The Du-Problem and the Modern Democratic Kosmion

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Christopher SCHLEMBACH, University of Vienna, Austria
In his seminal Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt, Alfred Schuetz shows how modern Austrian society is constituted on ideal types structures that are, finally, based in the ideal type of the Du which allows for establishing anonymous social relationships and structures of reciprocity under conditions of high anonmymity in the world of contemporaries. Some 10 years later, Eric Voegelin based his monumental History of Political Ideas on the idea that society is based in an integrated social realm which he called a kosmion. This paper traces the idea of the Kosmion back to Voegelin's source which is a little book authored by the Viennese philosopher Alfred Stöhr. Stöhr focused the problem of constituting a Kosmion in the Du-Problem as discussed by Schütz. It will be argued that modern democracy is a form of society that is based in a new understanding of the Du in terms of structures of reciprocity between strangers under anonmyous conditions. This idea is rooted in Weberian social thought and the argument that rationality and reciprocity are key in modern society. Schütz and Voegelin push this argument further and enrich it by the experience of the rise and the breakdown of modenr society in Austria.