Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/135

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125
EDITOR'S TABLE.

contrast between Bishop Harris's address and the thesis of a Cornell student on the sanitary condition of Ithaca. I conclude mine by saying that, if you will favor the University of Michigan with a visit, the Librarian, I doubt not, will take great pleasure in showing you a cartload of theses of the very kind you so justly admire.

Very respectfully yours,
C. K. Adams. 
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, September 15, 1880.
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EDITOR'S TABLE.

POLITICAL SCIENCE.

WE commence this month the publication of an important series of articles on "The Development of Political Institutions" from the highest living authority on the subject of the science of society. By the science of society is meant such a systematic exposition of the facts and relations of social phenomena as shall bring out the natural laws of social change and transformation. The doctrine of evolution compels the study of society from a scientific point of view. Based upon the dynamical view of nature, the principle of continuity, and the immutable operation of cause and effect, it brings out the natural laws by which the course of society is governed in all its stages of progress and decline. The political element in society is but a part though an important part—of a great complex organism, but it has had its laws of growth like all other parts of the organization. But, if such determinable laws of political change exist, it is desirable that they should be traced out and formulated. The discussion, therefore, now entered upon, we need hardly say, is of great theoretical and practical moment, because a knowledge of the principles by which political institutions originated and have grown up and are still advancing must become in future the basis of all intelligent political action. Social science thus elucidated will yet constitute the true foundation of the art of politics, or the practical carrying on of governmental operations; though there is as yet in the public mind but little preparation for this mode of regarding social questions. Familiar as we are with the highly developed results of long social unfolding, it is not easy to go back into the dim obscurities of social embryology. This, however, is indispensable if we are to gain any adequate understanding of the method of social development. Mr, Spencer has elsewhere dealt very fully with the impediments to the study of social evolution, and in the preliminary paper herewith printed he calls attention to some of the difficulties to be met in the political study of evolution. It is always very hard work for the loose and careless thinker to subject himself to the rigorous requirements of thorough scientific study; but the task becomes still more serious when to lax habits of thinking there are added those prejudices and gross errors to which men so passionately cling in the sphere of political thought. Yet these obstacles will be overcome as people are slowly educated to a better appreciation of the scientific spirit and the scientific method.

It is desirable to explain that the articles on "The Development of Political Institutions" that are to appear in the "Monthly" when collected will constitute that portion of Spencer's "Principles of Sociology" which is to be devoted to the evolution of political government. The preceding division on the development of "Ceremonial Institutions" is already published; and the part now appearing on political institutions will be followed by the corresponding treatment of ecclesiastical and industrial organizations. These together will form the second volume of the "Principles of Sociology," the seventh volume of Spencer's philosophical