T.S. Eliot`s idea of the clerisy, and its discussion by Karl Mannheim and Michael Polanyi in the context of J.H. Oldham`s moot

Mullins, Phil and Jacobs, Struan 2006, T.S. Eliot`s idea of the clerisy, and its discussion by Karl Mannheim and Michael Polanyi in the context of J.H. Oldham`s moot, Journal of classical sociology, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 147-176.

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Title T.S. Eliot`s idea of the clerisy, and its discussion by Karl Mannheim and Michael Polanyi in the context of J.H. Oldham`s moot
Author(s) Mullins, Phil
Jacobs, Struan
Journal name Journal of classical sociology
Volume number 6
Issue number 2
Start page 147
End page 176
Publisher Sage Publications
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2006
ISSN 1468-795X
Summary In 1938, Joseph Oldham, a leading British Christian ecumenist, formed a discussion group that came to be known as the Moot. The Moot met in a retreat setting for several long weekends each year until early 1947, its discussions carefully organized and convened by Oldham. More than anything else, the discussions of the Moot revolved around the topic of order and, more particularly, around the problem of how order might be restored in British society and culture in the context of a ‘world turned upside down’. Oldham and most members of the group sought a central place for Christian ideas and ideals in British social life.

A striking feature of the Moot was the intellectual stature and the diversity of interests of its members. Among its 16 or so regular members were Oldham (1874-1969), his close friend T.S. Eliot (1888-1963) and Karl Mannheim (1893-1947). Among the later ‘visitors’ to Moot meetings was Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), who first came to the 20th Moot meeting in June of 1944.1

This article presents several papers that were produced for the Moot discussion of 15-18 December 1944 by Eliot, Mannheim and Polanyi. These papers have intrinsic and historical interest, and are published together for the first time here. The initial paper, written by Eliot, treats the role in society of ‘the clerisy’2 - a term borrowed from Samuel Taylor Coleridge that points to an intellectual elite or vanguard. Eliot requested that Oldham solicit responses to his paper from Mannheim and Polanyi. Mannheim’s response was a set of detailed answers to four questions that Eliot posed at the end of his essay. Polanyi’s response was a short, coherent essay, which he identified as ‘my own position with respect’ to Eliot’s discussion; his essay outlines a brief account of the role of the clerisy in science.3 Eliot wrote short comments on the responses of both Mannheim and Polanyi. These five pieces, which have a natural unity, should be of interest to anyone working in the history of social thought. We have abridged only Mannheim’s lengthy response and have eliminated a few lines of illustrative material from Eliot’s reply to Mannheim, but these excisions in no way detract from the clarity of the authors’ perspectives in this rich trilogue.
Language eng
Field of Research 160806 Social Theory
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2006, SAGE Publications
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30008980

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of History, Heritage and Society
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