Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/132

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

livious of everything relating to the history of the growth of scientific ideas, their slow and gradual evolution by the labors of many devoted students, the successive introduction of new conceptions, and the increasing complexity of scientific problems, as the human and social sphere of phenomena is approached. And yet, with an effrontery unparalleled even in this brassy age, Mr. Mallock announces that he has discovered—not merely a new fact or a new principle, which would alone be sufficient to satisfy the aspiration of many a life-long devotee of research, but that he has discovered, and offers to the intellectual world, a whole new science, and that the most exalted of all, the "Science of Human Character."

In entering the field of social study Mr. Mallock finds, indeed, that others have been there before him, although he alleges that they have all missed the great science which it has been his good fortune to discover. Mr. Herbert Spencer is the most prominent thinker of our time on questions of sociology, or the scientific exposition of man's social relations, and to him, therefore, our author gives his chief critical attention. He declares that Mr. Spencer has missed, or does not recognize, or does not know that science of human character which is at the basis of the science of social relations. He says (page 92):

Surely, one might think nothing could he more clear than this. The science described thus must not only, like Buckle's, point to a science of character, but it can be nothing more or less than the science of character itself. Such would be naturally our conclusion from the extracts above quoted; but, if we follow Mr. Spencer further, we shall see that it would be a wholly wrong one. The science of character he does indeed touch upon; but he does this as though he hardly knew what he was doing. Though he touches it, he does not grasp it; though he sees it, he does not recognize it. Never wholly out of contact with it, he is yet always sliding off it, as though it were an inclined surface. Not once does he fasten on it, as the real center of the question.

These declarations are nothing less than amazing. They evince the completest ignorance of the true character of all Mr. Spencer's work. That which distinguishes it and marks him off from every other thinker in the field is the comprehensive thoroughness of his preparation for working out the principles of social science. He published a very original treatise upon the subject in 1850, which was far in advance of the time, but he quickly found that it was inadequate, and would require a far broader preparation than hitherto attempted to place it upon a secure and sufficient foundation. The task proposed was the establishment of general principles of sociology, or the laws of the origin, organization, and constitution of human societies. The whole field was surveyed, the work laid out, and its execution entered upon. A cyclopædia of social facts was projected, descriptive of the phenomena of all orders of human societies, stationary and progressive, from the lowest to the highest grades. This is simply a vast contribution to the science of human nature, by displaying, on the largest scale, the varied phenomena of social activity, or how different kinds of men have behaved in their social relations.

Character is the sum of the qualities which distinguish one thing from another; human character is the assemblage of traits that distinguish man as man from other living creatures, and the different kinds of men from each other. These qualities that constitute human nature consist of two groups, bodily and mental; and the study of human character involves the analysis of man's corporeal and psychical nature so as to arrive at the general truths in each department. The science of human nature is, therefore, nothing less or more than the working out of the laws of man's physical and mental constitution.

The units of human society are human beings, and the character of the