A History of Classical Sociology by Igor Kon, H. Campbell Creighton

By Igor Kon, H. Campbell Creighton

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In spite of the host of differences and nuances inherent in certain racial-anthropological conceptions, they all boiled down to several basic postulates: (1) that social life and culture were a product of racial and anthropological factors; (2) that the races were not equal, and that that was the cause of the inequality (‗superiority‘, ‗deficiency‘, ‗danger‘) of the corresponding cultural creations; (3) that people‘s social behaviour was wholly or predominantly determined by biological heredity; (4) that racial mixing (miscegenation) was harmful.

Darwin in turn highly valued Spencer‘s theory of evolution, acknowledged its influence, and even placed Spencer intellectually above himself. Yet, in spite of this respect and influence, Spencer‘s evolutionism was more Lamarckian than Darwinian. A second line of influence, perceived and acknowledged by Spencer himself, was the works of English economists of the eighteenth century, especially those of Malthus and Adam Smith. As we know, not only Spencer, but also Darwin deduced their idea of survival of the fittest precisely from Malthus, although they both gave this theory an optimistic, ‗progressive‘ ring, it did not have with Malthus.

The first principle was connected with the necessity of comprehending the unity of the social whole. He clearly asked himself the following question, whether society was a real ‗entity‘, or only a collective name for designating a certain number of individuals, which had only a nominal existence. Since the nominalist point of view on society was unacceptable to him, he had to admit that society was a special kind of entity that really existed. He suggested that we have every right to regard it as a special entity, because, although it was made up of discrete units, the constant maintenance of a certain general similarity in the grouping of these units within the locality occupied by each society over the course of several generations and even centuries, however, indicated a certain concreteness of the aggregate formed by them.

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