Purity in Concepts: Defending the Social Sciences

HansKelsen, Secular Religion: a Polemic against the Misinterpretation of Modern Social Philosophy, Science, and Politics as “New Religions”, Robert Walter, Clemens Jabloner and Klaus Zeleny (eds.), Springer, Wien, 2012, 307 p., 106.95 €, ISBN 978-3-7091-0765-2.
Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook book series (VCIY, volume 18)


In Secular Religion, his posthumously published book, Kelsen intended to defend the prevalent theories in the social sciences from the threat of discredit. The drawing of analogies between the social sciences and religion was indeed quite common at that time among intellectuals (such as Eric Voegelin, Raymon Aron and Ernst Cassirer) and Kelsen thought that this analogy created a serious risk to the credibility of the social sciences. I argue that (1) the drawing of analogies between social sciences and religion is not necessarily bad for the social sciences (2) this rhetorical battle between historians of ideas was much less dangerous for the credibility and survival of the social sciences than Kelsen estimated (3) the method chosen by Kelsen to defend the social sciences, conceptual analysis, might not have been the best method for this purpose.


Conceptual Analysis Rhetorical Strategy Religious Movement Religious Thought Religious Influence 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN)University of OsloOsloNorway

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