Review of The Principles of Sociology by Franklin Giddings

Albion Small

THE appearance of this long promised book is an event of first-rate importance to American sociologists, and it calls for extended notice. Whatever Professor Giddings writes is sure to be read with attention and respect by a public that the ablest might count it an honor to address. This book will confirm its author's reputation as a strong and growing thinker. He will deserve this credit for the comprehensiveness of his plan of sociological survey, and, for his generous attempt to synthesize phenomena which are usually treated in isolation, rather than for the reliability of his book in detail, or for the conclusiveness of its reasoning, or for the logical coherence of its parts. A serious attempt to outline a system of sociological analysis and interpretation merits the gratitude of everybody who can appreciate the need of correct clues to social relations. Professor Giddings' effort deserves frank admiration even from those who are farthest from pronouncing the effort a success. That he has not accomplished what his programme promised does not prove that he has failed to make a contribution to sociology. It simply illustrates the inevitable. In the present state of knowledge the task which Professor Giddings undertook is superhuman, and he is only a man. While his book is by no means to be put in the same class with Ward's Dynamic Sociology it is safe and right to say that, with the single exception of Ward's path-breaking work, no book has yet appeared in the United States which will do more than this volume to promote the pursuit, define the problems, and perfect the method of sociological investigation. I offer this as a sincere tribute to the energy and devotion which the book represents. I hope the value of this recognition will be increased rather than diminished by the equal frankness of my qualifications and reservations. I do not find in the book much that is new, either in form or substance, which is likely to stand the test of criticism. Indeed, the parts which are most nearly the

( 289) author's own are least likely to maintain a permanent place in sociology. The book is bound however to provoke criticism that will clarify thought, and much improvement upon our present knowledge and system will result. It is a distinct service to have furnished the occasion for this needed critical work. Professor Giddings has had the courage of his convictions, and has submitted to the judgment of his peers the best proposal for correlation of social facts which he has been able to develop. He has thus, at all events, helped to advertise the need of a system of social interpretation. He has also stimulated interest in the invention of an adequate system. I am sure, however, that he will be among the first to outgrow satisfaction with the appearance of system which the present proposals contain.

As Professor Giddings is a thinker with whom one cannot disagree without serious risk of being found wrong, and as I most emphatically disagree with him at many cardinal points, I want to make it very plain in the beginning that radical difference of position is in spite of very high respect for his work in the past, and belief that he will presently improve upon the book now before us.

The volume consists of three easily distinguishable divisions: first, prolegomena upon methodology, Book I ; second, arrangement of a body of evidence, Books II—III ; third, general interpretation, Book IV. Without attempting to analyze the second and third of these divisions in detail, I shall discuss the book as a whole with reference to the outline of method in the first division. In a word my estimate of the entire system contained in the work is that it is an impossible combination of contradictions. There is apparent unity, but it is mechanical. That a real system may grow out of this first attempt, structural principles must be observed which will introduce correspondence in the place of essential incompatibilities.

The first of these anomalies in Giddings' scheme is that it is an entangling alliance between the art of pedagogy and the science of sociology. It is betrayed in such language as this:[1]

The sociology of the working sociologist, and of the university, will be a definite and concrete body of knowledge that can be presented in the class room and be worked over in the seminarium. These last conditions are crucial for the existence of the science ; for when sociology has as distinct a place in the working programme of the university as has political economy or psychology, its scientific claims will be beyond cavil. But that will be only when

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educated men have learned to conceive of sociology as distinctly and concretely as they conceive of other sciences. The word must instantly call to mind a particular class of phenomena and a definite group of coördinated problems.

This is among the many instances in Book I in which attempts to compose previously published essays into a consecutive argument result as usual with new patches and old garments. Prudential considerations about sociology as a university study have no place in a system of scientific methodology. Giddings does not properly distinguish between considerations calculated to win academic tolerance for the new science, and arguments with colaborers about the scope and method of the science. He is not sure whether he is more concerned with preparing a syllabus which will be a convenient guide to university lectures, or with the direct attempt to deepen and broaden scientific knowledge. The book is thus confused by the influence of two considerations which have no business together : (1) can sociology be so formulated that it can secure a foothold in the universities ? (2) is it possible so to perfect methods of studying association that pro-founder knowledge of society will result? The latter is the scientific question. It has been made subsidiary in Giddings' whole programme. The former is a question which the investigator, as such, has no occasion to raise. It is not his affair. Besides, to a man of scientific temper the question "Can sociology be studied in the university?" would seem to be sufficiently answered by the significant fact that it is studied there, and by the apparent impossibility of preventing extension of the study. Giddings has however unconsciously allowed the supposed demands of university pedagogy to dictate the form and substance of his sociology.[2] The tacit reasoning is :—Sociology must be a body of doctrine that can be comfortably taught in the universities. A definite system of premises and deductions is such a body of doctrine. Therefore a system of premises and deductions sociology shall be. This is a veritable parody of science. It is like making scientific endorsement of a proposed method of reaching the North Pole depend on the probable ability of Cook and Gaze to popularize the route with tourists.

When we read the book closely, therefore, we find several distinct questions hopelessly intertangled. Thus : (1) What sort of instruction belongs in a university ? (2) Can sociology lend itself to

( 291) that kind of service? (3) What is yet unknown about human associations ? (4) What method is indicated for increasing knowledge of this unknown ? With the investigator the third and fourth questions are paramount. With Giddings the first and second have been decisive.

It is far from my purpose to disparage the pedagogical interest, or to imply that it is beneath the consideration of scientific minds. I simply call attention to the fact that the pedagogical aim and method are quite distinct from the investigator's aim and method. It is not only permissible but commendable in a teacher to present to his students a syllabus of the most trustworthy conclusions which he can reach about the whole range of his- subject. It is right for the teacher, provided that he at the same time properly marks the provisional and tentative character of his generalizations, to urge his pupils to accept that conspectus as a working hypothesis of the facts and their connections, until they can reach independently a more satisfactory synthesis. But while such a syllabus, regarded as a medium between teacher and pupil, may be admirable, regarded as a communication from an investigator to fellow investigators, it may become preposterous. A large part of the matter and manner of this book falls under this condemnation. I can find no excuse for these portions except that they are really intended not as serious scientific propositions, but as assumptions pedagogically permissible pending further examination of evidence by investigators. The book asks for no such consideration, however. It boldly claims to have given sociology the formulation of principles with which it need no longer go astray.[3] We must accordingly judge the book as an exhibit of method and results supposed by the author to be scientifically sanctioned. Measured by this standard it is more than defective. Professor Giddings has done his share and will doubtless contribute his quota in the future toward the solution of problems both in practical pedagogy and in sociology. Nevertheless in failing to keep the two kinds of problem entirely distinct in this book he has beautifully befogged both. In asking primarily " What sort of doctrine can we conveniently teach ?" he has seriously handicapped himself in approaching the real problem, viz., What do we need to find out about societary relations, and what method is competent to yield the knowledge ?

A second capital fault of Giddings' scheme is its admission of two essentially different conceptions of sociology. These reappear in all

( 292) sorts of complications in different portions of the book. What is the sociologist as such driving at ? What is he trying to do ? What relations is he trying to determine and explain ? In one class of passages Giddings commits himself to the view which, in principle, is most generally prevalent among sociologists. Thus :

Sociology is a science that tries to conceive of society in its unity, and attempts to explain it in terms of cosmic law and cause.[4]

Sociology is the science of mental phenomena in their higher complications and reactions, and of the constructive evolution of a social medium through which the adaptations of life and its environment become reciprocal.[5]

Specifically, sociology is an interpretation of social phenomena in terms of psychical activity, organic adjustment, natural selection, and the conservation of energy. [6]

The sociological task is the double one—to know how social relations are evolved, and bow they react on the development of personality.[7]

Sociology is an attempt to account for the origin, growth, structure, and activities of society by the operation of physical, vital, and psychical causes, working together in a process of evolution.[8]

Whatever modifications of these formulas might be demanded by individuals there is nothing necessarily involved in them which would distinguish Giddings' view from that which has become commonplace with intelligent sociologists. I will not attempt to explain Giddings' failure to abide by this view. I do not know whether it is cause or effect of his contention that sociology is the fundamental science, rather than a dependent science. I will not undertake to show its relations with the a priori character of his whole method, to which respect must be paid later. It is a fact, at all events, that Giddings weaves into his system another sort of sociology, which contains all that is peculiarly his own. On page 70 he says :

Description and history must precede theory; it is impossible to study with profit the general questions of law and cause until much has been learned about the concrete particular aspects of things and events; before we generalize we must be familiar with the constituent elements of our phenomena, with the manner of their action, with the forms that they assume in combination, and with the conditions under which the combinations occur.

All this is precisely what is meant by the men from whom Giddings tries to differ, when they say that sociology is impossible until antecedent sciences have done at least parts of their work. Instead of being content, however, to follow this programme consistently, Giddings

( 293) unconsciously allows the terms "social" and "society " to carry a double meaning, and he is betrayed into entertaining an alternative conception of sociology which turns the whole book into a puzzle for readers. Thus :

Of the present tendency of sociology to seek unity of subjective interpretation there is abundant evidence in the work of its younger students. Every-where they are asking: What characteristic is it that stamps a phenomenon as social, and so differentiates it from phenomena of every other kind? When this question is answered the sociological postulate will be disclosed.[9]

Again :

It is the consciousness of kind, and nothing else, which distinguishes social conduct, as such, from purely economic, purely political, or purely religious conduct; for it is precisely the consciousness of kind that, in actual life, continually interferes with the theoretically perfect operation of the economic, the political, or the religious motive.[10]

Once more:

One object of sociology is to learn all that can be learned about the creation of the social man.[11]

Giddings has evidently not thought out the formal relations of a comprehensive doctrine of human association, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, of a theory of that element in human association which he sometimes calls "ºsocial" in a restricted sense. He has consequently allowed ambiguity to run through his whole treatment of the "social." I find in this alone sufficient evidence that his supposed explanation of association is an illusion.

For a number of years I have found it convenient to use, among others, a classification of human activities according to their uppermost objective aim: Thus; activities seeking (a) health, (b) wealth, (c) sociability, (d) knowledge, (e) beauty, (f) rightness [12] So far as human beings have been observed, they sooner or later manifest effective desires for objects of satisfaction which may be grouped under these six heads. Assuming for the sake of illustration that this is an objectively justified classification, and therefore likely to become permanent in scientific usage, it is quite conceivable that six parallel sciences of action within society may be developed, each having for its task determination of the laws of human action with reference to the utilities represented by its peculiar object of desire. Each of these conceivable

( 294) sciences would evidently be the science of an abstracted element of the phenomena of human association. We have a relatively complete science of the laws of human action so far as the desire for wealth is the determining impulse. Possibly it is feasible and desirable to construct similar sciences of these other species of activity. It seems to me that Giddings has at times really been working at the foundation of such a science of actions that seek satisfaction in "sociability." This is certainly not the programme carried out by the book as a whole, yet the proposed principle, "consciousness of kind," in so far as positive agency can be predicated of it at all, would seem to afford a plausible hypothesis for the explanation solely of phenomena within the special category "sociability." This use of "consciousness of kind" might be parallel with that of "economic self-interest" in economic science.

Inasmuch as Giddings clearly does not mean, on the whole, so to restrict the field of sociology, the confusion in the book is hopeless. There is no constant and consistent view of the relation of "social" to other phenomena in, of, or pertaining to "association." Are "social" phenomena inclusive or exclusive of "economic" phenomena, for example? Giddings sometimes apparently makes "social" include all the phenomena of association. Thus :

Finally, economic, political and cultural phenomena are only differentiations of social phenomena; they are not so unlike the more general phases of association that we can speak of them as differentiated from social phenomena.[13]

Taking Giddings at his word, that the "social " includes the economic, does he actually mean that economic self-interest—the operation of which he of course does not dispute—is a manifestation of the consciousness of kind, and that this alleged underlying state of consciousness affords any explanation of forms of consciousness—economic self-interest, for example—which according to his dictum are derived from it? He has the courage to say so !

Sociology studies the phenomena that are consequent upon one state in particular, namely, the consciousness of kind. In like manner the subordination of the special social sciences to sociology is another necessary conclusion from our first principle. The consciousness of kind undergoes integration and differentiation. Sometimes its differentiated forms conflict among themselves, or with the parent form. They then often appear as motives

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wholly distinct from the consciousness of kind, though in fact they are derived from it.[14]

This is revelation indeed! How it resolves the chaos of human contradictions ! The good Samaritan and the slum lassie are products of the social principle in the rough. When the "parent form" of the principle of association is sufficiently integrated and differentiated it gives us the battle-field and the torture-chamber and the slave-pen and the sweat-shop !

If we try the other alternative, and assume that Giddings means on the whole to make " social " phenomena exclude economic phenomena, the tax upon our credulity is not removed. Are we to think of "social" phenomena as embracing all the phenomena of association except the economic, or are social phenomena supposed to constitute one of several series of phenomena coördinate or parallel with, or antecedent or subsequent to the economic ? Or are the " social " represented in Giddings' thought as in some other way related to economic phenomena? In above quotations from pages 18 and 27 Giddings uses terms as though at least four series of activities, one of which is the "social," are to be distinguished among the phenomena of "association." The whole programme of the book, however, is an attempt to cover the total reality resolved into these series by a generalization which in its present form can be plausibly asserted of only one series at most. This fallacy is an incident of the conflict throughout the book between the dialectic and the positive method, of which more presently. In detecting the fallacy we discover too that Giddings has not distinctly delimited his problem. He has not isolated the subject-matter of his enquiry. He is not sure whether he is in search of the law that governs choices within the series " social " (in the restricted sense), or the law that governs choices which correlate all the series which societary activities include.[15]

The book, then, does not even make a consistent exhibit of the sociological problem. Much less does it " combine the principles of sociology in a coherent theory. "[16] I am nevertheless inclined to believe that Professor Giddings is on the trail of something in this connection which will prove a distinct contribution to sociology after it is hunted down.[17] What we need, however, is not an a priori dogma about the part which "consciousness of kind," or recognition of

( 296) likeness, has played in human association; but observation, arrangement and generalization of facts.

But the book fails to reconcile a more radical and fatal antithesis than either of the preceding. It would be useless to make conjectures about the causal relations of these anomalies. It is evident, however, that different parts of the book were written under widely different subjective conditions. Their incoherence is too marked to escape even a superficial critic. After Professor Giddings has had time to see how the different parts of his copy look together in print I am sure he will perceive that the argument is a picturesque yoking together of the scientific ox and the speculative ass. The alternative title points to an analytic examination of reality. The preface per contra proposes an a priori process. Book I, Chapter III, goes off on the other tack and outlines a positive method, and finally the main contention of the volume returns to the programme of the preface, with interpretation by assertion and deduction in the place of demonstration. I do not apply the statement to the book in detail, but of the structure of the main argument, in which the details have their setting, I do not hesitate to say that its spirit throughout is that of pre-Cartesian speculation, rather than of post-Darwinian science. This is all the more notice-able because nobody is more acute and punctilious than Professor Giddings in judging others by scientific canons. In various parts of Book I he has formulated principles of positive procedure as justly as any scientist could desire.[18] Yet he deliberately chooses to cast his main argument and to mass his material in the mould of speculation and deduction, instead of organizing the material at his command so as to show its precise inductive value. He uses formulas of scientific reasoning with admirable precision, but there is no evidence in this book that he has "experienced" science.

The key to Giddings' own explanation of his reasoning is in his account of the " objective " and the " subjective " method in sociology. If space permitted I should undertake to show that these terms have at least two sets of connotations in the book, with consequent confusion. In brief Giddings sometimes means by the " objective " method " the explanation of society in terms of physical law," and by the "subjective" method " the explanation of society in terms of volition or motive.”[19] At other times, and particularly when there is a dearth of facts in correspondence with his hypothesis, he means by the

( 297) " subjective " method a non-positive method, a method of speculation, contrasted with the method of observation. Giddings seems to assume that phenomena of consciousness and a subjective method of explanation are necessary correlates ; and by " subjective " in this connection he plainly means conjectural and deductive. Perhaps Professor Giddings will be able to convince his colleagues in the department of psychology that they cannot apply the objective method to psychic facts. Fancy a psychologist of the present generation admitting that his method is anything but objective !

That I have not misrepresented Giddings will appear from his own description of proper " subjective " method, viz.:

. . . . the subjective explanation has not in like manner been carried through the whole range of social phenomena. Much less has it been reduced to terms of a single motive or principle, uniquely characterizing the conscious individual as a social being, and determining all his social relations in so far as they are volitionally created. Instead of an attempt to find such a principle, to deduce from it all its consequences, and to organize about it all the conditioning motives or circumstances that should be taken into account,[20] —etc.

That is to say, in order to correct the " objective " by the " subjective" process, " find "— by which Giddings' procedure in the book proves that he means "assume " — a single motive or principle, then construct your explanation of society by asserting that everything which occurs is caused by that supposed mental condition. Few will care to claim that any vestiges of objectivity are left in the plan so projected, and an equal few among those able to consider the case at all will wittingly pin their faith to the sort of subjectivity that takes its place. In plain English this is flat repudiation of science and recourse to assumption. It is a travesty of psychical investigation. A guess about relations of cause and effect in the realm of human motive has no more scientific authority than a guess about the function of the vermiform appendix. Giddings' practical disregard of this fact vitiates his whole methodology.

In order to insure complete subjectivity for his method, and to banish any appearance of objectivity, Giddings directly renounces the inductive method, and, in the rest of the sentence interrupted above, burns all his bridges behind him after this fashion :

. . . . there has been a tiresome endeavor to enumerate all the motives that actuate man in his varied relations, and in the satisfaction of all his

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wants, as if all motives were of coördinate importance to sociology. The result is not the reasoned knowledge that is science.

This method is remarkable for two reasons. It reverses the method that has been used effectively in the physical interpretation of society. It reverses the method that has been applied successfully to subjective interpretation in politics and especially in economics. Political economy does not construct its doctrine of conduct by inventory, but by abstraction. . . . If sociology expects to obtain scientific precision it must follow this significant example of the value of consistent method.[21]

The above misconception of facts is in some respects the most unaccountable vagary in the book. Did Darwin pursue a faulty method in collecting material for years, instead of propounding a " subjective explanation" and taking his chances of finding facts in accordance with it? Who says, while he collects and arranges evidence for an inductive process, that all items of evidence are of "coordinate importance?" A part of the process is the classifying of the data, bringing them into hierarchies of categories, discovering principal and subordinate relationships down to the minutest order. Giddings' method brushes all this aside as "tiresome," and substitutes for it a "principle." In contrast with a generalization from critically observed data, that which he calls a " principle" takes logical rank along with Thales' principle water ; and Pythagoras' number ; and Anaximenes' air ; and Anaxagoras' nuos. It would be placed higher than it deserves if the principle "consciousness of kind" were compared with the principle phlogiston of the old 'chemistry. Undoubtedly Stahl and others used that presumptive explanation of fire as a guide to observation that at last revealed the process of combustion. The iniquity of these arbitrary assumptions emerges in their practical inhibition of observation as possible impeachment of their authority. This is obviously the case with Giddings and his principle " consciousness of kind." It makes him contemptuous toward analytic examination and classification of actions containing positive evidence of the play of motive.

It should be noted further that Giddings' assumed " principle " at once authorizes him to reconstruct the history of other sciences. The two " remarkable" reasons alleged against the positive method are remarkable because they exist only in Giddings' imagination. The history neither of physical nor of psychical science contains justification of his dictum. The assertion that " political economy does not construct its doctrine of conduct by inventory, but by abstraction," may

( 299) mean either of two things. First, that political economy proceeded without facts. This is the sense which Giddings frequently seems to connect with the terms "abstract" and "abstraction."[22] Or, it may mean, second, that the term "inventory" is intended to damn some use of facts by sociologists whom Giddings accuses of putting an inventory to a use different from that employed by other positive sciences.

As to the second of these alternatives I merely remark that there may be other sociologists besides Professor Giddings who do not understand the scientific use of an inventory. If so they deserve censure or pity for every mismanagement of their material. As to the former alternative I am obliged to declare it a distortion of history to claim that political economy since Adam Smith has ever sanctioned such a use of a "principle" as Giddings makes of the " consciousness of kind." Half-taught economists have perverted logic in this way, but they must be held individually responsible, just as Giddings, not sociology, must be charged with the attempt to foist these speculative survivals upon social science. The right-thinking economists had no difficulty in discovering credible evidence of " economic self-interest " in man's actions. Their " abstraction " was the disentangling of this one motive and the actions determined by it from all others, not denial of the existence of others ; not necessarily the relative valuation of this and other motives; but the tracing of the operation of this one motive so far as its influence could be detected. In order to do this political economy has over and over again arranged economic activities in "inventories," and it has been obliged to do so in order to be sure that no classes of cases had been overlooked in observing the effects of self-interest. The sociologists whom Giddings had in mind are likewise using inventories strictly in accordance with the rules of observational and experimental science.

Giddings is entirely wrong again in his interpretation of the logical significance of the Austrian school.[23] He would make it appear that the Austrian economists are exploiting one of his pre-Platonic meta-physical fabrications. They are doing nothing of the sort. Giddings speaks of " abstract analysis " as though it were an analysis of some-thing that has an existence apart from facts, and independent of them. The process which the Austrian school are trying to perform is that of

( 300) a larger generalization of facts than has previously been accomplished. They have detected in the phenomena of human desire and volition estimates of more than one species of utility. They are accordingly using such inventories of human acts and motives as they can make available to reveal contained evidences of habitual standards of valuation in general. It is along this line that Professor Patten is proceeding, and with prospect of reaching important results.

Accordingly it is entirely false to put the method of the Austrian school, or of any other positive investigation, under the descriptive term "abstraction," over against the method of observation and classification and interpretation; as though they were mutually exclusive. There can be no generalization of scientific value that is not the generalization of classified facts, i. e., of an "inventory." On the other hand, classified facts, or inventories, are no more a completed body of scientific knowledge than the words of the Iliad arranged in alphabetical order in a glossary would be a poem. Giddings succeeds in making it appear that there is not only an unbridged chasm but a principle of hostility between arranged facts and rational interpretation. His presumption is that explanation must be anterior to knowledge of the facts. Abstraction in his usage, if not in his definition, is speculation apart from data. On the contrary, scientific generalization is perception of uniformities within the data. According to Giddings, abstraction is withdrawal to a remote distance from facts for undisturbed rumination. The product of this ruminating process is a substance of truth to be added to facts, if the thinker be so unfortunate at last as to encounter reality. Giddings has apparently no working idea of abstraction proper—viz., contemplation of a distinguishable group or series of phenomena, regarded temporarily without reference to the bearing of other actual phenomena, from which they have been conceptually separated for convenience of inspection.

Nothing more is needed to prove that this book does not fulfill its promise of furnishing the basis of a system of social interpretation. It is worth while, however, to pay a little more attention to the alleged principle "consciousness of kind." Giddings brings it forward with the modest introduction:

. . . . that new datum which has been sought for hitherto without success, but which can now no longer remain unperceived in the narrowing range of inquiry. Sociology must go right from this time forth . . . , because it has tried all possible ways of going wrong. (P.17.)

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That it is not a "datum" at all, but only a dictum, appears after we have searched the book in vain for any authorization of it. The nearest approach to an attempt to give it logical sanction is in the remainder of the passage just quoted :

Since contract and alliance are phenomena obviously more special than association or society, and imitation and impression are phenomena obviously more general, we must look for the psychic datum, motive, or principle in the one phenomenon that is intermediate. Accordingly the sociological postulate can be no other than this, namely : The original and elementary subjective fact in society is the consciousness of kind.[24]

This is as though we were searching for the greatest common divisor of two numbers, say 50 and 500. Some one has proposed 10; but inspection shows this to be too small. Another proposes 1000; but inspection discovers that this is too large. Whereupon we conclude: " As all possible wrong solutions have been tried, the only term that is intermediate between 10 and 1000 must be the correct solution. That half-way term is 495; q.e.d." Need the illustration be amplified ? Further inspection would show that the first assumption is false, viz., that all possible wrong solutions had been tried. There is the arithmetical mean, for instance, and then the geometrical mean, and then nearly a thousand other wrong proposals which we might test before the possibilities of exclusion would be exhausted. Secondly, granting that 495 is the one term intermediate between 10 and 1000, we find by inspection that the inference does not follow, viz., that this inter-mediate term is the divisor sought.

It is almost as plain from inspection that Giddings has assumed a conclusion for which there is no warrant in any visible premises. In the first place, a hundred other debatable explanations of social reactions are conceivably possible. In the second place, granting that "imitation " is one extreme error, and "contract" the opposite extreme, it is neither demonstrated that consciousness of kind is "the one phenomenon that is intermediate," nor that, if it is, it is "the original and elementary subjective fact in society." It is not even demonstrated that there is any such thing as "an original and elementary subjective fact in society," in the sense in which Giddings uses the expression. The "original fact," so far as our power to represent reality can go, may turn out to be a congeries of facts, reducible only by inference to hypothetical unity. Giddings wants us to deduce the facts from his

( 302) presumption.[25] Positive sociology is an attempt to set in order the facts so that an induction may some day be sanctioned.

The thesis is plausible that the essential likeness of all men is a fact; that this fact has always been one of the conditions of human association, and has fixed an outer boundary beyond which men would not pass in their treatment of each ,other ; that , progressive tacit recognition of aspects or connotations of this fact has tended to con-tract the boundaries of authorized inhumanity, or to fit conceptions of justice to partial recognition of the fact of likeness; that recognition of likeness has been conscious in a few exceptional men ; that recognition of likeness tends to become general, to pass from a negative to a positive influence, to become a relatively more potent factor among the social forces; that this recognition of likeness is the social desideratum, as the major premise of social judgments, and the basis of social action. Something very like this is the pivotal idea in Janet's Theory of Morals. All that is 'true in this connection seems to be contained in the open secret which Jesus left as his legacy to the world.[26] Our failure to see with his insight and the impossibility of getting many people even today to accept his discovery as point of departure for their social policy, mark the precise antithesis of Giddings' version of history. He no more expresses the social truth than he would express the physical truth if he said "Gravitation is the cause of all physical phenomena."

These items by no means exhaust the list of structural weaknesses in the book. In spite of their radical character, however, which destroys all continuity in Giddings' system, we may discount their effects and still recognize an important and valuable remainder. It is Giddings' foible to magnify his disagreements with other sociologists, and then by oratio variata, or perhaps without it, to reduce the difference in practice to a minimum.[27] I am inclined therefore to consider the dogmatic

( 303) elements in the book rather as pedagogical devices. The contradictions pointed out in his formal methodology stamp that part of his work as too immature to be taken seriously until revised. Books II, and III, however, represent a creditable effort to do what has been growing more and more visibly necessary since Bastian began to accumulate ethnographic material, viz., to arrange facts gathered and criticised by anthropology, ethnology, folk-psychology, and history, under categories in which their significance will appear.

More specific criticism of this really valuable part of the work must be postponed. The material which he handles is but a minute fraction of the evidence which has been and which must be collected and arranged. The sort of work which Giddings has done with positive data will go far to strengthen an intelligent demand for prosecution of like work, wherever data can be found, until a basis for induction is gained. I venture the observations, however, that Professor Giddings might have profited by consulting his colleagues in biology about the latest indications of experiments upon the irritability of animals;[28] he would have inspired more confidence in the safety of his generalizations if he had drawn his inferences from a larger number of observations;[29] he would have simplified the

( 304) case for sociology if he had omitted the discussion leading to "merely hypothetical conclusions,"[30] in the chapter on Anthropogenic Association; and he would have made a more compact and impressive presentation if he had refrained from lugging in "consciousness of kind" to display its futility. To be sure he does not err in the latter respect very often. Instead of rendering assistance in generalizing facts, this "principle " is so obviously an afterthought that I feel sure the references to it are both recent and perfunctory interpolations.[31]

Book IV fairly bristles with points of antagonism which Giddings thrusts forward with the force of unsustained opinion. It is less completely wrought out than the earlier portions of the work, with which it has apparently but slight connection. They ought to have furnished the data for the interpretations which it proposes. On the contrary it seems to encounter the social problem afresh and independently, and to be no nearer the solution after all. It declares: (p. 377) "Held together in social relations men modify each other's nature." This is the objective fact in a nutshell. The business of sociology is to find out how men modify each other's natures, and the work leaves the problem precisely where it found it. This concluding section is rather an outline to be filled in later than a sustained treatment of the subject. It seems to have been inserted to give the appearance of formal completeness to the system. It could not be fairly discussed without rehearsal of very large portions of the laws of logic which it disregards. It shows more of the influence of Spencer than the earlier parts of the book, and it is Spencerianism at its worst.

The real process of Giddings' reasoning is hinted at in two expressions, " inductive verification,"[32] and " in illustration and verification."[34] The method to which the phrases apply runs through the whole volume, and is a reappearance of the dangerous counterfeit of induction which Spencer has done so much to circulate. It is the process by which history may be made to teach anything, like the context-violating and word-worrying method of interpreting the Bible. It is the gold-brick scheme in logic, but it chiefly victimizes its operators.

( 305)

In a word then, so far as Giddings has applied his strength within the recognized lines of scientific method he has earned the gratitude of sociologists. In so far as he has attempted to operate a method of his own his processes are of a sort which the maturer sciences long since disowned, and most sociologists have had enough scientific discipline to insure them against voluntary exchange of positive science for dogmatism.

The task of analyzing forms of human association, past and present, of determining the forces operating through these forms, and of generalizing the laws of their action, is a task in which real progress can be made only by strict observance of those conditions of knowledge which have passed into settled scientific tradition. The unscientific remainder in our minds is never perfectly secure against seduction by the fair promises of lawless speculation. It is to be regretted that Professor Giddings has made the meretricious element so conspicuous in his book that it will have more influence upon the great majority of readers than the strictly scientific portions.



  1. P. 31.
  2. Cf pp. 67-8.
  3. P. 17.
  4. P.16.
  5. P. 26.
  6. P. 419.
  7. P. 421.
  8. P. 8.
  9. PP. 13, 14
  10. P. 18.
  11. P. 421. This last is a sample of remarks which are capable of either of the interpretations under discussion.
  12. Cf. SMALL and VINCENT, Introduction to the Study of Society, pp. 175 m.
  13. P. 27. The Italics are Giddings'.
  14. P. 22.
  15. Referring to last par. of p. 20.
  16. Preface, p. v.
  17. Vide below p. 302.
  18. Pp.39, 40, 49, 55, 56, 70, etc.
  19. Pp.11 and 36.
  20. P. 11.
  21. P. 12.
  22. E.g., p. 47. That is, he confounds abstraction with formal reasoning, with which it may or may not be identical. This is another antinomy in his thinking almost as vital as the others.
  23. P. 12.
  24. P. 17.
  25. Preface, pp. 19, 22, 38, 183, etc.
  26. Vide Professor Mathews' article above p. 283 sq.
  27. E. g., p. 7 and p. 9, note. In the former case he gratuitously attributes a foolish idea to others and then credits himself with superior sagacity for meaning precisely what the criticised always asserted. In the second case he reflects very contemptuously upon a programme proposed by others, which is precisely what he has attempted to carry out in the body of his own book. The only difference between the programme which he adopts and that at which he sneers is that the latter has no recognized place for dogmatism. Vide also p. 66, where the phrase method of psychological synthesis permits him to come into line with the conception which he in terms rejects—viz., that sociology is a synthetic science. Via'. again, inter alia, pp. 399 and 419, where he adopts both the language and the ideas of "the organic conception" which he has been so anxious to discredit. Perhaps the most amusing example is his severity (p. 26 et passim) toward those who assume anything about social laws previous to the performance of inductive processes. The primary and secondary problems of sociology must be worked through before the sociologist will be qualified to deal with "those final questions that have so often been placed at the very beginning of sociological exposition." Here seems to be logical austerity which signally distinguishes Giddings from his fellows. But what does it amount to in practice? Chief among the reprehensible prematurities to which he alludes is the assumption referred to in the well-worn formula "society is an organism."That assumption, at its lowest terms, is that there is a coordinating nexus of some sort between the different parts and processes of social order and progress. Giddings denies to others the privilege of making this innocent assumption, without which it would be senseless to begin to look for social laws at all. Giddings himself however not only starts with the assumption of a coordinating nexus of some sort, but he still further assumes that he knows precisely what that nexus is, viz : the consciousness of kind. According to his own claim, deductive use of this assumption is the distinctive merit of his book. This is the most ingenuous case of the mote and the beam that I remember to have encountered.
  28. Cf p. 107.
  29. Pp. 233, 234. This extends an observation of a single set of "mixed bloods "to the whole world.
  30. P. 238. Even if the conclusions were demonstrated, they are obiter dicta so far as the immediate purpose is concerned.
  31. E. g., p. 169. "The consciousness of kind is the compelling power" is an assertion so manifestly unauthorized that its confident insertion between two cautious generalities is delightfully humorous.
  32. P. 408.
  33. P. 414.

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