Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/736

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of French ideas is an essential thing for other nations; while the absorption of ideas from other nations is not an essential thing for France: the truth being, rather, that French ideas, more than most other ideas, stand in need of foreign influence to qualify the undue definiteness and dogmatic character they habitually display. That such a tone of feeling, and the mode of thinking appropriate to it, should vitiate sociological speculation, is a matter of course. If there needs proof, we have a conspicuous one in the writings of M. Comte; where excessive self-estimation under its direct form, and under that reflex form constituting patriotism, has led to astounding sociological misconceptions. If we contemplate that scheme of Positivist reorganization and federation in which France was, of course, to be the leader—if we note the fact that M. Comte expected the transformation he so rigorously formulated to take place during the life of his own generation; and if, then, we remember what has since happened, and consider what are the probabilities of the future, we shall not fail to see how great are the perversions of sociological belief this bias may produce.

How national self-esteem, exalted by success in war, warps sociological opinion, is again shown of late in Germany. As a German professor writes to me, "there is, alas, no want of signs" that the "happy contrast to French self-sufficiency" which Germany heretofore displayed, is disappearing "since the glory of the late victories." The German liberals, he says, "overflow with talk of Germanism, German unity, the German nation, the German Empire, the German army and the German navy, the German Church, and German science. . . . They ridicule Frenchmen, and what animates them is, after all, the French spirit translated into German." And, then, to illustrate the injurious reaction on German thought, and on the estimates of foreign nations and their doings, he describes his discussion with an esteemed German professor of philosophy, against whom he was contending that the psychical and ethical sciences would gain in progress and influence by international communion, like that among the physico-mathematical sciences. He, "to my astonishment, declared that, even if such a union were possible, he did not think it desirable, as it would interfere too much with the peculiarity of German thought. . . . Second to Germany," he said, "it was Italy, which, in the immediate future, was most likely to promote philosophy. ... It appeared that what made him prefer the Italians .... was nothing else than his having observed that in Italy they were acquainted with every philosophical treatise published in Germany, however unimportant." And, thus, adds my correspondent, "the finest German characteristics are disappearing in an exaggerated Teutonomania." One other truth his comments on German feeling make manifest. There is indirectly an antagonism between the sentiment of nationality and the sentiment of individuality; the result of which is that exaltation of the one involves