For some time I have come thinking that there is not to obsess too much with plenty to read the classics. If we undertake the long task of reading all the classics―especially if we give them the definition of a classic to all those theorists who are no longer with us but have gone to fatten the books of the history of social thought― then, it will be more likely that we lose what they say the most current. The classics, as such, is devoted to theorizing about the social problems of his time. Today, the problems may have different properties, or be totally different. It does not mean that a rereading of the classics are not going to have any work heuristic. As it says in Merton, there are many theories of the classics that were blurred in the course of the first investigation. Only from re-readings later with new approaches allowed to obtain new increments that were more valid the initial theory. It is important not to fall into the trap of thinking that it makes a “discovery” when in reality it could be a “rediscovery”.1 of course, it is necessary to know the main ideas that have contributed to the classics. But ―and that’s why I say that there is not to obsess― on many occasions these main ideas of the classics you can learn by reading the most current.
Different thing ―since the social reality has a multitude of dimensions with their respective problems, which in addition are interrelated in many cases― is that we engage in the specific study of an aspect of social reality. Then, from the aggregate of the general ideas we have been learning about the classics, yes it is timely to re-read (re-read) those works of the classics where they can be tried another time the same problem that we want to study today.
Ruben Crespo | November 22, 2012
The first paragraph I have extracted from one of the conclusions of the review that I made of the book Religion without redemption of Luis Martínez Andrade (Taberna Libraria Publishers, 2011), which will be published in the next few days in two Latin american journals (and later in Cisolog also). The reflection here has a general character. In the review of the book Religion without redemption, it is to reflect what would be an excellent example of some of the main ideas of the classics from the reading of the work of someone more current −and also young− as Luis Martínez Andrade.
- MERTON, Robert K. 2002. Theory and Structure Social. Fund of Economic Culture. p. 25. [↩]