1) What ‘quality of mind’ is necessary to have a sociological imagination as Mills supposes, and what is required to attain this ‘quality of mind’?

Mills explains that the quality of mind necessary to achieving a sociological imagination is one that can “grasp the interplay of man and society, of biography and history, of self and world.” In essence, mills makes clear that, in his view, a sophisticated world-view that can seen both through the individual self and through a world view is required in order to attain a sociological imagination with which one may affect change in the sociological system. Mills claims that though society has evolved and its people take on roles with new tasks and new names, that people still play essentially the same roles. “When societies become industrialized, a peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a businessman.” Here Mills asserts that either individuals keep up with the changing social structures in order to maintain their way of life, or they are lowered to the lowest social class until they can work their way through the established system again. To me, this quality of mind that Mills promotes is one of a good leader. One who can see the bigger picture and can understand the individual’s role.

2) What is an ‘ethical’ or ‘virtuous’ person? And are we doing a better job now than before?

Managing Business Ethics describes a virtuous person as one who “balance prudence (mature self-love), strict justice, and benevolence.” It goes on to say, “ideal societies are comprised of such persons.” Later it goes on to say that not only do ethical business practices better companies, it is “absolutely essential for effective business practice.” With this is mind, we must then ask, with all the media ethics has gotten recently, are our country’s institutions doing a better job of creating more ethical persons? One can point to a decline in religious affiliation, especially among the youth, to suggest that we are not. On the other hand, one may suggest that such institutions, though the grounding for much of the west’s past morals, are not the only teachers of ethics. With this decline in religious ethics, educational institutions have, at least in part, enhanced their ethical education. Furthermore, more companies today have enhanced their ethical considerations as they have started realizing that sustainable business practices, are ethical business practices.

3) Is it practical for all individuals to develop a sociological imagination? Would society function?

Mills suggests that what people need, in order to avoid the “traps” of our current sociological system, is a sociological imagination. While I agree, our society evolves primarily through the efforts of such people with sociological imaginations, I would argue that every leader needs a follower. You cannot be a shepherd without sheep to shepherd. Similarly, a society cannot be stable and productive if all its members are all equally able to affect changes to the system. This is why the United States of America has one president and a limited number of representatives in Congress. When the rules of society are cast aside by all in society, only chaos ensues.

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/10/a_society_without_rules.html

5 responses »

  1. ems033 says:

    I’d just like to add, can one be ‘un-ethical’ in a society where everyone has an equal sociological imagination? Whose to establish the virtue of one’s ‘imagined sociological structure’ above another’s if everyone’s sociological imagination is of equal value? Can a civil society exist?

  2. lwt003 says:

    I am very interested in talking about your second question in more depth. In the quote from the chapter we read, it mentions how “ideal societies are comprised of [virtuous] persons”. I would be interested in seeing what the authors believe is an “ideal” society, and if any fit their description. Also, your question depends upon some type of measurement of individual and societal ethics. Perhaps we are far more ethical than a century ago, but there are no quantitative ways to measure our ethics. I feel like this entire debate on “ethics” is extremely subjective without a universal definition and some sort of way to measure it.

  3. cjt017 says:

    In regard to your second question you made the point that “educational instutituions have, at least in part, ehanced ethical education”, I disagree.I have found in my experience that eduacational instituions are breeding grounds for the degradation of ethics. Education seems to preach that religious ideals and knowledge are incompatible, this fact often not always produces an “everything goes mentality”. A college student will not have to look hard to find this to be so.

  4. mbc014 says:

    First of all, I just have to say great post. I really liked the way you defined the quality of mind as leadership and you simplified modern society to familiar terms. I also completely agree that, naturally, some people will rise above and be more successful than others. But in regards to your second question, I’m with Charles. I have found throughout much of my life that the modern-day rejection of classical and religious virtues and ethics in favor of a new, “secular and non-discriminatory” code has resulted in people living without any such code. We read over and over again how many young people, particularly young men, feel lost with the end of old institutions. When old codes of ethics and morals, say, those found in codes of chivalry or in Victorian gentlemen, are dismissed as misplaced relics of a bygone, irrelevant, and discriminatory age, and where the teaching of Christian or other religious virtues is viewed more as a violation of Church and State or a transgression on one’s freedom of religion, people have nothing to look up to. Instead, they are taught ethical relativism, that if you think you are being a good person you can pick and choose your own virtues to emulate. And so society has devolved to do as they see fit, and no one seems to have a problem with it. But when we magically enter the professional realm, this is no longer acceptable.

  5. ajc028 says:

    I have to say, I really enjoyed your post as well. Particularly, I found your third question very intriguing, and I have to agree with you. I think that people do require a leader, and a decision maker in order for things to get accomplished. But even more than that, I think that the sociological imagination isn’t practical because it suggests an approach that not everyone will be able to accomplish. Looking at your situation through various lenses, and trying to determine how your ‘troubles’ are a part of societies’ ‘issues’ take time. More time than many people have. Particularly, the people who may not be happy with their lives because they do not like their job or housing. That is why it can only be a theoretical conversation, not one that can actually be used in society.

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