Economic Man in Relation to His Natural Environment - Vol. 1

Economic Man in Relation to His Natural Environment - Vol. 1

Economic Man in Relation to His Natural Environment - Vol. 1

Economic Man in Relation to His Natural Environment - Vol. 1

Excerpt

The aim and method of this study can hardly be explained without a statement of certain of the articles of my scientific faith. In the first place, I am convinced that, before the "social sciences," so-called, can be developed into true sciences, the apostles of the social sciences will need to have become disciples of the natural sciences. And this in respect of material as well as of methods. It is often remarked that the fields of the several social sciences are not readily distinguished. At the most, they are but different aspects of the same set of data; at the least, they are definitely overlapping. But this is equally true of the social and the biological sciences. Man is one of the organisms, and he cannot be understood unless he is regarded as such. This overlapping is even true, in some respects, of the social and the physical sciences. Man's relation with his environment, which is the background and medium of his social existence, is conditioned by the physical, chemical, geological, and other facts of that environment. Thus an adequate understanding of the biological and physical sciences seems to me to be a prerequisite for sound work in the social sciences.

It is equally essential to adopt and adapt the methods and techniques of the established sciences. Of these there are three, in particular, which it is appropriate to mention here. The first is the most recalcitrant so far as this field is concerned. Perhaps the most fundamental change in attitude produced by the intellectual movement called science has been the change, so far as it has been effected, from attributing to external nature the characteristics of the subjective (animism, anthropomorphism, etc.) to examining external nature in what we define as an objective manner. In essence, objectivity consists in seeing external facts as they are and in permitting them to impress themselves on the mind as free as possible from subjective coloration. Difficult as it is to acquire objectivity with regard to external nature it is, of course, vastly more difficult to do so with regard to human nature.

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