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Full text of "[untitled] The American Journal of Sociology, (1918-01-01), pages 544-545"

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greatest" of the laws of community development, "perhaps," as the 

author remarks, "from its very obviousness." The point is, however, 

that nowhere is there an attempt to come to terms with these writers. 

On the other hand, the author shows no particular familiarity with the 

sociological tradition. For that reason the terms used in this book are 

more or less improvised, consequently lacking in precision, and the whole 

volume is vague, thin, plausible, and innocuous. 

Robert E. Park 
University of Chicago 

Philosophy and the Social Problem. By Will Durant. New 
York: Macmillan, 1917. Pp. 272. $1.50. 

This very readable and interesting book contains two perfectly dis- 
tinct ideas, either one of which might be accepted by a man who violently 
disagreed with the other. One is an intensely instrumental conception 
of philosophy; the other is a proposal for an attack upon the problems 
of human misery and degradation by a " Society for Social Research." 

Dr. Durant's exposition of the function of philosophy reveals a super- 
pragmatic bias. The "Absolute" is anathema to him; epistemology is 
self-befoggery. Scorn of the "Historismus" of academic philosophy 
provokes his most brilliant epigrams. "Just as philosophy without 
statesmanship is — let us say — epistemology, so statesmanship without 
philosophy is — American politics," he says. "The function of the phi- 
losopher is to do the listening to today's science, and then to do the 
thinking for tomorrow's statesmanship" (p. 225). 

The way is paved to this conception of philosophy, which is pro- 
pounded in the latter part of the book, by a preparatory study of what 
philosophy meant to five of its choicest spirits. These sketches, con- 
nected by very brief summaries of the history of intervening thought, 
serve to provide "a wholesome measure of orientation" to the author's 
notion of philosophy by showing "that the social problem has been the 
basic concern of many of the greatest philosophers." 

Dr. Durant's proposal for the establishment of a "Society for Social 
Research" is sublime in its simplicity. It shall be founded by the 
organization of men of "recognized intelligence." Are there any such 
men? Mr. Durant says there are. "Now what does our society do? 
It seeks information. That, and not a program, is the fruitful beginning 
of reform" (p. 232). It then spreads "through the press the simple 
reports of its investigations, simple accounts of socially significant work 


in science, and simple statements of fact about the economic and political 
issues of the day" (p. 238). "Imagine a people instructed in these 
sciences; with such a people civilization would begin" (p. 249). 

There are probably some sociologists who, agreeing with Dean Linn 
that the world's worst speeches are made in faculty meetings, will regard 
the society of professors with little enthusiasm. Moreover, it is easy to 
talk about the "simple facts," but very hard to find any facts that pos- 
sess that attribute. Biologists no longer mention the "simple cell," and 
even the "simple operations of the laws of supply and demand" have 
taken on a considerable degree of complexity since the days of Ricardo. 
There are some even among university professors who would pay high 
for a knowledge of the "simple truth." 

C. E. Ayres 

University of Chicago 

Mental Adjustments. By Frederic Lyman Wells. New York: 
D. Appleton & Co., 1917. Pp. 331. $2.50. 

In this volume we have a dynamic psychology presented by one who 
has entered the field of psychopathology with a training received in the 
psychological laboratory. It has thus come to pass that the practice 
and theory of modern psychiatrists and the practice and theory of the 
academic psychologists have been unified into a meaningful whole. The 
result tends to illuminate both fields. 

The viewpoint throughout is biological — it is upon adapted conduct 
that the happiness of the individual and the welfare of the race depend. 
In mental life every human being has to adapt each of his fundamental 
trends (1) to external situations, set up by social control, education, and 
the difficulties of the environment; (2) to the fundamental trends of 
other human beings; and (3) to conflicting trends in his own nature. 
Maladaptation may ensue in any or all of the functions of mind 
through failures of cognition, of affection, or of volition. The maladap- 
tations which interest the author most are those of affection and volition. 

Wells seems implicitly to recognize as fundamental trends all ele- 
ments of the original nature of man, all instinctive tendencies. This is 
a wholesome advance over the one-idea systems of Freud and Adler. He 
stresses especially, however, the economic trend (working, getting goods, 
achieving security) and the sexual trend (mating, reproduction, familial 
interests) as sources of extreme misery for the individual who fails of 
adaptation with regard to them. "In human strivings for happiness