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Like so many people who present their credos in today's turnroil, Professor Sorokin, in a recent article in the Progressive, starts his confessio fidei with a criticism of the modern day plan of attack upon existing evils. Like any would-be reformer, he tears up the proffered plans for reorganization as inadequate. However, the importance of his criticism lies in his concentrated attack on the basic attitude of most contemporary students of society. Furthermore, while pressing the attack, he lays the framework for a new approach.
In our troubled times, when rationalized large scale military invasions have led the public to doubt the efficacy of our idealized system of ethics and absolute values, such as justice and truth, it is not surprising to find people passing by these very same beacons of life as mirages, because empirically they have not worked. It is a pleasant surprise to find Professor Sorokin, with critical ideas far broader than anything based on empirical data, asserting himself with conviction. It is a relief to find him concluding from his refocused point of view that absolute values are as real as anything else in this world.
Professor Sorokin's solution is incomplete; he admits this at the outset. He does not say such-and-such is the design for happiness. But, he does say that in seeking for the road to happiness, we must adopt a new attitude. First of all, we must accept the reality of absolute values, as exemplified in art, ethics, and religion; we must accept the reality of man and society, the reality of empirical data, and finally the infinite possibility of interpreting anything, within its own context, as real. He has certainly provided a means of relationship between narrow, closed orbits of specialization, which would seem to be a long stride toward the establishment of a cooperation of ideas and through this to a cooperation between peoples.
To test the value of Professor Sorokin's point of view, we might apply it to America's attitude and reaction to war. Empirically war has been found to cause trouble. Rationally, it is unacceptable. War destroys both men and society. Finally, Americans have a powerful intuitive repulsion to killing. Using Professor Sorokin's integral method of approach it seems clear that people should make a conscious effort to eliminate war, to extract the thorn in the flesh of civilization. However, from its narrow empirical point of view, America acts on its experience that war may be bad for combatants but is eminently profitable for non-combatants, so it exploits war for what it's worth. Americans have deserted the reality of intuition, absolute values, rationalism, and the reality of society itself for an inflation and a perversion of their original empirical findings. They tolerate the thorn in the flesh in order to pluck the ephemeral rose of immediate material gain.
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