Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/275

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INSTINCTIVE ELEMENT IN HUMAN SOCIETY

and controlled in their expression by economic conditions. The mere fact that man's social life shows many traits in common with the social life of animals, among which there are, strictly speaking, no economic conditions, is in itself fairly good evidence that the native impulses are by no means wholly controlled in their expression by economic conditions, or any other single set of causes, but that they are in themselves, given the spontaneity of human nature, a determining factor in many, if not in all, social situations.

The theoretical consequences of the recognition of instinct as a subjective social factor are certainly not to be feared. On the contrary, the recognition of instinct as a factor would greatly broaden and deepen sociology and all of the other social sciences, and would bring the psychological aspect of those sciences into harmony with their biological aspects and with the biological sciences generally. The social sciences have suffered unduly from intellectualistic views of human nature and human society. As long as psychology was intellectualistic, it was unavoidable that such a significant human relation as mother and child, for example, should be explained in terms which now seem to us trivial as well as superficial. As we grasp the biological view of life and see clearly that all life is continuous, and that relations involved in human association are the outcome of forces that have been working upon life for myriads of years, and are therefore freighted with meanings far beyond the individual life, we shall avoid trivial and superficial explanations of things human. We shall see at once, for example, that such a relation as mother and child can be explained only in terms of instincts which have been created by age-long processes, and not in terms of a superficial, intellectual pity of the mother for the helplessness of her child. It should be manifest, therefore, that the concept of instinct in the social sciences will give to those sciences a vital relation to life generally. Deduction from biological and psychological facts, if carried out with proper scientific safeguards, is not to be feared in the social sciences; for it is only by accepting the results of the other positive sciences, and especially of the biological sciences, that sociology can itself hope to become a positive science.

It is only necessary to say a word in conclusion regarding the practical consequences of the recognition of the large rĂ´le of instinct in human social life. Scientific educators have recognized now for over a decade the part which instinct plays in individual activities and development, and scientific education has made the instinctive element the basis for the scientific training of the individual. It is, perhaps, too early to judge finally the results of this movement in education, but thus far they appear to be wholly beneficent, and we are apparently approaching scientific methods in the control of individual development. The case is apparently not different in social development.