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Tartalomjegyzék

About the contours of an immediate concept of the knowledge by Max Scheler

 

 
 



 

Endre Kiss, Budapest

2011

 

Short version

 

The fact, that Scheler privileges in the sociology of knowledge the element of the facticity versus that of the normativity, does not at all mean, that he would not intend to enhance, in his way, elements of validity (Gültigkeit) even inside the sociology of knowledge ( i.e. : under the control of the facticity !).

On the contrary, he works, almost in an Hegelian way, with the concept of the objective spirit. His great innovation is, consequently, an innovation based on the facticity and to think the knowledge as a whole „socially“ explaining the genealogical sociology of knowledge in this "objective" spirit. This is also the point, where a vision is also opening on a general and direct concept of the knowledge. Scheler is looking for the encounter of two encounters, that have begun from two far from each other endpoints.

One pole is the real "groups", that are (also) thinking, motivated by their ideal factors, the other pole is the objective spirit with all its objectifications. This is a method, which is oriented towards confrontation and encounters. The "real" thinking of the real groups can be compared with the normativity and validity of the objective spirit and, reversed, the normativity and validity of the objective spirit can be judged by the real thinking of real groups.

***

Max Scheler is one of the most relevant thinkers, that have fundamentally argued with the problematic of a sociology of knowledge. He did it in the frame of a sociology of knowledge as part of the sociology of culture. It seems, that this frame defined its whole access to a general interpretation of the problem of knowledge. This starting point is certainly not optimal toward a universal and immediate interpretation of the problem of knowledge. While we however ascertain it, we must as well admit, that this information – systematically considered – is unhistorical. The huge power of the philosophical disciplines reveals again as a reality.

The supremacy of the sociology of knowledge determined also Scheler’s approach. He was by the way in no less contexts rather the positive exception. On the one side, his sociology of knowledge was (like really the sociology of knowledge) in the twenties of the twentieth century a very modern and constructive discipline, on the other side, Scheler shows himself as somebody, that does not submit to the power of the philosophical discipline, but opens in an increased creativity a great number of new disciplinary approaches. Despite all these moments, we can reconstitute a more or less immediate category of the knowledge only from the frame of the sociological of knowledge topics.

Scheler was one of the most creative sociologists of knowledge. However, we have today also reasons to complain as well because of the exclusively sociological of knowledge starting point, for it seems to represent, that today we might have already better found out this phenomenon through a direct access, on the part of Scheler, to the problem of the knowledge.

Scheler’s historical vision considers as the most important to make clear the "social", or rather the social reason of the knowledge, since it does also not lack assents with Marx. At this point, it reveals as examplary in the methodology, how the sociological of knowledge approach was finally also a genealogical one. And because it is so, even no presentistically described image of the knowledge appears in the sociology of knowledge despite the triumphantly presentistic concept.

Scheler has very clearly seen, that the knowledge problematic requires even in the frame of a sociological of knowledge approach a new complex science, more rightly said, a loose coherent group of the sciences. It is also so, if the mentioned sciences can be partly of different nature, they can even stand on diverse steps of the scientific structuration and organization.

Here, the “societal” genesis is the leading moment. It does not aim at a direct positive description of the particularity of the knowledge, but at a completion of the knowledge considered as an evidence through the real history of its origins.

Max Scheler’s excessive creativity is complicating at first the attempt to work out the contours of a direct and positive concept of the knowledge from these sociological of knowledge approaches. On the other side, it is just the same creativity that however contributes to some important approaches of such a positive concept.

There is a point, where it can be clearly shown, that Scheler‘s encompassing sociological of knowledge starting point does not lead to a general notion of the knowledge, but away from it. While he classifies namely the sociology in the field of the reality (facticity) and not in the field of the normativity, he escapes the possibility of identifying that train of the knowledge, in which a certain type of "normativity" belongs to a valid notion of the knowledge.

The knowledge must be "true", like it is also verified and determined, thus it wins its plausibility. Thus the "truthfulness" becomes a specific norm of the knowledge, independently here from the genealogy and from the possible societal stipulations. Consequently, at this point, Scheler does also not perceive, that the "sociology" in its facticity and the "knowledge" in its normativity of the truth, contain in themselves in a constitution also a certain immanent contradiction. Thus, an epistemological characteristic of the sociology of knowledge comes however in a reinforced lighting. The category of the sociology does not pay full attention to the sociology of knowledge and the category of the sociology of knowledge does also not specifically pay attention to the knowledge. This shows also how strongly the hegemony of the sociology of knowledge was in its greatest accomplishments the product of a concrete historical questioning.

The fact, that Scheler privileges in the sociology of knowledge the element of the facticity versus that of the normativity, does not at all mean, that he would not intend to enhance, in his way, elements of validity even inside the sociology of knowledge ( i.e. : under the control of the facticity !). In the contrary, he works, almost in an Hegelian way, with the notion of the objective spirit. His big innovation is, consequently, to think in a whole a genealogical sociology of knowledge based on the facticity and explaining "socially" the knowledge with this "objective" spirit. An this is also the point, where a vision is also opening on a general and direct concept of the knowledge.

Scheler’s "objective spirit" does not obviously mean directly knowledge. A dimension of the objective spirit is however without any doubt also a knowledge continuum. A common part is certainly existing between "objective spirit" and "knowledge", even if – again astonishingly Hegelian – the objective spirit exists in its objectifications. The next questioning of Scheler’s now really complete sociology of knowledge is then emerging (i.e. of the possible union of the genealogical facticity with the validity of the objective spirit).

Here, a moment is again appearing, that we can utilize productively in the construction of a new theory of the knowledge.

Scheler is namely interested in the objectifications, i.e. in the meanings, which are personified in the "reproduceable psychological activities". The objectifications involve also an immediate concept of the knowledge. It is however not sufficient !

What interests still more intensively Scheler is the structure and the relationships of the objectifications to each other. The common grounds between the objective spirit and the objectifications must also be related to the knowledge, while the order and the structure of the objectifications show to each other already also a quite clear analogy with a general vision of the knowledge, for the various knowledge fields are also constantly classified in a certain order and structure. The various elements are never constituted versus each other fortuitously, they are built up on each other and complete themselves mutually.

Scheler is looking for the encounter of two encounters, that have begun from two far from each other endpoints. One pole is the real "groups", that are (also) thinking, motivated by their ideal factors, the other pole is the objective spirit with its objectifications. This is a method, which is oriented towards confrontation and encounters. The "real" thinking of the real groups can be compared with the normativity and validity of the objective spirit and, reversed, the normativity and validity of the objective spirit can be judged by the real thinking of real groups.

On the one side, we indicate, that the "objective spirit" and its objectifications without any direct component of the knowledge are not conceivable, even if a nearer definition is in the moment hardly still possible because of the lacking own concretization of Scheler’s definition. In itself, it is not surprising, for Scheler should not have at all thought of such a concretization, because the „objective spirit“ was for him a perfectly sufficient definition.

On the other side, we also indicate, that the determinant peculiarities of the relations between the various objectifications show strong analogies with the diverse knowledge fields, or rather with the relations of these knowledge fields to each other. For instance, existential dependences are existing also between the various contents and forms of knowledge and these relations do not refer to connections between the subject and the object (knowledge of object), but to the inner structure of the knowledge as objectively existing in their immanent connections, correspondences an inner dependences.

Scheler’s endlessness of the objective spirit with its objectifications reminds of the endlessness of the direct concept of the knowledge, that must indeed not rise just in concrete objectifications.

This shows, that an ever implicit and non developped theory of knowledge is contained in the extensive sociological of knowledge theories. These concepts of knowledge had been consciously not developped because of the exclusive sociological of knowledge approaches at that time, so their reconstitution has been an important task of the present.

In Ernst Bloch, the sociological of knowledge perspectivism is determining in every knowledge. Bloch interprets however this perspectivism in an extremely wide way. His singular train is, that he universalizes this perspectivism and stretches it, in the usual sense, largely beyond the limits of the knowledge. The perspectivism does not create the knowledge, but the perspectivism, in every respect, is also already moving the whole "pre-initiated" world.

In Georg Lukács, the sociological of knowledge perspectivism reveals for the constitution and the characteristics of the knowledge as determining. He adopts an intermediary position between Bloch and Mannheim, for in his omnipotence the perspectivism becomes practically epistemology, It goes deep and so in that sense does not extend all latitudes as is the case with Bloch.

In Karl Mannheim, a well balanced, neither too narrow, nor endless wide sociological of knowledge foundation determines the knowledge, no wonder, that its version has become the real classics of the discipline. Its type revealed in its balance and harmony as appropriate, in the political field of the twenties and thirties, to have become a normal science of the sociology of knowledge.

In Max Scheler, there are indeed existing related extensive continua of knowledge, that however give no independent theory of the knowledge, for these knowledge fields are finally defined also sociologically of knowledge and socially-pragmatically. In comparison, it has to be noted, that these knowledge fields constitute a step toward a theory of the knowledge, without that the sociological of knowledge definition would have been abolished.

 

First publication

August 2017


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