Friday, April 08, 2011

Sorokin's Cycle of Cultural Belief

I've been thinking about Pitrim Sorokin's argument that societies go through a cycle where the dominant approach to the world cycles between what he calls the sensate -- a worldview that prizes on observation and reason as primary and sees the world in terms of matter -- and the ideational -- a stance towards the world that is mystical and places the spiritual in the forefront. He contended that you find cultures moving through these phases into the other, back and forth, that the dominance of one creates the conditions for the arising of the other. No value is placed on one over the other, but rather the two are inextricably linked in a continuing dance.

Is there a broad brush sense in which this is correct and, if so, what does each stance contribute to the culture. What do we get from the sensate that we can't get from the ideational and what do we get from the ideational that we can't get from the sensate?