Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 1.djvu/122
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY.
individuals composing a division of zoological units. This fact is a sociological datum, but it is not the fact directly alluded to in the dictum under discussion. The writer referred to seems to understand the users of the formula to mean that societies are vegetables or animals in successful disguise. They are supposed to teach, for instance, that the Constitution of the United States came into existence through the operation of some law of physiological propagation, precisely as the members of the Continental Congress of 1776 were physically begotten. It is too late in the history of sociology to waste time in attempts to bring such a man up to date. Before he can be taken seriously he must somehow get possession of the primary information which he has neglected, in his haste to become an authority. The conception which we cite as an illustration has been explained so often and so minutely that any one who still fails to give a fair rendering of the sense in which it is employed by those who find it serviceable writes himself down as either dishonest or ignorant. The former explanation need not be discussed. If the facts to which we refer arise from lack of acquaintance with standard sociological literature, to which every student is now introduced in the first year of sociological study, it would seem to go without saying that the case is an instance of attempting to do the work of a scholar with a somewhat inadequate preparation.
It will probably be long before explanations of the use of biological analogies in general by students of society will be unnecessary. Discussions of society up to date have taken comparatively little account of the fact that so far as degree of complexity is concerned, vital phenomena are the only approximate analogue of societary phenomena. A consequence of this failure has been that shoals of people who have not acquired ability to think through relations of the biological order of complexity, have presumed themselves capable of thinking steadily a still higher order of complexity. The use of biological analogies as a tool in sociology does not mean the seizure of biological facts and their forcible transfer into sociology. It does not mean that finding analogies between biological and societary facts constitutes sociology. It means that the sociologist has to do with societary interrelations, the complexities of which he tries to understand by checking off the involutions which are analogous with biological correlations, and by observ-