Page images
PDF
EPUB

social mind; that to control action we must control opinions, beliefs, ideas and standards.”

Education is then the basal condition of progress. Not only is education the initial step but with it accomplished all the others follow automatically. Ward's sublime faith in education as the means to social welfare is shown in a passage in Applied Sociology. Four of the terms of the series leading to the organization of happiness, he says, are practically beyond the reach of social action, and "only in the first term, education, do we find anything tangible, anything upon which society can directly lay hold and exert its power to change, modify and improve. But it was also found that the entire series of means are so related and dependent, each upon the immediately antecedent one, that whatever affects any one affects all above it, so that it is not necessary to apply force to any of the intermediate terms, as the force applied to the most remote term is communicated automatically through the entire series and ultimately expends itself without loss in transmission upon the end itself. The rude comparison made of a row of bricks stood on end, of which it is only necessary to touch the first one to see them all fall in succession, is a perfect illustration of the process and one within the comprehension of all."1 Let fall the brick of education and humanity may be expected to move on in happy procession.

Education is the sole means to economic reform. Ward displayed impatience with projected social and economic reforms not preceded by educational changes. Social reform other than by educational means is a chimera. “There can be no equality and no justice, not to speak of equity, so long as society is composed of members equally endowed by nature, only a few of whom possess the social heritage of truth and ideas resulting from the laborious investigations and profound meditations of all past ages, while the great mass are shut out from the light that human achieve ment has shed upon the world. The equalization of opportunity means the equalization of intelligence, and not until this is attained is there any virtue or any hope in schemes for the equalization of the material resources of society.”2 Earlier passages express the same idea. “It is high time for socialists to perceive that as a rule they are working at the roof instead of the foundation of the structure they desire to erect. The distribution of knowledge underlies all social reform. So long as capital and labor are the respective symbols of intelligence and ignorance the present inequity in the distribution of wealth must continue.”3 The world's intellectual heritage belongs to all men.

1 Applied Sociology, p. 280.

Ward makes the strongest plea for a general diffusion of knowledge. "In the administration of the social estate the first and principal task is to hunt up all the heirs and to give each his share. But every member of society is equally the heir to the entire social heritage, and as we have already seen, all may possess it without depriving any of any part of it. And as the social heritage consists of the knowledge that has been brought into the world, this task is nothing less than the diffusion of all knowledge among all men.'

All knowledge among all men sounds like the old doctrine of pansophism; but it is not that because it has reference, not to complete knowledge of the universe, but to the intellectual inheritance already enjoyed by the fortunate. It includes the sciences of astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and sociology, under which, says Ward may be grouped all the facts and phenomena in the universe known to the mind of man. All persons are not supposed to attain equal knowledge of the details of these several sciences, but all should become acquainted with their general truths.

What the world especially needs, says Ward, is a new faith in the power of scientific education, a faith as deep and powerful as that inspired by religious creeds in the past. Likewise we need to understand that the ends of progress are certainly attainable, through the utilization of the material and social forces which exist in nature.

[ocr errors]

2 Ibid, p. 281. 3 Dynamic Sociology, II, p. 598. 4 Applied Sociology, p. 307.

Does genius always become known ? Is it not rather subject to opportunity, and therefore is it not probable that the genius which remains latent is vaster in amount by far than that which becomes known? Ward opposed vigorously the conclusions expressed by Francis Galton in his studies of hereditary genius. According to Galton genius is very certain to assert itself. It tends to be irrepressible. In this view environment is a negligible factor in the assertion of genius. Like murder genius "will out.” Moreover, says Galton, when any man attains a high reputation it is excellent proof that he has high native ability.

Ward did not deny the worth of evidence which Galton submitted to prove that genius may be hereditary. But he urged that Galton was mistaken in his collateral thesis that actual genius is the only genius. Hidden among the people is an amount of genius far greater than that familiar to the world. It remains latent. Genius is not irrepressible. It requires opportunity to bring it out. Ward admits that human achievement has been the work of a very small number of individuals, but, “How many such minds there may be at any given time it is impossible to determine because those that are known to exist are only such as have been permitted by environment to assert themselves. Great men then are the mentally endowed who have had a chance to use their talents. There is reason to believe too that this is only a small percentage of those who possess talents."1 The treasures of the earth are segregated and exist only in rare spots, while the treasures of human genius are somewhat uniformly distributed and there is no region which, if properly worked, will not yield

them.

Ward is undoubtedly correct in criticising the manner of Galton's conclusions. Galton did mistake the high position of public functionaries for superior ability, and like coins took them at their stamped rather than at their intrinsic value. From Galton's well known study of the Judges of England, to whom as eminent office holders he reputed genius, Ward deduces that their "greatness” is due almost wholly to their positions. Reflection upon

1 Applied Sociology, p. 133. 2 Ibid, p. 227.

the subtle analysis required to distinguish hereditary elements from environmental effects shows the navieté of Galton's method.

That those who manifest talent are but a small percentage of those who might do so, and that human genius is somewhat evenly distributed among all classes is not a mere assumption with Ward. He submits proof. Chapter IX which comprises nearly one third of the contents of Applied Sociology contains an elaborate and detailed study of the effects of environment in producing distinguished men. It is based on investigations by Odin, Candolle, Jacoby, Galton and others. The percentage of the eminent in a given area is shown to be affected by density of population, nearness to cultural centers, and other educational and economic elements present as environmental factors. The investigation is centered in France but it includes also England, Germany, Italy and Spain. We have space here only for conclusions. Ward's conclusion is that ninety-eight per cent of the men of talent of France, and only slightly less in the four other countries, were provided in their youth with ample educational facilities. And only about two per cent of those who became eminent succeeded in struggling up to distinction after a limited or wholly neglected early education.

And again in discussing the resources of society, the "unworked mines” of talent among the masses, Ward concludes that only ten per cent of these resources have been developed. Another ten per cent are somewhat developed. There remains eighty per cent as yet almost wholly undeveloped. The task of applied sociology is to show how the latent four-fifths of mankind can be turned to account in the work of civilization. Ward insists that talent and genius are distributed throughout the ranks of the uneducated in the same numerical proportion as among the "city born, the opulent, the nobility, and the academicians," and also that a well organized system of education would increase fecundity in "dynamic agents of society” or social leaders, at least one hundred fold.

If it is claimed that the above calculation is not based upon American conditions it is easy to reply that in America even fewer men of distinction have emerged. While we have had a large crop of so called "self made” men, the average of these is after all not very well made, and usually fails in appreciation of higher humanitarian values.

Genius however is relative. From Ward's lengthy discussion of distinguished men it should not be inferred that he was obsessed with the superman idea, as Galton appears to have been. Quite the contrary. Genius he held to be entirely relative. There are gradations in everything and likewise in genius. There are all conceivable degrees of genius. A dweller on our central plains hears only of a few great mountains in the West, He learns the names of the high peaks in the geography texts. The fact is, there are whole ranges of mountains almost as high, and many more of lesser height but of the same compositon and shape. For many reasons the latter may be the more valuable. So it is with human ability.

Ward's principle of “intellectual egalitarianism,” a term he invented, was the theme of his Oxford address, 1909. He maintained that there is no difference in the native capacity of mankind so far as social classes are concerned, that the brain power is the same at the various levels, and that even the lowest serfs and slaves have had the same potential powers and faculties as those who have controlled and exploited them. Inequality among individual minds he readily conceded, but maintained that much of this inequality is but apparent and is best interpreted by the term "intellectual individuality.”

Criticisms of Ward's views are easy to make. Perhaps he underestimated the interdependence of institutions. He may not have appreciated well enough the organic conception of society, and so failed to see the reciprocal relation of forces operative in the social process. An illustration of this is his professed non-interest in social and economic reforms unless preceded by education as the initial step. It may be argued that direct attempts at social, economic and political reforms may themselves be the very

« PreviousContinue »