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SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY: The Legacy of Our Past / Vol. 61, No. 4 (Winter 1994)

Arien Mack, Editor

Social Research has appeared four times a year for the past 60 years which probably ranks it among the longest lived scholarly journals in the United States. We are proud of its durability which we celebrate with this issue.

This article discusses several aspects of moral philosophy. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called himself a moralist, and no doubt he was; but to establish life as the highest good is actually, so far as ethics are concerned, question-begging, since all ethics presuppose that life is not the highest good for mortal men and that there is always more at stake in life than the sustenance and procreation of individual living organisms. It has often been noted that the Russian Revolution caused social upheaval and social remolding of the entire nation unparalleled even in the wake of Nazi Germany's radical fascist dictatorship. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article examines the relation of social scientist Hannah Arendt to individualism and her contribution to political theory. If Arendt's characteristic individualism is agonistic, the individualism of her manuscript, Philosophy and Politics: The Problem of Action and Thought After the French Revolution, is closer to modern democratic individuality. According to Arendt, if wonder instigates philosophy in most of its endeavors, which are connected and remain inspired by one original wonder before and gratitude for the miracles of man and earth and the universe, political philosophy alone originates in antagonism towards its very subject matter. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This section reprints the article, "Reflections on How to Study and Understand the Human Being," written by Leon Festinger. I do not believe that there is much difference between the processes of scientific creativity and artistic creativity. There is little or no difference, in my opinion, in the talents and imagination needed to create new knowledge in science or to create new works of art. There is also no difference in the difficulties involved, in the ration of time spent creatively to time spent in just plain hard work, nor in the ego investments of the scientist and the artist. The difference between science and art lies in the particular rules each uses for assessing validity. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article explores the state of philosophy in the 20th century. In German universities, the dominant philosophical interest was clearly epistemology. This field was practically identical with the theory of cognitive consciousness. Deferring to the position of the natural sciences, professors of philosophy had given up the attempt to formulate a philosophy of nature. Phenomenology, as taught by professor Edmund Husserl, was a program of self-examination of consciousness as the site of the appearance of all things possibly present to thought. Dasein is that form of being which in its being is concerned with this very being. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article explores philosopher Hans Jonas' rethinking of the ethics of responsibility, within the context of his essay The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age. Jonas isolated four characteristics of human actions which he claims were presupposed by all previous ethics and which are no longer adequate in a world where modern technology has so altered human action. Jonas argues that there is indeed an ontological locus of purpose in nature itself, that people can bridge the alleged chasm between the "is" and the "ought" without committing a "naturalistic fallacy," that there is a self-affirmation of being in the very purposiveness of nature itself. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article explores the conception of realism by political science scholar Hans Morgenthau and his contribution to the scientific study of international politics in the US Morgenthau's stress on the centrality of the national interest was important in the US context for what it denied: that states should follow either sub-national or supra-national interests. As central to the analysis as the national interest was power. Perhaps his most famous sentence is that the main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article analyzes some writings of philosopher Leo Strauss. Typically in Strauss' presentation, the relation between ancients and moderns is not one of mutual supplementation; nor is it dialectical in a manner which would allow their sublation in a higher synthesis. According to a 1952 essay entitled, Progress or Return? modernity is characterized by a host of distinctive features--among which it is possible to extract a relatively small number of crucial traits. In Strauss' portrayal, the first and most basic feature of modernity or modern thought is its anthropocentric character, that is, its focus on man as the pivot of knowledge and action. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article focuses on the works of psychologist Max Wertheimer and his legacy of Gestalt theory. Together with his colleagues Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler, Wertheimer established Gestalt psychology as a viable and dynamic movement in psychology by the 1920s. He asserted that human perception is inherently organized into meaningful Gestalten, often drawing from experience and context. Likewise, form perception is not driven by associative factors but by a dynamic process of organization. In 1935, Wertheimer began preparing a manuscript on Productive Thinking, a process that he described as thinking that really forges ahead, that really grasps an issue. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article discusses the unity of the theory of consciousness with other schools of thought studied by philosopher Aron Gurwitsch. A study of consciousness requires that all naturalistic presuppositions about the world be put within brackets, suspended, set out of action. Once this step is taken, one cannot any longer ask how consciousness is causally related to the body or to the stimuli in the world outside, and one is in a position to focus on the structure and contents of consciousness precisely as they are experienced. The most important tenet of Gestalt psychology, in Gurwitsch's view, is the rejection of the so-called constancy hypothesis. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]

This article discusses the concept of change from tribal brotherhood to universal otherhood, within the context of the book The Idea of Usury, written by Benjamin Nelson. The shift from the dominance of invidious dualisms in medieval times to the primacy of universal principles for all in modern times occurred in a range of human relations. Nelson's perception of the negativities of modern capitalism was paired with the acknowledgement of a genuine positivity in modern society, substantively realized, one that was not celebrated in the popular condemnations of capitalism. Nelson did not suppose that it was necessarily the case that theology contained a true anthropology. [Not published elsewhere in Social Research.]


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