Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 1.djvu/17
branch of scientific research which is strictly limited to the study of society as a whole, and the social sciences are laying the basis for the practical arts of living and working together within the specific classes and conditions to which the several social structures give rise. But while these new sciences are the vital self-expression of, and are absolutely essential to, the perpetuity, progress and power of the movement, they are and ever will be far from being identical with it or comprehensive of it. For this movement of life so far transcends the best efforts to formulate it, that it almost reduces them to an absurdity to identify them with it. This movement has its observers, but recognizes no authorities. It has its interpreters, but no line of thought or action has less human leadership. It is the mighty “Zeitgeist,” the very spirit of all living, to which our Lord's description of the Holy Spirit may as truthfully, as reverently be applied, “It bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” In its presence only the religious spirit and the scientific attitude are worthy of respect.
This peculiar popular unrest of our era corresponds with two postulates of social philosophy held today in every variety of form and force by unprecedented numbers, first, that the relations of man to man are not what they should be; second, that something must be done directly, systematically and on a large scale to right the wrongs.
In thus pointing out that popular agitation for a remodeling of our social structure, and the logically antecedent popular philosophies of society are not chiefly academic facts, and that they are altogether more extensive than the scope of scholars’ influence, we are calling attention to points in the situation which few theorists have duly considered. The relation of popular sociology to would-be scientific sociology should be settled in the minds of scholars before more confusion results. Altogether too much has been charged or credited to the professional students of society.
The fact that sociology is not primarily a product of the schools has escaped the attention of most observers. Popular attempts to explain present forms of society, and to get favor-
- The Advance, June 20, 1895.