From Tribe to Empire: Social Organization among Primitives and in the Ancient East

From Tribe to Empire: Social Organization among Primitives and in the Ancient East

From Tribe to Empire: Social Organization among Primitives and in the Ancient East

From Tribe to Empire: Social Organization among Primitives and in the Ancient East

Excerpt

On several occasions in the first volumes dealing with the Evolution of Humanity we have met and touched on the problem of the social factor; here we face this problem deliberately and, as it were, come to grips with it. It is the social as such that this book essentially aims at introducing into historical explanation.

That the study of the social element and of the function of this element belongs to history, that sociology is a historical discipline which, having taken its material from history, brings to history its results—that is our profound conviction. We are not unaware that to a certain type of mind it seems idle to ask whether it is history that embraces sociology or sociology that uses and transcends history; we believe that such are mistaken. The interpretation of the past is different according as sociology be viewed as a science which holds the key to history or as a science which explains it in a measure—even in a large measure—but not in an exclusive manner.

Defined rigorously, delimited carefully, sociology in its essence appears as a study of those " institutions " which correspond in social life to the functions in organic life; as a study of the structure of societies; as a study, finally, of the relations which exist between functions and structure and also between the several functions. It is abstract and comparative, since it isolates elements derived from history at different points in space and time in order to compare them. And after elaborating these elements it gains for the use of history a system of necessities or laws. It separates out and studies one important factor in human development—social . . .

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