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Le Monde social des fourmis, compareé à celui de l'homme

Nature volume 114, pages 7982 (19 July 1924) | Download Citation



MAN is an animal, albeit a social animal, and unless the study of man be made to rest on the firm foundations of biology, this study is doomed never to become a real science. The truth of this has been keenly felt by the early sociologists. In fact it has been almost an obsession with them, and the analogy between society and organism, taken literally and applied as a unique principle of research, has misled and wrecked most of the earlier attempts at systematic sociology. For in science, as everywhere else, work done by proxy, by borrowing or copying, does not lead very far. Though sociology should never break its contact with biological science, it must achieve its results by its own efforts, and recognise that the entirely different nature of its subject requires specific methods, poses new problems, and opens up new aims. The relations between human individuals in society can be compared to the intercellular process within the living organism only in a mystic, semi-poetical simile and not in any scientifically useful analogy. As a method of sociological research and exposition this simile is worse than useless, as has been proved by the unfailing sterility of the many attempts at developing such social systems.

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