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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Summer 2022: What is society?

Summer 2022: What is society?

Opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, 2008.

“Society is a reality sui generis; it has its own characteristics that are either not found in the rest of the universe or are not found there in the same form."
"Society is a sui generis being with its own special nature, distinct from that of its members, and a personality of its own different from individual personalities."
-- Emile Durkheim

"Society is a concept of the Third Estate."
-- Adorno

( • required / + recommended readings)

Required background reading:
• Chris Cutrone, "Back to Herbert Spencer! Industrial vs. militant society" (2016) [audio]

Recommended supplemental parallel reading:
+ Adorno, "Static and Dynamic as Sociological Categories" (1961)
+ Adorno, Introduction to Sociology 1962 lectures
+ Adorno, Philosophical Elements of a Theory of Society 1964 lectures
+ Adorno, Philosophy and Sociology 1960 lectures

Preliminary readings:
Adorno, “Society” (1965)
• Benjamin Constant, "The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns" (1819)

Charts of terms:
+ Capital in history timeline and chart of terms
Being and becoming (freedom in transformation) / immanent dialectical critique chart of terms
Capitalist contradiction chart of terms 
Commodity form chart of terms
Reification chart of terms

Week 1: June 4, 2022

Adorno, “Society” (1965)
+ Chris Cutrone, "Gillian Rose's 'Hegelian' critique of Marxism" (2010)
• Gillian Rose, Hegel Contra Sociology (1981/95) selections: Preface for 1995 reprint, 1. The Antinomies of Sociological Reason, 7. With What Must the Science End?

Week 2: June 11, 2022

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by Louis Menand (on Marx and Engels), Karl Marxon "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58)
• Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) selections: Author's Introduction, Part I Chapters 1-3, Part II (+ Chapter 4,) Chapter 5

Week 3: June 18, 2022

• Auguste Comte, Introduction to Positive Philosophy (1830-42) I. The nature and importance of the positive philosophy; The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte vol. III Bk. VI. Social Physics pp. 1-11, 199-216, 277-344 [PDF Positive Philosophy of Comte selections]; A General View of Positivism Ch. II. The Social Aspect of Positivism pp. 63-78, Ch. VI. The Religion of Humanity pp. 340-426 [PDF General View of Positivism selections]
+ Chris Cutrone, "Ends of philosophy" (2018)

Week 4: June 25, 2022

+ Chris Cutrone, "Back to Herbert Spencer! Industrial vs. militant society" (2016) [audio]
• Herbert Spencer, Principles of Sociology Vol. I Part I The Data of Sociology Ch. I-IV pp. 3-40 [PDF] and Part II The Inductions of Sociology Ch. I-II pp. 447-462 [PDF]; On Social Evolution (Univ. Chicago selections): IV 15–16 Societal Typologies, Militancy and Industrialism and V 18–19 Ceremonial and Political Institutions; The Man Versus the State VI The Great Political Superstition [PDF selection]

Week 5: July 2, 2022

• Emile Durkheim, Chapter 3. "The principles of 1789 and sociology" (1890); Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912) Introduction, selections V Social Creativity Ch. 11-12, in On Morality and Society

Week 6: July 9, 2022

Durkheim, Chapter 10. "The dualism of human nature and its social conditions" (1914), Ch. 4. "Individualism and the intellectuals" (1898); The Division of Labor in Society (1893) Author's Preface to the 1st Edition and Introduction (pp. xxv-xxx and 1-10), selection IV The Evolution of Morality Ch. 6, in On Morality and Society

Week 7: July 16, 2022

Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society (1893) selections IV. The Evolution of Morality Chapters 7-9, in On Morality and Society; Author's Preface to the 2nd Edition (pp. xxxi-lix)

Week 8: July 23, 2022

Frankfurt School, Aspects of Sociology (1956) selections: Preface by Horkheimer and Adorno, Chapters I-VI, XII
Adorno, “Society” (1965)
+ Adorno, "Static and Dynamic as Sociological Categories" (1961)