Introductory Comments: Congress of Arts And Sciences: Division D –Mental Sciences: Department XVI –Sociology

Frank W. Blackmar

THE Chairman of the Department of Sociology was Professor Frank W. Blackmar, of the University of Kansas, who in opening the work of the Department said :

"It affords me great pleasure to call to order the first meeting of the Department of Sociology of this remarkable Congress and to introduce the eminent speakers provided for this occasion. We are to be congratulated on the rapid advance of the science of sociology during the past fifteen years. Perhaps there is no parallel to the progress in the United States of this science in our universities and colleges unless it is the rapid development of natural science within the last half-century.

"While sociology has made marvelous gains in the pedagogical world, its progress in the realm of pure sciences is less certain, although out of the numerous writings of learned men in Europe and America and the results of their investigations from many points of view, there is to be recorded substantial and positive gains to sociology as an independent and self-constituted science.

"The progress of sociology has been made by each investigator following a particular line of investigation from his own standpoint. As a result there is yet no common consensus of opinion as to the nature and scope of the science. But a stage of development has been reached, common to the growth of all sciences, when synthesis is necessary. What is needed now is harmony of all of the apparent conflicts of sociological theory. I say apparent conflicts, for I am sure that the differences of opinion that exist among scholars arise from independent individual investigation rather than from any vitally antagonistic views. Sufficient data have been gathered, sufficient truth discovered, adequate principles enumerated, and adequate laws demonstrated to permit the formulation of the science of sociology along definite lines easily recognized and cheer-fully acknowledged by all. Recently our foremost sociologists have been making rapid progress in this way.

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"The classification of the sciences of this Congress has done more to throw the subject into confusion than any other event of recent years. I regard it as a retrograde movement so far as sociology concerned. I trust it will be considered by scientists as merely temporary arrangement. To classify sociology as a mental science and to divorce it from concrete social studies, as in the present classification, is to narrow its scope, dwarf its usefulness, and imply that there is no place for a science of society called sociology. If such a course of classification is followed, sociology will eventually be considered as a feeble branch of psychology. But this must not be, for sociology has a greater service to humanity, a greater scope, and a greater destiny. No subjective classification arising from a priori assumptions, proceeding from a psychological source, will satisfy the demands of a working classification for science, which must of necessity arise from objective conditions. Comte performed a service in the classification of the positive sciences, but the course of scientific investigation since his time has been such as to cause a similar classification, à la Comte, to be neither desirable nor serviceable.

Sociology must occupy an independent position, as the younger sister of the social sciences, but in close touch with politics, ethics. political science, political economy, and history. Whatever abstractions may be used in formulating the science, it should not lose its method of concrete work. Hence, the sooner we can have a consensus of opinion as to its position, nature, and scope, the greater will be its progress. The sooner we can have a synthesis of the work already done, the sooner will sociology assume its rightful position as an independent and dignified science, with the unqualified respect of all students of man and nature."


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