however, that, beyond the political bias under its party-form, there is a more general political bias—the bias toward an exclusively-political view of social affairs, and a corresponding faith in political instrumentalities. As affecting the study of Social Science, this bias was shown to be detrimental as directing the attention too much to the phenomena of social regulation, and excluding from thought the activities regulated, constituting an aggregate of phenomena far more important.
Lastly, we came to the theological bias, which, under its general form and under its special forms, disturbs in various ways our judgments on social questions. Obedience to a supposed divine command being its standard of rectitude, it does not ask concerning any social arrangement whether it conduces to social welfare, so much as whether it conforms to the creed locally established. Hence, in each place and time, those conceptions about public affairs which the theological bias fosters, tend to diverge from the truth in so far as the creed then and there accepted diverges from the truth. And besides the positive evil thus produced, there is a negative evil, due to discouragement of the habit of estimating actions by the results they eventually cause—a habit which the study of Social Science demands.
Having thus contemplated in general and in detail the difficulties of the Social Science, we turned our attention to the preliminary discipline required. Of the conclusions reached so recently, the reader scarcely needs reminding. Study of the sciences in general having been pointed out as the proper means of generating fit habits of thought, it was shown that the sciences especially to be attended to are those treating of Life and of Mind. There can be no understanding of social actions without some knowledge of human nature; there can be no deep knowledge of human nature without some knowledge of the laws of Mind; there can be no adequate knowledge of the laws of Mind without knowledge of the laws of Life. And, that knowledge of the laws of Life, as exhibited in Man, may be properly grasped, attention must be given to the laws of Life in general.
What is to be hoped from such a presentation of difficulties and such a programme of preparatory studies? Who, in drawing his conclusions about public policies, will be made to hesitate by remembering the many obstacles that stand in the way of right judgments? Who will think it needful to fit himself by inquiries so various and so extensive? Who, in short, will be led to doubt any of the inferences he has drawn, or be induced to pause before he draws others, by consciousness of these many liabilities to error arising from want of knowledge, want of discipline, and want of duly-balanced sentiments?
To these questions there can be but the obvious reply—a reply which the foregoing chapters themselves involve—that very little is to be expected. The implication throughout the argument has been that for every society, and for each stage in its evolution, there is an appro-