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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

SCIENCE, NATURAL AND SOCIAL
To understand and describe a system involving values is impossible
without some judgment of values, and still more impossible with-
out such value-judgment is the other scientific function, that of
control.
However, this is not quite so serious as at first sight appears. Even
in natural science, regarded as pare knowledge, one value-judgment
is implicit—belief in the value of truth. And where natural science
passes into control, a whole scale of values is involved. The applica-
tion of natural science is guided by considerations of utility—utility
for profit, for war, for food-production, for health, for amusement, for
education. The application of science through the instrument of
laisser-faire economic systems has brought us to a position at which
we are being forcibly reminded that these different utilities may
conflict.
Put in another way, this is because natural science, by the fact of
being applied, becomes a social problem and so a subject for social
science. In social science, to set up a new value-system is in certain
ways analogous to advancing a new hypothesis in natural science, and
to demonstrate that such a new system is desirable or necessary is to
discover and formulate some of the "laws of nature" for the coming
phase of social evolution.
Thus, rather crudely, we may say that in respect of the problem of
values, social science in its aspect of knowledge is faced by the same
difficulties as is natural science in its aspect of control. The difficulty
is thus in a sense an artificial one. Its consideration has reminded us
that natural science is not such a pure disembodied activity as is often
assumed. Language is in part responsible for the assumption. There
is no such thing as natural science per se. The phrase is a shorthand
description of those activities of human beings which are concerned
with understanding and controlling their natural environment. And,
just as simple one-to-one causation is a fiction, only approximated to
in artificially isolated systems, so the emancipation of natural science
from considerations of value is a fiction, approximated to by the
possibility of temporarily and artificially isolating scientific activity
from other human activities.
The essential differences between natural and social science thus
boil down to this—that the phenomena with which the latter deals
are less readily isolated, and that as an activity it is more closely
entangled with human values. These differences, however, even if
only qualitative, are very real, and it remains true that social science
must develop its own. methodology if it is to become an efficient
instrument.
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