Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE TO PART V. - Political Institutions, being Part V of the Principles of Sociology
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PREFACE TO PART V. - Herbert Spencer, Political Institutions, being Part V of the Principles of Sociology 
Political Institutions, being Part V of the Principles of Sociology (The Concluding Portion of Vol. II) (London: Williams and Norgate, 1882).
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PREFACE TO PART V.
The division of the Principles of Sociology herewith issued, deals with phenomena of Evolution which are, above all others, obscure and entangled. To discover what truths may be affirmed of political organizations at large, is a task beset by difficulties that are at once many and great—difficulties arising from unlikenesses of the various human races, from differences among the modes of life entailed by circumstances on the societies formed of them, from the numerous contrasts of sizes and degrees of culture exhibited by such societies, from their perpetual interferences with one another’s processes of evolution by means of wars, and from accompanying breakings-up and aggregations in ever-changing ways.
Satisfactory achievement of this task would require the labours of a life. Having been able to devote to it but two years, I feel that the results set forth in this volume must of necessity be full of imperfections. If it be asked why, being thus conscious that far more time and wider investigation are requisite for the proper treatment of a subject so immense and involved, I have undertaken it, my reply is that I have been obliged to deal with political evolution as a part of the general Theory of Evolution; and, with due regard to the claims of other parts, could not make a more prolonged preparation. Anyone who undertakes to trace the general laws of transformation which hold throughout all orders of phenomena, must have but an incomplete knowledge of each order; since, to acquaint himself exhaustively with any one order, demanding, as it would, exclusive devotion of his days to it, would negative like devotion to any of the others, and much more would negative generalization of the whole. Either generalization of the whole ought never to be attempted, or, if it is attempted, it must be by one who gives to each part such time only as is requisite to master the cardinal truths it presents. Believing that generalization of the whole is supremely important, and that no one part can be fully understood without it, I have ventured to treat of Political Institutions after the manner implied: utilizing, for the purpose, the materials which, in the space of fourteen years, have been gathered together in the Descriptive Sociology, and joining with them such further materials as, during the last two years, have been accumulated by inquiries in other directions, made personally and by proxy. If errors found in this volume are such as invalidate any of its leading conclusions, the fact will show the impolicy of the course I have pursued; but if, after removal of the errors, the leading conclusions remain outstanding, this course will be justified.
Of the chapters forming this volume, the first seven were originally published in the Fortnightly Review in England; and, simultaneously, in monthly periodicals in America, France, and Germany. Chapters VIII and IX were thus published abroad but not at home. Chapters XVII and XVIII appeared here in the Contemporary Review; and at the same time in the before-mentioned foreign periodicals. The remaining chapters, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, and XIX, now appear for the first time; with the exception of chapter XI, which has already seen the light in an Italian periodical—La Rivista di Filosofia Scientifica.
London, March, 1882.