Preserving Philip Rieff: The Reputation of a Fellow Teacher

Gary Alan Fine*, Philip Manning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Philip Rieff, the author of Freud: The Mind of the Moralist, The Triumph of the Therapeutic and Fellow Teachers, is a consequential and important American social theorist whose emphasis on moral structures and cultural limits has become - and to a great degree, always was - out of fashion. This article and the four that follow attempt to demonstrate the significance of the writings of Philip Rieff for contemporary social theory. Our contention is that Rieff's scholarly reputation has unjustly suffered because his distinctive voice has been wrongly thought to be irrelevant for contemporary theoretical and political concerns. By contrast, we argue that Rieff continues to hold an important place in current political and social theory because he diagnosed a chronic moral sickness and proposed a course of treatment based on the virtues of repression and guilt. From Rieff's vantage point, the relativism of his era is both a symptom of and a false solution to moral dilemmas. His ‘fellow teachers’ in the university have often passively resisted his moral condemnations by allowing his energetic texts to drift into obscurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • culture
  • morality
  • psychology
  • reputation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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