The Sociology Of Knowledge

The Sociology Of Knowledge

Fourths reason, it is important to point to some of the fundamental reasons for this failure: not imperfect research techniques but he approach itself fails to examine its o won categories as problematic (e. G. Divisions into popular and classical music, into high and mass culture-these should be the problem rather than the premise on which to classify responses, as Adorn used to complain when he counterpart of the Princeton Radio Research Project with Leasehold).

Pontificates, therefore, Anaheim (commonly taken to be the founder of the sociology of knowledge) had to arrive at a leveling pluralism where all telecommunications, all Finns of consciousness were alike in that they were the natural correlative of social positions. If he had considered what concretely mediated between social being and consciousness, he might have found a different nexus in every case, depending on what social necessities or possibilities were at work.

But such a perspective would have required a theory of the emergence of the social constellation which Anaheim, in Adorns sales, accepts as givens, just as he does CUL- 453 made sense, Adorn and Hardheartedness, that despite his considerable acumen, Anaheim ‘s accepting and conservative stance leads him to assume abstractedness’s to be the active agents of history, rather than people. Finally, if every telecommunications was contingent on a social position, why should the sociology of knowledge be exempt from this postulate?

The sociology of knowledge expounded by Karl Anaheim has begun to take hold in Germany again. For this it can thank its gesture of innocuous skepticism. Like its existentialist counterparts, it calls everything into question and criticizes nothing. Intellectuals who feel repelled by “dogma,” real or presumed, find relief in a climate which seems free of bias and assumptions and which offers them in addition something of the pathos Max Weeper’s elf-conscious and lonely yet undaunted rationality as compensation for their faltering consciousness of their own autonomy.

In Anaheim as in his polar opposite, Jaspers, many impulses of Weeper’s school which were once deeply embedded in the polytheistic edifice come to light. Most important of these is the tendency to suppress the theory of ideologies in its authentic form. These considerations may justify returning to one of Mariner’s older books, Man and Society in an Age of Reconstruction. The work addresses itself to a broader public than does the book on ideology’. It cannot be held to each of TTS formulations. All the greater, however, is the insight it offers into the influence of the sociology of knowledge.

The mentality of the book is “positivistic”; social phenomena are taken “as such” and then classified according to general concepts. In the process, social antagonisms invariably tend to be glossed over. They survive merely as subtle modifications of a conceptual apparatus whose distilled “principles” install themselves autocratically and engage in shadow battles: “The ultimate root of all conflicts in the present age of reconstruction can be seized in a single formula. All down the line tensions arise from the uncontrolled interaction of the ‘laissez-fairer principle’ and the new principle of regulation. As if everything did not depend on who regulates whom. Or, instead of specific groups of people or a specific Structure Of society, “the irrational” is made responsible for the difficulties of the age. The growth of antagonisms is elegantly described as “the disproportionate development of human capacities,” as though it were a question of personalities and not of the anonymous machinery which does away with the individual. Right and wrong are glossed over in like manner; 54 Sociology of Knowledge and its Conscious-tactics A Critique ? Methodology the “average man” is abstracted from them and assigned an ontological “narrow-mindedness” which “has always been there. ” Of his “experimental self-observations-the term is borrowed from more exact sciences-Anaheim frankly confesses: “All these forms of self-observation have the tendency to gloss over and neglect individual differences because they are interested in what is general in man and its variability. ” Not, however, in his particular situation and in the real transformations he undergoes.

In its neutrality, the innervating order of Animism’s conceptual world is kindly disposed to the real world; it employs the terminology of social criticism while removing its sting; The concept of society as such is rendered impotent from the outset by a language which invokes the exceedingly compromised term, “integration. ” Its occurrence is no accident. Animism’s use of the concept of the social totality serves not so much to emphasize the intricate dependence of men within the totality as to glorify the social process itself as an evening-out of the contradictions in the whole.

In this balance, theoretically, the introductions disappear, although it is precisely they which comprise the life- processor “society”: “Thus it is not immediately evident that an opinion which prevails in society is the result of a process of selection which integrates many similarly directed expressions of life. ” What disappears in this notion of selection is the fact that what keeps the mechanism creaking along is human deprivation under conditions of insane sacrifice and the continual threat of catastrophe.

The precarious and irrational self-preservation of society is falsified and turned into an achievement of its immanent justice or “rationality. Where there is integration, elites are never far away. The “cultural. Crisis” to which, in Anaheim, terror and horror are readily sublimated becomes for him the “problem of the formation elites. ” He distills four processes in which this problem is supposed to crystallize: the growing number of elites and the resulting enfeeblement of their influence, the destruction of the exclusiveness of elite groups, the change in the process of selection of elites, and the change in their composition.

In the first place, the categories employed in this analysis are highly questionable. The positivist who registers he facts sine air el steroid is ready to accept the phrases which conceal the facts. One such phrase is the concept of the elite itself. Its untruthfulness consists in the fact that the privileges of particular groups are presented teleological as the result of some kind of objective process of selection, whereas in fact no one has selected these elites but them- 6 455 selves.

In his use of the concept of the elite, Anaheim overlooks social power. He uses the notion “descriptively,” in the manner of formal sociology. This allows him to shed only as much light as he wishes on each particular reviled group. At the same time, however, the concept of the elite is employed in such a way that the present emergency can be deduced from above, from some equally “neutral” malfunctioning of the elite-mechanism, without regard to the state of political economy. In the process, Anaheim comes into open conflict with the facts.

When he asserts that in “mass democratic” societies, it has become increasingly easy for anyone to gain entrance into any sphere of social influence and that the elites are thereby deprived of “their exclusive character, which is necessary for the development f intellectual and psychological impulses,” he is contradicted by the most humble presciently experience. The deficient homogeneity of the elites is a fiction, one related to those of chaos in the world of values and the disintegration of all stable forms of order. Whoever does not fit in is kept out.

Even differences of conviction which reflect those of real interests serve primarily to obscure the underlying unity which prevails in all decisive matters. Nothing contributes more to this obfuscation than talk of “texturally crisis,” to which Anaheim unhesitatingly adds his voice. It transforms real suffering into spiritual guilt, denounces civilization, and generally works to the advantage of barbarism. Cultural criticism has changed its function. The cultural philistine has long ceased to BC the man of progress, the figure with which Nietzsche identified David Frederica Strauss.

Instead, he has learned profundity and pessimism. In their name, he denies the humanity which has become incompatible with his present interests, and his venerable impulse to destruction turns against the products of the culture whose decline he sentimentally bemoans. To the sociologist of the cultural crisis, this matters little. His heroic ratio does not even refrain from turning the trite thesis of the demise of the formative power of European art since the end of the Bodybuilder period against modem art in a manner which is both romantic and reactionary Accepted along with elite theory is its specific coloration.

Conventional notions are joined by naive respect for that which they represent. Anaheim designates “blood, property and achievement” as the selection principles of the elites. His passion for destroying ideologies does not lead him to consider even once the legitimacy of these principles; he is actually able, during Hitter’s lifetime, to speak of a “genuine blood-principle” which is supposed to have formerly 456 A Critique o/ Methodology guaranteed “the purity of aristocratic minority stocks and their traditions. ” From this to the new aristocracy of blood and soil, it is only a step.

Animism’s general cultural pessimism prevents him from taking that step. As far as he is concerned, there is still too little blood. He dreads a “mass democracy” in which blood and property would disappear as principles of election; the all too rapid change of elites would threaten continuity. He is particularly concerned with the fact that things are no longer quite right with the esoteric doctrine of the “genuine blood-principle. ” “It has become democratic and quite suddenly offers to the great masses of the population the privilege of social ascendancy without any achievement. Just as the nobility of the past was never any more noble than moneyless, the aristocracy of today has neither an objective nor a subjective interest in really relinquishing the principle of privilege. Elite theory, happy in the invariant, unites different levels of what sociologists today call social differentiation, such as feudalism and capitalism, under the heading “blood-and property- principle”; with equally good humor it separates what belongs together, property and achievement.

Max Weber had shown that the spirit of early capitalism identifies the two, that in a rationally constituted work process the capacity for achievement can be measured in terms of material success. The equation of achievement and material success found its psychological manifestation in a readiness to make success as such a fetish. In Anaheim, his tendency appears in sublimated form as a “status drive. ” In bourgeois ideology, property and achievement were first separated when it became obvious that “achievement” as the economic ratio of the individual no longer corresponded to “property” as its potential reward.

Only then did the bourgeois truly become a gentlemen. Thus,Mashie’s “mechanisms of selection” are inventions, arbitrarily chosen coordinates distanced from the life-process of actual society. Conclusions can be drawn from them which bear a fatal resemblance to the lax conceptions of Werner Somber and Ortega y Gassed. Anaheim speaks f a “personalization of the intelligentsia. ” He is correct in calling attention to the fact that the cultural market is flooded; there are, he observes, more culturally qualified (from the standpoint of formal education, that is) people available than there are suitable positions for them.

This situation, however, is supposed to lead to a drop in the social value of culture, since it is “a sociological law that the social value of cultural goods is a function of the social status of those who produce them. ” At the same time, he continues, Sociology of Knowledge and its Consciousness 457 he “social value” of culture necessarily declines because the recruiting of new members of the intelligentsia extends increasingly to lower social strata, especially that of the petty officialdom.

Thus, the notion of the proletarian is formalized; it appears as a mere structure of consciousness, as with the upper bourgeoisie, which condemns anyone not familiar with the rules as a “propel. ” The genesis of this process is not considered and as a result is falsified. By calling attention to a “structural” assimilation of consciousness to that of the lowest strata of society, he implicitly shifts the blame to the embers of those strata and their alleged emancipation in mass democracy.

Yet stultification is caused not by the oppressed but by oppression, and it affects not only the oppressed but, in their essentials, the oppressors as well, a fact to which Anaheim paid little attention. The flooding of intellectual vocations is due to the flooding of economic occupations as such, basically, to technological unemployment. It has nothing to do with Animism’s demagnification of the elites, and the reserve army of intellectuals is the last to influence them. Moreover, the sociological law which makes the so-called tutus of culture dependent on that of those who produce it is a textbook example of a false generalization.

One need only recall the music of the eighteenth century, the cultural relevance of which in the Germany of the time stands beyond all doubt. Musicians, except for the maestro, promotional and castrated attached to the courts, were held in low esteem; Bach lived as a subordinate church official and the young Hayden as a servant. Musicians attained social status only when their products were no longer suitable for immediate consumption, when the composer set himself against society as his own master-with Beethoven. The reason for Animism’s false conclusion lies in the psychologist of his method.

The individualistic FAA – a d foe society concealed from him the fact that its essence consists precisely in developing forms which undergo a process Of sedimentation and which reduce individuals to mere agents of objective tendencies. Its disillusioned mien notwithstanding, the standpoint of the sociology of knowledge is pre-Hegelian. Its recourse to a group of organizers, in the case of Animism’s “law. ” to the bearers of culture, is based on the somewhat transcendental presupposition of a harmony between society and he individual.

The absence of such harmony forms one of the most urgent objects of critical theory, which is a theory of human relations only to the extent that it is also a theory of the inhumanity of those relations. The distortions of the sociology of knowledge arise from its 458 A Critique of Morphology method, which translates dialectical concepts into classificatory ones. Since in each case what is socially contradictory is absorbed into individual logical classes, social classes as such disappear and the picture of the whole becomes harmonious.

When, for instance, in the third section of the book, Anaheim distinguishes three levels of consciousness: chance discovery, invention and planning, he is simply trying to interpret the dialectical scheme of epochs as that of the fluidly changing modes of behavior of socialized man in general, in which the determinant oppositions disappear: “It is of course clear that the line which divides inventive thinking, which is rationally striving to realize immediate goals, from planned thinking is not a hard and fast one.

No one can say for certain at what degree of foresight and at what point in the widening radius of conscious regulation the transition from inventive to landed thinking takes place. ” The notion of an unbroken transition from a liberal to a “planned” society has its correlative in the conception of that transition as one between distinct modes of “thinking. ” Such a conception awakens the belief that the historical process is guided by an inherently univocal subject embodying the whole of society.

The translation of dialectical into classificatory concepts abstracts from the conditions of real social power upon which alone those levels bethought depend. “The novel contribution Of the sociological view of the past and the present is that it sees history as an rear open to experimentation in regulatory intervention”-as though the possibility of such intervention always corresponded to the level of insight at the time.

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