All Title Author
Keywords Abstract

The Cognitive Development of Sociology: The Contribution of John Stuart Mill

DOI: 10.4236/aasoci.2018.83011, PP. 189-198

Keywords: Sociology, Cognitive Sociology, Psychologism

Full-Text   Cite this paper   Add to My Lib


One may track the origin of sociology back to the work of individuals such as Auguste Comte among other prominent scholars in the nineteenth century. Comte work of a general way to deal with the investigation of society stands out as one of a major contribution towards the cognitive development of sociology. The development of cognitive sociology can also be attributed to the ancient publications in the sociology of knowledge, sociology of culture, and cognitive and cultural anthropology. Arguably, scholars strive to understand the cognitive processes in order to understand how individuals come up with meanings for various phenomena in the society. John Stuart Mill deserves credit for his profound contribution in as far as the development of the methodology of the social science is concerned. His addition of a psychological perspective was critical to the development of sociology. Mill also incorporated the knowledge of psychology to explain what drives individuals to act in the manner they do while interacting with each other. Other than the deduction of the laws, Mill emphasized on the necessity of using an experiment to understand the personal and interpersonal interaction of individuals. However, other individuals who also made contributions to the development of the discipline of sociology dismissed and criticized his stand on the necessity of conducting experiments and not relying on deductive reasoning. Scholars who were opposed to Mill’s position subscribed to the idea of anti-psychologism. Some of the profound authors and scholars include Karl Marx, Max Weber, Watkins, L. von Mises, Popper, Menger, von Hayek, Boudon, and Elster among others. Popper stands out as one of the scholars who were sternly opposed to Mill’s idea of psychologism, contributing to the reinstatement of the autonomy of sociology and social laws. However, Millian convention and ideologies of integrating the psychologism perspective into sociology was adopted by several scholars from 1970s onwards. The purpose of this work is precisely to offer a more in-depth understanding of John Stuart Mill’s contribution to the cognitive development of sociology.


[1]  Ball, T. (1981). Popper’s Psychologism. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 11, 65-68.
[2]  Bierstedt, R. (1960). Sociology and Humane Learning. American Sociological Review, 3-9.
[3]  Brekhus, W. H., Brunsma, D. L., Platts, T., & Dua, P. (2010). On the Contributions of Cognitive Sociology to the Sociological Study of Race. Sociology Compass, 4, 61-76.
[4]  Brinton, M. C., & Nee, V. Eds. (1998). The New Institutionalism in Sociology. Russell Sage Foundation.
[5]  Campbell, D. T. (1975). On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition. American Psychologist, 30, 1103.
[6]  Clemens, E. S. (2007). Toward a Historicized Sociology: Theorizing Events, Processes, and Emergence. Annual Review of Sociology, 33, 527-549.
[7]  Finn, V. K., & Mikheyenkova, M. A. (2011). Plausible Reasoning for the Problems of Cognitive Sociology. Logic and Logical Philosophy, 20, 111-137.
[8]  Forgas, J. P. (1983). What Is Social about Social Cognition? British Journal of Social Psychology, 22, 129-144.
[9]  Harrison, D. (2003). The Sociology of Modernization and Development. Routledge.
[10]  Holmwood, J. (2005). Functionalism and Its Critics. Modern Social Theory: An Introduction, 87-109.
[11]  Ignatow, G. (2007). Theories of Embodied Knowledge: New Directions for Cultural and Cognitive Sociology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 37, 115-135.
[12]  Jacobs, M. D. (2016). The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Culture (Vol. 12). John Wiley & Sons.
[13]  Kusch, M. (1995). Psychologism: A Case Study in the Sociology of Philosophical Knowledge. Psychology Press.
[14]  Lauder, H., Brown, P., & Halsey, A.H. (2004). Sociology and Political Arithmetic: Some Principles of a New Policy Science. The British Journal of Sociology, 55, 3-22.
[15]  Lindenberg, S. (1990). Homo Socio-Oeconomicus: The Emergence of a General Model of Man in the Social Sciences. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE)/Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft, 146, 727-748.
[16]  Lizardo, O. (2014). Beyond the Comtean Schema: The Sociology of Culture and Cognition versus Cognitive Social Science. Sociological Forum, 29, 983-989.
[17]  Long, N. (1984). A Perspective on the Sociology of Development. Sociologia Ruralis, 24, 168-184.
[18]  Long, N. (2003). Development Sociology: Actor Perspectives. London: Routledge.
[19]  Marshall, D. A. (2008). The Dangers of Purity: On the Incompatibility of “Pure Sociology” and Science. The Sociological Quarterly, 49, 209-235.
[20]  Opp, K. D. (1979). The Emergence and Effects of Social Norms. A Confrontation of Some Hypotheses of Sociology and Economics. Kyklos, 32, 775-801.
[21]  Oyserman, D. (2015). Culture as Situated Cognition. In R. A. Scott, & M. C. Buchmann (Eds.), Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (pp. 1-20). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
[22]  Palispis, E. S. (2007). Introduction to Sociology and Anthropolgy. Quezon City: Rex Bookstore, Inc.
[23]  Pickering, A. (1993). The Mangle of Practice: Agency and Emergence in the Sociology of Science. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 559-589.
[24]  Pinch, T. J., & Bijker, W. E. (1984). The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other. Social Studies of Science, 14, 399-441.
[25]  Popper, K. (1968). The Autonomy of Sociology. In Mill (pp. 426-442). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
[26]  Popper, K. R. (1987). Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge. Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing.
[27]  Ritzer, G., & Ryan, J. M. (2010). The Concise Encyclopedia of Sociology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
[28]  Seidman, S. (1983). Liberalism and the Origins of European Social Theory. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.
[29]  Swedberg, R. (1990). Economics and Sociology: Redefining Their Boundaries: Conversations with Economists and Sociologists. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[30]  Swingewood, A. (1970). Origins of Sociology: The Case of the Scottish Enlightenment. The British Journal of Sociology, 21, 164-180.
[31]  Vaisey, S. (2009). Motivation and Justification: A Dual-Process Model of Culture in Action. American Journal of Sociology, 114, 1675-1715.
[32]  Vandergeest, P., & Buttel, F. H. (1988). Marx, Weber, and Development Sociology: Beyond the Impasse. World Development, 16, 683-695.
[33]  Viale, R. (2011). Methodological Cognitivism (pp. 1-323). Torino: Springer.
[34]  Zerubavel, E. (1996). Lumping and Splitting: Notes on Social Classification. In Sociological Forum (11, No. 3, pp. 421-433). Berlin: Springer.


comments powered by Disqus