Editorial Note

Albion Small

Professor Ford's confession that he prefers obscuration in the company of Oxford and Cambridge to unbiased search for the light, is not the only proof in his paper that there is no common ground for argument between him and the sociologists. His contention amounts first to the claim that a knowledge problem must be solved before work upon it can have scientific value. That is, a generalization must have been reached which may serve as an a priori to explain all the phenomena. This flatly rules inductive processes out of the pale of science. It puts dogmatism in place of research by test of all possible hypotheses. According to Professor Ford, therefore, all the science in existence has come into being by an unscientific process.

In the second place, Professor Ford demands acceptance of the a priori that the state existed before the individual. This is like denying scientific value to biology until it solves the riddle of the priority of chick or egg, and deduces the details of biological knowledge from that a priori. Inasmuch as we have not discovered the missing link, and do not know its habitat and its habits, we should, be somewhat premature, whether we called ourselves sociologists or anything else, in being as sure as Professor Ford is about things which nobody knows. What we do know is that wherever human experience has been observed one of its elements has been an incessant reciprocating process between individuals and their groupings. The sociologists are trying to do for this process precisely what the physicists are now trying to do for radio-activity. That is, they are testing every possible hypothesis which may help to explain what it is, and how it is, and why it is.

A. W. S.


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