The Strength of Nations: A Study in Social Theory

By George Soule | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
DYNAMIC SOCIETY AND ITS SCIENCES

IN EARLIER CHAPTERS we have formulated an approach to the problems of the modern world which may be summarized as follows. Our chief hope for the avoidance of such disasters as depression and war, and the achievement of positive ends made possible by material progress, lies not in improvised or quack doctrines, not in the promises of new messiahs, and not in religious revivalism, but in a better application of scientific method to an understanding of man and society.

We have inquired into the previous unfruitfulness of the social sciences as guides to action, followed them down several false trails, and concluded that in spite of previous failures they, like the so-called natural sciences, may in the end produce dependable results. We have found that the history of any science is likely to be marked during the early part of its course by an alternation between the acceptance of general theories which are insufficiently in accord with the facts, and empirical investigation turning up factual material which is confusing and useless until it can be arranged according to a theory. Eventually the alternation of hypotheses and research, and the checking of one by the other, lead to the maturity of a science when hypotheses become sufficiently realistic so that they can be tested by the facts. Proved hypotheses are laws useful in prediction and in

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