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He often resorted in his reasoning to naïve mechanistic generalisations and analogies, greatly exaggerating their explanatory force. It was obvious, in his view, from the principle of the indestructibility of matter, that production and consumption were simple conversions of matter, trade and commerce the 59 shifting of matter in space, and so on. The revolution in science at the beginning of the twentieth century did not prevent attempts to explain the social in a quantitative, mechanistic way.
56 4 NATURALISM IN SOCIOLOGY OF THE TURN OF THE CENTURY Alexander Hofman and Alexander Kovalev 1. Evolutionism — the Basis of the Naturalistic Schools of Sociology The middle and second half of the nineteenth century was a time in the intellectual history of Europe of an almost universal enthusiasm for the advances of natural science and the flourishing of the positivist-naturalistic outlook, under whose determinant influence the sociology of the time developed. Darwin‘s theory of evolution forced scientists to pay attention to the simple fact (previously ignored because of the dominance of the theological outlook), that there was not only a difference between man and animals but also a similarity, that man was the product of a long biological evolution and one of the links in its chain.
The environmentalists‘ attempts to link business cycles in the economic affairs of society with periods of solar activity, for instance, collapsed, but many psychologists and criminologists have noted complex dependences 68 between this activity, fluctuations of atmospheric pressure, and other climatic phenomena, on the one hand, and physiological processes, nervous excitability, and through them certain psychological and social processes, on the other hand. Adolph Quételet, and later Cesare Lombroso, noted ‗seasonal‘ fluctuations of certain crimes.