Peter Baehr’s The Unmasking Style in Social Theory (2019) is situated within the polemical tradition of attacks on intellectuals initiated by Julien Benda in The Treason of the Intellectuals (1927) and continued by Raymond Aron and Irving Louis Horowitz. It is argued that the most successful aspects of the book are not in its polemics but in its contributions to Begriffsgeschichte, the study of the changing meaning of concepts over time. Baehr’s nascent critique of a society of full transparency is the book’s great unrealized project.
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Baehr (2013) has written a valuable analysis and appraisal of Aron’s legacy as a sociologist. According to Baehr, Aron’s writings present two different versions of the discipline of sociology. On the one hand, he advanced a view that “unmasking” was the essence of sociology; on the other, he proposed a “non-debunking” version of sociology. Unable for these and other reasons to embrace him fully, Baehr calls Aron an “honored outsider.” In the closing pages of the article, Baehr foreshadows the themes in his new book here under review.
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Jaworski, G.D. On Unmasking. Am Soc (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12108-020-09437-1
- Social theory