Naturalistic trend in Russian sociology
General characteristics of the naturalistic trend in Russian sociology.
Along with the leading subjective-sociological concepts of society in Russian sociology, there were objective-sociological concepts expressed in attempts to methodologically combine natural science and social science. For the first time such an attempt was made in the book by A.I. Stronin “History and Method”, published in 1869 in St. Petersburg. The second attempt was published in 1872 under the pseudonym P.., L… the work of P.F. Lilienfeld’s Thoughts on the Social Science of the Future. Both thinkers were the founders of the organic school in positivist sociology (following H. Spencer). The German edition of Thoughts on the Social Science of the Future (1873) was subsequently referred to by all the major representatives of this school—A. Scheffle, A. Fulier, and R. Worms. In Russia, however, naturalistically oriented positivist trends were subjected to devastating criticism.
Representatives of the naturalistic trend in Russia abandoned the obvious extremes of Western naturalism. For example, social Darwinism, with its mechanical reduction of social patterns to the law of the struggle for existence, had no fans at all in our country. In Russia, they continued to look for new natural-objective factors in the development of society, understood as a special part of nature, subject to its universal laws. It was these Russian sociologists who undertook the substantiation of the decisive role of anthropological, demographic and geographical factors. The ideas of geographical determinism arose in Russia as an explanatory doctrine in response to organicistic and subjective-sociological concepts of society. The general idea to give a picture of history in its objective characteristics was realized in several directions.
In general, the role of the geographic environment (climate, natural resources, the presence of mountains, forests, rivers and the length of the coastal sea or ocean line, etc.) has been written for a long time. Beginning with Comte, almost all major sociologists paid tribute to this topic, including the popular in Russia in the 70s. nineteenth century G. Buckle. The contribution of Russian sociologists to the development of the geographic direction in sociology was very useful for the development of Russian sociology in general. Firstly, he shed additional light on phenomena that were not yet sufficiently comprehended or left without due attention. Secondly, by unwittingly exaggerating the role of one factor, he made it possible for subsequent criticism to establish its limiting and useful boundaries. This is how he came to the attention of researchers who were very far from geographical sociology – V. Klyuchevsky, M. Kovalevsky, S. Yuzhakov and others, who recognized the importance of the geographical factor along with others. Sometimes even the representatives of the geographical direction themselves were aware of this circumstance and tried to combine factors with each other, at least in a temporal determination. The most indicative in this respect is the most prominent representative of this trend, L. I. Mechnikov.
Organicism in Russian sociology
The most prominent representatives of organicism in Russian sociology were A. I. Stronin and P. F. Lilienfeld.
Alexander Ivanovich Stronin (1826-1889) – publicist and sociologist. Graduated from the Faculty of History and Philology of Kyiv University. In the context of the democratic rise of the turn of the 50-60s. actively engaged in educational activities. He was accused of “Ukrainian separatism” and in 1863-1869. was in administrative exile in the Arkhangelsk province. After returning from exile, he worked in legal institutions. Stronin outlined his theory of society in the books History and Method (1869), Politics as a Science (1872), and Public History (1886). Known as the author of popular books for the people.
Stronin’s scientific work was inspired by the desire to overcome the opinion that “society can be turned around at will” and to formulate the principles of “reasonable politics” (O. Comte). There is only one way here – the creation of a science of society. The conclusions made by Stronin in the process of solving this problem, as well as the language of their presentation, often seemed very strange and could easily be presented in a caricature form, which was not slow to take advantage of some critics (N.K. Mikhailovsky, P.N. Tkachev), in general denied Stronin’s ideas any scientific significance. And although some analysts also emphasized the positive aspects of Stronin’s concept, in general, his work was firmly forgotten and did not enter into scientific circulation.
Unlike the natural sciences, which formulate real laws, Stronin emphasizes, in social science we do not even have science, but “aggregates of knowledge”, stocks of materials in which “lawlessness” reigns. The way out of this “insulting situation” lies in the discovery of the natural, immutable laws of social life in order to eliminate the causes of social strife and arbitrariness and direct people’s activities towards the realization of real possibilities. In social cognition, at first there was a period of traditions and beliefs. It was replaced by an artistic period, when the facts of history were linked into a whole by some a priori idea. Comte and Bockl complete this stage: “The attempts of social science generation are over, and infantile social science is standing before us.”
It was Comte, this “Aristotle of social science”, who laid the eternal and unshakable foundation of social science, although in the end he himself fell into metaphysics. We need to go further, notes Stronin, it’s time to build the walls of a new science. Solving this problem, the Russian sociologist also relied on the ideas of G. Buckle, C. Darwin, G. Spencer, J. S. Mill and others.
How to build a social science? The key to this, Stronin believes, is the scientific method of “social natural science”, the justification of which is devoted to his book “History and Method”. Moreover, this justification simultaneously turns out to be an analysis of the structure and dynamics of society, its elements, and the relationships between them.
The starting point for the convergence of social science with natural science is the method of induction. However, one cannot simply transfer natural science induction to social science. It is necessary to develop a special method of social induction, or “observatory”. However, the method of induction is limited and must be supplemented by deduction. But how to apply deduction in social science, which has not yet reached the stage of a mature science? It is necessary, Stronin believes, to develop special rules of social deduction, or “hypothetics”. Deduction in social knowledge performs the function of the “method of initiation”, the initiation of hypotheses and the method of completion, the conclusion from established knowledge. Induction is, as it were, in the middle between them, performing the function of “scientific production”.
But this is not enough, especially at the stage of formation of social science, moreover, we find ourselves in a vicious circle. To get out of it, you need to resort to a kind of deduction that has not yet been used in social science. Stronin calls this method “analogy”, and it is on this basis that he formulates his key sociological conclusions.
The meaning of the method lies in the transfer to social science of ready-made laws and axioms recognized in natural science. The legitimacy of such a procedure is based on the unity of the world, and consequently of its laws, and also on the fact that every less general science is included in a more general one. And therefore “how many and what kind of laws natural science still has, the same number, speaking in general, and the same should be in social science.”
In the process of implementing this method, Stronin failed, no matter how hard he tried to do so, to avoid simplifications and straightforwardness in the form of a direct transfer of the laws of nature into social life, although at the same time he also expressed interesting observations. For example, the law of gravity, Stronin believed, operates in society as sociability, “the desire … for unity and interaction.” In a similar way, Stronny interprets the laws of the parallelogram of forces, inertia, resultant, etc.
However, analogy cannot fully compensate for the insufficiency of the methods of social cognition, since in society it is impossible to separate elements from the environment, to conduct experiments. Is it possible, asks Stronin, to somehow use the method of isolation in the study of social phenomena? In this regard, he turns to the analysis of philosophical knowledge. Metaphysics, in his opinion, for all its shortcomings, was not fruitless. Philosophical systems isolated any one of the sides of reality, absolutized it and studied it in different aspects. It is this method of “dialectical isolation”, as well as many of its results, that should be transferred to sociology. And then Stronin actually sets out the concept of what was later called in sociology the ideal type.
If we mentally accept any point of view and bring it to the end, we will come to results that do not exist in reality, but they will reveal to us the properties of the point of view itself, its hidden tendencies, possibilities. And this corresponds to reality itself, each element of which seeks to expand itself at the expense of others. The method of isolation is also used by the natural sciences, but their objects (point, line, etc.) are elementary in comparison with the objects of philosophy. It is the complexity of objects that determines the possibility of transferring the method of philosophy to sociology and its fruitfulness in it.
For example, if we isolate the concept of power, i.e., take power as such, then it becomes obvious that power strives for infinite expansion, rigor and violence without boundaries, etc. As a result, Stronin notes, the nature of the social element is visible, that is, what we cannot do in society really, we do ideally through dialectics, which gives us a deep understanding of the essence of the element.
In the context of developing the method of social science, Stronin addresses the problem of the essence and structure of society, proceeding from a very rigid mechanism and organicism, mediated by the principle of holism. In its structure, Stronin believes, society is a pyramid, which is already empirically obvious, since any society, going from bottom to top, will certainly narrow. But this can also be substantiated theoretically on the basis of the laws of physics: it follows from the very nature of things that the body is always turned in the direction of motion with the smallest surface. In addition, the center of gravity of the pyramid is at the bottom, and therefore the vibrations at the top cannot bring it to complete destruction. The pyramid thus turns out to be an ideal model of both the statics and the dynamics of society.
The social pyramid (society) is structured by Stronin as follows. Its vertical section forms a triangle, which is cut by two lines parallel to the base into three tiers or classes: upper (aristocracy, minority), middle (timocracy) and lower (democracy, majority). Two oblique lines drawn from the apex of the triangle to its base pierce all three main classes, forming three parts in each: the upper one is legislation, the court, the administration (owners), the middle one is tenants, manufacturers and bankers (capitalists), the lower one is farmers , artisans And merchants (workers). The intelligentsia (thinkers, artists, politicians), like a nervous network, penetrates into all the cells of society, concentrating nevertheless on the upper tier. The ratio of elements, Stronin notes, may vary, but they are all indispensable for the structure of any society.
There is, the sociologist continues, another structure of society – territorial, which has a horizontal and circular character, since in any society there is an increase in cells around the original one with a tendency to approach its shape to a circular one. The combination of both models gives us a cone, which expresses the ideal model of society, the highest result of its development.
However, society is not only a mechanical structure, but also an organism. This thesis is necessary for Stronin in order to solve the most difficult problem for rigid social determinism of combining unity with its diversity. The social organism, according to Stronin, is the highest type of organism, the characteristic feature of which is the universality of parts. To each part of the body, nerve, muscle, etc., correspond social organs of the same number and composition.
Today, these analogies can, of course, cause an ironic smile. Nevertheless, we find in Stronin one of the first attempts in sociology of structural and functional analysis in order to present society as a system of interrelated elements that functionally determine each other, to show the factors and conditions for their compatibility or disharmony, ways to achieve social equilibrium, consensus as a social norms, “aesthetic” expression of the life of society. Here we also see elements of the theory of organization, albeit with a clearly totalitarian bias, for the sociologist proceeded from the rigid subordination of the part to the whole, and his ideal was the absence of anything unorganized in society. True, in his last book, Stronin somewhat softens this position. Finally, it is reasonable to conclude that Stronin also has some early sketch of the theory of social stratification.
Stronin addresses the procedural elements of society in detail in the book Politics as a Science. Under “politics” in this case is meant social interaction, the core of which is spiritual processes. Stronin seeks to identify the functions (“departments”) of social elements, their leading social tendencies, the factors that bring them into action, etc. The researcher’s efforts to combine the linear and cyclic models of society are obvious, with a clear preference, however, for the latter.
Based on Comte’s principle of increasing complexity of sciences and decreasing complexity of laws, Stronin distinguishes three general laws of functioning and dynamics of the “social body”: a general biological law, a general sociological law, and a general political law.
The general biological law determines the conditions of life and death of any society. Three main periods of life: progress (growth and addition of the body), stagnation (addition and decomposition are balanced) and regression (decoration takes over). The transition from progress to stagnation is caused by a delay in the satisfaction of new needs and the absence of new ideals. At the same time, every, even the most progressive element, without opposition, degrades. Since nothing can exist without aspirations, they begin to turn to old ideals, which leads society into a stage of regression. Periods of the death of society: degeneration, rebirth, rebirth. Their common feature is the preponderance of the forces of the environment over the forces of the organism: gradually penetrating into it, the environment decomposes it and, as a result, forms new elements from the remnants of the old. Life and death unite, the circle is completed. This circuit is fatal, the reserve of forces of any social organism sooner or later dries up.
The general sociological law, or the law of the combination and division of labor, is a specific social law, and it is with this law, the sociologist believes, that we reach the level of sociology proper. The analysis of this problem is probably the most original and fruitful part of Stronin’s research. The named law underlies all unions and connections of people, it determines a fairly rigid social hierarchy, ways of subordinating elements, the nature of the transition from one element to another horizontally and vertically of the social pyramid.
The law of combination and division of labor is revealed in the totality of actions and reactions (synthesis and analysis), i.e., actions that contribute to or hinder the current flow of the social process, because of which it acquires a wave-like character. “Historical gait,” writes Stronin, “does not consist of steps either forward or backward, as is usually thought, and not even from steps now to the right, then to the left, but only from steps first up, then down, then in height, then in depth”. Reaction is just as useful for progress as action, because it is the process of assimilation by the social organism of what was obtained en masse at the moments of actions.
Stronin calls public (political) parties the subjects of social fluctuations. Usually there are five of them: radicals, liberals, conservatives, retrogrades, obscurants. The distribution among parties and the leading role of any of them are determined by the attitude towards the dominant ideas at a particular stage of the social cycle. Say, radicals correspond to the beginning of a stage of progress, liberals to its end, and so on.
In this context, Stronin addresses the problem of the motivation of social actions, using rather widely elements of socio-psychological analysis. Ideas, knowledge, enlightenment, Stronin believes, are the main force of social transformations adequate to the laws. However, the actions of parties are most often motivated by unconscious instincts. When the instincts begin to motivate themselves, they grow into opinions, from which consciousness grows (science). But at the same time, no matter how high the level of consciousness is, instincts are still hidden behind it; they choose their own motives, and not vice versa.
Quite logically, Stronin goes to the problem of social pathology, outlining the contours of the “theory of social diseases.” The causes of society’s illnesses are in violations of social balance, the norms of the social hierarchy, and therefore the development of rules of “social hygiene” is required. Stronin is a radical opponent of all great events, upheavals, revolutions, since such events entail regress rather than progress, although they have objective reasons. The path of healthy social change is gradual reforms, for the success of which “environment in the present and soil in the past” are necessary. The concretization of the two previous laws is a general political law – the law of “impression and reflex”, through which Stronin seeks to show how real social interaction between people is carried out and what are its “products”.
The political process is differentiated into theoretical, aesthetic and practical life, the factors (subjects) of which are the intelligentsia, government and citizenship. The general purpose of the process is incorporation, i.e., the introduction of new, fresh elements into the flesh and blood of society, and the excorporation, or eradication of already unusable products. The intelligentsia develops ideas, the government on their basis – the right, citizenship, in turn – mores. The condition for a normal social life is the timely, excluding “underfulfillment” or “overturning” and the gradual transformation of ideas into law, and rights into mores.
The product of the intelligentsia, Stronin believes, is civilization, the product of the government is culture or the embodiment of ideas with the help of law in mores. The product of citizenship, i.e., the “mass set in motion” and the basis of the social pyramid, are mores, the most fundamental factor of behavior, “the real indicator of progress and humanity.” Only that entered the life of society that was strengthened in morals. Mores are embodied in custom, their “aesthetic”, visible form, tradition grows out of customs, that is, a “theoretical”, spiritual expression of the principles of the people’s life. Tradition becomes a source of new ideas for the intelligentsia.
In general, the analysis of “citizenship” is one of the most interesting parts of Stronin’s writings. Particularly curious is his substantiation of the idea of a “middle class” or “average state”. The middle class, being a “consequence of friction between the majority and the minority”, links and balances the top and bottom of society, restraining the excessive reformist impulses of the minority and eroding the excessive inertia of the majority. The more quantitatively and qualitatively developed the middle class is, the more stable and organized the social pyramid is, the faster and easier social diseases are eliminated.
These ideas Stronin develops in his latest book, The History of the Public, where he sets out the theory of cultural and social progress. The evolution of society is revealed to scientists through the interaction of civilization (theoretical and practical ideas), culture (forms of activity and institutions) and citizenship (mores, customs, traditions). The essence of progress, according to Stronin, is “in the striving from the physical to the mental, from the bodily to the spiritual, from the instinctive to the rational, from the objective to the subjective, from the motionless to the mobile, from the external to the internal, from the material to the spiritual, from the concrete to the abstract. in a word, from the animal to the human” (3, p. 749). It is obvious that the sociologist strives to somehow smooth out the rigidity of his former constructions by bringing to the fore the man who creates history.
In this regard, Stronin’s substantiation of the ideal of “absolute democracy”, which naturally arises as a result of social evolution, is very interesting. The movement towards such a society is connected with the solution of economic problems, the influence of the intelligentsia on the government, the gradual approach of the proletariat to the upper strata so that the educational qualification becomes the only social qualification. Moreover, absolute democracy, Stronin believes, will change the pyramidal structure of society, which will become “solid intelligentsia.”
Predicting the future of Russia, Stronin believes that the key condition for its healthy evolution will be education, enlightenment and, accordingly, the growth of the middle class and intelligentsia. What is needed is not revolutionary impulses for the sake of saving the people, but many small deeds. Do not look for the people somewhere, Stronin addresses the radicals, for he is next to you. Teach your cook to read and this “kitchen revolution will be better than all your cardboard and tinsel revolutions.” And then, without noise and brilliance, you can really “perform a miracle,” which will be “our dear fatherland, adapted to uniform forward movement and lightened in its rotational turns.”
Stronin’s sociology can be criticized from many different angles. We see both apriorism, and strained analogies, and simplifications, and unconvincing proofs, and the underdevelopment of the language, not to mention its conservative tendencies. However, let’s not forget that this was only the initial period of the formation of a new science. At the same time, we notice in Stronin’s formulation of a number of ideas that were subsequently developed by many Russian sociologists, and in very different directions. And therefore, the oblivion of his works, which actually began immediately after the death of Stronin, is hardly justified.
Pavel Fedorovich Lilienfeld (1829-1903) went through a long bureaucratic vertical, held high positions in the bureaucratic hierarchy up to the senator. He outlined his concept in two essays: Thoughts on the Social Science of the Future (1872, in Russian; 1973-1881, in five volumes in German) and Social Pathology (1896, in French. ). Lilienfeld’s ideas had a significant influence on the founders of Western organicism (R. Worms, A. Scheffle).
Positive sociology, according to Lilienfeld, occupies an area between biology and metaphysical sociology, or theology. The latter considers all of humanity as a whole in its relation to the absolute. Unlike Stronin, Lilienfeld considers the only method of studying society to be induction in the form of a comparative analogy between social forces and the forces of nature.
Lilienfeld’s concept is based on the consideration of society as a social organism in the literal sense of the word. “In order for human society to become the subject of positive science, there is only one outcome: it is necessary to include in the series of organic beings human society itself as an organism, standing in its development as much higher than the human organism, as this latter rises above all other organisms of nature. Only under this condition can social science receive a real foundation like natural science; only under this condition can human society, as a real organism, be recognized as an inseparable part of nature; only under this condition can social science become positive from dogmatic. Lilienfeld formulates in the key of this idea a number of questions of social science, including: is not a person with his needs in the same relation to the social organism as every cell of an animal or plant organism, and is not all of humanity an organic being that combines in itself into one whole all the separate social groups relating to it as parts to the whole? Obviously, these questions are rhetorical for the researcher.
In society, according to Lilienfeld, we find all the specific features of the organism: unity, expediency, specialization of organs, capitalization of forces (that is, the accumulation of reserves and potential forces), and the uniqueness of movements. The peculiarity of the social organism lies in less integration and greater mobility of elements (individuals), which allows us to attribute it to the highest class of organisms.
It is quite natural that Lilienfeld, on the basis of the above analogy, considers it possible to present the theory of society in terms of “social physiology”. Any organism is a combination of cells; the cells of the social organism are human individuals, more precisely, their nerve cells, which make up the nervous system of society. These cells are surrounded by “intercellular tissue”, which includes both the natural environment (soil, climate) and everything created by people themselves. In a sense, in this concept of Lilienfeld, we can see elements of ideas already in the 20th century. about the integrity and unity of world evolution.
In the life of society, the sociologist identifies three leading functions: 1) physiological, or economic, 2) morphological, or legal, 3) individual (tectological, unifying), or political. The economic sphere is analogous to the blood circulation, the law plays the role of the nervous system that controls the formation of organs and tissues, the government corresponds to the central nervous system.
The healthy state of the social organism is due to the correct ratio of conservative and liberal elements (heredity and adaptation). However, social pathologies such as class struggle or revolution are possible in society. The diseases of society are analogous to diseases of the brain: a diseased economy corresponds to dementia, a diseased law corresponds to a state of delirium, a diseased government corresponds to paralysis. Therapy, on the other hand, consists in the excitation or calming of energies, in the processing or redistribution of goods produced and consumed. In this regard, Lilienfeld offers some “therapeutic” recommendations to the ruling circles.
Turning to the problem of social dynamics, Lilienfeld formulates the “laws of progress” for all three spheres of society’s activity. “Political progress consists in the strengthening of power and the expansion of political freedom, economic progress in the increase of property and the expansion of economic freedom, and legal progress in the consolidation of law and the development of legal freedom.” So, the criterion of progress is freedom, and more of the whole than of the individual. Freedom, of course, can only be relative; unconditional freedom is just as impossible in society as unlimited movement in nature. The measure of freedom can be determined by establishing some average social energy used by members of a particular society at a given historical moment.
As soon as society is an organism, it, Lilienfeld believes, is subject to old age and death, that is, to transformation into an inorganic mechanism or “atypia”. The death of society is due to the same reasons as the death of any organism: the disintegration and decomposition of parts caused by both external and internal factors. However, society can in principle avoid death if it undergoes a rebirth, interpreted by Lilienfeld somewhat differently than by Stronin. The more developed a society, the researcher notes, the greater its ability to regenerate. It is possible that a time will come when individual parts of humanity will not die, but only be reborn. And as society develops, the rebirth itself will take place more fully, more expediently and more rationally. In other words, everything rests on the level of social knowledge of society and the degree of its organization.
Obviously, Lilienfeld’s concept is very limited, characterized by rigid reductionism and holism. At the same time, one cannot fail to see its promising features, the desire to consider society as a system included in the socio-natural complex, an attempt to determine the conditions for dynamic social equilibrium, and an analysis of the causes of social dysfunctions.
Lev Ilyich Mechnikov (1838-1888)
The sociologist L. I. Mechnikov is currently less known than his younger brother, the physiologist Ilya Mechnikov, although he deserves the attention of posterity no less. He comes from the family of the Kharkov landowner Spadarenko, a Romanian by origin. Due to constant illnesses (L. Mechnikov suffered from a great physical handicap: his right leg was much shorter than his left and he limped heavily, which, however, did not prevent him from riding well later), his parents were forced to move with him from St. Petersburg, where he was born, to Kharkov. It was said about the young Mechnikov that once, as a high school student, he fought a duel with his friend over a young girl. At the age of 15, he made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the throne in Romania, because. according to family tradition, he allegedly had the right to do so. At the age of 16, L. Mechnikov entered the medical faculty of Kharkov University. Then he continued his studies in St. Petersburg, where he simultaneously listened to lectures at the Military Medical Academy, at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the University, at the Academy of Arts and, in addition, studied oriental languages. According to the available biographical information, Mechnikov was distinguished by brilliant successes in the field of science and wayward behavior. He managed to learn all the most important European and Oriental languages in almost two years. His interest in languages did not disappear throughout his life – in adulthood he knew ten European languages.
Apparently, tedious academic studies were not to his liking, and, having received an invitation to go as an interpreter to Mansurov’s diplomatic commission in Jerusalem, he dropped out of school. After visiting Constantinople, Athens, he then settled in Palestine, where he had to work as a trading agent for a coastal society in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and along the Black Sea coast. He soon got tired of the service and went, practically without money, to Venice and along the way came under the suspicion of the Austrian police. As a result, he became a volunteer in one of the detachments of the famous Garibaldi. After a severe wound, thanks to the care of friends and, above all, Alexander Dumas (son), Mechnikov recovered. From that moment on, his career was active participation in the political and social movement in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France. There he tried to realize his ideal of freedom, which was clearly strengthened not without the influence of Russian emigrants A.I. Herzen, M.A. Bakunina, Yu.G. Zhukovsky and others.
In exile, Mechnikov actively wrote and published many articles and notes on various scientific, political, and literary problems under various pseudonyms. He wrote novels and short stories published in Sovremennik and Russkoe Slovo. His articles were published in Russian magazines: “Library for Reading”, “Russian Bulletin”, “Delo”, “Word”, “Russian Wealth”. However, Mechnikov and his family were constantly in need of funds. There was no reliable and calm work. In the early 70s. The Ministry of Public Education of Japan invited him to lecture at the then-opened university. Having studied Japanese during 1873, at the beginning of 1874 he left for Japan, but for a long time could not work there for health reasons. However, there he energetically collected material for the book “Japanese Empire”. Finally, in 1883, he was given the chair of comparative geography and statistics at the University of Lausanne, which he held until the day of his death. The premature death of the outstanding Russian geographer, anthropologist, sociologist and writer did not cause any serious response in Russia, unlike in Europe, where he was widely known and popular. The Russian reader was able to get acquainted with Mechnikov’s most famous book “Civilization and Great Historical Rivers” only in 1898, i.e. ten years after its French edition
Among the works of Mechnikov in sociology, one can also name: “Pre-alphabetic civilization” (1877); “Questions of Public and Morality” (1879); “Sociological Essays” (1880); “School of Struggle in Sociology” (1884); “Geographical Theory of the Development of Historical Peoples” (1889). Leo’s sociological heritage Mechnikov is interesting for us because he defended the idea of the influence of the geographical environment on the development of society, culture and personality, although he constantly warned about his rejection of geographical fatalism.
Mechnikov was very critical of various social teachings of his time and emphasized that “the guiding and strictly scientific theory of social” cannot be “the exclusive property of any one philosophical camp, Auguste-Comte or Spencer, positivist, materialistic or any other. ” ( Mechnikov L.I. Sociological essays // Delo. 1880. No. 7. P. 154) The development of such a theory is, from the point of view of Mechnikov, necessarily a collective matter. And hence his understanding of sociology as “a higher science that should check to discipline the transformative aspirations of each of us and to tie them all to one common goal,” namely, the service of humanity.
Being a supporter of positivism, Mechnikov could not ignore the question of the applicability of Charles Darwin’s teachings in sociology. He recognized that the ideas of Darwinism had a versatile influence on the development of scientific and philosophical knowledge. However, according to Mechnikov, the phenomena of a sociological order cannot be explained by the biological law of the struggle for existence and likened social life to biological survival. At the same time, Mechnikov believed that “the social world does not lie above the biological world”, that both of these worlds “mutually enter into each other, interlock with one another .., but in no case merge and are not identified” (Mechnikov L. I. The School of Struggle in Sociology // Delo, 1884, No. 4, pp. 30, 38. Therefore, he rejects the previous classification of sciences and proposes to single out three areas of scientific knowledge:
1) the area is inorganic, exhausted by physical and chemical processes, for the explanation of which Newton’s law of universal gravitation is sufficient, the world of geometric, immovable forms;
2) area – biological, including the whole world of gastric and sexual interests; the world of plant and animal individuals competing and changing in the relentless struggle for existence,
3) the area – sociological – the world of collectivities – the world of interests that go beyond the limits of a single biological existence; the world of cooperation, i.e., the combination of forces not opposing, but facilitating the achievement of one common goal. (Ibid., p. 39) . Darwin’s law of struggle does not apply to the third region.
According to Mechnikov, the merit of identifying the field of sociology, i.e. O. Comte belongs to the area where biological egoism is replaced by altruism, therefore, where the relations of struggle are replaced by relations of mutual assistance, friendship, love, camaraderie. But he did not indicate where altruism begins, where it comes from. In Comte, therefore, there is a gap between biology and sociology, and the latter, despite Comte’s efforts, is suspended in the air.
From sociology, according to Mechnikov’s suggestion, “one cannot wait for infallible recipes for the study of