K. Westhues homepage

Writings, 1980-1989


Kenneth Westhues

Keynote address at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Association for Humanist Sociology, Hartford, Connecticut, 14 October 1983. Published on the web, August 2003.

The facts of life are these: that people meet, come up against one another, happen upon one another, and that from each meeting a new and different world is born. This is not the story of birds and bees. When creatures of nature meet, the outcome is just more of the same, or fewer if the meeting is a fight. There is change in nature, of course, even beyond the rhythms of climate, life-cycle, sun, moon and stars. We humans know that our environment has a dynamic of its own, that hens have evolved lacking teeth and horses lacking toes, adaptively albeit mindlessly and with all but imperceptible slowness. But evolution is not history. Evolution is the difference over time that is independent of our purposes—and by this late twentieth century that's not very much. History is the difference for which we are responsible, the change we have made through our intercourse of love, labour, laughter, also of violence and war. History, the consequence of our encountering each other, indeed embraces all the genuine newness in our experience, the newness that follows no genetic laws nor any laws except ours, the newness that all the computers ever to be built could not predict. By repeatedly getting under one another's skin, we humans have made change the supreme reality.

Crucial though they are, these facts of life are not obvious to children nor even to adults. Most people experience too little difference in the course of growing up to recognize the creative power of human intercourse. There is too much constancy in most biographies, and too little self-initiated change. Most teenagers and most of us adults chalk up too much to nature, too little to history, imagining this particular world, with its particular values, politics and so on, to be more fixed and universal, and less of human origin than in fact it is. That is why we who would keep in touch with the facts of life and teach them to others strive—through listening and reading and traveling—to extend our experience backward in time and to trace the varied meetings of human minds and hands that have given our world here and now its shape. We recoil from any analysis of our world that stops short of exposing its socially constructed character. If political action committees are our object of study, we do more than find out about the major ones, their tactics and bases of support. We push on toward an understanding of the political events and processes—the centralization of power, the atomization of citizens, passage of relevant laws, developments of information technology—that have made political action committees part of the United States world at this point in time. Or if it's corporations we're interested in, we do not simply dwell on profit-and-loss statements and the theory of the firm. Vicariously we travel back to when corporations were an undreamt dream and we learn the sequence of creative human encounters that have made corporations so central to our world. Whatever the topic—nuclear family, denominational religion, community colleges—we investigate it historically and thus put it where it belongs: not in nature, not in the evolutionary scheme of things, but in the domain of collective human responsibility.

For the sake of teaching the facts of life, I suspect many of you have in your repertoires a course similar to mine at Waterloo on "Family Origin and Personal Identity." My students' initial task is to draw their respective family trees, profiling each ancestor on a standard list of variables. A family tree is in the most literal sense a chronicle of people happening upon one another and thereby creating new and different life. Hence tracing one's lineage is even by itself a step toward recognizing the fact of change. The chart is proof that one's parents were not always here, nor one's grandparents always old. But my students go further. Each writes a long essay connecting his or her own family history to events and processes in the wider world. What effect, I ask my students, has the legally safeguarded trend toward monopolization of capital had on your ancestors and now on you? How has the accession of National Socialists to power in Germany fifty years ago touched your life? Or the periodic changes in immigration law made in response to these and those pressure groups? What difference has it made on you that not Jews or Catholics but Protestants contrived the basic political fabric of Ontario, or of the United States? No student answers these questions without gaining a better grasp of how his or her biography connects with history, thus a deeper recognition that very little in our world, least of all our own identities, is understood except as a product of indeterminate, willful human intercourse. By the end of the course students never ask what use it might be to them. But if they ask at the start my usual answer is some paraphrase of the gospel of John: that you may know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Knowing the truth, understanding by what interplay of humans things got to be the way they are, remains of course an endless labour. There is always one more taken-for-granted particle of our world waiting to be dereified, unmasked of its thingness and seen as human enterprise. What I want to do this evening is contribute to dereification for that particle of our world we call humanism. Much as my students trace their family trees, I want to sketch the humanist lineage, the succession of meetings of minds that enables us here to come together with the common surname, humanist sociologist. Our goal of awareness of the facts of life obliges us to search our intellectual genealogy no less than our various familial ones, that we might see ourselves in relation to those teachers who somehow joined to make us who we are. That the sketch I offer is rough, brief and tentative goes without saying, especially since I leave time at the end for an hypothesis about why humanism is still a subordinate lineage rather than the all-embracing dynasty we wish it were. But for all the faults in this presentation I excuse myself with the admission that it could not be the last word in any case. For we, too, here in Hartford these days, are happening upon each other, and the worth of our meeting is only in the new and different world of thought here being conceived among us.

In recent papers Alfred McClung Lee has described developments in the sociological profession that gave rise to this association. I should rather recommend his writings than cover the same ground here. First because he knows that particular sequence of events and I don't. Second because I personally do not spring from this particular branch of the humanist family. To those of you who have worked hard to build this organization I am but a distant cousin who first learned of you last year and thus necessarily scans a wider field to discern our common heritage. For it was just three years ago that I first identified myself as a humanist and then only with some reluctance. In the course of writing an introduction to our field, I had pointed out the runtiness of the regnant lineage of sociological thought (Comte, Spencer, Durkheim, Pareto, on up to Parsons, Lazarsfeld and Blalock), but I knew no label for the authors I had cited approvingly. What should I call so diverse a lot as Karl Marx, John Dewey, Miguel de Unamuno, C. Wright Mills, Isaac Singer and Meg Greenfield? Humanism was the only name that fit, despite how loosely this word is often used. Reading its dictionary definition, something about "concern for human interests and values," I marveled at the term's incontrovertibility. Would anyone prefer to write squirrely sociology or fishy philosophy? Still, if I compared Marx to Spencer, Dewey to Pareto, or Mills to Parsons, I had no doubt of the deeper insight into our species and respect for it the first of each pair showed in his work. So I called their work humanist sociology. But I put off for later a considered statement of how the line of humanist pregenitors might best be traced.

The line is not traced simply by chronicling those authors and groups who have assumed the humanist name, so that our inquiry becomes a mere study in linguistic usage. Hence it is hardly unfair to give but passing mention to the "New Humanism" propagated in the 1920s by classicists Irving Babbit and Paul Elmer More. Their dour, dualistic, pitiably unromantic movement countered Bergson's affirming concept of elan vital with the repressive concept of .us frein vital, vital restraint of humans' lower impulses. Bergson deserves the higher marks for humanism, and Babbitt and More might better have exercised more vital restraint of their penchant for moralizing. Nor should an unduly prominent place on our intellectual tree be given the American Humanist Association and its journal, The Humanist, both founded in 1941, inspired by such philosophers as Roy Wood Sellars, Corliss Lamont and Sidney Hook, and loosely associated with the Ethical Culture Societies. This so-to-speak institutionalized strain of humanism in the United States shows three traits which set it apart from humanism more generally.

First is a moralistic tendency similar to that in the earlier movement. Paul Kurtz, then editor of The Humanist, wrote in 1972 that "what is fundamental for Humanism, I submit, is that it be interpreted as a moral point of view." More strongly and more recently, Jaap van Praag has written in the same magazine that "One may be a humanist without any theory." For us as intellectuals, however, humanism is primarily cognitive, an awareness or insight, a perception. The ethic or praxis attached to this awareness is broad and admits of diverse and conflicting political options. Peter Berger and Amitai Etzioni, for instance, may belong to antagonistic Washington think-tanks while sharing a humanist orientation. It is how they look at the world that signals their identity, not their strategies for reforming the world. Humanism is too noble a word to be bestowed on anyone just because his or her heart is in what I call the right place. Besides, I suppose part of humanism is a confidence that the more people know, the more good they will do. Thus the most effective way to root out evil is not to inveigh against it, nor even to espouse the good, but to invent and announce something so much better than current alternatives that people embrace it joyfully. This latter effort has a normative quality, to be sure, but in the cognitive sense of conjuring up hopeful new options, not in the moralistic sense of condemning old ones.

A second enfeebling trait of much self-styled humanism in the United States is its suspicion of Christian faith and religion in general. Doubts spring from pages of The Humanist as to whether Reinhold Niebuhr, Jacques Maritain, Paul Tillich or Gabriel Marcel belong in the humanist fold, as if belief in a god precludes belief in the human species. It depends, I should think, on the god. Isaac Singer writes that his "God is free and He delegates freedom to His creatures." Such a god, whatever the symbols by which he is ensnared, is a friend of our species, not an enemy. Humanism is by no means undermined by this kind of theistic faith. More likely it is enhanced. Protagoras, the same Greek who coined the humanist slogan that man is the measure of all things, also wrote that there are two sides to every question. Seeing the one, autonomous side of the human question is the prime mark of membership in the humanist tribe. Seeing another side as well is no ground for expulsion from it. Indeed, a humanism that cannot find room for Schweitzer's Philosophy of Civilization, King's Why We Can't Wait, Illich's Celebration of Awareness or Schumacher's Small is Beautiful only casts doubt upon itself.

The third marginalizing peculiarity of quasi-official American humanism is its unctuousness: its fervent, bland, debilitating attachment to principles. Perhaps in this it reflects American culture. A Newsweek poll last summer showed that people in other countries find Americans friendly and industrious, but not sexy at all. Humanism has to be sexy. It has to incorporate both superego and id, both rationality and charisma, both the discipline of Athens and the passion of Jerusalem. Every Einstein, after all, draws his energy from a Don Quixote within. Reason, science, engineering - these triumphs of human ability have no source but the restless, eternally unsatisfied hunger that stirs in the human spirit. Authors lack balance who celebrate the order and beauty of the products of human hands without attending equally to the confused, fumbling, often squalid process by which those products came to be. John Steinbeck, identified by The Humanist magazine in 1951 as an "ambiguous or equivocal humanist" had written in Grapes of Wrath: "The last clear definite function of man—muscles aching to work, minds aching to create the single need—this is man. To build a wall, to build a house, a dam, and in the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and to Manself take back something of the wall, the house, the dam: to take hard muscles from the lifting, to take the clear lines and form from conceiving. For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments." If Steinbeck is ambiguous, it is in such ambiguity that humanism lies, much more than in the clear principles of the American Humanist association.

That association, in sum, appears as the routinization of one once-charismatic line of humanist thought. It should not be considered to epitomize humanism any more than, say, the Albanian Orthodox Church epitomizes Christianity. It has its credo (the old and new "humanist manifestoes"), its priests (the "humanist cousellors" who officiate at weddings), its gospels (the positive science of Bertrand Russell, B.F. Skinner, E.O. Wilson and others), and its commandments (in favour of divorce, abortion, euthanasia and so on). Thus the American Humanist Association is subject to the same complaint as is raised against the Christian denominations with which it competes, namely that it has used up or even spoiled the elixir that once gave it life. Possibly this reproach is appropriately made also against the Association for Humanistic Psychology, now two decades old, in so far as the insightful theories of Maslow and Rogers came eventually to be embodied in touchy-feely, total-honesty societies. Now the last thing we here wish for this infant association is that it betray the illustrious name it has assumed. As members we want to be not mouthpieces of doctrines, not groupies of dead mentors, but somehow authentic humanists. That is more reason to search our ancestry and to search it in terms not so much of organizations and manifestos as of the wise teachers whom we honour most by meeting their work head on, criticizing it in light of our status quo, and then transcending it.

Our lineage goes back to whoever first told another something of the facts of life, to whoever first shared a glimpse of the history-making capabilities of our species. Socrates is our ancestor, because he championed the human right to ask new questions and make new answers. So are Moses and all the Hebrew prophets, because they reminded their people of the possibility of social change. So, too, the disciples of Jesus Christ, because the gospel they preached proclaimed with unprecedented force the share of people in divinity. But in this brief survey we had best look no farther back than those mainly Italian scholars of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries who constitute the first movement called by the humanist name. They achieved fame by retrieving, copying, and disseminating ancient Roman and Greek manuscripts, writings which came to be called humanities in university curricula. But it was not the content of their manuscripts that made these scholars humanists. Much less was it the reversion they sponsored from vernacular Italian back to the language of Cicero. Their humanism consisted in the graphic proof they offered to a complacent medieval world that human excellence was bigger than Christendom. By the thirteenth century, as you know, the wild and humane torrent of Christianity had fairly much ceased to flow. It had become a calm and stagnant lake. Power in Europe was centralized, cultures were christianized, things seemed to have settled down. Visible still to us are the Gothic cathedrals and summas of theology, the ones no less perfectly fitted than the others, that marked the culmination and closure of Christendom. What the humanists did was point out that the human story was bigger than all that, that their very own pagan ancestors had built a splendid civilization before Jesus was even born. This was unsettling news: it shook the sacred canopy over Europe and allowed the process of human history-making to resume.

To my mind, nothing so well represents those first properly so-called humanists as the little tract by Giannozzo Manetti entitled "On the Dignity of Man," written to refute Pope Innocent III's treatise two centuries earlier, "On the Misery of Man." Reading Manetti we are moved to shout, "Hooray for our side." Still, his optimistic fondness for our species hardly captures everything the humanist awareness means to us. Indeed, outside a context now five centuries old neither Manetti nor his colleagues merit mention in this review. Their appreciation of how much we humans are on our own in this universe, and how successfully, falls far short of ours today. Their importance is only that in heroic opposition to a stultifying status quo, they held out for human power and ingenuity, helping thereby to inspire the Renaissance, the Reformation, and in the longer run our own culture of modernity. From them let me leap forward almost four hundred years, passing over respectfully but necessarily all manner of Englightenment thinkers: da Vinci, Galileo, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Jefferson. For I want to disclose to you the most important single juncture I have been able to locate in our intellectual tree, a teacher who appears to be in some sense the grand-daddy of us all. That teacher is Hegel. I propose him as the protagonist of the humanist lineage not because I have read all his work ( I haven't), nor because I understand all that I have read (I don't), much less because I like everything I have so far understood. No matter. Grand-daddies derive their status not from being known, understood or liked but from having interacted productively. Hegel's teaching was potent—or to quote Henry Aiken with the opposite sexual metaphor, Hegel's books were pregnant. There is no need to claim that all humanist sociologists today descend from Hegel, however many steps removed. But I know of no major network of humanists that does not.

Hegel's importance consists primarily in his deeper recognition of history than any earlier thinker had achieved, his radical separation of the human species from nature, his unprecedentedly keen awareness that humans make change. Hegel lived too soon to be distracted from the singularity of human history-making by the evidence of evolution in nature that Darwin would later adduce. In Hegel's own words: "The changes that take place in Nature—how infinitely manifold soever they may be—exhibit only a perpetually self-repeating cycle; in Nature there happens 'nothing new under the sun,' and the multiform play of its phenomena so far induces a feeling of ennui; only in those changes which take place in the region of spirit does anything new arise. This peculiarity in the world of mind has indicated in the case of man an altogether different destiny from that of merely natural objects..., namely a real capacity for change, and that for the better—an impulse of perfectibility." Thus does Hegel separate the human species out from everything else and celebrate its active, creative ability to outdo itself. And how, in his view, is this ability exercised? By thought, "this that distinguishes us from brutes." What kind of thought? Reason, what he calls "the Infinite Energy of the Universe." "Reason is Thought conditioning itself with perfect freedom." "The History of the world," so runs Hegel's perhaps best line, "is none other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom." Hegel's Philosophy of History displays all the defining characteristics of the humanist outlook: autonomy, freedom, reason, consciousness, change, perfectibility, the possibility of actualization of inner potential, and all these as attributes of nothing and no one but humanity.

It is a heavy burden Hegel laid on his readers and listeners. The more so because he gave them no answer to the ultimate question of human existence but imponderable concepts like "Absolute Spirit." But so far as I can tell, Absolute Spirit differs little from what other authors call God, id, charisma, energy, the ground of our being. The difference is that Hegel's term does not reach outside humanity, nor is it implanted in the individual psyche, but is instead attributed to humans meeting one another. Hegel argued in effect that there is nothing in our experience but process, nothing but an intangibility in human intercourse striving to realize itself. A heavy burden indeed: the burden of freedom. And so much heavier than the lighter prose of Comte, Hegel's slightly younger contemporary and grand-daddy of the positivist dynasty that still rules our discipline. For Comte buried the human species in nature. He held our doings to be no less subject to external laws than those of brutes. With utter lack of Hegel's sense of history, Comte repudiated any kind of autonomy, will or responsibility as attributes of humankind and placed our activity beneath "the general dogma of the invariability of physical laws." Thus in the same way as Hegelian thought promotes some kind of plunge into transformative action, Comtean thought counsels resignation to the status quo. "True resignation," Comte wrote, "that is, a disposition to endure necessary evils steadfastly and without any hope of compensation therefor, can result only from a profound feeling for the invariable laws that govern the variety of natural phenomena." I would propose that most of the differences between us gathered here and our colleagues who dominate the ASA, not only parallel but originate in the contrast between Hegel and Comte.

Before proceeding to Hegel's children let me note a related item in his legacy, namely dialectical logic. The premodern era, the era of preconsciousness of history, contented itself with a static structure of language. The world simply is. What is cannot not be. Whoever argues to the contrary asserts a contradiction and is not worth listening to. Upon this inherited system of logic a vast body of knowledge about nature was fashioned over time: astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology. Comte appropriately used this same system of logic, this same structure of thought, in laying the foundation of positivist sociology. What is cannot not be. Order admits no contradiction. But because he recognized history, Hegel could not rest with so static a structure of mind. What is is in process of not being. Indeed, what is incites its negation. Hence what is not just might be coming. Humans make it so. Reason makes it so. Commentators on Hegel's dialectical logic never fail to label it confusing, and they are right. But then life in a human world is confusing. Better to admit contradictions in one's thought and thereby get a handle on what humans are about, then to deny contradictions and thereby miss the most precious insight of which the human mind is capable.

A particular virtue of Hegel's logic is that it helped him avoid the principled hostility to religion which many of his less thoughtful descendants display. Hegel could affirm the facts of life without denying the fact of death. For all his exaltation of our species he had no trouble acknowledging the something beyond us. His way of doing so was to remain, albeit awkwardly, in the Lutheranism of his parentage. And also to write lines like this one, from his critique of magic and fetishism: "But from the fact that man is regarded as the Highest, it follows that he has no respect for himself; for only with the consciousness of a Higher Being does he reach a point of view which inspires him with real reverence." If Marx and others had taken this Hegelian insight more seriously, my hunch is that many fewer crimes against people and against this planet would have been done during this past century.

But let Hegel himself not detain us further. It is his children, the outcome of his pregnancy, who mean more to us, for they are our own intellectual parents. I want to mention briefly four sets of his progeny, but let me say in preface that none has been a mere archivist of Hegel's thought—in the way, for instance, that many Thomistic scholars have mainly repeated the ideas of their mentor. To be a true Hegelian one has to enter history and rebel against him, formulate one's own ideas in light not just of Hegel but of one's own situation. All four networks of scholars I mention here have done this, have been critical, even to the point of rejecting the Hegelian name. It is a great man who sets his children free.

1. The Marxists

The first such network need only be named, namely Marx and all those who have seen beyond Marx's occasional economic determinism and grasped his appreciation of an autonomous humanity. Marx's descent from Hegel is well-known. So in this company is Marx's humanism, especially given Erich Fromm's book on Marx's Concept of Man. But what is always worth pointing out here in the United States is that the Marxian variant of humanism embraces far and away the most humanists in today's world. That is, among those with awareness of history and creative change, the vast majority gained that awareness with Marx's help. A few have been prominent American social analysts: Albion Small, Thorstein Veblen, Robert and Helen Lynd, C. Wright Mills, Paul Baran, Harry Braverman, Robert Heilbroner. But one need only glance at Fromm's reader on Socialist Humanism to sense the incredible range of societies where a modern consciousness is almost synonymous with Marxism. President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher would find it hard to believe, but in all likelihood the main intellectual source of current efforts at social transformation in Poland and elsewhere in the East Bloc is the scholarship of Karl Marx. For various good reasons, of course, even apart from Cold War politics, the Marxian version of Englightenment thought has connected only now and then and spottily with the American experience.

2. The Frankfurt School

To many of us schooled in the l960s, scholars in the second network on this short list were heroes and exemplars, their work the main alternative to the positivist sociology offered to us in class. We treasured their books and in our graduate essays cited them, often in vain, to gain legitimacy for an active view of humankind. They descend in part from Marx, but as Marcuse's Reason and Revolution demonstrates, also directly from Hegel. I refer, of course, to the Frankfurt School. Marcuse and Fromm were the most influential on this side of the Atlantic, but their work is best understood in relation to Horkheimer's, Adorno's, Wittvogel's, and Lowenthal's, among others'. More recently Juergen Habermas has emerged as leader of Frankfurt-School sociology. While differences and conflicts among these scholars were many, they were articulated, as Martin Jay has written, "with a common vocabulary and against a background of more or less shared assumptions." Those assumptions, I believe, were the core of Hegel's own world-view and the core of humanism: the reality of history, the freedom and perfectibility of our species. The Frankfort School's significance was that it applied critical, dialectical reasoning to a social order more complex than Marx had faced, and without Marx's excessive attachment to a particular political plan, thereby bequeathing the Enlightenment to a new generation.

3. Mannheim and his children

The third branch I should name of the tree of humanist sociology appears at first glance as but another specialized subfield of our discipline. Somewhere on the list of sociology of the family, of education, of sex-roles, of deviance and so on comes the sociology of knowledge. Clearly it is not just another specialty. It does what positivist sociologists stubbornly refuse to do, namely turn the methods of our discipline back on our own intellectual work, expose our discipline's historicity, and recognize the necessarily political character of scholarship. The dean of this invisible college, Karl Mannheim, fortunately refuses to die. His dialectically argued Ideology and Utopia today enjoys renewed popularity and has inspired, among other works, John Friedmann's much-read theory of transactive planning. Closer to home, the liberating sociology to which Peter Berger has been inviting first-year students for two decades now illustrates the humanist implications of facing up to the omnipresent link between the idea and the act. Sociologists of knowledge are a loose network: besides people like Kurt Wolff, Lewis Coser and Werner Stark I would include T.S. Kuhn and other historians of science. The group I have in mind is roughly coterminous with those scholars whom Karl Popper railed against. Their Hegelian roots are evident if indistinct. Scheler's initial formation was in German idealism at Jena. Mannheim learned much from Lukacs. In any case their importance to us is vast, since they dismember and devour the most sacred cow of our time, namely science.

4. The pragmatists

None of the three sets of Hegel's progeny so far noted is indigenous to the United States or even to the English-speaking world. Despite their centrality to our intellectual background they are fairly recent imports from the continent of Europe. This is no accident. British and American cultures, perhaps because of their hegemonic role in recent world history, show more affinity for the aggressive onesidedness of positivist science. But there is one dazzling exception, a home-grown strain of humanist thought, Hegelian in inspiration and predominant in influence on us here. The strain is pragmatism, that brilliant light shed on New-World experience by John Dewey, William James, George Herbert Mead, Ferdinand Schiller and their colleagues. The pragmatists helped spawn C. Wright Mills, by serving as topic for his doctoral thesis. Dewey and James were teachers of Robert Park. Dewey's guidance to Alfred McClung Lee is evident. There would not have been a Chicago School without the pragmatists, no Everett Hughes, no symbolic interactionism. Most of what is emancipatory in indigenous American sociology indeed harks back to those thinkers who labeled themselves with a word of the same Greek derivation as that key Marxian concept, praxis. The root is prassein, to do or to act, for this is what humans are about, and it is this to which every worthwhile thought is tied.

But you know our debt to the pragmatists. What may surprise you equally as me is the Hegelian roots of at least two major pragmatists, Schiller and Dewey. In Schiller's case those roots were a coterie of tory British philosophers who tried to draw conservative implications from Hegel and against whom Schiller directed his own work. Schiller, I might add parenthetically, argued to William James that humanism was a better name for the perspective they shared than pragmatism. James did not disagree, but replied that it was too late to make the change.

Dewey's story is still more interesting. It begins with a German iron-worker named Henry Brokmeyer who migrated to St. Louis, Missouri, about 1856, carrying with him Hegel's books. On a trip to a St. Louis Library two years later, Brokmeyer in the most literal sense happened upon an intellectually curious New Englander named William Torrey Harris. Out of their friendship grew a Hegel-centred discussion group and what is called the St. Louis Movement in philosophy. Neither Brokmeyer nor Harris was an academic. The former went from iron-working to law and later was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Missouri. The latter became the first United States Commissioner of Education. But through the 1860s and 1870s they and others met in their seminars seeking to construct from Hegel's clues a philosophy appropriate to the United States and in particular to the then fermentive cauldron of St. Louis, what they called "The Future Great City of the World." Their philosophy took written form. In 1867, Harris became outraged at the mechanical doctrines of Herbert Spencer and wrote a stinging critique of them. Like many humanist authors before and since, he found no journal willing to publish it. He therefore started his own, the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Therein appeared not only Harris's critique but in the eighteenth volume the first article of a young Hegelian from the East named John Dewey. Later, of course, Dewey lashed out against Hegel, much as Marx had done, in favour of scholarship more closely tied to transformative action in his own historical situation.


Now beyond the four groups mentioned—Marxists, Frankfurt School, sociologists of knowledge, pragmatists—many more of our ancestors as humanist sociologists could be discussed. Bergson and the life philosophers. Kierkegaard and the existentialists. Collingwood and Croce. Buber and Polanyi. We could dwell also on our contemporary cousins elsewhere, for instance, the liberation theologians in South America. All these and more share the awareness that defines our lineage, awareness of "humanity's habit of continually reshaping its own reality"—to quote the masthead of the Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly. All of these also reflect the origin Anthony Giddens specifies in his assertion that "Only in the linked traditions of Hegelian philosophy and certain versions of Marxism has the transformative capacity of action been made the centre-point of social analysis."

But instead of genealogizing further let me conclude with an hypothesis about why our lineage is only that and not a dynasty. It could be, for instance, that humanist control of the ASA would be so much taken for granted that there would arise in reaction an Association for Positivist Sociology. Alas, the reverse is our predicament. The question is why. The answer, I believe, lies in a classic Hegelian insight. For all the importance of intellectual meetings and the lineage they form, these are not enough to sustain humanist thought. Hegel's legacy, the awareness of history, can be authentically received only by those who make history and see others making history at first hand. Take away the French Revolution and there would be no Hegel. Keep Marx at home in Jena and spare him first-hand absorption in the upheavals of late-nineteenth-century capitalism, and there would be no Marx. Eliminate the turmoil in Europe of two world wars and a holocaust, and the Frankfurt School would not exist. Take away the opportunity, the change, the hopeful chaos of St. Louis, Chicago and the American frontier, and there would have been no American Hegelians, no pragmatists, no Chicago School, and no Association for Humanist Sociology.

Now unleash in these United States a process of monopolization of capital, so that an ever larger proportion of citizens lacks the wherewithal to make economic history and can only live out their lives passively as consumers and employees. Allow power to be gradually centralized in mega-corporations and mega-bureaucracies of government, so that citizens lack the chance to make much difference in what goes on. Drain away the energy, the dynamism of American society, and humanist thought will languish in sectarian small groups. The urgency we here must feel is that unless changes in public policy soon allow more Americans, more Canadians, more people in the Western World, to come up freely against one another and to create, the very awareness that is humanism will diminish further in our civilization. If my exercise today in genealogy has served its purpose, it will strengthen our sense of who we are, our confidence, and our determination to work still harder for the changes that are required.