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Extra info for A History of Classical Sociology (Student's Library)
All that, in his opinion, allowed one to treat human society by analogy with a biological organism. But he also saw essential differences between them. (1) The component parts of a biological organism formed a concrete whole in which all the elements were inseparably united, while a society was a discrete whole, the living elements of which were more or less free and dispersed. (2) The differentiation of functions in an individual organism was such that the capacity to feel and think was concentrated in certain of its parts alone, while in a society consciousness was spread throughout the whole aggregate, and all its units were capable of enjoyment and suffering to approximately the same extent, if not equally.
According to his secretary, there was not a single book by Hobbes, Locke, Hume, or Kant in his library. His knowledge of history, too, was very weak. Spencer borrowed much more from the natural sciences, especially from those parts in which the idea of development was being born or worked out. When Darwin‘s Origin of Species appeared in 1858, Spencer warmly welcomed it. Darwin in turn highly valued Spencer‘s theory of evolution, acknowledged its influence, and even placed Spencer intellectually above himself.
The leading spokesmen of Le Play‘s school were Henri de Tourville (1843-1903) and Edmond Demolins (1852-1907). When the school was compiling its family household monographs (well known in the history of social research), it necessarily studied the physical geography of the household or society: soil, relief, climate, distribution of water, etc. Demolins‘ main work Comment la route crée le type social (1901-03), based on extensive historical material, which was not free of the usual mistakes of geographical determinism, traced the main links between geographical location and various characteristics of social organisation, forms of labour, property, etc.
A History of Classical Sociology (Student's Library) by Igor Kon (Editor)