Susman_Culture_As_History

Susman_Culture_As_History - /' CULTURE HISTORY THE...

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Copyright O 1984 by Warren I. Susman All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Susman, Warren, 1927- Culture as history. Bibliography: p. I. United States-Civilization-20th century. 2. United States-Intellkctual life -20th I. Title. E169.1 .S9733 '985 973.9 84-19014 ISBN 0-394-53364-X ISBN 0-394-72 161 -6 (pbk.) Since this page cannot accommodate all the permissions acknowledgments, they ap- pear on the next two pages. Manufactured in the United States of America /' CULTURE AS HISTORY THE TRANSFORMATION OF AMERICAN SOCIETY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY / WARREN SUSMAN //
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14 "PERSONALITY" AND THE MAKING OF TWENTIETH- CENTURY CULTURE erhapsthe greatest Problem which any P historian h;w to tackle is neither the catacly&z of revolution nor the decay of empire but the process by which ideas become social attitudes. J. H. Plumb I have always observed a singular accord between supercelestial ideas and subterranean behavior. Montaigne The whole histoty of ideas should be reviewed in the light of the power of social structures to generate symbols of their own. Mary Douglas No ideas but in things. William Carlos Williams One of the things that make the modern world "modern" is the development of consciousness of self. The European world that produced the Reformation, the new capitalist order, and the grow- ing system of nation-states also gave us a new vocabulary that re-
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272 TRANSITIONS AND TRANSFORMATIONS vealed a new vision of the self. "Consciousness" became a key word in the seventeenth century; the new language of self announced ,what Owen Barfield has called "the shifting of the centre of gravity of consciousn(ss from the cosmos around him into the personal human being himself." ' The results of such a shift were significant. Impulses that control human behavior and destiny were felt to arise more and more within the individual at the very time that the laws governing the world were seen as more and more impersonal. Not only was it more difficult to feel spiritual life and activity immanent in the world outside the self; as the rituals of the external church grew feebler, the needs of inner self grew also stronger. This story is familiar to the historian of modern thought. He has charted the way of this newly developed self in a stormy and changing world from its beginnings in Luther and Calvin, Descartes and Locke. To insist that the history of thought in the modern era is the history of thinking about that self may be an exaggeration. But the consequences of this vision of a self set apart have surely been felt in every field of inquiry, whether it be psychology*or polit- ical theory, epistemology or economics. Freud, in one of his rare moments of historical analysis, pointed in 1917 to a series of blows that had been administered by modern science to the fragile self. In
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Susman_Culture_As_History - /' CULTURE HISTORY THE...

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