J.s. Mill: Sociology

In his analysis of the logic of history and social sciences Mill was much influenced by French writers of the Saint Simonian school and especially Auguste Comte. This school divided history into 'organic' and 'transitional' periods. In organic periods human personalities and institutions are coherently organized in a stable system, the workings of each part complementing and reinforcing the workings of the others. But this cannot last forever, stability is never absolute: the system starts to come apart, there follows a period of more or less disorder and confusion, in which the parts of society pull against or collide with one another, personalities and institutions do not suit one another, people are dissatisfied and disappointed and change becomes rapid - until out of the struggle another stable organization develops, another 'organic' period. So on this view it is possible to draw non-arbitrary lines across history, to recognise distinct 'periods', though some of these will be periods of transition or revolutionary periods without any high degree of coherence
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