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The Integral Paradigm: The Truth o f Faith

a n d the Social Sciences


This article proposes a paradigm for the social sciences derived from Pitirim A. Sorokin's
writings about Integralism. His conception of a three-component system of truth and
knowledge which includes the senses, reason, and faith is the foundation of this
integral perspective. The paradigm entails the incorporation of religious-ethical ideas
within the established frame of reference of the social sciences. The consensus among
several world religions that some version of the Golden Rule is the most fundamental
ethical principle, and the idea of individual transformation involving the realization of
this principle, are advanced as the foundation for integral social science. The virtues,
the vices and the Ten Commandments are presented as more specific schemes which
articulate the positive and negative precepts associated with the Golden Rule. The
incorporation of these religious-ethical ideas in value premises, existing paradigms
and theories, special fields, and empirical research is considered. Integralism is pro-
posed as a solution to the current crisis of fragmentation and anomie in the social

S o c i o l o g y is f r a g m e n t e d a n d lacks direction. Its scientific, practical, a n d r e f o r m

potential has not b e e n realized. Similar c o n d i t i o n s exist in the o t h e r social sciences.
In fact, t h e r e is g r o w i n g c o n s e n s u s that t h e s e s c i e n c e s are in a state o f crisis. This
crisis c a n b e e x p l o r e d b y c o n s i d e r i n g r e p r e s e n t a t i v e v i e w s o f its nature.
In a d e t a i l e d analysis H o r o w i t z ( 1 9 9 4 : 1 - 5 1 ) states that the scientific integrity o f
s o c i o l o g y is b e s e t b y p r o b l e m s o f i d e o l o g i c a l a d v o c a c y a n d radical s u b j e c t i v i s m .
T h e activity o f d i s c o n t e n t e d i n d i v i d u a l s w h o s e l f - r i g h t e o u s l y p u r s u e s p e c i a l i z e d
i d e o l o g i c a l a n d social a g e n d a s h a s led to t h e o b l i t e r a t i o n o f a c o n s e n s u a l distinc-
tion b e t w e e n s c h o l a r s h i p a n d p a r t i s a n s h i p . This t r e n d is f u r t h e r e n h a n c e d b y an
e p i s t e m o l o g y o f radical subjectivism. T h e u n d e r l y i n g a s s u m p t i o n o f s c i e n c e that
the r e a s o n e d analysis o f a p o t e n t i a l l y k n o w a b l e reality is p o s s i b l e is rejected. T h e
e n d result of t h e s e t r e n d s is a n alliance o f r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s a n d subjectivists in
their d i s c o n t e n t w i t h the existing social order. A c o m p a r a b l e analysis is g i v e n b y
Lipset (1994) w h o c o n t r a s t s s o c i o l o g y p r i o r to a n d after the 1960s. In t h e earlier
p e r i o d , g r e a t effort a n d creativity w a s m a n i f e s t e d b a s e d o n the firm b e l i e f that a
scientific s o c i o l o g y c o u l d b e c r e a t e d . Basic t h e o r y a n d r e s e a r c h w e r e c o n s i d e r e d
a n e c e s s a r y p r e r e q u i s i t e for social r e f o r m . T h e 1960s w i t n e s s e d the e n d o f t h e

Vincent Jeffries is a professor of sociology at California State University, Northridge. Address

correspondence to: Vincent Jeffries, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street,
Northridge, CA 91330.

36 The American Sociologist / Winter 1999

d o m i n a n c e of this stress on objectivity and building a scientific basis for reform.
The theoretical and methodological consensus of the earlier period broke down.
Political activism and radicalism b e c a m e dominant. T h o u g h the intensity of con-
flicts has subsided in recent years, considerable divisiveness remains and there is
no intellectual or scientific consensus.
Turner and Turner (1990) describe sociology as unable to consolidate symboli-
cally, either as a professional c o m m u n i t y or on the basis of a c o m m o n b o d y of
k n o w l e d g e . S o c i o l o g y is c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y a p r o l i f e r a t i o n o f s e p a r a t e a n d
unintegrated subfields, multiple journals which further partition sociology in di-
verse directions, diversity and acrimony in theory, and a split b e t w e e n theory and
research. Organizational policies and resources, a rapid growth then decline in
students and faculty, and historical differences b e t w e e n scientific, reform, and
practical models of the discipline have all contributed to this lack of consensus.
In a similar vein, Davis (1994) characterizes sociology as "incoherent." Articles
and books tend to focus on unique problems and are not related to each other.
Theory and methods are not adequately integrated, and there is no consensual
criteria of what constitutes legitimate sociological topics. This incoherence pre-
vents cumulation. Cole (1991) also observes that in sociology there are no criteria
of what constitutes important w o r k that w o u l d be accepted by a majori W. Most
sociologists select topics because of their personal interests rather than their theo-
retical significance. Instead of concentrating on a few important problems, en-
ergy is e x p e n d e d on research on a large n u m b e r of topics. As a result, most
research does not add to the growth of a core of sociological knowledge.
Levine (1995:284-297) notes that the situation of fragmentation and a n o m i e
which exists in sociology is prevalent in the other social sciences as well. Like
sociology, these sciences are also characterized by disciplinary frameworks w h i c h
no longer provide orientation for intellectual communities, and no clear direction
for future courses of development.
A n e w and different orientation is clearly n e e d e d to provide an answer to this
crisis. This can be found in the ideas of Pitirim A. Sorokin.

Sorokin's Integralism

A fundamentally innovative perspective in the social sciences was formulated

by Pitirim A. Sorokin in his idea of an "integral" system of truth and k n o w l e d g e .
Sorokin's advocacy of integralism can be regarded as an incipient paradigm w h i c h
has the potential of moving the social sciences to higher levels of integration,
understanding, and creativity. The idea that progress in science comes a b o u t
through the introduction and gradual spread of n e w paradigms was first pro-
posed by Thomas Kuhn (1970). Ritzer's (1975:7) concept of paradigm is appropri-
ate for considering the implications of Sorokin's ideas:

A paradigm is a fundamental image of the subject matter within a science. It serves to define
what should be studied, what questions should be asked, and what rules should be followed in
interpreting the answers obtained. The paradigm is the broadest unit of consensus within a
science and serves to differentiate one scientific community (or subcommunity) from another.
It subsumes, defines, and interrelates the exemplars, theories, and methods and instruments
that exist within it.

Jeffries 37
Analyses of Sorokin's work by Ford (1963; 1996), Johnston (1995; 1996:166-
220; 1998), and Nichols (1999) agree that integralism is the foundation of his
epistemology, his theory of culture types and change, and his later analysis of
altruism and personal and social reconstruction. The basic characteristics of a
paradigm which could be called "integral" (Sorokin 1960) in accordance with
Sorokin's ideas can be derived from his writings. This perspective is an important
legacy of his work. It contains the potential solution to the current crisis in the
social sciences.
Integralism is derived by Sorokin from his historical study of the culture types
of ideational, sensate, and idealistic (Ford 1963). Sorokin believed that, in accor-
dance with the prevailing culture type, cultures fluctuate in the dominance of one
of three systems of truth and knowledge: sense, faith, or reason (Sorokin 1937:3-
476; 1947:607-619; 1957a:226-283). The system of truth and knowledge is the
compartment of culture that includes religious, philosophical, and scientific thought,
and thus addresses fundamental ontological and epistemological issues.
The truth of the senses, or sensate truth, is empiricism. It relies primarily on the
testimony of the sense organs as a method of validation, as exemplified in induc-
tion and experimentation (Sorokin 1947:610--616). The truth of faith, or ideational
truth, is "...disclosed in a supersensory way through mystic experience, direct
revelation, Divine intuition, and inspiration" (Sorokin 1947:607). Ideational truth
develops concepts and propositions from religious ideas and from theology, par-
ticularly from what is viewed as the Sacred Scripture of a given religion. The truth
of reason relies primarily on rational argument to determine validity or invalidity.
As an integrated system of truth within idealistic culture, reason is used to bring
the sensory-empirical and supersensory into "one organic whole" (Sorokin
The true and absolute reality contains empirical-sensory aspects, rational-mindful
aspects, and superrational-supersensory aspects. A system of truth and knowl-
edge based only on sense, or reason, or faith, apprehends a limited part of this
manifold reality, thus presenting a partial and distorted view of the subject mat-
ter. An integral system of truth entails a synthesis of each of these three aspects,
thus most closely approximating the true threefold nature of reality. Hence
integralism is the most adequate system of truth and knowledge. (Sorokin 1964:226-
237; 1957a:679-697; 1957b). Change to an integral ontology and epistemology
was viewed by Sorokin as a necessary condition for realizing the creative poten-
tial of the social sciences (Sorokin 1964:226-237; 1947:617-619, 545-547; 1957a;
1961; 1963:372-408).
In his description of integralism, intuition is identified by Sorokin as the third
method of cognition, in addition to sense and reason. Sorokin views intuition as
a source of cognition, irrespective of content, of anything which is not accessible
through sensory and rational methods alone. In this sense, it may in some in-
stances include supersensory-superrational aspects of the total reality (Sorokin
1964:227-229; 1956; 1957b; 1961; 1963:372-408). Krishna (1960) has observed
that this concept of intuition includes two different contents, one which refers to
the empirical, such as in physics or art, and another which is concerned with
supersensory-superrational truths, such as the nature of God or the Ultimate Re-
ality. The first form of intuition has the possibility of being i n d e p e n d e n t l y
verified, the second does not, hence in Krishna's view the two should be clearly

38 The American Sociologist / Winter 1999

distinguished. In his description of culture types, Sorokin appears to emphasize
the second, or ideational, content of intuition, identifying two types of rational-
ism, mysticism, and fideism as methods of cognition incorporating the truth of
faith. Each of these assumes that truth is revealed in some m a n n e r by a supersensory
God or Ultimate Reality (Sorokin 1937:23-27; 1957a: 228-229, 236-239. See also
Sorokin 1956). This historically based cultural approach to the truth of faith is
thus m o r e specific than the concept of intuition. It focuses primarily on religious
ideas, and explicitly entails the idea of religion as a source of truth.
Sorokin believed that adoption of an integral perspective w o u l d e n d the oppo-
sition b e t w e e n science, philosophy, and religion. In an integral system of truth
and k n o w l e d g e these intellectual communities w o u l d be united in the goal of
understanding the h u m a n condition as a basis for personal, social, and cultural
reconstruction. A major focus in this system of science and its practical direction
w o u l d be the realization of transcendental values and ethical principles shared
by the major world religions (Sorokin 1941:317-318; 1944:444-445; 1948:158. See
also Johnston 1995:167-168, 179; Johnston 1996).

Integralism a n d t h e Truth o f Faith

A basic problem in developing the integral system of troth and k n o w l e d g e

advocated by Sorokin is h o w to incorporate the idea of the truth of faith as
expressed in religious ideas in a m a n n e r compatible with a naturalistic concep-
tion of science, which is limited to rational and empirical truth. This can be d o n e
by focusing on certain broad categories of religious ideas which have existed for
centuries and have close to universal consensus in the major world religions.
These ideas can be considered as the fundamental content of the truth of faith
which can be incorporated within the system of truth and k n o w l e d g e of the
social sciences.
A fundamental assumption of an integral perspective is that religious and theo-
logical ideas contain valid insights and truths regarding various aspects of h u m a n
behavior and social life. The ideas of the major world religions can be divided
into two basic categories in terms of their relation to an integral social science.
The first category is c o m p o s e d of those ideas pertaining directly or primarily to
the nature of the spiritual, superrational-supersensory world. Ideas such as those
pertaining to the nature of God, the relation b e t w e e n God and h u m a n beings,
and the afterlife fall into this category. These ideas can be related to the purposes
of integral social science, provide justifications for s o m e of its concepts, and
influence the structure of its priorities.
A second category of ideas are the moral and ethical precepts of the major
world religions. Also important in this regard are ideas about the causes and
effects of such morality with respect to both individuals and the sociocultural.
Since these ideas pertain directly to fundamental and universal variations in hu-
man behavior, they are the focal point of an integral social science. In this regard
Krishna (1960) notes that the ideational system of k n o w l e d g e contains s o m e
ideas pertaining to empirical and rational aspects of the world. These ideas are
suitable for verification through the m e t h o d s of empirical science. An e x a m p l e at
an abstract level of such ideas is the positive and negative precepts of the G o l d e n
Rule: to do g o o d to others and to avoid doing h a r m to them.

Jefffies 39
This approach to incorporating religious ideas in the social sciences is most
consistent with a synthesis of the three historical cultural systems of truth and
knowledge as they are described in Sorokin's culture types of ideational, idealis-
tic, and sensate. The idealistic system of truth and knowledge as it has occurred
historically becomes the factual model of such a system (Krishna 1960). This
approach is consistent with the later writings of Sorokin, in which he to some
degree equates "idealistic" and "integral" (Sorokin 1961:95-96; 1963:481; Ford
1963:53). Idealistic rationalism, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas provide historical
exemplars of this integral perspective (Sorokin 1937:95-103).
Two contrasting models of the integral paradigm are possible in this regard.
The first is primarily derived from the teachings of religion. In this model certain
ideas become assumptions because they are believed to be revealed truth. From
this perspective, for example, the Golden Rule is a fundamental component of
the truth of faith advocated in some form by all major world religions. The truth
of faith is the foundation of this model, as in Aquinas's (1981:1-7) hierarchy of
the sciences. The second model is derived solely from rational-empirical sources.
From this perspective the Golden Rule is a value and normative system which
should be studied because it is fundamental in influencing both human behavior
and social organization. As ideal types stipulating sources of truth these models
appear incompatible. However, in the process of incorporating ideas and verify-
ing them through empirical research they are similar. Both models are centered
around the effort to understand important and universal aspects of human behav-
ior. The basic variables in each model are the same, as in this example of the
Golden Rule and its positive and negative precepts.
The incorporation of religious ideas within the frame of reference of the social
sciences is consistent with Popper's (1959:38-39) view that metaphysical ideas
have furthered scientific advancement throughout history. Metaphysical ideas are
described as ideas which cannot be demonstrated to be false. They may be highly
speculative. However, these ideas must be "demarcated" from ideas which are
presented in falsifiable form. These are scientific ideas. In the integral paradigm
appropriate religious ideas can be used as metaphysical value premises which
guide various aspects of scientific endeavors, or they can be used as concepts
which are incorporated in falsifiable propositions.
A social science paradigm derived from Sorokin's integralism entails a synthe-
sis of the existing systems of sensate and rational truth with ideas from the truth
of faith. Sensate truth is exemplified by positivism. Its basic assumption is that
social science is possible because sociocultural phenom ena have invarient prop-
erties which can be identified, objectively studied, and ultimately be explained
by general laws (Turner 1987). Integralism fully incorporates this assumption in
its research agenda. The positivism of integralism is based on the principles of
critical realism (Bell 1997:191-238; Musgrave 1995). Critical realism incorporates re-
cent valid criticisms of positivism, while advocating a theory of knowledge based on
a strong realist epistemology. Alexander (1990) has noted the importance of theoreti-
cal discourse in which the role of reason in conceptual and theoretical develop-
ment predominates. Integralism incorporates this emphasis through an agenda of
theoretical synthesis of religious ideas with existing theories. The truth of faith
consists of religious ideas which have import for understanding personality, soci-
ety, and culture. These ideas guide the content of theory and research.

40 The American Sociologist / Winter 1999

Foundations: The Golden Rule and Personal Transformation

By focusing theoretical and research attention on religious ideas, the integral

perspective returns to a viewpoint consistent with Durkheim (1957) and Weber
(1958a; 1958b; 1963; 1964). These founders of sociology considered religious
ideas of central significance in understanding human behavior and social and
cultural phenomena. More recently, theorists such as Berger (1990) and Dawson
(1958; 1962) have noted the historical and cultural importance of religious ideas.
Likewise, theorists of culture in the United States have generally given serious
attention to religion (Lamont and Wuthnow 1990: 303-304).
There is considerable accord among the major world religions with respect to
general moral and ethical principles (Catoir 1992; Hick 1989; Hunt, Crotty and
Crotty 1991; Parliament of the World's Religions 1993; Sorokin 1944; Sorokin
1948:154-158). Concisely, they agree on the Golden Rule as the most fundamen-
tal principle. For example, in his comparative analysis of five major world reli-
gious traditions, the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim, Hick
(1989:316) observes that "all the great traditions teach the moral ideal of generous
goodwill, love, compassion epitomized in the Golden Rule" as a central ethical
principle in their "scriptures." This basic norm "in its positive or negative forms"
expresses the fundamental and universally accepted criterion of religious moral
judgment that "it is good to benefit others and evil to harm them" (Hick 1989:313).
After two years of deliberation, over two hundred scholars and theologians, in-
cluding individuals affiliated with all of the major world religions, reached agree-
ment on a "Global Ethic." This Ethic was considered to be a declaration of values,
standards, and moral attitudes which are a consensus of centuries old traditions
of the major religions of the world. The basic principle of this Global Ethic is
stated positively as "What you wish done to yourself, do to others," and nega-
tively as "What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others" (Parlia-
ment of the World's Religions 1993:5).
The importance of the Golden Rule to the social sciences as a theoretical topic
and research variable is indicated by cross-societal studies. Considerable com-
parative research indicates a wide variety of universals in personality, society,
language, and culture (Brown 1991). There are strong indications that the Golden
Rule in some form is one of these universals. One indication is provided by the
norm of reciprocity, which expresses the Golden Rule in a restricted manner.
Reviews of the literature indicate the norm of reciprocity is universally recog-
nized in some form (Gouldner 1960; Brown 1991:107-108. See also Selznick
1992:95-98). Gouldner (1960:171) views this universal norm as entailing "two
interrelated minimal demands: (1) people should help those who have helped
them, and (2) people should not injure those who have helped them." The previ-
ously presented generalized statements of religious based versions of the Golden
Rule are more completely realized with what Gouldner calls the norm of benefi-
cence. Gouldner (1973:266) regards this norm as at least "hypothetically" univer-
sal. It requires giving help according to the need of the other, without consider-
ation of return. This general norm includes more specific orientations such as
hospitality, altruism, and charity. Both Gouldner (1960) and Selznick (1992:95-
98) have maintained that the norm of reciprocity is a functional necessity for
social stability. Gouldner (1973) further demonstrates the importance of the Golden

Jeffries 41
Rule to research and theory in the social sciences by an extended analysis of both
the functions and dysfunctions of the norms of reciprocity and of beneficence.
An emphasis upon personal transformation is also uniform in the traditions of
the major world religions. Hick (1989:36-55) observes that there is a c o m m o n
focus upon the individual changing from preoccupation with self-concern to
centeredness upon God or a transcendental Reality. Despite differences, each
tradition recognizes human weakness, failure, and insecurity, proposes an alter-
native through involvement with a Supreme Being or transcendental Reality, and
teaches the way to realize this transformation (Hick 1989:56). Charitable works to
benefit those in need are one manifestation of this transformation (Hick 1989:304-
305). Individual transformation entails growth in "moral goodness," which can be
viewed as expressed in various facets of the Golden Rule.
The emphasis upon a movement toward greater perfection entailing the real-
ization of both positive and negative precepts of the Golden Rule further focuses
theory and research in the integral paradigm. In this perspective the goal of the
social sciences is to provide valid scientific knowledge of how to realize all facets
of the Golden Rule in its personal, social, and cultural manifestations. Acquiring
knowledge of how to achieve this tripartate increase in the altruism entailed in
religious ethical systems was considered essential by Sorokin (1941:317-318;
1948:154-158, 233-236; Johnston 1998).

T h e Virtues, Vices, a n d C o m m a n d m e n t s

If the Golden Rule is to serve as the primary focal point of theoretical and
research endeavors in integral social science, then this abstract and general prin-
ciple must be broken down into constituent parts. There is a fundamental distinc-
tion between the positive and negative precepts of "doing good" and "avoiding
evil," and their behavioral realization or violation. Three schemes of religious
ideas which appear to have a bearing on this distinction, and hence upon the
Golden Rule, are the concepts of virtue, of vice or sin, and the Ten Command-
ments. Each of these ideas can be considered as part of the truth of faith from a
religious perspective, or from a rational and empirical perspective as pertaining
to important and universal aspects of human behavior.
The virtues, vices and Ten Commandments can be viewed as systems of ethics
and morality. As such they provide a frame of reference for the scientific study of
morality, and their causes and effects can be studied within this context. An
emphasis on morality follows in the tradition of Durkheim (1953; 1961) and con-
temporary theorists such as Etzioni (1988), Kohlberg (1984), Wilson (1993), and
Wuthnow (1987). The importance of morality to society is also stressed in
communitarian thinking (Etzioni 1993).
The relevance of these ethical schemes to understanding the fundamental sub-
ject matter of the social sciences transcends the fact that there is always some
discrepancy between ethical systems and the behavior of their adherents (Sorokin
1957a:41d 715). This has certainly been true historically in the case of adherents
to various religions, who have often violated their own ethics in the name of
religion (Bell 1994). In integral social science this discrepancy is an important
topic of theory and research as part of the broader focus upon how these prin-
ciples can be most fully realized in personality, society, and culture.

42 The American Sociologist / Winter 1999

The Virtues

The concept of virtue provides a formulation of the components of the positive

precepts of the Golden Rule. The virtues represent one of the oldest and most
persistent ideas in the history of speculative thinking (MacIntyre 1984; Pieper
1966:xi-xiii). Analysis of the nature and effects of the virtues dates to classical
Greek and Roman philosophy and to early Judaism and Christianity. The virtues
were a topic of continued interest throughout the Middle Ages. Analysis of the
virtues is experiencing a revival in the philosophy of ethics (Kruschwitz and
Roberts 1987; Maclntyre 1984), and has recently appeared in the analysis of social
theory in the works of Challanger (1994: 21-81) and Levine (1995:105-120).
The virtues can be viewed as a c o mmon standard of goodness and morality
that transcends different historical eras and cultures (Maclntyre 1984; Pieper 1966:xi-
xiii). Virtue is a disposition which is consistent with the good in human nature,
and in that sense is consistent with the true nature of human beings (Aquinas
1981:897). The concept of virtue provides a specification of the criteria of indi-
vidual perfection (Aquinas 1981:1944-1948) as it is emphasized in both the Old
and New Testaments. Comparable ideas of perfection appear to be part of other
religious traditions (Hunt, Crotty and Crotty 1991; Hick 1989:288-342; Sorokin
1954a:287-455), though precise similarities between religious ideas are often dif-
ficult to determine (Kellenberger 1993).
Aquinas (1981:817-894, 1263-1879) presents a scheme of "primary," or basic,
and "secondary" virtues specifying a full spectrum of behavior directed in various
ways toward the welfare of another. Based on this scheme, five primary virtues
are: temperance, fortitude, justice, charity, and prudence (Jeffries 1987). Each of
these virtues contains various secondary virtues which entail more specific appli-
cations of the essential quality of the primary virtue.
The five primary virtues and some of their corresponding secondary virtues
(Aquinas 1981:817-894, 1263-1879. See also Pieper 1966; Jeffries 1987) can be
briefly described as follows: (1) Temperance: restraint, moderation, and disci-
pline with respect to the passions and the appetites. Humility, an objective recog-
nition of one's own limitations, and meekness, the effective control and modera-
tion of anger, are secondary virtues within temperance. (2) Fortitude: firmness of
mind in pursuing the good in spite of hardships and danger. Patience and perse-
verance are secondary virtues specific to the bearing of hardships. (3) Justice:
fairness and the rendering to others their basic rights or dues. Truthfulness, grati-
tude, and friendliness are secondary parts of justice. (4) Charity: effort to do good
to the other in a variety of ways, such as appropriately meeting needs, forgiving,
and tolerating faults and imperfections. (5) Prudence: direction of the will to
good and the use of reason and objectivity to choose the most suitable means to
reach that end. What is good is defined by the aforementioned virtues. Secondary
virtues are docility, an openness to the viewpoints of others, and solicitude, a
watchfulness and alertness in seeking the good.
The virtues may be considered as the components of the dimension of love
traditionally called the love of benevolence. Both Aristotle (1941:1058-1102) and
Aquinas (1981:1263) considered this the love in which good is wished to the
other, and in which this intent is manifested in acts of beneficence. More recent
formulations of this idea of benevolent love can be found in the writings of

Jeffries 43
scholars representing a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology (Montagu
1975:5-16, 150-174), psychology (Fromm 1956; Maslow 1968:41-43), psychiatry
(Peck 1978:81-182), and sociology ( G o u l d n e r 1973; Shibutani 1961:341-346;
Sorokin 1954a:3-79). A review of recent empirical studies of love shows that most
include some measure of this dimension of love (Jeffries 1993). Benevolent love is
also central to definitions of altruism in the interdisciplinary field of altruistic and
prosocial behavior (Jeffries 1998; Oliner and Oliner 1988:4-6; Rushton 1980:8).
The c o m m o n theme which emerges from these writings is that the essence of
the love of b e n e v o l e n c e is the attempt to benefit another person through caring
and giving. Each virtue makes a particular contribution to this general end. Tem-
perance limits behavior contradictory to love, and provides the discipline neces-
sary for giving to another in a consistent m a n n e r over time. Fortitude provides
the steadfastness which is often necessary in doing g o o d to others in the face of
hardship or danger. Justice provides for fulfilling basic responsibilities and obli-
gations which are c o m m o n l y entailed in relations with others. Charity goes be-
y o n d obligation to meeting needs, providing support, and in s o m e instances
correcting and forgiving. Prudence is the rational element which is necessary in
making the best decisions about h o w to love another most effectively. The full
and consistent expression of the love of b e n e v o l e n c e requires all of these virtues,
although their relevance varies according to circumstances (Jeffries 1987; 1998).
In its positive form of the virtues, the Golden Rule represents an emphasis
u p o n what is often currently called altruistic love. This topic was a major focus
for Sorokin in his later writings (1950a; 1954a) and in two edited symposiums
(1950b; 1954b), thus further laying the foundations for the d e v e l o p m e n t of inte-
gral sociology. The major work in this series, The Ways a n d P o w e r o f Love (Sorokin
1954a), can be considered as an exemplar of the integral paradigm, since it con-
tains a major effort at synthesizing the three systems of truth and their respective
contributions in relation to an understanding of the characteristics of love, its
sources, and its effects.

The Vices

Violation of the precepts of the Golden Rule can be characterized in terms of

vice, or sin, which represents the absence, or opposite, of virtue. Vice is a dispo-
sition which is contrary to the g o o d of h u m a n nature, and sin is an act w h i c h
typically derives from vice (Aquinas 1981:897-902). In this context the sins are
viewed as ultimately harmful to self, others, and society. The seven capital, or
deadly sins, are traditionally identified as follows: pride, envy, anger, Mst, gluttony,
greed, and sloth. A recent work by Schimmel (1992) notes that these attitudes and
behavior patterns are major ideas in traditional moral philosophy and the Jewish and
Christian religious traditions, although each interprets the sins somewhat differently.
Despite this variation, Schimmel (1992) maintains there is considerable c o m m o n ground
which yields a scheme of ideas with important implications for the understanding of
both the psychology of the individual and society. Lyman (1978) presents a m o r e
sociological analysis of the seven deadly sins. T h e y are v i e w e d within the context
of the sociology of evil, and their effects on personality and society are consid-
ered. Aquinas (1981:895-990, 1263-1897) e n u m e r a t e s a detailed s c h e m e of the
vices, and considers h o w they are o p p o s e d to the corresponding virtues.

44 The American Sociologist / Winter 1999

The C o m m a n d m e n t s

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17; D e u t e r o n o m y 5:6-21) are central

ideas in both the Jewish and Christian religious traditions. Other world religions
contain comparable precepts, particularly with respect to the c o m m a n d m e n t s
which pertain to relationships among individuals. When each c o m m a n d m e n t is
explicated, there are a considerable n u m b e r of both positive and negative pre-
cepts pertaining to the Golden Rule. They pertain to major and perennial aspects
of h u m a n behavior and social relationships. Examples are: various aspects of
marriage and family life; sexual behavior; violence; the taking of h u m a n life;
theft; untruthfulness; justice; and religious observance.

Integral Social Science a n d the Scientific C o n t i n u u m

Social theory "is a body of theory shared in c o m m o n by all the disciplines

concerned with the behavior of h u m a n beings" (Giddens 1982:5). Theory in the
social sciences is organized within a general though often implicit frame of refer-
ence of three concepts: culture, society, and personality. The identification and
elaboration of this frame of reference was a major contribution of the works of
Sorokin (1947; 1966) and later the interdisciplinary efforts of Parsons (1961) and
his associates to develop a c o m m o n perspective for the social sciences (Parsons
and Shils 1951). Integralism can be developed as a distinct paradigm within this
already established frame of reference.
Science is an endeavor which spans a continuum from the empirical to the
metaphysical (Alexander 1982:1-46). Integralism is distinctive because it entails
the incorporation of the ideas of the major world religions, particularly those
pertaining to moral and ethical precepts, within this scientific continuum. Thus,
the careful examination of the sacred texts and theology of the major world
religions for ideas with explanatory potential for the concerns of social science
disciplines is a major task in developing the integral perspective. This examina-
tion of ideas from other disciplines to ascertain their scientific relevance has been
identified by Tiryakian (1992) as an important aspect of metatheory. As religious
ideas relevant to the understanding of culture, society, and personality are iden-
tified, they can be employed at appropriate places in the scientific continuum.
The selection and use of these ideas is guided by value premises.

The Value P r e m i s e s o f Integralism

Value premises are standards of desirability, or good. They are at the meta-
physical end of the scientific continuum. Myrdal (1958; 1962) has maintained
value premises are relevant to many aspects of the scientific process, such as
choosing problems to be investigated, formulating research designs, and evaluat-
ing results. As long as value premises are clearly identified as such, they n e e d not
interfere with the objective scientific analysis of a given research topic. The im-
portance of value premises and the possibility and procedures justifying t h e m on
empirical grounds has been further analyzed by Bell (1993).
The frame of reference of culture, society, and personality provides the broad
context within which value premises serve as organizing principles for the theo-

Jeffries 45
retical and research agenda of integralism. In a classic statement T h o m a s and
Znaniecki (1958:20) p o s e d the relation b e t w e e n science and values as follows:

Now there are two fundamental practical problems which have constituted the center of atten-
tion of reflective social practice in all times. These are (1) the problem of the dependence of
the individual upon social organization and culture, and (2) the problem of the dependence of
social organization and culture upon the individual. Practically, the first problem is expressed
in the question, how shall we produce with the help of the existing social organization and
culture the desirable mental and moral characteristics in the individuals constituting the social
group? And the second problem means in practice, how shall we produce, with the help of the
existing mental and moral characteristics of the members of the group, the desirable type of
social organization and culture? (Thomas and Znaniecki 1958:20)

This call for scientific e n d e a v o r to focus on h o w to increase the "desirable" in

both individuals and the socio-cultural is given full and varied content b y the
value premises of integral social science. The truth of faith identifies the G o l d e n
Rule and its m o r e specific positive and negative precepts as e x p r e s s e d in the
virtues, vices, and Ten C o m m a n d m e n t s as fundamental value premises. From the
perspective dictated b y these premises, providing k n o w l e d g e and understanding
of h o w to maximize a d h e r e n c e to these precepts is the most general practical
goal of scientific endeavor. Such a d h e r e n c e can be placed in the context of the
earlier quote from Thomas and Znaniecki b y t w o questions: (1) What are the
social and cultural characteristics which influence a d h e r e n c e of individuals to the
Golden Rule? (2) H o w does individual a d h e r e n c e to the G o l d e n Rule influence
the characteristics of society and culture?
The use of value premises in scientific analysis includes a consideration of
their justification to be used as a standard of the g o o d and desirable (Bell 1993).
In integral social science, value premises can be justified on both faith-based and
rational-empirical grounds. For example, the desirability of altruistic love as a
value premise could be justified from the perspective of the truth of faith as the
c o m m a n d m e n t of God, or as the perfection of h u m a n nature. This same value
premise could be justified on rational-empirical grounds with reference to theo-
retical works g r o u n d e d in empirical research, such as those of Montagu (1975),
Rushton (1980), and Sorokin (1954a:47-79), which indicate altruistic love as ben-
eficial in a variety of ways to both the individual and to society.

Reform Orientation
This explicit focus of theory and research u p o n the G o l d e n Rule and other
widely recognized ethical traditions will provide a shared universe of ideas for a
potential discourse b e t w e e n social science and the general public. With this cen-
tral interest, integral social science can generate ideas and findings that relate
"history to biography" and "issues to troubles" in the m a n n e r envisioned b y C.
Wright Mills (1959:1-24). This is the role of theory and research in personal,
social, and cultural reform advocated b y Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swindler, and
Tipton (1985:297-307). In this role the social sciences and the humanities, includ-
ing religion and philosophy, provide a source of understanding and impetus for
public dialogue regarding major social issues. In a similar vein, Denzin (1992:166-
167) advocates social scientists being e n g a g e d intellectuals. In this role they w o u l d
have a clear sense of identity, take themselves and their discipline seriously, b e

46 The American Sociologist / Winter 1999

committed to social reform, and seek to communicate to ordinary persons about
issues in such a manner that it could affect their daily lives. Integralism provides
an ideological and motivational basis for this sense of identity, and gives direc-
tion to the nature of reform proposals.

The Theoretical and Research Agenda o f Integralism

The social sciences are multiple paradigm sciences characterized by subcom-

munities emphasizing different paradigms. For example, Ritzer maintains sociol-
ogy is characterized by three complementary paradigms: social facts, social defi-
nition, and social behavior. Each includes more than one theory. While theories
in the same paradigm share certain general characteristics, they differ in more
specific traits (Ritzer 1975:1-34).
The incorporation of the truth of faith in the ontology and epistemology of the
integral paradigm differentiates integralism from other paradigms in the social
sciences. The value premises generated from this system of truth and knowledge
provide both foundation and direction for the content of theory and research.
Within the context of its distinctive features, other paradigms and theories in the
social sciences can be incorporated in the integral paradigm.

Choices pertaining to tile Golden Rule are a fundamental focal point for the
integral synthesis of religious and philosophical ideas with paradigms and with
more specific theories. Personal transformation directed toward more complete
realization of the Golden Rule is a basic value premise derived from the truth of
faith. Sorokin believed that society and culture are ultimately created by the
aggregate effect of individual choices. In this context, choice of altruistic love is a
key determinant of both personal and social reconstruction (Sorokin 1954a:287-
355; 1948:243-244; Johnston 1996; 1998). In varying degrees of awareness and
magnitude, individuals are continually choosing virtue or vice, or conformity or
violation of the precepts of the Ten Commandments. These choices and their
causes and effects are a central focus of integralism which transcends the bound-
aries of particular theories.
Consistent choices that are contradictory to benevolent love as virtue can be
viewed as central to what Marx (1963) and Fromm (1963:1-83) viewed as alien-
ation, a condition in which false needs are habitually given preference over the
true needs of human nature. Denzin (1987:135-166) gives an example of such an
alienation in his analysis of the "divided self" of the alcoholic. Basic needs for
security, esteem, love, and self-actualization (Maslow 1954) are sacrificed for al-
cohol, which fosters fear, anger, self-hatred and other negative emotions. Integralism
raises the question of the role of the vices in alienation.
This concentration of integral social science on the effects of choice can be
manifested in theory and research in the context of the micro-macro continuum
and the problem of linkage (Alexander, Gieson, Munch and Smelser 1987; Ritzer
1992:397-456, 511-535). This emphasis upon a two-way interchange of influence
between individuals and the socio-cultural and the attempt to develop adequate
conceptualization of the linkage between levels of analysis is evident in such ap-

Jeffries 47
proaches as agency-structure analysis (Ritzer 1992:427-456), Berger and Luckmann's
(1967) analysis of externalization, objectification, and internalization, and Giddens's
(1979) strucmration theory. Ritzer (1992:511-535) advances a paradigm combining
two continuums, the objective-subjective and the micro-macro levels of analysis. An
adequate theory is regarded as one which can provide understanding at any point of
intersection between the two continuums. Subjective and objective aspects of
choices pertaining to the positive or negative precepts of the Golden Rule can be
studied within this context, and within different theoretical traditions.
Another area for synthesis of religious ideas with paradigms and more specific
theories is in the study of personality. The truth of faith entails the assumption
that the spiritual component of personality exists and that knowledge about it is
essential in any attempt to understand human behavior. Both Sorokin (1954a:83-
143; 1961:87-90; Johnston 1995:189-204, 1996) and Peck (1993) have stressed the
importance of considering this c o mp o n e nt of personality. Sorokin (1954a:83-
114) posits four levels of personality, each of which has particular forms of en-
ergy and activities: unconscious, bioconscious, socioconscious, and supraconscious.
The supraconscious is the highest level. It is the spiritual center of personality. It
is the source of creativity in many areas, particularly in the generation of high
levels of ego transcending altruistic love. Empirical evidence of its importance in
this kind and degree of love can be found in four areas: the testimony of eminent
altruists; the content of ethical systems of love; the nature of techniques for
realizing high levels of altruistic love; the lack of a clear relationship between the
unconscious and conscious intellects and either criminality or altruism (Sorokin
1954a:125-143). Peck (1993:232-255) argues that all human beings have a spiri-
tual life just as they have an unconscious. In his view, the traditional neglect of
spirituality by psychiatry has led to five broad areas of failure: misdiagnosis;
mistreatment; poor professional reputation; inadequate theory and research; and
limitations on psychospiritual development of psychiatrists.

Th c o t i e s

Sorokin (1965; 1966:635-649) maintained that there is a growing concordance

of sociological theories on basic principles and propositions. One of these is the
acceptance of the "meaningful, normative, value laden" nature of phenom ena
(Sorokin 1966:635), another is recognition that interacting individuals are a basic
component of sociocultural phenomena. The emphasis on these points is evident
in symbolic interactionist theory. Consistent with Sorokin's idea of concordance,
Fine (1993) notes the acceptance of basic interactionist concepts in mainstream
sociology in the last twenty years. This can be seen in the integration of symbolic
interactionism with a variety of other theoretical perspectives, its use in macro
and structural analysis, and in various aspects of policy. Sorokin's points of con-
v e r g e n c e are evident in Blumer's (1969:1-6) three premises of symbolic
interactionism: first, behavior towards things is based on meanings; second, mean-
ings arise out of social interaction; third, use of meanings involves an interpreta-
tive process. Each of these premises can be used to develop a particular theoreti-
cal and research agenda for integralism. For example, focusing on the virtues and
vices, the first premise suggests directing attention toward the virtues and vices as
systems of meanings which are likely to underlie differing kinds of behaviors.

48 The American Sociologist / Winter 1999

The second premise suggests directing attention towards the nature and group
context of interaction which gives rise to virtue on the one hand and vice on the
other. The third premise pertains to the content of communication with the self in
the operation of consciousness. It focuses attention upon differences in reality
construction which give rise to the direction of behavior and life organization
towards either the virtues or the vices.
Symbolic interactionist theory provides concepts such as consciousness, defi-
nition of the situation, self conception, and life organization (Mead 1962; Shibutani
1961; Thomas and Znaniecki 1958) which provide for analysis of the choices
individuals make within a process model. Giddens' (1979) structuration theory
elaborates the aggregate behavioral and interactional processes through which
choice makes individuals active agents in maintaining or changing society and
culture. Position in the social structure in terms of social stratification is of impor-
tance in this regard, since individual and aggregate choices have varying impacts
depending on differences in power and authority.
Functional theory in both anthropology and sociology can be enhanced through
the integral perspective. Merton's (1968:73-138) codification of functional analy-
sis and its analytical weaknesses notes that the designation of conditions as func-
tional or dysfunctional is problematic. By using faith based value judgements the
interests of specific groups or the often difficult and value-laden assessment of
integration or system maintenance can be bypassed. Once this value perspective
is applied, the functional or dysfunctional nature of various social and cultural
conditions can be assessed relative to their positive or negative effects upon the
practice of the Golden Rule by individuals. For example, if the virtue of social
justice is designated as an end, then what facilitates it is functional, and what
renders it difficult or impossible is dysfunctional. The perfection of individual
personalities in the practice of virtue can similarly be justified. Theoretical and
research problems can also be generated by beginning with the virtues, vices, or
Ten Commandments as variables which affect some societal condition, such as
the equilibrium between order and autonomy described by Etzioni (1996).
The virtues and vices appear as potentially strong explanatory concepts in
conflict theory. For example, Dahrendorf (1959) has analyzed the intensity and
violence of conflict. Integralisrn raises the question of how the virtues and vices
might contribute to variations in these aspects of conflict. The propositions de-
rived by Coser (1956) from Simmel could also be investigated from the perspec-
tive provided by the virtues and vices. For example, they could be variables in
these theoretical and research problems: the relative balance between realistic
and nonrealistic conflict; the relationship between hostile impulses and conflict;
the influence of conflict on the stability of relationships; the conditions under
which conflict increases internal cohesion. Study of the virtues and vices also
opens new areas of theory and research in the traditional concerns of conflict
theory with power and authority. Sorokin and Lunden's (1959) study exemplifies
such a focus on the relation between power and morality.

Special Fields

The integral perspective transcends disciplinary boundaries and subfields within

disciplines. The causes and effects of the Golden Rule can be examined in differ-

Jeffdes 49
ent groups ranging from family to economic to political groups, and within the
context of the unequal distribution of power and authority within various sys-
tems of stratification.
The integral synthesis of religious and philosophical concepts with theory and
empirical evidence in special fields of disciplines can be briefly illustrated by
papers in two fields: marriage and family; ahmism and prosocial behavior. In the
first paper, conflict in the marital relationship is analyzed, building on the com-
mon assumption of conflict theory that conflict is normal and pervasive (Jeffries
2000). Employing both a symbolic interactionist and exchange theoretical per-
spective, choice of virtue as manifested in interaction between spouses is viewed
as a major contributor to constructive conflict leading to effective conflict man-
agement. The particular effect of different virtues is considered. In the second
paper, virtue is synthesized with general theory in the interdisciplinary field of
altruism and prosocial behavior (Jeffries 1998). The paper first demonstrates that
there is considerable empirical evidence indicating that the virtues can reason-
ably be considered as the underlying motivation for altruistic behavior. Symbolic
interactionist theory, situational analysis, and Sorokin's dimensions of love
(1954a:15-35) are then used to examine how particular virtues are relevant moti-
vators of altruistic behavior according to the nature of specific situations.

Empirical Re~earch
In the development of integral social science, analytical concepts at appropri-
ate levels of analysis must be formulated for each relevant religious idea, such as
the virtues, vices, or Ten Commandments. Likewise, operational procedures ap-
propriate for different research techniques such as survey, experimental, and
historical, need to be conceived and validated. As this proceeds, propositions
with concepts derived from those sources can be developed and tested at differ-
ent levels of analysis within the basic frame of reference of culture, society, and
personality. The virtues, vices, or Commandments can serve as independent,
dependent, or intervening variables in the exploration of a wide variety of ques-
A series of four empirical studies of young adults' love for their parents and
their perceptions of their parents' love for them illustrates the research potential
of the integral approach. Based on religious and classical philosophical writings
and on recent empirical studies, love was conceptualized and operationalized as
two distinct but related dimensions: virtue and attraction. Among other findings,
survey data from these studies s h o we d the following: the higher the love of
either dimension, the higher the young adults' perceived quality of the parental
relationship; perception of perceived love of the parent is most important in
explaining variance in quality, but there is an independent effect of giving love;
attraction is most important in explaining quality, but virtue still has an indepen-
dent effect (Jeffries 1987; 1988; 1990). The research culminated in validation of a
measure of both self-reported giving of love and perception of receiving love
from the other. Factor analysis confirmed the five primary virtues as one dimen-
sion of love and five components of attraction as the other (Jeffries 1993).
In addition to new research, empirical findings can be assembled and orga-
nized from the analysis of previous studies which employed concepts compa-

50 T h e American Sociologist / Winter 1999

rable with the virtues and vices or other aspects of the Golden Rule. A large body
of past research findings can probably be reinterpreted and generalizations for-
mulated in this manner.
The Golden Rule in its various precepts creates a c o m m o n consensus for theory
and research in integral social science. Valid scientific generalizations d e p e n d on
replication. With this similar point of consensus of the Golden Rule, a relatively
rapid advancement of valid scientific knowledge can be expected as adherents of
integral social science grow in number.

Sociological Practice

The scientific and reform agendas of integralism extend to the more specific
level of sociological practice. This is expressed in a theoretical and research
program centered around the practical question of how love and morality can be
increased in personality, society, and culture. Sorokin (1954a:114-121, 287-455)
devoted considerable attention to this problem in his analysis of techniques of
altruistic transformation. In a practically oriented work, Oliner and Oliner (1995)
identify eight basic social processes which engender caring and propose various
strategies and conditions for their implementation.

The Crises, the Historical Context, and the Integral Paradigm

This article has considered in a preliminary fashion some of the characteristics

that a paradigm in the social sciences based on the writings of Pitirim A. Sorokin
regarding integralism might assume. Sorokin (1963:373-374) notes that integral
systems of truth and knowledge represent a variety of philosophical thought with
a long and worldwide history. In the sum total of centuries of Western civilization
from the early Greek period till the recent past, each of the three systems of truth
and knowledge has been approximately equal in occurrence and importance
(Sorokin 1937:54-55).
This article has pointed out many areas in which integralism is consistent with
already existing ideas in sociology. In this sense it is an incipient paradigm.
Sociology and the other social sciences can benefit greatly from the explicit emer-
gence and development of integralism. It entails a different perspective which
unites ideas in a paradigm which gives new priorities and directions to the social
sciences. Integralism offers a solution for the problems considered at the begin-
ning of the paper: lack of integration, failure to achieve scientific cumulation and
a core body of knowledge; epistemological subjectivism; ideological advocacy.
Integralism unites theoretical development and research around the c o m m o n
problem of providing the knowledge and understanding necessary to increase
the level of benevolent love and morality. Because of the breadth and complexity
of this problem, it requires a multivariate analysis of most of the fundamental
components of culture, society, and personality and their interrelationships. All
paradigms, theories, and research methods in the social sciences can be applied
to this problem, which transcends disciplinary and special field boundaries. Fur-
thermore, its inclusive nature provides a basis for integration by focusing scien-
tific effort on one overreaching topic while preserving the identity and unique-
ness of intellectual and methodological traditions. This com m on focus will produce

Jeffties 51
cumulation and a core b o d y of k n o w l e d g e . Integralism reaffirms a realist episte-
mology, while at the same time providing the concentration of effort necessary
for it to p r o d u c e observable results. Finally, b y focusing on understanding love
and morality, integralism channels scientific e n d e a v o r into achieving a universal
e n d not linked to specific g r o u p interests and ideologies. This e n d is further
distanced from the conflictual and political arena by giving major attention to
individual choices toward or a w a y from love, and the personal, social, and cul-
tural causes and effects of such choices.
The potential contribution of integralism to sociology and the other social
sciences can be v i e w e d from another perspective. Turner and Turner (1990:179-
197) describe three ideal models of sociology, each of which have a long and
sometimes conflictual history in the discipline: general social science, practical
expertise, and reform discipline. Integralism entails a distinct project for each of
these traditions: a rigorous and inclusive program of theoretical d e v e l o p m e n t and
research on the causes and effects of love and morality; a parallel program focus-
ing on the practical ways in which love and morality can be increased; a program
of transmitting this k n o w l e d g e and understanding to the general public as a basis
for personal, social, and cultural reform. Integralism thus unites these models in
a c o m m o n scientific e n d e a v o r of the greatest importance 9 This singular focus will
consolidate the symbolic, organizational, and material resources of sociology and
the other social sciences. This united scientific e n d e a v o r should attract outside
resources once its promise b e c o m e s evident 9
Prospects for the d e v e l o p m e n t of an integral perspective can be placed in the
context of Sorokin's (1941) analysis of c o n t e m p o r a r y culture and historical trends.
These trends entail the increasing ineffectiveness and disintegration of the pre-
vailing sensate culture in all its compartments, including the system of truth and
k n o w l e d g e which underlies the social sciences. Major shifts in perspective in the
sciences usually occur in the context of significant global events (Alexander and
Colomy 1992). The decline of sensate culture and its system of truth and knowl-
edge forecast b y Sorokin is such an event.
The historian T o y n b e e (1947) maintains that societies effectively o v e r c o m e
challenges through the leadership of creative minorities. By acting u p o n Sorokin's
inspiration and developing an integral system of truth and k n o w l e d g e the social
sciences could provide an effective response to the challenge p o s e d b y the de-
cline of sensate culture and its conception of science. H o w such an a p p r o a c h can
best be developed, and h o w fruitful it will be, can only be determined b y the
dedicated efforts of many individuals over a long period of time.


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