Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/136

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126
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

system. We refer to this because there is much misunderstanding of the bearings of Spencer's various books on the subject of sociology. Dr. Porter, for example, has lately taken him up in the "Princeton Review," and we think, if he had been a little more particular in his reference to Spencer's sociological works, he would have given increased help to readers unacquainted with them. He says: "Spencer's contributions to this science are professedly only introductory to its study. They are to consist of 'The Principles of Sociology,' in two volumes, 'Social Statics' and 'The Study of Sociology,' as also several volumes of 'Descriptive Sociology.'" More precisely "The Principles of Sociology" will comprise three volumes instead of two. "Social Statics" is an old book, that forms no part of his sociological system, and only "The Study of Sociology," an incidental contribution to the subject, should be especially characterized as introductory to it. It is hardly fair to an author to mix up his works in this careless way, and it is especially unfair to Spencer, because he has been long engaged in developing his ideas in various lines of work, and publishing them in fragmentary parts, so that readers are easily liable to become confused in regard to them. President Porter's critical essay is entitled "Spencer's Theory of Sociology," and he says, "The only practicable method of discovering the author's theory is to subject the volume to a minute criticism." We think the still more "practicable" method would be an examination of the works in which the theory is professedly expounded rather than in a volume which disavows all attempt to formulate the principles of the science. He has explained in the preface to the work that "The Study of Sociology" was a side discussion, forming no part of the systematic treatment of social science. It was written with main reference to those prepossessions of the public mind which tend to hinder a scientific study of social subjects. Instead of explaining the science of society, the book was designed to remove objections to its possibility and to arouse interest in its legitimate questions. Yet Dr. Porter undertakes to judge Spencer's "Theory of Sociology" by an analysis of this book which does not contain it. Spencer's works are tempting game for sensational criticism, because of their extent, incompleteness, and comprehensive method, which make misconception easy and misrepresentation easier, and for this reason we are called upon to correct false impressions more frequently than would be otherwise necessary.

 

 

SCIENCE IN THE COLLEGES.

We call attention to the correspondence from Princeton and Ann Arbor correcting alleged errors in our September article on "Sewage in College Education." Dr. McCosh thinks it palpably illogical to argue that they have had typhoid fever because they do not teach physiology to the students. Our strictures were based on an assumed state of facts which is not contradicted, viz., that the fatal fever resulted from causes that were clearly preventable. We simply charged that the knowledge that would have averted the catastrophe, and which, as tending to self-preservation, is the most important of all knowledge, is culpably neglected in the college, is subordinated to more worthless studies, and not so taught as to yield the beneficent results which it is capable of producing. And what are the facts? Dr. McCosh says that the chemical professor reports as follows: "All students of the college have a full course of instruction in the outlines of human anatomy and physiology, with so much of hygiene as there is time for; and this has been done in the college for nearly half a century." That is, they teach as much about the laws of life as the old crowded classical curriculum