Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/116

This page has been validated.
110
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

economy, against which in recent times there has been a strong reaction to bring to honor again the factor of observation. It insists that this observation shall not be preliminary only, but that each successive phenomenon shall be tested by it. Price, for instance, is not an abstraction, but a concrete thing, which must be studied before we can have any proper theory of price, and so with all the phenomena of every-day life. The principle of observation applied to the past is the principle of historical research, and as a knowledge of the past is the best key to the understanding of the present, so those who hold this view have engaged in considerable historical researches which have given to their tendencies the name of the historical school. These economists have performed a notable service in pointing out the relativity of economic laws. They have dispelled the notion that the principles of political economy were fixed and immutable and that their activity was necessary to quicken the germ of development which was hidden in the older and more deductive economics. But it will be recognized that they introduce no new principles of investigation nor any to which, had they then been formulated, the great writers of earlier days could not have subscribed. They have enriched political economy by showing us that the phenomena to be interpreted are far richer and more complex than they appeared to the older economists, but they have not dispensed with the necessity of interpretation, for that is the life blood of the science.

 

PSYCHOLOGY.

By Professor E. A. PACE,

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA.

TO define a priori the nature and scope of a science is always difficult; and it is especially difficult during periods of transition. Speculation as to what psychology ought to be is of course interesting and important; but its value depends largely upon the frank recognition of what psychology actually is, or perhaps what the psychologies actually are. Even the statement that psychology is the 'science of mental processes,' owes much to its elasticity; for the psychologists who accept it differ as to the meaning of the terms 'mental' and 'process.' They differ more widely as to the worth of particular methods and hypotheses: and they are by no means unanimous regarding generalizations and laws.

This situation is due in part to the fact that psychology, on taking its place in the midst of the empirical sciences, found that these, by their rapid accumulation of data, had both lightened and increased its task. If the way was open to the solution of older problems, it was also beset by new problems which belonged, on one side at least, to phys-