Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/742
722 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
trained in one direction or the other, and therefore all the more open to be impressed by influences derived from sound thinkers and ener- getic workers, but experiencing these influences only in a loose and diluted form. The aggregate result is that the subject of Politics floats in the public mind either as a mere field for ingenious chicane or as a boundless waste for the evolutions of scholastic phantasy. If Politics are to be vindicated from the aspersions cast upon them from the opposite quarters here indicated, and are ever to be erected into a science, with its own appropriate methods and limitations, the founda- tion of these skeptical suspicions must be investigated and their real value strictly assessed. The investigation will proceed as follows :
1. One obvious class of objections to the possibility of applying rigorous scientific methods to Politics is founded on the number and nature of the component and preparatory studies which are presup- posed in all strict inquiries into the theory of government. Assuming that the physical sciences beginning (say) with astronomy and end- ing with physiology or jDsychology have reached a strictly scientific stage, there yet remain, as properly leading the way to the study of Politics, all those branches of knowledge which depend on the compos- ite nature of man both as isolated and as in society. Such are Ethics in the Aristotelian sense, comprehending as topics decorum and pro- priety as well as duty ; political economy, which deals with the con- ditions under which national wealth is produced, accumulated, and distributed ; law and legislation (sometimes comprised under the gen- eral head of jurisprudence), which deal with the essential nature, logi- cal distribution, and historical growth of the general rules of conduct which all governments maintain and enforce ; and, lastly, the some- what novel science of Sociology, which deals with the inherent prob- lems to which the aggregation of mankind into groups gives rise, so far as these problems can be abstracted and treated independently of government.
This list of studies, whjch might be multiplied and varied to any extent according to individual proclivities, incloses large areas of knowledge over the subjects of which the human will and human pas- sions must have, at least in the course of ages, and in passing from country to country, an amount of influence which seems to set scien- tific precision at defiance. Nevertheless, and in spite of all the con- troversies waged among those who prosecute these studies, there is no doubt that in all these pursuits the most searching and exact methods, so far as they are applicable, are beginning to be used, and the cer- tainty and universality of the sequence of cause and effect that is, of laws of Nature to be recognized as a premise.
The extension of the like severity of process to political studies is mainly delayed by the constantly disappointing incompleteness of the constituent and preparatory studies just enumerated. A Science of Politics, indeed, has its own special sources of embarrassment, owing,