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and by their methodical self-direction that societies manifest their organizing power in its highest degree. And, what is remarkable, this contractualism appears more or less perfectly in every stage of all civilizations, as we shall have occasion to show in our exposition of the great law of homogeneity of social phenomena. Hence, it results that the property of organizing and functioning according to contractual modes is the essence of social aggregates.
We find contractual forms nowhere excepting in social bodies. Contracts may be made in regard to inorganic or organic bodies, but these bodies cannot themselves combine contractually. Thus, aside from the purely quantitative differences observed by Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer, societies possess a special property, a characteristic mode of activity, which gives rise to equally characteristic forms: a contractual activity and contractual forms.
Therefore, sociology is not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively, distinct from the antecedent sciences; it has its own domain composed of the co-ordinated ensemble of the special social sciences, an ensemble characterized by particular phenom
As it also has its own method, the historical method in the broadest sense, including statistics, it can and should be organized into a distinct but not independent science.
In the first volume of the Introduction, we proceeded to the analysis of the social phenomena resulting from the combination of their two constituent elements, land and population. After this analysis, we proceeded to the hierarchical classification. As it stands, this classification is in reality a co-ordination, a first sociological synthesis, at the same time subjective and objective, if we view it from the point of view of knowledge of phenomena and their order, not merely their logical and dogmatic order, but also their natural order. This classification corresponds, not only to the movement of human thought, which always proceeds from the simplest and most general facts to the most complex and most special, but it is also in harmony with the natural relationship of social phenomena, which become differentiated in proportion as they become organized.
Yet this first synthesis, which is based upon a hierarchic classification of the phenomena originating from the elementary social factors, is still very simple; it constitutes a co-ordinated series, which is mainly lineal. It has been criticised because of this fact, particularly by MM. Worms and Tarde, who fail to consider that this first part of our work was essentially analytic; that the great laws of continuity, universality, homogeneity, simultaneity, correlation, and interdependence of social phenomena could be set forth only at a later time, and that they would be especially considered in our announced synthetic volumes devoted to the general structure and life of societies.
M. G. Dewelshauwer, in L'idéalisme scientifique, pp. 77–83, likewise criticises our classification. He condemns it as being exclusively lineal, and consequently as not corresponding to reality. Like the other critics, he does not see that each of the superposed classes of phenomena is divided into a great number of branches, and that this elementary and analytic classification, because of the fact that it is abstract and elementary, is only provisional. In fact, it is in the general structure and the general life of societies that we are able to accord to the organic correlation and to the interdependence of societies the importance which they deserve; the hierarchy of elementary phenomena is added first to their concrete synthetic aspect, then to their general and abstract synthetic aspect.
In his turn, M. Worms, in Revue internatoinale de sociologie, No. 5, 1893, criticises our classification by saying that social phenomena are in reality synchronous. This is true only in the homogeneous and confused state of primitive societies; progress consists precisely in their successive organic differentiation and their successive appearance, but all the social functions take place synchronously in the amorphous and undifferentiated state. M. Worms also contends the genetic phenomena make double use of the constitutive factor, populations. This is an error; the factor of populations is exclusively biologic and psychic, in so far as it is a factor, while combined with the second factor (the land) into a society it becomes social and assumes special forms, giving rise to institutions or organs, groups of organs, systems, such as marriage, paternity, filiation, adoption, guardianship, and so on, which are not forms organized by the biologic factors, but are social phenomena. In brief, whatever M. Worms thinks of it, my classification of social phenomena is complete, and, further, the number of classes cannot be reduced without causing useless confusion.
Already, in the course of our work, the fact has appeared that in social morphology the logical and lineal classification is more and more subordinate to the simultaneous and correlative quality. Even in the first part of the Introduction, we showed that the repetition of the same social activities in directions which become more regular and constant gives rise to social functions which become integrated into social organs or social institutions. In the constitution of these organs there exists the same order of logical and natural filiation as for the phenomena, but with this difference, that the organs are already the particular syntheses of all the social phenomena; the lineal, hierarchic series is here mingled with a general combination of all the elements in the hierarchic order, and is therefore attenuated and reduced by an order of equivalence, each element concurring in the service of the whole, to which all the agents, especially the simplest and most general, are useful and indispensable.
Let us repeat here again that it is not necessary to attach to these expressions, functions, and organs any strict biological sense, or especially to deduce sociological conclusions from certain analogies. Nevertheless, these expressions facilitate our comprehension of the true nature of social institutions. Although there is no reason here for an absolute assimilation, the superorganisms are not totally distinct from ordinary organisms. Thus, as the more and more regular passage of nervous excitation by the same path explains the formation of nerve, so the more and more regular transportation of men and utilities serves to explain the formation of routes, from the natural foot-path to the railroad. Yet the route is not a nerve. The latter does not serve especially to transport elements of nutrition, although it transmits the offers and the orders; the post-office and the telegraph, with their many stations, are in this relation more analagous to a nerve than are roads.
In the second volume of the Introduction, which is devoted especially to social functions and organs, we have proceeded, therefore, to a new but incomplete synthesis. We have especially described the structure and the functioning of each of the social organs considered separately; however, we then strongly insisted that first the organs, next the groups of organs, and finally the systems of groups, always and necessarily present a correlative and simultaneous organization and functioning, and that all of these, including the systems of groups, which are the most extensive and the most complex forms of special social organography, are always agencies with a view to the service of the ensemble, which regulates their particular activity and acts upon their individual structure.
In our study, which has been at once both static and dynamic, of the organs, of the groups of organs, and of the systems of groups relating to the different classes of social phenomena, we have also recognized a certain order, which is both logical and natural. We have based this classification upon the degree of complexity and of specialty of the organization and functioning of the phenomena, and not, as in former classifications, upon the complexity and specialty of the phenomena themselves.
Accordingly, the economic system in its entirety is divided into three distinct but connected branches. The simplest and most general of these is that of circulation; next in order is that of consumption; last, most complex and special of all, that of production. This is an important fact; for if, as we believe, the economic life is the foundation of the entire social life, it is the circulatory system that constitutes the lower story, the foundation, the basis of the entire structure—and not production, nor the technique of production, as the school of Karl Marx maintains.
The circulatory branch of the system, likewise, according to a natural and logical order, includes: (1) the transportation of men and of utilities—(a) land, (6) maritime; (2) the transmission of offers and orders; (3) the circulation of signs representative of values; (4) the circulation of public and private instruments of credit.
It follows that, in last analysis, all social life can be reduced to a movement, to a change of place of the human units and of utilities, that is to say, of the more or less numerous parts of the two factors combined by land and sociology.
This observation, supposing it to be as exact as I think, should be of the highest importance for the general philosophy of the sciences, because it should permit us to perceive more or less clearly that sociology itself will some time be related to a universal mechanical law well understood from the purely philosophical point of view. This philosophical monism will not be able to treat social phenomena simply by themselves, according to their distinctive character and their particular laws.
The fact that in last analysis all social life can be reduced to movement, to a change of place of human units and of utilities, corresponds to the fact that every social structure can be reduced to a displacement, a movement, a new combination of land and population. It is this that we actually observe in the economic activity of the most rudimentary populations, which live by hunting, fishing, and gathering fruits, nuts, etc. All their economic activity consists in a movement, in approaching natural utilities, in bringing these utilities together. Here circulation, consumption, production are only one; they are blended in a single movement, in a circulatory movement which involves at the same time the two other phenomena, consumption and production, which are not differentiated until later. However, consumption and production in their distinct forms, in the highest distinct forms they are subsequently able to attain, nevertheless always remain as the two poles of the same sphere. At the same time, this statement explains a fact which I think no one disputes, namely, that the circulatory phenomena always tend to become organized, that is to say, socialized, before the phenomena relating to consumption, and especially before the phenomena of production, which are the most complex and the most special of all economic phenomena. Among productive phenomena those activities relating to industry, properly so called, become organized before agricultural industry.
The objection has been made that hunting, fishing, and