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The dilemmas faced by the social sciences from a world-renowned historian

The Uncertainties of Knowledge

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Immanuel Wallerstein

"Immanuel Wallerstein is both a redoubtable world historian and visionary prophet. Such a combination is unusual...[and] makes him a commanding figure, whose rhetorical address, radical ideas, and remarkable erudition challenge ordinary, established patterns of professional discourse."
William H. McNeill, Diplomatic History

The Uncertainties of Knowledge extends Immanuel Wallerstein's decade-long work of elucidating the crisis of knowledge in current intellectual thought. He argues that the disciplinary divisions of academia have trapped us in a paradigm that assumes knowledge is a certainty and that it can help us explain the social world. This is wrong, he suggests. Instead, Wallerstein offers a new conception of the social sciences, one whose methodology allows for uncertainties.

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Excerpt

Read the Introduction and Chapter 1 (pdf).

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Reviews

"Wallerstein draws on his historical erudition and formidable theoretical powers to cast light on the ongoing transformation of our society. Even more impressive, he dares to think about the future."
Frances Fox Piven

"Wallerstein is always readable, often persuasive, and occasionally profound."
Michael Mann, The British Journal of Sociology

"The volume is consistently well written, historically grounded in its own right, and, when taken as a whole, the essays provide new understanding of the thinking that underlies Wallerstein's world-systems analysis."
Choice

"Immanuel Wallerstein tells a fairly clear story in this book."
The American Journal of Sociology

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Contents

Introduction: The Uncertainties of Time

Part I. The Structures of Knowledge
1. For Science, Against Scientism: The Dilemmas of Contemporary Knowledge Production
2. Social Sciences in the Twenty-first Century
3. The End of Certainties in the Social Sciences
4. Braudel and Interscience: A Preacher to Empty Pews?
5. Time and Duration: The Unexcluded Middle, or Reflections on Braudel and Prigogine
6. The Itinerary of World-Systems Analysis, or How to Resist Becoming a Theory

Part II. Dilemmas of the Disciplines
7. History in Search of Science
8. Writing History
9. Global Culture(s): Salvation, Menace, or Myth?
10. From Sociology to Historical Social Science: Prospects and Obstacles
11. Anthropology, Sociology, and Other Dubious Disciplines

Acknowledgments
Notes
References
Index

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About the Author(s)

Immanuel Wallerstein is Director of the Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University, and Senior Research Scholar at Yale University.

Subject Categories

Sociology
Political Science and Public Policy
Philosophy and Ethics


In the series

Politics, History, and Social Change, edited by John C. Torpey.

This series will disseminate serious works that analyze the social changes that have transformed our world during the twentieth century and beyond. The main topics to be addressed include international migration; human rights; the political uses of history; the past and future of the nation-state; decolonization and the legacy of imperialism; and global inequality. The series will also translate into English outstanding works by scholars writing in other languages.

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