The Process of History (Historical Regularities)

  • Jerzy Topolski
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 88)

Abstract

Dialectical determinism in the interpretation of facts means, as we have seen, causalism which assumes the existence of regularities, that is, deeper conditionings, to which principal causes of historical facts are subordinated; through the latter that subordination reaches the chains of direct or accidental causes (which we have also termed adventitious).

Keywords

Entropy Crystallization Steam Transportation Social Stratification 

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References

  1. 1.
    The division into synchronie (functional) and diachronic (directional) laws (the latter being applicable to the whole of social development or to some elements of it) is to be found in M. Mandelbaum (see The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, XI, 1957). He does not mention, however, the category of synchronic-diachronic laws. In the Polish literature on the subject O. Lange refers to three kinds of laws: causal laws, structural laws, and functional laws (for quantitative relationships only) (cf. Political Economy, vol. I, ed. cit., p. 49). This classification is fairly universally accepted, with the proviso that the causal laws are held to be the most fundamental ones. J. J. Wiatr holds that “social laws are specified and historical in nature”, i.e., that they have spatio-temporal determinants, and classifies them by the degree of generality: those which are valid during the whole period of human development as we know it; those valid over several socio-economic formations; those valid for one formation only; and those valid over shorter periods of time (cf. Szkice o materializmie historycznym i socjologii (Essays on Historical Materialism and Sociology), Warszawa 1962, pp. 24-5).Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 39-41.Google Scholar
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    We use the term social formation instead of socio-economic formation, because the modifier social is taken here in its broadest sense, which covers the whole of human history.Google Scholar
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    Opinions on the subject matter of sociology are widely divergent in both Marxist and non-Marxist literature of the subject. This is reflected in numerous works and, papers on the issue. All definitions, both those which refer to the study of the group structure of society and those which stress that sociology is the science of the laws of social structure and social development, lack clarity. This, however, is a consequence of the rapid growth of that discipline and the resulting varying interpretations of its subject matter. In Poland, the existing situation is reflected by the range of problems discussed in Studia Socjologiczne. Yet, whatever definition be adopted, the issue of social structure is one of the focal points of interest of sociology. In Poland, J. Szczepanski’s Elementarne pojęcia sociologii (Elementary Concepts of Sociology), Warszawa 1970 (rev. ed.) is that outline of sociology which is the most useful of all for a student of history. J. Szczepanski says that the subject matter of sociology covers “the manifestations and processes of the formation of the various aspects of communal life of human beings; the structure of the various forms of human communities; phenomena and processes taking place in such communities as a result of interactions between human beings; the forces which bring such communities together and which break them up; the changes and transformations which take place in such communities”. (Op. cit., p. 12).Google Scholar
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    Cf. J. Hochfeld’s paper in Studia Socjologiczne, pp. 42 ff (quoted in footnote 22 above)Google Scholar
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    The problem of power has been discussed widely in sociological works. The various standpoints are analysed in W. Wesolowski, Klasy, warstwy i wla-dza (Classes, Strata, and Power), Warszawa 1966. A number of structural laws can be found in A. Malewski, “Empiryczny sens materializmu historycznego” (The Empirical Sense of Historical Materialism), Studia Filozoficzne, No. 2/1957, pp. 69 ffGoogle Scholar
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    This obviously assumes the acceptance of the principle that historical facts can recur. The problem will be discussed in Part Five of the book, when the methodological structure of history, and hence its place in the system of sciences is analysed, for that requires certain comparisons with natural science, and also reference to the nature of the subject matter of historical research, i.e., the structure of the past.Google Scholar
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    Cf. his paper quoted in footnote 24 above, pp. 58-81.Google Scholar
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    O. Lange calls this law the law of the progressive development of productive forces (Political Economy, vol. I, ed. cit., pp. 34–6).Google Scholar
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    O. Lange calls it the first basic law of sociology (Political Economy, vol. I, ed. cit., p. 23). His term is not clear to the present writer.Google Scholar
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    In his foreword to the third German edition of K. Marx’s “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, F. Engels wrote: “It was precisely Marx who had first discovered the great law of motion of history, the law according to which all historical struggles, whether they proceed in the political, religious, philosophical or some other ideological domain, are in fact only the more or less clear expression of struggles of social classes, and that the existence and thereby the collisions, too, between those classes are in turn conditioned by the degree of development of their economic position, by the mode of their production and of their exchange determined by it”. Selected Works, vol. I, ed. cit., pp. 223-224. In non-Marxist sociology the studies of the class struggle are contained in, or replaced by, the studies of social mobility, which is a broader concept than that of class struggle.Google Scholar
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    xhe current term is: socio-economic formations. The term: social formation will be used here, since in the present writer’s opinion social development tantamounts to the whole of historical development. Should we pay a special attention to economic issues, then why should we disregard political, ideological, and other problems, which also are elements of a given formation? The term social formation is used by O. Lange, too.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Voprosy istorii, No. 3/1955.Google Scholar
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    Cf. O. Lange, Wholes and Parts, ed. cit., pp. 58 ff.Google Scholar

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© PWN - Polish Scientific Publishers - Warszawa 1976

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  • Jerzy Topolski

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