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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/830

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

things and individuals in society and viewing it as a whole. The aggregate of those hundred thousands or millions of men which we call a people, a nation, or a society, forms, when regarded as if from without, a higher unit, in which the willing, transitory individual disappears and no longer exerts a disturbing influence on the observation of the great average. The society as an organization, not the individuals in themselves, is thus the object of social physiology. We can give such descriptions of society as a whole, of its structure, form, connections, and other peculiarities, as the mineralogist or the chemist, the botanist or zoölogist gives of matter and plants and animals; which are just and useful for a time, and form the descriptive or anaomical part. We can, too, further observe the organic functions of society as such, and deduce laws of cause and effect which are also available for a time as physiological laws—for a time, but not for always; for, quite in accord with more recent natural research, which endures no pause, but is always in movement and in a state of evolution, is a constant process of change exhibited in the circumstances of human society, without our meeting, on account of it, any contradiction with the principles from which we may have started.

We may describe social phenomena as vital and physical, and as ethical and psychical.

In order to obtain a proper position for deducing the general laws of social phenomena, it is necessary to overlook for the moment all concrete personality or individuality, and to regard, say, all the forty-five million inhabitants of the German Empire, or all the Germans in Europe, only as parts of a great whole, of a grand aggregate, describable under the name of a social body. We must imagine these men as in so close a reciprocal connection that, like the cells of a plant or animal, we can not conceive them as dismembered, but must regard them as forming by their union a single organism, a society, or a state. As in plants and animals each group of cells has its particular functional distinction, so here we meet groups of men among the millions constituting the whole, performing different parts in the common structure. One group will be engaged in material labors, another in the intellectual labors of religion and instruction; others in pursuits of art, science, jurisprudence, law, or the aesthetic development of the organism, and so on in an infinite diversity of adaptations, as among the parts of single living beings. Such a vision could be obtained in perfection if, as Huxley has imagined, one were an inhabitant of another planet, come to take a view of the whole earth and its inhabitants from some convenient distance where he could include the whole at a single glance. As we approach the realization of such a view, we gain a marvelous comprehension of the regularity of the types of masses of men, and of their normal composition and common properties. Take the sexual division of mankind. Although over the whole earth a general equality in the numbers of the two sexes