« PreviousContinue »
Hence, metaphysical investigation is necessary in order to be able truly to get at the interrelations which sociology has for its province; for those interactions are such only by reason of the inner nature of the things concerned.
Sociology deals with selves, and these, in turn, lead us to conceive of the social situation as an interplay of wills. 31 Now, if this is the case, then the ultimate term in sociological discussion is will. Taking the other side, metaphysical discussion leads to the outcome that interaction of things must be conceived of in terms of behavior; i. e., the expression of an inner, might we say, motivity or activity, after the analogy of the self. But since transeunt action is impossible, and some internal spring is demanded, this can be stated only in terms of will. And so in the metaphysical sphere our ultimate term is will. As to whether this will is blind, or conscious and intelligent, we are not called upon to discuss. But, that aside, we have reduced our two fields – viz., sociology and metaphysics — in the last analysis, to the same terms.
Now, having gotten to the same ground-principle — or, rather, our metaphysical investigation having brought us analytically to this fundamental term—it is its business to follow out this term or principle in its various manifestations. By this I mean: an adequate investigation cannot be content with analysis to an ultimate principle. The analysis, if not accompanied by any other process, will leave us with an abstraction; and so one must proceed to the verification of the result of the analysis by tracing the principle thus dissected into its phenomenal manifestations, and thereby making “eine weitere Erörterung.”
Applying this to the case at hand, our metaphysical analysis has brought us to a will-conception as ultimate. Just as physics, having gotten the conception of energy, proceeds to study energy in manifestation, and it is this latter that furnishes much of the subject-matter of the science -- always bearing in mind, however, that the original conception of energy must not be lost sight of, and that the subject-matter of the other part of the science is simply the working out of the principle — just so here. We have
81 BALDWIN, Social and Ethical Interpretations, 3d ed., p. 27.
gotten will as our ultimate principle; and when we find the principle most adequately manifested in conscious individuals and their activities, we find out that we are in the field of sociology, and have gotten there by undertaking a metaphysical investigation and not stopping at mere analysis, but by making it a complete and exhaustive investigation. In other words, we have followed out the principle of specification as well as that of homogeneity.
Now, taking the problem the other way, we can start with sociological facts and analyze them, and we find that the stages in the process will be: institutions, individuals; and that resolved further will give us the interaction of conscious wills; and so we have gotten to the principle which was found to be primary in the other method of considering the problem.
Does not the very nature of sociological investigation demand the point of view of appreciation rather than observation? Observation takes in mere cause-and-effect relations. But in sociological investigation these causes are, we have seen, of a different sort; for we cannot really understand social phenomena if we do not read our own individual experience into that of others.82 So that the contention is: by reason of its material, the point of view of observation unsupplemented as a method for sociology will not be adequate.
If you make your investigation entirely from the spectator's point of view, you will miss some of the richest elements in the content of sociological study. To get an adequate and explanatory notion of societary phenomena, a certain amount of appreciative penetration will be necessary. Now, if you go on the view of the indifference of subject and object, or the scientific method, then this cannot be included. The metaphysical method, however, demands community and fellowship; and so here the metaphysical method is more applicable than the purely scientific; and so the knowledge of sociology is metaphysical rather than physical.
The outer manifestations of society which the sociologist classifies of course belong to the world of description. But when we get to the real study of social phenomena, and want to get the inner springs of sociality — or, to speak in a physical analogy,
32 GIDDINGS, Elements of Sociology, pp. 341 ff.
the "energetics" of sociality — we must go to appreciation; for it seems to me that those motives or inner springs which lead to the interaction of conscious wills, and which are such an essential and self-expressive part of human life and activity, are beyond the sphere of description. They are part of our private selves, but are indispensable in the search for social causality.
Mr. Ward says that the subject-matter of sociology is human achievement;33 but what men do is, after all, their natures working themselves out; so that the explanation comes back to the selves of the individuals, and so is appreciative. 34 It is a getting behind phenomena; and this is practically what he says when he holds that in pure sociology the object pursued is the inner nature of society. 35 Now, the inner nature of society is, of course, the individuals.
Just so soon as society is more than a mere aggregate of individuals, just so soon as there is some organization, there must be some purpose or aim of which it is the fulfilment. Such an aim in the lower forms of organization can arise on entirely empirical grounds; but when the case of the higher forms comes up, purely empirical grounds will be found insufficient, and for explanation we must go back to the inner nature 36 of the individual in whom, potentially, this form has existed; and so we are again in appreciation.
In the sphere of what Mr. Ward calls “practical” sociology, or Dr. Stuckenberg “sociological ethics,” the judgment of value asserts itself very strongly. In the lower departments of pure sociology there was much classifying and generalizing, and so exact description; but here description becomes inexact and shades over into appreciation. This is, indeed, a very normal thought-process, similar to the shading of the judgment of truth into the judgment of value. In this side of the question, sociology takes in the possibilities of development, and so, on the basis of an
33 Pure Sociology, p. 15.
34 For detailed argument for an appreciative moment in the self see Part II of this article.
35 Op. cit., p. 4.
assumed ideal unity, efforts are made to approximate it. This is essentially a philosophical procedure.
Mr. Bosanquet says:
The point of view taken by M. Bernes (Revue de métaphysique et de morale, March, 1895) seems to recognize a double tendency in the body of science, such that the purely speculative — or, in our language, the indifferent - nature of mathematics finds its complement at the other extreme of the series in what for him is the practical spirit of sociology; the intermediate group of the natural sciences being, as I understand him, the chief meetingground of these two tendencies, neither of which can be wholly absent in any scientific endeavor. It is a detail of terminology that M. Bernes's phrase “practical" seems to me to approach in actual significance the philosophical expression “speculative.” It means, I read him, not the spirit of an art devoted to immediate action, but rather the spirit of a philosophy which divines, through the will no less than through the intellect, the impulse and the indications of a partially unrealized unity in the world which demands realization." Mr. Bosanquet here adds that, if sociology admits the validity of such an impulse, and applies itself to the discovery of laws and forces which shall be capable of doing justice to this treatment, then a greater part of the distinction between it and philosophy will be done away.
After saying that the role of mere observer of facts is always a humble one, and that the really living element in the sciences is what the mind puts into the observation and which is not the object of observation, Mr. Mackenzie says:
And if this is the case even with regard to those sciences which are directed most entirely to phenomena that are capable of being externally perceived, it must hold to a much greater extent when the object is not any collection of facts, but rather a stream of tendency and aspiration. And when to this is added that we who observe the stream are ourselves a portion of it, and that our modifications of it may become a factor in the inodification of its course, it becomes clear that a purely empirical study of society, however useful and even indispensable it may be as an adjunct to other inquiries, cannot of itself be made a satisfactory basis for a philosophy of life.38 When he uses the term “philosophy of life,” he seems to mean about the same thing that Messrs. Ward, Giddings, and Small mean when they talk of sociology -- meaning an explanation of societary phenomena. 37 Mind, N. S., Vol. VI, p. 4.
88 Op. cit., p. 13.
Mr. Ward argues for a wide perspective on the part of the sociologist, since the case is analogous to that of a mountain viewed from a distance, which is an exquisite piece of symmetry, but when we are climbing it we see nothing but underbrush and fallen logs. What the sociologist wants to and must do is to view societary phenomena as a unity, so as to see the great uniformities and progressions in it. These he cannot see unless he has a wide perspective. Now, it seems to me that philosophy does just this. To inquire into the particular processes and phenomena is the province of the special physical sciences, just in the same way as the investigation of particular societary phenomena is the province of the special social sciences. Just so, as philosophy goes beyond the special sciences and looks into the general movements of things — i. e., the unity and general teleological flow of things — so does sociology go beyond the particular social facts and views the association of individuals in its great relationships and trends of development. Now, it might be said: “Well enough, but you have not gotten beyond Spencer's notion of the unification of the sciences, and so where is your appreciative method ?”' And so we shall have to examine the nature of the concept of unity which sociology so confidently uses.
Unity is a principle which is felt rather than described. We can cognize identity, but unity must be conceived of after the analogy of the subject; though you might cognitively have a sort of collocation which might pass for unity. When you have unity you have the notion of an organism, and that is what Mr. Ward is advocating. Unity is not altogether appreciative, but largely so, and its essential nature is appreciative. When he says that this unity is gotten by generalization, he does not mean exactly what is ordinarily meant by the term.
As intelligence develops, the ability to generalize increases, and the stage is at length reached at which the mind sees much that the senses cannot apprehend. With the progress of science, this power is enormously enhanced and the true interpretation of nature begins. So Now, this true interpretation of nature must be philosophy.
The ordinary events of life go unnoticed, but there are certain events that are popularly regarded as extraordinary, notwithstanding the fact that
39 WARD, Pure Sociology, p. 52.