“Professor Sorokine To Remain in U.S.”

 

 

Professor Sorokine To Remain in U.S.

 

The present Russian government has extended a formal invitation to Professor Pitirim Sorokine, who is a guest of President [Henry Noble] MacCracken at Vassar College at present, to return to that country and take up once more the editorship of the Russian Peasant Magazine, which he carried on before his condemnation.

Professor Sorokine says that he is not planning to accept this invitation because he believes that a faction would have him arrested if he refused to subscribe to their opinions. In addition he would be obliged to aid in the public instruction under the communist government, which would not be pleasant. He said Wednesday:

“If the imprisonment of Trotsky by the communists, announced today, is true, I believe that the present Russian government is doomed and that its fall will take place in a short time.”

 

Poughkeepsie Eagle-News (Poughkeepsie, New York), January 17, 1924, pg. 6

“Sorokin Would Welcome Fuehrer, Duce at Harvard”

 

 
“Sorokin Would Welcome Fuehrer, Duce at Harvard”

The Minneapolis Tribune

February 25, 1939

pg. 15
ALSO published as:

Harvard Savant Would Teach 3 Dictators “Common Sense”

The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland)

February 25, 1939

pg. 3

 

 

[By the Associated Press]

Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 24 — While one Harvard scientist [Percy W. Bridgman] today gained support in his “manifesto” to bar scholars of totalitarian states from his laboratories, another said he would “welcome Mr. Hitler, Mr. Stalin and Mr. Mussolini to my classes, so that they might learn the ABC’s of common sense.”

Commenting in an interview on Physicist Percy W. Bridgman’s announcement in Science magazine that he wanted to make it more difficult for totalitarian states to get scientific information they might misuse, Prof. Pitirim Sorokin, of the sociology department said:

“Any scientific discovery or invention which could be applied in war should be kept secret except from the Government concerned — because today’s friends may be tomorrow’s enemies.

“However, in the case of the social sciences, since our theories are different from the totalitarian ideologies, and critical of them, it would be useful if the Nazis, the Communists and the Fascists–yes, even Mr. Hitler, Mr. Stalin and Mr. Mussolini–would come to our classes to learn some common sense.”

 

 

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

 

 

See also (pdf file below):

 

“Physicist Shuts Laboratory To Subjects of Dictators”

The New York Times

February 24, 1939

pg. 1

 

 

‘Physicist Shuts Laboratory to Subjects of Dictators’ – NT Times 2-24-1939

 

my favorite Sorokin photo

 

 

 

Sorokin 1917
Pitirim Sorokin in St. Petersburg, 1917; from cover of The Unknown Sorokin: His Life in Russia and the Essay on Suicide,  edited by Denny Vǻgerö

 

Such a handsome young man. Sorokin was age twenty-eight at the time. In his face and expression, one can see the earnestness and idealism that would manifest itself in his life and writings.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   September 2019

“Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis” by P. A. Sorokin (1938)

 

 

 

Sorokin, ‘Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis’ – Harvard Alumni Bulletin

 

 

 

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

 

“Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis”

By Dr. P. A. Sorokin, Professor of Sociology

Harvard Alumni Bulletin

Vol. XL, No. 16

February 4, 1938

1. 512-514

 

 

Sorokin gave this address in December 1937 as part of a series of radio talks

 

 

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

 

 

We have here Sorokin writing in the characteristic style of the years following the publication of his Social and Cultural Dynamics, the fist three volumes of which were published in 1937 —  a style that foreshadows that of The Crisis of Our Age, which was published in 1941.

Scholars currently studying Sorokin’s early works in Russian are learning more about his career as a writer. Overlooked (mostly) in the past was the early journalistic experience he had. Sorokin qua writer is a topic that deserves study. One will find, I believe, both strengths and weaknesses.

The fact that Sorokin wrote the majority of his major works in a second language is not something to be ignored. Even in this rather straightforward article, there can be seen occasional infelicities in grammar and wording.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   August 2019

 

 

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

 

 

 

addendum:

 

An article of interest — in Russian — which I have not yet seen has recently been published:

 

Американский этап лингвистической биографии Питирима Сорокина (“The American Stage of Pitirim Sorokin’s Linguistic Biography”)

 

by Сергиева Н.С. (Natalia S. Sergieva)

 

Полилингвиальность и транскультурные практики (Polylinguality and Transcultural Practices)

 

Vol. 16, No..1 (2019), pp. 35-44

 

 

Abstract:

 

The article discusses the features of the bilingualism of an eminent sociologist of the twentieth century Pitirim Sorokin in the American period of his life. The purpose of the study is to identify and explain the linguistic features of his scientific thinking in connection with the development of his scientific worldview. The study is based on the materials of Pitirim A. Sorokin Collection at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). Archival manuscripts and research notes allow us to trace the process of changing the language and switching codes in the professional activities of Pitirim Sorokin after moving to the United States of America. It has been established that the use of a mixed metalanguage by Pitirim Sorokin can be considered as additional evidence of the continued connection with the Russian period of his life and scientific activity. Russian remained for him a tool of scientific thinking, planning and management.

“In Memoriam: P. A. Sorokin” (Supplement, Indian Journal of Social Research, 1968)

 

 

 

tributes to Sorokin – Indian Journal of Social Research, April 1968

 

 

Posted here (PDF file above) is a series of post mortem tributes to Pitirim A. Sorokin that were published in in 1968 as a special supplement to the Indian Journal of Social Research, Volume IX, Number 1 (April 1968), pp. i-xvi

 

“In Memoriam: Pitirm Alexanderovich Sorokin: January 21, 1889-Feburary 10, 1968, pp. i-iii

 

“Reminiscences of Sorokin,” by Charles P. Loomis, pp. iv-viii (written by Professor Loomis in 1959 and published posthumously)

 

TRIBUTES:

 

by Carle C. Zimmerman, pp. ix-xii

 

by Kenneth V. Lottich, pp. xii-xiii

 

The New York Times (reprinted from an anonymous obituary, condensed and slightly edited), pp. xiii-xiv

 

by Kewal Motwani, pp. xiv-xv

 

by Arnold J. Toynbee, pg. xvi

 

by Michael V. Belok, pg. xvi

 

by Santosh K. Nandy, pg. xvi

 

 

The editor of the journal, respsonsible for assembling the supplement, was G. C. Hallen, Professor of Sociology at J. V. College, Baraut (Meerut), India

 

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lewis Mumford review of “The Reconstruction of Humanity”

 

 

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

 
The following (PDF file above) is a review by Lewis Mumford of Pitirim A. Sorokin’s The Reconstruction of Humanity (1948):

The review is a penetrating one well worth reading.

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.

The review, while critical of Sorokin’s weaknesses as  writer and scholar, is an evenhanded one. It demonstrates insight into Sorokin’s works as a whole and places The Reconstruction of Humanity within the context of Sorokin’s oeuvre as it stood at the time the review was written, which was just after the publication of Sorokin’s The Crisis of Our Age.

Note, for example, Mumford’s statement: “The present book has the virtues and defects of Professor Sorokin’s earlier works–both in great abundance. Like his greatest rival, Arnold Toynbee, he is a scholar who carries on his shoulders a tremendous burden of scholarly research, but … his thought is sometimes confused, rather than clarified, by his very erudition.”

 

— Roger W. Smith

    May 2019

 

 

 

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

 

 

review of The Reconstruction of Humanity

by Lewis Mumford

The Journal of Religion

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

 

 

The Reconstruction of Humanity stands in logical sequence to the series of sociological interpretations that Professor Pitirim Sorokin has published since his monumental Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937). Those four volumes, though concerned with a general theory of culture, clearly indicated Professor Sorokin’s criticism of our present age: that it was a typically “sensate” culture, founded on an exclusive belief in sensations as a source of meaning and “reality,” and that this very fact tended to undermine its existence–since only a supersensate or ideational culture could do justice to all the more significant aspects of human experience.

Sorokin’s next boom addressed to the public at large–for he has published various systematic texts in sociology–was largely a condensation of his Dynamics: The Crisis of our Age, which came out in 1941. Here, restating in briefer form his general theory of social development, his diagnosis became even sharper, as the disintegration of the West itself became more obvious. At the end he observed: “Our remedy demands a complete change of contemporary mentality, a fundamental transformation of our system of values, and the profoundest modification of our conduct toward other men, cultural values, and the world at large.” Drawing his conclusions from similar periods in the past, he reduced the change to a “compact formula: Crisis–ordeal–catharsis–charisma–resurrection.” This conclusion was only briefly framed at the end of the book; it called for a more detailed statement, and that the author seeks to provide in his new work, The Reconstruction of Humanity.

The thesis of Sorokin’s new book is that all detailed plans for improving the present situation through creating a world government or correcting the existing capitalist economy or through this or that program of education are insubstantial or insufficient because they do not envisage any major change in the agent that is to carry them out, namely, in man himself, in his prospensities [sic], his purposes, his ideals. Sorokin believes that this major change involves the deliberate fostering of “creative altruism,” a term that seems to be the precise equivalent of what Kropotkin, in his classic treatise, called “Mutual Aid.” Unfortunately the pages devoted to the regeneration of the personality, the very core of any effort at achieving altruism, make up only a quarter of the book; and at the very point at which Sorokin has something fresh to say, not already indicated in his previous works, he leaves the reader grasping, not exactly at straws, but at hastily improvised life-­rafts and distant life-preservers. We must look forward to still another book to bring Sorokin’s positive doctrines to the necessary stage of concreteness and pragmatic application.

The present book has the virtues and defects of Professor Sorokin’s earlier works-both in great abundance. Like his nearest rival, Arnold Toynbee, he is a scholar who carries on his shoulders a tremendous burden of scholarly research, but–and here the parallel perhaps still applies–his thought is sometimes confused, rather than clarified, by his very erudition. Though he condemns the habits of our “sensate culture,” to use his own term, he frequently succumbs to them, as in his statement on page 118 that there has been a “decrease of the ethics of absolute principles from 100 per cent in the Middle Ages to 57 per cent between 1900 and 1920”: a use of pseudo-statistics that should make the rawest Ph.D. blush. In spite of Sorokin’s passionate belief in the values of grace and love, his recent works do not show any considerable increase in the proportion of these qualities as his insight has deepened. Though he is properly critical, for example, of Dr. Sigmund Freud’s ideological mistakes, he does not acknowledge the real gains in psychological insight which Freud effected, including the fact that Freud, by his original act of reinterpreting the dream and demonstrating its meaningfulness, laid one of the foundation stones of a more ideational culture, which will respect the autonomous functions of the personality. His wholesale disparagement of Freud does not, however, prevent him from availing himself of insights directly derived from Freud’s work.

Finally, Sorokin casts doubts upon the value of many of his more profound generalizations by interlarding his book with many palpably exaggerated or false judgments, such as the statement that “the twentieth century has not produced a single genius in any field of art comparable to the greatest creative geniuses of the preceding centuries or even to the foremost masters of the nineteenth century.” In short, in Sorokin’s own person, both catharsis and charisma seem to have fallen short of the requirements of the situation he has diagnosed. There is more of unregenerate Saul than of charitable Paul in his judgments; and one would be more confident of his program for “reconstructing” humanity if he himself incarnated, in a greater degree, the qualities he holds necessary for mankind’s redemption.

If as a prophet Sorokin’s weaknesses are fatal ones, as a sociologist he nevertheless, despite all his painful weaknesses, demonstrates a fuller insight into the nature of society and the disintegration of our own age than do many of his colleagues, who commit fewer sins of semantics and logic and who show less irascible contempt for those who are in disagreement with them. With such exceptions as Malinowski, Radin, and Kroeber in anthropology, Sorokin is one of the few American sociologists who has done something like justice to the higher human functions. His sociological schema gives full place not only to the social processes and to the cultural heritage but to the purposive, goal­-seeking elements in the human personality. Unlike Freud, he does not dismiss religion as a childish violation of human reason. At the same time, his insight into the underlying unity of the higher religions keeps him from attributing supreme truth to the Christian religion and true godhood solely to its own savior; in marked contrast to Toynbee, he thus avoids the easy archaism of suggesting reversion to some historic form of Christianity as the one force capable of saving our civilization. So, too, though his insights are associated with his system of sociology, that system is in fact a very comprehensive one; so he differs from another wide-ranging interpreter, F. S. C. Northrop, in being less confined to a wooden set of categories, as arbitrarily defined and separated as Northrop’s theoretic and aesthetic components. Much of The Reconstruction of Humanity, it is true, consists in a series of verbal injunctions, without either method or appropriate discipline, as ineffective to produce a change as Milton said medicine would be if it followed only the method of the preacher and merely exhorted the patient verbally to get well.

But he who reads Sorokin’s work with a fuller charity than Sorokin himself applies to most of his contemporaries will also find a mind well grounded in man’s history and culture who has carried through in detail those fundamental insights into the present disintegration of Western civilization which Henry Adams first presented half a century ago. Unlike his emotionally unawakened and therefore intellectually more limited colleagues in sociology, Sorokin has earnestly set himself the task, hopeless to those who are without faith in superconscious processes and axial transformations, of summoning up the forces of life and laying down the basis for a new era founded on love and mutual aid­-love enlarged beyond the narrow boundaries of sexuality and mutual aid capable of encompassing the eventual unity of mankind. Sorokin’s overall purpose and his emotional readiness help to transcend and partly nullify his disturbing, and sometimes almost disrupting, weaknesses. Unfortunately, those who have not by themselves come to the same conclusions as Sorokin will probably lack the patience and sympathy to overlook his solecisms and to grapple with his essential contribution.

 

 

LEWIS MUMFORD

Amenia, New York

“Mrs. Pitirim Sorokine on Way to This Country Now”

 

 

Those who became friends of Dr. Pitirim Sorokine during his brief stay in Decatur Friday will be interested to know that he left for New York that evening to meet Mrs. Sorokine, who is coming on a steamship [the Belgenland from Cherbourg, France; it arrived in New York City on March 28, 1924] from Russia within the next day or two. Dr. Sorokine was banished from Russia two years ago. and this will be their first meeting since that time. *

Mrs. Sorokine, like her husband, is a member of the intelligentsia. She is a botanist of considerable reputation.

While in this country. Dr. Sorokine has been seeing to the publication of a book by the Dutton Co., and now has another in preparation, to be brought out by Lippincott’s under the editorship of Dr. [Edward C.] Hayes of the University of Illinois. In addition, he is doing considerable lecturing. He expects to be at the University of Missouri before long, and to pass the summer with Mrs. Sorokine, at the University of Minnesota.

 

— Mrs. Pitirim Sorokine on Way to This Country Now,” The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois), Sunday, March 23, 1924, pg. 17

 

* This was not accurate, since the Sorokins emigrated together from Russia upon Pitirim Sorokin’s expulsion and settled together in Prague before Pitirim Sorokin left Czechoslovakia for the United States. And, when Sorokin made his visit, he had not made a decision, at that time, not to return to Czechoslovakia. Over time, his reception in the United States, among other considerations, induced him to remain there. The Sorokins became U.S. citizens in 1930, when they were residing in Minnesota.

 

 

 

 

*****************************************************
Elena Petrovna Sorokina (née Baratynskaya; 1894–1975) was, as noted above, a botanist. Her scientific papers were published under the name Helen P. Sorokin.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2019