Sociology Today; Problems and Prospects

Sociology Today; Problems and Prospects

Sociology Today; Problems and Prospects

Sociology Today; Problems and Prospects

Excerpt

At first appearance, it would seem fairly easy to see and to pose a problem in a branch of science. Surely the raising of questions presents no great difficulty; children do it all the time. And yet, the experience of scientists is summed up in the adage that it is often more difficult to find and to formulate a problem than to solve it.

The substance of this now-familiar saying has been periodically lost to view only to be rediscovered through hardwon experience. In the seventeenth century, it was enough of a commonplace to be known to that genial columnist and man-about-town, John Aubrey, who reported that "Dr. Pell was wont to say that in the Solution of Questions, the Maine Matter was the well-stating of them; w requires motherwitt, & Logick . . .; for let the question be but well-stated, it will worke almost of itselfe." Yet, two centuries later, even so great a scientist as Darwin had to discover this for himself. Reminiscing about the course of his inquiries into the origin of species, he wrote: ". . . you would be surprised at the number of years it took me to see clearly what some of the problems were which had to be solved. . . . Looking back, I think it was more difficult to see what the problems were than to solve them, so far as I have succeeded in doing, and this seems to me rather curious." What Darwin thought strange, if not singular, present, day scien- tists take as thoroughly familiar and typical. As the biologist Agnes Arber . . .

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