This book argues that sociology has lost its ability to provide critical diagnoses of the present human condition because sociology has stopped considering the philosophical requirements of social enquiry. The book attempts to restore that ability by retrieving some of the key questions that sociologists tend to gloss over, inescapability and attainability. The book identifies five key questions in which issues of inescapability and attainability emerge. These are the questions of the certainty of our knowledge, the viability of our politics, the continuity of our selves, the accessibility of the past, and the transparency of the future. The book demonstrates how these questions are addressed in different forms and by different intellectual means during the past 200 years and shows how they persist today.
Peter Wagner is Professor of Social and Political Theory in the Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Florence