Missing all that Matters
Issues in Legal Scholarship, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2012
19 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2012
Date Written: December 1, 2012
Philip Selznick spent a very long life engaged with large questions concerning society, politics, institutions, law and morals. He contributed to numerous disciplines and sub-disciplinary domains, was a major figure in each of the fields he entered, and one of few to have been a participant, let alone eminent, in them all. Among these fields are general sociology, the sociology of organizations and institutions, management theory, political science, industrial sociology, the sociology and philosophy of law, political theory, and social philosophy grounded in what he came to call humanist science.
I have recently completed a book on his thought and ways of thought.Naturally enough, it discusses his contributions to these various subjects and domains. But it is haunted, I am haunted, by a remark of his former student and sometime collaborator, Philippe Nonet, that ‘[t]hose who look to Philip’s work for contributions to this or that 'field' – 'sociology of organization,' 'industrial sociology,' 'sociology of law,' - will doubtless find something, indeed a great deal, but they will miss all that matters.’ The point might be phrased less dramatically; perhaps not all, just lots. Still, the observation resonates. My book seeks to vindicate my particular understanding of it, which may or may not be Nonet’s. These remarks are an attempt to distil some elements of that understanding.
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