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Biologic sociologists extend the field of psychology so far into the province of physiology that the distinction between psychic and vital forces is lost. Mr. Ward, for example, contrasts psychology with cosmology,* the one being a study of the mind and the other of the universe. The mind is then defined in a broad way which makes it include the brain and nervous system, thus making physiology a part of psychology. Before the rise of biology, however, psychology was used in a much narrower sense, and sharply contrasted with physiology. Mental science in this classification includes all the phenomena of consciousness just as physical science includes all the visible phenomena of the material world. Psychology was regarded as a branch of mental science, treating of the “uniformities of succession," in the terminology of J. S. Mill, or, in more general terms, treating of the relations which subsist between those states of minds usually called ideas and their causes. “All states of mind,” says Mill, "are immediately caused either by other states of mind or by states of body. When a state of mind is produced by a state of mind, I call the law concerned in the case, a law of mind. When a state of mind is produced directly by a state of body, the law is a law of body and belongs to physical science.” † The causes of sensations and the forces which produce them thus lie in the province of physiology. The subject matter of psychology is the relations existing between mental states. Psychic forces are the bonds which unite these mental states and cause them to succeed one another. Vital forces produce sensations, psychic forces determine the order and relation of ideas.
I do not care to justify this classification of mental phenomena. The important concepts will be recognized by every one even though other terms be used to designate them. Subjective phenomena (the realm of consciousness), the relations between ideas and those between sensations and * "Psychic Factors of Civilization.” p. 9. 1 Mill's "Logic." Book VI., Chap. IV.
certain states of body, are generally recognized as three different groups of phenomena. Mr. Ward does not, however, keep these differences clearly in mind. He uses the term “psychology" to designate the field of inquiry relating to the connection between bodily states and sensations, and calls those forces psychic" which unite sensations to bodily states.* This field, however, lies in the province of physiology and the forces in question are vital forces.
This peculiar use of terms affects Mr. Ward's reasoning in many ways. Starting from the premise that desire is a true natural force † he asserts that it is also a psychic force, and finally that it is a dynamic force, i. e., the cause of social progress. Desire, however, is a natural force only in as far as it is the cause of bodily movements. In this sense it is a vital force, for all relations between states of mind and states of body are due to vital forces. His argument, however, demands that desire should be the binding force, not between states of body and states of mind, but between different states of mind. In this way alone can it be the cause of mental activity, and thus indirectly the cause of social progress. Mr. Ward, however, proves no such connection between desire and mental progress. He seems to imply that by extending the use of the term “psychic" so as to include what other thinkers have regarded as vital forces and by subsuming what they have regarded as "psychic' under the more general class, he can predicate of this more general class what these thinkers predicated of the class of phenomena which they called “psychic.”
*"Psychic phenomena are the relations which subsist among the material molecules of the brain and nervous system and between these and the material objects of the outside world which appeal to them by means of actual mechanical contact." Ward's " Dynamic Sociology," vol. i., p. 408.
" Desire is the essential basis of all action, and hence is the true force in the sentient world; and consistency as well as truth requires us to predicate this equally of man and of all things lower in the scale of animal life..... The classification of the forces operating in the department of animated nature will then be equivalent to, and, in fact, the same thing as the classification of animal desires ; and, as what is true of all must be true of a part, this will likewise constitute a classification of the social forces." "Psychic Factors of Civilization," p. 116. *" The social forces in the sense in which they have been here spoken of are those influences which impel man to action. They are qualities residing in meu which determine and control their physical activities. They have their seat in the nervous system, and are what incline the body and limbs to move in any particular direction. We call them desires. They are the monitors which prompt us as to the demands of the system and propel us toward the object demanded. Now it is human activity which has exerted the great influence upon society that has resulted in making it what it is. It is action which has worked out human civilization.” “Psychic Factors of Civilization," p. 81.
This argument may be called the subjective argument, as it connects desire with social progress through mental development. There is, however, another argument more frequently used by Mr. Ward, which may be called the objective argument, because it connects desire with social progress through bodily activity. Desire, we are told, causes bodily activity.* Bodily activity creates social motion, and hence it is the cause of social progress. Desire and bodily activity, however, are equally prominent as phenomena of static as of a dynamic society. The desires (Mr. Ward's social forces) control the actions of individuals as fully in societies where there is no social progress as in societies which are truly dynamic. It cannot therefore be the desires alone which insure progress. It is rather the conditions determining the direction in which the desires act that promote progress. Or to put this argument in another way, the causes of social progress lie not in the subjective desires or in the bodily activity of the members of a society, but in the environment of the society. The utilization of the water of a river to drive a mill depends upon the peculiarities of the bed of the river. If the descent is uniform from its source to the mouth, the current cannot be utilized. If, however, the descent is at places rapid and elsewhere very slight, dams and mills are possible. The same considerations determine the progress of society. Human desires and individual activity can create social progress only when they operate under peculiar conditions. Both these forces may be wasted if the objective environment does not possess the conditions necessary to social progress. The activity of individuals may result only in eddies which prevent any onward movement of society as a whole.
It is not my purpose to follow Mr. Ward's arguments seriatim. The strength of his position does not lie in his particular arguments, but in his general attitude toward social questions and in his method of reasoning. We have to do not with an individual, but with a type of thinkers who have acquired a definite concept of the world, and a particular way of reasoning through their studies in other scientific fields, and who are applying the results of these investigations in their social studies. Whether these concepts and methods will be fruitful in the social sciences depends upon the validity as general propositions of the doctrines and methods used in these earlier studies. If they are particular propositions, true only of the concrete conditions in which they become known, it is a source of error to use them as premises in new studies in other sciences.
Mr. Ward, like many other thinkers of the present time, is primarily a biologist. The great scientific victories of the nineteenth century lie in the field of biology, just as those of the eighteenth century lay in the field of physics and astronomy. We are closing this century with as definite a bias in favor of biologic reasoning and analogy as the last century closed with a similar bias in favor of the method of reasoning used in physics and astronomy. The problems of the twentieth century lie plainly in the field of sociology and psychology. Does the mental attitude which the victories of biology have given to the present generation of thinkers promote or retard the development of these new sciences toward which the next generation of thinkers must direct their attention? It is such questions as these that the read ing of Mr. Ward's book suggests. The particular arguments are of minor importance if his general attitude toward social problems is correct.
I believe that the biologic bias creates erroneous notions of social phenomena, and stimulates activity along fruitless lines
of investigation. Moreover, I hold that the only entrance to sociology, and to psychology as well, lies through the economic studies which have already proved so fruitful of results in an adjacent field. The economic entrance to these sciences leads from the concrete to the abstract, while the biologic entrance leads from the abstract to the concrete. We are thus at the start face to face with the vital problem relating to the true method of investigation and discovery. In addition to this, the economic method starts from an inductive investigation of subjective phenomena. The mind furnishes directly many of the premises upon which the economist depends. They are his starting point and not his goal. By the biologist the mind is reached through biologic studies, and has its phenomena interpreted through its relation to biologic facts. The laws of mind are deductions from the laws of life, and the premises of social and of psychological studies are inferences from biologic facts and not inductions made through a direct investigation of mental phenomena. The biologic sociologist starts with a theory of mental life due entirely to studies in other sciences and having validity only on the supposition that social action is a mere complex of the forces active in the biologic and physical world.*
This line of thought is emphasized by Mr. Ward. It is assumed that protoplasm is not only the physical basis of life, but also the physical basis of mind. Mental processes are described in physiological or biological terms. It is regarded as unscientific to emphasize the mystery of the mind, since it is merely a property of the organized body. Nothing is explained, we are told, until it can be reduced to the movement of matter in some form. The psychic forces are ultimately reducible to a physical basis. They have their origin in the human body, and have a more or less definite local seat.
I have reproduced these ideas not with any thought of discussing them or their consequences but merely to get at *See, for example, the note on page 66.