Henry C. Carey on Law and Civilization (Part 2) April 5, 2015Posted by Christopher Donohue in 20th-Century-Science Historiography, History of Economic Thought, History of the Human Sciences, Natural Philosophy/Anthropo-cosmology, Philosophy of Law.
Tags: Adam Smith, Alexander M. Carr-Saunders, Charles Darwin, David Ricardo, Henry Buckle, Henry C. Carey, James Mill, Robin Fox
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In my previous post on the 19th century political economist Henry C. Carey I underscored some of his methodological suppositions (his Newtonianism, his Baconianism and his dependence upon William Whewell). I made two further points: first, that Carey’s system-building and his emphasis on man and nature being under the rule of law was typically of social theory penned during the nineteenth century. One finds the same flavor of contention in the work of John William Draper and Henry Buckle, where both authors attempted to bring diverse sorts of information ranging from facts concerning the course of civilization to the laws and regularities of human psychology under one kind of generality, where facts and the laws which they illustrated were exemplars of a well-ordered universe. This is more or less the purpose too of later sociological reasoning.
Depending upon the writer involved, this mammoth reductionism and systems-building, with its consequent determinism, was to differing degrees rhetorical, heuristic, deadly serious, and inconsistent. As importantly, these efforts at system-building and reduction often obscures digressions and departures which form intriguing sub-arguments and sub-systems.