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Sobornost and Totality in Georges Gurvitch's Social Law Doctrine

Journal: RUDN Journal of Philosophy (Vol.25, No. 1)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 130-138

Keywords : Georges Gurvitch; Marcel Mauss; sobornost; totality; social law; Russian Abroad;

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Georges Gurvitch (1894-1965), from the 1920s to the end of his life, was solving the problem of combining unity and plurality in the justification of society. He believed that individualism and collectivism represented social processes in a limited way because they were based on the preconception that the binding power of law derives respectively from a private or corporate actor's will. Gurvitch contrasted individual law with the social one, which was intended to overcome the opposition between individualism and collectivism. Social law bases on legal sociology's assumption that social interactions as such are already legal relations. This conclusion allows Gurvitch to consider any social interaction as a source of law and to assert legal pluralism as a way of constructing society. The integrity of the latter is a condition for the mutual correlation of the multiplicity of legal regulations generated by internal social interactions into the unified structure of social law. In a holistic approach to comprehending social interactions, Gurvitch, in his Russian-language works in the émigré period, uses the philosophical-legal interpretation of sobornost to describe society's integrity. In French- and English-language works from the 1930s, Gurvitch uses the term "totality," which he learned from Marcel Mauss, to describe social integrity. This article compares sobornost and totality as variants of denoting social integrity in Gurvitch's social law doctrine. The researcher determines that Gurvitch, using the concepts of sobornost and totality, interpreted society's development differently, 1) as anti-hierarchical sobornost equality, and 2) as a hierarchical inordination of totalities. Having analyzed the peculiarities of the interpretation of sobornost and totality in Gurvitch's works, the author concludes that these concepts should be considered multilingual equivalents in denoting communal unity as sources of law, which reflect changes in the interpretation of society in Gurvitch's social law doctrine.

Last modified: 2021-03-17 04:48:57