By Chris Renwick
A brand new and leading edge account of British sociology's highbrow origins that makes use of formerly unknown archival assets to teach how the field's forgotten roots in a overdue 19th and early twentieth-century debate approximately biology can assist us comprehend either its next improvement and destiny power.
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Additional info for British Sociology’s Lost Biological Roots: A History of Futures Past
12 British Sociology’s Lost Biological Roots required sociologists to incorporate particular aspects of biology into their practices. In Chapter 4, we will then see how Hobhouse spent the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries researching and writing a multivolume project that began in late 1880s Oxford and concluded in 1906 with the publication of Morals in Evolution – a statement of how sociology should be done and what it should strive for. Beginning his career as a philosophy don, Hobhouse had been drawn into the debate about sociology by his belief, contrary to a number of his illustrious contemporaries in philosophy, that theories of evolution had important implications for the way that philosophers thought about their subject matter.
With ‘regard to the subjects of many papers read in [Section F], and the nature of the discussions thereon, the growth of the purely scientific branches of the Association, and to the fact that a society has been specially formed for the discussion of social and economical questions’, the committee suggested that the BAAS council should ‘seriously ... 61 On account of its long-standing connection to Section F, which had been established by the BAAS committee that had helped create it during the 1830s, the Statistical Society of London (SSL) had always followed events at the BAAS closely and this new debate concerned them greatly.
From Galton’s endeavours to formulate methods that would accurately capture information about human intelligence and form, through the decisions that Geddes made during his research on what we would now call symbiosis, to the way that Hobhouse designed a set of experiments to test the reasoning abilities of animals, those involved in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British sociology were all engaged in an effort to develop and execute programmes that were driven by specific sets of ideas.