CRIMINOLOGY: SOME ORIGINS AND FOUNDERS
In our day it is not the disease the physician considers so much as the patient. -- Sir ROBERT ANDERSON
The word "criminology" suggests studies that have relation to crimes and to criminals. Definitions of the terms crime and criminal are as desirable as those of any other concepts that are the subjects of serious discussion. At the same time, exact definitions to begin with are not absolutely essential. It is one of the functions of science to arrive at definitions. In order to attain this end the student must often explore whatever portion of his total problem appears most promising for the time being in the expectation that as he and perhaps others after him proceed, one avenue after another will open up and that ultimately fundamentals will be uncovered underneath the whole area. Then a definition of a scientific character can be offered. In the meantime he must be content with tentative and partial or approximate delimitations. To haggle over definitions at the outset is to invite stagnation. This applies to the terms "crime," "criminal," "criminology," and many other terms in daily use.
Crime is both a social and an individual phenomenon. Some of the main characteristics of a crime and of a criminal may be made clear by examining one or two hypothetical situations, and they, instead of more precise statements, may serve a good purpose.
One cannot conceive of crime in a world in which but one person is living. Such a lonely one certainly could injure no one but himself and there would be neither statute law nor common law for him to transgress. It is true that we can conceive of his developing a moral code for himself. He might, for example, develop a sense of responsibility for the lower animal and plant life with which he is surrounded. He might even write definite statements in some form to indicate precisely what his responsibility is in particular relations. In such a case, he would be very likely to think of injury to himself, or of taking his own life as at the very apex of forbidden forms of behavior, because such actions would leave his plants and animals in the lurch. But crime, as we think of it, could not be said to exist.