Imagens das páginas

that even in the development of custom, consciously calculating action, though it may be only of a few people at a time, plays a great part. The deliberating action of the members of a modern political majority is only the extension of the deliberating action which was in early societies confined to the few, and the results of which were passed on to the more passive part of the community by means of imitation. The institution on the basis of which the modern majority acts, is similarly only the outcome of a customary formation. A deliberately produced formation, such as a law, has, it is true, usually a sharply defined beginning and end, and in so far differs from the customary formation; but, on the other hand, its character is seen frequently to approximate that of the latter, inasmuch as its results are often far different from what had been planned by those who took part in its creation.

This is not the place to carry out in detail these considerations; but it has been made sufficiently clear how such changes in form of the social interactions and relationships of men must be explained. The elements of explanation must all be based on the characteristics of the minds of individual men. Individuals acting with reference to their total environment, their knowledge of men, and nature, and social organization, furnish us the materials from which we can build up the genetic interpretation of society. Not that the student of society aims primarily to determine how these changes of character in the individual are produced. That is clearly the affair of the psychologist. The sociologist assumes rather such changes as facts through the aid of which he will be enabled to explain the changing character of social life.*

* These considerations make it clear why it is that the emphasis throughout this paper has been on the importance of the individual man's characteristics for the understanding of society, rather than vice versa. The whole of the phenomena which we have had under discussion could have been approached equally well from the other point of view, in which the centre of interest is the individual, and society is considered only in so far as it is an important part of the environment affecting its growth. Such a point of view is however taken, as has already been said, rather by the psychologist and the moralist, than by the student of society.

Let us pass now to an equally brief consideration of the elements of investigation as they are combined for the explanation of some of the static problems of society.

Static theories are conceivable which concern themselves with almost any social formation and in almost any stage of society. Besides theories of the development of language and the marriage institution, of the state and of legal enactments, we may have theories of the processes that go on in any given society between the different individuals acting with reference to the given formation. So a theory of thought and its communication between individuals recognizing the same language-formation is possible. The static theory of marriage would trace the effects of the existence of the marriage laws and customs on the actions of individuals, both married and unmarried, taking into account at the same time the physiological characteristics of the individuals and the climatic conditions under which they lived, and also the existence of the other social formations of the same society.

Undoubtedly the most important static theories are those of modern industrial activities. They have concern with the relationships of men, acting partially under the influence of custom, partially by means of careful calculations of increments of pleasure and pain; these actions taking place under definite geographical and climatic conditions, and with reference to definite industrial formations. Some of these formations have been already enumerated. They include organized markets, credit, currency and banking systems, exchange and the transportation system, and business law. In addition to these and many other strictly industrial formations, the wide extent and complexity of our economic activities require us to take into account nearly all of the more important social formations. It is sufficiently evident how much a man's industrial life is affected by the existence of the state, even where it does not primarily conserve economic ends; or by his desire to found a family or to conform to some class spirit or to some demand of fashion or of his

"set" in society, simply for social reasons and where the practice itself has no attraction for him.

It is evident that theories built up from these elements will have validity only in the specific societies or countries in which the particular premises used are found. They will make no pretence of "perpetualism" or "cosmopolitanism." No theories of political economy, however general or universal they may have claimed to be, have been constructed without reference to specific industrial formations. The "absolutism" can consist only in choosing as premises such formations as are common to as many societies as possible; and in so doing the theory evidently moves far away from the actual conditions of any one society.

The phenomena of market values furnish material for one of the main static theories of industrial society. The theories advanced in their explanation base, in accordance with what has just been said, on the existent industrial formations. Each industrial member of society takes these formations consciously into account, especially when he seeks to change or better his condition, and he determines his action with reference to them. The specific wants of the community can be estimated by the business man and taken into account in much the same way.

On the side of the consumer, the goods he desires are determined partly by custom, partly by his conscious estimation of utilities; these factors both being modified to some extent by the amount he is able to expend. On the side of the entrepreneur, conscious calculations have largely replaced customary production. The probable wants of the consumers are estimated in connection with the possibilities of supply under the given physical condition of the territory, and in connection with the probable supply from other producers of the same good. On the side of the laborers custom and calculation play very unequal parts in the different countries and in the different branches of production. While custom leads to a condition in which many individuals can

be lumped together, so to speak, and treated as a whole for the purpose in hand, calculation leads more often to similar types of action in many individuals, and so results in competition. How ever far freedom of competition may have advanced in modern society, it is very clear that a very great part of the activities of men in society still rests on custom, as well in the industrial field as in other departments of social life, and that the conscious calculus of pleasures and pains is by no means the only thing to consider in the interpretation of these activities.

It is by these elements as above described, combined with many other less important ones which cannot be mentioned here, that market valuations and prices are produced in the advanced modern society.*

All the illustrations of the synthesis of the different social elements, which have thus far been given, deal, it will be noticed, with the phenomena that take place inside of a social group. It remains to indicate that even in the interactions between different groups it is by no means necessary to make the groups themselves the units of investigation. Similar conditions excited in different individuals under the same stimulus from members of another group, imitation of these feelings through sympathy, and the transfer of them to children and newcomers are sufficient to account for the apparent action of the group as a unit. Impulse and custom and calculation on the part of individuals are the true elements, not groups of men. The same elements are sufficient to explain a popular uprising in a large modern state; or the declaration of war by one state upon another. In this last

*This does not do violence to the fact that in many parts of the world prices are still themselves matters of direct custom, in which case their discussion would fall under the problems which we have called genetic rather than under the static problems. It is necessary to point out again that this distinction of static and genetic problems is purely one of convenience, and that from a broader point of view all determinations of market values, implying, as they do, changes in the opinions of individuals, have a certain dynamic character. From this point of view all prices determined under the sway of free competition, however fluctuating they be, are themselves, as long as they last, true social formations.

case, the process consists in the creation of common opinion among the populace by imitation and reflection on the part of individuals, and the conscious deliberation by the members of the government with reference both to this public opinion and to the foreign offending society.

We see then that in all departments of social life the main elements to be considered are the actions of men in accordance with custom and those which depend on deliberate calculation. The latter must have, to a great extent, conscious reference to the objectified customs and institutions of the society in which the individual is placed, in short, to social formations. These formations are on the one side social products to be explained; on the other as part of the content of knowledge of the individual, they are themselves elements of further progress. Taken in the former way, we may have for each one a genetic theory, an explanation of its development. Wherever taken consciously into account by the individual and where the phenomena are important, static theories of them are necessary in the sense defined above. From either point of view, by means of the formation or of a group of formations, we are able to mark out a distinct field for a separate social science. Such a science will not be an abstract science of the nature of the pure economics, about which much has been said recently; nor on the other hand will it be merely a descriptive science of social products. It will be in the fullest sense explanatory through a synthesis of the social elements which are grounded ultimately in psychology. It is only through the combined results of many such sciences that we will succeed in advancing on the one side to a better art of social control, on the other, to a more perfect social philosophy; two goals which are in truth much the same, looking but the opposite ways along the stream of time.

Johns Hopkins University.


« AnteriorContinuar »