David Kettler *
Sociology of Knowledge and Moral Philosophy:
The Place of Traditional Problems in the Formation of Mannheim’s Thought **
Political Science Quarterly,82 (3
Sept. 1967, 399-426
HHC: Index and titling added
In the main stream of sociology today, as in most contemporary philosophical discussions, Karl Mannheim’s work in the sociology of knowledge is respected - when it is at all recalled - as a pioneering contribution to a new inquiry, but as a work unfortunately marred by certain epistemological and ethical pretensions which are seen to emanate in part from the obfuscating influence of Central European philosophy, in part from the normal confusions which attend a mode of inquiry when it first arises, when it has not yet become self-critical.
** This is part of a larger work on Karl Mannheim. The investigation has been generously supported, at various times, by the Social Science Research Council, the “Fulbright Commission,” and the Research Committee of The Ohio State University.
In fact, it is said, the only logical way in
which the claim of epistemological relevance can be at all maintained is on
the assumption of some sort of naturalistic identity between actual and
normative process, and then relativism is the unavoidable consequence of his
finding of diversity. ]
The truth or falsity of a proposition or of the entire theoretical sphere can be neither supported nor attacked by means of a sociological or any other genetic explanation. How something came to be, what functions it performs in other contexts is altogether irrelevant for its immanent character of validity. 
1. Despite interesting and important differences among themselves, the following exemplify the argument broadly summarized here: T. B. Bottomore, “Some Reflections on the Sociology of Knowledge,” The British Journal of Sociology, VII (1956), 52-58; Gerard de Gre, “The Sociology of Knowledge and the Problem of Truth,” Journal of the History of Ideas, II (1941), 110-15; Gottfried Eisermann, “Ideologie und Utopie. Aus Anlass der dritten Auflage von Karl Marinhejms Buch,” Kolner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, V (1952-53), 128-35; Ernst Grunwald, Das Problem der Soziologie des Wissens (Wien-Leipzig, 1934), 184 ff.; Jacques J. Maquet, The Sociology of Knowledge: Its Structure and Its Relation to the Philosophy of Knowledge (Boston, 1951); Robert Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure (Glencoe, 1957), 490 ff.; Albert Salomon, “Karl Mannheim, 1893-1947,” Social Research, XIV (1947), 350-64. Not all recent treatments of Karl Mannheim follow these lines, of course. Compare the work of Kurt H. Wolff, especially “The Sociology of Knowledge and Sociological Theory,” in Llewellyn Gross, Symposium on Sociological Theory (Evanston, 1959), 567-602; “A Preliminary Inquiry into the Sociology of Knowledge from the Standpoint of Man,” Scritti di soziologia e politica in onere di Luigi Sturzo (Bologna, 1953), 585-618; “Karl Mannheim in semen Abhandlungen bis 1933,” in Karl Mannheim, Wissenssoziologie (Berlin and Neuwied, 1964), 11-65. Not relevant for present purposes are the works of those who clearly place themselves out of the “main stream.”
2. Mannheim, “Uber die Eigenart kultursoziologischer Erkenntnis” (unpublished typescript, dated 1921P), p. 80. The author is indebted to Dr. Paul Kecskemeti for access to this manuscript, as well as to the other unpublished early essay to be cited below. It is Dr. Kecskemeti’s plan to secure publication of at least the most important sections of these manuscripts within the next years. See, also, Karl Mannheim, “Structural Analysis of Epistemology,” in Essays on Sociology and Social Psychology, ed. Paul Kecskemati (New York, [1953), 40, note, and idem, “The Ideological and the Sociological Interpretation of Intellectual Phenomena,” Studies on the Left, III (1963), 54-66 (a revised version of a portion of the unpublished manuscript cited above, edited by Kurt H. Wolff).]
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It is only after this, in a long essay written two years later, that
Matters are even more serious with
But enough of the metaphor. The point is that
4. See file labeled “Principles of Education
Lectures, 1946” in collection of
ulations of the relationships alleged by
The work of Karl Mannheim must be assigned to the “style of thought” whose major attributes have been explicated elsewhere through study of the eighteenth-century Scottish moral philosopher, Adam Ferguson.  Characteristic of this style of thought, here to be identified as the “moral-philosophic syndrome,” is a set of issues which it seeks to master. These may be stated as the effort to reconcile the following five pairs of initially antithetical aspirations:
(1) meeting contemporary standards of philosophic and scientific method (reference in the paradigmatic case was to the
5. David Kettler, The Social and Political
Thought of Adam Ferguson (
eighteenth-century trinity of Bacon,
(2) combining the scientific conception of nature as a structure of efficient causes and impersonal powers with the traditional conception of a beneficent logic of purposes either immanent in nature or transcending it, but in either case not limited to that which appears to be actual as “mere” fact;
(3) reconciling the post-medieval picture of the good life as a life of achievement, equal right to happiness, and individual integrity with the earlier ideals of excellence, harmony, and identification with the greater whole;
(4) blending the modern criteria for a social life, demanding above all progress, peace, and prosperity, with the classical image of communal life as integrated by a common conception of the good and dedicated to eliciting from each man the greatest contribution he can make to the common good; and
(5) satisfying the liberal notion of the state (or of the public order, more generally) as a guarantor of man’s equal rights and of society’s existence - needing to be empowered lest it fail to protect the rights of the individual, but needing to be restrained lest it interfere with the beneficent societal process - and yet also yearning for the antique image of political life as the main vehicle for achieving the moral objectives of the community, of the public order as paideia, a school for virtue. 
So stated, the issues are very broad, and a considerable variety of doctrines can be seen as representative of the moral-philosophic syndrome so defined. Nevertheless the category is not uselessly vague; it is possible to identify schools of thought which stand outside the syndrome, and to offer certain generalizations about the way in which the schools manifesting the syndrome tend - despite vital differences among themselves - to attack their common tasks of reconciling these seeming antinomies: [7
6. The catalogue of “modern” and “classical” aspirations is familiar, being a standard product of intellectual history early in the century, but only recently introduced to many American social scientists through the work of Leo Strauss and his group.
7. This syndrome, as argued in the study of
HHC: [bracketed] displayed on page 404 of original.
(1) Natural science and the philosophy related to it are not challenged on their own ground, as a rule. Their mastery within their proper sphere is conceded and may even be elaborately described, but their claim to set forth the only way of achieving results which may be called “true” or “valid” is strongly denied. Moreover, their moral stature (as the sole expression of “reason,” as the only way to explore “nature”) is called into question, if not radically denigrated. An approach different from that generally identified with the natural sciences, then, is said to be capable of discovering the truths of the matters with regard to which man requires orientation essential to judgment and practice.
(2) Corresponding to the modes of inquiry mentioned above are diverse objects of knowledge. Thus, over and above the complex of efficient causes or functional interrelations is seen at least one sphere of meaning, having at least equivalent ontological standing. Often there is said to be some integral connection between these spheres, but the nature of the connection is always described in the language of the non-naturalistic one(s). Very common among the various schools of this type is the recourse at this point of the argument to some conception of the historical process as counterpart to the naturalistic process, although this approach is by no means the only one utilized (as can be seen by the cases of Dewey, Nietzsche, and Husserl, for example).
(3) With regard to the moral question, of central significance to the group as a whole, the response tends to concentrate on the requirement of an individual freely and knowingly giving himself to active and efficacious participation in that process said to be ultimately meaningful. Powerlessness is then generally as much a matter of reproach as slavishness or irrelevance. Integrity, responsibility, and authenticity are common terms here.
(4) The process in which the individual is called upon to participate is normally envisioned as in some sense communal; the whole argument at this point commonly but not invariably involves an attack on factors said to inhibit such participation, and turns to a social application of its main concepts, with a view to overcoming such inhibitions. The attack on society as conducive to “aliena-
tion,” as antithetical to the activity of an authentic man is a familiar, common, and typical approach.
(5) The political problem has been the most difficult for this style of thought. With a few important exceptions - like John Stuart Mill, John Dewey, and Leon Trotsky - representative thinkers have tended to slight it, either because they believed that their approach to the social issues obviates the political ones, or simply because they did not recognize its importance at all. It also happens, as in the case of
It is a little dangerous to attach the label “moral-philosophic” to this particular style of thought because the term is used in a far more limited sense in most analytic dissections of philosophy as a discipline. Yet there is, first, good historical authority for proceeding in this way. The label “moral philosophy,” like that of political economy, came in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century to be quite identified with the Scottish school, whose textbooks introduced the whole range of issues to schoolboys and students for almost a century. Second, the label reminds practitioners of the many disciplines generally conceded to be offsprings from the historic moral philosophy (like sociology, economics, psychology, political science, esthetics, and so on) of the energies which served as animating impulses for the disciplines and whose force may still be operating secretly in unexamined concepts and tacit assumptions. But it is the third reason for retaining this old name which is the decisive one. At the core of all writings within the style stands the moral problem, in the narrow sense (however it may be disguised). Epistemology and metaphysics and logic, then, are characteristically subordinated to a moral search, and the issues listed under (3) above and their answers integrate the work of a writer in this tradition. Typically he proceeds on the basis of some peculiar variation of the old Socratic formula: “if I know who I am, what it means to be who I am, I shall know what I must do.”
This last pattern is particularly clear in the work of
This aspect of
8. See Wolff, “Sociology of Knowledge.”
9. See, especially, “Zur Problematik der Soziologie in Deutschland,” in Karl Mannheim, Wissenssoziologie, 614-24; “Competition as a Cultural Phenomenon,” in Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge (London, 1952), 191 ff.; Die Gegenwartsaufgaben der Soziologie (Tubingen, 1932), especially 22-27; “De Sociologie der Intelektuellen,” Amsterdamsch Studenten Weekblad. Propria Cures, XLIV (Oct. 29, 1932), No. 7, pp. 87-91. The lecture notes are in the Keele collection.
have not been available to English-speaking scholars (and two of which do not appear to be known at all). There follows, then, a brief discussion of a paper Karl Mannheim wrote in 1917, “Soul and Culture,” under the influence of George Lukacs and George Simmel, in which he refers the basic problems of the moral-philosophic syndrome to the theme of “renovation of culture,” seeing in the cultural process itself the center of meaning; then a consideration of an early German essay by Mannheim, written in 1922 when he was striving earnestly to make his own the major tendencies of contemporary German philosophy, “Concerning the Peculiarity of Cultural-Sociological Cognition,” in which Mannheim is primarily concerned to defend the moral-philosophic enterprise against the threat he believes posed by “Marxism”; next a side-look at a work of decisive importance for Mannheim’s development, George Lukacs’ History and Class-Consciousness, for its influential argument that the cultural “solution” of the moral-philosophic problems presupposes a social frame of reference and action, and for its provision of such a framework; and finally a return to Mannheim, for the highly interesting unpublished work probably written in 1924 under the immediate impact of History and Class-Consciousness, “A Sociological Theory of Culture and its Knowability,” where the basic rationale for sociology of culture (and sociology of knowledge within it) as the decisive approach to coping with the characteristic dilemmas of the moral-philosophic syndrome is most clearly put forth. 
The general proposition that the sphere within which the antinomies of the moral-philosophic style of thought must be overcome is the cultural is already implicit in Rousseau’s critique of the quality of life in modern society, but it first gets careful development in Schiller’s very interesting essays Concerning the Aesthetic Ed-
10. It should perhaps be emphasized that this
stress on unpublished works is not intended to create any sort of mystery
ucation of Man(1795). This is not the place to discuss this effort nor the subsequent story of the “culturist” stream within the moral-philosophic tradition, as it moves through diverse “Romantic” writers and over the Nietzschean cataract. At the beginning of the present century the diagnosis of a crisis in culture, as a way of putting the concerns which had already animated Ferguson and his generation, enjoyed considerable vogue, particularly in central Europe; and one important sign of this was the widespread insistence on the separateness of humanistic or cultural studies from the natural sciences as well as from the positivistic social science which prided itself on its naturalism. Late in the First World War a group of young
According to the introductory statement, two characteristics distinguish this lecture series. First, it rejects all popularization and is addressed only to “those who no longer need the primer-knowledge of lectures which are eternally nothing more than introductory” (p. 29). Secondly, the lectures “want to propagate the world-view of the new spirituality and idealism,” to express the point of view which “speaks of the importance of the problem of transcendence, as against the materialism which is already receding into the past, of the univocal validity of principles, as against relativistic impressionism, of the pathos of normative ethics, as against an anarchic world-view” (p. 30). These two characteristics are bridged, at least in part, by the basic function of the series itself.
11. Karoly Mannhaim, Lelek es Kultura.
Programmeloadas a II szemeszter menvitase alkalmabol tatotta (
It is premised on the assumption that the viewpoint to be propagated is actually coming to the fore: it is a “time of intellectual rebirth”; “the culture of
tain normativism, which is not, however, bound to rules in an academic manner; our world-view is characterized by an idealism which strives towards metaphysics but could not be further from that forced and strained idealism of doctrinal religions” (pp. 7-8).
Turning from these general slogans and themes,
The tragedy of human culture derives from several paradoxical attributes of the cultural act,
or another stage of the development. Following the pattern of the Comtean scheme, Mannheim depicts three historical stages, each corresponding to a distinctive “intentioning” (a concept borrowed from German art-history) or focus characteristic of man: first, there are religious cultures, when the soul is addressed directly to the “primeval facts,” when “the creator is above all taken up with the soul, which cannot be comprehended but is nevertheless present” (p. 18); then come artistic cultures, when man’s efforts are applied to “the best and most complete working of the material” (p. 18); finally comes the culture which is esthetic and critical, and at this time “the feeling of estrangement” becomes strong, “the discrepancy between forms and substances becomes increasingly clear” (p. 19), and, while the creative artist becomes impotent, the critic flourishes.
Not surprisingly, it is
for which we so yearn, by as complete an understanding of the old one as possible” (p. 27).
Like the group in its general proclamation,
The structure of this argument - diagnosis of a crisis, with its implicit threat and promise, produced by necessary historical forces, the renovating mission of a group needing to become conscious of itself, and the requirement that the group carry out the dictates of the historical moment without attempting to anticipate the future development - is characteristic of all future work by Mannheim, and it is also familiar because it corresponds in form so closely to the profound and now widely accepted interpretation of Marx developed in the early twenties above all by Lukacs, who was at that time Mannheim’s mentor and leader of the group around the Free School for Humanistic Studies, although in no way yet a professed Marxist. In Mannheim’s talk, then, existing culture is condemned as empty of the spiritual qualities which give culture its value, but there are no express references in the essay to social and political conditions, except insofar as social or political institutions might be considered aspects of culture. There is much of Simmel here; but there is also a quiet confidence which differs markedly from Simmel’s resignation.
In summary, it may be well - even at the risk of some excessive schematizing - to spell out explicitly the connection between
(1) The authentic mode of participating in culture and ultimately of knowing one’s soul is clearly as valid a mode of “knowing,” of apprehending reality, as is natural science in its proper and restricted sphere.
(2) The sphere of the soul and its manifestation in culture has highest ontological reality.
(3) The renovation of culture clearly implies and has as ultimate object the renovation of the individual, and participation in this mission is self-evidently rewarding.
(4) The whole fate of the enterprise turns on a process involving the whole community, although this historical development has no significance apart from its cultural meaning. The “generation” which
In “Soul and Culture,” then,
12. “Uber die Eigenart kultursoziologischer Erkenntnis” (“On the Characteristics of Knowledge in Sociology of Culture”). Numbers in parentheses refer to page numbers in this manuscript.
from Marxism. It is characteristic of the moral-philosophic style of thought to seek comprehensiveness; it respects all ongoing intellectual enterprises. The Marxist “sociological” interpretation of cultural. phenomena, in the form of ideology-studies, was clearly going on and saying something. The challenge, as
The response was a conception of sociology of culture which affirmed it as a possible mode of interpreting culture, but denied it all impact on the validity or value of any cultural product. Sociological interpretation, according to
13. In this section
“Is there a path of aloneness,” he asks, “are there spheres within us which according to their very essence must remain alone? Does the historical-social process change anything about the destiny of being human?” (p. 156). Historicism has loosened the sense of established order; we believe that everything could have been and has been different. Although at first only external structures are viewed historically, in time the feeling of historical determination comes to apply to everything; “our entire ego is sacrificed, we seem as if we were suspended above ourselves.” But the sailor, the historian, and the pure sociologist of culture (with whom
to take leave of oneself, to separate the social and historical ego from the substantial one, and to experience our being human in general, purely as such. And just as the original empirical-historical homelessness (of sailor, historian and sociologist), which at first led us to wander through cultural and historical epochs and areas, became transformed into the deliberate homelessness of our humanity, so the most hardheaded structural analysis of social consciousness transcends itself, attaining to new substantive insights, until finally, at the last point at which we can stand, it reaches a sociological cogito ergo sum, it arrives at something which we cannot doubt any further” (p. 157).
As the conclusion of this passage shows, the rather bleak and ascetic mood was not upon
14. Published work deriving from this period are the essays on “The Ideological and Sociological Interpretation of Intellectual Phenomena” and “On the Interpretation of Weltanschauung” and “Historicism,” in Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge, 33-133.
integrity of cultural activity as the activity of highest value has presumably been preserved. This work, then, must be seen as supplementary to the broad position set forth in the earlier essay. The decisive shock came from the work of the man whose inspiration had also governed this first stage of
How George Lukacs moved from mentor of the esthetic avant garde of
(i) Lukacs offers dialectical thinking as the ultimately valid way to participate in truth. This is a way of thinking which strives toward a total view, rejecting division of knowledge among distinctive ontological spheres, each having a type of science peculiar to it. The appearance of distinct spheres and distinct sciences is itself a matter capable of being interpreted from the standpoint of
15. See Kettler, Marxismus und Kultur.
16. George Lukacs, Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (Berlin, 1923).
the most comprehensive view. Reality must be examined, then, according to Lukacs’ view, as being integrated according to a principle which tolerates “contradictions” or conflict, even while it develops constantly toward resolution of those conflicts and contradictions. On such a view, Lukacs stresses, concepts must necessarily be imprecisely defined, because their full meaning can only be explicated in the course of a discussion; and the facts must be related to a process whose total meaning is unlikely to be fully revealed by the state of the facts at any given moment. Dialectics, then, is characterized as the theoretical counterpart of a purposeful practical actor who knows who he is and consequently what he is called upon to do, in a situation ripe for his task. Key terms are words like “diagnosis” and “consciousness” and “calling” (in the sense of “vocation”). Strictly speaking, dialectics is for Lukacs not a method of thought alone, but a practical mode of relating to reality and thus acting to change it.  Physical science, and social science patterned upon it, can, according to Lukacs, describe some factual interconnection or other, necessary in the external world but only peripherally meaningful to man, and necessary in the social world only insofar as men do not in practice change the power which sustains any given constellation of factors. Moral science in the sense of the old moral philosophy or Kantian ethics can construct some ethical utopia, but cannot show how the being inhabiting the world of necessary causal laws of physical science could possibly conform to these norms. Dialectical thinking supercedes this incoherence. It is only available, however, from the practical and activist standpoint of the actor whose time has in reality come - for Lukacs, the revolutionary proletariat whose mission it is to destroy the capitalist order. Without this directional energy and situational opportunity, in his view, dialectics becomes just another formula offering some rhythmic fiction about the development of reality.
(2) The comprehensible, becoming reality in which practical man participates, has at its bitter core the questions of existence and power, about which the life of mankind has turned, but it has as its fruit a rich, authentic culture. The question of existence and
17. Compare John Ladd, “The Place of Practical Reason in Judicial Decision-Making,” in Carl J. Friedrich (ed), Rational Decision (New York, 1964), 120 ff.
reality must provide the frame of reference for discussion and action, but the whole is given meaning in its fullest sense only by the emancipation of man’s humanity. History, then, must be seen as a meaningful story in which development from one social-economic epoch to another through the conflict of classes provides the basic plot. But the plot is not the value or the point of the story, nor does capacity to define the present situation in terms of that plot enable one to prophecy what must happen next. As the story moves to its climax, the machinery ceases to function, according to Lukacs, and the characters must take over.
(3) Practical action toward the revolutionary transformation of the social and economic order, then, is neither a matter of class reflex nor base pursuit of mean interest. It is morally free commitment to a mission in behalf of the highest human good; it is heeding a call. In contrast, and this is vehemently pressed by Lukacs, to refuse this commitment is to be constrained ever more to moral emptiness and dishonesty. Wisdom and virtue are again, as in Plato, combined: wisdom involves knowing and being who you are, and this involves self-transforming action.
(4) And the arena for action is the society in change within which we live, while the character of action is participation in the process of social revolution. Lukacs concentrates his diagnosis and indictment of bourgeois society on the phenomenon of “reification,” the transformation of human needs, activities, and relations into measurable, interchangeable, standardized, saleable things. The process which leads to reification is often called alienation, but in these essays Lukacs is more disposed to trace the dimensions of the reified condition than to explore the processes by which it comes about. Every aspect of bourgeois society, from the basic exchange of commodities and the labor market to the character of science itself, is marked by this condition, according to Lukacs. Men limit their vision to the calculable and serve to perpetuate a world in which the incalculable, the creative and free, are forcibly repressed; men break down creative work into component processes having no coherent connection with some human need or objective; men look to some functional norm to direct them into a given course of action and refuse to face themselves in freedom; men hypostatize “rational,” formal-mathematical knowledge and fail to examine the qualitative irrationalities which underpin its
sway. Men look to “natural laws” and “facts” and ignore that laws rest on force which can be counteracted and that facts can be changed. Such a condition is not the result, in Lukacs’ view, of simple moral delinquency, nor can it be changed by firm resolution alone.
Reification is a pattern of relationships implicit in a set of economic and social arrangements in which powerful men have powerful stakes and within which we are all caught up. The capacity to see this and to change it (and the two are intertwined) is reserved to those associated with the class in society which is least caught up in the pattern (only the worker’s labor is for sale - not his soul, as with journalists and professors) and has the capacity to envision and carry through an alternate pattern of social organization. Thus social revolution is the indispensable prerequisite for any cultural or moral renovation. If the proletariat surrenders to false consciousness and accepts the political or other rules of the game of the existing order, then the dehumanizing process will intensify. The symptoms of reification no longer have for Lukacs the kind of esthetic charm which his former teacher Georg Simmel saw in a decadent culture, or which he himself, in his earlier writings, had discerned in an esthetic culture. They are of interest only as symptoms; the cultural products of value are those produced by bourgeois culture at its full vitality, before it was forced to lie or to squirm with self-doubt.
There are many things about this argument which merit discussion, but for the present what is decisive is that Lukacs undertook to explode the barrier between the social function and intrinsic value of cultural products which writers like Mannheim had carefully maintained, and he did so in terms likely to be authoritative or at least persuasive for Mannheim; Lukacs denied the relevance and potency of any effort to secure orientation by reference to the ultimate value of the cultural process alone. He argued that a healthy culture presupposes a healthy society, and that an adequate interpretation of the meaning of a cultural work or a satisfactory diagnosis of the cultural condition require a committed and practical putting-to-the-question of the social process as a whole. A dissonant and dishonest culture, then, cannot be the authentic expression of the human soul; a soul led to inhibit its own characteristic expressions cannot create a human culture. And,
according to Lukacs, the dissonances, dishonesties, and inhibitions which cripple culture are functions of social processes.
18. Mannheim, “Eine soziologische Theorie der Kultur und ihrer Erkenbarkeit.”
19. On this matter, the weighty advice of Arnold
Hauser counsels against ascribing this effect to Lukacs’ Marxist essays.
Still, the evidence appears too
strong; the sweeping rejection of Marxism, which had played so important a
part in essays before this is here replaced by the effort to comprehend and
integrate it within a broader context, and always at the key point the
reference is to Lukacs. The intent and
thrust of the argument is still, to be sure, anti-Marxist, but
accepted Lukacs’ faith in the Communist party as concrete manifestation of the proletarian class-consciousness, and he never even really accepted the Marxist account of the proletarian mission; but he did take over and adapt once more the conception of a group-mission founded on a group self-consciousness as the functional equivalent for a relativism-defying absolute norm. In this essay, then, begins
out everything peculiarly human as well as all insights limited to particular individuals or groups; it acts out of concrete situations, provides orientation for practice, and is not limited to the search for the universally valid, the calculable portions of reality. In its method, according to Mannheim, the conjunctive cultural sphere of thought proceeds through “Einheitsschau,” not analysis and dissection; in its concepts, it must use “naming” or “describing” terms whose full range of meanings can first become clear in the course of their use and which can in any case only be properly understood by those who share in the community. Precise, rigorously defined concepts are simply inapplicable here.
day substratum underneath the formal, contractual, societal veneer. In any case, the basic point, of course, is that
20. In an aside which applies also to latter-day
disciples of the phenomenological sects which flourished in his time,
and thus to shape the aspirations of the next epoch in world history. The sociological interpretation of conjunctive knowledge is the conjunctively appropriate route to self-discovery; it defines the adequate relationship between the intellectual and the situation in which he must act and judge and choose, and it does so in two senses: first, as itself an appropriate activity for an intellectual in this time, and, second, as a way out of the time, spontaneously creating a new world-view and a new outlook.
The essay goes on to attempt a more detailed account of conjunctive knowledge and of the possibility of communicative knowledge, but it is not necessary to pursue the argument further at this time. Enough has been shown to make it clear that at least
To account for something is not to justify it, of course. All that has been offered so far is reason for believing that Mannheim’s work in the sociology of knowledge can best be understood on its own terms when it is viewed as part of an effort to solve, in sometimes alarmingly eclectic and sometimes ingenious but withal in
quite typical form, the characteristic dilemmas of the moral-philosophic syndrome. What about justification? Has all this not simply pronounced a death-sentence on
The moral-philosophic syndrome, with its conflicting aspirations and grand ambitions, has been the most provocative and productive force in the development of social and political thought of the last two centuries, at least. And there is reason to believe that a social science which ignores these issues will exhaust itself in pursuing within ever narrower range the one all-absorbing objective of perfect rigor.  The insight which
As it was for
21. Stated thus generally, this sounds like the great universal lament of those who often end up as anti-scientific obscurantists. The task is, of course, to uncover the inner connection between the lamenters and that which they lament, to gain full clarity about the situation. C. Wright Mills laments intelligently, but fails to give substance to his concept of “Sociological Imagination.” “Moral-philosophic syndrome,” although less exhortatory a term, seeks to give some historical specificity to the matter.
22. John Plamenatz, Man and Society (New York, 1963), I, xix.
by heeding the intimations of a role, of an
the activity here in question is far more “rationalist” and daring than the
normal conservative imagines, and occasions may arise for hard choice among
roles equally available. But
23. See David Kettler, “The Cheerful Discourses of Michael Oakeshott,” World Politics, XVI (1964), 483 ff.