ByIrving Louis Horowitz
Pages 3

Why has sociology failed to achieve the status of a fundamental science—not an important or auxiliary discipline, but a fundamental discipline? In the closing plenary address “Sociologists in a Changing World,” delivered before the 1974 meetings of the International Sociological Association, I tried to distinguish between basic and secondary sciences in a forthright manner. I argued that fundamental disciplines involve some aspect of life and death, or, if not death, incarceration and illness. Sociology is denied the status of a fundamental applied science, such as medicine or engineering, because it so rarely comes to grips with issues of life and death. And ordinary people, whatever else may concern them, are moved to seek the advice of others primarily by root considerations. Almost by definition that which is important is related to living and dying; issues of secondary importance are the quality of life and its purpose. Many sociologists exhibit a studied embarrassment about these issues, a feeling that intellectual issues posed in such a manner are melodramatic and unfit 10for scientific discourse (Horowitz 1975, p. 73). I am not arguing for a theological view of society, or that auxiliary activities are always less important than fundamental activities, but only that the social status of a science in some sense is measured by such easy-to-make but hard-to-prove distinctions.