top of page

NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 19, No. 4 (Winter 1952)

Some of the difficulties we encounter in our intercourse with foreign nations may well be attributed to our proclivity toward a mistaken identification of new challenges with problems successfully conquered in our own national past. In the following pages I shall try to analyze some of our ideas, attitudes, and techniques on the basis of experiences gathered during the occupation of Germany, in an effort to determine the limits of their general applicability--limits that derive from the contingent nature of human achievement. Perhaps the result can be a modest contribution toward finding an American response to challenges facing us outside the habitat to which we are accustomed, in the uncertainties of a future that is not necessarily a linear extension of the past.

The salient feature to be emphasized here is the radically dualistic mood which underlies the whole Gnostic attitude and unifies the widely diversified, more or less systematic expressions which that attitude gave itself in Gnostic ritual and literature. It is on this primary human foundation of a dualistic mood, a passionately felt experience of man, that the formulated dualistic doctrines rest. This dualism is between man and the world, and concurrently between the world and God. It is a duality not of supplementary but of contrary terms, a polarity of incompatibles, and this fact dominates Gnostic eschatology.

Despite its many brilliant individual insights, its sweeping historical range, and its bold and challenging syntheses, Schumpeter’s thesis in his essay on 'The Sociology of Imperialism' is, to my mind, basically inadequate and misleading as a generalized theory of imperialism. It appears to me that the main burden of Schumpeter’s argument is to show that capitalism is essentially anti-imperialist. To do this he develops a very specialized definition of imperialism which he then expounds with references to certain selected societies in history. He also sets up a very specialized definition of capitalism, which he then shows to be inconsistent with his definition of imperialism, thereby "proving" that capitalism is anti-imperialist.

The long-established eminence of W. I. Thomas as one of America’s foremost sociologists has been recently confirmed by various writers who have particularly stressed his resolute insistence on the use of modern, scientific methodology. None of his encomiasts, however, has observed the unity given his work by his persistent interest in the problem of social change. When Thomas’ sociological contributions are examined with reference to this unifying theme, the interrelatedness of his works becomes explicit and their larger social-intellectual context is evident. This paper, while it will occasionally comment on the social setting, will address itself more specifically to documenting the persistence of Thomas’ interest in change, and to analyzing the fundamental presuppositions of his theory and concepts.

When the occupation of Japan began, there was interest and speculation surrounding the retention or elimination of the Emperor system. The significance of that system was apparent even in the negotiations with the Japanese which culminated in acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, setting forth the conditions of surrender terminating the Pacific phase of World War II, in 1945. In view of the Emperor’s unique social function, his special social-historical position in Japan, a careful analysis of what the system means to the Japanese people and of its significance in the Japanese social fabric is necessary in order to arrive at any conclusions regarding the desirability of its retention or elimination.

Upon the internal evidence of his own argument, Adolph Lowe has taken the science of economics far beyond the hypotheses of classical mechanics, and yet maintains that his science is still mechanistic, and must be mechanistic, in its approach -- at least "for understanding a competitive economic society" (P. 403). This self-deception within his argument results neither from a misunderstanding of what is mechanistic nor from any indifference to the methodological nature of his own science, but, it seems to me, simply from the natural ambiguity of all analogous reasoning from one area of inquiry into another.

I read Mr. Parsons’ comments correctly he finds himself more or less in agreement with the substantive statements contained in the article to which he refers. What he objects to is the label 'mechanistic,' which I have attached to the model of a functioning market process expounded there. And as I understand him, he bases his critique on the fact that I have found myself compelled to introduce 'probabilistic' elements into an analysis which started out from 'causal determinateness.'

In my judgment Adolph Lowe’s article on A Structural Model of Production represents a very real contribution to the theory of economic dynamics. His attempt to break down the aggregates of the circular flow into meaningful parts, and to establish quantitative relationships among those parts, should prove very fruitful. In this note I want to quarrel with respect to an issue that I believe is not very important, and particularly not very relevant to Lowe’s topic. But in view of the emphasis Lowe puts on this issue, I would like to comment on it.

I am grateful to Gerhard Colm for giving me another opportunity to clarify an issue which, as he rightly says, is no way basic to the general argument of my paper, and yet appears to me a good illustration of its practical applicability. After studying his comments I cannot help feeling that so far we have been talking at cross-purposes.

Review of Book Edited by Waldemar Gurian. Introduction by Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith. New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy. 1951. 338 pp

Review of book by Max Hamburger. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1951. 191 pp.

Review of book by John H. Herz. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1951. 275 pp.

Review of book by L. Dudley Stamp. Bloomington and New York: Indiana University Press and American Geographical Society. 1952. 230 pp.

bottom of page