper. He draws on the philosophical phenomenology of Husserl’s Phenomenological Movement to critique our very idea of social science. In the process, he presents a radical approach to the question of humanity. This volume concludes that, properly understood, social science is a hobby. It deserves no special place in the university. Indeed, if it is to be pursued properly, it requires a fundamentally revised understanding of humanity. The author argues this not of the sake of controversy. Rather, his intention is to affect the necessary shift in our understanding that will enable future constructive solutions.

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The Crisis of Social Science

Having delineated genuine science from pseudo-science in the previous chapters, this concluding chapter turns to a delineation between genuine social science and pseudo-social science. Co-opting Sartre, I have suggested social science is the study of “man in situation”. The issue to be addressed now... see more

The Epistemic Status of Science

In the previous chapter I made the argument that genuine science is a hobby which is not dependent upon universities to be pursued. However, what this argument did not necessarily address is the possibility that science, and play more generally, nevertheless involves some form of practical interest.... see more

The Possibility of Science

The purpose of this chapter is to address the challenge of the conditions necessary for genuine science to proceed. To do this I will change and critique the Weberian Ideal that genuine science as “knowledge of the sake of knowledge” is dependent upon certain social structures and institutions—namel... see more

The Essence of Social Science

Now that we know what proper phenomenology is, the next task is to show that proper phenomenology conforms to the idea of genuine social science as the pursuit of nonpractical knowledge about “man” in situation and therefore capable of being a philosophy of social science. But in order to say that p... see more

Phenomenology Proper

With the simpliciter sense of phenomenology as an approach to the question of philosophical anthropology, we must now move toward the proper sense of phenomenology in order to analyse the crisis of social science. The task of this chapter is to show that the phenomenology of the Phenomenological Mov... see more

Phenomenology Simpliciter

This chapter will clarify the precise sense of what I mean by “phenomenology”. Only once we are clear on what phenomenology is, can we begin to get toward the crisis of social science. The necessity of this comes from my use of Religious Studies to explicate the crisis itself, as, within Religious S... see more


Social science is in crisis. By this “crisis” I mean that the genuine scientific character of social science itself lies in a questionable state. Despite many claiming to do social science, these claimants struggle to cohere with one another as to what is meant by “social science”. The task of socia... see more

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