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Extra info for A History of Classical Sociology (Student's Library)
Finally, the ideas of the English Utilitarians, in particular of Bentham, whose individualism Spencer intensified even more, had quite a clear influence on him. As an apostle of extreme bourgeois liberalism, he consistently followed the principle of laissez-faire all his life. 2 Freedom of individual actions, competition and survival of the fittest were all that were needed for the development of society. Consistently working up that idea, Spencer opposed not only laws to aid the poor but also any state inter- 44 ference in public affairs.
The revolution in science at the beginning of the twentieth century did not prevent attempts to explain the social in a quantitative, mechanistic way. Certain naturalists, in particular the eminent chemist Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932), developed a ‗physiosociology‘. In his Energetische Grundlagen der Kulturwissenschaft,1 Ostwald suggested that energetics could provide the social sciences with certain fundamental heuristic principles, though not all the explanations they were in need of. The cultural process, from the very general, energetic point of view, was a transformation of free energy into bound.
In the West political geography successfully studied the influence of political power on the physical and social aspects of the landscape, the shaping of linguistic and cultural associations, and other topics. In the early part of this century American environmentalism became the continuer of the old geographical trend in the social sciences. What was relatively new in, it was a partiality for statistical and other ‗rigorous‘ methods of testing the popular hypotheses of geographical determinism.