Gellner Ernest

Gellner Ernest

(1925-95), Czech-born, English social theorist, social philosopher and social anthropologist whose wide-ranging, often iconoclastic, writings included critical discussion of analytical philosophy (Words and Things, 1959), ethnographic studies (The Saints of the Atlas, 1969), studies of psychoanalysis (The Psychoanalytic Movement, 1985), of nationalism (Nations and Nationalism, 1983), of Soviet thought (State and Society in Soviet Thought, 1988), as well as general studies of social change and historical development (Plough, Sword and Book, 1988), and, in addition, numerous articles and books on methodological topics (e.g. Relativism in the Social Sciences, 1985). Running through all of these works is a persistent defence of rationalism, in which changes in knowledge are seen as decisive in social change. Gellner was especially impatient with approaches within the social sciences deriving from WITTGENSTEIN's second philosophy, which he presents as a ‘new idealism’ (Gellner, 1974). See also WINCH, EPISODIC CHARACTERIZATION, WORLD GROWTH STORY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000