Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/177

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BIOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY, AND SOCIOLOGY.

THE RELATIONS OF BIOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY, AND SOCIOLOGY.
By HERBERT SPENCER.

FROM time to time proof has come to me that in the United States there have arisen erroneous conceptions of my views concerning the connections between the sciences dealing respectively with organic evolution and super-organic evolution. These misconceptions will, if nothing be said, become established. Hence it seems needful that I should point out how entirely at variance with the evidence they are. The following extracts from two leading American writers on Sociology will sufficiently exemplify them. Mr. Lester Ward says:—

"The founder of sociology placed it next above biology in the scale of diminishing generality and increasing complexity, and maintained that it had that science as its natural basis and as the substratum into which its roots penetrated, Herbert Spencer, although he treated psychology as a distinct science, and placed it between biology and sociology in his system of Synthetic Philosophy, made no attempt to affiliate sociology upon psychology, while on the contrary he did exert himself to demonstrate that it has exceedingly close natural affinities with biology, as was shown in the third paper. At the close of that paper the fact came clearly forth that almost the only legitimate comparisons between society and a living organism were those in which the nervous system was taken as the term of comparison. In other words, it was clear even then that the class of attributes in the individual animal with which those of society could best be compared were its psychic attributes. If we are to have a science of psychology distinct from biology these attributes belong to that science, and hence it is really psychology and not biology upon which sociology directly rests." ("Sociology and Psychology." In American Journal of Sociology, vol. i. No. 5, March, 1896.)

In his recent work, published under the same title as my own. The Principles of Sociology, Prof. Giddings recognizes the fact that by me "the principles of sociology are derived from principles of psychology and of biology" (p. 8). But by his expressed belief that "the time has come when its principles, accurately formulated and adequately verified, can be organized into a coherent theory" (p. 17), he tacitly implies that my own theory is not coherent; and he proceeds to supply that which he regards as the needful bond—an ultimate psychological bond. His words are:—

"Accordingly, the sociological postulate can be no other than this, namely: The original and elementary subjective fact in society is the consciousness of kind. By this term I mean a state of consciousness in which any being, whether low or high in the scale of life, recognizes another conscious being as of like kind with itself." (Ib.)

And then on p. 19, after indicating the external conditions which prompt social aggregations, he goes on to say:—