Foundations of Sociology

Foundations of Sociology

Foundations of Sociology

Foundations of Sociology

Excerpt

The relatively undeveloped state of the social as compared with the physical sciences and the resulting problems are subjects at present much in the foreground of public discussion. The nature of the remedy for this state of affairs is the general theme of the present work. The proposed remedy, however, is not in terms of a ready-made solution purporting to "discover" the "ultimate" laws of societal phenomena or a final "just" type of social organization. This volume merely expounds an approach designed to provide the instruments for any desired solution. It is my thesis that if we follow this method as faithfully in the social sciences as we have followed it in physics it may yield us a corresponding reward in our powers of control.

The more specific considerations which have urged the preparation of the present volume are set forth at some length in Part I, and particularly in Chapter III (Sec. E, pp. 100-102). The reasons for adopting the particular viewpoint here represented may be found in Chapters I and II. Those who do not find these considerations of importance, will probably find little of interest in the book.

Briefly, these considerations are the following: There exists at present no explicit statement of the postulates from which contemporary social science proceeds or of the logic by which generalizations in these sciences are derived. Consequently there is endless confusion, contradiction, and argument regarding the permissible and effective methods of research and the validity of the conclusions reached in those fields. Comte sensed this dilemma a century ago, and it still oppresses the social sciences. "Now the existing disorder," he said, "is abundantly accounted for by the existence, all at once, of three incompatible philosophies-- the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. Any one of these might alone secure some sort of social order; but while the three co-exist, it is impossible for us to understand one another upon any essential point whatever." [Italics mine.] The trend in the direction of a unified positivistic science has, of course . . .

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