Studies Class Struct Ils 121: Volume 20 (International Library of Sociology)
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Or, to take historical cases more nearly concerning ourselves—Who foresaw that the beliefs in purgatory and priestly intercession would cause one-half of England to lapse into the hands of the Church? Who could have imagined that robber-kings and bandit-barons, with vassals to match, would, generation after generation, have traversed all Europe through hardships and dangers to risk their lives in getting possession of the reputed burial place of one whose injunction was to turn the left cheek when the right was smitten? Or who, again, would have anticipated that when, in Jerusalem, this same teacher disclaimed political aims, and repudiated political instrumentalities, the professed successors of his disciples would by and by become rulers dominating over all the kings of Europe?
Look where we will at the genesis of social phenomena, we shall similarly find that while the particular ends contemplated and arranged for have commonly not been more than temporarily attained if attained at all, the changes actually brought about have arisen from causes of which the very existence was unknown. How, indeed, can any man, and how more especially can any man of scientific culture, think that special results of special political acts can be calculated, when he contemplates the incalculable complexity of the influences under which each individual, Edition: Every one who watches closely the course of things, must have observed that at a single meal he may take in bread made from Russian wheat, beef from Scotland, potatoes from the midland counties, sugar from the Mauritius, salt from Cheshire, pepper from Jamaica, curry-powder from India, wine from France or Germany, currants from Greece, oranges from Spain, as well as various spices and condiments from other places; and if he considers whence came the draught of water he swallows, tracing it back from the reservoir through the stream and the brook and the rill, to the separate rain-drops which fell wide apart, and these again to the eddying vapours which had been mingling and parting in endless ways as they drifted over the Atlantic, he sees that this single mouthful of water contains molecules which, a little time ago, were dispersed over hundreds of square miles of ocean swell.
And what thus holds of the substance of the body, holds no less of the influences, physical and moral, which modify its actions.
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You break your tooth with a small pebble among the currants, because the industrial organization in Zante is so imperfect. A derangement of your digestion goes back for its cause to the bungling management in a vineyard on the Rhine several years ago; or to the dishonesty of the merchants at Cette, where imitation wines are produced. If from these remote causes you turn to causes at home, you find that your doings are controlled by a plexus of influences too Edition: Your hours of business are pre-determined by the general habits of the community, which have been slowly established no one knows how.
Your meals have to be taken at intervals which do not suit your health; but under existing social arrangements you must submit. Such intercourse with friends as you can get, is at hours and under regulations which everybody adopts, but for which nobody is responsible; and you have to yield to a ceremonial which substitutes trouble for pleasure. Your opinions, political and religious, are ready moulded for you; and unless your individuality is very decided, your social surroundings will prove too strong for it.
Nay, even such an insignificant event as the coming-of-age of grouse affects your goings and comings throughout life. For has not the dissolution of Parliament direct reference to the 12th of August? If from co-existing influences we turn to influences that have been working through past time, the same general truth becomes still more conspicuous.
Ask how it happens that men in England do not work every seventh day, and you have to seek through thousands of past years to find the initial cause. Ask why in England, and still more in Scotland, there is not only a cessation from work, which the creed interdicts, but also a cessation from amusement, which it does not interdict; and for an explanation you must go back to successive waves of ascetic fanaticism in generations long dead.
And what thus holds of religious ideas and usages, holds of all others, political and social. Even the industrial activities are often permanently turned out of their normal directions by social states that passed away many ages ago: The extreme complexity of social actions, and the transcendent difficulty which hence arises of counting on special results, will be still better seen if we enumerate the factors which determine one simple phenomenon, as the price of a commodity,—say, cotton.
A manufacturer of calicoes has to decide whether he will increase his stock of raw material at its current price. Before doing this, he must ascertain, as well as he can, the following data: Having formed some idea of the probable demand for calico, he has to ask what other manufacturers have done, and are doing, as buyers of cotton—whether they have been waiting for the price to fall, or have been buying in anticipation of a rise. The stocks and prices at New Orleans, and at other cotton-ports throughout the world, have also to be taken note of; and then there come questions respecting forthcoming crops in the Southern States, in India, in Egypt, and elsewhere.
Here are sufficiently-numerous factors, but these are by no means all. The consumption of calico, and therefore the consumption of cotton, and therefore the price of cotton, depends in part on the supplies and prices of other textile fabrics. If, as happened during the American Civil War, calico rises in price because its raw material becomes scarce, linen comes into more general use, and so a further rise in price is checked.
Woollen fabrics, also, may to some extent compete. And, besides the competition caused by relative prices, there is the competition caused by fashion, which may or may not presently Edition: Surely the factors are now all enumerated? There is the estimation of mercantile opinion. The views of buyers and sellers respecting future prices, never more than approximations to the truth, often diverge from it very widely. Waves of opinion, now in excess now in defect of the fact, rise and fall daily, and larger ones weekly and monthly, tending, every now and then, to run into mania or panic; for it is among men of business as among other men, that they stand hesitating until some one sets the example, and then rush all one way, like a flock of sheep after a leader.
These characteristics in human nature, leading to these perturbations, the far-seeing buyer takes into account—judging how far existing influences have made opinion deviate from the truth, and how far impending influences are likely to do it. Nor has he got to the end of the matter even when he has considered all these things. He has still to ask what are the general mercantile conditions of the country, and what the immediate future of the money market will be; since the course of speculation in every commodity must be affected by the rate of discount.
See, then, the enormous complication of causes which determine so simple a thing as the rise or fall of a farthing per pound in cotton some months hence! If the genesis of social phenomena is so involved in cases like this, where the effect produced has no concrete persistence but very soon dissipates, judge what it must be where there is produced something which continues thereafter to be an increasing agency, capable of self-propagation. Not only has a society as a whole a power of growth and development, but each institution set up in it has the like—draws to itself units of the society and nutriment for them, and tends ever to multiply and ramify.
Indeed, the instinct of self-preservation in each institution soon becomes dominant over everything else; and maintains it when it performs some quite other function than that intended, or no function at all. To such considerations as these, set down to show the inconsistency of those who think that prevision of social phenomena is possible without much study, though much study is needed for prevision of other phenomena, it will doubtless be replied that time does not allow of systematic inquiry.
From the scientific, as from the unscientific, there will come the plea that, in his capacity of citizen, each man has to act—must vote, and must decide before he votes—must conclude to the best of his ability on such information as he has. In this plea there is some truth, mingled with a good deal more that looks like truth. An amiable anxiety to undo or neutralize an evil, often prompts to rash courses, as you may see in the hurry with which one who has fallen is snatched up by those at hand; just as though there were danger in letting him lie, which there is not, and no danger in incautiously raising him, which there is.
Always you find among people in proportion as they are ignorant, a belief in specifics, and a great confidence in pressing the adoption of them. Has some one a pain in the side, or in the chest, or in the bowels? Then, before any careful inquiry as to its probable cause, there comes an urgent recommendation of a never-failing remedy, joined probably with the remark that if it does no good it can do no harm. There still prevails in the average mind a large amount of the fetishistic conception clearly shown by a butler to some friends of mine, who, having been found to drain the half-emptied medicine-bottles, explained that he thought it a pity good physic should be wasted, and that what benefited his master would benefit him.
But as fast as crude conceptions of diseases and remedial measures grow up into Pathology and Therapeutics, we find increasing caution, along with increasing proof that evil is often Edition: This contrast is traceable not only as we pass from popular ignorance to professional knowledge, but as we pass from the smaller professional knowledge of early times to the greater professional knowledge of our own. The question with the modern physician is not as with the ancient—shall the treatment be blood-letting?
But there rises the previous question—shall there be any treatment beyond a wholesome regimen? Is it not possible, then—is it not even probable, that this supposed necessity for immediate action, which is put in as an excuse for drawing quick conclusions from few data, is the concomitant of deficient knowledge? Is it not probable that as in Biology so in Sociology, the accumulation of more facts, the more critical comparison of them, and the drawing of conclusions on scientific methods, will be accompanied by increasing doubt about the benefits to be secured, and increasing fear of the mischiefs which may be worked?
Such a consciousness, to be anticipated from increased knowledge, will diminish the force of this plea for prompt decision after little inquiry; since it will check this tendency to think of a remedial measure as one that may do good and cannot do harm. Nay more, the study of Sociology, scientifically carried on by tracing back proximate causes to remote ones, and tracing down primary effects to secondary and tertiary effects which multiply as they diffuse, will dissipate the current illusion that social evils Edition: Given an average defect of nature among the units of a society, and no skilful manipulation of them will prevent that defect from producing its equivalent of bad results.
It is possible to change the form of these bad results; it is possible to change the places at which they are manifested; but it is not possible to get rid of them. The belief that faulty character can so organize itself socially, as to get out of itself a conduct which is not proportionately faulty, is an utterly-baseless belief. You may alter the incidence of the mischief, but the amount of it must inevitably be borne somewhere. Where the evil does not, as in cases like these, reappear in another place or form, it is necessarily felt in the shape of a diffused privation.
For suppose that by some official instrumentality you actually suppress an evil, instead of thrusting it from one spot into another—suppose you thus successfully deal with a number of such evils by a number of such instrumentalities; do you think these evils have disappeared absolutely?
To see that they have not, you have but to ask—Whence comes the official apparatus? What defrays the cost of working it? Who supplies the necessaries of life to its members through all their gradations of rank? There is no other source but the labour of peasants and artizans. When, as in France, the administrative agencies occupy some , men, who are taken from industrial pursuits, and, with their families, supported in Edition: The already-tired labourer has to toil an additional hour; his wife has to help in the fields as well as to suckle her infant; his children are still more scantily fed than they would otherwise be; and beyond a decreased share of returns from increased labour, there is a diminished time and energy for such small enjoyments as the life, pitiable at the best, permits.
How, then, can it be supposed that the evils have been extinguished or escaped? The repressive action has had its corresponding reaction; and instead of intenser miseries here and there, or now and then, you have got a misery that is constant and universal. There is ample reason to believe that in proportion as scientific men carry into this most-involved class of phenomena, the methods they have successfully adopted with other classes, they will perceive that, even less in this class than in other classes, are conclusions to be drawn and action to be taken without prolonged and critical investigation.
Still there will recur the same plea under other forms. We must, therefore, guide ourselves by common sense as best we may. And then, behind the more scientifically-minded who give this answer, there are those who hold, tacitly or overtly, that guidance Edition: They do not believe in any ascertainable order among social phenomena—there is no such thing as a social science.
This proposition we will discuss in the next chapter. Almost every autumn may be heard the remark that a hard winter is coming, for that the hips and haws are abundant: Interpretations of this kind, tacit or avowed, prevail widely. Not many weeks since, one who had received the usual amount of culture said in my hearing, that the swarm of lady-birds which overspread the country some summers ago, had been providentially designed to save the crop of hops from the destroying aphides. Of course this theory of the divine government, here applied to occurrences bearing but indirectly, if at all, on human welfare, is applied with still greater confidence to occurrences that directly affect us, individually and socially.
It is a theory carried out with logical consistency by the Methodist who, before going on a journey or removing to another house, opens his Bible, and in the first passage his eye rests upon, finds an intimation of approval or disapproval from heaven. And in its political applications it yields such appropriate beliefs as that the welfare of England in comparison with Continental States, has been a reward for better observance of the Sunday, or that an invasion of cholera was consequent on the omission of Dei gratia from an issue of coins.
The interpretation of historical events in general after this same method, accompanies such interpretations of ordinary passing Edition: Those to whom the natural genesis of simpler phenomena has been made manifest by increasing knowledge, still believe in the supernatural genesis of phenomena that are very much involved, and cannot have their causes readily traced. Thus, for example, Mr. The late catastrophes on the Continent are similarly explained by a French writer who, like the English writer just quoted, professes to have looked behind the veil of things; and who tells us what have been the intentions of God in chastising his chosen people, the French.
For it is to be observed in passing that, just as the evangelicals among ourselves think we are Edition: Conceptions of this kind are not limited to historians whose names have dropped out of remembrance, and to men who, while the drama of contemporary revolution is going on, play the part of a Greek chorus, telling the world of spectators what has been Edition: Here are his words: If Trafalgar could not be won without the mind of a Nelson, or Waterloo without the mind of a Wellington, was there no one mind to lead those innumerable armies on whose success depended the future of the whole human race?
Did no one marshal them in that impregnable convex front, from the Euxine to the North Sea? No one guide them to the two great strategic centres of the Black Forest and Trieste? No one cause them, blind barbarians without maps or science, to follow those rules of war without which victory in a protracted struggle is impossible; and by the pressure of the Huns behind, force on their flagging myriads to an enterprise which their simplicity fancied at first beyond the powers of mortal men?
Believe it who will: I may be told that they gravitated into their places, as stones and mud do. They obeyed natural laws of course, as all things do on earth, when they obeyed the laws of war: But while I believe that not a stone or a handful of mud gravitates into its place without the will of God; that it was ordained, ages since, into what particular spot each grain of gold should be washed down from an Australian quartz reef, that a certain man might find it at a certain moment and crisis of his life;—if I be superstitious enough as, thank God, I am to hold that creed, shall I not believe that, though this great war had no general upon earth, it may have had a general in heaven?
It does not concern us here to seek a reconciliation of the incongruous ideas bracketed together in this paragraph—to ask how the results of gravitation, which acts with such uniformity that under given conditions its effect is calculable with certainty, can at the same time be regarded as the results of will, which we class apart because, as known by our experience, it is comparatively irregular; or to ask how, if the course of human affairs is divinely pre-determined just as material changes are, any distinction is to be drawn between that Edition: The Divine Strategist must have a skilful antagonist to make strategy possible.
So that we are inevitably introduced to the conception of a Cause of the Universe continually impeded by some independent cause which has to be out-generalled. It is not every one who would thank God for a belief, the implication of which is that God is obliged to overcome opposition by subtle devices. The disguises which piety puts on are, indeed, not unfrequently suggestive of that which some would describe by a quite opposite name.
To study the Universe as it is manifested to us; to ascertain by patient observation the order of the manifestations; to discover that the manifestations are connected with one another after a regular way in Time and Space; and, after repeated failures, to give up as futile the attempt to understand the Power Edition: And meanwhile the character of religious is claimed by those who figure to themselves a Creator moved by motives like their own; who conceive themselves as discovering his designs; and who even speak of him as though he laid plans to outwit the Devil!
This, however, by the way.
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The foregoing extracts and comments are intended to indicate the mental attitude of those for whom there can be no such thing as Sociology, properly so called. An allied class, equally unprepared to interpret sociological phenomena scientifically, is the class which sees in the course of civilization little else than a record of remarkable persons and their doings.
One who is conspicuous as the exponent of this view writes: Let us glance at the genesis of it. On a return from the war-path, the sagacity of the chief and the strength or courage of this or that warrior, are the all-absorbing themes. When the day, or the immediate past, affords no remarkable deed, the topic is the achievement of some noted leader lately dead, or some traditional founder of the tribe: Such narratives, concerning, as they do, the prosperity Edition: Savage life furnishes little else worthy of note; and the chronicles of tribes contain scarcely anything more to be remembered.
Early historic races show us the same thing. The Egyptian frescoes and the wall-sculptures of the Assyrians, represent the deeds of leading men; and inscriptions such as that on the Moabite stone, tell of nothing more than royal achievements: And similarly from the Greek epics, though we gather incidentally that there were towns, and war-vessels, and war-chariots, and sailors, and soldiers to be led and slain, yet the direct intention is to set forth the triumphs of Achilles, the prowess of Ajax, the wisdom of Ulysses, and the like.
The lessons given to every civilized child tacitly imply, like the traditions of the uncivilized and semi-civilized, that throughout the past of the human race, the doings of conspicuous persons have been the only things worthy of remembrance. How Abraham girded up his loins and gat him to this place or that; how Samuel conveyed divine injunctions which Saul disobeyed; how David recounted his adventures as a shepherd, and was reproached for his misdeeds as a king—these, and personalities akin to these, are the facts about which the juvenile reader of the Bible is interested and respecting which he is catechized: Nay, the like happens when the boy passes into the hands of his classical master, at home or elsewhere.
And the value of the knowledge is so ranked that while it would be a disgrace to be wrong about the amours of Zeus, and while inability to name the commander at Marathon would be discreditable, it is excusable to know nothing of the social condition that preceded Lycurugus or of the origin and functions of the Areopagus.
Thus the great-man-theory of History finds everywhere a ready-prepared conception—is, indeed, but the definite expression of that which is latent in the thoughts of the savage, tacitly asserted in all early traditions, and taught to every child by multitudinous illustrations. The glad acceptance it meets with has sundry more special causes. And when you Edition: In the second place, this great-man-theory commends itself as promising instruction along with amusement. What can be a more acceptable doctrine than that while you are satisfying an instinct not very remotely allied to that of the village gossip—while you are receiving through print instead of orally, remarkable facts concerning notable persons, you are gaining that knowledge which will make clear to you why things have happened thus or thus in the world, and will prepare you for forming a right opinion on each question coming before you as a citizen.
And then, in the third place, the interpretation of things thus given is so beautifully simple—seems so easy to comprehend. Just as that theory of the Solar System which supposes the planets to have been launched into their orbits by the hand of the Almighty; looks feasible so long as you do not insist on knowing exactly what is meant by the hand of the Almighty; and just as the special creation of plants and animals seems a tenable hypothesis until you try and picture to yourself definitely the process by which one of them is brought into existence; so the genesis of societies by the actions of great men, may be comfortably believed so long as, resting in general notions, you do not ask for particulars.
But now, if, dissatisfied with vagueness, we demand that our ideas shall be brought into focus and exactly defined, we discover the hypothesis to be utterly incoherent. If, not stopping at the explanation of social progress as due to the great man, we go back a step and ask whence comes the great man, we find that the theory breaks down completely. The question has two conceivable Edition: Is his origin supernatural? Then he is a deputy-god, and we have Theocracy once removed—or, rather, not removed at all; for we must then agree with Mr.
Is this an unacceptable solution? Then the origin of the great man is natural; and immediately this is recognized he must be classed with all other phenomena in the society that gave him birth, as a product of its antecedents. Along with the whole generation of which he forms a minute part—along with its institutions, language, knowledge, manners, and its multitudinous arts and appliances, he is a resultant of an enormous aggregate of forces that have been co-operating for ages. True, if you please to ignore all that common observation, verified by physiology, teaches—if you assume that two European parents may produce a Negro child, or that from woolly-haired prognathous Papuans may come a fair, straight-haired infant of Caucasian type—you may assume that the advent of the great man can occur anywhere and under any conditions.
If, disregarding those accumulated results of experience which current proverbs and the generalizations of psychologists alike express, you suppose that a Newton might be born in a Hottentot family, that a Milton might spring up among the Andamanese, that a Howard or a Clarkson might have Fiji parents, then you may proceed with facility to explain social progress as caused by the actions of the great man. But if all biological science, enforcing all popular belief, convinces you that by no possibility will an Aristotle come from a father and mother with facial angles of fifty degrees, and that out of a tribe of cannibals, whose chorus in preparation for a feast of human flesh is a kind of rhythmical roaring, there is not the remotest chance of a Beethoven arising; then you must admit that the genesis of the great man depends on the long series of complex Edition: If it be a fact that the great man may modify his nation in its structure and actions, it is also a fact that there must have been those antecedent modifications constituting national progress before he could be evolved.
Before he can re-make his society, his society must make him. So that all those changes of which he is the proximate initiator have their chief causes in the generations he descended from. If there is to be anything like a real explanation of these changes, it must be sought in that aggregate of conditions out of which both he and they have arisen. Even were we to grant the absurd supposition that the genesis of the great man does not depend on the antecedents furnished by the society he is born in, there would still be the quite-sufficient facts that he is powerless in the absence of the material and mental accumulations which his society inherits from the past, and that he is powerless in the absence of the co-existing population, character, intelligence, and social arrangements.
Given a Shakspeare, and what dramas could he have written without the multitudinous traditions of civilized life—without the various experiences which, descending to him from the past, gave wealth to his thought, and without the language which a hundred generations had developed and enriched by use? Suppose a Watt, with all his inventive power, living in a tribe ignorant of iron, or in a tribe that could get only as much iron as a fire blown by hand-bellows will smelt; or suppose him born among ourselves before lathes existed; what chance would there have been of the steam-engine?
Nay, the like questions may be put and have like answers, even if we limit ourselves to those classes of great men on whose doings hero-worshippers more particularly dwell—the rulers and generals.
Xenophon could not have achieved his celebrated feat had his Ten Thousand Edition: And, to take a recent instance, the strategical genius of Moltke would have triumphed in no great campaigns had there not been a nation of some forty millions to supply soldiers, and had not those soldiers been men of strong bodies, sturdy characters, obedient natures, and capable of carrying out orders intelligently.
Were any one to marvel over the potency of a grain of detonating powder, which explodes a cannon, propels the shell, and sinks a vessel hit—were he to enlarge on the transcendent virtues of this detonating powder, not mentioning the ignited charge, the shell, the cannon, and all that enormous aggregate of appliances by which these have severally been produced, detonating powder included; we should not regard his interpretation as very rational. But it would fairly compare in rationality with this interpretation of social phenomena which, dwelling on the important changes the great man works, ignores that vast pre-existing supply of latent power he unlocks, and that immeasurable accumulation of antecedents to which both he and this power are due.
Recognizing what truth there is in the great-man-theory, we may say that, if limited to early societies, the histories of which are histories of little else than endeavours to destroy or subjugate one another, it approximately expresses the fact in representing the capable leader as all-important; though even here it leaves out of sight too much the number and the quality of his followers. But its immense error lies in the assumption that what was once true is true for ever; and that a relation of ruler and ruled which was possible and good at one time is possible and good for all time.
Just as fast as this predatory activity of early tribes diminishes, just as fast as larger aggregates are formed by conquest or otherwise, just as fast as war ceases to be the business of the whole male population, so fast do societies Edition: And if you wish to understand these phenomena of social evolution, you will not do it though you should read yourself blind over the biographies of all the great rulers on record, down to Frederick the Greedy and Napoleon the Treacherous.
In addition to that passive denial of a Social Science implied by these two allied doctrines, one or other of which is held by nine men out of ten, there comes from some an active denial of it-either entire or partial. Reasons are given for the belief that no such thing is possible. The invalidity of these reasons can be shown only after the essential nature of Social Science, overlooked by those who give them, has been pointed out; and to point this out here would be to forestal the argument.
Some minor criticisms may, however, fitly precede the major criticism. Let us consider first the positions taken up by Mr. If it is free to a man to choose what he will do or not do, there is no adequate science of him. If there is a science of him, there is no free choice, and the praise or blame with which we regard one another are impertinent and out of place. It is in this marvellous power in men to do wrong Buckle would deliver himself from the eccentricities of this and that individual by a doctrine of averages Unfortunately the average of one generation need not be the average of the next There [in history] the phenomena never repeat themselves.
There no experiment is possible; we can watch for no recurring fact to test the worth of our conjectures. Froude changes the venue, and joins issue on the old battle-ground of free will versus necessity: Hence we are, in fact, carried back to that primitive form of interpretation contemplated at the outset. A further comment is, that because volitions of some kinds cannot be foreseen, Mr. Froude argues as though no volitions can be foreseen: If, in crossing a street, a man sees a carriage coming upon him, you may safely assert that, in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand, he will try to get out of the way.
If, being pressed to catch a train, he knows that by one route it is a mile to the station and by another two miles, you may conclude with considerable confidence that he will take the one-mile route; and should he be aware that losing the train will lose him a fortune, it is pretty certain that, if he has but ten minutes to do the mile in, he will either run or call a cab. If he can buy next door a commodity of daily consumption better and cheaper than at the other end of the town, we may affirm that, if he does not buy next door, some special relation between him and the remoter shop-keeper furnishes a strong reason for taking a worse commodity at greater cost of money and trouble.
Now, since the predominant activities of citizens are determined by motives of this degree of regularity, there must be resulting social phenomena that have corresponding degrees of regularity—greater degrees, indeed, since in them the effects of exceptional motives become lost in the effects of the aggregate of ordinary motives.
Another comment may be added. Froude exaggerates the antithesis he draws by using a conception of science which is too narrow: Scientific previsions, both qualitative and quantitative, have various degrees of definiteness; and because among certain classes of phenomena the previsions are approximate only, it is not, therefore, to be said that there is no science of those phenomena: Take, for example, Meteorology.
The Derby has been run in a snow-storm, and you may occasionally want a fire in July; but such anomalies do not prevent us from being perfectly certain that the coming summer will be warmer than the past winter. Our south-westerly gales in the autumn may come early or may come late, may be violent or moderate, at one time or at intervals; but that there will be an excess of wind from the south-west at that part of the year we may be sure.
The like holds with the relations of rain and dry weather to the quantity of water in the air and the weight of the atmospheric column: So that, even were there not among social phenomena more definite relations than these and the all-important ones are far more definite , there would still be a Social Science. Froude here touches on one of the great difficulties of the Social Science that social phenomena are in so considerable a degree different in each case from what they were in preceding cases , I still find a sufficient reply. For in no concrete science is there absolute repetition; and in some concrete sciences the repetition is no more specific than in Sociology.
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Even in the most exact of them, Astronomy, the combinations are never the same twice over: And on turning to Geology, we find that, though the processes of denudation, deposition, upheaval, subsidence, have been ever going on in conformity with laws more or less clearly generalized, the effects have been always new in their proportions and arrangements; though not so completely new as to forbid comparisons, consequent deductions, and approximate previsions based on them.
Were there no such replies as these to Mr. Against his professed theory may be set his actual practice, which, as it seems to me, tacitly asserts that explanations of some social phenomena in terms of cause and effect are possible, if not explanations of all social phenomena. Thus, respecting the Vagrancy Act of , which made a slave of a confirmed vagrant, Mr.
Justice and truth alone endure and live. Injustice and falsehood may be long-lived, but doomsday comes at last to them, in French revolutions and other terrible ways. So that we must not interpret Mr.
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Another writer who denies the possibility of a Social Science, or who, at any rate, admits it only as a science which has its relations of phenomena so traversed by providential influences that it does not come within the proper definition of a science, is Canon Kingsley. Even in the seemingly most uniform and universal law, where do we find the inevitable or the irresistible?
Is there not in nature a perpetual competition of law against law, force against force, producing the most endless and unexpected Edition: Cannot each law be interfered with at any moment by some other law, so that the first law, though it may struggle for the mastery, shall be for an indefinite time utterly defeated? The law of gravity is immutable enough: Certainly not, if I choose to catch one, and keep it in my hand.
It remains there by laws; and the law of gravity is there, too, making it feel heavy in my hand: So much for the inevitable action of the laws of gravity, as of others. Potentially, it is immutable; but actually, it can be conquered by other laws. This passage, severely criticized, if I remember rightly, when the address was originally published, it would be scarcely fair to quote were it not that Canon Kingsley has repeated it at a later date in his work, The Roman and the Teuton. The very unusual renderings of scientific ideas which it contains, need here be only enumerated.
He enunciates, too, a quite-exceptional view of gravitation. As conceived by astronomers and physicists, gravitation is a universal and ever-acting force , which portions of matter exercise on one another when at sensible distances; and the law of this force is that it varies directly as the mass and inversely as the square of the distance. Further, the theory of natural processes which Mr.
Kingsley has arrived at, seems to be that when two or more forces or laws, if he prefers it come into play, there is a partial or complete suspension of one by another. Whereas the doctrine held by men Edition: In an edition of Alton Locke published since the delivery of the address above quoted from, there is a new preface containing, among others, the following passages: Whenever any class has conceived the hope of being fairly represented, it is certain to fulfil its own hopes, unless it employs, or provokes, violence impossible in England.
The thing will be. And in a preface addressed to working men, contained in an earlier edition, he says: Which passages offer explanations of changes now gone by as having been wrought out by natural forces in conformity with natural laws, and also predictions of changes which natural forces at present in action will work out.
That is to say, by the help of generalized experiences there is an interpretation of past phenomena and a prevision of future phenomena. There is an implicit recognition of that Social Science which is explicitly denied. A reply to these criticisms may be imagined. In looking for whatever reconciliation is possible between these positions which seem so incongruous, we must suppose the intended assertion to be, that only general interpretations and previsions can be made, not those which are special.
Bearing in mind Mr. Similarly, Canon Kingsley, recognizing no less distinctly economical laws, and enunciating also certain laws of progress—nay, even warning his hearers against the belief that he denies the applicability of the inductive method to social phenomena,—must be assumed to think that the applicability of the inductive method is here but partial.
Citing the title of his address and some of its sentences, he may say they imply simply that there are limits to the explanation of social facts in precise ways; though this position does not seem really reconcilable with the doctrine that Edition: But, merely hinting these collateral criticisms, this reply is to be met by the demurrer that it is beside the question. If the sole thing meant is that sociological previsions can be approximate only—if the thing denied is the possibility of reducing Sociology to the form of an exact science; then the rejoinder is that the thing denied is a thing which no one has affirmed.
Only a moiety of science is exact science—only phenomena of certain orders have had their relations expressed quantitatively as well as qualitatively. Of the remaining orders there are some produced by factors so numerous and so hard to measure, that to develop our knowledge of their relations into the quantitative form will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
But these orders of phenomena are not therefore excluded from the conception of Science. In Geology, in Biology, in Psychology, most of the previsions are qualitative only; and where they are quantitative their quantitativeness, never quite definite, is mostly very indefinite. Nevertheless we unhesitatingly class these previsions as scientific. It is thus with Sociology.
The phenomena it presents, involved in a higher degree than all others, are less than all other, capable of precise treatment: But so far as there can be generalization, and so far as there can be interpretation based on it, so far there can be science. Whoever expresses political opinions—whoever asserts that such or such public arrangements will be beneficial or detrimental, tacitly expresses belief in a Social Science; for he asserts, by implication, that there is a natural sequence among social actions, and that as the sequence is natural, results may be foreseen.
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Reduced to a more concrete form, the case may be put thus: Froude and Canon Kingsley both believe to a considerable extent in the efficiency of legislation—probably to a greater extent than it is believed in by some of those who assert the Edition: To believe in the efficiency of legislation is to believe that certain prospective penalties or rewards will act as deterrents or incentives—will modify individual conduct, and therefore modify social action.
Though it may be impossible to say that a given law will produce a foreseen effect on a particular person, yet no doubt is felt that it will produce a foreseen effect on the mass of persons. Froude, when arguing against Mr. Froude himself so far believes in the doctrine of averages as to hold that legislative interdicts, with threats of death or imprisonment behind them, will restrain the great majority of men in ways which can be predicted.
While he contends that the results of individual will are incalculable, yet, by approving certain laws and condemning others, he tacitly affirms that the results of the aggregate of wills are calculable. And if this be asserted of the aggregate of wills as affected by legislation, it must be asserted of the aggregate of wills as affected by social influences at large. If it be held that the desire to avoid punishment will so act on the average of men as to produce an average foreseen result; then it must also be held that on the average of men, the desire to get the greatest return for labour, the desire to rise into a higher rank of life, the desire to gain applause, and so forth, will each of them produce a certain average result.
And to hold this is to hold that there can be prevision of social phenomena, and therefore Social Science. In brief, then, the alternative positions are these. On the one hand, if there is no natural causation throughout the actions of incorporated humanity, government and legislation are absurd. Acts of Parliament may, as well as not, be made to depend on the drawing of lots or the tossing of a coin; or, rather, there may as well be none at all: On the other hand, if there is natural causation, then the combination of forces by which every combination of effects is produced, produces that combination of effects in conformity with the laws of the forces.
And if so, it behoves us to use all diligence in ascertaining what the forces are, what are their laws, and what are the ways in which they co-operate. Such further elucidation as is possible will be gained by discussing the question to which we now address ourselves—the Nature of the Social Science. Along with a definite idea of this, will come a perception that the denial of a Social Science has arisen from the confusing of two essentially-different classes of phenomena which societies present—the one class, almost ignored by historians, constituting the subject-matter of Social Science, and the other class, almost exclusively occupying them, admitting of scientific co-ordination in a very small degree, if at all.
Out of bricks, well burnt, hard, and sharp-angled, lying in heaps by his side, the bricklayer builds, even without mortar, a wall of some height that has considerable stability. With bricks made of bad materials, irregularly burnt, warped, cracked, and many of them broken, he cannot build a dry wall of the same height and stability. The dockyard-labourer, piling cannon-shot, is totally unable to make these spherical masses stand at all as the bricks stand.
There are, indeed, certain definite shapes into which they may be piled-that of a tetrahedron, or that of a pyramid having a square base, or that of an elongated wedge allied to the pyramid. In any of these forms they may be put together symmetrically and stably; but not in forms with vertical sides or highly-inclined sides. Once more, if, instead of equal spherical shot, the masses to be piled are boulders, partially but irregularly rounded, and of various sizes, no definite stable form is possible. A loose heap, indefinite in its surface and angles, is all the labourer can make of them.
Putting which several facts together, and asking what is the most general truth they imply, we see it to be this—that the character of the aggregate is determined by the characters of the units. If we pass from units of these visible, tangible kinds, to the units contemplated by chemists and physicists as making up masses of matter, the same truth meets us. Each so-called element, Edition: Though its crystals differ in their sizes, and are liable to be modified by truncations of angles and apices, as well as by partial mergings into one another, yet the type of structure, as shown by cleavage, is constant: And though in some cases it happens that a substance, simple or compound, has two or even more forms of aggregation, yet the recognized interpretation is, that these different forms are the forms assumed by molecules made different in their structures by allotropic or isomeric changes.
So constant is the relation between the nature of any molecules and their mode of crystallizing, that, given two kinds of molecules which are known, from their chemical actions, to be closely allied in their natures, and it is inferred with certainty that their crystals will be closely allied. In brief, it may be unhesitatingly affirmed, as an outcome of physics and chemistry, that throughout all phenomena presented by dead matter, the natures of the units necessitate certain traits in the aggregates.
This truth is again exemplified by aggregates of living matter. In the substance of each species of plant or animal, there is a proclivity towards the structure which that plant or animal presents—a proclivity conclusively proved in cases where the conditions to the maintenance of life are sufficiently simple, and where the tissue has not assumed a structure too finished to permit re-arrangement. The perpetually-cited case of the polype, each part of which, when it is cut into several, presently puts on the polype-shape, and gains structures and powers like those of the original whole, illustrates this truth among animals.
Among plants it is well exemplified by the Begonias. Here a complete plant grows from a fragment of a leaf stuck in the ground; and, in Begonia phyllomaniaca , complete plants grow even out of scales that fall from the leaves and the stem—a fact showing, like the fact which the polype furnishes, that the units everywhere Edition: Thus, given the natures of the units, and the nature of the aggregate they form is pre-determined.
I say the nature , meaning, of course, the essential traits, and not including the incidental. By the characters of the units are necessitated certain limits within which the characters of the aggregate must fall. The circumstances attending aggregation greatly modify the results; but the truth here to be recognized is, that these circumstances, in some cases perhaps preventing aggregation altogether, in other cases impeding it, in other cases facilitating it more or less, can never give to the aggregate, characters that do not consist with the characters of the units.
No favouring conditions will give the labourer power to pile cannon-shot into a vertical wall; no favouring conditions will make it possible for common salt, which crystallizes on the regular system, to crystallize, like sulphate of soda, on the oblique prismatic system; no favouring conditions will enable the fragment of a polype to take on the structure of a mollusk. Among such social aggregates as inferior creatures fall into, more or less definitely, the same truth holds. Whether they live in a mere assemblage, or whether they live in something like an organized union with division of labour among its members, as happens in many cases, is unquestionably determined by the properties of the units.
Given the structures and consequent instincts of the individuals as we find them, and the community they form will inevitably present certain traits; and no community having such traits can be formed out of individuals having other structures and instincts. Those who have been brought up in the belief that there is one law for the rest of the Universe and another law for mankind, will doubtless be astonished by the proposal to include Edition: And yet that the properties of the units determine the properties of the whole they make up, evidently holds of societies as of other things.
A general survey of tribes and nations, past and present, shows clearly enough that it is so; and a brief consideration of the conditions shows, with no less clearness, that it must be so. Ignoring for the moment the special traits of races and individuals, observe the traits common to members of the species at large; and consider how these must affect their relations when associated. They have all needs for food, and have corresponding desires. English Choose a language for shopping. Explore the Home Gift Guide. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs.
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