Social Adaptation: A Study in the Development of the Doctrine of Adaptation as a Theory of Social Progress

Social Adaptation: A Study in the Development of the Doctrine of Adaptation as a Theory of Social Progress

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Social Adaptation: A Study in the Development of the Doctrine of Adaptation as a Theory of Social Progress

Social Adaptation: A Study in the Development of the Doctrine of Adaptation as a Theory of Social Progress

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The doctrine of biological evolution did not originate with Darwin or with any other modern scientist. It is as old as human speculation. Darwin's supreme contribution was his positive proof that the method of evolution was the method of natural selection, of trial and rejection, of extermination and survival. Since his day biological evolution has meant a definite process capable of being studied in detail, tested and verified. Before his time it was only a generalization, a guess as to how things might very well have been, without any definite proof that they were actually so.

The concept of social evolution has gone through, or is going through, a similar course of development. This concept also is as old as human speculation. It has generally been, however, only a vague speculation, a guess as to how things socially might conceivably have come about, a vague idea of an unfolding process. A little more definiteness has come into the theory by the attempt to trace the successive stages of evolution. A treatise on this subject, however, is rather a book of social genesis than a book on social evolution. Until some one is able to point out the factors and forces which bring about social evolution, to show the method and the process, it will not have become a scientific concept.

In fact, Comte's three stages of mental development are beautifully illustrated in the development of the concept of social evolution. The theological stage is represented by the doctrine of a divine providence moulding human history and leading mankind along by a preordained path. The metaphysical stage is represented by most current theories of social evolution which only point out that society, like a biological organism, grows, and that its growth presumably is the result of some impersonal force or principle, rather than the personal interference of a supernatural being.

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