As any good physicist can tell you, the behavior of any inanimate object depends on the cooperation of its own forces and the forces to which it is exposed. Take for example a piece of metal. The molecules of that piece of metal form either a solid or liquid state, depending partly on their intrinsic chemical properties and partly on the heat-waves bombarding them. This dependency upon internal and external factors is just as much the case whether it be a cart-load of bricks spilled to the ground, a barrowful of gravel turned over, or a boy’s bag of marbles emptied out. The behavior of the assembled masses is ultimately determined by both internal characteristics and external forces. In the first case, the result is a heap with steep sides, in the second, a heap forming one with sides much less inclined, and finally, in the last, there is no heap at all with the marbles spreading out and rolling in all directions. Each case is determined partly by the properties of the individual members of its group and partly by the forces of gravity and friction they are subjected to.
It is equally so when the discrete aggregate consists of organic bodies, such as the members of a species. For a species increases or decreases in numbers, widens or contracts its habitat, migrates or remains stationary, continues an old mode of life or falls into a new one, under the combined influences of its intrinsic nature and the environment in which it is found (its inorganic and organic environment). This determinative arrangement of internal characteristics and external forces also applies to the aggregates of humans (or as they are more commonly called, “societies”). Be them rudimentary or advanced; every society displays phenomena that are ascribable to the characters of its internal nature (religion, culture, history, and collective psychology) and to the external conditions under which each society exists. While sociologists have long dealt with the former, it is becoming increasingly apparent that such an account of the history of social evolution is incomplete without proper treatment of the latter as well.
With the extrinsic factors, we see from the outset that several kinds of them are variously operative. We have climate; hot, cold, or temperate, moist or dry, constant or variable. We have open land; how much or little of it is available, and to what degree the available part of said land is fertile. We have the configuration of that land, as to whether it is uniform or multiform, whether it produces eatable products and to what degree said products are abundant in quantities and kind or if there are deficiencies in one or both. And besides the flora of the region, we have its fauna, which is influential in many ways; not only by the numbers of its species and individuals but by the proportion between those that are useful and those that are injurious. It is upon the myriad of inorganic and organic conditions of a particular environment that the possibility of social evolution depends. Sociologists must recognize this fact and strive to better integrate the external forces that have guided and framed humanity’s social evolution.
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