In the twentieth century, the social sciences and the humanities—especially sociology and psychology—have adopted a “negativistic” approach, i.e., a modus operandi that tends to bring out only negative or pathological phenomena. These disciplines often chase the operationalization of the social and human being losing sight not only of their peculiar objects of study but also of their aim of serving humanity. To describe this, we decided to do a journey through the Sorokin’s concept of altruistic creative love retracing the intellectual genesis of it. Sorokin had an “intuition” synthesizable in the following statement: the future of humanity and its development lies in the hands of humanity itself.
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The Narodniks were a social and ideological movement of the Russian middle class in the 1860s and 1870s. They believed that social and political transformations are possible as a result of close contacts of the intellectuals (or more precisely in the context of Russian history - intelligentsia) and the ordinary folks.
Sorokin, in 1949, thanks to funding from Mr. Eli Lilly and the Lilly Endowment, can establish The Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism. This center had the objective to study—in an interdisciplinary way, through the promotion of research and symposia—the theme of altruism, analyzing its various types, aspects, and dimensions, as well as the effects on the individual, social, and biological life.
This study emerges by his idea of sociology is that studies, on the one hand, the phenomena of the interaction of people with one another, and on the other, the phenomena which follow from this interactions.
With “cultural mentality,” Sorokin (1957) meant the internal aspects of a cultural system that concern the experience linked to people’s thought and the processes of symbolic mediation that allows for the attribution of meaning. Hence, the development from the theory of cyclical movements of the systems he had previously identified (ideational, sensate, and idealistic) was caused by the transformations of the mental foundations of men and groups.
Based on these five dimensions, some scholars (Levin and Kaplan 2010) have developed and validated a measure of love, the Sorokin Multidimensional Inventory of Love Experience (SMILE).
In order to understand this logic, it is necessary to briefly explain each of the aspects considered as reality systems. The empirical-sensory aspect of reality is perceived through the senses of human beings, or with artificial extensions of them (for example, the microscope or the telescope). In this case, science aims, though not exclusively, at reaching a precise understanding of this sensorial aspect. The rational-mindful aspect is primarily understood by our reason, starting from all the various forms that it assumes in all kinds of mathematical and logical thought. Finally, the glimpses of its superrational and supersensory aspect “are given to us by truly creative-supersensory and superrational intuition, or ‘divine inspiration’, or ‘flash of enlightenment’ of all the creative geniuses” (Sorokin 1958a, p. 180).
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Mangone, E., Dolgov, A. Sorokin’s “Altruistic Creative Love”: Genesis, Methodological Issues, and Applied Aspects. Hu Arenas 3, 6–22 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42087-019-00058-w
- Altruistic creative love
- Pitirim Sorokin