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Sherwood J. B. Sugden
1906 The Monist  
New York: Macmillan Co. 1905. l2mo, pp. 410. One of the chief effects of the christening of sociology with this name in 1842 was that for a full generation thereafter more arrant nonsense was written upon the subject than had been written in any previous period of several times that length. Numbers of unaccountable and invariable laws of sequence of social phenomena were announced; while on the other hand such writers as Ferrier and Goldwin Smith denied the possibility of any science of
more » ... science of history. It was certainly an advance upon this state of things when Mr. Lester Frank Ward, in 1883, inaugurated the doctrine that sociology rests upon psychology, that the only social forces are the desires of individual men, and that these are controllable just as physical forces are controllable. It was an undeniable advance even though it involved some error. It is true that individual impulses are the only social forces to the same extent as it is true that the characters of any race of animals are the characters of the individual animals of that race. But is this quite true? Every census of the United States shows that among the native whites there are a few more males under one year of age than there are of females, (in 1900 as 38 to 37), while among the negroes it is the other way (in 1900, as 102 to 103). Here is a characteristic of each race, as it lives in the United States. Yet it cannot properly be called a characteristic of individual whites and negroes, though it is a character of statistics of individuals. It might be said that the causes of statistical characters lie in the individuals. But this would be a confusion of thought due to not remarking that a noun in the plural number does not denote the same sort of object as the same noun in the singular, but a collection of such objects. For most nouns and for most purposes the distinction is insignificant. But for the noun "individual" it is highly important. A character of individuals which is not a character of any one individual is a character of a collection of which any member is an individual. It is not an individual character, but is a collective character; just as the character of a molecule is not a character of an atom, just as a character of an ocean wave is not a character of sea-water. Professor Ross is a close adherent of the position of Dr. Ward. If our readers will permit us to use the word "impulse" to denote that real determination of man's nature to which desire corresponds in consciousness, Professor Ross's opinion is easily explained. He holds it to be axiomatical that nothing but individual desires are the sole true causes of all social phenomena. by guest on June 7, 2016 Downloaded from
doi:10.5840/monist190616342 fatcat:cmzbji2ehnfw3osaidai6elsvu