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Towards the World Culture Society

Florian Znaniecki’s Culturalism


Elzbieta Halas

If the new cultural sociology is to gain firm grounds, it should rediscover the classic studies on cultural dynamics and cultural systems. This book contributes to a better understanding of Florian Znaniecki as an eminent culturologist and the lasting relevance of his theory of cultural becoming. Znaniecki opted for a humanistic approach that he called culturalism. Culturalism, founded on the principle of the humanistic coefficient, is applied also to the cultural person. The concept of social values makes this cultural approach an original one. The cultural logic and cultural ethos of Znaniecki’s thought is inherent in the very principle of a creative evolution of culture, augmenting his vision of a new civilization of the future and a world culture society.


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13 Dynamic of Modernity: Social Systems and Cultural Change / 189


chapter 13 Dynamics of Modernity: Social Systems and Cultural Change Minotaur’s Labyrinth and Cheops’ Pyramid If Weber’s thought could be compared to the Cretan labyrinth and he himself to the mysterious Minotaur ( Gouldner 1965: 199–213), Znaniecki is an author of an extraor- dinary design of an intellectual structure following the example of the building of a pyramid presented in his poem Cheops (Znaniecki 1903). The metaphors of a laby- rinth and a pyramid signal the diVerence in form and style of those two masters of sociology. Unlike Weber, Znaniecki unjustly attracted only a relatively narrow circle of followers and experts. In Weber’s theory we find a labyrinth of threads of sociological analysis in the rich and ambiguous context of history. Znaniecki, however, gives us an example of a consistent building of a system of analytical sociology to which he submitted comparative historical data. However, the metaphors of a labyrinth and a pyramid suggest more serious diVerences in Weber’s and Znaniecki’s approaches to the study of culture. Znaniecki thought that it is necessary to systematically define problems and areas of cultural sciences, sociology in particular. Weber contended that it is not possible to systematize cultural sciences. The conceptual contexts in which historical facts are interpreted change, and historical facts determine what is meaningful in culture: ‘A systematic science of culture, even only in the sense of a definitive, objectively valid, systematic fixation of the problems which it should treat, would be senseless in itself.’ ( Weber 1949: 84) What,...

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