Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/869

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want to hear about will increase with them and if the technicalities are permitted to crowd out the more popular and edifying features, the educational influence of the association, on the people at large can not fail to be seriously impaired, if it is I not altogether destroyed.

Scientific Literature.


Mr. Lester F. Ward, in the book whose title is indicated below,[1] gives a very readable summary of his views upon sociological science. He still holds, as he tells us, to the theories enunciated in his Dynamic Sociology, published in 1882; but he does not seem to have obtained in the last sixteen years any additional light as to the form social evolution is likely to take under the influence of the psychic forces which he has described. There is to be a social evolution, so we are given to understand, determined by a social consciousness of social needs; but he is not able as yet to indicate any distinct dawning of such consciousness. He apologizes for the democratic governments which are to be organs of the expected progress. They will be all right some day, but up to date they are the "most stupid" of all governments. "They have to rely on brute force. They are shortsighted, and only know how to lock the door after the horse is stolen. They swarm and 'enthuse,' and then lapse into a state of torpor, losing all that was gained, and again surge in another direction, wasting their energies. In fact, they act precisely like animals devoid of intelligence." Lest the picture should be too dark, the author adds that "under exceptional circumstances they have displayed signs of collective intelligence." To their credit, however, be it said that democracies are "benevolent," while autocracies are always "rapacious." The democratic legislator knows what his constituents want and tries to get it for them. This is benevolent on his part, and the benevolence of the constituency, we suppose, will be shown in re-electing him. Dr. Pangloss himself could not have imagined a more beautiful illustration of the general perfection of the scheme of things.

The great trouble, however, is that so little mind beams through this benevolence. Mr. Ward acknowledges that this constitutes "the problem of sociology." He has wrestled with it, he says, for many years, and sees no way to increase the intellectual status of democratic governments save by improving that of the people at large. "If," he adds, "the social consciousness can be so far quickened as to awake to a full realization of this truth in such vivid manner as to induce general action in the direction of devising means for the universal equalization of intelligence, all other social problems will be put in the way of gradual but certain solution." It really seems to us as if in this sentence the stream of Mr. Ward's argument were losing itself, like an Australian river, in the sands of a highly Latinized, and all but unmeaning, verbiage. May we not, however, ask the question whether, with a marked increase in the general intelligence and

  1. Outlines of Sociology. By Lester F. Ward. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1898.