Sidney Hook and Lewis Mumford on Sorokin

 

 

1 Sidney Hook, ‘History in Swing Rhythm’ (review of Dynamics) – Nation 7-10-1937

 

2 Lewis Mumford, ‘Insensate Ideologue’ (review of Dynamics, vols. 1-3)

 

3 Sidney Hook review of The Crisis of Our Age – NY Herald Tribune 1-11-1942

 

4 Sidney Hook review of Society, Culture and Personality – NYTBR 8-17-1947

 

5 Lewis Mumford review of The Reconstruction of Humanity – J of Religion

 

 

Several of the most savage — if that is not too strong a word; one can safely say highly critical and damaging — reviews of Pitirim A. Sorokin’s major works were written, not in scholarly journals, but in newspapers and a magazine by two polymaths: the American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic Lewis Mumford and the American pragmatist philosopher Sidney Hook. It is hard to gainsay the validity of conclusions reached by these two prominent New York intellectuals about flaws in Sorokin’s scholarship, his methodology, his overreaching in sweeping statements and conclusions, his carelessness in the use of evidentiary material, his lack of objectivity in works supposedly the result of exhaustive research based on data compiled scientifically.

What I would be inclined to say is that Sorokin wrote hastily and aimed high — at profundity and broad scope. I feel that the criticisms are valid. Sorokin’s flaws should be acknowledged. They do not necessarily invalidate his works (written during the mid-twentieth century, when, as Sorokin wrote, mankind was in the midst of crisis unprecedented “in all its stark and unquestionable reality” … “of an enormous conflagration burning everything into ashes”), the breadth and depth and timelessness of which are indicators of their lasting importance.
— Roger W. Smith

   August 2019

 

 

I have transcribed and posted here (above), as downloadable Word documents, the following reviews:
review of Social and Cultural Dynamics, Vols. 1-3

by Sidney Hook

The Nation

July 10, 1937
review of Social and Cultural Dynamics, Vols. 1-3

by Lewis Mumford

The New Republic

July 14, 1937

pp. 283-284

 

 

review of The Crisis of Our Age: The Social and Cultural Outlook

by Sidney Hook

New York Herald Tribune

January 11, 1942
review of Society, Culture, and Personality: Their Structure and Dynamics

by Sidney Hook

New York Times Book Review

August 17, 1947

 

 

review of The Reconstruction of Humanity

by Lewis Mumford

The Journal of Religion

Vol. 29, No. 4 (October 1949), pp. 301-302

 

 

 

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Sidney Hook (1902-1989) was an American philosopher known for his contributions to the philosophy of history, the philosophy of education, political theory, and ethics. After embracing Communism in his youth, Hook was later known for his criticisms of totalitarianism, both fascism, and Marxism-Leninism.

Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) was an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic. Noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a broad career as a writer. His works ranged from a groundbreaking study of Herman Melville to books such as The Culture of Cities and The City in America; The Condition of Man; and Technics and Civilization, in which he divided human civilization into three distinct epochs, in a manner somewhat similar to Sorokin.

Author: Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Sites on WordPress hosted by Mr. Smith include: (1) rogersgleanings.com (a personal site comprised of essays on a wide range of topics) ; (2) rogers-rhetoric.com (covering principles and practices of writing); (3) roger-w-smiths-dreiser.site (devoted to the author Theodore Dreiser); and (4) pitirimsorokin.com (devoted to sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin).

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