Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/257

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243
EDITOR'S TABLE.

publication, heavy; yet it was essential to the completeness of his system and of immense importance to the progress of knowledge, and Mr. Spencer did not for a moment hesitate to undertake it. He first devised a system of tables suited to present the whole scheme of social facts, displayed by any community, in such a manner that these facts can be compared with each other at a glance, while the social elements of different communities can also be brought into comparison with the greatest facility. These Sociological Tables are marvels of analytic skill, simplicity, and comprehensiveness; and the command they give over the results of investigation is commensurate with the greatness of the subject to which they apply.

Having fixed upon a method of presentation, Mr. Spencer divided the communities of mankind into three great groups: the existing savage races of Asia, Africa, and America; the existing civilized races of Western Europe; and the extinct civilizations of Egypt, Palestine, Greece, Rome, and Peru. Five years ago he engaged an able scholar—a graduate of the University of Edinburgh—to devote himself to the study of the savage races, and gather from all the most reliable sources the facts relating to their social state. The Tables are then gradually filled in, and each one becomes a summary, we might almost say a map, of the social condition of the community to which it is devoted. The first volume of the Sociological Tables will embrace descriptions of some seventy or eighty of the principal savage tribes, and will be accompanied by an octavo volume of extracts from the authorities consulted, and on which the summary of the Tables rests. This portion of the undertaking is now nearly completed. Another able scholar—also an Edinburgh graduate—has been for some years engaged upon the existing civilizations, the results of which will be published in a second volume of Tables and the second accompanying volume of authorities, and this work is also well advanced. A German historical student has also taken up the extinct civilizations, and will prepare the third volume upon this division of the subject. We shall thus have the full realization of what Mr. Spencer pointed out many years ago, in the above-quoted extract, as a great desideratum, and which will create the new and important science of Descriptive Sociology. It is hardly necessary to say that such a work will stand upon its own merits, and have a general usefulness that will no way depend upon Mr. Spencer's philosophical doctrines.

 

A CORRECTION.

Mr. Editor.—In one of the late numbers of your periodical, I observe that you say, in casually alluding to my Chicago Address, that I treat the doctrine which classes mental and physical forces in the same category as being "heretical." There is but one sense in which the word "heretical" can be properly understood, or even understood at all—and that is, the sense of opposition to the prevailing religious belief. Understanding the word in this sense, there can be no difference of opinion what-ever, among any of the parties to this discussion, as to the "heresy" involved in the doctrine in question. The doctrine is as much heretical in your view, and in Mr. Herbert Spencer's, as it is in mine.

But, the inference which the reader is left necessarily to draw from your remark is, that I attempted to controvert the doctrine, on the ground that it is heretical—a thing which I did not do at all. I did not even, if I remember aright, take the trouble to remark that the doctrine is an heretical doctrine, that being a thing so obvious that it may be allowed to "go without saying." My actual argument was that, in assuming the equivalency and convertibility of mental and physical forces, we are una-