IN the early days of this Society, as some of you may remember, it comprised those workers in science resident in Washington who were most eminent in varied branches of research. While in our Society, as in the firmament, one star differed from another star in glory, yet among those ready to contribute to the program or discussion, we might then count many of those reckoned as authorities in their special lines of work and in many different fields.
GOTTFRIED ACHENWALL, who was born in 1719 and died in 1772, and was a professor of philosophy at Göttingen in 1750, is reported to have originated the modern statistical method. Undoubtedly others used it before Professor Achenwall, but it is as well to attribute the first specific use of the method in the modern sense to him as to any other.
THE problem of definitions is a perplexing one, and some of the most distinguished writers on political economy make no attempt to introduce their treatment by a definition. Marshall, for instance, tells us ‘Political economy is a study of man’s actions in the ordinary business of life; it inquires how he gets his income and how he uses it.
To define a priori the nature and scope of a science is always difficult; and it is especially difficult during periods of transition. Speculation as to what psychology ought to be is of course interesting and important ; but its value depends largely upon the frank recognition of what psychology actually is, or perhaps what the psychologies actually are.
So far as the definition of sociology is concerned, it is simply the science of society, or the science of social phenomena. All the more specific definitions that have been proposed have created more confusion than they have cleared up. What is needed in sociology is not definitions, but a clear presentation of the scientific principles underlying it.
ENLIGHTENED society readily grants that the lives of its members constitute its most treasured resource. Legislative authority has reserved its severest penalties for those who plot against and destroy its subjects. Along with the advancement of civilization has come a higher and higher appreciation of the inalienable right of the human organism to live its allotted time, and the most benign forms of government in the present day assume that its first duty is the preservation of the life and the comfort of its units.
THE exquisite skill and accurate knowledge observable in the lives of the lower animals, which men generally have regarded as instinctive—born with them—have ever been subjects of wonder. In the hands of the natural theologian, whose armory has been steadily impoverished in proportion as mystery has given way before science, instinct is still a powerful weapon.
THE part of the universe which the penetrating power of the microscope reveals to the student of nature, though concerned with the infinitesimal, equals the macroscopic portion in magnitude and significance. Modern scientific consideration recognizes the fact that no more accurate method of research can be concentrated on the question of origin, cyclic changes in development and existing structure of various forms of matter, both organic and inorganic, than that of their minute examination under the microscope.
THE total production of sugar in the world is between seven and eight million tons yearly; in 1898-99 it was 7,839,000 tons. Of this amount about three eighths is obtained from sugar cane and five eighths from beets. The United States in 1898 consumed 2,047,444 tons of sugar, each ton being 2,240 pounds.
NEXT to Lord Kelvin, perhaps the most notable figure among the physicists of Great Britain during the past forty years has been Peter Guthrie Tait, professor of natural philosophy in the University of Edinburgh since 1860. One of the first to establish laboratory instruction in Great Britain, and beginning his career at a time when the now prevalent ideas of energy were yet unborn, he has had much to do with the shaping of scientific thought and education during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
POLITICAL, social and educational institutions rise and decline, as species and genera have come and gone in the history of organic life. Evolution has been on the whole progressive, leading to greater differentiation and more complex interdependence.
A NOTABLE book on modern botany has been prepared by Professor Campbell under the title of ‘A University Text-book of Botany’ (Macmillan) which fairly outlines the essentials of the science as understood to-day. Unlike many text-books it is a well-balanced presentation of the whole subject, and not a setting forth of some transient fad which the author may have taken up recently.