Introduction

Discovering and rediscovering Shils

in The calling of social thought
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Edward Shils was a complex thinker and complex individual, who was both a central figure of his time and a theorist with an unusual perspective. This chapter describes his career and discusses the various paradoxical aspects of his personality and his thought, and explains its lack of closure. The chapter then discusses the common dismissal of Shils as a Cold War scholar, and explains the nature of his response to Communism and his activities against it. The rest of the chapter introduces the chapters in this volume, and through this provides an overview of his thought.

The calling of social thought

Rediscovering the work of Edward Shils

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