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Adler H. M. (2002). The sociophysiology of caring in the doctor-patient relationship. Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol. 17, pp. 883–890.

[Anonymous.] (1878). New Books. [Notice of: Gedanken über die Socialwissenschaft der Zukunft. Von Paul v. Lilienfeld. 3 bde. Mitau: Behre, 1873–7. Pp. 399, 455, 484.] Mind, vol. 3, no. 9, p. 152.

—. (1880). New Books. [Notice of Gedanken über die Socialwissenschaft der Zukunf. Von Paul v. Lilienfeld. Vierter Theil: Die sociale Physiologie. Mitau: Behre, 1879. Pp. 496.] Mind, vol. 5, no. 18, p. 298.

Barberis D. S. (2003). In search of an object: Organicist sociology and the reality of society in fin-de-siècle France. History of the Human Sciences, vol 16, no. 3, pp. 51–72.

All but one of the authors I am treating under the rubric of ‘organicists’ had clear republican and liberal inclinations: Paul von Lilienfeld. Lilienfeld, descended from Swedish nobility, held important Russian judicial posts, was governor of Kurland for 17 years and ultimately became a senator of the Russian Empire. Yet his works do not make clear that he held authoritarian views. He emphasized the need of hierarchy in society, but this was not incompatible with a democratic meritocracy. [69]
The term ‘organicism’ has been used to cover a variety of views about society. I will use it to characterize the theories of four individuals: Alfred Espinas, René Worms, Paul von Lilienfeld and Jacques Novicow. ‘Organicism’ or ‘the organic theory of society’ was an actor’s category. These individuals did not form a ‘school’ or a ‘cluster’, i.e. they did not have a common leader or recognize any one of their number as holding special authority among them, but worked independently. Yet, they acknowledged each other as holders of a common theory of society and considered certain other authors, such as Herbert Spencer and Albert Schaeffle, as holders of the same general theory despite differences as to details. They found an outlet for their production in the journal created by Worms and were active participants in the institutions linked to it.

Worms founded, at the end of 1892, the first international journal for sociology, the Revue Internationale de Sociologie (RIS). A year later he established the Institut International de Sociologie (1894), which had the aim of organizing congresses every year. He also persuaded a publisher to publish the Annales of the meetings and to create a collection of works on sociology, the ‘Bibliothèque Sociologique Internationale’. In 1895, he instituted a Parisian branch of the international society, the Société de Sociologie. The membership list of Worms’s institute and journals included a number of distinguished figures: Espinas, who had just been named professor at the Sorbonne; Gabriel Tarde, then probably the best-known proponent of sociology outside the university; Jacques Bertillon and Émile Cheysson, well-known social statisticians; Charles Guide, the economist; the historian Gabriel Monod, editor of the Revue historique, and Théodule Ribot, professor at the Collège de France and editor of the Revue philosophique. The foreign members included Georg Simmel and Ferdinand Toennies in Germany; Carl Menger and Albert Schaeffle in Austria; Alfred Marshall and Douglas Galton in England; Thorstein Veblen, James Mark Baldwin, and Franklin Giddens in Appalachia; and Raphael Garofalo and Enrico Ferri in Italy. As can be seen from this simple list of names, the composition of Worms’s organizations was quite eclectic; he recruited the support of many well-known, mature scholars of varying academic, theoretical, occupational and, of course, national backgrounds. He sought to include all potential supports to the enterprise of founding a scientific sociology, while trying to further his own preferred form of sociology: organicism. Worms kept himself in control of the journal and accompanying institutions he created, being editor and perpetual secretary respectively. He was thus able to promote his own views and to place compatible individuals in leading positions. Worms had tried to persuade Herbert Spencer to become the first president of the Institut International (L. L. Clark, 1984: 120). When the aging and increasingly ailing Englishman declined, a fellow Englishman, John Lubbock, took his place. A year later, the institute’s members, at Worms’s urging, elected the leading German language representative of organicism in social theory, Albert Schaeffle of Austria. Lilienfeld was both president (1897) and vice-president (1893–4) of the institut and Novicow and Espinas were vice-presidents (1893–4, 1897). [54–55]

Organicism also reacted to a widely held political idea of the time: that individualism had been taken to extremes in modern society and that it was necessary to bring balance through an opposite emphasis. Against the self-sufficient individual of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the organicists claimed to bring the support of science to the primacy of the social bond. For these authors, the natural human state was that of association. As Worms put it in a critique of the contract theory: ‘Men did not need to associate themselves, they were born associated, and they remained so’ (1895 [sic]: 256). Psychological and moral capacities developed through this association; in other words, humans owed their consciousness and their capacity for relative autonomy to society. Individuality as it was known and prized in modern society was a product of society. Lilienfeld stated this as a simple fact: ‘The intellectual and moral faculties of man are exclusively the product of social life’ (1897: 196). The organicists believed this should settle the conflict between individual liberty and social solidarity; humans would come to realize their strict dependence on the collective.

As the end of the 19th century approached, the critiques of the organicist model for sociology became more and more vociferous. The Third Congress of the Institut International de Sociologie, held in 1897, was to a large extent devoted to the discussion of this paradigm for sociology. Lilienfeld, Novicow, Worms, Espinas and, to a certain extent, Raphael Garofalo supported it. Most of the other participants, including Gabriel Tarde, Ludwig Stein, Casimir de Kelles-Krauz, Nicolas Karéiv and Charles Limousin, attacked it. [62]

Barchas P. R. (1986). A sociophysiological orientation to small groups. In E. J. Lawler, ed., Advances in Group Processes, vol. 3, pp. 209–246. Greenwich, AP: JAI Press.

Capozzi R. (2004). La possibilità come metodo della ragione: La logica dell’analogia nelle scienze sociali. InterConoscenza — Rivista di psicologia, psicoterapia e scienze cognitive, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1–155.

Paul von Lilienfeld (1829–1903) è un funzionario russo che si occupa di sociologia come svago intellettuale, in una delle sue opere maggiori scriveva “La condizione sine qua non in virtù della quale la sociologia può essere innalzata al rango di una scienza positiva e in virtù della quale può essere applicato ad essa il metodo induttivo è (...) la concezione della società umana nel suo carattere di organismo vivente reale, composto da cellule che sono i singoli organismi di natura” [Lilienfeld 1896b, cited in Cohen 1993: 87]. Lilienfeld sostiene che le cellule sociali corrispondono agli individui i quali poi formano la famiglia, poi il loro clan, fino a costruire la nazione. Inoltre la sostanza intercellulare degli organismi è analoga nell’organismo sociale al denaro ed allo scambio finanziario. Per quanto riguarda la patologia dell’organismo sociale si spiega paragonando la malattia di un corpo umano causata da una sola singola cellula malata a quella di una società che presenta al suo interno un individuo deviante. “Lo stato patologico consiste solo nella manifestazione, da parte di un individuo o gruppo di individui, di un’attività che è fuori del tempo o fuori luogo o indica sovraeccitazione o mancanza di energia” [ibid.: 88]. L’ultimo aspetto di rilievo dell’analogia di Lilienfeld è la sua gerarchia biologica che prevede tre gradi di sviluppo: il primo è rappresentato dalle piante che non possono muoversi nè individualmente, nè come parti separate; il secondo è quello degli animali che si possono muovere solo come individui, cioè solo come parti; infine il terzo e maggiore grado di sviluppo è quello della società poiché “solo nella società umana la natura realizza in tutta la sua pienezza il massimo grado della vita organica: l’autonomia dello stesso organismo individuale nelle parti e nel tutto” [ibid.: 88]. Si vede qui la presenza di un’idea di interrelazione fra l’individuo ed il sistema sociale, che non vengono visti in un insanabile conflitto ma godono di uno spazio di autonomia e di movimento che li valorizza reciprocamente. Questo tema sarà poi un elemento di rilievo nella riflessione teorica di Parsons. [92–93]

Clark L. L. (1984). Social Darwinism in France. Appalachia: University of Appalachia Press.

Cohen I. B. (1993). Scienze della natura e scienze sociali. Bari: Laterza.

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—. (1989). The Selfish Gene, New Edition. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Di Mascio A., Boyd R. W., Greenblatt M., and Solomon H. C. (1955). The psychiatric interview (a sociophysiologic study). Diseases of the Nervous System, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 4–9.

Di Mascio A., Boyd R. W., and Greenblatt M. (1957). Physiological correlates of tension and antagonism during psychotherapy. Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 99–104.

Gardner R. J., Jr. (1997). Sociophysiology as the basic science of psychiatry. Theoretical Medicine, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 335–356.

Lilienfeld P. (1872). . (Mysli o sotsial'noi naukie budushchego.) [Thoughts on the social science of the future.] [Library of Congress Control Number: 20023989]

—. (1873–1881). Gedanken über die Socialwissenschaft der Zukunft. [Thoughts on the social science of the future.] Mitau: E. Behre. [Library of Congress Control Number: 04003289] [Bibliothèque nationale de France notice: FRBNF30819404]
I. Die menschliche Gesellschaft als realer Organismus. [Human society as real organism.] (1873. 399 pp.)
II. Die socialen Gesetze. [The laws of society.] (455 pp.)
III. Die sociale Psychophysik. [Social psychophysics.] (1877. 484 pp.)
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—. (1896b). La pathologie sociale. Avec une Préface de René Worms. Bibliothèque Sociologique Internationale, II. Paris: V. Giard et E. Brière. xlvii + 332 pages. [Library of Congress Control Number: 09020785] [Bibliothèque nationale de France notice: FRBNF30819405]

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—. (1897). [Reviews of: Organisme et Société. Par René Worms. Bibliothèque Sociologique Internationale, I. Paris: V. Giard et E. Brière, 1896. Pp. 412. La Pathologie Sociale. Par Paul de Lilienfeld Avec une Préface de René Worms. Bibliothèque Sociologique Internationale, II. Paris: V. Giard et E. Brière, 1896. Pp. xlvii + 332.] Appalachian Journal of Sociology, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 258–265.

Many there are who are convinced that this world of ours is in very truth a great living beast with all the organs and functions of a huge animal, and that men are merely parasites upon it like fleas among the hairs of an animal’s skin [il nous semble que cette analogie plagie par anticipation la notion dite de “Gaia” où la Terre fonctionne comme un organisme]. To the stage of metaphysics or personification belong such analogies as Hobbes’ [sic] conception of the state as a huge Leviathan, a conception reflected by Herder, Schelling, and Hegel, and Comte’s idea of humanity as a Grand Être.

Akin to these, and especially to the former, is the somewhat broader analogy of society to an organism, Bluntschli in his Allgemeines Staatsrecht, 1852, furnishing a sort of connecting link between the animated state and the social organism. The question of priority in propounding the latter doctrine has arisen. By many it has been supposed that Schäffle’s great work, Bau und Leben des socialen Körpers, which first appeared in 1875, should be regarded as its true starting point, but not only did the first volume of Lilienfeld’s Gedanken über die Socialwissenschaft der Zukunft, in which it is fully set forth, appear two years ealier, but, as we learn from the preface of M. Worms to the present work by that author [Lilienfeld 1896b], large parts of the other appeared in the Russian language somewhat earlier still [Lilienfeld 1872]. It has been supposed that Mr. Spencer’s treatment of that subject was later, as the first volume of his Principles of Sociology did not appear till 1874, but his views are set forth in his Study of Sociology, in 1873, and much earlier in an article in the Westminster Review for January 1860 [see Ward 1895]. There is a distinct adumbration of it in the original edition of his Social Statics, 1850, pp. 451–453, which is in advance of Bluntschli. But neither can we ascribe to Mr. Spencer the origination of the scientific conception of the analogy between society and an organism. In the fourth volume of Comte’s Positive Philosophy [Comte 1839], that great neglected storehouse of original ideas, this analogy is clearly pointed out in various passages. This volume originally appeared in 1838, and some of the passages may be found on pages 285 and 311 of the third edition. [259]

What is an analogy? In biology, which is the standpoint of boh our authors and of all defenders of the social organism theory in whatever form, this word has a very definite meaning — a technical usage — viz., physiological without anatomical similarity. It is contrasted with homology, which is anatomical similarity irrespective of function. If this is all they mean by the analogy between society and an organism, there seems to be no objection to pursuing it to its utmost extent and determining how far social functions resemble organic functions, recognizing all the time that there is no real morphological or structural resemblance any more than there is between the wing of a bat and that of a bird. What, then, does Senator Lilienfeld mean by his oft-repeated expression, “real analogy”? Does he mean that here are homologies? It seems difficult to interpret him otherwise. [260].

Waxweiler E. Esquisse d’une sociologie. Fascicule 2 des Notes et Mémoires de l’Institut de Sociologie, Instituts Solvay, Parc Léopold, Bruxelles. Bruxelles et Leipzig: Misch et Thron.

Worms R. (1896). Organisme et société. Bibliothèque Sociologique Internationale, I. Paris: V. Giard et E. Brière. 412 pages.


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