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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/122

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

can only become a science when human events are recognized as phenomena. When we say that they are due to the actions of men, there lurks in the word 'actions' the ghost of the old doctrine of free will, which, in its primitive form, asserts that any one may either perform a given action or not according as he may will. From this point of view it is not supposed that any event in human history need have occurred. If the men whose actions caused it had willed otherwise it would not have occurred.

The scientific view of history is that human events are phenomena of the same general character as other natural phenomena, only more complex and difficult to study on account of the subtle psychic causes that so largely produce them. It has been seen more or less clearly by the men I have named and by many others that there must be causes, and the philosophy of history that gradually emerged from the chaos of existing history was simply an attempt to ascertain some of these causes and to show how they produced the effects. To those who make the philosophy of history coextensive with sociology this is all that sociology implies. Certainly it was the first and most essential step in the direction of establishing a science of society. The tendency at first was strong to discover in the environment the chief cause of social variation, and some authors sought to expand the term climate to include all this. This doctrine was of course carried too far, as shown by the saying that 'mountains make freemen while lowlands make slaves,' It was found that this was only half of the truth, that it took account only of the objective environment, while an equally potent factor is the subjective environment: cælum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt. Character, however acquired, is difficult to change and must be reckoned with in any attempt to interpret human events. Thus expanded, the study of society from this point of view becomes a true science, and recently it has been given the appropriate name of mesology. The great influence of climate and physical conditions must be fully recognized. It reaches back into the domain of ethnology and physiology and doubtless explains the color of the skin, the character of the hair, and the general physical nature of the different races of men. The psychic effects of the environment are scarcely less important, and the qualities of courage, love of liberty, industry and thrift, ingenuity and intelligence, are all developed by contact with restraining influences adapted to stimulating them and not so severe as to check their growth.

The social effects are still more marked. We first see them in the phenomena of migration and settlement and the ways in which men adapt themselves to the conditions, resources and general character of the region they may chance to occupy. The question asked by the traditional boy in the geography class, why the large rivers all run