A modern calamity – Robert Musil on stupidity

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The writings of the Austrian novelist and essayist Robert Musil provide sociology with vital problems and reflections. Indeed, Musil introduces discussions that extend conventional understanding of modernity – sociology’s general object of analysis. The article focuses on two major sets of questions in Musil’s work: the shapelessness of man and the relation between reason and sentiments. Both problems are essential in that genuine twentieth-century experience which Musil calls functional stupidity: the functionalisation of the mind to collective demands of the party, the race and the nation. The article discusses Musil’s arguments by relating them to central propositions in classical sociology (Simmel, Weber, Kracauer, Tönnies, Park). Classical sociology, in turn, is defined as a sub-discourse of classical modern reflection.
Translated title of the contributionEn modern kalamitet – Robert Musil om dumheten
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55–75
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 2

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


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