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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/741

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

APRIL, 1883.


 

NATURE AND LIMITS OF THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.
By Professor SHELDON AMOS, LL. D.

THE progress of the strictly physical sciences in modern times has had a twofold influence on the advancement of those branches of knowledge which deal less with physical than with moral, social, and political facts. On the one hand, the exact methods and indisputable conclusions of the sciences concerned with matter have inaugurated modes of study and inquiry which are believed to be of universal application. On the other hand, the standard of rigorous logic in all studies is so far exalted that those subjects of thought or investigation which do not conform to identically the same standard as that maintained for the study of matter are thought to be not worth pursuing with any regard to the claims of a severe logical process. This sort of antipathy between the physical and the ethical regions of search and argument has been intensified by the coexistence of two opposed orders of minds, the ardently speculative and the persistently practical. The former are discontented with the notion of a so-called Science of Politics, because of the complexity of the subject-matter, and the intrusion, at all points, of such seemingly incalculable factors as the will and passions of mankind. Practical statesmen, again, immersed in actual business, and oppressed by the ever-recurring presence of new emergencies, almost resent the notion of applying the comprehensive principles of science, and still more the conjectural use of foresight, in respect of subjects which, for them, are in ceaseless flux, and can, at best, only be safely and wisely handled by momentarily adjusted contrivances.

Between these two extreme classes lies all the large portion of society composed of persons with minds less distinctly determined and