Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

Pitirim Sorokin: Techniques for the Altruistic Transformation of Individuals and Society

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I just posted this at Satyagraha, my cultural psychology blog, but it’s relevant here also, especially since it considers prayer and contemplation (among other things) as practical and scientific means to effect moral and spiritual transformation.  The key ingredients for the individual and social changes most needed today, Sorokin argues persuasively, are agape love and techniques that help subordinate egoistic modes of thought to what he called the supraconscious. He based his conclusions on detailed studies of cultural history, the lives of great reformers like St. Francis, St. Teresa of Avila and Gandhi, and the ascetical-mystical traditions of East and West.


OUR earlier article about Pitirim Sorokin (Culture in Crisis) explained the crises of modern culture as he understood them.  Especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic, it’s evident that, since that article was written (over a decade ago), crises have multiplied and intensified.  It’s appropriate, then, that we now direct attention more closely to the solutions Sorokin proposed.  Whereas in the past cultural transitions have occurred at the whim of chance and Fate, we must now, he argued, think in terms of intentional change, of active steps to produce an Idealistic culture.  This would involve a simultaneous transformation of individuals and society, but with the former as more primary.

Under the rubric of “Idealism” Sorokin understood the broad Platonic view of the unity of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Inseparable from these, he believed, is the principle of Love.  For personal and social transformation…

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