« PreviousContinue »
because the breadth of the field calls for the specialist, and not because there are natural boundaries marking it off from sociology
Comparative jurisprudence deals with phenomena which exhibit the working of two special principles of human nature—the thirst for vengeance that torments the sufferer of a wrong, and the desire for fair play that moves the beholders of a wrong. These formidable impulses were early led into the safe channels of legal redress, in order that society might be spared the evils of feud and retaliatory violence. In time, however, the laworiginating impulses became socialized and rationalized. In-wrought with other motives, they come to express the will of the Social Personality. The just settlement of disputes, from a private need, becomes a public function. When we consider the transformation of law by jurisconsults and judges, the enlargement of it by the action of the legislator, and the renovation of it in the name of the principle of social utility, it is plain that jurisprudence cannot hope to be more than a feudatory state in the realm of sociology.
There is no reason why what is known as “the sociology of the family” together with the "population" section of political economy should not have been set apart as genetics. The family is certainly distinguished from other social structures by owing its existence to the highly special instincts of sexattraction and philoprogenitiveness. These instincts, moreover, being gratified individually, do not call into being joint activities or distinct professions such as we find in the religious or economic spheres. An institution it may be, but the family is not, properly speaking, a social organ.
It is unlikely, however, that we shall see split off a science treating of the social phenomena that center in the reproductive function. One reason is that the sex and family relations, since they are always standardized in law and morals, are, at every moment, in the most intimate sympathy with the reigning culture. Furthermore, all our researches go to magnify the importance of the non-instinctive factors in fixing the duration, size, and internal structure of the family. Not long ago Maine
and Hearn and Fustel de Coulanges brought to light the religious factor. Now it is the economic factor that is exalted. As motive to marriage the attraction of the sexes is reinforced, it appears, by man's desire for a servant and woman's desire for a protector. Children are reared, not from parental love alone, but also because a daughter can be sold for cash, while the son can be kept as a helper, a protector, and an avenger.
Grosse therefore hits the bull's eye when he says:
If we wish to grasp a particular social structure-say a form of family organization
- in its essence and significance, we must study it in its natural connection with the civilization in which it grows, lives, and works."
As regards noetics, by which term we would designate the science that deals with the phenomena that arise from efforts to satisfy the craving for truth, and æsthetics, or the science that treats of the phenomena that arise in connection with endeavors to satisfy the craving for the beautiful, there is no doubt that, owing to their close and immediate dependence upon the psychology of the individual mind, they will retain a good deal of independence with respect to sociology. We are, in fact, coming to recognize in inventions and discoveries the first causes of many of the great transformations in society. Even in these branches of inquiry, however, new social factors are coming forward. In tracing the evolution of philosophies, sciences, and the fine arts, more causes and influences are being recognized. Attempts to resume the history of intellectual progress without taking due note of changes in the state of society have shown opinions and movements succeeding one another without meaning or logic. Those who would comprehend intellectual or æsthetic advance must consent to take into consideration such factors as the geographical environment, the prevailing occupations, the plane of comfort, town life, the influence of a leisure class, the attitude of the priesthood, the organization of education, the diffusion of learning, and the degree of honor attaching to intellectual and artistic pursuits.
The piers on which rests economics, the greatest of the social sciences and (save linguistics) the most independent, are certain
properties of the external world and certain properties of human nature. The latter are the desire for wealth, the aversion to labor, and the reluctance to postpone present gratifications. The first of these calls into being productive energies, the second and third limit this energy, the one in respect to labor, the other in respect to capital. All three co-operating distribute productive energy among places, seasons, occupations, and enterprises in a way
that is termed "economic."
It would be a mistake to regard these subjective foundations of economics as simple traits of human nature. The aversion to labor has in it, indeed, an element of organic repugnance to sustained effort. But it also contains a social factor, namely a conventional disesteem of labor derived from the stigma that a leisure class attaches to the functions of the industrial class.
As to the desire for wealth, it is exceedingly complex. It has a three-fold tap-root in hunger, or the craving for food, want, or the craving for clothing and shelter, and the love of bodily ease which expresses itself in a demand for comfort. Its side roots, moreover, connect it with nearly all the specific desires we have considered in the foregoing pages. The passion for sex spurs a suitor to amass the riches that can win him his bride. The lust of power is a demand for the wealth that procures power. The craving for beauty is a demand for costly artistic products. The religious impulse gives off a demand for the material accessories of worship. Even the most spiritual wants demand leisure for their satisfaction, and wealth is a means to leisure. The acquisitive lust is further whetted by the honor that attaches to profuse consumption and conspicuous waste.
Thus sooner or later all the cravings of human nature put in a requisition for wealth, and the confluence of these tributaries with the main stream of desire rolls down a veritable Nile-flood of greed which beslimes, yet stimulates, nearly every profession and function in society. This generic virtue of wealth it is, which makes it stand for desirability in the abstract, and gives rise to the myth that the lust of acquisition is the sole motive of human endeavor, the direct or remote cause of all social phenomena, the single force that holds together the social frame even
as gravitation holds together the solar system. Though without reason, the economic sociologists are not without excuse.
The social economy that is sequel to the universal pursuit of gain is beautifully law-abiding, and presents a well-defined field for the science of economics. But when economics comes to treat of the consumption of wealth, it becomes vague and quickly loses itself in sociology. The reason is very simple. It is after goods have been produced and distributed that the dissimilar interests that united to spur men to acquisitive effort reappear in all their separateness. The desire for wealth splits up into its components. Most wealth-seekers follow a line of action which is termed "economic." But as wealth-consumers they behave differently. One man spends his surplus for sensual gratifications, another uses it to found a family, a third turns it into objects of beauty, a fourth makes it a votive offering, a fifth employs it to win power, a sixth makes it procure him social consideration. Its actual destination depends upon the age, the race, the stage of culture; in a word, upon the state of society. Its salient features-social composition, matrimonial customs, class relations, political habits-must all be taken into account in order to understand the consumption of wealth.
The relation of the trunk of a tree to its branches is, I believe, a fit symbol of the relation of Sociology to the special social sciences. But the tree in question is a banyan tree. Each of the great branches from the main trunk throws down shoots which take root and give it independent support in human nature. In the case of a branch like politics these special stems are slight and decaying. In the case of a branch like economics the direct support they yield is more important than the connection with the main trunk. In every case an independent rootage in unsocialized desire is the fact that entitles a branch of social knowledge to be termed a science, and differentiates it from those branches which, having no source of life other than the main trunk, must be termed departments of special sociology.
EDWARD ALSWORTH Ross. THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA.
[To be continued.]
INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY.
PART III. GENERAL STRUCTURE OF SOCIETIES.
THE SOCIAL LIMITS.
SECTION V. BIOLOGICAL LIMITS.—Continued. HOWEVER, protoplasm itself has a structure. There is an organism having the structure of an amoeba, without any membrane other than its geometrical limit, and without a nucleus, but it has the essential elements of a nucleus distributed throughout the protoplasm. After the central mass is separated from the periphery with which it is blended, the organism becomes a cell. Every organism is a cell or a combination of cells. The ensemble of the forms of the whole organism is then the product or general total of all the aggregated cells. Thus the forms of elementary organisms are : ( 1 ) forms without a membrane and without a nucleus ; (2) forms with a nucleus and without a membrane; (3) forms with a nucleus and a membrane. With each step in the progress of organization, the equilibration to the environment becomes more perfect; that is to say, the organism maintains itself by adaptations to more numerous and more special conditions. But, as among plants, this structure, differentiated into a nucleus and a membrane, though it suffices for the unfolding of its life, and for resistance, especially in a passive way, to the environment, is not adequate for more complex, precise, and especially active adaptations. This unicellular state forms the basis of the multicellular ; that is to say, for an association of simple homogeneous cells. In the multicellular organisms there is a differentiation into an external and an internal layer. In plants this external and protecting layer is the epidermis, the inner and assimilating layer being the parenchyma; in the animals, the external sensitive and protecting surface is the ectoderm, and the interior and assimilating membrane, or endoderm, forms the boundary of the digestive cavity, which does * Translated by Eben Mumford.