The History and Prospects of the Social Sciences

The History and Prospects of the Social Sciences

The History and Prospects of the Social Sciences

The History and Prospects of the Social Sciences

Excerpt

This book consists of articles on the History and Prospects of the Social Sciences which, so the editor and contributors believe, possess something more than mere esoteric and scholarly significance, namely, an immediate practical value for the solution of concrete social problems. It is becoming ever more apparent that the complex difficulties of the present scientific and industrial age can in no way be competently dealt with by excellent intentions, single-track schemes of social and economic reconstruction, metaphysical idealism or religious zeal, important as all of these may be in their respective spheres. Not only have the social sciences themselves been a product of the developments of the last two centuries, but these very aspects of progress in science, technology, industry and social relations have produced a social order which is becoming more and more evidently and certainly dependent upon social science for adequate and intelligent control, direction and reorganization.

This is readily apparent at once when one calmly endeavors to appraise the striking transformations in human society which have been brought about by the rise of modern critical thought, science, technology and industry. A century ago our society was based upon a geocentric dogmatism, which represented our planet as God's chief creative achievement, and man as the supreme product of divine ingenuity and the main object of God's solicitude. Earth, man and all organic life were looked upon as having been created some six thousand years ago in the brief span of six days, and absolute proof of this fact was supposed to be embodied in an infallible and directly inspired holy work. The final, perfect and comprehensive guide to conduct was to be found in a few precepts contained in this work, and man was believed to be perfectly free to choose whether he would follow these divinely originated and inspired dicta, or willfully and perversely succumb to the wily seductions of the devil. There was no general comprehension of the fact that the only sure guidance for human conduct was to be sought in a study of human nature and social relationships, or that such information is to be procured only from competent scientists in the various fields and subjects involved, rather than from metaphysicians and theologians. Society itself re-

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