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MACMILLAN'S MAGAZINE.

DECEMBER, 1861.

SOCIAL SCIENCE CONGRESSES, AND WOMEN'S PART IN THEM.

BY FRANCES POWER COBBE, AUTHOR OF “AN ESSAY ON INTUITIVE MORALS," "WORKHOUSE SKETCHES,” ETC.

“ CURE the world by science !” said an sideration of the various aspects of such irate old gentleman to us this year in meetings, and their probable bearings on Dublin. “Don't talk to me of your our present condition and future prosSocial Science ! Make people read their pects. Bibles, and teach their children, and At the first blush it is obvious that · keep their houses clean, and attend to there are in them many points of un

their business instead of the alehouse; questionable hopefulness and promise. but don't talk balderdash about social We cannot promise to discuss the science! Science indeed! social science! subject from the empyrean heights of pshaw!”

wholly uninterested criticism. We feel, Vain would it have been, no doubt, on the contrary, somewhat puzzled to to try to persuade that excellent practical conceive the mental state of the man philanthropist that, like M. Jourdain, who can do so ; who witnesses without who had been “talking prose all his one glow of human sympathy so many life without ever suspecting it,” so he persons assembled from every part of the had been similarly studying Social kingdom, and even from distant counScience; and that it even takes no small tries, with the one recognised object of share of the same to teach people all the contributing what may lie in their good things he desired. Equally hope- power towards the common cause of less would it be to argue with one who "peace on earth, and good-will to man.” should question whether the evils of Only in our age could such a purpose pauperism, crime, and vice were more serve to collect such an assembly. War, likely to be cured by chance and isolated indeed, has its councils, even among efforts, than by the intelligent method Caffres and Mohawks. The impeneand co-operation of persons devoted to trable mysteries of scholastic theology the task, and studying, as a science, the have called a thousand synods to solemn problems of human misery, and determine the most recondite secrets of its possible relief. The late meeting in our great Maker's nature. Physical Dublin of the Association for the science, art, and literature have bad Promotion of Social Science may be their academies and institutions beyond counted so definitely a success, as to numbering, in modern Europe. But it establish the right of such congresses to : was reserved for the later half of our be ranked among the more prominent . century to find even a name for that institutions of our times. We think pursuit which directly tries to make ourselves accordingly fully justified in mankind more good and happy, and inviting our readers to a careful con- fulfil as best they may, the second great

commandment in the Law. The mistakes, the failures, the displays of human folly and weakness (if such there should appear) at a congress like this, would make a lover of his kind rather inclined to grieve than to laugh,. to lament any defect in a noble work rather than to glory over the weakness displayed by the workers.

On the other hand, there are some pertinent questions to be asked, and, perhaps, doubts to be entertained, re

specting the existing mode of conducting • these assemblies. We confess that on the face of it the idea is rather alarming of a large association of ladies and gentlemen, enjoying rights of membership on the qualification of a small subscription, and meeting together annually to read wholly independent and disjointed lucubrations, which, unless quite inadmissible in their character, the courteous secretary will hardly be willing to reject. That section of the community whose office in the social machine is that of the drag, and who unfortunately perform their functions whenever it is going up hill no less than down—these good persons have not failed to fasten themselves tightly on this new wheel of progress. “In every otherscience,” they remark,"some period “ of apprenticeship is admitted to be “ necessary. But Social Science would " appear to be a Minerva, springing “ fully armed out of the head of Jupiter. “ People are surely made "sociologists' “ the moment they have taught a “ child, or sent a thief to jail, or given “ tea to an old woman. Nay, they “ need not have practically done so “ much as this. They may have evolved “ some gigantic scheme for the benefit " of the universe merely, like the cele“ brated idea of the camel, 'out of the “ depths of their moral consciousness,' “ and in the high regions of social " science they may disport them at “ their own sweet will, almost as it were “ in vacuo. It is nearly as good as “ being clergymen, to be able to “ preach (though it be but for twenty “ minutes) and to know that nobody can

"indeed, applaud, but the laws of “ Social Science utterly forbid all sibila“tion." In other words, it is manifestly absurd to expect that any good can come of meetings so constituted.

We will endeavour, if possible, to obtain a correct idea of what Social Science itself purposes to be, what are its legitimate objects and necessary limitations. Then we shall briefly describe the past history and present condition of the Association for the promotion of this science; and, lastly, offer such replies as may seem just to the more prominent objections brought against it from various quarters.

The debate, whether Morals properly form a deductive or an inductive science, has occupied some of the greatest minds of the world. Do we obtain the laws of social and personal duty from certain principles implanted by our Creator in our natures ; or must we seek for them among the experienced results of actions upon the happiness or misery of ourselves and mankind ? Are we to deduce from the intuitive axiomatic principles of “Love thy neighbour," and "Be perfect," the remoter propositions which are to determine our special obligations, or are we to induce from the largest attainable basis of experience the generalizations which we may then erect into canons of morality ? On the one side (that of ethics being independent of the happiness test) we have a grand array of noble names-Plato and Zeno, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Antoninus, Chrysostom, St. Bernard, Abelard, Cudworth, Jeremy Taylor, Shaftesbury, Clarke, Balguy, Hutcheson, South, Law, Fichte, and the two greatest moralists of any ageBishop Butler and Immanuel Kant. And on the other side (that of ethics being the result of experience, we have another array, yet hardly of such names as on the former roll—Epicurus, Aristippus, Democritus, Machiavelli, Pomponatius, Gassendi, Sharrock, Cumberland, Locke, Grotius, Puffendorf, Paley, Bentham, and the one living great champion, John Stuart Mill. Again, on the one hand, different theories have

nature, and limits of the Intuitive or The nature of all exact science is to Innate ideas, or Moral Sense of right and teach us abstract universal principles. wrong. On the other hand, the nature It cannot possibly descend below these of the Happiness test, and the persons to practical applications. By geometry who are to enjoy the same, are most I learn that a triangle is equal to half a variously stated. It may be either the rectangle under the same base and altiEv Ovula, the intrinsic happiness of the tude, but no geometry can teach me mens conscia recti, to be found in virtue whether one of my fields be a triangle itself, which we are (according to Demo- with equal base and altitude with the critus, Cumberland, and More) to note adjoining rectangle. To know this I and follow ; or it may be the nàovn, must see and measure them, and then the mere "pleasure," of Aristippus; or geometry will tell me that the one conthe evdaluovia, the general “ felicity," tains half as many acres as the other. present or future, of Epicurus or Paley. Likewise in morals, Intuition teaches And, again, we may apply ourselves to me the axiom that I must love my the discovery of what will give us, indi- neighbour, and reflection will deduce vidually, such Pleasure or Happiness the proposition that I must relieve the here or hereafter; or we may merge wants of the poor to the best of my our own interests in that of the mass of ability. But no deductive science of mankind, and inquire only what will morals can teach me what are the wants produce “the Greatest Happiness of the of John Styles, nor whether he will be Greatest Number." This last doctrine best relieved by alms or by employment. (so different from the selfish system of Where deductive science stops the inPaley, and illustrated with such power ductive one must meet it, and, by a proby Bentham and Mill) stands at this cess which modern logicians have named moment as the sole surviving represen- traduction, we pass from one order of tation of the inductive school of morals. reasoning to another, and complete a Its lesson is even ostentatiously lucid— science of ethics practically applicable “ Obtain from statistics the largest pos- to every detail of life. “sible basis of facts, the most extensive But because induction has this great “ accumulation of results of actions on work to do, because the field which ex" the happiness of the community, and perience is to measure is of vast extent, “ then induce therefrom the laws which, because we need it to show us how to “ when so obtained, must be accounted obey the moral law in our hearts, not “ to possess the sanctity of moral ob- therefore must it be mistaken for that “ ligations."

law itself. Because it has taught us how We have been thus explicit in stating to confer happiness on our neighbour, the great ethical problem, because we it must not set up happiness as the sole believe that a misapprehension exists end of morality ; because it has advised as to the relation of social science to our benevolence what is expedient, it this controversy. It is supposed that must not make benevolence a matter of all researches into the conditions of expediency. Let the experimentalist, public welfare necessarily imply that we by all means, teach us how to educate consider the results so obtained as ulti- the masses, but let him not ask the mate principles of morals, beyond which utility of enlarging the capacity for there is no higher sanction of duty. virtue in rational souls. Let him teach Thus those to whom the names of Plato, us how to emancipate the slave, but let Butler, and Kant, convey an impression him not to dare to question whether not to be shared by Democritus, Paley, restoring to one sixth of a community and Bentham, are unjustly prejudiced the rights of manhood will, on the against a science which, in truth, in- whole, conduce to “the greatest happivolves no such concession. “What ness of the greatest number.” other view, then, can we hold ?” Why, We believe the utilitarian system to simply this,

be philosophically untenable and morally

commandment in the Law. The mistakes, the failures, the displays of human folly and weakness (if such there should appear) at a congress like this, would make a lover of his kind rather inclined to grieve than to laugh, . to lament any defect in a noble work rather than to glory over the weakness displayed by the workers.

On the other hand, there are some pertinent questions to be asked, and, perhaps, doubts to be entertained, respecting the existing mode of conducting these assemblies. We confess that on the face of it the idea is rather alarming of a large association of ladies and gentlemen, enjoying rights of membership on the qualification of a small subscription, and meeting together annually to read wholly independent and disjointed lucubrations, which, unless quite inadmissible in their character, the courteous secretary will hardly be willing to reject. That section of the community whose office in the social machine is that of the drag, and who unfortunately perform their functions whenever it is going up hill no less than down-these good persons have not failed to fasten themselves tightly on this new wheel of progress. “In every otherscience,” they remark, “some period “ of apprenticeship is admitted to be “ necessary. But Social Science would “ appear to be a Minerva, springing “ fully armed out of the head of Jupiter. “ People are surely made sociologists' “ the moment they have taught a “ child, or sent a thief to jail, or given “ tea to an old woman. Nay, they “ need not have practically done so “ much as this. They may have evolved “some gigantic scheme for the benefit “ of the universe merely, like the cele“ brated 'idea' of the camel, 'out of the “ depths of their moral consciousness,' “ and in the high regions of social “ science they may disport them at “ their own sweet will, almost as it were “in vacuo. It is nearly as good as “ being clergymen, to be able to “ preach (though it be but for twenty “ minutes) and to know that nobody can

“indeed, applaud, but the laws of “ Social Science utterly forbid all sibila“tion." In other words, it is manifestly absurd to expect that any good can come of meetings so constituted.

We will endeavour, if possible, to obtain a correct idea of what Social Science itself purposes to be, what are its legitimate objects and necessary limitations. Then we shall briefly describe the past history and present condition of the Association for the promotion of this science; and, lastly, offer such replies as may seem just to the more prominent objections brought against it from various quarters.

The debate, whether Morals properly form a deductive or an inductive science, has occupied some of the greatest minds of the world. Do we obtain the laws of social and personal duty from certain principles implanted by our Creator in our natures; or must we seek for them among the experienced results of actions upon the happiness or misery of ourselves and mankind ? Are we to deduce from the intuitive axiomatic principles of “Love thy neighbour,” and “ Be perfect,” the remoter propositions which are to determine our special obligations, or are we to induce from the largest attainable basis of experience the generalizations which we may then erect into canons of morality ? On the one side (that of ethics being independent of the happiness test) we have a grand array of noble names—Plato and Zeno, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Antoninus, Chrysostom, St. Bernard, Abelard, Cudworth, Jeremy Taylor, Shaftesbury, Clarke, Balguy, Hutcheson, South, Law, Fichte, and the two greatest moralists of any ageBishop Butler and Immanuel Kant. And on the other side (that of ethics being the result of experience) we have another array, yet hardly of such names as on the former roll-Epicurus, Aristippus, Democritus, Machiavelli, Pomponatius, Gassendi, Sharrock, Cumberland, Locke, Grotius, Puffendorf, Paley, Bentham, and the one living great champion, John Stuart Mill. Again, on the one hand, different theories have

nature, and limits of the Intuitive or The nature of all exact science is to Innate ideas, or Moral Sense of right and teach us abstract universal principles. wrong. On the other hand, the nature It cannot possibly descend below these of the Happiness test, and the persons to practical applications. By geometry who are to enjoy the same, are most I learn that a triangle is equal to half a variously stated. It may be either the rectangle under the same base and altiEvluuía, the intrinsic happiness of the tude, but no geometry can teach me mens conscia recti, to be found in virtue whether one of my fields be a triangle itself, which we are (according to Demo- with equal base and altitude with the critus, Cumberland, and More) to note adjoining rectangle. To know this I and follow; or it may be the dovr), must see and measure them, and then the mere "pleasure," of Aristippus ; or geometry will tell me that the one conthe evdaluovia, the general “ felicity," tains half as many acres as the other. present or future, of Epicurus or Paley. Likewise in morals, Intuition teaches And, again, we may apply ourselves to me the axiom that I must love my the discovery of what will give us, indi- neighbour, and reflection will deduce vidually, such Pleasure or Happiness the proposition that I must relieve the here or hereafter ; or we may merge wants of the poor to the best of my our own interests in that of the mass of ability. But no deductive science of mankind, and inquire only what will morals can teach me what are the wants produce “the Greatest Happiness of the of John Styles, nor whether he will be Greatest Number.” This last doctrine best relieved by alms or by employment. (so different from the selfish system of Where deductive science stops the inPaley, and illustrated with such power ductive one must meet it, and, by a proby Bentham and Mill) stands at this cess which modern logicians have named moment as the sole surviving represen- traduction, we pass from one order of tation of the inductive school of morals. reasoning to another, and complete a Its lesson is even ostentatiously lucid science of ethics practically applicable “ Obtain from statistics the largest pos- to every detail of life. “sible basis of facts, the most extensive But because induction has this great “accumulation of results of actions on work to do, because the field which ex“ the happiness of the community, and perience is to measure is of vast extent, “ then induce therefrom the laws which, because we need it to show us how to " when so obtained, must be accounted obey the moral law in our hearts, not “to possess the sanctity of moral ob- therefore must it be mistaken for that “ ligations."

law itself. Because it has taught us how We have been thus explicit in stating to confer happiness on our neighbour, the great ethical problem, because we it must not set up happiness as the sole believe that a misapprehension exists end of morality ; because it has advised as to the relation of social science to our benevolence what is expedient, it this controversy. It is supposed that must not make benevolence a matter of all researches into the conditions of expediency. Let the experimentalist, public welfare necessarily imply that we by all means, teach us how to educate consider the results so obtained as ulti- the masses, but let him not ask the mate principles of morals, beyond which utility of enlarging the capacity for there is no higher sanction of duty. virtue in rational souls. Let him teach Thus those to whom the names of Plato, us how to emancipate the slave, but let Butler, and Kant, convey an impression him not to dare to question whether not to be shared by Democritus, Paley, restoring to one sixth of a community and Bentham, are unjustly prejudiced the rights of manhood will, on the against a science which, in truth, in- whole, conduce to "the greatest happivolves no such concession. “What ness of the greatest number." other view, then, can we hold ?" Why, We believe the utilitarian system to simply this,

be philosophically untenable and morally

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