Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/743

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NATURE AND LIMITS OF SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

among other things, to the necessity of co-ordinating in one view all the conclusions deducible from those other, and as it were introductory, researches. Of course, this process of combination abounds with its own manifold opportunities of error; but this fact need no more produce despair than the composite quality of physiology leads the student to be skeptical of the scientific character of inquiries into the constitution of the animal world.

There is a vast difference between calling a branch of knowledge a science, because it can only be profitably studied by the use of the same logical methods as are indispensable in the mastery of the best established physical sciences, and being, as yet, scientifically cultivated, or advanced in outward form to the full proportions of a maturely developed science. It may be, indeed, that, from a number of causes to be shortly adverted to, Politics will always present an appearance neither homogeneous nor, in one sense, exact. But these defects neither impair the genuine truth of the universal laws to which the topic is submitted, nor ought to convey any imputation on the only methods serviceable in treating it.

Admitting, as a provisional and practical postulate, the freedom of the human will, it might indeed seem to be impossible, on the face of it, to bring within the domain of stringent scientific methods any class of materials largely conversant with the direct actions and emotions of mankind. But there are certain corrections which reduce the significance of any skeptical conclusions which might be drawn.

In the first place, the more extensively and minutely historical studies are carried on and the investigations of travelers pursued and recorded, the more uniform does human nature appear, and the more calculable are the actions, sentiments, and emotions of large classes of mankind, when the antecedents and surrounding conditions are ascertained. So far as political inquiries are concerned, it is more with classes, groups, and assemblages of men, and with considerable stretches of time, than with any individual men at a given moment that the investigator is occupied. Thus the historical method, in proportion as it is extensively pursued, contains in itself its own correctives.

But, in the second place, if the researches of historians and the reports of travelers contain an endless and boundless mass of facts which seem rather to increase the list of human eccentricities than to reduce it by discovering a dominant order and an integral unit of progress and purpose, yet here again the problem of finding a scientific form for the theory of government is on the whole simplified rather than otherwise. As explorations of all sorts are multiplied and extend, they take the place of the logical instrument of experiment; and the result of them is, that a limited number of propositions are evolved which admit of being announced with a fair assurance of their universality. If the area of observation be limited, the truths reached will,