RRP: $30 (AUD)
Pub. Date: January 2012
Gabriel Tarde’s Monadology and Sociology, originally published in 1893, is a remarkable and unclassifiable book. It sets out a theory of 'universal sociology', which aims to explicate the essentially social nature of all phenomena, including the behaviour of atoms, stars, chemical substances and living beings. He argues that all of nature consists of elements animated by belief and desire, which form social aggregates analogous to those of human societies and institutions. In developing this central insight, Tarde outlines a metaphysical system which builds on both classical rationalist philosophy and the latest scientific theories of the time, in a speculative synthesis of extraordinary range and power.
Tarde’s work has only recently returned to prominence after a long eclipse. His work was an important influence on later theorists including Deleuze and Latour, and has been widely discussed in the social sciences, but has rarely been a focus of philosophical interest. The translator’s afterword provides an explication of the key ideas in the text and situates Tarde’s theory within the context of the philosophical tradition, arguing for the importance of the text as a highly original work of systematic ontology, and for its importance for contemporary theoretical debates.
About the Author
Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904) was a French sociologist, criminologist and social theorist. He originally trained in law and worked as a judge. Subsequently he was director of criminal statistics at the French Ministry of Justice, and then held the chair in modern philosophy at the Collège de France. His works cover a wide range of interests; he is best known for his theories of imitation and his work on crowd psychology, and for his debates on sociological theory with Émile Durkheim.
Theo Lorenc is Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.