Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/184

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affirms that the results of the aggregate of wills are calculable. And, if this he asserted of the aggregate of wills as affected by legislation, it must be asserted of the aggregate of wills as affected by social influences at large. If it be held that the desire to avoid punishment will so act on the average of men as to produce an average foreseen result; then it must also be held that, on the average of men, the desire to get the greatest return for labor, the desire to rise into a higher rank of life, the desire to gain applause, and so forth, will each of them produce a certain average result. And to hold this is to hold that there can be prevision of social phenomena, and therefore Social Science.

In brief, then, the alternative positions are these: On the one hand, if there is no natural causation throughout the actions of incorporated humanity, government and legislation are absurd. Acts of Parliament may, as well as not, be made to depend on the drawing of lots or the tossing of a coin; or rather there may as well be none at all: social sequences having no ascertainable order, no effect can be counted upon—every thing is anarchic. On the other hand, if there is such natural causation, then the combination of forces, by which every effect or combination of effects is produced, produces them in conformity with the laws of the forces. And if so, it behooves us to use all diligence in ascertaining what the forces are, what are their laws, and what are the ways in which they coöperate.

Such further elucidation as is possible will be gained by discussing the question to which we now address ourselves—the Nature of the Social Science. Along with a definite idea of this, will come a perception that the denial of a Social Science has arisen from the confusing of two essentially different classes of phenomena which societies present—the one class, almost ignored by historians, constituting the subject-matter of Social Science, and the other class, almost exclusively occupying them, admitting of scientific coordination in a very small degree, if at all.




WHEN I arrived in England about eighteen months ago, little thinking that a short vacation tour would end in my permanent residence here, I at once paid a visit to the National Gallery. I was anxious to see Turner's pictures, which on the Continent I had had no opportunity of doing. How great was my astonishment when, after

  1. A lecture delivered at the Royal Institution on March 8, 1872.