|Heikki Haara, Doctoral student
Psychological and social aspects of Samuel Pufendorf’s theory of sociability
In his writings, Samuel Pufendorf treats sociability as a fundamental law of nature rather than an innate inclination or capacity. Despite the rehabilitated attention to Pufendorf’s moral theory, his account of moral psychology has not been explored in its own right. In this study, my aim is to offer historically and philosophically accurate picture on Pufendorf’s theory of sociability by paying attention to Pufendorf’s awareness about the ways in which people in practice make moral decisions and estimations.
What interests me is the contrast between Pufendorf’s voluntaristic moral theory and his explanation on how the norms of sociability become action guiding in civil societies. Pufendorf’s attentiveness in human psychology is mainly political. His practical concern is to offer a theory that will explain and justify the need to maintain peaceful social order. My hypothesis is that the way to sociability and tranquility is not primarily through the repression of passions by reason but through the education of passions that are useful for sociability. Pufendorf’s interest on psychology is associated with the idea of social interaction as a device that redirects and moderates our passions and desires and thus makes sociability possible. In this sense, Pufendorf’s writings points forward to the moral psychological emphasis on passions as a spring of sociability that became central in the eighteenth century.