Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/725

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SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

that it can not in some way express the absolute reality of things without the use of symbols or formulæ. Well, science must share that reproach with the human intellect of which it is the product and manifestation; but we do not see why the reproach should be brought against it by its own most shining representatives. Rather might Lord Kelvin have said: "Science in my day has been most prolific of blessing to mankind; it is proceeding apace with its appointed task of enabling men to understand for practical purposes the world in which they live, and what shall be the limit to its achievements in that direction no one can foretell. As to the 'riddle of the universe,' of which we sometimes hear, that lies beyond its ken: only when thought ceases to be conditioned will that riddle — not be read, but — disappear."




Scientific Literature.

SPECIAL BOOKS.

Prof. Giddings's Principles of Sociology[1] is a very opportune book. A disposition has been manifesting itself for several years to call almost everything sociology. Most of the popular journals now have a department of sociology, into which they put everything going on in society that does not clearly belong to party politics. All the "advanced" social questions are being discussed under the head of sociology. Especially are so classed the zealous utterances of a large group of well-meaning persons who believe something ought to be done for the less favored members of society. In this class are great numbers of warm-hearted clergymen who think they see in the teachings of the Master a warrant for preaching wholesale social reforms, and this they call "Christian sociology." Add to this the thousand problems of charity, philanthropy, and general social betterment of the condition of the poor, and we have already in the infancy even of the word sociology a burden of unscientific and half charlatanic applications of it that threaten to sink it as deeply into obloquy and contempt as a similar procedure sunk that etymologically far better word, phrenology, half a century ago.

Of course, Mr. Herbert Spencer's great work, now happily completed, on the Principles of Sociology, not to speak of his Descriptive Sociology, and his other works on that subject, would have sufficed to save it from such a fate, but as it is in America that the tendencies above pointed out are most pronounced, so there was needed in America a standard work that should teach, so far as known, what sociology is, and serve in some degree to stem the tide of degeneration. Prof. Giddings's book to a considerable extent supplies this need. Those who, in the main justly, complain that it ignores all questions of social progress, that it treats wholly of what is, and not at all of what ought to he, should not forget the peculiar conditions under which it was written, as briefly described above. Whether Prof.

  1. The Principles of Sociology. By Franklin Henry Giddings, M. A., Professor of Sociology in Columbia University. Pp. xvi + 476, 8vo. New York and London: Macmillan & Co. Price, $3.