This site is under reconstruction and updating in the summer of 2021
This site is under reconstruction and updating in the summer of 2021

Tag: contingencies

A Poetic for Sociology

The Haunting Of Social Things

We live the social electric
The air we breathe is social.
The tiny things and the major things.
The social haunting of life in vast time and space.

The social is natural and the natural is social.
We do things together, drenched with people,
attuned to others: there is always the other.
And the haunting of social things.

We make social life stuffed full of the possible
yet we dwell in our habits, the patterns and structures,
the predictable positions we trap ourselves in.
The prisons that engulf us, a daily haunting.

Pounding patterns of structure and wobbly worlds of meaning.
We are prisoners, puppets, and people. Always fragile.
World making actions, and resistance, rebellion-
in worlds not of our making that haunt till we die.

Ubiquitous differences, divisions,dominations: the inhumanities of people.
A haunting ‘matrix of inequalities’: generations at war,
gendered classed races, sexy nations disabled.
And the troubled pathways of excluding and exploiting, dehumanizing and disempowering.

At the brink of a change- a world seething with gushing movements.
Pasts, presents and futures collide in the moment.
Where did it come from and where is it headed?
Cyber capitalisms in global ferment haunting the world.

Standing amazed at this chaos and complexity
of the humanly produced social world;
and its joys and its sufferings,
we celebrate it and we critique these hauntings.

Yet the dreadful dullness of professional knowledge.
Its earnest desire for respectability and order,
abstractions to kill you. Standards to die for.
A dark cloak thrown over the mind.

We need ‘the tricks of the trade’ : practical questions with practical answers.
Rich descriptions and explanations of dense social life.
An intimate familiarity through all the senses.
Explore and respect the empirical world. And look for it hauntings.

We dwell in social tensions, conflicts and contradiction.
Observing schisms, thinking paradox,
and struggling with opposing paths: living with the contradictions.
The hard trick of dealing with them in our lives.

The vast multiplicities of social life: Contested. Contingent. Creative.
And thriving. Progressing. Regressing. Sometimes surviving.
Incorrigibly plural. Intransigently vast.
The complex tales how we order our past.

And the blindness of human beings?
The taken for granted need not be taken for granted.
Doubting the familiar;
living with radical doubt.

Yet all we know is incomplete and open,
Necessarily provisional, partial, perspectival.
Reality is inexhaustible, too complex and dense to be fully comprehended
No finality.  Or closure.

The dream of a better world haunts sociology.
Empowering lives and imagining utopias.
More justice in each generation?
A flourishing life for all?

A dialogue: being personal, being  political?
Passionate knowledge? A garden to cultivate?
A quiet catharsis of comprehension? With the other?
Haunted by doubt, love and hope.

Transplants and the Total Life Experience: On the 10th Anniversary of ‘Becoming Ill’

          Today, March 9th, marks the 10th anniversary of my ‘illness’. It is this day in 2005 I was rushed to hospital in Santa Barbara, diagnosed with ‘alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver’, told to give up drink or die. It was also the day I first heard the word ‘transplant’ It…

Someone who wrote to me recently had this quote attached from Aldous Huxley; and I rather liked it. It reminded me of one by William James. Here it is:

Unknown

It’s rather embarrassing to have given one’s entire life

to pondering the human predicament

and to find that in the end one has little more to say than,

‘Try to be a little kinder.

Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963)

Source: Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography

images

A MANIFESTO FOR A CRITICAL HUMANISM

IN 

SOCIOLOGY

ON QUESTIONING THE HUMAN SOCIAL WORLD

 Ken Plummer

(Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex, U.K.)

 This was First Presented at the VI Congreso Andaluz de Sociologiá, University of Cadiz, November 2012

In June it was  published in

Daniel Nehring: Sociology: A Text and Reader ( Pearson, 2013).


This is the first edition; it is now under revision for a 2nd version. Comments are welcome

Contact Ken Plummer at plumk@essex.ac.uk

 

_________________________________________________ 

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,

            Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit

            A social science

– W.H. Auden  ‘Under Which Lyre’. 1946

 

We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom. Leo Tolstoy War and Peace, 1869

These then are my last words to you. Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James:  The Will to Believe. 1896

 

SUMMARY

  1. Prologue: A very human animal in an all too human world
  2. On the Human Search for Meaning
  3. On Sociology
  4. The Challenge of Humanism
  5. Righting the Troubles with Humanism
  6. On Critical Humanism
  7. The Human Condition: Obdurate Features of the Human World
  8. On Human Potentials, Capabilities and Rights
  9. The Challenge of Plural Worlds, Ethnocentrism and Cosmopolitanism
  10. On Becoming Human: The Process of Humanization
  11. A Sociology of the People:  Being Practical and Pursuing the Wise Society
  12. We are the Story Telling Animals
  13. The Politics and ethics of Humanism: Living a Better Life and Making a Better World
  14. Dark Hope and Dreaming Ahead in Perpetually Troubled Timers: Key Directions For a Future Humanistic Agenda
  15. Further Reading

 Click here for the rest

Merrily We Roll Along: A life story musical backwards

A life story backwards: Merrily We Roll Along Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along is the winner of this year’s London’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards  for Best Musical. It is a musical I have known and loved for over 30 years. Based on a 1934 play by Kauffman and Hart with the same name, it…

Return to contingencies: It’s a wonderful life?

holidays at the blog! have  a wonderful holiday It’s a Wonderful Life Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he. Clarence ,the angel, as he shows George Bailey what the world would look like if he had not lived.    …

This week I am launching the first draft of 

A MANIFESTO FOR A CRITICAL HUMANISM IN

SOCIOLOGY

ON QUESTIONING THE HUMAN SOCIAL WORLD

  

 First Presented at the VI Congreso Andaluz de Sociologiá, University of Cadiz, November 2012

To be published in Daniel Nehring: Sociology: A Text and Reader ( Pearson, 2013).

This is the first edition; it is now under revision for a 2nd version. Comments are welcome

Contact Ken Plummer at plumk@essex.ac.uk

you can find it by clicking here: Manifesto


We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom. Leo Tolstoy War and Peace, 1869

These then are my last words to you. Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James:  The Will to Believe. 1896

 

SUMMARY

      1. Prologue: A very human animal in an all too human world
      2. On the Human Search for Meaning
      3. On Sociology
      4. The Challenge of Humanism
      5. Righting the Troubles with Humanism
      6. On Critical Humanism
      7. The Human Condition: Obdurate Features of the Human World
      8. On Human Potentials, Capabilities and Rights
      9. The Challenge of Plural Worlds, Ethnocentrism and Cosmopolitanism
      10. On Becoming Human: The Process of Humanization
      11. A Sociology of the People:  Being Practical and Pursuing the Wise Society
      12. We are the Story Telling Animals
      13. The Politics and ethics of Humanism: Living a Better Life and Making a Better World
      14. Dark Hope and Dreaming Ahead in Perpetually Troubled Timers: Key Directions For a Future Humanistic Agenda
      15. Further Reading

        YOU CAN FIND THE FULL MANIFESTO BY  CLICKING ON MANIFESTOS

 

Art and Inspirations: The Golden Stairs

The Golden Stairs

Edward Bourne Jones

A copy of this celebrated painting has been recently given to us  by  dear friends after a visit to the Pre-Rapehlite Exhibition. I spotted this gem in the last gallery of the exhibition – and recalled it from the cover of Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists  (currently one of my favourite books). It hints at my key themes of multiplicities, pluralities and the infinite. We had just been to see the musical Top Hat, and I was in a mood for the Ziegfield Follies or the Busby Berkeley Girls (and Boys!) which this nineteenth century image must have been well on the way to inspiring.


Poem for the day: All Things Pass

All Things Pass – Lao-Tzu All things pass A sunrise does not last all morning All things pass A cloudburst does not last all day All things pass Nor a sunset all night All things pass What always changes?Earth…sky…thunder… mountain…water… wind…fire…lake… These change And if these do not last Do man’s visions last? Do man’s…

On Cosmopolitanism

Ten Theses on Cosmopolitanism There exists a real humanistic universalism of differences (including sexual differences). Human difference is a sine qua non of human existence. I believe that these differences have to be a key subject for the human studies. There are perpetual conflicts about these differences (including sexual differences), the source of much human…

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