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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/267

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INSTINCTIVE ELEMENT IN HUMAN SOCIETY

THE INSTINCTIVE ELEMENT IN HUMAN SOCIETY
By Professor CHARLES A. ELLWOOD

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI

FOR two decades or more sociologists have been proclaiming that the development of their science must be through psychology and must wait accordingly upon the development of that science. Now that psychology has achieved a very considerable development and relative unanimity of opinion with regard to certain fundamentals, it is strange to find sociologists, and workers in the social sciences generally, loath to make use of some of its assured results.

Perhaps no single truth in modern psychology is better assured than that the whole mental life of man rests upon certain native reactions or innate impulses which the psychologists term instincts. Instinct has come to be recognized, then, as an all-important factor in the mental life by psychologists; but at the very time that the recognition of the importance of instinct in psychology has become universal certain sociologists are questioning the importance of instinct as a factor in human social life.[1]

This situation is serious enough to demand thoughtful consideration on the part of all interested in the social sciences. For years the social sciences, and especially sociology, have been striving for recognition as positive sciences. Such recognition it would seem can only come when sociology and the other social sciences openly rest their work upon assured results in the now recognized positive sciences. Sociology, indeed, as an intermediate science between the special social sciences and the natural sciences, can not be anything more than a study of the biological and psychological factors in human social life, with reference to certain problems, such as the problems of social organization and social evolution. It is difficult to see what place the sociologist has among the laborers in positive science, unless it is a part of his business at least to formulate the results of biology and psychology so as to throw light upon problems of social organization and social evolution.

Of course, as a matter of fact, students of the social sciences can not escape making continual use of biological and psychological facts and principles in their investigations and discussions. The trouble is that they frequently prefer to study out these facts and principles for themselves rather than make use of the consensus of opinion among the

  1. See, e. g., the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XV., p. 616. Cf. also the Political Science Quarterly, Vol. XXV., p. 514.