Sorokin, “Some of the Basic Factors in the Improvement of Scholarship among American Students of the Social Sciences”

 

Sorokin, ‘Some Basic Factors in Improvement of Scholarship Among American Students – Social Science, 1936 (2)

 

Posted here (PDF file above) is the following article by Sorokin:

Some of the Basic Factors in the Improvement of Scholarship among American Students of the Social Sciences
By Pitirim A. Sorokin
Social Science, Vol. 11, No. 2 (April 1936), pp. 93-99

It is a very interesting article in terms of Sorokin’s views not only on the teaching of sociology, but his views on sociology and sociological scholarship.

posted by Roger W. Smith

      April 2022

“the mysterious energy of love”

 

Before the first world war and the later catastrophes of our time, science largely shunned this field [altruistic love]. The phenomena of altruistic love were thought to belong to religion and ethics, rather to science. They were considered good topics for preaching, but not for research and teaching. Moreover, prewar science was much more interested in the study of criminals than of saints, of the insane than of the genius, of the struggle for existence than of mutual aid, and of hate and selfishness than of compassion and love.

The explosion of the gigantic disasters after 1914 and the changing danger of a new suicidal war have now radically changed the situation. These calamities have given impetus to the scientific study of unselfish love. …

… without reinforcement by the energy of unselfish love, all the fashionable prescriptions for the elimination of those ills of humanity cannot achieve their task. This conclusion equally applies to all the prescriptions that try to prevent conflicts by either purely political, educational, sham religious, economic, or military means.

For instance, we may like to think that if tomorrow all the governments of the world were to become democratic, we would finally have a lasting peace and crimeless social order. Yet recent careful studies of comparative criminality of 967 wars and 1,629 revolutions in the history of Greece, Rome, and the Western countries … up to the present time show that democracies have hardly reversed belligerent, turbulent, and crime-infested nanotocracies. The same goes for education in its present form, other panaceas against international wars, civil strifes, and crimes.

Since the tenth century … education has made enormous strides forward. … Yet the number and deadliness of wars, bloody revolutions, and grave crimes have not decreased at all. On the contrary, in this most scientific and most educated twentieth century, they have reached unrivaled heights and have made this century the bloodiest in the past twenty-five centuries of Graeco-Roman and Western history.

Similarly, the tremendous progress of knowledge and the domestication of all of all forms of physical energy has not given man any lasting peace. Rather, it has greatly increased his chances of being destroyed in all forms of interhuman conflicts.

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, “The Mysterious Energy of Love”; a lecture by Sorokin given in 1959 at an undisclosed university.

 

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… none of the prevalent prescriptions against international and civil wars and other forms of interhuman bloody strife can eliminate or notably decrease these conflicts.

By these popular prescriptions I mean, first, elimination of wars and strife by political changes, especially by democratic political transformations. Tomorrow the whole world could become democratic and yet wars and bloody strife would not be eliminated because democracies happen to be no less belligerent and strife-infected than autocracies. Still less pacification can be expected from autocracies. Neither the United Nations nor a world government can give a lasting internal and international peace if the establishment of these bodies is not reinforced by notable altruization of persons, groups, institutions, and culture.

The same goes for education in its present form as a panacea against war and bloody strife. Tomorrow all grown-up persons in the world could become Ph.D.’s, and yet this enormous progress in education would not eliminate wars and bloody conflicts. Since the tenth century on up to the present, education has made enormous progress. The number of schools of all kinds, the percentage of literacy, the number of scientific discoveries and inventions have greatly and almost systematically increased, and yet the international wars, the bloody revolutions, and the grave forms of crime have not decreased at all. On the contrary, in the most scientific and most educated twentieth century, they have reached an unrivaled height and made this one the bloodiest of all the twenty­ five centuries of Graeco-Roman and European history.

The same goes for religious changes, if by religion is meant a purely ideological belief in God or in the credo of any of the great religions. One of the evidences for that is given by our investigation of 73 Boston converts “brought to Jesus” by two popular evangelical preachers. Of these 73 converts only one changed his overt behavior in an altruistic direction after his conversion. Thirty-seven converts slightly changed their speech reactions; after their conversion they began to repeat more frequently the words. “Our Lord Jesus Christ” and similar utterances, but their overt behavior did not change tangibly. The remaining converts changed neither their actions nor their speech reactions. If by religious revival and “moral rearmament” is meant this sort of ideological and speech-reactional transformation, it will not bring peace nor decrease interhuman strife, because it represents mainly a cheap self-gratification for psycho­neurotics and sham-religious persons.

The same goes for communist, socialist, or capitalist economic remedies, and for scientific, artistic, legal, or other ways of establishing and maintaining lasting peace in the human universe, when these are not backed by increased altruization of persons and groups. In my Reconstruction of Humanity (1948), I have given the minimum of evidence to substantiate these statements. This assumption positively signifies that without a notable increase of unselfish, creative love (as ideally formulated in the Sermon on the Mount) in overt behavior, in overt inter-individual and intergroup relationships, in social institutions and culture, there is no chance for a lasting peace and for interhuman harmony, internal or external. This, then, was our first assumption, already vindicated to a considerable degree by the existing body of inductive evidence. …

While many modern sociologists and psychologists view the phenomena of hatred, crime, and mental disorders as the legitimate objects of scientific study they quite illogically stigmatize as theological preaching or non-scientific metaphysics any investigation of the phenomena of love, friendship, heroic deeds and creative genius. There is no need to argue the patently unscientific nature of such an attitude. It is but one of the manifestations of the prevalent concentration on the negative, pathological, and subhuman phenomena which is typical for the disintegrating phase of our sensate culture.

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, “The Scientific Search for Love,” Fellowship, April 1956

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

      February 2022

 

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See also my post

a recorded Sorokin lecture

a recorded Sorokin lecture

 

 

Sorokin, “The Bard of Life” (Walt Whitman 1819-1892)

 

Sorokin, ‘Walt Whitman’

БАРД ЖИЗНИ

‘The Bard of Life’

 

Posted here (English and Russian texts above; also PDF of original text):

Pitirim A. Sorokin, “The Bard of Life (Walt Whitman 1819-1892)

Vseobshchiy Zhurnal [Universal Magazine] 2 (1912), 130-205

Translated from the Russian by Roger W. Smith.

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

      February 2022

Pitirim Sorokin, “Changes in Russia’s Intelligentsia”

 

Sorokin, ‘Changes in Russia’s Intelligentsia’ – NY Evening Post 12-18-1923

 

Posted here,  above, is my transcription of the following article:

Changes in Russia’s Intelligentsia

Former Idealistic Views Concerning Russian People Profoundly Modified by Revolution

By Pitirim Sorokin

(Translated, with some condensation, by David A. Modell from the Dni,* Russian-language daily in Berlin.)

New York Evening Post

December 18, 1923

pg. 8

 

– posted by Roger W. Smith

     August 2021

Pitirim Sorokin, “Russian and U.S. Universities Compared”

 

Pitirim Sorokin, ‘Russian and U.S. Universities Compared’ – Minnesota Alumni Weekly 5-21-1925

 

Posted here as a PDF file is the following article:

Russian and U.S. Universities, Compared

By Pitirim Sorokin

Minnesota Alumni Weekly

May 21, 1925

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

a Sorokin essay (1962)

 

Sorokin, ‘Theses on the Role of Historical Method in the Social Sciences’

 

Posted here (PDF file above) is

Pitirim A. Sorokin

Theses on the Role of Historical Method in the Social Sciences

address delivered at the Fifth World Congress of Sociology, Washington, DC, 1962

 

This essay does seem to be not readily available.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

May 2021

Sorokin, “Russian Religion: Its Evolution Through Revolution”

 

Sorokin, ‘Russian Religion; Its Evolution Through Revolution’ – Religion in Life, Winter 1943-44

 

Posted here (PDF file above) is the following article:

Pitirim A. Sorokin, “Russian Religion: Its Evolution Through Revolution”

Religion in Life: A Christian Quarterly

Vol XIII, No. 1

Winter 1943-44

pp. 3-17

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

Preface, etc. – Sorokin, “Social Mobility” (1927)

 

Preface, etc. – ‘Social Mobility’

See downloadable PDF file, above.

 

I have obtained a rare copy of Sorokin’s groundbreaking work Social Mobility (1927), which was later republished as  Social and Cultural Mobility.

The characteristic vigorous Sorokin style is already on display here.

I was struck by the following passage from Sorokin’s  preface:

Speculative sociology is passing over. An objective, factual, behavioristic, and quantitative sociology is successfully superseding it. This explains why I have tried to avoid basing my statements on the data of “speech reactions” only; why in the book there is not much of speculative psychologizing and philosophizing; why, wherever it has been possible to obtain reliable quantitative data, I have preferred to use them instead of purely qualitative description. For the same reason I have tried to avoid an “illustrative” method, consisting in confirmation of a statement by one or two illustrative facts. Still used extensively in sociology this “method” has been responsible for many fallacious theories it the field of social sciences. It is time to declare a real war on this “plague of sociology.” Trying to avoid it I have endeavored to support each of my principal statements by at least a brief survey of the whole field of the pertinent facts and by indicating at least the minimum of literature where further factual corroboration may be found. When I have not been sure that a certain relationship is general or firmly established, I have stressed its local or hypothetical character.

Another “plague” of sociological theories has been their permeation with “preaching or evaluating judgments” of what is good and what is bad, what is “useful” and what is “harmful.” Sociological literature is inundated with “preaching works,” 90 per cent of which are nothing but mere speculation, often quite ignorant, given in the name of science. As the primary task of any science is to face the facts as they really exist; and as such “preaching” only compromises the science itself, it must be avoided by all who care for and understand what science means. This explains why the book, with the exception of a very few casual remarks, is free from such “preaching.”

Trying to face the facts I naturally do not care at all whether my statements are found to be “reactionary” or “radical,” “optimistic” or “pessimistic.” Are they true or not-this is the only thing that is important in science. If disfiguring the facts of sociology in the interests of the upper classes is a crime against science, no less a crime is disfiguring the reality in the interests of the lower classes. Either of these crimes should be fought by scientific sociology.

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The emphasis on a scientific, statistical, quantitative approach to sociology — reflecting trends in Russian and European sociology by which Sorokin was influenced — is evident.

‘[I]n the book there is not much of speculative psychologizing and philosophizing … wherever it has been possible to obtain reliable quantitative data, I have preferred to use them instead of purely qualitative description,” Sorokin writes. He inveighs against the “plague” of sociological theories permeated with “preaching or evaluating judgments.”

Yet, it can be said — in fact, I think it is undeniable — that in Sorokin’s later works can be found just such characteristics (those he criticizes here), as he shifted from dry quantitative sociology to what might called sociology and social/historical philosophy in the grand manner.

— Roger W. Smith

     May 2020

prefaces, Pitirim A. Sorokin, “Social and Cultural Dynamics” (1937-1941)

 

preface – volume 1

preface – volume 2

preface – volume 3

preface – volume 4

 

The full text of Pitirim A. Sorokin’s magnum opus, Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937-1941), is hard to come by nowadays, except perhaps in a library.

I have transcribed and am posting here (downloadable Word documents above) the text of the four separate prefaces to Volumes One through Four of the Dynamics. They make for very interesting and informative reading — including, and importantly, Sorokin’s conception of sociology and his philosophy of history.

Here’s a typical,stirring passage from the preface to Volume One:

This work has grown out of my efforts to understand something of what has been happening in the social and cultural world about me. I am not ashamed to confess that the World War and most of what took place after it were bewildering to one who, in conformity with the dominant currents of social thought of the earlier twentieth century, had believed in progress, revolution, socialism, democracy, scientific positivism, and many other” isms” of the same sort. For good or ill, I fought for these values and paid the penalty. I expected the progress of peace but not of war; the bloodless reconstruction of society but not bloody revolutions; humanitarianism in nobler guise but not mass murders; an even finer form of democracy but not autocratic dictatorships; the advance of science but not of propaganda and authoritarian dicta in lieu of truth; the many-sided improvement of man but not his relapse into barbarism. The war was the first blow to these conceptions. The grim realities of the Russian Revolution provided the second. If anybody had seriously predicted in 1913 a small fraction of what has actually taken place since, he would have been branded then as mad. And yet what then appeared to be absolutely impossible has indeed happened.

The supple and vigorous, often eloquent — sometimes grandiose — Sorokin-ian style is on full display here.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

      May 2020

Sorokin on The Living Church of Russia (Живая Церковь), Christian Advocate, 1923

 

‘The Living Church of Russia’ – The Christian Advocate 11-15-1923

Sorokin, ‘Does the Church of Russia Present a Religious Opportunity’ – Christian Advocate

The Living Church of Russia – Wikipedia

 

The downloadable Word documents posted here (above) are self-explanatory.

 

— Roger W. Smith

      April 2020