Rules, Magic and Instrumental Reason: A Critical Interpretation of Peter Winch's Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rules, Magic and Instrumental Reason

A Critical Interpretation of Peter Winch's Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1st Edition

By Berel Dov Lerner


192 pages

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This book offers a systematic and critical discussion of Peter Winch's writings on the philosophy of the social sciences. The author points to Winch's tendency to over-emphasize the importance of language and communication, and his insufficient attention to the role of practical, technological activites in human life and society.

It also offers an appendix devoted to the controversy between the anthropologists Marshall Sahlins and Gananath Obeyesekere regarding Captain James Cook's Hawaiian adventures.

Essential reading for those studying the development of philosophy in the twentieth century, this book will also be of great interest to anthropologists, sociologists, scholars of religion, and all those with an interest in the relationship between philosophy and the social sciences.


'Lerner has produced a valuable guide to Winch's Wittgensteinian approach to the study of religion. Clearly written and argued, it is in fact the best book on the subject.' - Kevin Schilbrack, Wesleyan College

'Lerner's overall account of Winch is insightfully critical.' - Philosophy in Review, Volume 24, Number 3, June 2004

'All in all, Lerner's book offers useful criticisms of Winch's ideas and is the most methodic and comprehensive treatment available of Winch's philosophy of the social sciences.' - Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Vol. 35, No. 2

About the Author

Berel Dov Lerner is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Western Galilee College, Israel.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Philosophy

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