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Darwin‘s theory of evolution forced scientists to pay attention to the simple fact (previously ignored because of the dominance of the theological outlook), that there was not only a difference between man and animals but also a similarity, that man was the product of a long biological evolution and one of the links in its chain. The theory of evolution became a main factor in the ideological climate of the second half of the century. Evolutionism, as the leading trend of the social thought of the time, was based on the ideas of the unity of the laws of the history of nature and of man, the unity of the method of the natural and social sciences, so undermining providentialist and finalist explanations of development.

The Subject-matter of Sociology Spencer did not provide a developed, formal definition of sociology or of its relation to other social sciences. But in The Study of Sociology he paid much attention to demonstrating the possibility of its existence as a science. This possibility depended on the existence (1) of a universal law of ‗natural causality‘ which operated in society to the same extent as in nature, and (2) of a regular connection of the elements and structure of any phenomenon. By examining in detail the objective and subjective difficulties (including class prejudices) of shaping sociology as a science, Spencer anticipated a number of the theses of the future sociology of knowledge.

Coser. Op. , p 41. 3 4 Auguste Comte. Discours sur l’esprit positif, p 111. 28 42 3 HERBERT SPENCER’S SOCIOLOGICAL CONCEPTION Igor Kon 1. Spencer and His Time The birth of sociology in England is linked with the name of Herbert Spencer (1820–1903). In the middle of the nineteenth century, when his scientific activity was beginning, British capitalism was at the zenith of its prosperity. England, having completed the industrial revolution before all other countries, had far outstripped them in level of economic development.

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