Life, Language, Law: Essays in Honor of Arthur F. Bentley

By Richard W. Taylor | Go to book overview

II
A. F. Bentley's Inquiries into the Behavioral Sciences and the Theory of Scientific Inquiry

By SIDNEY RATNER

ARTHUR F. BENTLEY is one of America's distinguished pioneers in political science, sociology, psychology, and the logic of scientific inquiry. Like other pioneers he has had to wait for the recognition that is his due, but that recognition has come from the leaders in the fields he has cultivated. Now it is spreading among a wider public. Reviews and discussions of his varied contributions have appeared in Europe and America over the past six decades, especially the last two, but no one has attempted so far to present the leading themes and methods of inquiry that Bentley has been led to develop during his long life-time. More important than any single work of his is the cumulative impact of his writings, the pattern that his diverse inquiries form. This essay will sketch the main outlines of Bentley's life and try to show how his work grew out of specific conditions, experiences, and interests. I shall endeavor to state the central objectives and results of Bentley's successive investigations so that an overall view of the high points of Bentley's life-work and influence can be obtained. Bentley then can be seen as a part of the social process and cultural setting of America since 1870.

A. F. Bentley's works chart his undaunted, unflagging inquiry into the natural and social cosmos. They range from his youthful yet solid study of The Condition of the Western Farmer ( 1893) to his monumental The Process of Government ( 1908) and Behavior, Knowledge, Fact ( 1935). Other valuable works are his Relativity in Man and Society ( 1926), and Linguistic Analysis of Mathematics ( 1932). In 1949 appeared Bentley's and John Dewey's important cooperative critique of modern logic, Knowing and the Known. These earlier books were crowned by Bentley Inquiry Into Inquiries, published in 1954. This volume of selected essays brought together some

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