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new methods were loudly proclaimed, new sciences were born and named, all concerned with the same facts of the past which it is our business to study. So closely are these new interests related to us, and to one another, in the common body of material which we must all use, that we are tempted to call them offshoots of history, to say that our broad field has begun to be divided, surveyed out into independent domains, as the still broader field once called philosophy has been dividing itself through many centuries; but the statement, though tempting, would be, at least of some of these branches, neither historically nor logically correct. Certainly their attitude towards traditional history has not been that of dutiful children towards a parent. So uniformly and severely critical have they been of the methods and purposes of the political historian, if we may use that term as a means of differentiation for the historian by name and profession, that we may almost regard their rise as an attack upon our position, systematic and concerted, and from various points at once. This is hardly the literal truth and yet it behooves us to understand clearly that after three-quarters of a century of practically undisputed possession of our great field of study, during which the achievements of the political historian have won the admiration and applause of the world, our right to the field is now called in question, our methods, our results and our ideals are assailed, and we are being thrown upon the defensive at many points.
The whole of this hostile movement, to continue for convenience to call it so, I do not here propose to review, but there are five lines of attack so interesting in themselves, and possessing in common so many of the features to which I wish to call especial attention, that I will ask your indulgence while I consider them in brief detail. I shall take them up in the inverse order of their own hostility to us and of the vigor of their attack.
The first to be considered then is political science. The political scientists may, with some show of justice, dispute my right to place their subject in this list. If we consider the unconnected work of individual students, it is by far the oldest of the five; and towards the work of the historian its attitude is less that of hostility than of patronizing condescension. But as a consciously organized body of knowledge and of workers this division is hardly older than the dates I have specified, and in many of its members the tendency is strong to assume that the chief end to be served by the historian is to furnish material for their science, or to put it in different phrase, that all political history is merely the effort of mankind to give objective form to the principles which political science seeks to state;
• Bernheim, Lehrbuch (1903), pp. 76-126; (1908), pp. 85-145.
that history finds its explanation in these principles, that its laws will be formulated by their statement, and that the philosophy of history is the philosophy of the state.
The second movement upon our position, somewhat more aggressive in spirit, is that of the geographers. With something of the ardor of new discovery, seeming to forget that many of the suggestions which they make are also old, though their organization into a systematic whole may be comparatively new, they appear to me to be sometimes tempted by their enthusiasm to make more sweeping statements than they intend, and to advance claims of whose exact bearing they are hardly conscious. What they offer us, in the form of words they use, is a complete explanation of history. Civilization or the lack of civilization is determined by the physical surroundings and the climatic influences in which the different tribes of men have found themselves. I cannot forbear quoting a passage from a recent book, because it illustrates so well both the character of the claims advanced and the unconscious carelessness of statement in which they are made. I must add that the book is not to be judged by this quotation. The main portion of it is an unusually valuable piece of work, almost extraordinary in some respects, which has received, I do not doubt, the praise which it deserves. The scientific part of the book is as easily separated from the theoretical as the business part of the Declaration of Independence from the speculative philosophy with which it opens. Says the author : "If Percival Lowell is right, it is the dry climate of Mars which has caused the inhabitants of that planet to adopt an advanced form of social organization, where war is unknown, and each man must be keenly conscious of the interdependence of himself and the universal state." You will notice that the only point upon which any doubt is expressed is the dry climate of Mars. The civilization of that planet is known to possess certain characteristics and these may be fully accounted for by a given climate, if it exists. Now it needs no proof that the author did not intend to say exactly what he has said, but the statement is fairly typical both in the nature of the claim advanced and in the expression which is given to it. For our purpose at present, I repeat, the geographers offer us an explanation of history purporting to be adequate to account for the achievements of the race.
The third attack upon us is more formidable than either of these two. It comes from an intellectual movement which is wide in its scope, which has a truly comprehensive idea of history, and which deals with influences among the most profound which have shaped human affairs. I refer to the attempted economic explanation of history, but I beg you at the outset to make a distinction. The historian of the old school, the traditional historian, has no more valuable ally than the economic historian. He whose work it is to show us how in specific cases economic forces have determined events, who helps us to understand how the facts with which we deal came to be what they are, is doing with new tools and fresh vision the same work with ourselves. The strictest disciple of the school of Ranke has never supposed that the knowledge of what happened could be made complete without the knowledge of how it happened. We do not count the economic historian proper among those who would drive us from the field. Let me ask you to notice clearly, however, that there is a great difference between economic history and that which calls itself the economic interpretation of history. So far-reaching have been the discoveries of the economic · historian, so profound the influences whose operation he has uncovered, so satisfactory the explanations which he offers, that it is not strange if many have found here the final explanation of history, nor that all types of thought have been attracted to this philosophy, from the cold pessimism of Ferrero to the exuberant optimism of Professor Simon Patten. The economic interpretation of history has come to be a standard formula, and the explanation offered is in form complete. By de Graf, by Labriola, we are told that even the ideal world is the economic world: that all our notions, beliefs, sciences, manners, morals, law and philosophy find there their first explanation. Labriola calls the Reformation an economic rebellion of the German nation; E. V. Robinson in an engaging essay illustrates in the history of war the statement that the fundamental fact in history is the law of diminishing returns; Durkheim asserts that history is the progress of the principle of division of labor; while Marx declares that the history of every society up to our day has been only the history of the conflict of classes. Notice, if you please, that what we have in all these cases is once more an attempt to explain history, to get at the fundamental forces which are at work in it, to formulate the philosophy, or the science of history.
The fourth line of advance upon the historian's position is that of sociology. Let me hasten to relieve your minds of the apprehension that I am going to try to tell you what is the field of the sociologist. He is indeed lord of an uncharted domain, and I have no intention of attempting to supply him with a chart. But for our purpose an adequate statement of the ultimate objects sought has been made by a sociologist of high repute, well known to the members of this Association. According to Professor Giddings “sociology is an attempt to account for the origin, growth, structure and
activities of society by the operation of physical, vital, and psychical causes, working together in the process of evolution." Professor Giddings's own formulation of the fundamental law of kind; Kidd's Social Evolution with its brilliant interpretation of the function of religion in history; and Forrest's Development of Western Civilisation with its attempt to apply still more abstract metaphysics to history, to use only examples with which we are all no doubt familiar, show that Professor Giddings's statement of the purpose of sociology is amply confirmed. It is clear once more that what this aggressive and vigorous school of thought is seeking is an ultimate explanation of human history.
Fifth, and last, youngest of all in its advance into the field of history, is the group of the folk-psychologists, or, to call them by the better name which has more recently come into use, the social psychologists. Starting with the psychology of the individual man, modified in manifestation, law and power, as we know it to be when individuals are combined into the mass, so that there are created by a geometrically increasing force resulting from the process of union, new traits, new purposes and new energy, the social psychologists would explain great race characteristics, Roman conquest, Italian art, English literature, great historic movements, advance and reaction, Reformation and Counter-Reformation, by psychic forces whose laws of action they would formulate. They even find in the principles of their science the chief differentia of historic periods and call one age that of “conventionalism” and another that of “subjectivism”. I hardly need to remind you that here again the main endeavor of this new movement is to construct a science, or a philosophy of history.
May I pause here to ask you to notice two things? In the first place, in naming these five lines of new approach to history, I have made no attempt to characterize any of them fully. I have had in view only a special object which must be already apparent, and I have had also the general purpose of calling attention to this almost concerted movement in our field of study of which I think American students of history have taken too little notice, less notice at least than has been given to it by our colleagues in France and Germany. In the second place, in distinguishing these five from one another, I have not intended to imply that each stands wholly by itself. They do in fact overlap and cover much common territory, and even trespass upon the private preserves one of another. And yet each has some original and supplementary contribution to make to the common effort, which none of the others can furnish.
*The Principles of Sociology (1896), p. 8.
May I delay still further to point out to you where you may find this act, of the independence and at the same time the interdependence of these groups, strikingly illustrated, as well as the other fact that sociology, perhaps from its all-containing and somewhat indefinite nature, is in a way already the mediating, unifying group, and may go far in a final synthesis to bring the others into unity within itself. I find this illustration in the two great histories which at least this newly allied advance into the historical domain has already produced. Great they certainly are, however much we may disagree with their methods or their results, and they are especially interesting as the first promise of the harvest which the new culture may bring forth. The one is Lamprecht's Deutsche Geschichte; the other is Ferrero's Grandessa e Decadenza di Roma. So unlike are these two works in their surface characteristics that it may occasion some surprise to find them placed together, and yet the sure sense of general criticism has already made that classification. Lamprecht is a trained historian, inclining strongly in his early studies to economic history, tending to find in the stages of economic advance his first organization of the facts of history, but seeming now to have found the principles of social psychology more profoundly controlling. He still calls himself a historian, but he has been, nevertheless, often called by his critics a sociologist. Ferrero began as a sociologist and his first writings were contributions to the literature of that subject. Some of his critics say that he selected history as a field of study in order to illustrate in it the laws of sociology, but in his history of Rome the controlling forces which he finds in operation are economic, and he deals little in the psychology of the mass, though much in that of the individual. Ferrero's work is much more like that of the traditional historian than Lamprecht's. In it, specific statements of fact are more numerous, and wide generalities form a less proportion of the whole, but one does not need to read far in either book to perceive the controlling influence of the imagination in the new history in comparison with the stricter scientific faculties, and the constant occurrence of sweeping generalizations, charming to the reader and attractive to the mind, until they are submitted to cold analysis. My purpose here, however, is not to criticize, it is rather to call your attention to these two works, most stimulating to thought, which it will be found useful to read together and to compare with one another if one desires to understand the methods and character of much history that will be written in the near future.
You will have seen by this time, I am sure, that in my opinion this allied attack upon the field of history by the five divisions whose