A study of the sociology of knowledge with relevance to theories of conflict & state formation & the sociology of science, originally published in German (Schroter, Michael [Ed], Engagement und Distanzierung, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1983), presented in III PARTS with an Introduction.
PART I - PROBLEMS OF INVOLVEMENT AND DETACHMENT - describes how a combination of involvement & detachment characterize social life. History generally shows a movement from dominance of involvement to dominance of detachment. This can be seen in changing approaches to nature, from highly involved prescientific people with little control over nature to more detached societies with increased ability to observe & to control. Another example of movement from involved to detached is the abandonment of geocentric & adoption of heliocentric worldviews. The differences between the natural & social sciences in standards of certainty & models of obtaining knowledge are discussed. Problems in the use of natural science models by sociology include premature synopsis & generalization.
PART II - THE FISHERMEN IN THE MAELSTROM - introduces the study of double bind processes among human groups. First, a parable from Edgar Allan Poe illustrates the need for deliberate detachment in overcoming dangers in critical situations. The difficulties of understanding prescientific societies' structure of "not knowing" are discussed, especially as such not knowing bolsters the importance of affects & drives. Double bind figurations hold when two groups in a power struggle view each other as a threat, & neither is able to appeal to a higher power or to loosen its hold on the other; double bind figurations hinder detachment. Two social science approaches, voluntaristic & naturalistic, are discussed. Social scientists, in order to escape contributing to double bind figurations, must unlearn artificial categories of knowledge.
PART III - REFLECTIONS ON THE GREAT EVOLUTION: TWO FRAGMENTS - describes the similarities & differences among different groups of sciences. The formation of process models is related to the study of differentiation & integration. A theory of science calls for the development of a model of models. The concept of "advancing synthesis" can inform such a theory.
source: Sociological Abstracts