Social Progress: Studies in the Dynamics of Change

Social Progress: Studies in the Dynamics of Change

Social Progress: Studies in the Dynamics of Change

Social Progress: Studies in the Dynamics of Change

Excerpt

Anatole France believes that the critic, frankly recognizing that it is himself he is interested in, ought to say to his readers, "Gentlemen, I am going to speak of myself in connection with Shakespeare, Racine, or Goethe." A writer on social progress can hardly give his discussion quite so personal a cast, although it is true that if he is to make any real contribution he must confine himself to those phases of human evolution with which he has come most intimately in contact through experience, or which he has made a part of himself by thought. If he tries to exploit a vague theory in order to explain the universe he is likely to take himself too solemnly, and he will do little more than add another chapter to the already over-large volume of "chatter about progress."

It happens that the present writer entered Sociology through the gateway of History and Anthropology. It is, therefore, from these fields that he has drawn most freely. While recognizing the large place that philosophical and psychological thinking must have in any adequate study of human affairs, it appears to me that psychology has never quite got the right perspective in social matters, nor do I find much that is either stimulating or informing in those metaphysical methods of interpreting history which seek to trace progress along a single systematic line. No doubt the fault is largely in myself, but it has long seemed to me that social psychology is still a thing struggling to be born and not succeeding over well, and that the philosophy of history is becoming bankrupt.

There are two methods which the student of progress can adopt only at his peril. One is the journalistic and . . .

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