Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/255

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SCIENCE AND SOCIAL PROGRESS

of sociology in order that the reform, which would evidently be radical, may be made in accordance with the natural laws of growth and with as little shock as may be to the social body.

Finally the social sciences supplement the natural and biological sciences by making their work more effective. The science of politics should perfect the general social organization and promote efficiency in all kinds of collective activity. The science of economics should aid in the conquest of nature by a better direction of the agents of production and exchange and should further human efficiency and well being by improving the process of the distribution of wealth. Similarly, jurisprudence, ethics and other social sciences should help to eliminate those who seek to prey upon society and should smoothe out the social relations of the rest.

The social sciences, therefore, the last of the three groups, Contribute to progress by correcting certain evils left by the other sciences, by improving social conditions, and by perfecting social organization so as to increase social and, therefore, individual efficiency.

To sum up, the natural sciences developed first, because man was first interested in the conquest of nature and the simpler physical laws could be grasped at an early period. This period brought an increase of wealth but it was wasteful of human life. The desire to save life led the way to the study of biology and this study was made possible in a scientific way because of the enlightenment which came with the spread of knowledge. Knowledge of the physical environment and of life, however, did not prevent social disease from flourishing and did not greatly improve the social condition of a large part of society. To overcome these defects the social sciences within recent years have been cultivated with great seriousness. It is true that social conditions from very early times have been such as to demand a knowledge of the social sciences, but men's interests have not turned in that direction except in one or two cases, in a limited way. Interest in the social sciences has had to wait for the enlarged sympathies and the sense of solidarity which has appeared with the growing interdependence of dense populations, and these conditions have been dependent upon the advance of the other sciences.

With the cultivation of the social sciences, then, the chain of knowledge will be complete, at least so far as the needs which have already appeared are concerned. For each group of sciences will solve one or more of the great problems which man has encountered in the process of development. The physical sciences will solve the problems of environment, the biological sciences the problems of life, and the social sciences the problems of society.