As his editor John L. Stanley points out, Georges Sorel was "that fascinating polymath." This volume, the third in his selected works in the English language published by Transaction, emphasizes Sorel's extraordinary writings in the philosophy of science, religion, culture, and art. For those who know Sorel only as author of Reflections on Violence, the present volume will come as a forceful reminder of the range and depth of Sorelian efforts to construct a world view.
Sorel is throughout concerned with the moral development of human beings. In this sense, his writings on politics are of a piece with his writings on religion, "facticity" of human history and society. Sorel's earliest writings were on religion, and key portions of that period are reflected in selections here. And he went on from there to study the sociology of science, the ways in which science fits into the cultural history of civilization and present day social relationships of industrial society.
Stanley provides a profound framework based on two decades of close study and translation of Sorel's texts. He helps to explain how the partial theories of Sorel lead to holistic intellectual consequences, how the psychological method does not foreclose political activism, and how historical limits can be transformed against a background of aesthetics or considerations of taste. He shows that Sorel comes as a close as Manheim and Simmel and Durkheim to the creation of a modern social science--albeit he lacks the overall philosophical theorems of people like Marx and Weber.
In Sorel we have a first-class mind at work. And in Stanley, we have a first-class analyst at work. Together, the volume adds up to something special for the political scientist, sociologist, art historian, theologian--in short for those to whom the ideal of a human science endures.