Originally published in 1903, The Laws of Imitation by Gabriel Tarde is arguably the most classic & valuable book on sociology.
- Introduction by Dr. Henry Franklin Giddings
- Preface to the First Edition
- Preface to the Second Edition
- Universal Repetition
- The overlooked regularity from a certain point of view of social facts. Their analogies with natural facts. The three forms of Universal Repetition: undulation, generation, imitation. Social science and social philosophy. Animal societies.
- Three analogous laws in physics, in biology, in sociology. Why everything is number and measure.
- Analogies between the three forms of Repetition. They imply a common tendency towards a geometrical progression. Linguistic, mythological, etc., refractions. Happy or unhappy interferences of imitation. Conflict-interferences and combination-interferences (inventions). Outline of social logic.
- Differences between the three forms of Repetition. Generation is unconditioned undulation. Imitation is generation at a distance. The abbreviation of embryonic phases.
- Social Resemblances and Imitation
- Social resemblances which are not caused by imitation and vital resemblances which are not caused by generation. A distinction between analogies and homologies in comparative sociology like that in comparative anatomy. A genealogical tree of inventions derived from master-inventions. The slow and inevitable propagation of examples even among sedentary and shut-in populations.
- Is there a law of civilisations which imposes upon them a common direction or, at least, a common goal, and, consequently, a law of increasing resemblances, even without imitation? Proofs of the contrary.
- What Is a Society?
- Inadequacy of the economic or even of the juristic conception: Animal societies. Nation and society not to be confused. Definition.
- Definition of the social type.
- Perfect sociality. Biological analogies. The hidden and perhaps original agents of universal repetition.
- An idea of Taine's. The contagion of example and suggestion. Analogies between the social and the hypnotic state. Great men. Intimidation is a nascent social state.
- What Is History? Archaeology and Statistics
- Distinction between the anthropologists and the archaeologists. The archaeologist unconsciously holds my point of view. Barrenness of invention characteristic of primitive times. Imitation has been objective and widespread from the most remote periods. What archaeology teaches us.
- The statistician sees things, at bottom, like the archaeologist. He pays exclusive attention to imitative editions of every ancient and modern invention. Analogies and differences.
- What Statistics ought to be; its desiderata. The interpretation of its curves, namely its rises, horizontals, and falls, is given by my point of view. The tendency of all ideas and wants to spread in a geometrical progression. The encounter, coalescence, and rivalry of these tendencies. Examples. The desire for paternity and its variations. The desire for liberty and other desires. A general empirical law; three phases; importance of the second.
- The curves of Statistics and the flight of a bird. The eye and ear considered as numerical registers of ethereal and sonorous vibrations, representative statistics of the universe. The probable future role of Statistics. Definition of History.
- The Logical Laws of Imitation
- The reason why, given a number of inventions, some are imitated and some are not. Reasons of a natural order and of a social order, and, among the latter, logical reasons and extra-logical influences. A linguistic example.
- That which is imitated is belief or desire, a fundamental antithesis. The Spencerian formula. Social progress and individual thought. The need of invention and the need of criticism have the same source. Progress through the substitution and progress through the accumulation of inventions.
- The logical duel. Everything in history is a duel or a union of inventions. The one always says yes and the other, no. Linguistic, legislative, judicial, political, industrial, artistic duels. Developments. Every duel is twofold, every adversary affirming his own thesis at the same time that he denies that of his opponent. The moment when the roles are reversed. The individual duel and the social duel. The denouement: Three possible outcomes.
- The logical union. The period of accumulation which precedes the period of substitution must not be confused with that which follows it. Distinction between the linguistic, religious, political, etc., grammar and dictionary. The dictionary enlarges more readily than the grammar improves.
- Other considerations.
- Extra-Logical Influences
- Different characteristics of imitation: 1. Its increasing precision and exactness; ceremonial and procedure. 2. Its conscious or unconscious character. The advance of imitation.
- From the inner to the outer man. Different physiological functions compared from the point of view of their transmissibility by example. Primitive obedience and credulity. Dogmas are transmitted before rites. Admiration precedes envy. Ideas are communicated before expressions; ends, before means. The explanation of survivals by this law. Its universality. Its application even to feminine imitation.
- From the superior to the inferior. Exceptions to this law; its truth comparable with that which governs the radiation of heat. 1. Examples. The martinella and carroccio. The Phoenicians and the Venetians. The utility of aristocracies. 2. Ecclesiastical hierarchy and its effects. 3. The most superior, among the least distant, is the one imitated. Distance in the social sense. 4. In democratic periods nobilities are replaced by great cities which resemble them for good and evil. 5. In what social superiority consists; in subjective or objective characteristics which favor the exploitation of inventions at a given time. 6. Application to the problem of the origins of the feudal system.
- Extra-Logical Influences (Continued) -- Custom and Fashion
- Ages of custom when the ancient model, paternal or patriotic, is supreme; ages of fashion when the advantage is often with the new, exotic model. Through fashion, imitation is set free from generation. The relations of imitation and generation are like those of generation and undulation. Transition from custom to fashion followed by a return to a broader custom. The application of this law.
- To languages. The rhythm of the diffusion of idioms. The formation of the Romance languages. Characteristics and results of the aforesaid transformations.
- To religions. All religions proceed from exclusivism to proselytism; they then withdraw into themselves. Reproduction of these three phases from the most remote periods. Cult of the foreigner, not alone of the ancestor, from this time on. Worship of the foreign beast. Why very ancient gods are zoomorphic. Divine fauna. Worship is a kind of superior domestication. Spiritualisation of religions which spread through fashion. Moral effects. The social importance of religions.
- To governments. The twofold origin of states, the family and the horde. In every state, from remote antiquity, there have been two parties, the party of custom and the party of fashion. Frequency of the phenomenon of royal families of foreign blood. The fief an invention propagated by fascination; the same true of the feudal monarchy; and of the modern monarchy. Liberalism and cosmopolitanism. The final nationalisation of foreign importations. The way in which the United States were formed. Augustus, Louis XIV., Pericles. Criticism of Spencer's antithesis between militarism and industrialism compared with that of Tocqueville's between aristocracy and democracy.
- To legislations. Juridical evolution. Custom-law and statute-law. Law is very multiform and very stable in times of custom, very uniform and very changeable in times of fashion. The spread of charters from town to town. Sumner Maine's Ancient Law. The rhythm of the three phases applied to criminal procedure. Successive characteristics of legislation. Classification.
- To usages and wants (political economy). Multiformity and stability of usages. Subsequent uniformity and rapid change. Production and consumption, a distinction universally applicable. The transmissibility of wants of consumption is always more rapid than that of the wants of production. Consequences of this unequal rate. The ulterior outlet in times of custom, the exterior outlet in times of fashion. Industry in the Middle Ages. Order of the successive forms of extensive industry. The price of fashion and the price of custom. Successive characteristics borrowed from the economic world and from social aspects compared, in changes of imitation. The reason of these changes.
- To morals and arts. Duties are in the beginning original inventions. Gradual enlargement of the moral public and of the art public. The art of custom is born from handicraft; it is professional and national. The art of fashion is non-utilitarian and exotic. Fashion-morality and custom-morality. Future probabilities. The historic phenomenon of renascences, both moral and aesthetic.
- Remarks and Corollaries
- Summing up and conclusion. All the laws of imitation viewed from the same standpoint. Corollaries.
- The transition from the unilateral to the reciprocal. Examples: from decree to contract; from dogma to free-thought; from man-hunting to war; from court manners to urbanity. The necessity of these transformations.
- Distinction between the reversible and the irreversible in history. The irreversible in consequence of the laws of imitation, and the irreversible in consequence of the laws of invention. A word in regard to the latter subject. Changes of custom are in a certain measure irreversible as well. Great empires of the future.
- Final individualism.
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