30 Cornell L. Q. 488 (1944-1945)
Law Schools The Law Reviews and the Courts

handle is hein.journals/clqv30 and id is 524 raw text is: THE LAW SCHOOLS, THE LAW REVIEWS AND THE
COURTSf
LYMAN P. WILSON
It is trite to say that we are in the midst of a great social upheaval and
that we are now in a period of intense readjustment of our social philosophies.
And it is a naive mistake to think of this process as a new phenomenon, just
as it is a mistake to speak of the depression of the nineteen-thirties as a new
experience and to call it the greatest depression the world has ever seen. It
was the, greatest that we had ever experienced, and we followed a very
natural human tendency when we substituted our experience for the records
of history. In precisely the same way, many highly vocal persons are today
referring to our present upheaval as though it were something new or anom-
alous, when it is but a normal process, that from time to time has recurred
ever since man first attempted to construct an organized society. More than
thirty years ago, Dean Roscoe Pound pointed out that we were then entering
upon one of these periods of social change, which miark the beginning or
an end.of a social epoch, and that this one promised to rival the age of Coke
and to surpass that of Mansfield. One must be a poor scholar indeed if he
does not today recognize the accuracy of that prediction. If the present
period of readjustment is to be understood one must have in mind the
mechanics of social change-the hitching forward of social institutions.
We did not'arrive at the'present state of our society by any steady process
of evolution. Social developments seem never to have come that way. It
would be more accurate to say that the history of organized society is marked
by alternating periods of rest and feverish readjustments. Man is a peculiar
animal. He is, to a greater degree than most of us would be willing to
admit, a creature of habit. He finds it much easier to continue to do things
as he has become accustomed to doing them than to ch-ange to more efficient
ways. He boasts that an all-wise Creator has endowed him above all the
other animals; that he has been given the power to reason. Yet he still
finds it easier to believe than to think, easier to accept ready-made ideas
from books, from the press, from the radio and from persuasive speakers
than to seek out the facts and from those facts to reach reasoned conclusions
of his own. It is perhaps inaccurate to call this attitude of mind an intel-
lectual inertia, or to label it with the harsher name laziness. But whatever
jAn address given.before the Judicial Section of the New York State Bar Association
in New' York City, on January 20, 1945.

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