Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/285

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273
LITERARY NOTICES.

to the rescue, eloquence flowed as freely as the wine, divinity refused to be out-done by medicine in praise of the guest, the press claimed him as a typical journalist always ready for sagacious comment upon memorable events, and literature and science pressed their rival claims for the inscription of the name of Holmes upon their banners. The doctor took it all with the most gracious good-nature, knowing as well as anybody that there was a great deal more truth than flattery in the cordial utterances of which he was the target, and he gave the supremest proof of imperturbable good-humor by submitting to the insatiate exactions of a crowd of autograph-hunters who cornered him for their diabolical purposes after twelve o'clock.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Dynamic Sociology, or Applied Social Science, as based upon Statical Sociology and the less Complex Sciences. By Lester F. Ward, A.M. In two volumes. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 726 and 698. Price, $5.

In the rush of publications from a teeming press there now and then comes a work of such grave and exceptional import as to demand a special and careful consideration, and among these are to be included the two comprehensive volumes now before us. Under the technical and somewhat unattractive title of "Dynamical Sociology," Mr. Ward has made an original and able contribution to the large and very important subject of social science. Although he is, of course, indebted to many sources for his materials, yet the handling of the topics is his own. His work is not a compilation or résumé of previous promulgations, but an elaboration of his own independent views; and he has constructed a system which, from its breadth, its scientific basis, and its elaborate method lays claim to the character of a philosophy.

It must be confessed that the presumptions in these times are strongly against the novel and ambitious reconstructions of thought, which so frequently challenge public attention, and, if the author were asked in this case for his credentials, he would probably say that they must be found in the book. Yet Mr. Ward is well known by his scientific, economical, and social contributions to the magazines, as well as by other publications of recognized merit, and if he has not before issued any considerable book, it is probably because he has been absorbed for the last ten years in the preparation of the extensive treatise now published.

Mr. Ward's title, as we have intimated, is unfortunate. Sociology is a forbidding word—snarled at by petty purists as illegitimate—and not yet settled and defined in familiar speech; while the kind of sociology designated as "dynamical" only deepens the obscurity, and makes it necessary, at the outset of any intelligible notice of the work, to explain what is meant to be indicated by these terms. This will, moreover, furnish the key to the method of the book.

The author assumes sociology to be a science already so well established as to take proper rank in the family of sciences. It deals with the laws of social phenomena, as botany deals with the vegetable kingdom, and zoölogy with the animal world. But science is of two kinds, pure and applied, the former consisting of an exposition of facts and principles, and the latter of their practical applications for purposes of utility. Pure sociology, therefore, confines itself to the classification of the facts and the elucidation of the principles of social phenomena. It deals with society by the natural history method, describing, analyzing, comparing, and generalizing the comprehensive data of the subject. Its aim is simply the establishment of a body of truth, without the formal consideration of its uses. This is sociology as generally and properly understood.

But Mr. Ward thinks that, when the practical applications of this science are to be considered, new terms are needed to mark an important distinction, and so he uses the word statical to characterize its common scientific form. But this established sociology, or "Statical Sociology," which consists of the classified facts and generalized principles of the science, he holds to