Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/339

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323
SOCIOLOGY

present interests of society to the future interests of society is accomplished. It is, however, characteristic of the last-mentioned principles that their operation extends beyond the political consciousness of the state or nation, and that this distinction becomes more and more marked in the higher societies. The scope and meaning of sociology as a science is, therefore, quite different from the scope and meaning of the science of politics. In other quarters, again, the word sociology is often incorrectly used as no more than a covering term for subjects which are fully treated in various subdivisions of social science. Thus when the science of society is distinguished from the special social sciences which fall within its general purview, it may be considered, says Lester F. Ward, that “we may range the next most general departments as so many genera, each with its appropriate species—that is, the classification of the sciences may be made strictly synoptical. When this is done it will be possible for philosophers, like good systematists, to avoid making their ordinal characters include any properly generic ones, or their generic characters include any that are only specific. Thus understood, sociology is freed from the unnecessary embarrassment of having hanging about it in more or less disorder a burden of complicated details, in a great variety of attitudes which make it next to impossible to secure due attention to the fundamental principles of so vast a science. These details are classified and assigned each to its proper place (genus or species), and the field is cleared for the calm contemplation of the central problem of determining the facts, the law and the principles of human association” (Outlines of Sociology). This definition, good as it is in some respects, does not make clear to the mind the essential fact of the science, namely, that the principles of sociology involve more than the generalized total of the principles of the subordinate sciences which it is said to include. In Herbert Spencer's writings we see the subject in a period of transition. Spencer placed his Principles of Sociology between his Principles of Psychology and Principles of Ethics. This fact brings out the unsettled state of the subject in his time, while it also serves to exhibit the dominance of the ideas of an earlier stage. For psychology, which Spencer thus places before sociology, cannot nowadays be fully, or even in any real sense scientifically, discussed apart from sociological principles, once it is accepted that in the evolution of the human mind the principles of the social process are always the ultimate controlling factor.

Sociology, therefore, as a true science in itself, must be regarded as a science occupied quite independently with the principles The Claims of Sociology. which underlie human society considered as in a condition of development. In this sense the conclusions of sociology cannot be fully stated in relation to the phenomena dealt with in any of the divisions of social science, and they must be taken as implying more than the sum total of the results obtained in all of them. The sociologist must always keep clearly before him that the claims of sociology in the present conditions of knowledge go considerably beyond those involved in any of the foregoing positions. As it is the meaning of the social process which in the last resort controls everything, even the evolution of the human mind and all its contents, so none of the sciences of human action, such as ethics, politics, economics or psychology can have any standing as a real science except it obtains its credentials through sociology by making its approach through the sociological method. It is in sociology, in short, that we obtain the ruling principles to which the laws and principles of all the social sciences stand in controlled and subordinate relationship.

The fathers of the science of society may be said to be the Greek philosophers, and in particular Plato and Aristotle. The Sociology among the Greeks. Laws and the Republic of the former and the Ethics and Politics of the latter have, down to modern times, and notwithstanding the great difference in the standpoint of the world and the change in social and political conditions, exercised a considerable influence on the development of the theory of society. To the Greeks the science of society presented itself briefly as the science of the best method of attaining the most perfect life within the consciousness of the associated life of the State. “In this ideal of the State,” says Bluntschli, “are combined and mingled all the efforts of the Greeks in religion and in law, in morals and social life, in art and science, in the acquisition and management of wealth, in trade and industry. The individual requires the State to give him a legal existence: apart from the State he has neither safety nor freedom. The barbarian is a natural enemy, and conquered enemies become slaves. . . . The Hellenic State, like the ancient State in general . . . was all in all. The citizen was nothing except as a member of the State. His whole existence depended on and was subject to the State. . . . The State knew neither moral nor legal limits to its power” (Theory of the State).

It was within the limits of this conception that most of the Greek theories of society were constructed. The fundamental In Christian Europe. conception of the Roman writers was not essentially different, although the opportunism of the Roman State, when it became a universal power embracing the social and religious systems of many peoples, in some degree modified it; so that with the growth of jus gentium outside the jus civile, the later writers of the empire brought into view an aspect of the State in which law began to be to some extent distinguished from State morality. With the spread of Christianity in Western Europe there commenced a stage in which the social structure, and with it the theory of society, underwent profound modifications. These changes are still in progress, and the period over which they extend has produced a great and increasing number of writers on the science of society. The conceptions of each period have been intimately related to the character of the influences controlling development at the time. The writers up to the 14th century are nearly all absorbed in the great controversy between the spiritual and temporal power which was defining itself during this stage in Western history. In the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation the modern development of the theory of society may be said to begin. Machiavelli is the first great name in this period. Bodin with other writers up to the time of Montesquieu carry the development forward in France. The Dutch writer Grotius, although chiefly recognized at the time as an authority on international law, had much influence in bringing into view principles which mark more directly the transition to the modern period, his De jure belli et pacis, issued in 1625, being in many respects an important contribution to the theory of society. Hobbes and Locke are the principal representatives of the influential school of writers on the principles of society which the period of the political and religious upheaval of the 17th century produced in England. The ideas of Locke, in particular, exercised a considerable influence on the subsequent development of the theory of the State in Western thought. From the 17th century forward it may be said, strictly speaking, that all the leading contributions to the general body of Western philosophy have been contributions to the development of the science of society. At the time of Locke, and to a large extent in Locke's writings, there may be distinguished three distinct tendencies in the prevailing theory of society. Each of these has since become more definite, and has progressed along a particular line of development. There is first the empirical tendency, which is to be followed through the philosophy of Hume down to the present day, in what may be called—to borrow an idea from Huxley—the physiological method in the modern study of the science of society. A second tendency—which developed through the critical philosophy of Kant, the idealism of Hegel, and the historical methods of Savigny in the field of jurisprudence and of the school of Schmoller in the domain of economics—finds its current expression in the more characteristically German conception of the organic nature of the modern State. A third tendency—which is to be followed through the writings of Rousseau, Diderot, d'Alembert and the literature of the French Revolution—found its most influential form of expression in the 19th century in the theories of the English Utilitarians, from Bentham to John Stuart Mill. In this development it is a theory of the utilitarian State which is principally in view. In