Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

Volume 47, Issue 3, October 2021

Peter C. Blum
Pages 14-18

Edward Shils as Stranger, Social Thought as Vocation

This essay is a response to Struan Jacobs, “Recovering the Thought of Edward Shils,” which is an extended review of Adair-Toteff and Turner’s The Calling of Social Thought. It considers Edward Shils as a “stranger,” in the sense defined by Georg Simmel, relative to contemporary sociology. Christian Smith’s claim that American sociology is implicitly pursuing a “sacred project” is invoked, in contrast with Shils’ vision for consensual sociology. The expansion by CST to “Social Thought” as a calling (vocation), and its ties to science as understood by Polanyi, are strongly affirmed.