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Walter Cannon

Guiding Questions
Is it not possible that social organization, like that of the lower animals, is still in a rudimentary stage of development?

It would appear that civilized society has some of the requirements for acheiving homeostasis, but that it lacks others, and because lacking them it suffers from serious and avoidable afflictions. (WB 312-313)

Are there not general principles of stabilization?
May not the devices developed in animal organism for preserving steady states illustrate methods which are used, or which could be used, elsewhere?
Might it not be useful to examine other forms of organization - industrial, domestic or social - in the light of the organization of the body?
May not the new insight into the devices for stabilizing the human organism offer new insight into defects of social organization and into possible modes of dealing with them?


Are there not general principles of stabilization? May not the devices developed in animal organism for preserving steady states illustrate methods which are used, or which could be used, elsewhere? Might it not be useful to examine other forms of organization - industrial, domestic or social - in the light of the organization of the body?

These are tempting questions. Many times in the history of philosophy and sociology similar questions have led to an examination of the analogies between the body physiologic and the body politic. The biologist is as subject to temptation in respect to these analogies as are the philosophers and sociologists! He may lack the philosophers' broad outlook and the sociologists' knowledge of the complex details of the social system. But as a unit of that system he is interested in it. And he looks on the analogies from the biological point of view. May not the new insight into the devices for stabilizing the human organism, which we have been examining in the foregoing chapters, offer new insight into defects of social organization and into possible modes of dealing with them? The details of bodily homeostasis are, of course, available to anyone who cares to see whether they offer any suggestions for the study of social conditions. As a stimulus to such suggestions it might not be amiss to consider some features of their apparent analogies. (WB 305-306)

What in civilized society corresponds to the controlled fluid matrix of our body?

Not only may the bodily needs be inadequately supplied, but in addition there may be suffering because of a loss of the sense of security. In the animal organism, as we have learned, the device which preserves homeostasis, which protects the cells in all parts from perturbations whether from within or wothout, is the controlled fluid matrix. What is the agency in civilized society which corresponds to that feature of our bodily arrangement? (WB 313)

What does the stability of the organism suggest as to modes of solving the problem?

What does the stability of the organism suggest as to modes of solving the problem? Here we must be careful not to extend the principles of homeostatic orderliness at first to large and unwieldy administrative regions. If we assume a limited and fairly self-sufficient administrative region, we may suppose that the suggestions of the organism would be somewhat as follows. (WB 316)

Is it not probable that similar results will flow from control and stabilization of the fluid matrix of the social organism?

In our study of the effects on the organism of a controlled stability of the fluid matrix we noted that just insofar as the stability is preserved the prganism is released from the limitations imposed by internal and external disturbances. Is it not probable that similar results will flow from control and stabilization of the fluid matrix of the social organism? (WB 322)

 
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