Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/753

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733
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

panying evils are essentially the same, the resulting benefits are essentially the same. Is it not a truism that without divergence from that which exists, whether it be in politics, religion, manners, or any thing else, there can be no progress? And is it not an obvious corollary that the temporary evils accompanying the divergence, are outbalanced by the eventual good? It is certain, as Mr. Arnold holds, that subordination is essential; but it is also certain that insubordination is essential—essential, if there is to be any improvement. There are two extremes in the state of a social aggregate, as of every other aggregate, which are fatal to evolution—rigidity and incoherence. A medium plasticity is the healthful condition. On the one hand, a force of established structures and habits and beliefs, such as offers considerable resistance to change; on the other hand, an originality, an independence, and an opposition to authority, energetic enough to overcome the resistance little by little. And, while the political non-conformity we call Radicalism has the function of thus gradually modifying one set of institutions, the religious nonconformity we call Dissent has the function of thus gradually modifying another set.

That Mr. Arnold does not take this entirely-unprovincial view, which would lead him to look on Dissenters with less aversion, may in part, I think, be ascribed to that over-valuation of foreign restraints and undervaluation of home freedom, which his bias of anti-patriotism fosters; and serves further to illustrate the disturbing effects of this bias on sociological speculation.


And now to sum up this somewhat too elaborate argument. The general truth that, by incorporation in his society, the citizen is in a measure incapacitated for estimating rightly its characters and actions in relation to those of other societies, has been made abundantly manifest. And it has been made manifest also that when he strives to emancipate himself from these influences of race, and country, and locality, which warp his judgment, he is apt to have his judgment warped in the opposite way. From the perihelion of patriotism he is carried to the aphelion of anti-patriotism; and is almost certain to form views that are more or less eccentric, instead of circular, all-sided, balanced views.

Partial escape from this difficulty is promised by basing our sociological conclusions chiefly on comparisons made among other societies—excluding our own. But even then these perverting sentiments are sure to intrude more or less; for we cannot contemplate the institutions of other nations without our sympathies or antipathies being in some degree aroused by consciousness of likeness or unlikeness to our own institutions. Discounting our conclusions as well as we may, to allow for the errors we are thus led into, we must leave the entire elimination of such errors to a future in which the decreasing antagonisms of societies will go along with decreasing intensities of these sentiments.