Abraham Rotstein, Notes de fin de semaine I
L'arrière-plan de La grande transformation
(Comments on My Outline for the Revised G.T.)
The common problem of both America and Russia s industrialisation. […]
 The Russian “1984” … Tolstoy
La crise actuelle
P.'s outlook is optimistic. No imminent danger of destruction of mankind. One shouldn't feel paralyzed. […]
 In this period … […]
La réalité de la société
Emphasizes this. One should explain in this section of the book how difficult it is to secure the survival of mankind even if everyone does his best. One is therefore disillusioned by disregarding the reality of society. It is an illusion to underate the difficulties in a complex society. The answer lies in an institutionalized solution (rather than just good-will).
We are not only fighting past illusions of the economistic fallacy but also future ones.
The reality of society is not that people form societies. Not true - if they don't want to, they don't. Society is not shaped in unlimited fashion by ideals and wishes. When it comes to instituting man's wishes and ideals they are inevitably contradictory - e.g. equality and freedom, progress and stability sound traditions and elasticity.
 There are all justified as ideas, but they are merely words. As institutional situations they limit one another. This is the essence of human culture, the mutual limitation of man's ideals. It is not that the various individual ideals limit one another, as the nineteenth century thought. But man's wishes and ideals unless limited are contradictory insofar as they are instituted i.e. real. It is not, therefore, that each man's freedom is absolute until contradicted by another man, but man are limited insofar as their ideals own ideals contradict each other. This then is the consequence of the reality of society.
Le tout est une conception religieuse et seulement alors [de ce point de vue] il s’éclaire. Il y a trois révélations derrière lui : Qu’a fait l’homme avec la reconnaissance la finitude de sa vie ? Il avait à la prendre. La forme de sa conscience changea et il devint un homme. L’homme reconnut que la vie était limitée par la mort physique. La réponse à ceci, c’est que le contenu de la vie humaine n’existe pas sans la conscience de sa mort. L’existence peut ne pas voir de sens sans mort. Il n’y a rien à faire sinon à ça sinon s’y résigner. L’homme est un être moral pour qui tout a du sens. Le Nouveau Testament portait une seconde révélation – une seconde mort. L’homme n’est pas le seul [être] à mourir, mais il peut perdre son âme et mourir à jamais en agissant contre sa conscience basique et en se détruisant par là-même. Chaque individu a une âme propre qui le met dans un état de danger terrible. Mais il n’y pas de contenu de vie à craindre pour sa propre âme. C’est une condition de la liberté. Tout ceci est pensable en se libérant de la doctrine : c’est-à-dire que Jésus soit le fils de Dieu. Mais ce qui a été découvert n’est pas une histoire » … But what has been discovered is not a fairy tale. Every individual has a soul to lose. Jesus argued that if you dissolve your ego − love − if you get selfless, you can live − selfless is love. But the self was created by fear of everlasting extinction. The self is a disease − a parasite of life. It takes life away. Same as Buddha and Lao-tze, man cannot build a new life out of resignation.
Unlimited freedom is an illusion in a complex society. Whatever you choose you interfere with other people's lives. Relations between revelations:
You can still die forever even if you have the possibility of death. You can disregard the complex society but this is an empty question.
There is a limitation to the organisation of society. There is no reform of society where there is no power in it. No power, is impossible as man's very ideals and wishes create power.
P. believes in metaphysics which give clarity to man's existence. Man is an indeterminate creature and it was not sure when he was born that he would create a technological civilization. Only Western man has done this.
 La caractéristique du christianisme était d’être au commencement, anxieux [“compulsive”] et regardant vers le futur, eschatologique. Jésus pensait que la fin du monde était imminente, ce qu’elle n’était pas. Les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte modifient la position de Jésus. Si [ce qu’on a appelé] la Chrétienté était en réalité [la suite des] Esséniens, il n’est pas le fondateur [d’une nouvelle religion], et les doctrines chrétiennes sont ébranlées. Il n’est pas important de savoir si Jésus ou un autre Juif fut le fondateur, hormis pour certains Juifs qui seraient fiers de leur histoire s’il est prouvé que c’est un des leurs qui a créé le Christianisme. Le mystère de la mission de Jésus est plus épais qu’avant. Maintenant, il n’est plus “celui qui” a créé… P. ne croit pas que Jésus soit le fils de Dieu. Cette position n’a pas de sens très clair. L’aspect christique : le Christianisme n’est pas basé sur les enseignements de Jésus mais sur qui il était.
By man resigning himself to society a new concreteness is born. Man's objective is to reform society and change it to its limits. Unless we do that we have the whole responsibility which recognition puts on us. The first two revelations of physical and eternal death are no less true, as they lead to the restriction of an illusion. The first two are not invalidated by the reality of society.
That man must die doesn't do away with his concern for his soul. Man's eternal soul doesn't permit him to be rid of all moral bonds, and if he denies these he loses it. Eternal doesn't refer to time, but timelessness - of infinite value.  (Greek "ions" - timeless). This is not a speculative or metaphorical question. (Life after death is a theological speculation.)
Jesus pointed out that there are things you are yourself responsible for and not the tribe. Existence is personal and is different from what happens with things. That which makes it so different can't be said about a lamp or a table. This personal existence is the only one man is interested in, and the only one man can mean when we say: the things that matter is his relationship to other persons. The very heart of life is the personal existence. This assumes persons and personal interest.
Mind and power are the same thing. Thinking is a creative power. When we say mind we mean the compulsive element in thought.
The modern consciousness of society is comparable to the revelation of the finiteness of life and the revelation of the individual's moral existence. There is not even a hint of this consciousness in Plato. The third revelation did not come through particular persons, e.g. Marx, Sorel, Hitler, etc.
This is an insight which the technological environment created through the new conditions of life in a complex society.
It is childish to think that a person follows his own conscience alone, since this is limited by the reality of society. It is like a child who doesn't know that life is finite - like a tribal member who has corporate and collective responsibility. Ultimately man is responsible.
It is the institutional bent that puts order into Polanyi's moral world.
Christians rest their case on an inner absolute freedom. It doesn't mean that man is released from responsibility. (My question on the relation of Hobbes and Locke to the idea of the reality of society):
Hobbes maintained that power was inevitable in society of individuals would eat up one another. This is very inadequate. We just don't know whether people would eat up one another. Power is produced ba any compulsion affecting the mind. It is inconceivable to have any other type of society. Hobbes became very important for modern thought. The vision behind it is atomistic individualism. This is a clever fiction but unreal. The comparison of man to a pack of wolves is ridiculous.
Robert Owen held that the individual was not responsible and therefore denied Christianity. Society was real and responsible.
Comte had a vision that Society was real.
Quetelet - 1837 - the founder of statistics, held that society was real.
Marx, through economic determination believed almost in the elimination of the individual.
Hegel had the elimination of the individual in another way.
Spencer had the organic concept of society, but at the same time it was ridiculous to argue for liberal competition.
 Parsons is the only counter to atomistic individualism. To say that society consists if individuals, doesn't tell you anything about it. Society has values and meanings of its own. The individual internalizes these and society is built on these things. Society has roles and the mutual expectancy of roles and that is the way it is built. This occurs in two ways:
1) roles are internalized by individuals.
2) Roles exists which individual play.
The individual couldn't play the part unless the role existed. The two must harmonize, but who falls into these places doesn't matter. A person may play many roles, e.g. 'Hamlet'; the roles are laid down and the characters fit the roles.
Society should be thought of like Hamlet (ie the play).
You don't start with the individual but with internalized values and mutual role expectations. Their relationship creates threads and the tissus of threads is society. This is one of the ways in which the reality of society is presented. The values of society are internalized in the personality structure and institutionalized in role expectations. The individual is socialized by the personality structure which is built on ………… Human relationships are based on the mutual role expectations. […]
 An English philosopher said to Polanyi of the G.T. that P. was able to link up the economics and politics of the era with the actual facts.
- We must recognize the inherent limitation of anarchistic freedom.
- We must waive the efficiency principle (e.g. the Russian can offer foreign at low interest rates, good terms).
Le marché et la théorie du nationalisme
Discussion sur ma lettre du 17 déc. 55
 Barbara Ward's discussion of the gold gap is utter nonsense.
 Juifs : one hears of chosenness more and more. Their guilt is not in the death of Jesus but with rejecting the teachings of Jesus which are superior. There are their own teachings but  why don't they claim it? The idea of love is frontally directed against selfishness. It is not clear what it is, but if you get rid of selfishness, you are happy, and these are the laws of inner life. You are happier if you forgive your enemy. If in your own heart you reject the truth of this directive it means you exclude yourself and are in the wrong gratuitously. In this interpretation of life is the hope of mankind.
En Europe Centrale la communauté juive claimed that at the heart of Christianity there was nothing but a lie - that their behaviour was full of hypocrisy. But the teachings can be accepted. History runs on subtle distinctions. En Amérique la communauté juive fait sienne l'attitude des Gentils. Civic behaviour of Americans is based on the church meeting. This is called American without knowing that American means the Christian way of life. It is a question of higher standards. ↑
Le livre Commerce et Marchés
Informations sur le texte
Date : 25 février 1956 (Entretien)
Texte original : Abraham Rotstein, Weekend Notes I
AKP : 45/02
Notes des éditeurs
- ↑ Pagination de l'archive et non pas du document de Rotstein.
- ↑ "My letter", see the letter of A. Rotstein.