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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE MODERN WOIU.D
the position of an Old Testament prophet. His work was essentially
analogical. He demonstrated that social science was an inevitable
development; but his notions of what form it would actually take
and what methods it should employ were vague and essentially
erroneous.
Marx, on the other hand, developed a system directly based on
social facts and directly applicable to them. He did not just prophesy
a Messiah; he indicated the Messiah. As natural scientists tend to
undervalue Bacon because he himself did not make discoveries or
work out experimental techniques, so social scientists tend to underrate
Marx because his system is a dialectical one, ready-made and com-
plete with answer to any problem, not sufficiently empirical and
inductive for their scientific taste. But at least Marx, like Bacon, gave
expression to a new outlook and a new method of attack, and helped
materially to alter the intellectual climate so as to make it propitious
for scientific work in his field.
The question immediately poses itself as to why the emergence of
social science into large-scale and efficient operation lias been so long
delayed. The triumphs of natural science, both in discovering radic-
ally new knowledge and in applying it practically to satisfy human
needs, have been so spectacular and so fruitful that it would seem
natural and obvious to extend the same methods to the field of social
phenomena.
The answer is a very simple one; the methods are not the same.
The scientific spirit remains unaltered whether it is contemplating a
nebula or a baby, a field of wheat or a trades union. But the method-
ology of social science is inevitably different from that of natural
science. It is different and must be different for one basic reason—
the investigator is inside instead of outside his material. Man cannot
investigate man by the same methods by which he investigates ex-
ternal nature. He can use the methods of natural science to investi-
gate certain aspects of man—the structure and working of his body,
for instance, or the mode of his heredity; but that is because these arc
shared with other organisms and because they are partial aspects
which can be readily externalized. But when he starts investigating
human motive, his own motives are involved; when he studies human
society, he is himself part of a social structure.
What consequence docs this basic difference imply? In the first
place, man must here be his own guinea-pig. But this is impossible
in the strict sense, for he is unable to raakc fully controlled experi-
ments. Even if an absolute despot were to subject a group of people
to rigorous experimentation—by depriving them of alcohol, for in-