Marta Bucholc

Climbing the Stairs.
On the Progress of Society and Science in Norbert Elias’s Theory

The metaphor of a population climbing the stairs of a tower was used by Norbert Elias to depict the development of human knowledge. I propose to interpret it as an image of progress, both of humanity as a whole and of science as a specialized, detached type of social knowledge. After commencing with a discussion of the roles played by metaphors in social sciences in general, I go on to decode the heuristic potential of the climbing picture, presenting certain aspects of Elias’s philosophy of human relations and ethics of social sciences. I argue that Elias’s approach may serve as a new picture of scientific and social progress, distinctly different from and independent of its Enlightenment and evolutionary predecessors, although resembling them in their optimism and belief in the controlling function of rationality.
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Multiple Facets of Social Change

Introduction This volume joins a long series of works on social transformation emerging in Central and Eastern Europe. It has become a cliché to imagine social sciences in this region as primarily, and somewhat narcissistically, interested in the transformation processes currently in place in most of the CEE countries. Nevertheless, is seems that the interest …
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Politics as Art of Translation.
Max Weber’s Political Ethic in Light of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s and Norbert Elias’s Theories of Language

Max Weber’s concept of the ethic of responsibility is frequently treated as a relic of previous stages in the development of political sphere, which has allegedly entered the phase of postmodern and postpolitical transformation. In this text I argue that Weber’s distinction between the ethic of responsibility and ethic of ultimate means can still be applicable in contemporary political philosophy provided that it is adjusted to the multicultural reality of our societies. This may be achieved by enriching Weber’s perspective by elements of philosophy of language. I propose drawing on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s description of language socialization based on following a rule as well as trial and error in order to explain in linguistic terms the diversity of separate value worlds envisaged by Weber under the term “polytheism”. I also refer to Norbert Elias’s theory of language as a symbolic activity combining thinking, speaking, memorizing and knowing related to external world, in which elements of objective accuracy and fantasy are always interwoven. This allows me to conclude that politics of responsibility in a multicultural world is an art of translation between closed linguistic worlds, which may only be performed by sifting the matter-of-fact contents of human imagery from its fantastic correlate.
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Disappearing Social Realities – Introduction

  Vienna is a unique place on the European map of disappearances. The lands and peoples of the Habsburg Empire disappeared with the Empire itself. Some of them joined other polities in order to share their very different fates. Some of them vanished from the European social and cultural history in one cruel coup, virtually …
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