Richard Brown

Richard BrownIn hmolscience, Richard Brown (1940-2003) was an American sociologist noted for his PhD dissertation turned 1977 book A Poetic for Sociology: Toward a Logic of Discovery for the Human Sciences, wherein he includes a fairly cogent chapter on what he labels as metaphor, being a historical on materialistic humanities theorists, with discussions of human physicists such as Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham, John Q. Stewart, and Jacob Moreno, to name a few.

Nearly half of Brown's A Poetic for Sociology, specifically 94 of 220 pages (43 percent), is devoted to a discussion of “metaphors”, whether molecule or machine, as he calls them, in sociology. In his acknowledgements section, he credits the following as the backbone of this chapter: [2]

“For Chapter 4 on metaphors, Mary Hesse’ Models and Analogies in Science [1963], C.M. Turbayne’s The Myth of Metaphor [1962], and Douglas Berggren’s [1962-63] essay in the Review of Metaphysics were of central importance as sources for many basic ideas, analytic categories, and examples. Paul Diesling’s [1971] Patterns of Discovery in the Social Sciences also provided important insights and examples. George Lundberg, the positivist, was accidentally rebaptized as Ferdinand Lundberg, the Marxist!”

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Brown completed his BA at University of California, Berkeley, his MA in sociology and East Asian studies Columbia, and his PhD at the University of California, San Diego, after which, in 1975, he began teaching at the University of Maryland. [3]

The following are related quotes:

“Most sociology imitates physics and justifies itself in terms of positivist epistemology. In contrast, the more humanistic sociologies are truer to the data, yet they appear to operate in the realm of intuition, to be a matter of interpretation rather than of truth.”
— Richard Brown (1976), “Preface” to A Poetic for Sociology (pg. x)

“As the vocabulary of physics has changed so has that of physicalistic social scientists. The simple levers and inclined planes of Galileo have given way to the dynamo, electromagnetism, and the computer.”
— Richard Brown (1977), A Poetic for Sociology (pgs. 141-42)

“Given the ‘lag’ between the source of such metaphors in physics and their use in sociology, we await the discovery soon of social protons, neutrons, and neutrinos.”
— Richard Brown (1977), a humorous jab at John Q. Stewart’s 1952 social molecules and Jacob Moreno’s social nuclei; A Poetic for Sociology (pg. 142)

“A crucial test of the power of the metaphor is whether its opponents wind up using it themselves.”
— Richard Brown (1977), A Poetic for Sociology (pg. 142)

1. Brown, Richard H. (1977). A Poetic for Sociology: Toward a Logic of Discovery for the Human Sciences (pg. 142). University of Chicago Press, 1989.
2. (a) Hesse, Mary B. (1966). Models and Analogies in Science. University of Notre Dame.
(b) Turbayne, Colin M. (1962). The Myth of Metaphor. Yale University Press.
(c) Berggren, Douglas. (1962). “The Use and Abuse of Metaphor I” (abs), The Review of Metaphysics, 16(2):237-58.
(d) Berggren, Douglas. (1963). “The Use and Abuse of Metaphor II” (abs), The Review of Metaphysics, 16(3):450-72.
(e) Diesling, Paul. (1971). Patterns of Discovery in the Social Sciences. Transcation Publishers, 1979.
3. Richard Brown (about) –

External links

Richard Harvey Brown –
Brown, Richard Harvey – WorldCat Identities.

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