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understand. Letters frequently reach the editors of this JOURNAL voicing the same complaint. It must be admitted that there is a measure of justice in these rebukes, yet there is another side to the case which laymen do not appreciate, but investigators must not allow themselves to be confused about it. Scientific discussion is by no means a mere matter of rhetoric. It is not simply expressing something. It is often an essential part of the process of getting something to express.
It is an attempt to formulate a real problem where the layman has no suspicion that a problem exists. It is hazarding a thesis to be tried against the attacks of competent critics. It is an hypothesis to be tested. It is a tentative generalization. Simply because it is a generalization, whether it proves valid or not, it is beyond the usual range of ordinary reflection. That is, the subject and the predicate extend beyond the horizon of everyday vision. No matter how precisely they are expressed, therefore, they do not present a clear image to minds not accustomed to that outlook. If the proposition were expressed so that it would mean more to the layman, the language might lose the very elements that contain its peculiar meaning for the specialist. Of course, it is an affront to omniscient democracy to intimate that every man is not as competent a specialist as any man upon such a
a familiar subject as human society. Of course, if the average man does not take in the full meaning of a sociological proposition, it is the fault of the sociologist who utters it. Nevertheless, it will be necessary for a good while to come that men who are actually advancing knowledge shall talk to each other a great deal in language that says little or nothing to the layman. On the one hand, the layman has no business to find fault with this, and, on the other hand, if he does, the specialist has no business to mind it. Whatever may have been their sins of abstruseness, American scholars have committed more and greater sins through overambition to impress the public. Premature plays for popularity are much more deplorable than mysterious technicality. In the end scientific tasks are performed sooner and better if scientists address themselves exclusively to their kind, till they convince each other that they
have something to say. It is time enough then to throw away the technicalities and put the new knowledge into general circulation.
The really flagrant sins that have been committed in the name of sociology in recent years have been inflammatory utterances, in terms that found quick response in popular feeling, while there was no proper social knowledge behind them. They conveyed definite impressions, but they were simply audacious appeals to prejudice. Serious sociology is a deliberate plan to discredit that sort of thing and to find a basis for social opinion in a sufficient analysis of social facts. The details of this analysis will not be edifying to the multitude. They will seem academic and pedantic. No doubt they will be, to a considerable extent, as this has been the case in nearly every other field of knowledge. In the end, however, sound learning will be promoted sooner and faster by discussing unsettled problems in the technical language appropriate to problems, than by a parade of simplicity which encourages the public to assume that open questions are settled.
The necessity for this professionalism varies in different divisions of sociology. It is greatest among the first two types named, and least in the fourth group. Members of the latter are less likely to offend the public by excessive obscurity of terms than by the moderation of their conclusions. Popular impatience craves what the serious sociologist can never furnish. There is always a brisk demand for social specifics, but relatively languid interest in social hygiene. One could get tooted as a social prophet any day by publishing a scheme to do away with government. If one merely points out a practicable way of improving the workings of government, it may be a generation before he gets a hearing. A new way to abolish private property would command wide attention at any moment. A feasible plan of juster taxation would have a long and thankless struggle for a chance to explain itself. A crusade to smash “trusts” is always in order, and there is never a lack of spectators eager to see the fun. Serious analysis of inequities in the workings of corporations, and proposals of sane remedies, meet indifference at best and contempt as a rule. The man who promises to end crime, if society will only adopt socialism, counts as a statesman and a seer with the contingent always ready to accept visionary promises at par. The man who points out an available means of removing temptations to crime, or of heading off criminal propensities before it is too late, is too commonplace to spur the radical imagination. Ten thousand people will swallow a cure-all to one who will think. The sociologist who asks the public to reflect, instead of flattering the demand for quick and complete remedies for social ills, sends himself to Coventry for a long term.
The conclusion of the whole matter for the sociologists is that, when we reach results which are ripe for popular consumption, we should spread the news as widely as possible, and in the plainest terms. On the other hand, while sociology is good for nothing unless it can enrich average life at last, our primary task is to work out correct statements of social problems and valid methods of solving them. We ought not to be distracted either by popular clamor for quick results or by ignorant misrepresentation of our aims. Our main business is to study society by methods which competent judges must indorse.
The worst enemy of the sociologists is defect of scientific patience. Itch to be talked about, without having made any real contribution to knowledge, is the stigma of the pseudo-scientist. Genuine research, no matter how slow in reaching results, and no matter how minute the result in each case, will in due time win for the real sociologists, as for all others scientific workers, their fair share of appreciation.
ALBION W. SMALL. THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO.
INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY.:
PART III. GENERAL STRUCTURE OF SOCIETIES.
PROLEGOMENA AND DEFINITIONS.
In the first volume of my Introduction to Sociology, published in 1886, I proceeded to the analysis and classification of the constitutive elements of societies; in the second volume, published in 1889, I entered upon the study of the social organs and functions considered alone. It remains for us to study societies in their general structure and afterward in their general life or
Structure and life correspond to the terms statics and dynamics, applied especially to Auguste Comte. It will appear later why we prefer the former expressions to the latter.
Many years have elapsed between the present publication and the appearance of the two preceding volumes; these years have been consecrated almost entirely to inductive researches. Some of the results of these researches have been published; others have formed the subjects of uninterrupted lectures upon social economy and the history of social economy, which I have given at L'Université Nouvelle de Bruxelles. During this period, now somewhat long, I have been constantly elaborating the present work, which, in conformity with the positive method, is therefore only the philosophical synthesis of my previous patient observations, résumés of which were given in the different lectures, numbering in all about twelve hundred, which I have delivered from 1889 to 1902. I expect to publish hereafter those concrete data of my abstract sociology of which my works upon taxes, upon coal-mining, upon the representative system, upon the evolution of beliefs and doctrines in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Peru, Mexico, India, and China, upon commercial credit, upon money, upon credit and banks, etc., are fragments. I insist upon this point only in order to
Translated by Robert Morris.
recall to mind, if need be, that, faithful to the positive method, the present work rests essentially upon the widest observation that it has been possible for me to make, in addition to the numerous materials furnished by the learned specialists whose works I have followed attentively. In the third volume of Abstract Sociology, documentation will therefore appear only in an explicative way, and not at all as demonstration; that is, as in the Transformisme social, a detached portion of the last part of my work devoted to the life of societies.
In the Structure générale, no more than in the Éléments and Functions et organs sociaux, or in Transformisme social and Lois sociologiques, do we claim, like Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer, to have constructed an abstract sociology in its entirety. At present such an attempt would surpass the individual capacity of the sociologist and the corresponding and preliminary maturity of the special social sciences. As heretofore, we shall have mainly in view the indication of the methods and plan which may doubtless lead to the construction of this sociology in the future. Yet we shall trace, as far as we can, some outlines calculated to indicate some principle features which maturer sociology will contain.
After the great synthetic, but premature, effort of Quetelet, of Comte, and of Spencer, it seems to me that the work ought to be renewed with the more complete co-ordination of the special social sciences, particularly of political economy, ethics, and law, which are in course of transformation.'
In Materialisme historique, I have already pointed out the danger to which we are exposed by a certain part of contemporaneous sociological literature with its particular points of view. I refer especially to the exclusively psychological school. It is producing a very brilliant, even useful, literature, but onesided, and therefore quite divested of that consideration of the ensemble which is and must remain precisely the sociological
'I expected to devote an early chapter of the work to a theoretical and critical exposé of the statics of Quetelet, of Comte, and of Spencer, an exposé which has been the subject of a three-years' course at L'Université nouvelle, but this chapter has itself become a considerable volume, which I hope to publish soon as a complement of the present work.