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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 46/March 1895/Editor's Table

EDITOR'S TABLE.

 
SOCIOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITIES.

THERE was nothing commonplace about the title that first confronted the readers of the initial number of The Popular Science Monthly in May, 1872. The Study of Sociology: Our Need of It, had the flavor of that happy and legitimate audacity that makes things "go." For nobody knew what "sociology" was. Only a few curious readers of Comte, and subscribers to Mr. Spencer's Synthetic Philosophy, had ever met with the word. It is familiar enough now; and if the repetition of phrases meant always the assimilation of ideas, we might expect the coming generation to think of society as rationally as it will think of the solar system and the descent of man. "Sociology" confronts us in the morning newspaper; it is the favorite fad of philanthropic institutions; it is discussed in ministers' meetings, and it pleasantly stimulates the scientific ganglia of ladies' clubs.

The popular history of sociology in these twenty-three years has therefore been interesting and instructive. To Mr. Spencer and his followers the word has always meant a strictly scientific description and explanation of society as it is and as it has been. The business of the sociologist, as Mr. Spencer understands it, is to interpret the life and organization of society in terms of natural causation and evolution; not to abolish evil for dissatisfied people, nor to invent new moral worlds for gullible people, nor to fit out reformers with a brand new set of rules of thumb. But it was inevitable that as soon as the serious scientific study of society was talked about the uninstructed and incompetent should try their hands at the task; and a curious mess they have made of it. They have seized upon the word sociology and made it do service in aid of every crazy enterprise and sentimental crusade that all the cranks in Christendom have ever thought of. To cap the climax, the theologians of the Christian socialist variety, and certain so-called "economists" who enjoy airing their disbelief in pretty much everything that used to be called political economy, have put their heads together and invented something that they call "Christian sociology," a last ridiculous manifesto in the warfare of obscurantism against science. Unable longer to sell text-books of six day geology, these estimable persons will see to it that the law of population and the formula of marginal utility are put on a safe Christian basis!

Meanwhile, however, a real and great progress has been made in the constructive development of scientific sociology, and, what is not less important, in teaching it. But it has been made so quietly that the general scientific public is scarcely aware of what has been accomplished. In European universities of the first class sociology is to-day firmly established as a recognized subject for degree work, and it is taught by extremely able men. De Greef at Brussels, Gumplowicz at Gräz, Letourneau at Paris, Durkheim at Bordeaux, and Simmel at Berlin are professors who combine scientific training with a philosophical grasp of their subject. In this country Prof. Sumner began using Spencer's Study of Sociology as a text-book at Yale soon after its publication. Since then courses in sociology have rapidly multiplied in our colleges. The new University of Chicago recognized the claims of such studies by putting Prof. Small, whose teaching has been based in a good degree on the views put forth in Ward's Dynamic Sociology, in charge of a well-equipped department of social science. Columbia College last year gave a new impetus to the movement by founding the first American university chair of sociology to be officially called by that name, and by calling to it Prof. Giddings, who holds that social ethics can never teach us what social relations ought to be until sociology has analyzed and classified them as they are; discovered how, through an evolutionary process, they came to be as they are; and explained in terms of natural causation why they are what they are, and not in all respects what we might wish them to be.

For university purposes it is obviously necessary to limit rather definitely the field of sociology, because a considerable part of the comprehensive and detailed study of society falls within the departments of political economy and public law. Now the lines of demarcation ought to be drawn, with due regard to a logical classification, has been a question of practical interest to teachers, and the occasion of the recent annual meeting of the American Economic Association, in this city, was made the opportunity for a conference. The conclusion reached was that sociology is the master science that co-ordinates the special social sciences, and that, in teaching, the co-ordination must be shown not only by pointing out the interdependent relations of the different groups of social phenomena, a merely descriptive process, but by concentrating attention on those phenomena that are so elementary, or fundamental, that they are found in all groups, and are presupposed by all the special social sciences. Sociology is thus for university purposes the science of social elements and first principles, and therefore the fundamental and co-ordinating social science; a science of what is and has been, sharply distinguished from social ethics, but offering to social ethics legitimate data for a study of what ought to be.

With sociology as thus conceived more and more thoroughly taught in our universities, we may hope that the educated public will begin to entertain truer notions of what society is, and of the laws of its evolution.

 

 
MORE FACTS ABOUT DIPHTHERIA ANTITOXINE.

Since the writing of Dr. Armstrong's paper on the treatment of diphtheria by antitoxine serum, published in the Monthly for February, certain additional data have appeared that seem worth presenting to our readers.

Prof. Jaime Ferran, of Barcelona, has called attention to the fact that in April, 1890, he published a paper in which he described a safe and practical method of immunizing animals against fatal doses of the diphtheria poison, and thus he anticipated Prof. Karl Fraenkel's communication on the same subject by eight months. But, unfortunately for the Spanish bacteriologist, he did not carry his experiments to the ultimate point to which Behring carried Fraenkel's investigations, resulting in the antitoxine serum.

Recent investigations in relation to the duration of immunization have shown that the antitoxic properties of the serum of children who have had diphtheria do not appear until between the eighth and tenth days after recovery from the disease, but the property persists for several months. Antitoxic serum, however, immunizes more rapidly than the disease itself, but it does not produce a refractory state of equally long duration.

A further evidence of the value of the antitoxine serum is shown by a paper by Dr. Moizard, who administered it in two hundred and thirty-one cases of diphtheria in the Paris Trousseau Hospital, with a mortality of only 14·7 per cent. During the same months, October and November, in other years the mortality had never been less than fifty per cent. Prof. Widerhofer, of Vienna, treated one hundred patients with the serum, with a mortality of twenty-four per cent, while the mortality in fifty cases not treated with serum was forty-two per cent. In Trieste the adoption of the antitoxine treatment has reduced the mortality from 58·3 to sixteen per cent, four hundred and six cases of diphtheria being thus treated.

Occasionally some bad effects have followed the administration of the serum, such as high fever, pain in the muscles and the joints, enlargement of the lymph glands, skin eruptions, and occasionally it seems to produce or hasten kidney complications.

The celebrated Prof. Virchow has said that while he was not such a worshiper of antitoxine serum as many of its first discoverers, and, like others, he was in doubt about many things pertaining to it that further experience might correct, still he could not refrain from saying that it was the duty of every earnest physician to use the remedy. The possibility that it would do harm was so insignificant that it might be ignored.

 

 
"SCIENCE"

We welcome with much satisfaction the reappearance, in an improved form, and apparently under the very best auspices, of our excellent contemporary, Science. The names upon its editorial committee are vouchers for the competence with which subjects falling into the several departments which these gentlemen supervise will be treated. The only important science which we fail to see on the list of those which our contemporary embraces in its programme is political and social science. It is true that the professors of this branch of science are not altogether at one even as regards the fundamentals of their subject; but all the more need is there for full discussion of that subject from every rational point of view. Psychology and paleontology, which are on the programme, are of interest chiefly as loading to wider and more intelligent views of man as a social and political animal; and we therefore trust, nay believe, that our revived contemporary, when it settles fully down to work, will have many a useful chapter to give us on the important topic to which we have called attention. Meantime we wish it, very heartily, all success.