CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF
The various attempts to describe and interpret the phenomena of associate life have left upon the minds of those making such attempts a very definite impression that the problems encoun- tered were far from simple. Human society, as it exists today among civilized races, is a reality which embodies the most com- plex and highly evolved activities of the most complex and highly evolved organisms known to our intelligence. And since these organisms have an evolution which proceeds, phylogenetically, from primitive protoplasm and recapitulates, ontogenetically, a considerable number of its earlier phases, we need not be sur- prised, perhaps, that their activities should be difficult, indeed, of adequate analysis and interpretation. Certain it is that these activities are multiplied and various ; that they are blended with, and melted into, each other in a manner to render their isolation extremely difficult. Again, they are most baffiingly evanescent, while their sphere of manifestation is so vast as to put a compre- hensive survey of its reaches practically beyond the power of the individual investigator. Because of these characteristics the attempts at the systematic observation and analysis of the phe- nomena of society have been constantly threatened with the danger of attaining, at most, only a qualified success.
Fronting such difficulties, the majority of investigators seem to have been impelled, according to circumstances and type of mind, in one of two general directions. Apparently they have been inclined either toward the ascertainment and exhibition of the laws, principles, elements, etc., of the whole mass of fact conveniently styled "societary," or else to devote their energies
' Other papers, dealing with the subject in a more positive way, will appear at convenient intervals. The object of the present article is to present certain general considerations preliminary to a more specific treatment of particular phases of the subject-matter.