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On Sharpening Ideas

May 14, 2009

giddensI love this passage I just read in Anthony Giddens’ The Constitution of Society. It’s from the introduction; he’s talking about the fact that his work draws from the theories of dominant, established thinkers in the field. However, he’s suggesting that he in no way intends to be a slave to their views.

The comfort of established views can, however, easily be a cover for intellectual sloth. If ideas are important and illuminating, what matters more than their origin is to be able to sharpen them so as to demonstrate their usefulness, even if within a framework which might be quite different from that which helped to engender them.

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