- The Cross Section of Modern Thoughts in Hungary at the Beginning of the 20th Century - (resume)

1. Dispute

It was in 1910 when Karl Polanyi (1886-1964) translated Ernst Mach's "Analyse der Empfindungen" from German into Hungarian language. Young Polanyi played an important role with the introduction of Mach to Hungarian Intellectual society. Considering Mach's influence on the intellectual society in Europe and Hungarian intellectual emigrants in the 20th century, the Polany's introduction of Mach has to be recorded in history.
Before Polanyi, however, Gyula Pikler (1864-1937), who was Polany's teacher, had introduced Mach to the intellectuals in Hungary. In a paper (1905), Pikler quoted Mach's thought from his personal letters from Mach in expounding his own theory. The paper was written when Pikler was arguing with Oszkar Jaszi (1875-1957) on the method of sociology. Pikler criticized the French Durkheimian school of sociology which was introduced by Jaszi, and insisted on his own methodological standpoint. In the quoted letter, Mach was also being in the same position as Pikler.
This dispute shows not only Pikler's originality, but also the thought of the times in Hungary, where came out famous intellectual emigrants from.

2. Law and social theory of Gyula Pikler

At the beginning of the 20th century, Gyula Pikler was famous for his psycho-physiological works outside of his own country. In Hungary, however, he was rather a philosopher and a political thinker who influenced on Hungarian non-communist radicals.
Pikler inquired the origin of law and civil society into human understanding (bel
átás in Hungarian which means 'insight'), that is to say, human ability of intuitive and rational awareness. According to Pikler, man uses this ability for the purpose of satisfying his needs of daily life, and has made law and social institutions. Pikler's ideas mean that people must reform their own society rationally and radically, which the Hungarian radicalism enthusiastically received, and which the extreme right wing rejected. At that time in Hungari, they thought Pikler socialist no less than Karl Marx.
Pikler's radicalism resulted from his scientific rationalism or rather extreme scientism. (Pikler criticized Marx because of the lack of rationality.) Pikler's social theory is from his original philosophical and psychological point of view.

3. Pikler's empirical cognitive theory

Pikler emphasized the human understanding by which we aware our external world. Pikler called the human understanding the 'will' or the 'volition', and he think it to be rational on the basis of his psycho-physiological research. He actually spent the latter of his life as a psycho-physiologist. When Pikler and Mach were exchanging letters with each other, he had begun absorbing in the psycho-physiological research.
Pikler says that human understanding is based on the following two expectations. One is infinite expectation for the thing we first perceive, the other is also infinite one for the opposite of the thing. And if we actually have experience it, or only if we are aware it in concrete, the two infinite expectations will be restricted. This understanding theory of Pikler was on the same position of Mach's. (This theory of Pikler's was actually presented earlier than Mach's.)
Pikler thinks that this chain of the expectations and the restriction also means the human mind, for the mind consists of the pure objective physical elements. He thinks that there are a lot of powers and tendencies in the natural phenomenon, and one of their functions is the mind. There is no difference between the mind and the matter in Pikler's view of the world, just like in Mach's. Pikler, however, gradually came to take a position of spiritualism or vitalism, while he was researching the psycho-physiological problem.

4. Origin of economic anthropology

In the dispute in 1905, the valid viewpoint was born which may have become the start of economic anthropology. Pikler criticized the economic theory of Karoly Meray-Horvath (1859-1938), who insisted that economic exchange in a society is just like the metabolism among cells in human body. This unscientific idea gave Felix (Bodog) Somlo (1873-1920) a clue on a new theory of economic exchange that was 10 years earlier than B. Malinowski's or R. Thurnwald's. Somlo made the primitive economy divided into two types; one is a reciprocal exchange among members in a society, the other is a centripetal exchange around the leader.

5. Intuition in science

Pikler wrote to Mach that human intellectual products consist not only of expectations derived from experiences, but also of intuitions on identity, difference and essence in things. Mach wrote him back that the intuitions come from both sensations and representations, and are the resources of science.

6. Knowing on scientific discoveries

Pikler regarded the intuitions as non-experimental generality. This means that he intended to establish a new scientific method instead of the deductive method of the modern science. Pikler searched the human body for the key by the psycho-physiological study. In a way, Pikler was one of the philosophers who emphasized the significance of body.
Intuitions in scientific method were featured at that time in Hungary. This problem was later discussed by Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), as 'tacit knowing', though he had never read the article of Pikler.

Tamio Mitoma


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