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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


STRAUSS, Danie. Communities within a differentiated society. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2018, vol.58, n.1, pp.138-160. ISSN 2224-7912.

As modes of existence and modes of explanation the aspects of reality call for an idea of what is unique and mutually cohering. Two mutually exclusive ismic orientations, known as individualism (atomism) and universalism (holism) dominated theoretical reflection on human society since ancient Greece. Goosen's preference for community brings to expression a positive appreciation of the main traits of the Greek city state (the polis) as well as a positive inclination towards the ideas on state and society in the thought of Plato and Aristotle. Jellinek even depicts these two isms as opposing world views. In addition the history of reflecting about human society knows attempts to understand societal entities as imitating living organisms. Vitalism faced the obstacle of closed physical systems only allowing for a stasis or increase of entropy, until Schrödinger pointed out that a living entity, as an open system, can extract more order from its environment than what it can built up internally within itself. Multiple societal entities exist on the basis of a similar continuous exchange of their members. Analogies of the most basic aspects of reality are indeed constitutive for the meaning of the social intercourse. Physical entities exist, plants are alive, animals are experiencing their world, while humans lead a life, guided by normative points of view. The interconnections between entities, as they are manifested in enkaptic relations and subject-object relations, shed a different light on the way in which Goosen speaks about things as "mere objects," particularly when the opening-up of object-functions is contemplated. In addition it should be realized that terms derivedfrom any modal aspect could be employed in a conceptual as well as a concept-transcending manner. For example, concept-transcending (idea-)statements exploring the first four aspects are: (i) everything is unique; (ii) everything coheres with everything else; (iii) everything is constant and (iv) everything changes. It is applied to what Goosen holds regarding the "incomprehensibility" but at once "beaming fullness" of things. The different ways in which we can classify social interaction depend on all the constitutive (modal analogical) structural elements within the social aspect. An analysis of these total concepts enables a classifcation of social forms of interaction into three distinct categories, identified on the basis of two structurally specified features, namely (a) a solidary unity character (the coming and going of members do not affect the enduring identity of the social form of life) and (b) a permanent relation of super- and subordination. When both of the features are present we encounter societal collectivities (Afrikaans: "verbande") - such as the state, a church or mosque, a firm, a university or a nuclear family. If only one of them is present communities are at stake and when both are absent co-ordinational (co-ordinated) relationships are encountered. Rousseau is used to illustrate a distorted application of the whole-parts scheme which resulted in the idea of "forcing people to be free." The idea of the political whole (the state) as the community of communities misunderstands the nature of citizenship and at once eliminates the sphere-sovereignty of the non-political communities and societal collectivities. Johannes Althusius was the first legal scholar who realized that churches, business enterprises and the like are not parts of the state, because genuine parts could only be provinces and municipalities. Acknowledging the principle of sphere-sovereignty underlies an account of the differences between civil and non-civil private law, as well as public law while acknowledging public legal freedoms, civil freedoms and societal freedoms. A human being can assume multiple social roles without ever being fully absorbed by anyone of them. Goosen has the sound insight that constancy and change should both be acknowledged. Unfortunately some of his formulations still contain elements of the space metaphysics of Parmenides. This is rather strange because he objects to a spatializing method of thinking, but does not realize that he then should also steer clear of employing the whole-parts relation, because in its original sense it has a spatial meaning as well. The problematic idea of Goosen regarding a "rational order" is questioned because it contradicts his correct principled stance against the conception of the construction ofreality. It still reflects the idea of logical creation - an idea found in the thought of Hobbes. This element of nominalism reached its rationalistic peak in the view of Kant according to which human understanding is the formal law-giver of nature. The God-given creational order is intelligible but not rational. The so-called "transcendentalia" of Greek-Medieval philosophy, namely unity, truth, beauty and goodness, are actually a poor, one-sided and extremely reductionist account of the multiple modal aspects of reality. Their selection ultimately depends upon die ground-motive of form and matter directing Greek philosophy. There does not exist an all-encompassing human community, and if it is contemplated, for example the political domain as a community of communities, the inevitable consequence will be that the principle of sphere-sovereignty is jeopardized and that no limits could be set to the authority of government.

Palavras-chave : Whole-parts; individualism; atomism; universalism; holism; polis; form-matter motive; elementary basic concepts; compound basic concepts; type concepts; concept-transcending knowledge; solidary unitary character; permanent authority structure; co-ordinational relationships; communities; societal collectivities; sphere-sovereignty; logical creation; rational order.

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