Front Page Titles (by Subject) Social Dynamics - Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1
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Social Dynamics - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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“Sorokin, Popper, and the Philosophy of History.” The Intercollegiate Review (USA), 21 (1972): 21–31.
Does history display patterns and laws (the nomothetic view), and can it be, partially at least, predictable in broad trends if not in specifics? Yes, according to Sorokin in Social and Cultural Dynamics; no, according to Karl Popper in The Poverty of History.
We can immediately dismiss the popular forms of belief in either progress or decline if these demand permanent and absolute trends. The collapse of seemingly eternal empires and economic prosperity alternating with panics and depressions discredit automatic, irreversible movement in history. There are no permanent or “inevitable” trends since that hypothesis fails to validly meet the following essential conditions: a) that the system perpetually retain the characteristics favoring the change; b) that the system not be capable of any contrary change; and c) perpetual noninterference by external forces capable of stopping the change.
We can overrule such denials of the very possibility of a scientific theory of history, drawn from Croce and Marx, which stress the subjectivity of all historical judgments. This subjective theory invalidates itself since it urges us to be rationally convinced that rational convictions (in history or elsewhere) are impossible. Furthermore, what counts in a theory is not how or why it originated (although important for psychology, biography, etc.) but how it has been tested and if the tests corroborate it.
It is also invalid to deny theories of history on the grounds that we can never generalize about unique historical events. But such theories abstract or focus selectively on only those aspects which certain events have in common. Scientific theory is abstract: it explains and predicts only the typical and not the unique individual. Thus, a historical, predictive theory of recurrences does not need to be deterministic. Historical events need not repeat themselves or be predictable in their totalities but only in certain aspects, and this allows for free will.
Sorokin's own theory, expounded in Social and Cultural Dynamics, admirably meets the tests for the validity of a historical theory of recurrence and patterns. His hypothesis claims that at certain times the dominant principles of art, law, and thought have logical similarities flowing from an identical conception of reality that rose to power at the same time in all the fields named.
Sorokin's classification of various cultures and their forms as sensate, ideational, integral, or mixed was based on whether a culture's systematizing conception has been that reality is physical or sensory, on the one hand; or that reality is supersensory or spiritual on the other. (Integral holds that reality is both sensory and supersensory, with reason bridging empirical observation and supersensory revelation.)
Sorokin devised an ingenious test to confirm the historical existence of these types of integrated, interdisciplinary cultural forms. Many scholars applied Sorokin's clearcut criteria to classify centuries or decades of various societies' art, law, and thought as predominantly sensate, ideational, integral, or mixed, and they discovered a remarkable correspondence among the different disciplines. Medieval paintings were predominantly ideational (absence of concern for visible objects except as symbols of supersensory reality, avoidance of the nude, etc.).
Next, from this discovery of an apparently repetitive order in cultural history, Sorokin went on to consider the extent of its influence on society. The “ideational” culture views its members as children of God or as gods. We would expect such culture to favor an extended family social organization. On the other hand, we expect a “sensate” culture which denies gods, to favor a contractual society. Further, we expect that either type of culture, perceiving its values threatened, may resort to compulsion and violence. Thus, from 1750 to 1914, a “sensate” West experienced empirical and industrial revolutions, developed contractual, laissez-faire markets, and reflected in art accurate representations of visible objects, individualism, and the erotic use of nudes. From the clear dominance, in any society, of an art portraying the visible world (as did European painting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), we can “deduce” the simultaneous dominance of empiricism in an ethics of worldly happiness and an economics of reliance on contract. Periods of challenge to a culture's values witness disputes in law, frequent intense wars, and internal disorder.