Theory of History

Theory of History

Theory of History

Theory of History

Excerpt

In 1918 the British Labor Party pronounced its belief in the necessity for increased study, scientific investigation, and deliberate organization of research "in the still undeveloped science of society." "If law," it declared, "is the mother of freedom, science must be the parent of law." In 1795 a similar point of view was expressed by the National Convention of France, on the occasion of the foundation of the Institut National. So too, in the twentieth century, Bryce, Wells, Wallas, Gardner, Dewey, and many others, have reëchoed the judgments of Vico, Montesquieu, Turgot, Diderot, and Condorcet, of David Hume, Adam Smith, and Jeremy Bentham, in the eighteenth century, in urging the importance of a scientific study of 'man' or of 'society.'

Notwithstanding the aspirations of two centuries, there is apparent, at the present moment, a widespread unrest and dissatisfaction with the character of the studies spoken of familiarly as the 'social sciences.' The evidence of this intellectual disquiet appears, not only in outspoken criticisms of current activities in the study of society, but in repeated attempts to define anew the relationships of the various disciplines in which the phenomena of human existence are made the object of inquiry, as well as in persistent efforts to improve and strengthen each separate discipline by means of a critical examination and reformulation of its particular problems and modes of procedure.

There can be no question that a strong determination manifests itself at the present time to find a sound basis for the study of 'man' or of 'society,' and this is a most hopeful sign. Yet it must be confessed that the discussions in which the present situation finds expression have led to little more than the elaboration of logical arguments drawn from the obvious distinguishing features of the activities pursued in the recognized branches of humanistic study. It is remark-

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