|A crude photo of Zucker from the post-publication full page publisher's advert of his 1945 Philosophy of American History in The New Republic. |
“Whether or not historical events are causality connected or are the result of chance, accident or mathematical probability are much more than abstract speculations. Their answer goes to the very root of the historian’s method of procedure. Of what would it avail us, if after all our labor, the reader were to agree that while strict causality has been proved in all past history, the future must be shrouded in darkness, or is controlled by chance? One may be convinced that historical laws are controlled by laws, but conclude that these laws are not causal, but indeterminate in nature.”
“The type is clear, readable 11 on 12 point Baskerville; page size 6x9; over 1,800 pages. In volume one, entitled Historical Field Theory, the methods of all the great writers, past and present are subjected to critical analysis. The education of each of the six principles upon which the theory is based, a complete chapter is devoted. The final chapter summarizes the entire argument. Chapter four on law in social movement is an exhaustive analysis of Dewey’s position, and that of Croce, Teggart, Barnes, Robinson, Sorokin, Boas, Goldenweiser, Nevins, Cheyney, among others. Chapter seven on causality or indeterminacy in history considers the contributions of modern scientific thought to historical inquiry—Planck’s quantum theory, Einstein’s, relativity theory, and Heisenberg’s principle of indeterminacy. In this discussion Zucker rises to the heights of his intellectual powers.
Volume two, the Periods in American History, is a truly great original work in a familiar field. Zucker’s discussion of the colonial period, the period of expansion, the period of industrialization, the present period fo nationalization; his study on the origin and development of definite state forms, of specific modes of economy, and dominant ideologies gives new meaning to old facts. From it all is evolved Dr. Zucker’s special ‘theory of the continuing American revolution’, which will remain his lasting contribution to the understanding of our history.”
“Habits tend to mechanize social existence, but are themselves gradually modified by the social institutions which give rise to modifiable instincts, customs, rules of conduct and forms of thought. All react upon and modify habits, being in turn controlled by them. Desires change with the nature of the obstacles encountered while intelligence operates on thought to affect necessary accommodations in conduct.
Social movement involves the concept of social forces. Now no one has been able to dissect a social force or subject it to chemical re-agents. Bodies move, or are prevented from moving because forced is exerted upon them. Forces are developed from the relations of bodies rather than by being superimposed upon them from some outside agency. If this outside agency is strong enough to affect another body, then both bodies exist in relation to each other and exert influence upon each other through fields of force between them. This fundamental principle applies to society.”
“The whole ‘test-tube’ theory of history is fallacious, because to begin with there is no such test-tube nor is there the possibility of creating one. The specific processes of investigation applicable to chemistry are not those of history.”
“No modern chemist, if he is vitally concerned with this experiment as Beard is in discovering the causes of war, would be content with the empirical knowledge that the eleventh chemical somehow did the trick, either by itself, or in activating others. He would want to know just why and how the precipitation came about. He would want to know whether he must always use all of the eleven chemicals the way that he did, or if simpler combinations could effect the desired result. In history, Beard contends, we have an analogous situation. There are ten know factors. An eleventh, let us say, the German unrestricted submarine warfare is added. War is declared. Was that the cause of war? No one knows. Furthermore it is impossible to know.”
|Left: a 2002 chart of "causes" of forest fires. Right: Germans fighting Norwegians in 1940 a war or one might say social fire, supposedly, "caused" be Jewish refugee Herschel Grynszpan.|
|Zucker points out that just as the chemist or engineer doesn't need to know the so-called love life or wills of every single proton (+) or happy particle, above, or electron (-) or sad or angry particle above, in order to make successful predictions so to does the historian not need to know the love life or wills of every single person in history to make predictions. |
“Leaving aside the problem of causality or indeterminacy, the theory and practice of science has been that if given an initial state with whose properties we are familiar, and if we know the laws of nature applicable to it, we can predict its future state by virtue of the operation of these laws. The diversity of historical phenomena [and] its apparently lawless and contradictory mode of manifestation, the bewildering reactions of countless human wills in different circumstances and different lands, that gives color to the theory that a science of history is impossible. ‘The historian’, writes Weisengruen ironically, ‘must know all the persons of the period he describes, their family relations, their actual course of action, as well as the opinions they held of each other … All to the smallest detail.’  The chemist and the engineer arrive at quite exact results in their operations and their predictions without knowing the love-life of every single electron and proton of the materials with which they work.”
“Carlyle and the others contend that the knowledge of every act and thought of every individual of a given time must be clearly analyzed, and their permutations understood in order to write history. But by the same token we would never be able to understand the time in which we write. Is a metallurgist in a steel mill debarred from understanding the nature of the processes he himself starts, regulates and controls because he cannot give a graphic chart depicting the actions of ever electron of every atom of all the materials he works with, and therefore cannot predict the end results of his operations? But we have gone over this ground before.”
|Zucker states that in order to develop a proper science of history we need to study society, as a type social matter, using a microscope and retort.|
See main: Social retortIn commentary on American philosopher John Dewey's reasons why a science of history is impossible, Zucker comments the following: 
“Physical phenomena in the gross is not concerted with the internal structure of each atom in each successive moment, nor is history with the relation of each individual being every moment of time. History is vitally interested in the laws of continuity in finite space and definite time. Were it not for the existence of these laws developed from definite relations subsisting among the mass, all science would be impossible.
These propositions are fundamental in physics, and they apply with equal footing in history. Society is a definite reality. All we have to do is to look about us to be conscious of its ubiquitous presence though no one yet has examined it under the microscope or tested it in a chemists’ retort. The retort will be that we are comparing inert matter, iron, with a living reality, society. Matter [after all] is not so terribly inert.”
“The second law of thermodynamics in history belongs to the drawing room intellectuals to be settled between cups of tea or cocktails.”
“Can we reconstruct the events of a past day, or of a by-gone civilization? Certainly not. No phenomena, physical, organic or social, can be reconstructed in exactly the same way as it originally existed. The second law of thermodynamics deals with organization in time [and] offers an insurmountable obstacle to that achievement.”
“Murphy: I have been collaborating with our friend, Planck, on a book which deals principally with the problem of causation and the freedom of the human will.
Einstein: Honestly, I cannot understand what people mean when they talk about the freedom of the human will. I have a feeling, for instance, that I will do something or other; but what relation this has with freedom I cannot understand at all. I feel that I will light up my pipe and I do it; but how can I connect this up with the idea of freedom? What is behind the act of willing to light the pipe? Another act of willing? Schopenhauer once said: Man can do what he wills, but cannot will what he wills.
Murphy: But it is now the fashion in physical science to attribute something like free will even to the routine processes of organic nature.
Einstein: That nonsense is not merely nonsense. It is objectionable nonsense.”
“Countless individuals have pondered on the meaning of the conglomeration of actions which make up history. Of this vast throng, relatively few
have undertaken to reduce their thoughts to written formula. In the midst of busy lives even fewer could ever have done what Dr. Zucker has done.
Despite the fact of another profession, he has not only read widely and thought long but he has written seventeen hundred pages detailing his views at length.”
“[Zucker’s] positive interest is the new physics of Einstein and his twentieth-century associates. He believes that history like matter is made up of fields of force which have definite and predictable relationships, and of lines of force which can be traced in the past and projected into the future so that the historian may prophesy.”
“Historians undertake to arrange sequences—called stories, or histories—assuming in silence a relation of cause and effect … He had even published a dozen volumes of American history for no other purpose than to satisfy himself whether, by the severest process of stating, with the least possible comment, such facts as seemed sure, in such order as seemed rigorously consequent, he could fix for a moment a necessary sequence of human movement. Where he saw sequence, other men say something quite different, and no one saw the same unit of measurement.”
|Left: chemist shown with blowpipe, a simple devise through which air is forced through the tube by means of the lungs to forcefully add oxygen to a flame, increasing it's heat, producing temperatures high enough to melt small amounts of gold, alloys and solders (Ѻ). Right: chemist holding reactants in a test tube over a flame. Zucker criticizes American historian Allan Nevins, who claims (1938) that history can never be a science because historians have no blowpipes or test tubes with which to conduct controlled experiments. |
See also: One nature; Two natureThe following is a noted quote by Zucker from his Historical Field Theory, about the non-duality nature of nature: 
“Allan Nevins is added to the long list who contend that, strictly speaking, history cannot be a science, if only because its phenomena cannot be repeated and tested as a chemist does his compounds. Historical events never precisely duplicate themselves. he writes:‘Hence it is that we can have no precise laws in history as we have precise laws in physics, chemistry and mathematics; that history can never be a science in that highly rigid sense … the chemist, for example, can boast a superior apparatus for ascertaining the truth. In formulating the laws which govern an element, he can repeat his experiments thousands of times with all the factors precisely the same, or with endless variations of factors. The historian has no control of phenomena in the blowpipe (Ѻ) or test tube sense.’
First, as to the chemical analogy, Nevins is somewhat antiquated in his illustration. The time element which he says militates against history becoming a science because of time’s arrow, also operates in chemistry. Nature knows no duality of law as to the flow of time—one for physics, the other for that physical state we call society, and it’s historical phenomena.”
“The tragedy of society’s present dilemma is intensified by the fact that the analysts become extremely cautious when it comes to the all-important question of the future. What, they ask would you expect a blue-print of the future? And each smiles in self-satisfaction at this conclusive retort. We hasten to add that non but engineers could draw such blue-prints—social engineers—and the first thing any engineer demands is exact knowledge about his materials and of the problem at hand. He must know how events developed, and why, and he must understand exactly the nature of the social laws with which he deals, the social forces which create those laws, and the social structure wherein those aggregates operate.”
“What Einstein did for physics, what Darwin did for biology, Morris Zucker has now done for the field of history in a work hailed as one of the truly great original achievements of our times.”This tribute, however, is a bit overzealous; while Zucker's first volume is an interesting read, advocating physical history theory, his work pales in comparison to say, for example, Henry Adams, who seems to be one of Zucker's intellectual idols or roll models; and it can hardly be said that Zucker is a social Newton; nor was he a “social Einstein”, though he might have had some remote idea like this in his mind—authors, in 1955, in fact were still saying that “the ‘social Einstein’ may not yet be born.” (Ѻ)— Anon (c.1945), in: Willson Coates' 1945 review: "The Philosophy of American History by Morris Zucker" 
|Zucker's two-volume The Philosophy of American History, volume one: The Field Theory of History (left), volume two: Periods in American History (right); see also power center. |
“There is now left the essential test of their [terms, field of social forces, origin of social forces, manifestation of social forces, on the basis of causal law] proof in the facts of American history from its very beginning, and the final application of the historical field principles in the forecast of our future within the limitations of the present historical field.”
“Both Buckle and Henry Adams were convinced that to develop the laws of historical movement, it would be necessary to study its phenomena in comparative freedom from extraneous influences.”
“It is a characteristic faculty of the Germans to look in the clouds for what lies at their feet.”References— Arthur Schopenhauer (date), Essay on Government (pg. 29) “Man is not born a blank (see: tabula rasa Ѻ); he has a rich heritage behind and before him which he inherits and acquires; that religion, morality, ethical conceptions, propaganda, race, politics, nationalism, prejudice, love, hatred, fear and all the rest are vital elements which enter into the motivations of that glorious complex we call man.”— Morris Zucker (1945), synopsis of Karl Marx’s view individuals (pg. 302)
“Science deals with facts, not ideas developed out of suppositions. History must go a step further, just as modern physics does, and inquire about the forces which bring forth those events. Knowing something about social forces will tell us why some of the things imagined could not have taken place because they were impossible, and others were so remote as to be extremely improbable.”— Morris Zucker (1945), on discarding the “if” theory of science (pg. 322)
“A yardstick is still a yard, but the yardstick itself undergoes changes of length dependent upon its position relative to the earth’s motion.”— Morris Zucker (1945), on the Fitzgerald-Lorentz contraction (pg. 556) 
“To the extent that a field of inquiry succeeds in eliminating the personal equation, to that degree does it claim a place among the hierarch of the scientific disciplines.”— Morris Zucker (1945), on scientific disciplines (pg. 630)
“Purpose pertains to man, not to nature, and man’s purposes are often shrouded in mystery, even to himself. We will leave out all theological or eschatological considerations, since they germinate from theories steeped in religion, destiny or final cause or purpose of existence.”— Morris Zucker (1945), commentary on some who have ascribed purpose to history (pg. 638)
“Physics, chemistry, and biology afford ample proof that beyond a certain point quantitative differences bring about radical qualitative changes. So it is in society.”— Morris Zucker (1945), on laws of social relations (pg. 640)
“The chemist, the metallurgist, the astronomer, the economist need not be conversant with the permutations of every single electron of the masses with which they deal. That does not justify the chemist in expecting to squeeze rabbits out of a hatful of water, nor does the metallurgist propose to run milk out of his blast furnace.”— Morris Zucker (1945), on probability laws in physics (pg. 678)
“A mistake of mechanical engineering results in limited loss; but a mistake in social engineering often spells irretrievable social disaster.”— Morris Zucker (1945), on whose in hands social affairs are to be placed (pg. 682)