The American Science of Politics: Its Origins and Conditions

By Bernard Crick | Go to book overview
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IV
AMBITION AND AMBIGUITY IN
THE FOUNDING OF SOCIAL SCIENCE:
SUMNER AND WARD

Education must assume . . . as basic premises the validity of the concept of progress and the . . . achieving it artificially by social effort. It must inculcate those facts and principles which sociologists have agreed are indispensable to progress . . . This notion of socialized education . . . for progress was developed by Comte, but it was reserved for Ward to make the subject almost his own. . . . It is . . . essential to bear in mind that education in the past and at the present time is far less devoted to inculcating the information necessary for social progress than to handing down tradition, inspiring a love for the past, eulogizing the status quo in social institutions, and uttering warnings against the very idea of progress. . . . From HARRY ELMER BARNES, Sociology and Political Theory ( 1924)

The ideas of progress and of the indefinite perfectability of the human race belong to democratic ages. Democratic nations care but little for what has been, but they are haunted by visions of what will be; in this direction their unbounded imagination grows and dilates beyond all measure. ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE


1. Summer opposes Sociology to the State

WRITING IN 1919, Professor Harry Elmer Barnes, the most tireless anthologist and impresario of the new social sciences, drew attention to the great importance for 'contemporary political theory' of the 'school of writers calling themselves, since the time of Comte, sociologists'. To them 'the State appears not as some metaphysical "ethical being" or as a purely legalistic entity emitting the commands of a determinate superior,' said Barnes, 'but as a purely natural product of social evolution. . . . The only sound criteria for estimating the value and relative excellence of the State is', he agreed with them, 'its adaptability to the function of promoting the progress and basic

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