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

London Summer 2022: What is society?

Opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, 2008.
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


Fridays 6:30-8:30pm at the May Day Rooms in the "Reading Room"

88 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1DH

Join London Platypus or follow Platypus LSESU or Platypus at UCL on facebook for updates.

All welcome & no prior knowledge required.


( • required / + recommended readings)

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

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 10, 2022

• Gillian RoseHegel 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 17, 2022

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by Louis Menand (on Marx and Engels), Karl Marxon "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58)
• Max WeberThe 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 24, 2022

• Auguste ComteIntroduction to Positive Philosophy (1830-42) I. The nature and importance of the positive philosophyThe Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte vol. III Bk. VI. Social Physics pp. 1-11, 199-216, 277-344; A General View of Positivism Ch. II. The Social Aspect of Positivism pp. 63-78, Ch. VI. The Religion of Humanity pp. 340-426


Week 4: July 1, 2022

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


Week 5: July 8, 2022

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


Week 6: July 15, 2022

• Durkheim, Chapter 10. "The dualism of human nature and its social conditions" (1914), Chapter 4. "Individualism and the intellectuals" (1898); The Division of Labor in Society (1893) Introduction (pp. 1-10), selection IV. The Evolution of Morality Chapter 6, in On Morality and Society


Week 7: July 22, 2022

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


Week 8: July 29, 2022

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