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The Making Of The Human: Anthropocentrism In Modern Social Thought

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Chapter Summary

The notion of 'culture' is critically important to conceptions of the objects, methods and rationales of the social science disciplines. This chapter traces this humanist discourse through certain key moments in nineteenth-century social theory, showing how it has deeply structured modern thinking on 'the social' and has contributed profoundly to shaping the social sciences more widely. The specific path it traces necessarily be a partial and selective one, and one which overemphasises the author own discipline of sociology. The role of humanist discourse in structuring Marx's society-nature dialectic has had profound consequences for the subsequent development of social thought. The hold of humanist discourse over sociological thought is embedded at the level of the core ontological and epistemological assumptions of the discipline. Ever since Marx there have been strands of alternatives to anthropocentrism in social thought, but these have tended to be marginalised and suppressed by the dominant humanist currents.

Keywords: anthropocentrism; humanist discourse; Karl Marx



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