Lucius Moody Bristol.

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I. The English Patents of Monopoly. ByWU-
liam H. Price. 8vo.

II. The Lodging House Problem in Boston.
By Albert B. Wolfe. 8vo.

III. The Stannaries: A Study of the English
Tin Miner. By George R. Lewis. 8vo.

IV. Railroad Reorganization. By Stuart Dag-
gett. 8vo.

V. Wool-Growing and the Tariff. By Chester
W. Wright. 8vo.

VI. Public Ownership of Telephones on the
Contment of Europe. By Arthur N. Hol-
combe. 8vo.

VII. The History of the British Post Office.
By J, C. Hemmeon. 8vo.

Vni. The Cotton Manufacturing Industry of
the United States. By M. T. Copeland.

IX. The History of the Grain Trade in France.
By Abbott Payson Usher. 8vo.

X. Corporate Promotions and Reorganiza-
tions. By A. S. Dewing. 8vo.

XL The Anthracite Coal Combination in the
United States. By Eliot Jones. 8vo.

XIL Some Aspects of the Tariff Question. By
F. W. Taussig. 8vo.

Xm. The Evolution of the English Corn
Market from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth
Century. By N. S. B. Gras. 8vo.

XIV. Social Adaptation: A Study in the
Development of the Doctrine of Adapta-
tion as a Theory of Social Progress. By
L. M. Bristol. 8vo.

XV. The Financial History of Boston, from
May 1, 1822, to January 31, igog. By C. P.
Huse. 8vo.

XVI. Essays in the Earlier History of Amer-
ican Corporations. By J. S. Davis. 8vo.
3 volumes.

XVn. The State Tax Commission. By ILL.
Lutz. 8vo.

XVIII. The Early English Customs System.
By N. S. B. Gras. 8vo.

XIX. Trade and Navigation between Spain
and the Indies in the time of the Hapsburgs.
By C. H. Haring. 8vo.

XX. The Italian Emigration of Our Times.
By R. F. Foerster. 8vo.

XXI. The Mesta: A Study in Spanish Eco-
nomic History, 1 273-1836. By Julius
Klein. 8vo.

XXII. Argentine International Trade imder
Inconvertible Paper Money: 1 880-1 900.
By J. H. Williams. 8vo.

XXIII. The Organization of the Boot and
Shoe Industry in Massachusetts before 1875.
By Blanche E. Hazard. 8vo.

















Oxford University Press



First Impression, January, 1916
Second Impression, December, 1919
Third Impression, July, 192 1






Preface ix

Introduction 3


AuGUSTE CoMTE. Comtc's Positive Philosophy a Prolegomenon to

Sociology 12

Herbert Spencer. Cosmic Evolution . 29

Sociological Methodology:

L. A. J. Qu^telet. The Statistical Method 43

Paul Von Lilienfeld. The Analogical Method 47

Guillaume De Greef. Classification as a Method of Sociological

Knowledge 49


Biological Evolution:

Jean Baptiste de Lamarck. Use-Inheritance 56

Charies Darwin. Natural Selection 58

August Weismann. Continuity of the Germ-Plasm 68

Hugo de Vries. Mutations 70

Johann Gregor Mendel. Independent Unit Characters . ... 71


Neo-Darwtnian Sociologists:

Friedrich Nietzsche. Evolution of the Super-Man 80

Benjamin Kidd. Religion and Social Progress 85

Galton and Pearson. National Eugenics 92

Vacher de Lapouge. Societal Selections 99

V ♦



The Environmental School of Sociologists:

Karl Marx. Economic Determinism 103

Henry Thomas Buckle. Intellect and Environment 105

Ratzel — Semple. Anthropo-Geography iii

William Z. Ripley. Race and Environment 1x5




Development of the Concept of Society as an Organism:

Albert Schaffle. The Social Organism 123

J. S. Mackenzie. An Idealistic Interpretation of Social Progress 128

Gustav Le Bon. The Psychology of Peoples 133

Emile Durkheim. Social Reahsm 138

Further Development of the Organic Concept 145


The Anthropological Sociologists:

William G. Sumner. Folkways 152

Franz Boas. Opportunity and Race Progress 155

Westermarck, Hobhouse, Thomas 159


The Historical Sociologists:

Ludwig Gumplowicz. Progress by Inter-Group Conflict .... 162

Gustav Ratzenhofer. Interests 170

Walter Bagehot. Discussion and Animated Moderation .... 177


SoaoLOGiSTS Emphasizing One All-Important Formula or

Adam Smith. Fellow-Feeling v. Self-interest 182

Gabriel Tarde. Imitation 185

James Mark Baldwin. The Dialectic of Growth 192

Henry Drummond. Struggle for the Life of Others 199

Franklin H. Giddings. Consciousness of Kind 201


Transition from Passive to Active Adaptation:

The Problem and Attempts at Solution 208

The Sociological Significance of the Free- Will Controversy ... 213

John Fiske. The Prolongation of Infancy 214




Invention and Production:

Lester Frank Ward. Material as the Basis of Spiritual Achieve-
ment 221

Simon N. Patten. Pain-Pleasure-Creative Economy 236


Invention and Production (continued) :

Thomas Nixon Carver. The Super-Group 245



Active Social Adaptation:

Jacques Novicow. Social Progress by Cultural Attraction and

Expansion 268


Active Social Adaptation (continued):

Thomas Carlyle. The Role of the Great Man 283

William James. The Energies of Men 286

Edward Alsworth Ross. The Psychology of Social Control . . . 291


Idealization and Religion:

According to Comte 299

According to Ross 301

According to Baldwin 304






The doctrine of biological evolution did not originate with
Darwin or with any other modern scientist. It is as old as human
speculation. Darwin's supreme contribution was his positive
proof that the method of evolution was the method of natural
selection, of trial and rejection, of extermination and survival.
Since his day biological evolution has meant a definite process
capable of being studied in detail, tested and verified. Before
his time it was only a generalization, a guess as to how things
might very well have been, without any definite proof that they
were actually so.

The concept of social evolution has gone through, or is going
through, a similar course of development. This concept also is
as old as human speculation. It has generally been, however,
only a vague speculation, a guess as to how things socially might
conceivably have come about, a vague idea of an unfolding
process. A little more definiteness has come into the theory by
the attempt to trace the successive stages of evolution. A
treatise on this subject, however, is rather a book of social genesis
than a book on social evolution. Until some one is able to
point out the factors and forces which bring about social evolu-
tion, to show the method and the process, it will not have become
a scientific concept.

In fact, Comte's three stages of mental development are beauti-
fully illustrated in the development of the concept of social evolu-
tion. The theological stage is represented by the doctrine of a
divine providence moulding himian history and leading mankind
along by a preordained path. The metaphysical stage is repre-
sented by most current theories of social evolution which only
point out that society, like a biological organism, grows, and that
its growth presumably is the result of some impersonal force or
principle, rather than the personal interference of a supernatural


The world was prepared to believe much more easily in Dar-
win's theory of biological evolution than it is today prepared to
believe in a similarly definite doctrine of social evolution. It is
true that Darwin's theory ran counter to certain traditional
theological beliefs of that day. The real concept of social evolu-
tion will run counter to much deeper currents of belief and tradi-
tion that still persist in the world in this twentieth century. It
will necessitate a complete reorganization of our theories of
morals, and of most of the ideals of the cultured classes. When
it is stated, for example, by a great biological evolutionist, that
nature is non-moral, or that one is not able to discern a moral
order of the universe, the issue is pretty squarely drawn and the
fundamental conflict of ideas is very clearly presented. It liter-
ally means that the person who makes such a remark is not yet
prepared to apply the method of evolution to morals, social ideals
and rehgious concepts.

The method of evolution is not simply a recognition that things
go through certain processes of development. Many people
imagine themselves to be moral evolutionists when they admit
that moral ideals change and develop. They are not real evolu-
tionists until they are wilHng to recognize that the processes of
natural selection, of trial and rejection, of extermination and
survival apply to moral principles and social ideals as well as to
biological forms. To say that nature is non-moral is merely to
say that one is not able to see that nature recognizes what one
has been taught to believe to be moral. To say that one cannot
discern a moral order of the universe, is merely to say that one
cannot perceive that the order of the universe harmonizes with
what one has believed to be moral. Until one is prepared to face
about and say that nature is moral and that if it does not har-
monize with what we have previously believed to be moral, that
is a demonstration that our ideas of morality have been wrong,
or that if he cannot discern a harmony between the order of the
universe and his system of morals, that is a demonstration that
his system of morals is wrong, he is not a true evolutionist. In
other words, one must admit that whatever the order of the
universe is, that is the moral order. This will prepare him for


the application of natural selection to moral codes and social
ideals. That moral code which works best, which fits the people
who follow it to survive by making them strong and efficient is
per se the best moral code. Whether we like it or not, such
people will rule the earth and crowd out of existence other people
who follow different codes which make for less efficiency. As the
present writer has said elsewhere, one might as well say that he
is unable to perceive a hygienic order of the universe merely
because what he has believed to be hygienic practice does not
secure him good health, or that he does not discover a harmony
between the order of the universe and his supposedly hygienic
practices. If morality is social hygiene, then we must apply the
same test to our moral practices and beliefs that we are compelled
to apply to our hygienic practices and behefs. If our hygienic
beliefs do not seem to work in matters of health, we will, if we
are wise, change our beliefs, rather than try to change the uni-
verse. Similarly, if our moral practices and beliefs do not seem
to work, we must change our moral practices and beliefs rather
than try to change the universe.

It will require a much greater mental revolution to adjust our-
selves to this new doctrine of social evolution than it ever took
to adjust ourselves to a biological doctrine of evolution. The
beliefs that were involved then were only traditional beliefs
regarding the Creation. These beliefs were never very deep-
seated, and a single generation was sufficient to bring about the
discarding of the old and the adoption of the new; but our
fundamental notions of right and wrong are very much older
than the Biblical story of the Creation, and very much more
deep-seated. To have to give up, for example, a cherished belief
regarding democracy, or socialism, or individualism, or culture,
or gentlemanly conduct, or as to what constitutes virtue, in order
to square ourselves with the facts of the universe, will involve
such a mental struggle that very few can be expected to come
through it very successfully in any single generation. Neverthe-
less, the process is going on. They will rule the world who are
best fitted to rule the world by virtue of their strength and effi-
ciency, not by virtue of the assumed beauty or persuasive power o£


their ideals. They who are unfitted will perish as certainly as did
the dinosaur or the mastodon, regardless of their apparent bigness
or assumed attractiveness. It will be well with any people which
undergoes this mental revolution early, and begins first to study
how it may adjust itself, its moral practices, its social ideals,
to the hard conditions of universal law. To do so is to prove
itself to be the superior race or chosen people. To refuse to do
so is to elect extermination rather than survival, death rather
than life.

Dr. Bristol has done a notable service in tracing the develop-
ment of this concept of social evolution or progress. From the
formidable Hst of authorities quoted, and the volume of his quo-
tations and citations, it is apparent that this topic has received
large attention from students of social life. This laborious com-
pilation together with Dr. Bristol's keen analysis and criticism
will go far toward making clear a subject which has hitherto
been obscure.

T. N. Carver.



The Meaning of Progress. — Progress is a word frequently used
though not always with critical precision. The nineteenth cen-
tury was an era of marvelous increase in the production of wealth,
in the acquirement of knowledge intensively and extensively, in
methods of social reform and in agencies for the betterment of
unfortunate man. But is this the essence of social progress ?
Ask the meditative Brahman or the static celestial! Is movement
always forward movement ? Is mere increase a sign of pros-
perity ? Dr. Watkinson ^ speaks aptly of the fallacy of bigness.
The boulder is vastly bigger than the diamond. Enlargement of
the hiunan body is often a sign of disease. Many feel that
Carlyle did well to inveigh against the gospel of Mammonism
and ridicule the theory of the leisure class of his day; that John
Ruskin's prophetic voice rang true when he summoned econo-
mists to a different evaluation of wealth than that of mere inter-
changeable goods.

Increase of knowledge is not always advantageous either to the
individual or to society. Walter Bagehot in praising the virtues
of stupidity says that nations, just as individuals, may be too
clever to be practical and not dull enough to be free. " Knowledge
puffeth up," — sometimes to a man^s eternal damnation. A
strong prejudice against college education for the yoimg man of
only average ability prevails among a certain class of men of
affairs and it is true that there are many whose superior education
has unfitted them, apparently, to adapt themselves to life condi-
tions. Nor do all agree that it is a sure sign of progress that our
enlarged sympathy has built almshouses, asylums and orphanages
to prolong the lives of the weak and unfortunate and apparently
thwart nature's plan of eliminating the unfit in the struggle for

* The great Wesleyan preacher in his book The Education of the Heart.



" Each of us," says Ross, " considers a change progressive
when it advances society toward his ideal. But one man's ideal
is freedom, while another's is order; one man borrows from biol-
ogy the criterion of differentiation, while another imports from
psychology the idea of harmony; one man's touchstone is the
happiness of the many, while another's is the perfecting of the
superior few. It is, therefore, hopeless as yet to look for a test of
progress that shall be objective and vaHd for all. Since change is
a matter of observation, whereas progress is a matter of judgment
involving the application of a subjective standard, those who
desire to see sociology a true science are justified in insisting that
social dynamics deal with the factors and manner, not of social
progress merely, but of social change." ^ This is very true for
sociology as a science which deals with facts and laws, but sociol-
ogy is also a philosophy which evaluates. Social science observes
and systematizes social phenomena and their relations; but social
philosophy seeks to understand these phenomena not merely in
their relations of co-existence and sequence but as a system, — a
causal order.

It is nearly a hundred years since Augusta Comte gave the
world his Positive Philosophy as a theory of social progress, first as
lectures, later in pubHshed form. Since then many have followed
in his footsteps and many more, without pretending to think
social phenomena as a whole, have contributed to social science
by the discovery and formulation of social laws.

In the history of social science and social philosophy, if I
observe correctly, one word, or the principle of which it is the
symbol, stands out with ever increasing prominence, — that of
adaptation. It is the main purpose of this book to trace the
development of this doctrine as a theory of social progress.

The Value of Social Philosophy, — Our discussion will lead us to
consider such questions concerning the social group, large and
small, as have ever perplexed thoughtful souls concerning their
own existence, whence, how, whither, and why ? ^ But as con-
sideration of such ultimate questions is tabooed by so many in

1 Foundations of Sociology, p. i86.

2 cf. Ward, Applied Sociology, p. 3.


this hyper-utilitarian age and nation, such an investigation may
call for justification.

One such justification has been mentioned in that we persist in
using the term progress despite the fact that we are warned that it
has no common meaning. We hear the query raised from time to
time as to whether the world is growing better or worse. We
Americans are proverbially boastful of our superiority as a nation,
and concerning the progress we have made since the venture of
'76. But all such queries and all such boasting is vain unless we
have a common standard.^

Such a study, then, should aid in clear and consistent thinking
and that is always desirable. To think logically on this subject,
may, perchance, help us to clear thinking concerning matters
pertaining to bread and butter.

Again, this is an age of social Utopias and of all sorts of schemes
looking toward social amelioration. Every state legislature is
trying to usher in the millennium by force of statutes, for the most
part making sorry work of its task. The yellow press and
maroon magazine as well as high-grade periodicals fill columns
with plans for social reconstruction. Writers in educational
journals as well as in the penny press are criticizing our present
educational system and trying to formulate a " get-culture-
quick " device to correspond to the " get-rich-quick " schemes
that have been so fruitful, — to their promoters, — during the
past quarter century.

The one supreme need of this hour is sanity and scientifically
worked out policies of social amelioration, and one requisite is an
attempt to " see life steadily and see it whole," to climb some
height from whose summit the complexities and confusions and
contradictions of life may, perchance, seem to form one co-ordinate
whole, in which disharmonies enter into the production of a
higher harmony. If the view does not thus yield harmony, it
does at least yield perspective and a degree of imity not possible
in the view that we get from a study of mere details. Such an
outlook on life should yield an inner consistency, purpose and
power not to be obtained by partial views. It may be, indeed,
* Cf. Fiske, Cosmic EvoMion, ii, pp. 193 £E.


that our philosophy will be pessimistic, but even so it will enter
the lists to contend with those of different cast, and the attain-
ment of truth, if this is a rational universe, must be the ultimate
outcome, and with truth, increased well-being. A second justi-
fication for such an investigation is thus to provide a critique of
current social theories and of schemes for social regeneration.

Social philosophy has a third function. Advance in science is
dependent very largely on the possession of a scientific imagina-
tion, — the power to jump at conclusions which become working
hypotheses to be verified, repudiated or corrected in the light of
inductive study. The western world is interested today as never
before in the increase of human well-being. But social ameliora-
tion is as truly a science as physics or geology though infinitely
more complex. Sane advance in this science must be guided by
sane philosophy. The latter will furnish the background for the
formulation of laws and methods of social advance and these
should prove far more workable than unsophisticated guesses.

Spencer in his Study of Sociology says that if you give a man
who does not understand metal work a sheet of metal with a dint
in it and ask him to flatten it out, he will take a hammer and
knock the dint flat only to find that it has appeared elsewhere.
He tries to flatten these other dints but with like result.^ Thus it
is with much social legislation not based on the laws of social

A final Justification is analogous to Comte's praise of the crude
behefs of primitive times. As those common behefs in spirits
that animated and controlled the phenomena of nature provided
a unity of thought as the necessary background for unity of
action, so a generally accepted theory of social progress would
provide an educational aim that could be put into practice; a
common principle of legislation that would make enforcement
easy; a common goal of endeavor which might make possible a
social reconstruction in the interest both of the group as a whole
and of the constituent members.

Comte claimed this virtue for his system but the vagaries of
his Polity did much to retard the spread of his theory. Since

* Quoted by Hobhouse, Social Evolution and Political Theory, p. 5.


his day great advance has been made and the leaders of thought
and life in the western world are coming to agreement as never
before on fundamental principles of life and progress.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century evolution
was the open sesame to the interpretation of all phases of life, but
this term has proven too vague. More and more that general
concept is being analyzed, narrowed, defined. Its place, as we
shall see, is being usurped by the more definite concept of adap-
tation, which has already obtained a foremost place in educational
philosophy, even in that narrower and more conservative sphere
of education which is concerned primarily with the religious phase
of life, and is invading, too, the domain of political science. A
second purpose of this thesis, then, will be to indicate the utility
of this concept of adaptation in interpreting various phases of
social endeavor.

Method. — Our subject naturally calls for an analysis of systems
of social philosophy with the one special aim of showing the con-
tribution of each to this doctrine of adaptation. It will be in our
province, also, to investigate the writings of others outside the
sphere of sociology proper who have contributed to the develop-
ment of this doctrine. We shall not attempt, however, to trace
this development back in its several root forms to early ages.
Such a task would be too great and of too little value. Indeed
this field has been cultivated already to a considerable extent.
Professor Osborn has traced the development of the doctrine of
adaptation as a theory of biological evolution back to the early
Greek physicists, especially to Empedocles,^ and Professor
Flint's Philosophy of History contains abundant material for the
study of the use of this concept among early social philosophers.
Modern sociology is generally conceded to take its rise from
Auguste Comte, so our investigation may well begin with him,
although reference will be made to some who lived in an earlier

Several methods of procedure are open to us. The subject
suggests a historical method, but inasmuch as the period covered

Online LibraryLucius Moody BristolSocial adaptation; a study in the development of the doctrine of adaptation as a theory of social progress → online text (page 1 of 33)