a damaging review of two Sorokin works

 

Ruth Benedict review of The Crisis of Our Age & Dynamics – New Republic 2-2-1942

 

Posted here is a review by Ruth Benedict of Sorokin’s The Crisis of Our Age and of his Social and Cultural Dynamics in The New Republic of February 2, 1942.

The review identifies and nails some of Sorokin’s fundamental weaknesses as a scholar. But, in my opinion (I would be inclined to say, that is), Sorokin does not fit neatly into any scholarly paradigm. He came out of a Russian tradition which was more mystical (is that the right word?) — certainly — than was or is seen in the social sciences; and he was never really understood or accepted by American intellectuals.

 

*****************************************************

Ruth Benedict (1887-1948) was an American anthropologist and folklorist. She taught at Columbia University, where she did graduate work under the anthropologist Franz Boas. Patterns of Culture was her best known work.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

      July 2021

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 at St. John’s University. 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).

One thought on “a damaging review of two Sorokin works”

  1. It’s all in the dates! The critique of Sorokin in New Republic is dated 1942. Benedict didn’t catch up with the Axis powers until 1943, when she went to work for the American government. With that, her cultural relativism must have taken a bit of a nosedive. She could no longer deceive herself. Benedict didn’t want to be accused of a volte face. She was prepared to preach synergy to the Japanese, but she kept it well hidden from the Allies. Either way, it remained buried in the West for several years. Noone today disputes ontological pluralism. But within that pluralism, we must judge for ourselves what is good and what is bad.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: