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The Moss Moment and the Genealogy of French Thought

   The French seem to have a tradition of writing short and concise works, but Bruno Karsenti's 1994 book Moss and the Total Social Fact is concise enough to give the illusion that it is just a study of Marcel Mauss's academic thought. In fact, from the very beginning of its publication, this small book could be established as a classic of Moss studies, because while everyone is complaining about the lack of a system in Moss's thought and its difficult relationship with Turgot's thought, in this book, Karsenti takes the concept of "total social fact" proposed in The Gift as an entry point. In this book, he convincingly argues in what ways and to what extent Moss overcame the difficulties inherent in the Turgot tradition of sociology and advanced the development of the school.

  However, Carlsanti does not stop there. Prior to this, Moss studies were broadly divided into two categories: those that were purely Moss studies, in which Moss was discussed in relation to Moss; and those that drew inspiration or intellectual resources from Moss to develop their own theories, or in which the author achieved the development of his own theory while advancing the study of Moss's thought. This work by Carl Santi can be said to be an alternative way to infuse the latter into the former. Thus, in reading this small book, which unfolds on the theme of The Gift, one cannot help but enter into a situation similar to that of Levi-Strauss when he read The Gift: "the mind is overwhelmed, the brain is open." For the analysis that Calzanti follows is like a "needle in a thread" that connects Moss's personal achievements not only with other members of the Turgot school, but also with the French sociological tradition and even with modern French philosophy, presenting us with the Turgot tradition as one of the most vibrant aspects of twentieth-century French theory and as the cornerstone of twentieth-century French theory.

  Why? Three years later, in 1997, in his newly published book The Total Man: Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy in Moss, Carl Santi answers this question. He wants to explain what theoretical dynamics drive the migration and transformation of particular epistemological configurations in contemporary French philosophical and scientific thought. This question arises from the fact that he sees in French sociology the emergence of "a conceptual form" that "permeates and constantly reconstitutes new relations with the systems of knowledge to which it is related: ethnography, biology, linguistics, history, psychology ". In other words, Calzanti sees within French philosophy and the humanities an epistemological transformation. In the "Preface" to the new edition of The Total Man in 2011, Carzanty makes it even clearer: "The Total Man was written in the shadow of a great work, in some ways an extension of this book, and as a way into its subtitle. " This great work is Michel Foucault's Words and Things: The Archaeology of the Human Sciences. It is thus from Words and Things that Calzanti gains an entire sense of the problem and a framework for analysis.

  In returning to Foucault's questions, it is clear that Calzanti does not intend to repeat Foucault's work. According to Calzanti, Foucault's concept of epistemological configurations and archaeological perspective provide him with a way to intervene in the field of contemporary thought. In Foucault's case, epistemic configurations or knowledge types are "those configurations in the space of knowledge that give rise to various forms of empirical knowledge," and the purpose of exploring them is to "rediscover on what basis knowledge and theory are possible; on what orderly space knowledge is constructed. ". So, like Foucault, Carlsanti also tries to discuss "from one foundation to another", examining the foundations on which the transformation of the overall order of knowledge in the space of knowledge rests, but he focuses on the period from the nineteenth century onwards, i.e. from the emergence of the humanities initiated by Kantian anthropology, as discussed by Foucault, to the withdrawal of Kantian anthropology from psychoanalysis and ethnography. this history of psychoanalysis and ethnography.

  The French ethnography that Foucault refers to here is the anthropology known to the Anglo-American academy. Calzanti thus examines the French humanities from the nineteenth century onward to Levi-Strauss's structuralist anthropology. He is concerned with how structuralism, in accepting this transfer of the order of knowledge, that is, in its "withdrawal from Kantianism and post-Kantianism," relies on what he calls a sort of second foundation for anthropology-"the total person " is how it emerges. This is the key to understanding the development of structuralism and indeed the human sciences that follows. According to his own account, the conceptual form of the "total person" as a newly prescribed object of knowledge in philosophy and the humanities not only unleashes new intellectual space but also still influences the current development of philosophy and the humanities and, more importantly, is itself unsettled and still in the process of adjustment. Therefore, in Carlsanti's view, in order to understand "the critical issues at the current crossroads of philosophy and the humanities, it is necessary to go through the Moss moment".

II


  In fact, Carlsanti chooses to approach the archaeology of the humanities from a sociological perspective not only because Foucault barely mentions, or even systematically avoids, sociology as a science, but also because the humanities have a unique position for the history of French thought. According to Foucault, the modern philosophical anthropological configuration, initiated by Kant, transformed the metaphysical reflection on man into an analysis of all experiences given to man, i.e., the "empirical man" as its object of knowledge, and thus, this transformation led to the emergence of the humanities (which is first and foremost an empirical science). This shift led to the emergence of the human sciences (which are first and foremost empirical sciences), but also to a protracted controversy between the science of man and the simple sciences, and between philosophy and the humanities. In short, the human sciences were thus plunged into a state of insurmountable instability, for the simple sciences would seek their own foundations at the risk of "psychologism" and "historicism," regardless of the foundations of the human sciences, which could only restrain these independent tendencies and relate them to each other. At the same time, the humanities are in a state of opposition to philosophy because they require everything in the previous philosophical field as their object of analysis, while philosophy itself is meant to transcend this empirical nature.

  According to Calzanti, French anthropology was also at first not derived from philosophy but was philosophy itself. That is to say, the science de l'homme, created by the conceptualist Cabanis in 1796 with the help of the German word "anthropology," is the study of the human The "science of man" (science de l'homme), created in 1796 with the help of German "anthropology", i.e. the comprehensive study of the body, intellect and morality of man, follows the same goal as that of ancient Greek philosophy: to try to grasp the whole of its object of study in order to obtain its total knowledge. It is only that the humanities have dealt with what was traditionally called philosophy in their own way and by their own procedures, so that modern philosophy is not so much an abandonment of an eternal philosophy as a displacement and transformation of philosophical reflection at a certain point in history, thus dissolving what Foucault called the contradiction between philosophy and the humanities. The French version of the humanities, however, did not thus circumvent what Foucault called the precarious state between the humanities and the sciences, but rather migrated between the specific scientific fields of physiology, psychology, and sociology.

  If, before the emergence of sociology, the French humanities followed what Foucault called the biological model of development, the emergence of sociology gave the French humanities a unique aspect. According to Calzanti, three modes of knowledge - philosophy, anthropology and sociology - were the distinctive organizing paths for the development of the French humanities, first anthropology and philosophy, then sociology and philosophy. Sociology proposes that to know man is first to know him as a social being, implying that in French thought, to deal with society is to deal with man as a particular philosophical object, and thus sociology has a philosophical status similar to anthropology in general. Turgot clearly said that after the Revolution some sciences about man and sciences about society were born, and that sociology and psychology are both scientific studies about man. For Calzanti, it was the unified extension of the two themes of the knowledge of man and the knowledge of social law after the Revolution that led to the unique status of sociology.


  However, the difficulties encountered in using sociology to deal with the science of man are no less than those encountered by anthropology before. For it can be seen from Turgot that the use of socialité as the essential characteristic of human existence can only come at the expense of individual empirical knowledge, and this epistemological configuration is thus then in a precarious state. Thus, the epistemological configuration of the French humanities, in addition to the opposition between physiologism and psychologism, was superimposed on another layer of opposition between individualism and sociologism. In fact, it was this new layer of superimposed relations that served as the basic theoretical impetus for Moss's proposal of the "total person.

III


  When I return to Moss and the Social Fact of Totality with this understanding, I find that the insight brought by Calzanti is extraordinary. The book begins with a double mission: to focus both on Moss's own scholarly work and on the epistemological configuration of human intellectual space before and after Moss, as if this were the only way to present "a decisive moment in the evolution of philosophical and scientific thought". Thus, I see the concept of "total social fact" closest to Turgot, and the concept of "total person" closest to Levi-Strauss. The Moss moment is the process of synthesizing from the former to the latter in order to overcome the instability brought about by Turgot's sociology.

  According to Calzanti, the main thread running through French philosophy and humanities is the quest for a total study of the human being. Moss's new synthesis is a synthesis of physiologism, psychologism, and sociologism, essentially to re-establish the object of study for these sciences and even philosophy. However, because of its rejection of the individual experience dimension, sociology only brings about a social ontology. Therefore, by viewing sociality as the highest embodiment of the human being, sociology already indicates a withdrawal from Kant's subjectivism and the transcendental view associated with it, not something that began and was achieved only when structuralism arrived. This is reinforced by the competitive relationship between sociology and psychology. The enduring conflict and rivalry between these two sciences lasted from the time of Comte to the time of Turgot, until two separate fields of study were developed. As a direct result, not only is it difficult to understand Turgot's concept of "society," but even Habvach, a member of the Turgot school, noted that Turgot's explanation of suicide "seems contradictory at first glance, and even at second glance, because we usually explain the causes of suicide The reason for suicide is the exact opposite of this. For the individual who commits suicide, it is "entirely of autonomy and free choice.

  Thus, the first step in Moss's new synthesis is a synthesis of psychologism or individualism with sociologism, in order to overcome the explanatory difficulties posed by Turgot's rejection of the experience of the individual subject. The "totalizing social fact" is thus proposed.

  Carlsanti argues that of all Moss's works as a sociologist, none elaborates the concept of "total social fact" in greater detail than The Gift, a book so close to Turgot but so different from him. Moss begins: "In Scandinavian and many other civilizations, exchanges and contracts were always made in the form of gifts, theoretically voluntary, but in practice, both the giving and the returning of gifts were obligatory." Clearly, this goes beyond Turgot's prescriptions for the object of sociological study. For for Turgot, the object of sociological study, the "social fact," has only an obligatory or compulsory aspect. It seems that Moss is no longer limited to compulsion but wants to include the dimension of individual freedom as well. So, at the very beginning, Calzanti asks: "Are gifts really social facts?" Moss tries to give a specific dimension to Turgot's sociology by means of the redefinition of the object of study by means of the concept of the total social fact.

  Thus, sociological explanation is no longer some kind of "social deception" that is completely different from individual understanding. Moss justifies what Turgot calls social coercion in the form of "the freedom of obligation or the obligation of freedom," the most real and concrete individual subjective level of voluntariness. Moss says: "The giving party, however, shows exaggerated humility ...... and tries to highlight generosity, freedom and autonomy and grandeur, but in reality, these are mechanisms of obligation." The new dimensions thus developed allow Moss to go beyond the mere categories of contract, law, and notions of obligation insisted on by Turgot and his contemporary Georges Davy. For the political, economic, religious, and even aesthetic systems presented by the Quaffle feast, as well as statements such as "To give something to someone is to present a certain self" and "I give myself away because we owe it to others, not only to the self but also to things. "The intertwined state expressed by the institution of the gift makes us realize that "society can no longer be broken down into institutions, agencies or values that can be examined separately," but can only be brought to life in a complete or "total "Therefore, the exchange of gifts means that "the life of the group and the life of the person express the same thing, and unfold in a complete and uninterrupted continuity".

IV


  "Wholeness is the same as specificity" is the new feature that Moss gives to sociological research by means of the concept of "total social fact", and the intellectual space released by it is enough to show that Moss does, to some extent, overcome the difficulties inherent in Turgot's sociological tradition. difficulties. However, to build on the concept of the "total social fact" and to further argue how Moss achieved a synthesis of physiognomy and initiated the subsequent development of structuralism, it is necessary to leave Turgot's recourse to the association with Lévi-Strauss.

  A new foundation was indeed needed for the French humanities. In 1924, at the same time that The Gift was finally being drafted, Moss gave a presentation at the Psychological Society on "The Practical and Practical Relation of Psychology to Sociology". In this presentation, he proposed to the psychological community the study of the specific "whole person" or "total person. This was based on a comparison of the contributions of sociology and psychology, which he hoped would cooperate with each other. According to Carlsanti, Moss wanted to weave new relationships between sociology, biology, psychology, history, linguistics, and psychoanalysis. In other words, Moss wanted to prescribe a new object of study for the science of man, and it is clear from the fact that this new object of study integrates physiological, psychological, and sociological dimensions of knowledge that this work of Moss takes an anthropological turn here. In fact, Georges Gurvitch was already aware of the need to define his scholarly work and vision in terms of "anthropology" when he edited the anthology Sociology and Anthropology in 1950.

  "From one foundation to another," according to Calzanti, the French philosophy and humanities transitioned to a second anthropological foundation of sorts, laid by Moss's "total person. However, the realization of this transition still depends on the theoretical impetus provided by the "totality of social facts". Interestingly, in France, the term "anthropology" replaced ethnography, but it was Levi-Strauss who made it possible. So it should not be surprising or disappointing to read that the second chapter of the book constantly recalls Levi-Strauss's Introduction to the Writings of Moss; for it is the intellectual connection between Moss and Levi-Strauss, rewoven through the concept of "totalizing social facts," that provides insight instead. In other words, in the Introduction to Moss's work, Levi-Strauss's challenge to Moss's description of "mana" without further explanation reveals the insurmountable opposition between psychology and sociology. This dichotomy not only prompted Moss to focus on psychosis and the unconscious as intermediate terms that could connect the individual and society, but also forced him to offer a solution: Moss attempted to replace the logic of causal explanation, which previously required an either/or choice between psychology and sociology, with a relational logic of translation (traduction).


  Individuality and collectivity are thus no longer antagonistic dimensions, but in fact represent two parallel dimensions, and can thus be interpreted as a mutual presentation of relations. The symbolic or sign system then gains focus, and linguistics thus gains a unique status. However, all of this can be attributed to the change in approach brought about by the "total social fact" in The Gift. It is both specific and total (holistic), without sacrificing any of the parties. According to Moss, "it can be Rome, it can be Athens, it can be the ordinary French, it can be the Melanesians on this island or that island", but they are all people who are instantly recognizable, concrete and alive, in one place. In short, they are all humans (humain). This is the anthropological turn in sociology brought about by Moss.

V


  The gift, as the social fact that best presents the principle of transliteration, directly inspired Levi-Strauss's work on the structure of kinship. The subsequent development of structuralism shows that the displacement of the entire order of knowledge triggered by Moss's anthropological turn is indeed total. Only with Moss did knowledge about people really begin to unleash its possibilities without any ontological presuppositions and without any transcendental foundations. Thus, says Calzanti, "the publication of The Gift marked an important moment in the history of French social science: (an) unprecedented turn took place."

  The term "holisme" (holism) can be used to describe the sociological position of Turgot and his nephew Moss, and this position reminds the reader of the deeper concerns that Calzanti has in this little book. For the last chapter of the book would have been redundant if it had been viewed solely from Foucault's archaeological perspective. But Carlsanti attempts to follow up on Levi-Strauss's statement that "it is not necessary to take us out of ourselves" in order to be in tune with others, to further demonstrate how Moss reaches from the local to the whole. In fact, it is the description of Moss quoted by Calzanti that makes me understand how Moss can go from the local to the whole (the totality) using only description. "Our festival is the needle of the walking thread, which sews together the pieces of straw of the roof so that it becomes only a cover." Nothing could be more graphic than this description. For each clan, it is the constant overlap of these same exchange relationships that make each other a social totality.

  To grasp the concept of totality is to grasp why Chalcanti returns in the last chapter to the discussion introduced in the Introduction. For the significance of the archaic society and the critical value of the gift lie entirely in the new understanding of sociality that is obtained through the concept of totality: a total presentation of all aspects and a property of the whole realized through the mutuality of individuals. The "total social fact" undoubtedly expresses this best, and it happens to correspond directly to the structure of the relationship between philosophy and the human sciences, as Foucault says. Thus, the French version of the archaeology of the humanities reveals a totalist philosophy that is still most characteristic of French theory. It is, of course, also a profound social philosophy. Perhaps, in a way, this is also the "atmosphere" that Calzanti gives to this little book.


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