Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 2.djvu/469

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PURPOSE OF SOCIOLOGY 455

for the purpose of determining in what ways and to what extent social phenomena may, with a knowledge of their laws, be modified and directed towards social ideals. This last is what I understand by Dr. Small's "idealics." The supreme purpose is the betterment of society. The knowledge is the important thing. The action will then take care of itself. But an impor- tant part of the knowledge is that action is its object. It was shown in the last paper that the greater part of the action of civilized men is telic, or results from purpose and not from mere impulse. The study of sociology is calculated to enlighten the individual purposes of men and harmonize them with the good of society. It will tend to unify action, to combine the innu- merable streams of individual effort and pour their contents into one great river of social welfare. Individual telesis thus verges into collective telesis. In a democracy every citizen is a legis- lator and government simply becomes the exponent of the social will and purpose. This becomes more and more true as the constituent members of society see things in their true light. Society can only act upon those things with regard to which there is a substantial unity of opinion. There is no more false dogma than that it is necessary for individuals to work at cross purposes. So long as many of the prevailing notions in society are false divisions and dissensions will occur, and* these, I grant, are educating in the school of experience. But the greater part of them are unnecessary and disappear as communities become enlightened. The purpose of sociology is to enlighten com- munities and put an end to useless and expensive dissensions. It is true that as the simpler questions are settled higher and more complicated ones will arise in society, but this very eleva- tion of the plane of public discussion is one of the true marks of social advance. Those who regard partisan struggles as salutary to the intellectual vigor and independence of the people need have no fear. There are questions and questions. What the sociologist demands is simply that every question capable of definitive settlement be put out of the public arena, and that wrangling about anything that anybody kn<nvs cease. There will