Date of Award

Fall 1988

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Melvin T Bobick


The dissertation examines in detail the work of Lewis Mumford from 1922 to 1951. It concentrates specifically on his Renewal of Life Series (1934-1951). Mumford's work is examined to address current practices within American sociology. Most notably examination is given to our current trend of specialization and our treatment of fact and value. Mumford's distinct approach is understood as a form of sociology as Practical Reason (Bellah, 1983).

Mumford is a generalist in his method of understanding social change. Consequently, his work treats the various disciplines within the American colleges as complementary interests. While extremely informative, his generalism has been largely disregarded within American sociological practice. In its stead we have employed a nuclearization of expertise. That is, knowledge is appreciated as knowledge in depth as opposed to knowledge in breadth.

Mumford also attacks value relativism as a useful point of departure within social study. In lieu of relativism, wherein values are considered to be artifacts of the subjective mind, he advocates a neo-aristotelian understanding of value as constitutive of and acting in relation to facts. As such values gain an objective status (as opposed to subjective). The work of Elijah Jordan (1927;1949) is integrated with Mumford's concerns to give the former a sounder metaphysical point of departure. Sociologists' inconsistencies with the treatment of facts and values within our research is also examined through the work of five major American sociological writers.