By Igor Kon, H. Campbell Creighton
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4. Spencer’s Place in the History of Sociology Spencer‘s contribution to the development of sociology, and the evaluation of his works by succeeding generations have been as contradictory as his creative work. His ideologically important service was his fight against clericalism and defence of the principles of objective investigation of society based on the principles of scientific research. Progressive thinkers of the second half of the nineteenth century were attracted by his confidence in the irresistibility of social evolution, his recognition of the law-governed character of everything that exists, and the seeming rigour and scientific character of his conclusions.
Because we do not give this name to the transient gatherings that primitive peoples form, but only employ it where a settled life has led to a certain permanence in the distribution of its components within society. But, if society was a real object, with its own individuality, should it be classed as inorganic or organic? ) they seemed unsatisfactory to him for constructing a generalised model of the social whole, and he called an organic model to his aid that was more complex and dynamic. One of the chapters of Principles of Sociology was entitled ‗A Society Is an Organism".
Buckle ignored a number of intermediate relationships between the social factors themselves, and the functional relations between them and the environment when drawing conclusions about the direct, unambiguous dependence of economic, psychic, and social facts on the physical environment. At the same time he tacitly or openly adopted, as a general scientific ideal, physical monism and mechanistic determinism and their notions of the human mind‘s passive copying of the external world. He underestimated, moreover, the results of cultural diffusion and mutual influence, since he often depicted the effect of the environment as if a society always lived in complete isolation, as a culturally independent entity.