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New book by Richard Kilminster

Posted on February 21, 2008 by Kilminster

Richard Kilminster. Norbert Elias: Post-philosophical Sociology, London, Routledge, October, 2007 [ISBN10: 0-415-43706-7]. Please recommend your library to purchase multiple copies. This book is a companion volume to my The Sociological Revolution: From The Enlightenment to the Global Age, London, Routledge 1998, paperback 2002. The publisher’s blurb on the new book reads:

‘Few sociologists of the first rank have scandalised the academic world to the extent that Elias did. Developed out of the German Sociology of Knowledge in the 1920s, Elias’s sociology contains a sweeping radicalism which declares an academic ‘plague on all your houses’. His sociology of the ‘human condition’ sweeps aside the contemporary focus on ‘modernity’ and rejects most of the dominant paradigms of sociology as one-sided, static, economistic, teleological, individualistic and/or rationalistic. As sociologists, Elias also asks us to distance ourselves from mainstream psychology, history and, above all, philosophy, which is summarily abandoned, although carried forward on a higher level.

This enlightening book details the far-reaching and provocative core at the heart of Elias. Written by a close friend and pupil of Elias it is the first book to explain the refractory, uncomfortable side of Elias’s sociological radicalism and to brace us for its implications.’


1. Understanding Elias
2. Origins of Elias’s Synthesis
3. Norbert Elias and Karl Mannheim
4. The Civilizing Process: The Structure of a Classic
5. Involved Detachment: Knowledge and Self-Knowledge in Elias’s Theory of Involvement and Detachment
6. The Symbol Theory: Secular Humanism as a Research Programme
7. Concluding Remarks: The Fourth Blow to Man’s Narcissism?