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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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14 Cultural Sources of Subjectivity / 209


chapter 14 Cultural Sources of Subjectivity The emergence of modern philosophy of subject was related to cultural and social change that put the human individual in a special position, distinctly apart from a social group. A turn towards problems of personal identity of an individual was taking place and an individual was confronted with identification with a collective ‘We’. ( Elias 1998: 231) Cartesian meditations placed the Ego that nursed ideas, judgments and emotional acts of will ( Brentano 1989: 18) beyond a communicating community, beyond social rela- tions, thus eliminating the distinct reference to ‘You’ and to ‘We’. They opened a long line of conceptions that autonomized an individual doubting that anything beyond exists, leading to complete solipsism. The subjective side of human experience – the Cartesian thread expanded by phenomenologists ( Judycki 1997: 317–319) – is also visible in Florian Znaniecki’s thought. However, he solved problems related to subjectivity on the grounds of his own philosophy of culturalism and presented them in a completely diVerent way – a doubting, thinking Ego was confronted with an authenticating and active participant and creator of cultural reality. Social sciences, especially sociology, presented from the very beginning an image of an individual whose socialization – and relations with other people – are inherent, and individualization consists in processes of changes of social relations, as shown by Émile Durkheim, Georg Simmel or Charles H. Cooley. In other words, sociologists questioned both the Cartesian Ego and the representation of a society of individuals propagated by the liberal thought ( Elias 1998:...

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