Civilization, Modernity, and Critique
Engaging Johann P. Arnason’s Macro-Social Theory
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Civilization, Modernity, and Critique provides the first comprehensive, cutting edge engagement with the work of one of the most foundational figures in civilizational analysis: Johann P. Arnason. In order to do justice to Arnason’s seminal and wide-ranging contributions to sociology, social theory and history, it brings together distinguished scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and geographical contexts. Through a critical, interdisciplinary dialogue, it offers an enrichment and expansion of the methodological, theoretical, and applicative scope of civilizational analysis, by addressing some of the most complex and pressing problems of contemporary global society. A unique and timely contribution to the ongoing task of advancing the project of a critical theory of society, this volume will appeal to scholars of sociology and social theory with interests in historical sociology, critical theory and civilizational analysis.
Lubomír Dunaj (University of Vienna)
Lubomír Dunaj is University Assistant at the Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna and Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. He is associated editor of Pragmatism Today and published his work in Human Affairs, Berlin Journal of Critical Theory and Polylog. Zeitschrift für interkulturelles Philosophieren.
Jeremy Smith (Federation University Australia)
Jeremy Smith is in the Institute of Education, Arts and Community at Federation University. He is author of three research monographs, five coedited books, and articles in European Journal of Social Theory, Current Sociology, Critical Horizons, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Thesis Eleven, Atlantic Studies and Political Power and Social Theory. He is also a Managing Editor of the International Journal of Social Imaginaries (Brill).
Kurt C.M. Mertel (American University of Sharjah)
Kurt C.M. Mertel is currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the American University of Sharjah. He is the co-editor of three books in critical social theory and his work appears in the European Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy and Social Criticism and Critical Horizons, among others.
‘Johann Arnason is a leader in the historical sociology of civilizations, the theorization of multiple modernities, and indeed social theory generally. The interest and importance of his work has attracted engagement from a remarkable range of leading social scientists – as this book demonstrates. Authors bring new insights to Arnason's own work and to many of the themes and historical questions with which he has engaged. Their chapters are significant on their own and invaluable as a guide to Arnason's contributions and their continuing importance.’ - Craig Calhoun, William Kelly, Jr. Professor of Sociology, Princeton University, USA
‘This exciting volume builds from the work of Johann Arnason to offer a sophisticated and thoughtful extension, in its own right, of the debate about cultural values, including their significance for how societies, economies, and international orders develop.’ - Leigh K. Jenco, Professor of Political Theory, The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
‘Finally, through this collection of excellent essays, one of the most erudite and multilingual historical sociologists and social theorists of our time receives the recognition he deserves. No contemporary attempt to understand modernity and its multiple civilizational variants can afford to ignore Johann Arnason’s lifework and the discussions about it.’ - Hans Joas, Ernst Troeltsch Professor for the Sociology of Religion at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, and Visiting Professor of Sociology and Social Thought at the University of Chicago, USA
Truly engaging Johann Arnason's writings, this volume is an impressive collective and interdisciplinary intellectual achievement. It is not only a tribute to Arnason's outstanding contribution to comparative historical macrosociology and civilizational analysis, but also a stimulating invitation to reflect upon his lesser-known contribution to general sociological and cultural theory, and its strong anchor in an unusually broad and persistent engagement with history and philosophy. Emerging from the chapters by eminent scholars of diverse disciplinary and intellectual bent, and from Arnason's own constructive replies, is the value of a staunchly processual, relational, contextualizing, historicizing and cultural hermeneutic approach, challenging any overly homogenizing, holistic or systemic mode of interpretations, even as it also no less staunchly cultivates conceptualizing and combining multiple levels and scales of analysis. Stretching from micro- to meso- and macro-, local to global, past to present and grappling with major matters of comparative analysis—such as the nature of action and institutions, dynamics of world-making and opening, civilizations and cultural worlds, regions, religion, culture and cultural worlds, multiple and alternative modernities, politics and the political, world-making and world-opening, points of rupture, continuity and transformation, etc.—it is thus a volume that still conveys, as does Arnason's opus itself, the hope of perhaps illuminating what might otherwise seem at times, and pressingly so in our own times, as just an intractable, vertiginous whirlpool of overwhelming cultural differences and historical developments. - Ilana Silber, Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.