Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 9.djvu/424
410 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY
phenomena are as much natural phenomena as physical phenomena, that spiritual forces are true natural forces, and that there is a spiritual energy, /. <?., a psychic and social energy, that is as capable of doing work as any other form of kinetic energy. In fact, it is the highest and most effective form of energy or vis viva" (p. 167).
Now, this may be true, but it certainly is a use of the terms "spiritual" and "energy" for which the logic of modern science has not prepared us. For the average scientist today the psychic and the social, in so far as they are natural phenomena, admit of explanation only in terms of the laws of natural science. It may be that those laws are false or inadequate, but until this is demonstrated he is justified in looking askance at this "spiritual energy" that is "capable of doing work," at this vis viva which claims to be the crowning instance of the manifestation of natural forces. To be sure, one has a perfect right to call the naturalistic treatment of social phenomena "social mechanics" or "social physics," but the natural scientist feels that the laws are no more (and no less) "spiritual" when he is treating instances of the relations of these forces among social objects than among so-called material objects. It may be that feeling is a force, but to call it such in the present condition of science is to state a problem, not to solve one.
Turning to his conception of consciousness, we find the same sort of ambiguity and vagueness. He says, indeed, that "there is no need of descanting on the 'mystery of mind.' It is no more mysterious than other things." "At best, mind was only an accident, an epiphe- nomenon" (p. 128). But when we come to look into his exposition of the subject, somehow the sense of mystery grows upon us in spite of his assurances. According to the author, "chemism grows out of ethereal vibrations." "Life emerges in some way from chemism through the differential attribute of protoplasm, motility." " Feeling sprang from life." "Feeling created intellect." Achievement "is only possible in a rational being" (p. 97). "Mind is of biologic origin." "Feeling was a new power that was called in to supplement the original forces of matter and life" (p. 132). "Feeling .... was the only conceivable means by which plastic organisms could be pre- served from destruction and enabled to perpetuate themselves and develop" (p. 125). "Inorganic matter was converted into living forms," and "quantities of physical and vital energy were converted into psychic energy" (p. 141). " Passing to the organic world we find new forces .... the vital and psychic .... and we have corre-