chapter  2
The Prism of Heritability and The Sociology of Knowledge: What Questions? Whose Questions?
Pages 17

The sociology of knowledge is, in its broadest conception, an approach to the social conditions of thought. It is not equipped to assess the validity of the truth claim, nor to evaluate the pragmatic fit of a worldview. As a field of inquiry, its roots are traceable to Karl Mannheim (1936) and Max Scheler (1926). Mannheim often referred to the “existential conditions of thought,” and variably referred to the “sociology of cognition.” While neither Scheler nor Mannheim provided a systematic or single method of getting at the subject, it is possible to distill from their works, and from the works of those who followed them, some key principles. Foremost among them is the perspective that (a) individuals are located in groups, (b) groups have an interested position towards the existing order of things, and (c) the organization of human thought (in individuals) can often be better understood by discerning the relationship between (a) and (b).