The Age of the Social : The Discovery of Society and The Ascendance of a New Episteme book cover
1st Edition

The Age of the Social
The Discovery of Society and The Ascendance of a New Episteme

ISBN 9780367821159
Published October 17, 2019 by Routledge
246 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The concept of society sui generis – society as a level of reality which could be studied scientifically – crystallized in the middle of the nineteenth century in Europe, with the work of Durkheim, Marx and Weber and today, more than at any other period in history, the idea of the social has gained a foothold in philosophy, biology, and neuroscience. However, this idea has emerged into prominence not through the historical or contemporary efforts of sociologists, but mainly through the efforts of biologists and neuroscientists.

This book seeks to re-establish the credentials of sociology as the science of society. While acknowledging the amalgamation of traditional disciplines into interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary networks of research and theory, and championing interdisciplinarity in recognising the capacity of converging perspectives to yield more interesting general theories of social life, the author defends disciplinarity in maintaining sociology’s achievements as a discipline.

With chapters on the sociological world view, imagining society, the self, love, education, mathematics and religion, The Age of the Social re-states the importance of sociology as the source of robust ideas about the social in an age in which this notion has grown in importance. As such, it will appeal to scholars across the social sciences, with interests in method and philosophy in the social disciplines.

Table of Contents


1. Inquiry: Cautionary, Skeptical, and Wild

2. A Biography of Society

3. The Human Dimensions of the Sociological Imagination

4. The Force Awakens: Imagining Society

5. Nietzsche’s Revenge: The "I" as a Grammatical Illusion

6. Kingdom of the Crystal Myth: Love and Evolution and the Social Construction of Mathematics

7. Requiem for Plato: The Myth of THE Mathematician

8. Raiders of the Last Illusion: The Last Chapter of "God"

9. Inside the Temple of Mind: Einstein’s Brain

10. Romancing the Robots

11. The Physics-Mysticism Nexus

Epilogue: Holonomy in Physics and Society

12. The Ecumene Revisited in the Age of the Anthropocene

13. The Black Hole Economy

14. The Last Crusade: The Very Idea of Education

15. Through a Sociological Lens Darkly: The Sociological Cogito and the Human Condition


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Sal Restivo is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at New York University Tandon School of Engineering, USA and Special Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at Northeastern University in Shenyang, China. He has held Special Professor positions and endowed chairs at the University of Nottingham, UK, Harvey Mudd College, USA, the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, The University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Roskilde University, Denmark. He is a founding member and former president of the Society for Social Studies of Science and editor of Science, Technology and Society: An Encyclopedia. He is the author of Red, Black, and Objective: Science, Sociology, and Anarchism; Science, Society and Values, and The Sociological Worldview, and co-author of Asphalt Children and City Streets with D'Ambrosio and Mesquita and Worlds of ScienceCraft: New Horizons in Sociology, Philosophy, and Science Studies with Weiss and Stingl.


"Restivo asks us to take seriously the discovery of the social, developed by sociologists and now beginning to permeate the biological, cognitive and engineering sciences. Doing this will require us to unmask the idols of science and religion, and to (really!) educate people to think and act critically. A powerful and challenging book."

Lawrence Busch, Michigan State University, USA.