The Scope and Method of Sociology: A Metasociological Treatise

The Scope and Method of Sociology: A Metasociological Treatise

The Scope and Method of Sociology: A Metasociological Treatise

The Scope and Method of Sociology: A Metasociological Treatise

Excerpt

Before one can construct a sociological system, or even study sociology critically, certain things must be already known. In the first place, one must have a definition of sociology; for without some sort of definition, at least a rough one, it would be impossible to identify the science at all or to distinguish it from, say, astrophysics or crystallography. In the second place, there must be some systematic way of deciding whether a given proposition possesses the proper scientific quality to be admitted to sociology; for if sociology is a science, unscientific propositions must be excluded. The study of sociology presupposes, then, the existence of criteria for deciding what is relevant to the science and what sufficiently satisfies scientific standards. Moreover, the sociologist needs practical procedural rules for applying these criteria in specific instances. Metasociology will be defined as an auxiliary science, logically antecedent to sociology, which deals systematically and explicitly with both sorts of criteria and their application.

It is obvious that metasociology is old, although the name is new. The sociologist must necessarily make decisions on the points mentioned in the above paragraph, even though he may neglect to formulate them explicitly. As a matter of fact, Chapter 2 of the present work will show, by the history of sociology from Auguste Comte on, that what is here called metasociology has been discussed a good deal for more than a century, although of course not under that name. The present volume has been written in the conviction that metasociology needs more than incidental treatment. It needs to be handled . . .

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