I.—PROFESSIONS IN GENERAL
By HERBERT SPENCER.
WHAT character professional institutions have in common, by which they are as a group distinguished from the other groups of institutions contained in a society, it is not very easy to say. But we shall be helped to frame an approximately true conception by contemplating in their ultimate natures the functions of the respective groups.
The lives of a society and of its members are in one way or other subserved by all of them: maintenance of the life of a society, which is an insentient organism, being a proper proximate end only as a means to the ultimate end — maintenance of the lives of its members, which are sentient organisms. The primary function, considered either in order of time or in order of importance, is defense of the tribal or national life — preservation of the society from destruction by enemies. For the better achievement of this end there presently comes some regulation of life. Restraints on individual action are needful for the efficient carrying on of war, which implies subordination to a leader or chief; and when successful leadership ends in permanent chieftainship, it brings, in course of further development, such regulation of life within the society as conduces to efficiency for war purposes. Better defense against enemies, thus furthered, is followed by defense of citizens against one another; and the rules of conduct, originally imposed by the successful chief, come, after his decease, to be re-enforced by the injunctions ascribed to his ghost. So that, with the control of the living king and his agents, there is gradually joined the control of the dead king and his agents. Simultaneously with the rise of agencies for the defense of life and the regulation of life, there grow up agencies for the sustentation of life. Though at first food, clothing, and shelter are obtained by each for himself, yet exchange, beginning with barter of commodities, gradually initiates a set of appliances which greatly facilitate the bodily maintenance of all. But now the defense of life, the regulation of life, and the sustentation of life, having been achieved, what further general function is there? There is the augmentation of life; and this function it is
- The series of articles to which this is introductory will in their eventual form be chapters constituting Part VII of The Principles of Sociology — Professional Institutions. Hence the explanation of the various references and allusions to preceding parts of that work which they will be found to contain. The various references to books will, as in past cases, be found at the end of the volume when published.