Humans as INTERdependent Systems

Donivan Bessinger, MD writes: The systematic study of society began in the nineteenth century with Auguste Comte. He coined the term sociology and advanced the idea of the mutual interdependence of the parts of the social system. His contemporary, Herbert Spencer, younger by twenty-two years, further developed the view of society as an organism. Spencer, caught up in the implications of developing evolutionary theory, attempted to encompass even the origin of the universe and the evolution of the galaxies. His work on society as organism earns him a place as a forerunner of general systems theory. Spencer argues that society is more than simply a collective name for a number of individuals. “A whole of which the parts are alive, cannot, in its general characters, be like lifeless wholes.”  … The functioning of society as a multi-level system lends further support to our universal world-view, and points a way to improved problem-solving. We recall Augustine’s language. In viewing the functioning of society as an organic whole, we further advance the “education of the human race” from the earthly realm of ordinary awareness of the immediately visible, toward the epoch in which that which now seems “heavenly” and “invisible” can become real. (11/22/02)
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