Tag Archives: Robert Nisbet

organic metaphors and the west

“The reason for this is simple and statement, massive and theoretical implication. The future does not lie in the present. Nor did the present, as we know it, ever lie in the past. What is at issue here is a whole, wide-ranging, encompassing habit of mind, one that has been deep in Western thought ever since the pre-Socratic Greeks made the momentous analogy between the biological organism and social structure, declaring that his growth isn’t in alienable attribute of organismic structure, so change — that is a ‘natural’ pattern of change needing only to be described by the sociologists as the lifecycle of growth is described by the biologist — is an inalienable part of the structure of whatever social system we may have in view at any given moment. We have all around us, today has in the days of the organism intoxicated Greeks, is the spell of the metaphor of growth. Closely associated is another metaphor: the metaphor of genealogy. This is of more interest to historians, and has been since the time of Thucydides, that it usually is to the growth fascinated sociologists and economists and political scientists. Here we are dealing with the imagined genealogical linkage of events, acts and personages in history.”

–Robert Nisbet, The Making of Modern Society, pp. 84-85.