REDUCTIONISM WITHOUT SUPERSTITIONS OR ILLUSIONS. THE HISTORY AND PRESENT OF SOCIOLOGY AS THE STRUGGLE OF 'IDENTITY' AGAINST REDUCTIONISM
From the very outset sociology has waged a fight for its survival against 'reductionism': it resists the interpretation of social phenomena through other levels of reality (demographic, biological, geographic), because allegedly that would deny the specificity of social life and the singularity of humans as a unique biological species. However, the current state of knowledge, especially dynamic developments in biology (socio-biology, neo-Darwinism, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology), has forced sociology to re-think its relationship to reductionism in general - accepting it as a possible principle of interpretation - and specifically - precisely specifying when it is possible and useful to apply the reductionist principle. Although it is possible to respect criticism of radical reductionism (Frankl, Bertalanffy), today it is necessary to search for new ways of cooperating with the natural sciences and probably even to re-design study curricula in the field. By accepting the reductionist principle sociology is not losing its specificity, as long as it takes into the account the distinctiveness of the social and natural sciences (some social phenomena really cannot be described or explained in reductionist terms).
Miloslav Petrusek, Institut sociologickych studii Fakulty socialnich ved UK, U Krize 8, Praha 5 Jinonice, 158 00, Czech Republic, http://dlib.lib.cas.cz/3550/
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