restricted access An unsigned review of Social Adaptation: A Study in the Development of the Doctrine of Adaptation as a Theory of Social Progress, by L. M. Bristol
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[ 415 An unsigned review of Social Adaptation: A Study in the Development of the Doctrine of Adaptation as a Theory of Social Progress, by L. M. Bristol Cambridge: Harvard UP; London: Humphrey Milford, 1915. Pp. xii + 356.1 The New Statesman, 7 (29 July 1916) 405 Professor Bristol’s method is historical. After an introductory discussion of the pioneers of sociology, Comte and Spencer, and an examination of several different methods, the author proceeds to summarise almost every subsequent writer of any importance who has touched upon sociological problems.2 Dr. Bristol uses a classification of Professor T. N. Carver’s; treating the various sociologists under the heads of passive material, passive spiritual, active material, and active spiritual adaptation.3 In the first division he includes the theorists of biological adaptation: Lamarck, Darwin, Weismann, de Vries, Mendel.4 The reader will find the book a useful compendium of the more important contemporary theories. The space devoted to Ward, Patten and Carver is perhaps excessive, but the analysis is not uncritical.5 The author’s own social ideals are stated in the conclusion: he calls his theory “social-personalism.” It is an attempt to harmonise “self-development”with“socialefficiency,”the“supremeworthofthe individual” with the “social goal of functioning in a more inclusive unity,” a unity which shall end by embracing the whole of humanity [325-26]. Notes 1. L. M. Bristol (1872-1953), professor of sociology at the University of Florida, studied at Harvard under T. N. Carver (1865-1961). Social Adaptation, with a preface by Carver, originated as Bristol’s doctoral dissertation (1913). In the academic year 1913-14, Carver was a guest lecturer and TSE a student in Josiah Royce’s seminar. 2. Both Carver and Bristol start with the evolutionary theories of Comte, who maintained that societies evolve through three stages–the theological, the philosophical, and the scientific. Spencer, who coined the term “survival of the fittest,” was one of the earliest advocates of what would come to be called Social Darwinism. 3. Bristol’s study is built on the Darwinian categories outlined in Carver’s Sociology and Social Progress (1905). Carver argued that social progress depends on adaptation and that the 1916: journalism 416 ] goal of education and of moral codes should be facilitating changes that strengthen social groups in their struggle for survival. 4. The scientists listed here were all discussed in Royce’s seminar, with Darwin as the principal reference point. Jean Baptiste de Lamarck (1744-1829), a French naturalist, claimed that physical characteristics acquired in the process of adaptation could be transmitted to offspring. The German embryologist August Weismann (1834-1914) maintained that characteristics could be transmitted through germ cells. Hugo de Vries (1848-1935), a Dutch geneticist, suggested in The Mutation Theory (1901-03) that suddenly appearing variations or genetic leaps are an element in evolution. The Moravian botanist Johann Gregor Mendel (1822-84) argued in Experiments in Plant Hybridization (1865) that individual characteristics of organisms are transmitted independently of one another. 5. Lester Frank Ward (1841-1913), author of Dynamic Sociology (1883), maintained that the social sciences should use the evolutionary theories developed in the physical sciences. The economist Simon N. Patten (1852-1922) argued in The Theory of Social Forces (1896) that economies evolve from structures based on pain to ones based on pleasure. ...