THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.
Thus, as a discipline, study of the Science of Life is essential; partly as familiarizing the mind with the cardinal ideas of continuity, complexity, and contingency, of causation in clearer and more various ways than do the other Concrete Sciences, and partly as familiarizing the mind with the cardinal idea of fructifying causation, which the other Concrete Sciences do not present at all. Not that, pursued exclusively, the Organic Sciences will yield these conceptions in clear forms: there requires a familiarity with the Abstract-Concrete Sciences to give the requisite grasp of simple causation. Studied by themselves the Organic Sciences tend rather to make the ideas of causation cloudy; for the reason that the entanglement of the factors and the contingency of the results is so great that definite relations of antecedents and consequents cannot be established: the two are not presented in such connections as to make the conception of causal action, qualitative and quantitative, sufficiently distinct. There requires, first, the discipline yielded by Physics and Chemistry, to make definite the ideas of forces and actions as necessarily related in their kinds and amounts; and then the study of organic phenomena may be carried on with a clear consciousness that while the processes of causation are so involved as often to be inexplicable, yet there is causation, no less necessary and no less exact than causation of simpler kinds.
And now to apply these considerations on mental discipline to our immediate topic. For the effectual study of Sociology there needs a habit of thought generated by the studies of all these sciences; since, as already said, social phenomena involve phenomena of every order.
That there are necessities of relation such as those with which the Abstract Sciences deal, cannot be denied, when it is seen that societies present facts of number and quantity. That the actions of men in society, in all their movements and productive processes, must conform to the laws of the physical forces, is also indisputable. And that every thing thought and felt and done in the course of social life is thought and felt and done in harmony with the laws of individual life, is also a truth—almost a truism, indeed; though one of which few seem conscious.
Culture of the sciences in general, then, is needful; and, above all, culture of the Science of Life. This is more especially requisite, however, because the conceptions of continuity, complexity, and contingency, of causation, as well as the conception of fructifying causation, are conceptions common to it and to the Science of Society. It affords a specially-fit discipline, for the reason that it alone among the sciences produces familiarity with these cardinal ideas—presents the data for them in forms easily grasped, and so prepares the mind for recognizing the data for them in the Social Science, where they are less easily grasped, though no less constantly presented.
The supreme importance of this last kind of culture, however, is