The Sociology of Philosophies

1121 Pages · 2005 · 4.14 MB · English

  • The Sociology of Philosophies




    A Global Theory

    of Intellectual Change





    Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

    All rights reserved

    Printed in the United States of America

    Fourth printing, 2002

    First Harvard University Press paperback edition, 2000

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Collins, Randall, 1941–

    The sociology of philosophies : a global theory of intellectual

    change / Randall Collins.

    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 0-674-81647-1 (cloth)

    ISBN 0-674-00187-7 (pbk.)

    1. Knowledge, Sociology of. 2. Philosophy—History.

    3. Comparative civilization. 4. Philosophers—Social networks.

    I. Title.

    BD175.C565 1998

    306.4′2′09—dc21 97-18446 In every hair there are an infinite number of lions, and

    in addition all the single hairs, together with their infinite

    number of lions, in turn enter into a single hair. In this

    way the progression is infinite, like the jewels in Celestial

    Lord Indra’s net.

    Fa-tsang (T’ang Dynasty)

    Homer was wrong in saying, “Would that strife might

    perish from among gods and humans.” For if that were

    to occur, all things would cease to exist.

    Heraclitus Contents

    Preface xvii

    Acknowledgments xxi

    Introduction 1


    1 Coalitions in the Mind 19

    General Theory of Interaction Rituals 20

    The Interaction Rituals of Intellectuals 24

    The Opportunity Structure 37

    The Sociology of Thinking 46

    2 Networks across the Generations 54

    The Rarity of Major Creativity 54

    Who Will Be Remembered? 58

    What Do Minor Philosophers Do? 61

    The Structural Mold of Intellectual Life: Long-Term Chains

    in China and Greece 64

    The Importance of Personal Ties 68

    The Structural Crunch 74

    3 Partitioning Attention Space:

    The Case of Ancient Greece 80

    The Intellectual Law of Small Numbers 81

    The Forming of an Argumentative Network and the

    Launching of Greek Philosophy 82

    How Long Do Organized Schools Last? 89

    Small Numbers Crisis and the Creativity of the

    Post-Socratic Generation 97 viii • Contents

    The Hellenistic Realignment of Positions 103

    The Roman Base and the Second Realignment 109

    The Stimulus of Religious Polarization 119

    The Showdown of Christianity versus the Pagan United

    Front 123

    Two Kinds of Creativity 131



    Part I: Asian Paths

    4 Innovation by Opposition: Ancient China 137

    The Sequence of Oppositions in Ancient China 137

    Centralization in the Han Dynasty: The Forming of Official

    Confucianism and Its Opposition 153

    The Changing Landscape of External Supports 158

    The Gentry-Official Culture: The Pure Conversation

    Movement and the Dark Learning 168

    Class Culture and the Freezing of Creativity in Indigenous

    Chinese Philosophy 174

    5 External and Internal Politics of the Intellectual

    World: India 177

    Sociopolitical Bases of Religious Ascendancies 178

    Religious Bases of Philosophical Factions: Divisions and

    Recombination of Vedic Ritualists 193

    The Crowded Competition of the Sages 195

    Monastic Movements and the Ideal of Meditative

    Mysticism 200

    Anti-monastic Opposition and the Forming of Hindu Lay

    Culture 208

    Partitioning the Intellectual Attention Space 213

    The Buddhist-Hindu Watershed 224

    The Post-Buddhist Resettlement of Intellectual

    Territories 255

    Scholasticism and Syncretism in the Decline of Hindu

    Philosophy 268 Contents • ix

    6 Revolutions of the Organizational Base:

    Buddhist and Neo-Confucian China 272

    Buddhism and the Organizational Transformation of

    Medieval China 274

    Intellectual Foreign Relations of Buddhism, Taoism, and

    Confucianism 279

    Creative Philosophies in Chinese Buddhism 281

    The Ch’an (Zen) Revolution 290

    The Neo-Confucian Revival 299

    The Weak Continuity of Chinese Metaphysics 316

    7 Innovation through Conservatism: Japan 322

    Japan as Transformer of Chinese Buddhism 326

    The Inflation of Zen Enlightenment and the

    Scholasticization of Koan 341

    Tokugawa as a Modernizing Society 347

    The Divergence of Secularist Naturalism and

    Neoconservatism 361

    Conservatism and Intellectual Creativity 367

    The Myth of the Opening of Japan 369

    Conclusions to Part I:

    The Ingredients of Intellectual Life 379



    Part II: Western Paths

    8 Tensions of Indigenous and Imported Ideas:

    Islam, Judaism, Christendom 387

    Philosophy within a Religious Context 388

    The Muslim World: An Intellectual Community Anchored

    by a Politicized Religion 392

    Four Factions 395

    Realignment of Factions in the 900s 407

    The Culmination of the Philosophical Networks: Ibn Sina

    and al-Ghazali 417

    Routinization of Sufis and Scholastics 423

    Spain as the Hinge of Medieval Philosophy 428

    Coda: Are Idea Imports a Substitute for Creativity? 446

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