Monday, July 09, 2007

On human constellations

In my student years it was quite a revelation to acquaint myself with classical sociology: such unreal, formal approach to our messy human organizations. As if you could replace people, their connections, their persons with abstract, dispassionate functions. Schooled in the rigorous standards of the Helsinki History Department it seemed like an elaborate and pointless game of meticulously misportraying our chaotic human reality as timeless, rational construct of formal relationships – in jargon filled dead language, as dead as the thought behind it. This was the epitome of academic blindness for me: any moment, any constellation in history is surely unique, brief and passing. A totality of chaotic, passionate, blind strivings for short term gain, constantly shifting, constantly improvised.

Yes, it is hard to build a science on this shifting, ephemeral foundation. But surely it is not sensible, not rational to opt for manageable, logical, clean and clear unreality instead. This has remained my firm conviction ever since: I approach all situations in time as unique constellations, as particular, momentary systems fuelled by human passion and partial vision (or, so often, complete blindness). This is not to deny themes and structures in history, but to argue that they interact chaotically forming always unique combinations, unique moments. Thus history, our mad projectory through time is uncontrolled, uncontrollable – whatever sociology and sociologically based human sciences imply, or wish.

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