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Ferdinand Tönnies, Community and Society (1887). Preface to the 2nd edition (1912)

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Out of this, precisely, grew the theorem of community and society, and, inseparable from it, that of the natural will [Wesenswille] and of free will [Willkür]. Two types of social relationships, two types of individual expressions of will – but both are to conceptualized from a single point, from the relationship between a whole and its parts, the old Aristotelian opposition between the organism and the artifact – whereby, however, the artifact itself must be understood as more or less similar in essence to the organic or the mechanical aggregate. As social entities are artifacts of psychic substance, their sociological conception must be simultaneously a psychological conception.

Höffding, a psychologist himself with a penchant for sociology, and drawn to it by ethics and the philosophy of religion, wrote about this book that it combined in a peculiar way sociology and psychology by showing how the social development is necessarily interconnected with, and has its counterpart in, a corresponding development of humanity’s mental capacities. Wundt, who also thought that these concepts were worth mentioning, believes that my distinction of the forms of will “probably corresponds to the more common one between simple or instinctive [triebartiges] and compound will or choice.” I responded as follows (Archiv für systematische Philosophie IV, vol. 4, p. 487 f.): “The instinctive will is to me merely the germinative form of the ‘natural will’ [Wesenswille]; to it ‘belongs’ not only the compound will of the most complicated kind, but in it develops – indeed, realizes in the first place – its essence as a human will; for I have never called the ‘natural instincts’ of human beings their will; instead, I conceive of will always as appetitus rationalis – as appetitus but not simultaneously the desire (or reluctance) to do something, but as the positive or negative relationship to the non-Self that underlies it, a relationship that becomes the ‘natural will’ only through the accompaniment and participation of thought. I maintain: the latter realizes itself only in the compound will . . . for that is how I conceive of the entire imaginary world [Ideenwelt] of the creative person, the artist, or the ethical genius, as an expression of his ‘natural will,’ but also of every free act, insofar as its springs precisely from the essential directions of his spirit, heart and soul, or conscience. Wherefore: what I conceive of and dissect as the natural will in social determination and as a totality is what Hegel calls the concrete substance of the people’s spirit [Volksgeist], something that rises so far above the ‘social instincts’ that it determines and bears the entire culture of a people.” (That same essay has further remarks in homage to the grand old man of German philosophy). – The right way of approaching the issue is also recognized in P. Barth’s Geschichte der Erziehung (“History of Education” [Leipzig, 1911], p. 40), the introduction of which discusses the essence of sociology and its relationship to pedagogy.

The science of economics leads to a life that is, on the whole, separate from philosophy. And yet it has always sought out a relationship with the latter, proclaiming its desire for a philosophical grounding often and vigorously. In the twenty-five years that have passed since the publication of this work, this has emerged more strongly than ever before. Pure sociology has gradually been elevated to the rank of an auxiliary science of political economy. This has found its external documentation in the substantiation of sociological societies (most recently also in Germany) in which economists have been the foremost participants.

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