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Davis' Insults



To the Editors of The Crimson:

Professor of Sociology James A. Davis' onslaught on Social Studies cannot be left unanswered. He praises the Sociology Department for studying facts, whereas Social Studies practices only the antiquarian exegesis of irrelevant texts.

This statement doesn't show a great respect for facts. Neither in their junior nor in their senior years do Social Studies concentrators spend their time on such an exegesis. A look at their thesis topics shows that their concern for the issues of modern society is as great as that of Sociology students. Davis' assertion is about as valid as would be a view of his department as a bunch of mindless number-crunchers.

As for the notion that the study of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim or Sigmund Freud (all "naughtily left-wing writers") is a waste of time, it is astonishingly boorish. Not only did their writings exert some influence on modern society, but Davis' discipline owes its existence and many of its directions to such writers.

As for the insults Davis hurls at Social Studies concentrators and their teachers, they show more capacity for indignation than for judgement. This "leftist" or "Marxist" program has had, as consecutive chairs, such dangerous radicals as myself, Michael Walzer, and Coolidge Professor of History David S. Landes.

But then Talleyrand, no mean social observer, said that what is exaggerated doesn't count--a remark that applies perfectly to Davis' comments. Stanley H. Hoffmann    Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France

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