Nominal Sociology

Sociologists, Rosenstock-Huessy charges, often formulate their theories in this fashion: “an obscure Force A and a Relation B . . . affect Mr Y.” Sociologists “pretend that their science address a nameless world” (In the Cross of Reality, 4).

No such nameless world exists: “X and Y are unknown to reality, and so are ‘if A, the B’ scenarios.”

If sociologists are going to deal with reality itself, they need to take a different approach: “First of all, a state of affairs, an event, must be brought to examination, together with the lives and names, the place and date pertaining to it, before it is possible to derive any sort of conclusions. Actualization involves calling things by their real names; and giving a name to something is an ineluctable precondition for thinking about the real world. Until this pertains, we remain stuck in unreality. For in reality, the year and day, the place and environment, change every reality – not somehow, but utterly” (4).

To engage reality, in short, sociology “must not begin with hoisting its concepts, but rather with laying hands on, and firmly grasping, the laws of an all-encompassing actualization” (4-5). And that actualization requires naming. Sociology must be nominal if it is to be a sociology of real society.

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