Seminar 2022

Identities and Relationships:
Macmurray Amongst the Culture Wars

Can Macmurray’s analysis of the nature of community and society, with emphasis on action, provide any insight into the current debate across much of Western society, usually framed as ‘culture wars’? Macmurray’s work in sociology, psychology, religion and morality may well provide much useful insight, even though such issues were not pertinent during his lifetime.

“[W]e must bear our own identities’, but in a community, if ‘hostility … take[s] the place of fellowship, … the unity [will] be broken’, and ‘[t]his will happen if personal relations become negatively motivated, if fear of the others replaces love for the others’. ‘Thus the problem of community is the problem of overcoming fear and subordinating the negative to the positive in the motivation of persons in relation.” (Persons In Relation, 1961 [1991], p.142, 161)

For an analysis, making use of Macmurray, of the nature of ‘Democratic Personalities’ see Daly, Robert W. (2005) “On Democratic Personalities,” Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce: Vol. 33 : No. 1 , Article 8. Available at:
“If we contrast the ideal traits of a democratic personality with actual personalities and political identities, it is not apparent at the moment that democracy and the rule of law in American have a bright future. … Still, we should not cease our efforts to make it true. While traits of personality are formative of our actions, Democracy, like other forms of government, is manifestly intentional. Constitutional Democracy is authored and re-authored by those “carriers of the creed” who believe it to be the form of government, however problematic and fragile, which is in the long run and in most circumstances, best for the lives of those subject to it.”

Saturday November 5th 10am-4pm UK GMT (UTC+1)
Sheffield Quaker Meeting House, 10 St. James Street, Sheffield S1 2EW. and online by Zoom.
£15.00 full or £7.50 unwaged/retired.
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