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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/287

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

that have appeared in this magazine during the last two years, are records of equally painstaking research. Moreover, they are both excellent examples of what a strict adherence to scientific method has done and may yet be expected to do toward clearing up the knotty problems in economics that are now engaging public attention.

United with his great learning, and a rare power of generalization, Mr. Wells possessed in full measure that intellectual honesty which is the indispensable characteristic of the true man of science. This enabled him to follow without doubt or hesitation wherever the facts might lead; and with his clear perception of their real import, joined to his habit of independent thought, traits that are displayed throughout all his more formal writings, they are what in our opinion constitute his title to distinction. They give to his teachings, which have already done more than any other agency that we know toward placing the subject of political economy on a sound scientific basis, a high and enduring character.

 

 

A BORROWED FOUNDATION.

"The central idea of Professor Griddings's Principles of Sociology, a work that has the honor of being the first independent attempt in English to treat of sociology as such, is that we must postulate on the part of human beings what he calls a consciousness of kind. Critics of his volume have naturally told him that this is essentially a philosophical idea, found in Hegel and in British ethical writers of the eighteenth century."

We quote the above from an article by Professor Caldwell, entitled Philosophy and the Newer Sociology, in the October Contemporary. We are not prepared to dispute Professor Caldwell's statement that the idea of the "consciousness of kind" may be found in the writers to whom he refers; but it would have been very much to the point if he had mentioned that it is to be found most clearly enunciated in Mr. Herbert Spencer's Principles of Sociology. In an article contributed to this magazine in December, 1896, Mr. Spencer took occasion to point out that what Professor Giddings seemed to regard as an aperçu peculiar to himself had been distinctly formulated years before in his own writings. In proof of this he quoted the following passages:

"Sociality having thus commenced, and survival of the fittest tending ever to maintain and increase it, it will be further strengthened by the inherited effects of habit. The perception of kindred beings, perpetually seen, heard, and smelt, will come to form a predominant part of consciousness—so predominant that absence of it will inevitably cause discomfort." "Among creatures led step by step into gregariousness, there will little by little be established a pleasure in being together—a pleasure in the consciousness of one another's presence—a pleasure simpler than, and quite distinct from, those higher ones which it makes possible."

The fact is that there is much more in Spencer than most recent writers have ever explored; and the newer sociologists would do well, before putting forward claims to originality, to make sure that they have not been anticipated by the veteran philosopher.