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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/141

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

DECEMBER, 1873.


 

RADICALISM, CONSERVATISM, AND THE TRANSITION OF INSTITUTIONS.[1]
By HERBERT SPENCER.

OF readers who have accompanied me thus far, probably some think that the contents of these papers go beyond the limits implied by their title. Under the head Study of Sociology, so many sociological questions have been incidentally discussed, that the science itself has been in a measure dealt with while dealing with the study of it. Admitting this criticism, my excuse must be that the fault, if it is one, has been scarcely avoidable. Nothing to much purpose can be said about the study of any science without saying a good deal about the general and special truths it includes, or what the expositor holds to be truths. To write an essay on the study of astronomy, in which there should be no direct or implied conviction respecting the Copernican theory of the solar system, nor any such recognition of the law of gravitation as involved acceptance or rejection of it, would be a task difficult to execute, and, when executed, probably of little value. Similarly with Sociology—it is next to impossible for the writer who points out the way toward its truths to exclude all tacit or avowed expressions of opinion about those truths, and, were it possible to exclude such expressions of opinion, it would be at the cost of those illustrations needed to make his exposition effective.

Such must be, in part, my defense for having set down many thoughts which the title of this work does not cover. Especially have I found myself obliged thus to transgress, by representing the study of sociology as the study of evolution in its most complex form. It is clear that, to one who considers the facts societies exhibit as having had their origin in supernatural interpositions, or in the wills of individual ruling men, the study of these facts will have an aspect wholly unlike that which it has to one who contemplates them as gen-

  1. Concluding article of the series on the "Study of Sociology."