Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/173

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Comte's Classification Spencer's Classification Proposed Classification
1. Astronomy 1. Astronomy 1. Chemistry
2. Physics 2. Geology 2. Physics
3. Chemistry 3. Biology 3. Biology
4. Biology 4. Psychology 4. Psychology
5. Cerebral biology 5. Sociology 5. Sociology
6. Sociology 6. Ethics
7. Ethics

It will be observed that beginning with biology all three classifications are the same, with the exception that Comte and Spencer include ethics as a science coordinate with others of the group. If it properly belongs there it must have a special field of phenomena occasioned by a special set of forces coordinate with the social forces. But ethical forces and phenomena are occasioned by the social forces; hence ethics, as Professor Ward has pointed out, is only a department of sociology.

The chief difference between the proposed classification and those of Comte and Spencer lies in the divisions preceding biology. Astronomy with both Comte and Spencer is the first great division of the sciences. But to make astronomy the first of the sciences in a genetic classification is to imply that the subject-matter of astronomy is at the beginning of the creative process. Stellar phenomena, however, must have been preceded by both physical and chemical phenomena. Instead of being first and coordinate with other great sciences astronomy is properly a subdivision under physics. This is sometimes indicated by the application to astronomy of the names astro-physics, or celestial physics. Since it seems that stellar phenomena properly belong to the field of physics and chemistry, we are obliged to omit it from the classification as one of the great general sciences.

In Spencer's classification geology is placed second in the list. This is surely unwarranted. Geology, the study of the earth, is no more coordinate with chemistry, physics, biology, psychology and sociology than is the study of Venus, Mars or the moon.[1] Geology, then, like the science of any other planet, properly belongs under astronomy.

The remaining and perhaps the most fundamental difference of the proposed classification from that of Comte is that in the former chemistry precedes physics. Bacon called physics the "mother of the sciences." Haeckel also, in the concluding chapter of his "Wonders of Life," speaks of physics as the fundamental science. In the fourth chapter of the same book, he writes as follows:

The study of the atoms and their affinities and combinations belongs to chemistry. As this province is very extensive and has its special methods of research, it is usually put side by side with physics as of equal importance; in reality, however, it is only a branch of physics—chemistry is the physics of the
  1. ↑ 6 This is the opinion also of Professor Ward. See "Pure Sociology," p. 69, footnote.