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world-theories. This is only a manifestation of a general tendency to be noted presently.

It remains to consider the scope and the phenomena peculiar to sociology as a science. Giddings asserts that it is "the general or fundamental science of society which occupies itself with the elements and first principles of social phenomena,” leaving detailed investigation to special social sciences. 49 In this view sociology bears the same relation to these social sciences that biology sustains to zoology, botany, anatomy, and physiology. Small, on the other hand, sees in sociology “a synthesis of all the particular social sciences” and regards sociologists as engaged in the task of codifying the results of the special social sciences and in organizing these groups of scientific data into a coherent social philosophy.”50 While these views at first seem radically different,

. they are not, after all, irreconcilable. Sociology is both a science and a philosophy. Moreover, sociology must discover the laws of association as such, but these laws are discoverable only in the concrete facts analyzed and organized by the special social sciences. If there be a distinction in these ideas, it is that the fundamental view fixes attention on principles, while the “synthetic” theory looks also over the border toward policy and practice.

Again, the phenomena peculiar to sociology are variously conceived. De Roberty's socialité,Gumplowicz's “conflict,” DeGreef's “contract,” Spencer's “co-operation,” Tarde's “imita

“ tion," Durkheim's "coercion," Simmel's "subordination," Gid

” dings's “consciousness of kind," seem at first glance to form a chaos of ideas. But on examination these turn out to be simply various aspects of the structure and activity of the social group as such. They are different characteristics common to all types of social organization. The fact that these characteristics are almost wholly psychical is significant of the trend of scientific sociology and goes far to identify it with social psychology.


49 GIDDINGS, article on Sociology," Johnson's Encyclopedia, ed. 1895. 60 SMALL, loc. cit., pp. 54 f.

61 Cf. CALDWELL, Philosophy and the Newer Sociology,” Contemporary Review, September, 1898.



Sociologists have by no means reached a consensus comparable, for example, with that of the economists, but when variations in terminology have been eliminated, a considerable and ever-widening area of agreement emerges from the apparent confusion. Thus as to society in general all agree that it is (1) a product of physical and psychical forces, (2) working in an evolutionary process in which (3) at first predominantly instinctive activities later yield in some measure to (4) reflective and purposeful policies. This view regards society as (5) organic in the general, not specific, sense of the term. As to the social group as a type of common mental life it is further agreed that (1) individuals in their very personal growth unconsciously incorporate the standard of their group, by which they are, furthermore, (2) coerced into conscious conformity. The uniforming influence of imitation and group ascendency is counteracted by (3) leaders or authorities who initiate new ideas and activities to be selected and appropriated by all. Between such leaders with their followers a (4) struggle for ascendency ensues. This results ultimately in (5) a relatively permanent body of customs, and institutions imbedded in feeling; i. e., group tradition or character. When the members of the group are aware of common ideals and purposes a (6) social consciousness is developed.

If the tests of a science be formulation of laws and power to predict, sociology is not far advanced on the road to a scientific status. Such laws as have been put into definite form are too often either somewhat axiomatic or platitudinous, or are philosophical rather than strictly scientific. Nevertheless, especially in the field of social psychology, more successful results have been achieved. Principles closely approaching in insight and accuracy the unquestioned laws of economics have been enunciated, and promise of progress in this direction is not wanting: 52 As to prediction, which is conditioned on the formulation of principles, naturally the sociologist is even more cautious than the economist about foretelling a result in a given concrete case. Certainly the point has not been reached when the sociologist is justified in dogmatizing on the basis of his scientific principles.

» Cf. Ross, “Recent Tendencies in Sociology," Quarterly Journal of Economics, August, 1902.


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In this rapid survey of the growth of sociology certain tendencies stand out in fairly distinct outline:

Sociology began by being a social philosophy, a philosophy of history,53 and such it has been until very recently. To put social philosophy into the language of a natural science is not to make it a science. But as a philosophy it has rendered important service. It has preserved the unity of social theory-a unity constantly menaced by the specialization which has abstracted different groups of phenomena. It has afforded a point of view by which all the social sciences have been consciously or unconsciously influenced.

Of late sociology has given less heed to vague general consideration of society as a whole, and has come to closer quarters with certain phenomena of association - especially those of social psychology. The struggle-group as molded by conflict has received attention. The mental unity and processes of the group have been studied. The theory as to the relation of the individual to society has been reviewed and radically modified. Environment is thought of as exercising, not an immediate, but a complex

a and indirect, influence on society. Vague concepts of secular progress have yielded to a more careful study of the conditions and laws of order and change. Finally, sociology is seeking to add to its service as a philosophy the contributions of a science which shall formulate valid laws as to the universal principles that underlie the phenomena of association.54

GEORGE E. VINCENT. THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO. 63 Barth, loc. cit., pp. 10-13.

04 CALDWELL's statement may he quoted here : “ The sociology of today is partly a philosophical theory, partly a science, and partly a gospel about the tendencies of what is called social evolution; it is a theory of the nature and development of the organization that is called society, of the manifestations in the actions of men of the principles of association."-- Loc. cit.


To set forth in a brief paper the fundamental conceptions of any modern science is a difficult task. The difficulty increases as we pass from the relatively simple sciences that have to do with inorganic matter, to the highly complex sciences of life and of mind. And when we come to the phenomena presented by aggregations of living beings — phenomena of the interaction of mind with mind, phenomena of the concerted activity of many individuals working out together a common destiny — we have a subject for scientific study too many-sided, too intricate, for description in a few comprehensive phrases, and the scientific study itself arrives at fundamental conceptions only after a long and extensive process of elimination. Fundamental conceptions in such a field are necessarily general truths, expressing the relations that endless facts of detail bear to one another, or to underlying groupings, processes, or causes. A brief account, therefore, of the fundamental conceptions of sociology, and of the methods available for the scientific study of society, must remorselessly exclude those concrete particulars that lend to our knowledge of collective life its pre-eminently real — its human

interest. It must be restricted to conceptions that are elemental, general, and in a degree abstract.

Conforming to this necessity, I shall group the fundamental conceptions of sociology in three divisions, namely: first, concepts of the subject matter of sociological study, that is to say, of society; second, concepts pertaining to the analysis and classification of social facts, and incidentally to the corresponding subdivisions of sociological science; third, concepts of the chief processes entering into social evolution, and of the inferred causes.

The word “society” has three legitimate significations. The

* An address delivered at the International Congress of Arts and Science, Department of Sociology, September, 1904.


first is that of the Latin word societas, meaning companionship,” “good-fellowship,” "pleasurable consorting together," or meaning the individuals collectively regarded that consort. Examples of society in this original sense are afforded by the commingling of familiar spirits at the tavern or the club, the casual association of chance acquaintances at the summer resort, the numberless more formal functions” of “the season. the second signification of the word, “society” is a group of individuals co-operating for the achievement of any object of common interest or utility, as, for example, a. merchant guild, an industrial corporation, a church, a Congress of Arts and Science. Finally, in the third signification of the word, "society” is a group of individuals dwelling together and sharing many interests of life in common. A nest of ants, a savage horde, a confederation of barbarian tribes, a hamlet or village, a citystate, a national state, a federal empire — all these are societies within the third and comprehensive definition of the term. A

A scientific conception of society must lie within the boundaries fixed by these three familiar meanings, but it must seize upon and make explicit the essential fact, whatever it may be, that is a common element in all social relations.

At the present time we find in sociological literature two competing conceptions of the essential nature of society. They are known respectively as the organic and the psychological conception

The organic conception assumes that the group of individuals dwelling and working together is the true, or typical, society, and that it is as much a unity, although made up of individuals, as is the animal or the vegetable body, composed of cells and differentiated into mutually dependent tissues and organs. Sketched in bold outlines by Herbert Spencer in his essay on The Social Organism in 1860, the organic conception has been elaborated by Schäffle and Lilienfeld, and is today accepted as the working hypothesis of an able group of French sociologists, whose work appears in the proceedings of L'Institut international de Sociologie.

The psychological conception assumes that, whether or not

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