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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter proposes an integral cognitive sociology capable of mediating between the sociocultural and naturalistic approaches that had all along been latent in critical theory but in the wake of the cognitive revolution can now be made explicit. The conviction driving the argument is that critical theory requires this complementary kind of cognitive sociology in order to secure its penetrating multilevel type of analysis and defining action- and praxis-oriented critical capacity. Framed by an autobiographical perspective, the first part traces the emergence of this cognitive sociology by identifying some starting points and prompts, both positive and negative, in the extant writings of relevant critical theorists. The second part is then devoted to an outline of the proposed cognitive sociology in terms of two key concepts: “the cognitive order” of the human sociocultural form of life and “weak naturalism.” The former allows a presentation of what the analysis of the sociocultural form of life according to the flow, structuring effects and dynamics of cognitive properties would entail. The latter allows the identification of the constraints impinging on the sociocultural world that derive from its ontological rootedness in nature. In contrast to strong naturalism, however, the sociocultural dimension is acknowledged as having epistemological priority for social science rather than being demoted to an epiphenomenon. While the thrust of the chapter is that critical theory urgently requires an integral cognitive sociology, it is apparent that contemporary cognitive sociology is as much in need of being complemented by a critical theoretical approach.

Keywords: Apel, cognitive sociology, critical theory, culture, Eder, Habermas, naturalism

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