The Social Philosophy

In a work on the history of sociological theories, Sorokin's "integralist"philosophy can be discussed only in a peripheral way, even though it un-doubtedly loomed very large among Sorokin's preoccupations, especially in thelast third of his life.

All of Sorokin's tracts for the times that deal with his philosophy are im-bued with a pervasive distaste, one may even say hatred, for modern urbanculture and all that it stands for. The Sensate world of the city jungle and theworld of modernity as a whole are, to Sorokin, compounds of utter depravity,which he castigates in the accents of Old Testament prophets or Russian itiner-ant preachers. Consider the following lines from the final chapter of his auto-biography: ". . . In the human world around me the deadliest storm is raging.The very destiny of mankind is being weighed in the balance of life and death.The forces of the dying Sensate order are furiously destroying everything thatstands in their way. In the name of 'God,' 'progress,' 'civilization,' commu-nism,' 'democracy,' 'freedom,' 'capitalism,' 'the dignity of man,' and other shib-boleths they are uprooting these very values, murdering millions of humanbeings, threatening man's very survival and tending to turn this beautifulplanet into an 'abomination of desolation.' "

Sorokin's was an apocalyptic vision; he expected the fire next time. Yet,instilled as he was by a philosophy of history that rested on the notion ofcyclical fluctuations in human affairs, he seems never to have doubted that thecollapse of Western Sensate culture would be followed in its turn by a rebirthunder different stars. It is this new Ideational culture that Sorokin sought toanticipate in his Integralist philosophy. In times to come, the present desert oflove would he superseded by a harmonious civilization in which altruisticlove--which he studied intensely in the last period of his life--would overcomethe competitive strivings of Sensate mentalities; here people would again find asecure footing in revitalized communities of their fellows. Then "the supremeTrinity of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, wrongly divorced from one anotherby Sensate mentality" will be reinstalled in "one harmonious whole." Menand women, now mired in the slough of despond, will again grow to truly hu-man stature. Sorokin fervently believed, that after the Goetterdaemmerung ofthe dying Sensate order, humankind would again enter into its true kingdom.Having "deliberately become a 'stranger' to the glittering vacuities, and short-lived 'successes' " of Sensate decay, having "alienated [himself] from its hollowvalues, sham-truths, and grandiose pretenses," Sorokin saw himself as anotherMoses who, even though he could not enter the promised land, was still able,owing to his cultural estrangement, to forecast its main features in his Integral-ist philosophy. Let him who has never dreamt of a redemptive Utopia of thefuture cast the first stone.

From Coser, 1977:476-477.


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