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In his final work, Donald N. Levine, one of the great late-twentieth-century sociological theorists, brings together diverse social thinkers. Simmel, Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, and Merton are set into a dialogue with philosophers such as Hobbes, Smith, Montesquieu, Comte, Kant, and Hegel and pragmatists such as Peirce, James, Dewey, and McKeon to describe and analyze dialogical social theory. This volume is one of Levine’s most important contributions to social theory and a worthy summation of his life’s work.
Levine demonstrates that approaching social theory with a cooperative, peaceful dialogue is a superior tactic in theorizing about society. He illustrates the advantages of the dialogical model with case studies drawn from the French Philosophes, the Russian Intelligentsia, Freudian psychology, Ushiba’s aikido, and Levine’s own ethnographic work in Ethiopia. Incorporating themes that run through his lifetime’s work, such as conflict resolution, ambiguity, and varying forms of social knowledge, Levine suggests that while dialogue is an important basis for sociological theorizing, it still vies with more combative forms of discourse that lend themselves to controversy rather than cooperation, often giving theory a sense of standing still as the world moves forward.
The book was nearly finished when Levine died in April 2015, but it has been brought to thoughtful and thought-provoking completion by his friend and colleague Howard G. Schneiderman. This volume will be of great interest to students and teachers of social theory and philosophy.