MANY critics have fastened their attention on the questions asked by social scientists. The questions have been accused of ambiguity, theoretical irrelevance and triteness; their authors of confusion compounded by logomachy and illiteracy, of grandiose promises and self-evident absurdity. One historian, for example, referred to sociologists as ‘fanatical in their zeal and shameless in their claims’, and summed up his views of sociology by saying: ‘Its practitioners are in the stage of alchemy, not of chemistry. Probably that is why they proclaim so loudly that they are on the verge of discovering the philosopher’s stone.’ 1