Tags: Adolf Bastian, Alexander Carr-Saunders, Alfred Espinas, Alfred Russell Wallace, Clark Wissler, Emile Durkheim, Franz Boas, Friedrich Ratzel, Henry Buckle, Herbert Spencer, Jack Goody, John William Draper, Joseph LeConte, Nick Jardine, Otis Mason
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Otis Mason (April 10, 1838 – November 5, 1908) was at the turn of the century one of the premier theorists of primitive evolution. He was a curator at the Smithsonian Institution for much of his career. Anthropologists remember him chiefly for his use of the “culture area concept” and for his contribution to “diffusionist studies.” A “culture area” is a “region of relative environmental and cultural uniformity, characterized by societies with significant similarities in mode of adaptation and social structure.”
Diffusionism, as argued by the American anthropologist Clark Wissler, contended that cultural traits (gift-giving, technology, language, etc) moved from a given center, which implied that the “center of the trait distribution is also its earliest occurrence.” Wissler contended that cultural areas and geographic traits were “broadly congruent, implying a mild environmental determinism” (Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology, ed. Alan J. Barnard, Jonathan Spencer, 61-62.)*
Tags: Arthur de Gobineau, E.O. Wilson, Emile Durkheim, Friedrich Hayek, G. Stanley Hall, Henry Buckle, Herbert Spencer, Josiah Nott, Karl Marx, Montesquieu, Napoleon Chagnon, Pitirim A. Sorokin, R. A. Fisher, Richard Lynn, Robert Merton, William Graham Sumner, William Ripley
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Alexander M. Carr-Saunders (14th January 1886-6th October 1966) was president of the London School of Economics from 1937 to 1956. When his The Population Problem: A Study in Human Evolution appeared in 1922, it cemented his reputation. According to his obituary in Population Studies this book has since been viewed as a seminal contribution to “social biology” due to its formulation of the “optimum number.” Carr-Saunders defined the optimum number as the greatest number of individuals who could be sustained by a given environment. For Carr-Saunders, moreover, this optimum number “involves the idea of the standard of living,” where in order to reach and to maintain this standard of living, populations, from primitive to civilized, employ practices to either “reduce fertility” or to “cause elimination,” including abortion, abstinence from sexual intercourse, and infanticide, in greater or lesser proportions (214.)
This was not all, however, as the maintenance of the highest standard of living possible required that the “younger generation must become proficient in the skilled methods which makes this standard possible of attainment, and in particular it is important that young men should not marry unless they are both energetic and skillful.” In such basic facts “we may see evidence exerted by social conditions and conventions” (224.)
Carr-Saunders has attracted some attention from Hayek scholars due to his influence on Hayek’s notion of cultural evolution. Erik Angner in Hayek and Natural Law contends, “there is good reason to think that Hayek’s evolutionary thought was significantly inspired by Carr-Saunders and other Oxford zoologists” in particular supplying Hayek’s understanding of the mechanisms of group selection.
Morris R. Cohen on the Place of Logic in Law, Positivism, Deduction, and the History of Science April 18, 2013Posted by Christopher Donohue in History of the Human Sciences, Philosophy of Law.
Tags: Francis Bacon, John Austin, John Stuart Mill, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sidney Hook, William Whewell
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Morris Raphael Cohen (July 25, 1880 – January 28, 1947) is today a relatively unappreciated philosopher outside some encamped circles in the philosophy of law, intellectual history, and the intellectual study of jurisprudence. Sidney Hook in “The Philosophy of Morris R. Cohen,” in the New Republic, outlined the reasons for this. He noted, “Honored for his candor, his scholarship and critical insight, his philosophical colleagues with a true gesture of piety to the spirit of intelligent dissent recently conferred upon him the presidency of the American Philosophical Association.” But, “he has no following.” Hook continued, “His writings have consequently bewildered those who have sought to understand him only in the light of his negations.” Cohen had little patience for Marxist or overly sociological discussions of law, but he was not a strident legal positivist. He did not think that jurisprudence was a closed system of logical relationships as would a legal formalist. Cohen was however a kind of “reductionist.” Law was logical, and much like the natural sciences, useful due to its regularity and generality. Law, however, much like the more contemporary sciences of non-Euclidean geometry and quantum mechanics, had to be open enough to address the inherent messiness of life. (more…)
Tags: Alexis de Toqueville, Carl Schmitt, Emile Durkheim, Eugen Ehrlich, Georges Gurvitch, Georges Sorel, H.L.A. Hart, Hans Kelsen, Hugo Grotius, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, John Austin, Montesquieu, Proudhon, Ronald Dworkin, Roscoe Pound
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One of the most important developments in the understanding of law, what law is and why it is that law has authority in society, was the move away from natural law jurisprudence, articulated by Cicero, Montesquieu, and by Hugo Grotius in the nineteenth century. Natural law jurisprudence was the idea that law derived its authority due to the perfection and purpose of nature and divinity. Since true law had its origins and its sanction from nature and divinity, outside of society, it stood against whim, convention, custom, and caprice. Laws which were against natural law, against reason or justice, were not laws at all.
Early in the nineteenth century, legal positivism, espousing a narrow definition of “positive law,” or those laws enacted by the State or sovereign in the form of commands, attempted a similar style of reasoning to that of earlier natural law jurisprudence insofar as, like natural law theory, it was both rationalistic and deductive. Legal positivism in John Austin’s prose, considered law to be law (as opposed to morality and custom) if it was a command from a sovereign authority that was coercive. This meant that going against the command of the sovereign brought threat of an “evil.” Law was sovereign, moreover, if it emanated from an authority which was subject to no other, such as a king or parliament, who was habitually obeyed.
Tags: Alfred Marshall, Emile Durkheim, Franklin Giddings, Friedrich Engels, Gabriel Tarde, Henry Buckle, Henry Maine, Herbert Spencer, J.S. Mill, Karl Bucher, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Paul Vinogradoff
Sir Paul Vinogradoff (18 (30) November 1854, Kostroma, Russia – 19 December 1925, Paris, France) is remembered primarily as an early practitioner of historical jurisprudence in Russia and Britain (as distinguished from the earlier comparative, perhaps unsystematic, studies of Henry Maine), and as a historian of medieval England, particularly of the medieval village. He was also a keen critic of late nineteenth and early twentieth century social sciences. Vinogradoff’s understanding of the scope and method of historical jurisprudence was intimately connected with his critical gaze of the intellectual projects of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, among others. Essential to his view of the role of law in the evolution of human culture was his organicist view of society, the distinction, which he shared with J.S. Mill and Alfred Marshall, between statics and dynamics, and his adoption of Weberian ideal types.
Vinogradoff was in many ways extending enlightenment thinking about the nature of society, if we consider the enlightenment to begin with Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws and end with Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of History, and as well as the nineteenth century obsession with the empirical verification of causal historical laws, which reached its early perfection in Henry Buckle’s History of Civilization in England. The second tendency was crystallized in the flood of studies describing in fine-grained detail all aspects of primeval, ancient, and medieval customs and communities. Such a level of discussion was possible not only through a revolutionary increase in the variety and quality of ethnographic, archaeological, and primitive legal accounts, but also through the adoption of an evolutionary perspective, borrowed in equal parts from Comte, Spencer, and Karl Bucher.
Henry Buckle and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations May 30, 2012Posted by Christopher Donohue in History of Economic Thought, History of the Human Sciences.
Tags: Alexis de Tocqueville, Auguste Comte, David Hume, David Landes, David Ricardo, Edward Gibbon, Ellen Semple, Ellsworth Huntington, Emile Durkheim, Francis Bacon, Henry Buckle, J.S. Mill, James Mill, Justus Liebig, Karl Marx, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Max Weber, Montesquieu, W.E.H. Lecky
Henry Buckle (24 November 1821 – 29 May 1862), much like the semi-acknowledged French sociologist Alfred Espinas, was among the ‘universal citations’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The economist Alfred Marshall makes great use of him. Much like Ellen Semple and Ellsworth Huntington, Buckle had the unfortunate fate of being labeled a “geographical determinist” by historians of geography, sociology, and anthropology.
Ted Porter and Ian Hacking have accused him of “historical determinism.” He was neither. He also tragically died far too early for his ideas to be sufficiently clarified. While Buckle in his History of Civilization in England ascribed great power to climate or “physical causes,” he nonetheless did so only with respect to “savage” or “rude” nations.
While leaving a role for climate in civilized nations, Buckle nonetheless argued that progress was indeed possible in Europe as well as in England due largely to the advancement of scepticism. By ‘scepticism,’ Buckle meant the, “spirit of inquiry, which during the last two centuries, has gradually encroached on every possible subject; has reformed every department of practical and speculative knowledge; has weakened the authority of the privileged classes, and thus placed liberty on a surer foundation….” What Buckle says here is actually quite significant when placed in the context of the history of ideas. Buckle was both last in a long line of those who conjoined civilizational progress with the spread of rationalism and the decline of superstition and barbarism in England, beginning with the philosophy of David Hume and Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and also within the rising tide of authorial monuments to the progress of philosophy and manners, as exhibited in the early works of Lucien Levy-Bruhl and W.E.H. Lecky’s History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe. (more…)
Edward A. Ross on Urbanization and the “Country Soul” January 19, 2012Posted by Christopher Donohue in History of Economic Thought, Uncategorized.
Tags: Albert G. Keller, Alexis de Tocqueville, Edward Ross, Ernest W. Burgess, Ferdinand Tönnies, Georg Hansen, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, Mosei Ostrogorski, Otto Ammon, Robert Michels, Robert Park, Robert Redfield, W.I. Thomas, Walter Bagehot, William Ripley
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Edward Alsworth Ross (December 12, 1866–July 22, 1951) was a professor at Stanford and University of Wisconsin, founder of the sociology of “social control,” and a forefather of the sociology of deviance and criminality systematized by Robert K. Merton. Ross was also an important author of sociological introductions and textbooks, of which Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess’ Introduction to the Science of Sociology (1921) and W. I. Thomas’ Source-book for Social Origins (1909) were two important examples.
Although the function of the textbook in the standardization of social scientific knowledge and methodology is an important topic and has, in my opinion, not attracted significant scholarly attention, what I am most concerned with here is what I call the persistence of gemeinschaft in the American social sciences. What I mean by this is the construction of a dichotomous relationship between city and country. Ferdinand Tonnies in the nineteenth century believed peasants and the countryside to be dominated by tradition, kinship, and custom. The cities, on the other hand, were determined by the workings of capitalism and the market. It was in the cities, as Georg Simmel observed later, that individuals achieved an immense individual freedom, but consequently, remained strangers to one another.
This was one of the latent ideas in my post on Robert Redfield and has since become a more important element of my research. The persistence of gemeinschaft also serves to shed a light on the relatively unknown historical presence of rural sociology. As importantly, the the persistence of gemeinschaft concept also dovetails nicely with discussions of “urban selection” among social theorists.
The Weirdest Guest — William Z. Ripley: Economist, Financial Historian, and Racial Theorist September 26, 2011Posted by Christopher Donohue in History of Economic Thought, History of the Human Sciences.
Tags: Carl Ritter, Earnest Albert Hooton, Franz Boas, Friedrich Ratzel, Georg Hansen, Joseph Deniker, Lothrop Stoddard, Max Nordau, Otto Ammon, Pitirim A. Sorokin, R.R. Marett, Talcott Parsons, William Z. Ripley
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William Ripley’s (October 13, 1867 – August 16, 1941) long career as a writer, public servant, and academician presents nightmarish problems of reconstruction for the historian. Ripley, at one time vice president of the American Economic Association, was an expert on railroads and trusts, a competent historian of the financial history of colonial Virginia, an astute observer on the labor problem in both Europe and America, and, with the publication of the Races of Europe (1899), one of the preeminent sociologists of his day.
The longevity of Ripley’s influence poses problems for the scope of the academical truism of the “revolution” brought about by Boas’ cultural relativism, as well as the intriguing connections between the Oxford School of Anthropology and American racial theory. Such was the enduring reputation of Ripley’s work that it was revised in 1946 by Carlton Coon, an important twentieth century physical anthropologist who taught at Harvard. Coon’s mentor, Earnest Albert Hooton, a student of R. R. Marett, was a nasty piece of work, producing works in the same mental universe as Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920). (more…)
Robert Ranulph Marett, Eugenics, and the Progress of Prehistoric Man September 10, 2011Posted by Christopher Donohue in History of the Human Sciences.
Tags: Andrew Lang, E.B. Tylor, Eugenics, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Robert Ranulph Marett
R. R. Marett’s account of the progress of prehistoric man in Progress and History (1916), edited by Francis Sydney Marvin, had the object of assuring his audience that no matter how savage individuals were in the past they still grew, through gradual biological adaptation and an increasing awareness of divinity, into full grown Englishmen.
Marett is remembered, if at all, for succeeding E.B. Tylor as Reader in Anthropology in Oxford in 1910, and for proposing a primal stage of religious worldview, pre-animism. This elaborated on Tylor’s evolutionary scheme of psychic development. Marett, like Lucien Levy-Bruhl, considered the primitive mind to be a uniform entity which ordered reality in a distinct way from that of modern man.
Tags: Alexis de Tocqueville, Brooks Adams, Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, James Bryce, James Fenimore Cooper, John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Max Weber
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The British social theorist James Bryce is chiefly known as a writer on the American party system (The American Commonwealth, 1888) and may perhaps be one of the most tolerable early sociologists of modern democracy (Modern Democracies, 1921). This will be the subject of a later post.
Bryce was quite indebted to European thinkers, even those from whom he tried to distance himself. Perhaps nowhere is the influence of Tocqueville more apparent than in Bryce’s discussion of the effect of commerce and the marketplace upon the American intellect. Here Bryce elaborates upon the conclusion of Tocqueville, that the materialism of American culture explained its lack of genius and refinement.
In the nineteenth century, capitalism and art never mixed well in the minds of social theorists. Consider for a moment the distaste of business and money expressed by John Ruskin or Matthew Arnold. If not commerce, then the natural sciences or industry were the source of the ills of the present.
The market was another sign of modernity and its triumph over history. This caused many theorists — French, German, and English, from Rousseau and Gibbon and back again — to bemoan the discontents of progress and capitalist modernity. Whether progress was worth the costs and what progress consisted of were the chief concerns of sociology at this time. It was this sentiment which welded to together the works of Weber, Simmel, Marx, and Durkheim. Bryce was no different.