“As regards the structure of science, probably the most imposing of human edifices, there is no possible question. It was built in the full light of history, and we can follow its development almost from the very outset down to our own day…Everything here originates in the individual, not only the materials but the general design of the whole and the details sketches as well. Everything, including what is now diffused among all the cultured minds and taught even in the primary school, began as the secret of some single mind, whence a little flame, faint and flickering, sent forth its rays, at first only within a narrow compass, and even there encountering many obstructions, but, growing brighter as it spreads further, it at length became a brilliant illumination. Now, if it seems plainly evident that science was thus constructed, it is no less true that the construction of every dogma, legal code, government, or possible economic régime was effected in the same manner; and if any doubt be possible with respect to language and ethics, because the obscurity of their origin and the slowness of their transformations remove them from observation through the greater part of their course, it is not highly probable that their evolution followed the same path?”
— Gabriel Tarde, Social Laws: An Outline of Sociology (trans. H. C. Warren).