sociology

The Social Theories of Lewis Henry Morgan

The Social Theories of Lewis Henry Morgan

On November 21, 1818, pioneering American anthropologist and social theorist Lewis Henry Morgan was born. Morgan is best known for his work on kinship and social structure, his theories of social evolution, and his ethnography of the Iroquois. Interested in what holds societies together, he proposed the concept that the earliest human domestic institution was the matrilineal clan, not the patriarchal family. During the 1840s, Lewis Henry Morgan befriended Ely Parker of…
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William Isaac Thomas and the Thomas Theorem

William Isaac Thomas and the Thomas Theorem

On August 13, 1863, American sociologist William Isaac Thomas was born. Thomas developed innovative work on the sociology of migration and went on to formulate a fundamental principle of sociology, known as the Thomas theorem, in which he contended that, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences“. Thomas was born in Russell County, Virginia to Sarah Price Thomas and his father Thaddeus Peter Thomas, a Methodist minister…
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Herbert A. Simon and the Science of Decision Making

Herbert A. Simon and the Science of Decision Making

On June 15, 1916, American political scientist, economist, sociologist, psychologist, and computer scientist Herbert Alexander Simon was born. Simon was among the founding fathers of several of today’s important scientific domains, including artificial intelligence, information processing, decision-making, problem-solving, organization theory, complex systems, and computer simulation of scientific discovery. With almost a thousand highly cited publications, he was one of the most influential social scientists of the 20th century. “(If) there were no…
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Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

On February 13, 1766, English cleric and scholar Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus was born. His An Essay on the Principle of Population observed that sooner or later population will be checked by famine and disease, leading to what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He thought that the dangers of population growth precluded progress towards a utopian society. Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. His views became…
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John Locke and the Importance of the Social Contract

John Locke and the Importance of the Social Contract

On August 29, 1632, English philosopher and physician John Locke was born. One of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers he became known as the “Father of Classical Liberalism“. He spent over 20 years developing the ideas he published in his most significant work, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) which analyzed the nature of human reason, and promoted experimentation as the basis of knowledge. “To love truth for truth’s sake is the…
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Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

On June 23, 1668, Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist Giambattista Vico was born. An apologist of classical antiquity, Vico is best known for his magnum opus, the Scienza Nuova of 1725, often published in English as The New Science, in which he attempted to bring about the convergence of history, from the one side, and the more systematic social sciences, from the other, so that their interpenetration could form a single…
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The psychologist must study mankind from the historical or comparative standpoint – Moritz Lazarus

The psychologist must study mankind from the historical or comparative standpoint – Moritz Lazarus

Moritz Lazarus and Nahilda Lazarus-Remy ca.1895 On September 15, 1824, German philosopher and psychologist Moritz Lazarus was born. He held that humanity must be studied from the historical, comparative viewpoint, analyzing the elements that constitute the fabric of society, with its customs, its conventions, and the main tendencies of its evolution. He was Jewish and a leading opponent of anti-Semitism in his time. Moritz Lazarus received a Jewish education, taking classes in…
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Jürgen Habermas and Communicative Rationality

Jürgen Habermas and Communicative Rationality

On June 18, 1929, German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas was born. Widely recognized as one of the world’s leading intellectuals, Habermas is perhaps best known for his theories on communicative rationality and the public sphere. Jürgen Habermas grew up during World War II and was highly influenced by the post-war period and especially the Nuremberg Trials, during which he was exposed to the depth of Germany’s moral and political failure under National…
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Adolph von Knigge and the Art of Human Relations

Adolph von Knigge and the Art of Human Relations

On May 6, 1796, Freiherr Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig Knigge passed away. In Germany, Knigge is best remembered for his book ‘Über den Umgang mit Menschen‘ (On Human Relations), a treatise on the fundamental principles of human relations that has the reputation of being the authoritative guide to behaviour, politeness, and etiquette. “Without inspiration, which fills the soul with a healthy warmth, nothing great can ever be brought to pass.” — Adolph…
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Jean Piaget and Genetic Epistemology

Jean Piaget and Genetic Epistemology

On August 9, 1896, Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher Jean Piaget was born. He is best known for his epistemological studies with children. In 1934, he declared that “…only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.” Piaget created the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955 and directed it until his death in 1980. The number of collaborations that its founding made possible, and…
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