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Author(s): Harvey Goldman Reviewed work(s): Source: Sociological Theory, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Nov., 1994), pp. 266-278 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/202125 . Accessed: 21/01/2013 22:48
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practices. Washington. Mannheim's work itself has been the subject of several recenthistoricalinvestigationsthathave triedto make sense of his intellectualdevelopment with other significant social and to situate his contributionin terms of "confrontations" thinkersof various kinds. 1966). institutions. sociology of knowledge is the analysis of the sources and meanings of forms of knowledge in relation to the experience. Kettler. Mills 1953. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Why should sociological theoryhave an interestin revivingwhat seems to be a surpassed and rathermoribundderivativeof Ideologiekritik. Finally. especially in England (Congdon 1991. the historical and interpretivetreatmentof sociological theory needs to move from primarily textual analysis and historical contextualizationto the study of the conditions and modalities of "knowledge production"among those who produce it. In its most general form. especially Weberand Lukacs.DC 20036 This content downloaded on Mon. an outdated method for showing correspondencesbetween class position and consciousness which unmasks ideologies and separatesclaims of truth from claims of power. apartfrom the reflections of recent sociologists of science such as Barry Barnes (1974) and David Bloor (1991). It points out certain affinities between Mannheimand some contemporarytheorists. this fact should now be visible in the new form of sociology of knowledge developing in science studies. traditions. it proposes ways to draw on the sociology of intellectuals. 1722 N Street NW.more nuancedsociology of knowledge among the knowledge producersof the nonnaturalsciences. and then reflects on certain problems in Mannheim'swork.Meja. Sociological Theory 12:3 November 1994 ? AmericanSociological Association. sociology of knowledge is an approach to knowledge producers and their products. A useful way to begin thinking about such a project is with a considerationof Mannheim's efforts in this direction.In my view. On a more theoreticallevel.From Social Theory to Sociology of Knowledge and Back: Karl Mannheim and The Sociology of Intellectual Knowledge Production HARVEY GOLDMAN University of California. and Stehr 1984. in order to advance the understandingof social theory. inspired by Mannheim. both theoreticaland in the laboratory. by means of an elaborated and empirical sociology of intellectuals and their intellectual production. and positions of social groups and the individuals within those groups. particularly the response to "relativism" and the hope of creating new "syntheses"throughthe sociology of knowledge. such as Gramsciand Foucault. Just as history of science is complementedincreasinglyby sociological studiesof scientificknowledge.originallyinspiredby Marxism?Despite the extent of "forgetfulness"about Mannheim among most American sociologists since Mills and Merton (Merton 1973. or with well-placed social groups. there has been less recent appraisalof Mannheim's work and its strengthsand weaknesses. Loader 1985). Gluck 1985. In its most developed form. Frisby 1983. Nor must the sociology of knowledge be based on an outdated epistemology no longer of interest to sociologists. I want to propose a reconsiderationof Karl Mannheimand his work from the viewpoint of the needs of sociological theory and its furtherdevelopment.so the history of social and sociological theory should be enrichedby taking account of a more analytical. San Diego This paper proposes a reconsideration of Karl Mannheim and his work from the viewpoint of the needs of sociological theory. the sociology of knowledge is not simply a historical artifact.
260). According to Mannheim(1929a:259."and deconstruction. Like Mannheim. One aspect of his farsightedness in his analysis lies of competition. his links to them make him a more "timely"thinkerfor sociological theory than is often believed. arguing for a "political economy of truth"to reveal the inseparabilityof truth and power." Hence the importanceof conflicts revealing that conflicts of perspective embodied in ideologies are fundamentally between "social forces and social impulses" (1929a:573-74."Mannheim's work actually has ties with the social thoughtof our time. but ratherare justifications of ' Part of Mannheim's analysis is actually rooted in Lebensphilosophie. who wrote before Gramsci elaboratedhis concept of hegemony. victory.This will prove later to be a serious flaw. Today. he for democratizationhas led to a situation in which "each particularperspective" remarks. By the end of the 1940s. WhateverMannheim's differences from Gramsci and Foucault."edifyingphilosophy. Competition. This domination has challenged from a variety of intellectual positions. which has much in common with the work of Gramsci and Foucault. connects the "sociology of truth" to a theory of intellectuals. like Foucault." and to loosen the hold of totalizingdiscourse. epistemologies themselves do not "struggle"with one another.' To take anotherexample. and critical theory. "in actual life.which grounds conflict not in social forces but in the drives of the will. logical positivism. totalizing discourses which conceal the actual struggles. knowledge "is clearly rooted in and carriedby the desire for power and recognition of particularsocial groups who want to make their of interpretation the world the universalone". Mannheim's work. and choices that have led to the dominationof a single discourse. accidents. 1936:46. For Mannheim. Interestingly. which also were highly critical of one another.and which jockeyed for position within academic institutionsand intellectualdiscourse:historicism. which accepted existing reality either too fully or too little to provide reliable or critical results. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . largely determine the movement of thought" (Mannheim 1929a:592). Mannheim. but even on its formulation. it is intellectualswho formulateand "carry" the task of elaboratinginterpretations their groups of origin or affiliation. To criticize these apparatuses requiresnot theirdisclosureas producers of ideology. 1969:42). it is always some volitional center which sets thought going. however. the task is to show the struggle that lies behind the dominant forms of knowledge. Yet Mannheimdoes not believe it necessaryto investigatesociologically his contemporaries' persistentlongings for "universality" and the influence of struggles for power not only on the triumphof a particularperspective. these challengers themselves were being criticized from a variety of theoreticalpositions. Indeed. 585). and the selection based upon it.MANNHEIMAND THE SOCIOLOGYOF KNOWLEDGEPRODUCTION 267 mediated by a unique philosophical detachmentand a pointed understandingof social dynamics. neo-Hegelianism. ontology. amidstcriticismsof the "traditional" which had dominated epistemologyof neo-Kantianism academic philosophy." embodiedmost recentlyin such disparatepoints of view as discursiverationality. This content downloaded on Mon.hermeneutics. of course. but analysis of the construction and deployment of knowledge (Foucault 1980). especially intellectualcompetition. to recover "subjugatedknowledges. That challenge continuestoday in at least a "thirdwave. Foucault believes that the principal obstacles to a sociology of truthexist in globalizing. and to expose the "effects"producedby what he calls apparatusesor "regimes"of truth. is also fraughtwith significantproblems. The sociology of knowledge developed in Europe in the early part of this century. aspires to be "the universally accepted frame of reference. "The meaningfullyorientedwill" is the sourceof "understanding" (Mannheim 1924:269. both the defenders of traditionalepistemology and the first challengers attacked the emerging sociology of knowledge as an ungroundedand ungroundableapproach to truth. From the point of view of contemporary"relevance. for example. For Foucault.
Re'. yet.2 Mannheim'searly position on the fear of relativism. 1936:300. Taylor 1990. partisan. in response to neo-Kantianobjections to the sociology of knowledge. unperspectivaltruths and confuses it with this ideal [of absolute truth] so different from it" (1924:254.completelyoverlooking way in whichthis situational and entersinto the structure the evolutionof knowledge(1925:311. it focused on the critique of morality and religion. which then took over the label relativism. THE FLIGHTFROM RELATIVISM One of the central problems for the sociology of knowledge at its emergence and in the early stages of its development was to confrontthe charges of relativismthat it faced on all sides.tivism presented itself in late nineteenth-century Europe in a variety of forms. 1).268 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY thought-stylesin conflict with one anotherand rooted in the needs of social groups. is utterlyincapableof tacklingwith its of determination and the apparatus problemsof the temporal situational epistemological the anyconcreteprocessof thought."a "good"one. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Once the static absolute is abolished.He argued that relativism was meaningful only "if one connects it with the older static ideal of eternal unsubjective. relativism loses its meaning. That initial challenge was quickly absorbedand accommodatedin intellectual circles. But to us we definitelyprefera "relativism" to of its task by calling attention all those momentswhichtendto makethe propositions conditioned-we prefer at actuallydiscoverable any given time. Still." This content downloaded on Mon. Here I want to point to the social origins and significance. Thomas 1983). he had abandonedthis open attitude toward relativism and his of very flexible conceptual understanding it. 1969:258)." By the end of the 1920s. 1992). To "put things in relation" [relationieren]thereforedenotes "thatit belongs to the essence of certain statementsthat 2 Intellectualsalways have accepted "moralrelativism"with much less protest and much more ease than the possible relativismor social situatednessof knowledge. "Relationismmeans only the reference [Beziiglichkeit]of all elements of meaning to one anotherand their reciprocallyestablishedmeaningfulness [Sinnhaftigkeit]in a particularsystem" (1936:86. What Mannheimdid was to split the notion of relativismthat he had used earlier into two "aspects. was clear.and a "bad"one. fear has We cannotsharethe at presentwidespread of relativism. Mannheim(1929a:251) describes this acceptanceas the awareness"thatwe can make use of a numberof entirely differentcategories in giving a scientific account of a given historicalevent. will instantlyannihilate adversary any againstwhom the which accentuates difficulty it is used. however. partialand situationally which loudlyproclaims. it is believed. 1969:77). and unruffled. conditioning Mannheim(1924:292) thus was disinclined to make relativism an "enemy. n. that renewal must be informedby the "thirdwave" at work today. to such a "relativism" an "absolutism" in the absolutenessof its own positionor of "truth itself" but is in fact no less partial than any of its adversaries-and.as a matterof principle. as illustratedby Mannheim's own defensive position. Relativismhas reemergedtoday as a problemfor those who thinkphilosophically about knowledge. still worse. because of the overwhelmingprestige of the sciences. and the challenge to knowledge and its objectivity soon became the more critical one (Aschheim 1992. but of the fear of relativism. if sociology of knowledge is to inspire a renewed sociological theory. and for those who wish to confrontthe implicationsof postmodernism in sociology (Sociological Theory 1991."Relativism" become a catchword which. which he renamedrelationism. not of relativism.
looking at them from a standpoint which is itself a productof history . of though"overcoming" (Aufhebung)." where congruence with some form of the "in itself" acts as a check on. Thus "every one of us standpoints" refers to the same data and essences. Yet Aspektstrukturen]" up with a standpoint[standsortsgebundenen of Mannheim'scharacterization relativism is so simplistic that it would be impossible to hold or defend it with any credibility:philosophicalrelativism teaches that "thereare no standards no orderin the world"and that"everybodyand nobody is right"(1929a:570. both the variousepochs and the essences coming into being in them have theirown being regardless any knowledgeof them (1925:356). that a thing freed from all relationshipswould still be a thing" (Nietzsche 1967. . perspectives and judgments (1925:356-57."' though it is "grasped . "The structure of appearance[Aspektstruktur] signifies the way in which one views an object. Thus he was able to reject the neo-Kantian accusationeven while he conceded that if the accusationwere true. 1969:242)." "reality. . 1969:234. Mannheimretainedthis neo-Kantiandualism-though he claimed that the concepts we use are prestructured by the mind but by the epoch-between not what is disclosed (on the one hand) by perspective and (on the other) by "facts." Relationismpartly takes over the role of perspective and includes the possibility that access to certain aspects of truth or "essences"is possible only from specific standpoints:"[C]ertain insights concerningsome qualitative aspect of the living process of history are available to consciousness only as 3 "That and things possess a constitutionin themselves quite apartfrom interpretation subjectivity.What is noteworthy in this splitting and in this new definition of relativism is that Mannheim implicitly conceded neo-Kantianclaims that relativism meant arbitrariness." Indeed."or "the stream itself. Mannheimsaw his own projectof a "Soziologie des Geistes"as the sociological counterpart. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . but the studentof historycan comprehend them only in perspectivicfashion. from differing intellectual-historical (1924:272). 1969:86.MANNHEIMAND THE SOCIOLOGYOF KNOWLEDGEPRODUCTION 269 they cannot be formulatedabsolutely but only in terms of structuresof 'aspects' bound (1936:283. 150.and rescued the aspects of relativism which he had appreciatedearlier and with which he had been comfortableby renaming them relationism." UltimatelyMannheimclaimed thathis own "general position"was "dialectical"and closest to Hegel's: "[T]hereis an existentially determined truthcontent in human thought at every stage of its development"which has a graspable "evolutionarygoal. or a test of.theseessentialmeanings belongto essenceswhich have their own being in an absolutesense. . Hegel's "Phdnomenologiedes Geistes. Mannheim argued that there is an absolute. it would be a serious flaw. Even within history. 361. . 229) Mannheimlater shifted to a more descriptive notion of perspective in an effort to be social scientific."Thereforea "perof or spective [Aspektstruktur] a thinkeris tied to concrete existence [seinsverbunden] is bound up with a viewpoint [standortsgebunden]." "real being in se. "enduringand comprehensivedialectical movement" (1924:303-304." In Ideology and Utopia (1936:272. 1925:358-59. 368). 1969:242). In this way Mannheimreduced relativism to a caricature. 1936:98. This content downloaded on Mon. is a quite idle hypothesis: it presupposes that interpretation and subjectivity are not essential. The link between "relationism" perspectivedates back to Mannheim'sneo-Kantian and belief in "essences":3 come intobeingtogether is] [Perspectivism the theorythatthe variousessentialmeanings with the epochsto whichthey belong. and 1936:282. #560). In this respect. which unfolds in a discoverable. of Throughouthis work. 266. 131). Mannheimagreed with Troeltsch and argued that historical subject matter"remainsidentical 'in itself. what one grasps in it and how one constructsthe facts for oneself in thought.
" Further. its fuller meaning for his concept of relationism."Though different perspectiveshave only a partialtruth. even while he was actually proposingthe old ideal in new guise. the circumstancesof its arising as a problem. by evaluatingthe extent to which they refer to norms to which persons in that period could have conformed and which would have allowed them "to discover new spiritual responses and new possibilities of human development to [Menschenwerdung]. . To begin with. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . He ignored the defenders and champions of this concept. of both relativismand its criticisms in the form in which they presented themselves in the early twentieth century. as shown even by Mannheim's earliest note on the subject. stem do not all have the "the psychic 'positions' from which the various interpretations same cognitive value. On the basis of the given historicalperiod." "accommodateto new situations. shifted the terminology of the debate: he criticized a reduced and simplistic notion of relativism while attributing.and thus saving. the genuine from the spurious among the norms. 1969:258). however. modes of thought. Mannheimargued. according to "reallyovercomesrelativism. one can judge (for example) whetherethical attitudesor moral interpretations are "valid"in a given setting. is The history of the concept of relativism reveals that arbitrariness not at all what relativism meant originally. then was freed from the problems of In arbitrariness. its role in the argumentsof academic and intellectual combat. which is accessible only either to particularindividual subjects or to specific historical stages but only reveals itself in them throughspecific social willings" (1936:168-69. 303)." Mannheim." Thus. Instead Mannheimargued that he too was an unambivalentopponentof relativism.setting criteriafor the rankingof interpretations Whereas Foucault. (His critics. Mannheim. . Yet these views exposed Mannheimagain to the charge of relativism. which is restrictedto their deploymentin a segment of the historical process. Mannheimavoided a direct confrontationwith the situatedness and the implications. Even a one-sided Weltanschauungmay provide "an opportunityto gain access to specific areas of knowledge"otherwise hidden. 1969:147-48). social and philosophical. by the way. Mannheimlater went further:he claimed that it is possible to determine"which of all ideas currentare really valid in a given situation"(1936:94). was later to agree with Mannheimthat history was made up of a "series" of interpretations. and there is "an extremely wide range of areas . Mannheimcontinuedto defend himself againstthe charge as if it still had meaning. its critics and opponents. can "distinguishthe true from the untrue." Inspection can reveal "which psychic position allows a deeper one penetrationinto the object which is to be interpreted". On the basis of this "dynamicphenomenology" Mannheim concluded: "[T]ruth in a perspective sense means that within one historicalconstellation only one perspectiveconclusion can be correct.) One argumentused by Mannheimto prove that his position could not be construedas relativistic was that "successive interpretationsof the past from the various temporal centers have not all the same claim to being recognized as valid.Mannheim approachedthis series with a "must satisfy the concrete different ultimate judgment.although "each shift of interpretation be explained as determineduniformlyby the peculiar'location' of the interpreter. in principle. and patternsof behavior"that exist in any period. Despite his dismissal of the meaningfulnessof the accusation. The latter. were not deceived. drawingon Nietzsche.270 THEORY SOCIOLOGICAL formed by particularhistorical and social circumstances." still. one can say nonetheless that each remains "correctwithin its own field" (1924:292-93." or to find their way on a This content downloaded on Mon.despite his claim thatrelationismdoes not imply "thearbitrariness [Beliebigkeit] of every assertion"(1936:300. this way. all interpretations can historical evidence.so that the historico-social formation of the thinking and knowing subject assumes epistemological importance" (1929a:570).
who cast doubt on the ability to ground ultimate beliefs in any form of reason. is a theoreticalreflectionof . What Mannheimand others means by "relationism"was much more like the originalmeaningof relativismwhen skepticismemerged as a problem in sixteenth-centuryphilosophy (Copenhaverand Schmitt 1992. now that formersocial expectations and possibilities had changed so radically.. fragmenLying behind the fear in early twentieth-century intense form of divergence tation. social. true and false. To those who deploredit and sometimes even to its celebrators. used to enforce them. . phenomenadescribed compellingly by Troeltsch.especially among academic"mandarins. This is why relativism became a concern alongside the emergence of analyses of the shift from culture to civilization. either historically or in Mannheim's case. if it ignored new realities or concealed them in inappropriate categories. like Lukacs.relativism-both intellectualandmoralof and seemed to imply arbitrariness the lack of fixed standards right and wrong. and intellectual discourse. but who still were accused of advancing it. such standards. experienced as an imperativeto give meaning and purposeto their lives. Paulsen." in the context of the sweeping social. civil war. Mann- This content downloaded on Mon. and even patricidewas a particularly and opposition between social groups and interests. Europeancultureof disunity. and demographicchanges that overwhelmed many institutionsand existing faiths in a very shorttime. Relativism reemerged as a problemin Europebefore the turnof the century.it was accentuatedby humanist doubts engenderedthroughrediscovery of the classics. from Gemeinschaftto Gesellschaft. Rather. religious. Mannheim believed it was possible to attribute objectively to a specific periodthe consciousness to that period. Scheler (1980) was correct when he said that "the new relativist theory of 'Welthat tanschauung'. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Thus. and the academic elite in particular. conflict. They detachedthe broaderimplicationsof relativismfrom as the notion of arbitrarinessand stigmatized this arbitrariness genuine and dangerous relativism. precipitatedby many factors. democraticparliamentarism reaches into Weltanschauung" 94).it was claimed. . (p. nor is it the productof a purely philosophicalevolution. especially the ancient skeptics.. Fear of relativism is not new. and criticized sharplyby Weber. as well as historically determined"false consciousness"and a appropriate distortedmental structure. scientific. Modem relativism arose during the Renaissance with the shatteringof the unity of Christian culture in the Reformation. or knowledge would be distorted. as well as in the institutionalstruggles of political parties and established churches.MANNHEIMAND THE SOCIOLOGYOF KNOWLEDGEPRODUCTION 271 "given level of existence. meaning." A theory then would be wrong. sometimes extreme. relying on absolutes that were "no longer vital" and leading to ideologies that concealed a new reality with "surpassedcategories"(1936:95-96. In this sense. These implicationsled to the stigmatizingof skepticismand relativismin political. 1969:83-85). Popkin 1978). and social action. had to be established througheither revelation or reason. even the obsession. THE DEFENSE OF SYNTHESIS that The general interest. it was based on what the turn-of-the-century Bildungsbiirgertumin general. which they themselves then could denouncein good conscience-at least until Nietzsche (see Ermarth 1978:334-38. Those who believed they had escaped relativism.they longed for synthesis and the "rediscoveryof community"as solutions to the dissolution of older forms of prestige. These groups did not simply have a taste for critique. regardingthe analysis of Weltanschauungen emerged at this time in Germanyand elsewhere was not rooted in some abstractcommitment to truth and objectivity. and others. Gadamer 1975:209). were sensitive to these accusations and to the social sanctions. and from mechanicalto organicsolidarity.
convinced that the central trend in the history of ideology was the tendency toward construction of more and more comprehensive Weltanschauungen. recognized that the economically leading bourgeois classes This content downloaded on Mon.it can be grasped only from definite positions within the same process" (1924:29293). 160) advocatedthe formation social powers. whether of Greece. Hence the period's romanticidealizations of the past. Nor did he respond to Nietzsche's critique of absolutes. recognizing that unqualifiedrelationismby "itself" could not produce the higher he standpoint desired. He offered to show that his method not only analyzed "higher"standpointsbut also helped to producethem. or class. Mannheim(1936:153. Thus." This search. based on self-critical awareness of situatednessand relationism." Yet it is an "absolute . of the will towarda total synthesis at the moment. "particular to act as "carriers[Trdger] . on the level of thought. unfolding in a genetic process. . theoreticaland methodologicaldiscussions and in analof historically specific constellations. he said." Marx had believed that a leading economic class would become the leading political class and from its midst would generate the ruling ideas of the age. and the longing for unity. Mannheim's lecture on competition specifically analyzed the dynamic principles of such syntheses-their formation and hegemony (K6nig 1987:351-64. a "comprehensiveview of what is not yet combinable into a step towardthe system" as the "relativeoptimum"for today and a "necessarypreparatory next synthesis. 1969:134. Mannheim strove to understandthe "syntheses"that had been attainedhistorically in ideologies. . . was more than the reflectionof a purely intellectual interestor the enthusiasmcreatedby a new discovery." In fact. Mannheim(1936:152. Indeed. whether of nation.Mannheim proposedto carrythis trend forwardhimself. 189. the Middle Ages. Although he maintainedthat in the "currentlyexisting intellectual twilight" the "relativity"of all things and positions was apparentand that ascriptionsof meanings (Sinngebungen)could not be absolute (1936:85).272 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY heim's own interestin Weltanschauung in the unity and synthesis of otherwise partial and views reflects a struggle in Europeanintellectual circles. for a unity and synthesis no longer possible on the level of social reality. His question was whethersuch synthesis was still possible in the present:"[I]s it possible for different styles of thought to be blended with one another and to undergo synthesis?" Mannheim searched for a currentform of synthesis. whether it is a product of the natureof thought or of human psychology. 183. Still. he admitted. or whether it is an implication drawn from Kant or from an ontology like Heidegger's. there is a "concretepatternof the absolute [that] is different in every age. he continuedto believe. . . however. . utopias." specifically equippedto take over "synthesis as a of a group. Mannheim. like Weber ( 1971:18-22). 1969:133) argued that yses syntheses were central to the history of intellectual life because historical investigation showed that "every concrete sociological analysis of thinkingand the history of its styles and shows that styles of thoughtblend uninterruptedly penetrateone anotherreciprocally. 1969:165). Volk. Yet Mannheim went further. as he had argued earlier. Mannheim 1929b). that "all human thinking is so structuredthat it must assume absolute being somewhere-and hence posit one or the other sphereof experience as absolute"(1925:330). was the productof his own "inclination"and of a prior "decision to seek a dynamic mediation [Mitte]"(1936:188. and Weltanschauungen." task. and that with its aid one could seek out or create syntheses as "total"as possible. Mannheimdid not say why thinking must posit an absolute. Mannheim's analysis. From the beginning of his intellectual career. or the Catholic Church. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . I say "no longer" advisedly because it is debatablewhethera synthesis of the kind idealized or pursuedhas ever existed on any level except in the imaginations and works of intellectuals and believers. philosophical sysIn tems.however. and .
timeless synthesis. would separatethemselves as much as possible from their origins. Thus Mannheimsought increasinglycomprehensivesynthesesor totalitiesto incorporate old insights and widen the concept of truth (1924:268. .Yet despite his argumentfor the thorof ough reflexivity of all standpoints." one can neutralize"the constraintof existence [Seinsgebundenheit]"throughthe "discoveryof the ties to concrete existence [Seinsverbundenheit]" (1929a:607. Syntheses thereforecan be rankedbecause some positions yield a "deeper" penetrationof reality than others (1924:288."Although one never can discover an "absolute. on the other (Jarausch 1982. the proletariat. on the one hand. 1925:373). in order to create "a living mediationbetween the powers formed by the times. Mannheimhoped that the formationof syntheses might be furtheredby the capacity of educationto release intellectualsfrom structural bonds to their class origin and affiliation.Thus. Mannheimargued.Mannheimfailed to analyze sociologically the goal of his own intellectual agenda. now that the older model of the intellectual leadership capabilitiesof a leading economic class was no longer reliable. 152. Struve 1973). produced by the clash between the needs of industrial society for specialization and technical education. systematic centers" from which older elements of culture could be reinterpreted (1924:253.4Mannheim(1936:179-81.namely the goal of social and intellectual integrationbased on a commitmentto acceptanceof the whole. Yet he provided no argumentfor accepting his standardsand goals as something other than the product of his own intellectual and social milieu. 105. 132." while building "the totality with continuing mastery. 302. 1969:15658) added to this discussion a dimension more familiarfrom Durkheim. it was the mission of the intellectuals-a social group that must be recruitedand trainedfor this task througha new form of Bildung-to become a synthesizing. namely the creation of syntheses as a response to the polarization of standpoints and to relativism. for a leadershipor directing elite with a commitmentto an ultimate ideal or totality." Not just any synthesis would do for the present. 151.MANNHEIMAND THE SOCIOLOGYOF KNOWLEDGEPRODUCTION 273 in Europecould not provide political or intellectualleadershipfrom their ranksalone. 1936:103. This content downloaded on Mon. For Mannheim. to be themselves subjected to sociological analysis in order to reveal the "ties to concrete existence" (Seinsverbundenheit) all standpoints. 1969:90. 93. relatively unaffiliatedgroup and to take a "ruling. 131. His searchwas not very differentfrom those conducted by some of his contemporaries. synthesis was the only credible goal for 4 This was one aspect of a continuing debate over education and leadershipthroughoutEurope. 259). 1969:160). and by the established prestige and privileges of Bildung. 1925:369-71). 301. though without their ruling authority. particularly in Germany." capable of producing "dynamic syntheses" and a "total perspective"(1936:183. 150. A new synthesis would have to provide an "ever wider comprehensive [enriching]overview [Zusammenschau]" of "a developing whole [Ganzheit]"and a "broadeningof the field of vision. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 92. 106. or as something more than assertions that are unexaminedand unjustifiedor are true by definition. 608.[and] which is oriented toward the whole. however.Weber among them. He shared this need for syntheses with other intellectualsof his time (1929b)." total perspective. . 293). Like Plato's philosopherkings. nor could the "rising"class.especially those from which Ideologiekritikwas exercised. THE ANALYSIS OF INTELLECTUALS Partof Mannheiin'scriticism of Ideologiekritikas a weapon had consisted of showing the need for all standpoints. 290. and to enable them to cultivate "a will which seeks the dynamicequilibrium. and would be educated to ascend the heights from which to grasp the "totality"(Ganzheit). the new intellectuals would be recruited widely. The task of the new intellectuals would be to locate "more comprehensive . 288-90.
in line with his imperativeto "seek the origin of all 'transcendent' concepts" in "'immanent'experience"(1925:361). he was in good company. The need for synthesis.or in other unfortunatelegacies. This content downloaded on Mon.and finally to the sociology of knowledge-in a time when social forces are moving in a more collectivist directionand in which efforts to ground knowledge either in objects or in subjects alone are no longer viable (1936:6. and laid out the modes of social competitionthat influencedthe shapingand triumphof syntheses. in the view that such a search was reasonable and realizable if conducted dialecticallyon the level of critical social action.Although a purely immanentset of developmentswithin the philosophical traditionbrings certain themes to the fore and excludes others even before individual systematic reasoning begins. not a goal intrinsic to the enterprise. Indeed. They were mistaken.they believed Mannheim'serrorwas that he took society uncritically as a given. common cognitive meanings. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . synthesis is only one possible goal of a sociology of knowledge. however. and conditions. reversal.to his involvement at the end of his life with British intellectuals in the group known as the "Moot. In fact. is the search for totality on any ground." whether the response has been reaction. however. it is the social dimension of this development and the intellectuals' experience of it that need illumination. Mannheimfailed to apply his own methods in sociology of knowledge to himself. ethnic and culturalorigin and identification. The real mistake. was invariant. have anything to teach us. Mannheimoriginallyproposedhis sociology of knowledgewith the intentionof showing how it might lead to a rethinkingof knowledge and of politics in the midst of crisis. in a reflexive way. Indeed.whether from Being. 6 Mannheimhimself suggests that the problemof knowledge has moved from the investigationof the objectin times of coherence. in metanarratives. rejection. This is the irony: though he recognized the social rootedness of all utopias and ideologies. 7. 5 Recent critics have sought the origins of this need for forms of totalizationin various culturalfeatures of the Westerntraditionas a whole: in the immanentdevelopmentof philosophicalconceptions. Obviously. and sociology in general. interest. to the investigation of the subject-with the rise of status and class mobility and the breakdownof a universalchurch. speech. unchangeableground for intellectual syntheses. in logocentrism. Mannheim's hope for syntheses in the present and the future was based not only on the results of historical inquiry.external events. in the inheritance of language. truth. this belief in the necessity and possibility of synthesis or totality was carriedover in a highly refined intellectual form from the dispositions of the general social culture of the educated elite into the sociology of knowledge. and faith in eternal validity. but also on his conviction that an increasingly "collectivist" reality made such syntheses possible.5 Yet if the sociology of knowledge. and "culture. The sociology of knowledge must interrogatethe "crises" experienced (or defined) by Western intellectuals and their responses to these crises. however. social or intellectual.In fact."6 Adorno (1981) and Horkheimer(1990) were right when they arguedthat Mannheim's hope for totality or synthesis on the level of thoughtwas impossible. 14). celebration. he believed. In this respect. the only thing that can change are the different principles of such synthesis. 1969:132). from his days with Lukacs in the Hungarianstudy circle. changes. or belief in a "turning. also see 1936:152. inversion.274 THEORY SOCIOLOGICAL a sociology of knowledge. Missing from Mannheim is the subjection of his position to careful sociological analysis." this "hunger for wholeness" and search for synthesis was a feature of Mannheim's own intellectual need and the need of much of the intellectualelite of Europe:"one synthesis preparesthe next one" (1921-1922:98. institutionalaffiliation. herein lies the problematicalrelation to Heidegger of all such critics: they share a view of Westernhistory as an unfortunate "turn"(Abkehr). or destiny. including Mannheim's-their efforts at resolutionbased on position. The emergence of this sociology was itself a product of the very same crisis. that is. the Sonntagskreis. it is that the "problem"of relativism and the longing for synthesis cannot be resolved philosophically.
a mere creatureof impulses"(1936:262-63). and implicationsin such a way as to allow us the greatestscope for evaluating them self-consciously in social and intellectualterms. in Science as a Vocation. ratherthan the possibility of overcoming totalizing theories and practices altogether. parts of a future synthesis. ." One way to go beyond some of the present limits of the sociology of knowledge and to at the same time to make a new contribution sociological theoryis throughthe sociology of intellectuals and of their knowledge production in its different settings.7In this way. concealed a metaphysicaland mystifying agenda. 7 This may sound like Weber's call. social basis. he thought." to reveal their origin. Sociology of knowledge."which one may work within or reject. of all positions. It can do so in relation to what it knows of the natureof the full range of social and collective ties and culture as the true foundationof human life together. was the disappearanceof "utopias". choices of position. evolution. . as in a calling (Goldman eitherto assumptionsor to their worked1992). . including our own. perspective. like Foucault.by means of "thecontemplativesubjectwithin us . A reflexive analysis must not impose a single mode of "relating" out implications. This content downloaded on Mon. or of interpretive of the kind Foucault (1977) called "discursivepractices. according to Mannheim. It must consider then how to preserve the strengths of its approachwhile modifying or rejecting Mannheim's goals. but (more important)the "godhead"at the base. his real goal was to create the possibility of the next totality. In his view. social and sociological theory can be understoodas forms of "knowledge production"ratherthan frameworks simply as sources of empiricalimplicationsthatcan be tested. for intellectualhonesty in exposing the costs. . Weber's position itself. into interpretiveframeworksthat illuminate their bases. The danger. the need for synthesis and the fear of relativism. can be seen throughin all their partialityand therewithmade amenableto a synthesis"(1929a:607). Its task is not so much to argue against the foundations and assumptionsof such positions as to comprehendthem sociologically. his work often abandonsa sociological standpointfor other types of rhetoric and argument. a static state of affairs. Mannheim "mind"and its creations. but he was mistakenin believing that they would be "redeemed" being revealedto be only partial by wholes. but by the political one.MANNHEIMAND THE SOCIOLOGYOF KNOWLEDGEPRODUCTION 275 the Although Mannheimwas brilliantat demonstrating historicallegacy of existing totalizing discourses. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the totality for the present. himself believed that this sociology was centralto understanding Sociology of knowledge must place reflexively "in question"all intellectualpositions that seek to impose schemas on social reality which are totalizing in some form. no matterhow changeableor how conflictualthose foundationsmay be.we must be able to put all intellectualpositions. however. . integratedsocial visions.Yet sociology is the discipline best equippedto bracketits own anxiety about uncertainintellectualfoundationsand to investigate the sources of intellectual fear. Mannheimcertainly was right to criticize the imperializingclaims of "false totalities. Further. recogwhen he observedthat differingpositions nized that the issue was not purely "intellectual" could not be combinedthroughsummation. synthesis was the only alternativeto conflicting dualisms. So great was Mannheim'sfear of the loss of utopias and dreams that he could envision only new totalities to replace or counterexisting or declining ones. rooted in the conviction thatthe bases of intellectualand political positions were analogous to gods and that our relation to them must be one of ascetic service. which are so strongly present in Mannheim." in which the human being was "left without ideals . and implicit assumptions. and inheritedclass positions and roles. Because he did not analyze sociologically the reasons for his own defense of synthesis againstrelativism. would provide the very viewpoint "fromwhich theoreticalphilosophical differences which cannot be reconciled on the level of manifest content. Sociology of knowledge must begin with the goals and purposesof its own longing.for then "human natureand human development would take on a totally new character. . Mannheim(1929a:595).
substantiveviews cannot be understoodwithout detailed sociological analysis of content as well as of "positions"in the "field"(Latour1987."and notes their "refraction" the "field"of intellectual operation(Bourdieu 1984. cultural. and even the initiation. does not everywhere exert the control that Bourdieu's studies of Francereveal. Latourand Woolgar 1979:205-206). positions. data. That is.too. however. By "innovative knowledge production"I mean productionwhich involves a significant shift in the direction.of structures and intellectual)can account for the production and material). conflict. Intellectual innovations. To Mannheim. He shows the centrality of position. of histories (personaland institutional). internalization the "regularities" of frameworksand of intellectualpractices. Innovative intellectual productiondefines itself by its difference-in its content if not in its social struggles. and power stakes involved in intellectualexchange and conflict but also of the significanceof the emergence and posing of specific intellectual questions and responses within the social. or Latourand Woolgar'sproposedmodifications. A patternof interests. For analyzing the regularitiesand the "orchestrated practices"of particularlyacademic intellectual production. 1988. reasserting their influence. or adaptingto coexist with newer approaches. "paradigm" a "disciplinary diffusion. it cannot account for the substanceof the new intellectualapproaches. are not producedonly by the struggle to dislodge orthodoxyor the orthodoxand to make one's own ideas hegemonic. yielding their position. and of relations (structural and reception of knowledge that goes beyond reproductionof the conventional. which creates a new field or area of research. and mental This content downloaded on Mon. symbolic. and sometimes adoption highlight the ways in which regularities. Shifts in frameworkor the attempts at such shifts-in what many would like to call a or matrix. struggles over cultural capital. institutions. and normalities. or which shifts the direction of question in intellectual inquiry more broadly. Dosse 1992).and conventionalframeworksare reproduced then challenged. ambitions.judgments." These shifts. whether one accepts Bourdieu's language of investments and returnson symbolic and culturalcapital. hegemony in intellectual life.viewed in by of and relationto the greaterstability. of changes.276 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY One point of access to the problemof intellectualknowledgeproduction may be provided or the study of intellectual "innovations" "shifts"in conceptualframework. The substanceof intellectualinnovations and changes is the issue. outside more traditionally centralized intellectual cultures such as France.and personal world. and the like. social strategies. he relationship said."afterKuhn-and the resultingpatternsof reception. Indeed. This view is not altogetheroriginal-struggles to preserveposition and power have always been at the root of the defense of traditionalinstitutionsand views-but Bourdieu's concepts are exceptionally analytical and powerful for such an inquiry. institutionalization. Alone.new assimilative efforts. and/or discourse of a field or discipline. in its reflexivity if not in its innocence-from the regularitiesof the rest of an intellectual discipline or field. meaning. First is a broadcollective dimension. however. and institutional interest in through shaping what he calls the "doxa"and the "habitus. institutional. 21 Jan 2013 22:48:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . crossing traditional disciplinary and intellectual boundariesand going well beyond or across specific fields. innovative At least five dimensions of social experience are essential for understanding as social practice. and struggles influences the reception. and new creations"(1956:84).theories. composed knowledge production of widely shared constellations of experiences. Only a complex conception of interests (mental (conscious and unconscious). innovationswere potentially important: they arose "eitherfrom a shift in a collective situationor from a changing between groups or between individuals and their groups. "furthernew adaptations. reflexivity requires an awareness not only of the positional. which comes to be recognized retrospectively as the forerunnerof a significant change in the understandingof a field of inquiry. Bourdieu's work is fundamental. representations.
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