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- Sociology and Modern Social Problems - 2/45 -


life rather than _vice versa_. Industry, for example, is one side or aspect of man's social life, and must not be mistaken for society itself. Industry, government, religion, education, art, and the like, are all products of the social life of man. Among these co÷rdinate expressions of collective human life, industry, being concerned with the satisfying of the material needs of men, is perhaps fundamental to the rest. But this must not lead to the mistaken view that the social life of man can be interpreted completely through his industrial life; for, as has just been said, beneath industry and all other aspects of man's collective life lies the biological and psychological fact of association. This is equivalent to saying that industry itself must be interpreted in terms of the biology and psychology of human association. In other words, industrial problems, political problems, educational problems, and the like must be viewed from the collective or social standpoint rather than simply as detached problems by themselves. We must understand the biological and psychological aspects of man's social life before we can understand its special phases.

The Origin of Society.--From the definition of society that we have given it is evident that society is something which springs from the very processes of life itself. It is not something which has been invented or planned by individuals. Life, in its higher forms at least, could not exist without association. From the very beginning the association of the sexes has been necessary for reproduction and for the care and rearing of offspring, and it has been not less necessary for the procuring of an adequate food supply and for protection against enemies. From the association necessary for reproduction has sprung family life and all the altruistic institutions of human society, while from the association for providing food supply have sprung society's industrial institutions. Neither society nor industry, therefore, has had a premeditated, reflective origin, but both have sprung up spontaneously from the needs of life and both have developed down to the present time at least with but little premeditated guidance. It is necessary that the student should understand at the outset that social organization is not a fabrication of the human intellect to any great degree, and the old idea that individuals who existed independently of society came together and deliberately planned a certain type of social organization is utterly without scientific validity. The individual and society are correlatives. We have no knowledge of individuals apart from society or society apart from individuals. What we do know is that human life everywhere is a collective or associated life, the individual being on the one hand largely an expression of the social life surrounding him and on the other hand society being largely an expression of individual character. The reasons for these assertions will appear later as we develop our subject.

What is Sociology?--The science which deals with human association, its origin, development, forms, and functions, is sociology. Briefly, sociology is a science which deals with society as a whole and not with its separate aspects or phases. It attempts to formulate the laws or principles which govern social organization and social evolution. This means that the main problems of sociology are those of the organization of society on the one hand and the evolution of society on the other. These words, _organization_ and _evolution_, however, are used in a broader sense in sociology than they are generally used. By organization we mean any relation of the parts of society to each other. By evolution we mean, not necessarily change for the better, but orderly change of any sort. Sociology is, therefore, a science which deals with the laws or principles of social organization and of social change. Put in more exact terms this makes sociology, as we said at the beginning, the science of the origin, development, structure, and function of the forms of association. We may pass over very rapidly certain faulty conceptions of sociology. The first of these is that it is the study of social evils and their remedies. This conception is faulty because it makes sociology deal primarily with the abnormal rather than the normal conditions in society, and secondly, it is to be criticized because it makes sociology synonymous with scientific philanthropy. It is rather the science of philanthropy, which is an applied science resting upon sociology, that studies social evils and their remedies. This is not saying, of course, that sociology does not consider social evils, but that it considers them as incidents in the normal processes of social evolution rather than as its special matter. A second conception of sociology which is to be dismissed as inadequate is the conception that it is the science of social phenomena. This conception is not incorrect, but is somewhat vague, as there are manifestly other sciences of social phenomena, such as economics and political science. Such a conception of sociology would make it include everything in human society. A third faulty conception is that it is the science of human institutions. This is faulty because it again is too narrow. An institution is a _sanctioned_ form of human association, while sociology deals with the ephemeral and unsanctioned forms, such as we see in the phenomena of mobs, crazes, fads, fashions, and crimes, as well as with the sanctioned forms. A fourth conception which might be criticized is that sociology is the science of social organization. This makes sociology deal with the laws or principles of the relations of individuals to one another, and of institutions to one another. It is to be criticized as faulty because it fails to emphasize the evolution of those relations. All science is now evolutionary in spirit and in method and believes that things cannot be understood except as they are understood in their genesis and development. It would, therefore, perhaps be more correct to define sociology as the science of the evolution of human interrelations than to define it simply as the science of social organization.

The Problems of Sociology.--The problems of sociology fall into two great classes; first, problems of the organization of society, and second, problems of the evolution of society. The problems of the organization of society are problems of the relations of individuals to one another and to institutions. Such problems are, for example, the influence of various elements in the physical environment upon the social organization; or, again, the influence of various elements in human nature upon the social order. These problems are, then, problems of society in a hypothetically stationary condition or at rest. For this reason Comte, the founder of modern sociology, called the division of sociology which deals with such problems _Social Statics_. But the problems which are of most interest and importance in sociology are those of social evolution. Under this head we have the problem of the origin of society in general and also of various forms of association. More important still are the problems of social progress and social retrogression; that is, the causes of the advancement of society to higher and more complex types of social organization and the causes of social decline. The former problem, social progress, is in a peculiar sense the central problem of sociology. The effort of theoretical sociology is to develop a scientific theory of social progress. The study of social evolution, then, that is, social changes of all sorts, as we have emphasized above, is the vital part of sociology; and it is manifest that only a general science of society like sociology is competent to deal with such a problem. Inasmuch as the problems of social evolution are problems of change, development, or movement in society, Comte proposed that this division of sociology be called _Social Dynamics_.

The Relations of Sociology to Other Sciences. [Footnote: For a fuller discussion of the relations of sociology to other sciences and to philosophy see my article on "Sociology: Its Problems and Its Relations" in the _American Journal of Sociology_ for November, 1907.]--(A) _Relations to Biology and Psychology._ In attempting to give a scientific view of social organization and social evolution, sociology has to depend upon the other natural sciences, particularly upon biology and psychology. It is manifest that sociology must depend upon biology, since biology is the general science of life, and human society is but part of the world of life in general. It is manifest also that sociology must depend upon psychology to explain the interactions between individuals because these interactions are for the most part interactions between their minds. Thus on the one hand all social phenomena are vital phenomena and on the other hand nearly all social phenomena are mental phenomena. Every social problem has, in other words, its psychological and its biological sides, and sociology is distinguished from biology and psychology only as a matter of convenience. The scientific division of labor necessitates that certain scientific workers concern themselves with certain problems. Now, the problems with which the biologist and the psychologist deal are not the problems of the organization and evolution of society. Hence, while the sociologist borrows his principles of interpretation from biology and psychology, he has his own distinctive problems, and it is this fact which makes sociology a distinct science.

Sociology is not so easily distinguished from the special social sciences like politics, economics, and others, as it is from the other general sciences. These sciences occupy the same field as sociology, that is, they have to do with social phenomena. But in general, as has already been pointed out, they are concerned chiefly with certain very special aspects or phases of the social life and not with its most general problems. If sociology, then, is dependent upon the other general sciences, particularly upon biology and psychology, it is obvious that its relation to the special sciences is the reverse, namely, these sciences are dependent upon sociology. This is only saying practically the same thing as was said above when we pointed out that industry, government, and religion are but expressions of human social life. In other words, sociology deals with the more general biological and psychological aspects of human association, while the special sciences of economics, politics, and the like, generally deal with certain products or highly specialized phases of society.

(B) _Relations to History._ [Footnote: For a discussion of the practical relations between the teaching of history and of sociology, see my paper on "How History can be taught from a Sociological Point of View," in Education for January, 1910.] A word may be said about the relation of sociology to another science which also deals with human society in a general way, and that is history. History is a concrete, descriptive science of society which attempts to construct a picture of the social past. Sociology, however, is an abstract, theoretical science of society concerned with the laws and principles which govern social organization and social change. In a sense, sociology is narrower than history inasmuch as it is an abstract science, and in another sense it is wider than history because it concerns itself not only with the social past but also with the social present. The facts of contemporary social life are indeed even more important to the sociologist than the facts of history, although it is impossible to construct a theory of social evolution without taking into full account all the facts available in human history, and in this sense history becomes one of the very important methods of sociology. Upon its evolutionary or dynamic side sociology may be considered a sort of philosophy of history; at least it attempts to give a scientific theory which will explain the social changes which history describes concretely.

(C) Relations to Economics. Economics is that special social science which deals with the wealth-getting and wealth-using activities of man. In other words, it is concerned with the commercial and industrial activities of man. As has already been implied, economics must be considered one of the most important of the special social sciences, if not the most important. Yet it is evident that the wealth-getting and wealth-using activities of man are strictly an outgrowth of his social life, and that economics as a science of human industry must rest upon sociology. Sometimes in the past the mistake has been made of supposing that economics dealt with the most fundamental social phenomena, and even at times economists have spoken of their science as alone sufficient to explain all social phenomena. It cannot be admitted, however, that we can explain social organization in general or social progress in terms of economic development. A theory of progress, for example, in which the sole causes of human progress were found in


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