Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 2.djvu/553
SOCIAL GENESIS 539
of telic progress, the end and nature of which cannot now be forecast. But its object cannot be other than that which the individual man has always pursued, viz., that of turning to higher and higher use the capacity to enjoy with which Nature unwit- tingly, and for her own totally different purposes, originally endowed him.
Genetic progress, the blind, unconscious working of the social forces making for human perfectionment in the collective state, is what is generally understood by social evolution. Every stage of ethnic culture, from savagery to enlightenment, is a product of this genetic, unconscious social evolution. For most writers on social science this is the only kind of social prog- ress recognized. Long before sociology was named there were many such writers. With the habits of abstract reasoning which all that passed for philosophy had encouraged, it was the prac- tice of such writers to make use of the few facts that their edu- cation, observation, and experience had given them to work out by logical deduction from these facts the most general laws that they were capable of formulating. Much of this reasoning was sound, nearly all of it was logical, *. e. t did not violate the canons of logic, and many of the conclusions reached were correct, but so narrow was the induction, and so many and important were the unknown or neglected premises that the general fabric of their philosophy was worthless. -Such was the greater part of the so-called political economy which the present age has inherited from the age that went before it. Most of the pre- Comtean sociology comes under this head. A few publicists, like Montesquieu, wrote rather from the standpoint of jurispru- dence. Hobbes was the panegyrist of political power, and Mal- thus, although really following the same lines as Adam Smith and Ricardo, put his work into the form of a sort of philosophy.
All this, as well as the French physiocracy that preceded it and largely inspired it, had the merit at least of regarding soci- ety as a domain of law, and its chief defect was in failing to rec- ognize a sufficient number of factors and in omitting some of the most effective ones, as we shall see in the next paper. These