Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development


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§1.The Dialectic of Personal Growth

1. "ONE of the most interesting tendencies of the very young child in its responses to its environment is the tendency to recognize differences of personality. It responds to what have been called 'suggestions of personality.' As early as the second month it distinguishes its mother's or nurse's touch in the dark. It learns characteristic methods of holding, taking up, patting, and adapts itself to these personal variations. It is quite a different thing from the child's behaviour toward things which are not persons. I think this is the child's very first step toward a sense of the qualities which distinguish persons. The sense of uncertainty grows stronger and stronger in its dealings with persons. A person stands for a group of experiences quite unstable in its prophetic as it is in its historical meaning. This we may, for brevity of expression, assuming it to be first in order of development, call the 'projective stage' in the growth of the child's personal consciousness.

" Further observation of children shows that the instrument of transition from such a projective to a subjective

(8) sense of personality is the child's active bodily self, and the method of it is the function of imitation. When the organism is ripe for the enlargement of its active range by new accommodations, then he begins to be dissatisfied with 'projects,' with contemplation, and starts on his career of imitation. And of course he imitates persons.

"Further, persons are bodies which move. And among these bodies which move, which have certain projective attributes, a very peculiar and interesting one is his own body. It has connected with it certain intimate features which all others lack — strains, stresses, resistances, pains, etc., an inner felt series added to the new imitative series. But it is only when a peculiar experience arises which we call effort that there comes that great line of cleavage in his experience which indicates the rise of volition, and which separates off the series now first really subjective. What has formerly been 'projective' now becomes 'subjective.' This we may call the subjective stage in the growth of the self-notion. It rapidly assimilates to itself all the other elements by which the child's own body differs in his experience from other active bodies —all the passive inner series of pains, pleasures, strains, etc. Again it is easy to see what now happens. The child's subject sense goes out by a sort of return dialectic to illuminate the other persons. The 'project' of the earlier period is now lighted up, claimed, clothed on with the raiment of selfhood, by analogy with the subjective. The subjective becomes ejective; that is, other people's bodies, says the child to himself, have experiences in them such as mine has. They are also me's; let them be assimilated to my me-copy. This is the third stage; the ejective, or social self, is born.


"The 'ego' and the 'alter' are thus born together. Both are crude and unreflective, largely organic. And the two get purified and clarified together by this twofold reaction between project and subject, and between subject and eject. My sense of myself grows by imitation of you, and my sense of yourself grows in terms of my sense of myself. Both ego and alter are thus essentially social ; each is a socius and each is an imitative creation."[1] This give-and-take between the individual and his fellows, looked at generally, we may call the Dialectic of Personal Growth. It serves as the point of departure for the main positions developed in the following pages ; and the lines of the summary sketch will be filled in as we advance.

§ 2. The Person as a Self

2. The outcome serves to afford a point of departure for the view which we may entertain of the person as he appears to himself in society. If it be true, as much evidence goes to show, that what the person thinks as himself is a pole or terminus at one end of an opposition in the sense of personality generally, and that the other pole or terminus is the thought he has of the other person, the 'alter,' then it is impossible to isolate his thought of himself at any time and say that in thinking of himself he is not

(10) essentially thinking of the alter also.[2] What he calls him, self now is in large measure an incorporation of elements that, at an earlier period of his thought of personality, he called some one else. The acts now possible to himself, and so used by him to describe himself in thought to himself, were formerly only possible to the other; but by imitating that other he has brought them over to the opposite pole, and found them applicable, with a richer meaning and a modified value, as true predicates of himself also. If he thinks of himself in any particular past time, he can single out what was then he, as opposed to what has since become he; and the residue, the part of him that has since become he, that was then only thought of —if it was thought of as an attribute of personality at all—as attaching to some one with whom he was acquainted. For example, last year I thought of my friend W. as a man who had great skill on the bicycle and who wrote readily on the typewriter; my sense of his personality included these accomplishments, in what I have called a 'projective' way. My sense of myself did not have these elements, except as my thought of my normal capacity to acquire delicate movements was comprehensive. But now, this year, I have learned to do both these things. I have taken the elements formerly recognized in W.'s personality, and by imitative learning brought them over to myself. I now think of myself as one who rides a 'wheel' and writes on a 'machine.' But I am able to think of myself thus only as my thought includes, in a way now called 'subjective,'

(11) the personal accomplishments of W., and with him of the more or less generalized alter which in this illustration we have taken him to stand for. So the truth we now learn is this : that very many of the particular marks which I now call mine, when I think of myself, have had just this origin. I have first found them in my social environment, and by reason of my social and imitative disposition, have transferred them to myself by trying to act as if they were true of me, and so coming to find out that they are true of me. And further, all the things I hope to learn, to acquire, to become, all—if I think of them in a way to have any clear thought of my possible future —are now, before I acquire them, possible elements of my thought of others, of the social alter, or of what considered generally we may call the' socius.'

But we should also note that what has been said of the one pole of this dialectical relation, the pole of self, is equally true of the other also—the pole represented by the other person, the alter. What do I have in mind when I think of him as a person ? Evidently I must construe him, a person, in terms of what I think of myself, the only person whom I know in the intimate way we call 'subjective.' I cannot say that my thought of my friend W. is exhausted by the movements of wheel-riding and typewriting; nor of any collection of such acts, considered for themselves. Back of it all there is the attribution of the very fact of subjectivity which I have myself. And the subjectivity of him - it is just like that of me. I constantly enrich the actions which were at first his alone, and then became mine by imitation of him, with the meaning, the rich subjective value, the interpretation in terms of private

(12) ownership, which my appropriation of them in the first instance from him, has enabled me to make. So my thought of any other man — or all other men — is, to the richest degree, that which I understand of myself, together with the uncertainties of interpretation which my further knowledge of his acts enables me to conjecture. I think him rational, emotional, volitional, as I am ;[3] and the details of his more special characteristics, as far as I understand them at all, I weave out of possible actions of my own, when circumstances call me out in similar ways. But there is always the sense that there is more to understand about him; for, as we have seen, he constantly, by the diversities between us which I do not yet comprehend, sets me new actions to imitate or to avoid in my own growth.

So the dialectic may be read thus : my thought of self is in the main, as to its character as a personal self, filled up with my thought of others, distributed variously as individuals ; and my thought of others, as persons, is mainly filled up with myself. In other words, but for certain minor distinctions in the filling, and for certain compelling distinctions between that which is immediate and that which is objective, the ego and the alter are to our thought one and the same thing.

3. I do not care in this connection to track out the distinction between the subjective or immediate and the objective; nor to ask what it is that sets the bounds in fact to the person. What concerns us is independent of these inquiries, having to do with the question : What is

(13) in consciousness when one thinks of himself or of another person ? This, it is evident, is a sufficient introduction to a number of questions of high social import ; for we may ask: When a man asserts himself, what is it that he really asserts ? When he sympathizes with another, what exactly is that 'other' ?And how do all the emotions, and desires, and mental movements of whatever kind which pass through his consciousness involve others who are in social connection with him? I claim, indeed, that it is just this kind of inquiries that most concern the social theorist just now, and with him the political thinker; and the vagueness and cross-firing which prevail in some of the discussions of these men are due in great part to inadequate analysis of the psychological concepts which they use.

To get such inquiries down to a psychological basis, the first requisite is to be reached in the concept of the person. Not the person as we look at him in action, alone, or chiefly; but the person as he thinks of himself. We constantly presume to tell him what his chief end is, what as an individual he most desires, what his selfish nature urges him to, and what self-sacrifices he is willing to make in this circumstance or that. We endeavour to reach a theory of 'value' based on a calculus of the desire of one individual to gratify his individual wants, multiplied into the number of such individuals. Or we take a group of individuals together as we find them in society and ask how it is that these individuals could have come together. All this without so much as consulting the single person psychologically as to the view he has of his own social life, his opportunities, and his obligations! The average individual would be 'scared' within an inch of his life if he were for a moment obliged to put up with the kind of existence which

(14) such theorists assume him to live ; and he would be paralyzed into permanent inertia if he had to effect by his conscious efforts what they teach us he works out. Even the later psychological sociologists, as notably M. Tarde, treat 'beliefs' and 'desires' as ultimate self-existent things apart from the content of thought to which they are functionally attached.

4. To bring our development of the sense of personality, therefore, into view of these questions, let us inquire briefly into one of the main points in the theory of society which recent discussion has tended to formulate. This point is that which concerns the 'interests' of the individual. What are the interests of the individual, and how do they stand related to the interests of the community, state, social group, in which the individual lives? [4]

Popularly, a man's interests are those aspects of possible fortune which are best for him. What is thus best for him is in the main what he wants; but the two classes are not always identical. Yet for the sake of making our point more plain in the sequel, suppose we begin by defining a man's interest as that which he wants, and is willing to put forth some endeavour to obtain. Then let us see how this tends to involve the man's self, and the selves of those who are associated with him.

If the analysis given above be true, then what a man thinks of as himself, is in large measure identical with what he thinks of as another, or the others in general. So the ejecting of the thought of 'person,' which, when looked at

(15) subjectively, he calls 'myself,' into 'another,' —this qualifies that other to be clothed on with all the further predicates found to attach to the self. The so-called love of self, it is evident, is such a predicate; it is a description of the attitude which the man takes to himself ; a sort of reaction of part of his nature upon another part. When he is proud, it is because the qualities by which he represents himself to himself are such that they arouse his approbation. When he thinks, therefore, of the other in terms of the same predicates, he has to react, in some degree, with the same sense of approval.

When, likewise, I go farther in thought and say, "being such and such a person, it is my interest to have such or such a fate," I must perforce — that is, by the very same mental movement which gives the outcome in my own case —attribute to the other the same deserts and the same fate. Viewed psychologically, we should say that the predicate is a function of the content which we call self, and that, so far as the content is the same, the predicate must be the same. But this sense of equal interest, desert, because of identical position in the evolution of selves, what is this but, in the abstract, the sense of justice, and in the concrete, the feeling of sympathy with the other ? The very concept of interests, when one considers it with reference to himself, necessarily involves others, therefore, on very much the same footing as oneself. One's interests, the things he wants in life, are the things which, by the very same thought, he allows others, also, the right to want ;and if he insists upon the gratification of his own wants at the expense of the legitimate wants of the 'other,' then he in so far does violence to his sympathies and to his sense of justice. And this in turn must impair

(16) his satisfaction. For the very gratification of himself thus secured must, if it be accompanied with any reflection at all, involve the sense of the other's gratification also ; and since this conflicts with the fact, a degree of discomfort must normally arise in mind varying with the development which the self has attained in the dialectical process described above.

5. Or suppose we look at the case a little differently. Let us say that the sense of self always involves the sense of the other. And this sense of the other is but that of another ' self,' where the word 'self' is equivalent to myself, and the meaning of the word 'other' is that which prevents it from being myself. Now my point is that much of what I fancy, hope, desire holds for self in general, without distinction as to which self it is; it remains the same whether I do actually qualify it by the word 'my' or by the word 'your.' Psychologically there is a great mass of motor attitudes and reactive expressions, felt in consciousness as emotion and desire, which are common to the self-thought everywhere.

6.This is true just in so far as there is a certain typical other self whose relation to me has been that of the give-and-take by which the whole development of a sense of self of any kind has been made possible. And we find certain distinctions at different stages of the development which serve to throw the general idea of the social relationship into clearer light.

Let us look at the life of the child with especial reference to his attitudes to those around him ; taking the most common case, that of a child in a family of children. We find that such a child shows, in the very first stages of his sense of himself as a being of rights, duties, etc., a

(17) very imitative nature. He is mainly occupied with the business of learning about himself, other people, and nature. He imitates everything, being a veritable copying-machine. He spends the time not given to imitating others very largely in practising in his games what he has picked up by his imitations, and in the exploiting of these accomplishments. His two dominating characteristics are a certain slavishness, on the one hand, in following all examples set around him; and then, on the other hand, a certain bold aggressiveness, inventiveness, a showing-off, in the use he makes of the things he learns.

But it does not take very extended observation to convince us that this difference in his attitudes is not a contradiction : that the attitudes themselves terminate upon different determinations of self. The child imitates his elders, not from choice, but from his need of adaptation to the social environment; for it is his elders who know more than he does, and who act in more complex ways. But he is less often aggressive toward his elders ; that is, toward those who have the character of command, direction, and authority over him. His aggressions are directed mainly toward his brothers and sisters; and even as toward them, he shows very striking discriminative selection of those upon whom it is safe to aggress. In short, it is plain that the difference in attitude really indicates differences in his thought, corresponding to differences in the elements of the child's social environment. We may suppose the persons about him divided roughly into two classes: those from whom he learns, and those on whom he practises; and then we see that his actions are accounted for as adaptations toward these, in his personal development.

(18) The facts covered by this distinction — probably the first general social distinction in the child's career—are very interesting. The stern father of the family is at the extreme end of the class he reveres with a shading of fear. The little brother and sister stand at the other extreme ; they are the fitting instruments of his aggression, the practice of his strength, the assertion of his agency and importance. The mother usually stands midway, it seems, serving to unite the two aspects of personality in the youngster's mind. And it is pretty clear, when the case is closely studied, that the child has, as it were, two ways of thinking of her, according as she on occasion falls into one or the other of these classes. He learns when, in what circumstances, she will suffer him to assert himself, and when she will require him to be docile and teachable. And although she is for the most part a teacher and example, yet on occasion he takes liberties with the teacher.

Now what does this mean, this sorting out, so to speak, of the persons of the family ? It means a great deal when looked at in the light of the' dialectical movement' in the development of personality. And I may state my interpretation of it at the outset.

7. The child's sense of himself is, as we have seen, one pole of a relation; and which pole it is to be, depends on the particular relation which the other pole, over which the child has no control, calls on it to be. If the other person involved presents uncertain, ominous, dominating, instructive features, or novel imitative: features, then the self is 'subject' over against what is 'projective.' He recognizes new elements of personal suggestion not yet accommodated to. His consciousness is in the learning attitude; 

(19) he imitates, he serves, he trembles, he is a slave. But on the other hand, there are persons to whom his attitude has a right to be different. In the case of these the dialectic has gone further. He has mastered all their features, he can do himself what they do, he anticipates no new developments in his intercourse with them; so he 'ejects' them, as the psychological expression is : for an 'eject' is a consciousness thought of as having only those elements in it which the individual who thinks of that consciousness is able, out of his own store of experience, to read into it. It is ejective to him, for he makes it what he will, in a sense. Now this is what the brothers and sisters, notably the younger ones, are to our youthful hero. They are his 'ejects'; he knows them by heart, they have no thoughts, they do no deeds, which he could not have read into them by anticipation. So he despises them, practises his superior activities on them, tramples them under foot.

8. Now at this earliest stage in his unconscious classification of the elements of his personal world, it is clear that any attempt to describe the child's interests — the things which he wants, as we have agreed to define 'interests'— as selfish, generous, or as falling in any category of developed social significance, is quite beside the mark. If we say that to be selfish is to try to get all the personal gratification possible, we find that he does this only part of the time ; and even on these occasions, not because he has any conscious preference for that style of conduct, but merely because his consciousness is then filled with the particular forms of personal relationship—the presence of his little sister, etc. —which normally issue in the more habitual actions which are termed 'aggressive' in our social terminology. His action is only

(20) the motor side of a certain collection of elements. He acts that way, then, simply because it is natural for him to practise the functions which he has found useful. We see that it is natural ; and on the basis of its naturalness, we are prone to call him selfish by nature.[5]

But that this is arguing beyond our facts—really arguing on the strength of the psychological ignorance of our hearers, and our own — is clear when we turn the child about and bring him into the presence of the other class of persons to whom we have seen him taking up a special attitude. We have but to observe him in the presence of his father, usually, or of some one else whom he habitually imitates and from whom he learns the lessons of life, to find out that he is just as pre-eminently social, docile, accommodating, centred—outwardly, so to speak, as before we considered him unsocial, aggressive, and self-centred. If we saw him only in these latter circumstances, we should say possibly that he was by nature altruistic, most responsive to generous suggestion, teachable in the extreme. But here the limitation is the same as in the former case. He is not altruistic in any high social sense, nor consciously yielding to suggestions of response which require the repression of his selfishness. As a matter of fact, he is simply acting himself out ; and in just the same natural way as on the occasion of his apparent selfishness. But it is now a different thought which is acting itself out. The self is now at the receptive pole. It is made up of elements which are inadequate to a translation of the alter at the other pole of the relationship now established.

(21) The child's sense of self is now not that of a relatively completed self in relation to the alter before him ; it was that in the earlier case, and the aggression of which he was then guilty showed as much. Now he feels his lack of adequate means of response to the personality before him. He cannot anticipate what the father will do next, how long approbation will smile upon him, what the reasons are for the changes in the alter-personality. So it is but to state a psychological truism to say that his conduct will be different in this case. Yet from the fact that the self of this social state is also in a measure a regular pole of the dialectic of personal growth, it often tempts the observer to classify the whole child, on the strength of this one attitude, in some one category of social and political description.

9. I do not see, in short, how the personality of this child can be expressed in any but social terms ; nor how, on the other hand, social terms can get any content of value but from the understanding of the developing individual. This is a circle in the process of growth; and that is just my point.[6] On the one hand, we can get no doctrine of society but by getting the psychology of the 'socius' with all his natural history; and on the other hand, we can get no true view of the 'socius' at any time without describing the social conditions under which he normally lives, with the history of their action and reaction upon him. Or to put the outcome in the terms of the restriction which we have imposed upon ourselves, —the only way to get a solid basis for social theory based upon human want or desire, is to work out first a descriptive and genetic psychology of desire in its social aspects; and on the other hand, the only way to get an adequate psy-

(22) -chological view of the rise and development of desire in its social aspects, is by a patient tracing of the conditions of social environment in which the child and the race have lived and which they have grown up to reflect.

10. But the observation of the child shows us that we may carry our discrimination of his personal attitudes farther along the same lines. We have found him classifying his companions and associates by the shadings of conduct which his spontaneous adaptations of himself show; yielding to some and studying them mainly by imitation, abusing others and asserting himself against them aggressively. This distinction gets a wider development as his experience goes on accumulating. As was hinted in the case of his attitude to his mother, one person may come to have for him the force of several, or of both of the two great classes of persons. Sometimes he tyrannizes over his mother and finds her helpless; at other times he finds her far from submitting to tyranny, and then he takes the role of learner and obedient boy. Now the further advance which he makes in the general sense of the social situation as a whole, is in the line of carrying the same adaptability of attitude into his relation to each of the persons whom he knows. Just as he himself is sometimes one person and again another, sometimes the learner, the altruist, the unselfish pupil, and then again the egoist, the selfish aggressor ; so he continues the dialectical process by making this also 'ejective' to him. He reads the same possibility of personal variation back into the alter also. He comes to say to himself in effect : he, my father, has his moods just as I have. He, no less than I, cannot be adequately considered all-suffering or all-conquering. Sometimes he also is at one pole of the self-dialectic,

(23) sometimes at the other. And so is my mother, and my brother and sister, as they grow older, - indeed, so are all men.

So it then becomes his business not to classify persons, but to classify actions. He sees that any person may, with some few exceptions, act in either way: any person may be his teacher or his slave, on occasion. So his next step in social adaptation is his adaptation to occasions; to the groups of social conditions in which one or the other class of actions may be anticipated from people generally. And he makes great rough classes in which to put his ejects'— the read-out personalities about him — according to his expectations of treatment from them. He learns the signs of wrath, of good humour, of sorrow; of joy, hope, love, jealousy; giving them the added interpretation all the time which his own imitation of them enables him to make by realizing what they mean in his own experience. And so he gets himself equipped with that extraordinary facility of transition from one attitude to another in his responses to those about him, which all who are familiar with children will have remarked.

11. Now all these changes have meaning only as we realize the fact of the social dialectic, which is the same through it all. There are changes of attitude simply and only because, as the psychologist would express it, there are changes in the content of his sense of self. In more popular terms: he changes his attitude in each case because the thing called another, the alter, changes. His father is his object ; and the object is the 'father,' as the child thinks him, on this occasion and under these circumstances, right out of his own consciousness. The father thought is a part of the child's present social situation ;

(24) and this situation in the child's mind issues in the attitude which is appropriate to it. If it be the father in wrath, the situation produces such a father out of the child's available social thought-material ; and the presence of the combination in the child's mind itself issues in the docile, fearful attitude. But if it then turn into the jovial father, the child does not then himself set about reversing his attitude. No, the father-thought is now a different father-thought, and of itself issues in the child's attitude of playful aggression, rebellion, or disobedience. The growing child is able to think of self in varying terms as varying social situations impress themselves upon him ; so these varying thoughts of self, when made real in the persons of others, call out, by the regular process of motor discharge, each its own appropriate attitude.

But see, in this more subtle give-and-take of elements for the building up of the social sense, how inextricably interwoven the ego and the alter really are! The development of the child's personality could not go on at all without the constant modification of his sense of himself by suggestions from others. So he himself, at every stage, is really in part some one else, even in his own thought of himself. And then the attempt to get the alter stript from elements contributed directly from his present thought of himself is equally futile. He thinks of the other, the alter, as his socius, just as he thinks of himself as the other's socius :and the only thing that remains more or less stable, throughout the whole growth, is the fact that there is a growing sense of self which includes both terms, the ego and the alter.

In short, the real self is the bipolar self, the social self, the socius.


12. If we think it worth while again to raise the question as to what such a self pursues when, as we say, he identifies his interests with his wants, the answer is just as before. The growing subtlety of the dialectical process has not changed the values which the elements represent to the child. What he wants in each circumstance is expressed by his attitude in that circumstance. It changes with change of circumstance. He is now a creature of burning self-assertion, eager to ' kill and destroy in all God's holy mountain'; and presto! change, he is now the 'lion lying down beside the lamb.' His wants are not at all consistent. They are in every case the outcome of the social situation; and it is absurd to endeavour to express the entire body of his wants as a fixed quantity under such a term of description as 'selfish,' or 'generous,' or other, which has reference to one class only of the varied situations of his life.

So far, therefore, in our search for a definition of the interests of the individual, in relation to his social environment, we find a certain outcome. His wants are a function of the social situation as a whole. The social influences which are working in upon him are potent to modify his wants, no less than are the innate tendencies of his personal nature to issue in such wants. The character which he shows actively at any time is due to these two factors in union. One of them is no more himself than the other. He is the outcome of 'habit' and 'suggestion,' as psychology would say in its desire to express everything by single words. Social suggestion is the sum of the social influences which he takes in and incorporates in himself when he is in the receptive, imitative, attitude

(26) to the alter;[7] habit is the body of formed material, already cast in the mould of a self, which he brings up for self-assertion and aggression, when he stands at the other pole of the relation to the alter, and exhibits himself as a bully, a tyrant, or at least, as master of his own conduct. Of course his personal hereditary characteristics are on this latter side in so far as they are of an anti-social sort. And the social unit of desire, as far as the individual is taken as the measure of it, in any society, is the individual's relatively fixed conduct, considered as reflecting his interpretation of the current social modes of life.

13. It is easy to discern in the behaviour of the child, from about five years old, the blending of these two influences. Two children in the same family may differ possibly by all the width of the distinction current in psychology by the terms 'sensory versus motor' in their types or dispositions; and yet we may see in them the influence of the common environment. One acts at once on the example of the father; the other reflects upon it, seems to understand it, and then finally acts upon what he thinks it means. The motor child learns by acting; the sensory child learns and tests his learning by subsequent action. But both end by getting the father's essential conduct learned. Both modify the thought of self by the new elements drawn from the father; and act out the new self thus created; but each shows the elements differently interpreted in a synthesis with the character which he already had.

Or take the same process of incorporating elements of

(27) social suggestion as they are absorbed respectively by a boy and a girl of about the same age. The difference of sex is a real and fundamental difference, on the side of what is called 'endowment' ; so we should expect that the same social suggestions given the two would be taken up differently by them, and show different interpretations when the child of one sex or the other comes to act upon them. The boy is generally more aggressive, more prone to fall into the self-pole of high confidence in his own abilities. We find him refusing certain forms of suggestion say those coming from a female nurse —which the little girl readily responds to. Furthermore, the boy is capable, just for the same reason, of standing up to the rougher elements of his social milieu which only frighten and paralyze his sister. And when the same suggestion is given to the boy and girl together, the former is likely to use it wherewith to exercise himself upon animals, etc., while the girl is more likely to use the new act strictly in an imitative way, repeating the actual conduct of others.[8]

But apart from the attempt to reduce the forms of active interpretation to general classes, it is enough here to point out the extraordinary variety which the same suggestions take on in the active interpretations by different children ; and to point out with it the need of recognizing the fact that in this interpretation by the child there is always the fusion of the old self with the new elements coming in from the selves external to it. Every conscious interpretation of human action is, I think, essentially of this kind. We think the deeds of others as we bring ourselves up to the performance of similar deeds ;

(28) and we do the deeds of others only as we ourselves are able to think them. In the case of the young child in the family, we may often tell how far he is learning correctly; also the particular alter from whom he has taken his lesson. But in the larger social whole of adult life both elements are so complex—the solidified self of the individual's history is so fixed, and the social suggestions of the community are so varied and conflicting—that the outcome of the fusion, in a particular instance, is a thing which no man can prophesy.

14. So much for the individual child and his growing social personality. We see in a measure what his interests are; that is, what elements go to make his interests up. Let us now turn to the rest of the family in which he lives and briefly state the same inquiry in respect to them, thus carrying one step further the growth of the social self.

Waiving the inquiry into the interests of the family group as a whole, that is, the question of objective interests apart from actual want or desire (as we did in the earlier case), our question is now about this: What can be said of the wants of the other individuals of the family in which the young hero, whose life we have so far described, lives and exploits himself ? This seems to be answered, certainly in part, by the consideration that they have each been through the same process of growth in securing the notion of self, both the ego-self and the alter-self, that he has. Each has been a child. Each has imitated some persons and assaulted others. So, of course, of the other children in the family ; for they are the very specimens of the alter which have furnished to the hero his 'socii' all the way through. So we have only to make them one

(29) by one hero in turn to see that then all the others become 'socii'; and the group development replaces the individual development. Even the parents are in great measure capable of the same interpretation; since they have furnished the largest amount of personal suggestion to all the children : and the children, in imitating one another, aggressing upon one another, etc., are really perpetuating the features of social life which characterize the parents' lives. No family, of course, lives in such isolation as to be in any sense obliged to support itself upon its own social stock from one generation to another; and there is the further modifying influence spoken of above of the peculiar interpretations given to his social suggestions by each child.[9] But apart from the personal form in which the family suggestions are worked over by each child, we may say that the material of the social life of the family is largely common stock for all the members of the family.

This means that the alter to each ego is largely common to them all ; and that what has been said of the wants of the ego being not egoistic in the selfish sense, nor generous in the altruistic sense, but general in the social sense, holds of the family group as a whole. What each child wants for himself, he wants more or less consciously for each member of his family. While he may assault his brother, viewing him as an alter to practise on in certain circumstances, how soon he turns in his defence in the presence of the alter foreign to them both, when the larger social ego of both swells within his breast ! What boy among boys, what school-fellow among his companions,

(30) what Rob Roy surrounded by the clan has not felt the socius, the common self of the group, come in to drive out the narrower ego of his relatively private life within the group ? This is not to say that the interests of the group may not be more clearly seen by one member than by others, nor that direct conflicts may not arise in which some one ego will refuse to yield to the demands of the socius of the group. Those things may well be, and are. To say the contrary would be to say that the development of all the individuals was equal. For if each has his ego and his alter only by the assimilation of suggestions, then the amount of assimilation, of progressive learning of the possibilities and relationships of conduct, must indicate what the sense of social good is to each. His insistence on his interpretation, however, is no more egoistic and selfish than is the insistence by the other members of the family on a different line of conduct. His double self, giving the socius, may be in advance of theirs or behind, but it arises in just the same way; and it is just his social nature which may compel him to fight for what seems to be a private and selfish interest.

Apart from the apparent exceptions — not really such — now noted, we may say, therefore, that the interests of the family group are reflected in the wants of each member of the group. Hatred of society, in this primitive form of society, is pathological,-if indeed it be possible. Nothing but an upheaval of the foundations of personality can eradicate the sense of social solidarity in every child in a family. And the ultimate sanction for family life and its only permanent safeguard is here. No legal provisions could have originated the family, no personal conventions advanced it, nor can it be endangered by foes from without. Nothing

(31) but the kind of suggestion in education which would replace the sort of socius represented in the family, by another sort, through the same process of identification of the self with its alter all the way through the history of the growth of personality, could affect it materially one way or the other.[10]

15. The family is, of course, the first place in which the child finds food for his own personal assimilation; but he does not long limit himself to the family diet. Nor is he from his early months entirely shut up to suggestions from within the family circle. His nurse comes in to stand as a member of his social company, and often the most important member from the point of view of the regularity and intimate character of her ministrations. She is part of the family to all intents and purposes. And other children from abroad who come often or at critical times to play, etc., are also ' in it.' Then again certain actual members of the home circle may see the child so seldom or in such a passing way that they practically are not, as far as the child's personal growth is concerned. So while the family is the theatre of this first stage of his growth, it still represents a rather flexible set of personal influences.


And his circle grows as he comes to have other relationships than those of his immediate and domestic life. When he begins to go to the kindergarten or school, the teacher in the first instance, then the pupils beside him there, or some of them, come to bear on his life in the same way that his family companions do. So gradually he widens out the sphere of the exploitation of his two selves—the receptive self, and no less, the aggressive self. In all the stretch of early childhood, pet animals, dolls, toys, etc., also play a part, especially as giving him now and then a more or less complete alter on which to wreak the performance of the new acts recently learned. And as he grows a little older, and the sense of personal agency arises to play its great part in the development of his activities, all mechanical tools, contrivances, building-blocks, sliced animals, etc., are valuable aids to the exercise of his understanding of the powers of himself and of others.

In this expansion of his interests —and with it, his enlarging sense of the sphere of personality realized in himself and in others, gradual as it is-we may mark off certain dividing lines. We may always say, no matter what the details of the boy's daily life are, that there is a circle within which his socius resides, understanding socius as we have above. His socius — to repeat—is the higher sense of commonalty, personal implication, mutual interest, which social intercourse arouses in him. This is always alive when events occur which involve persons in a larger or smaller circumference drawn about him. He has the sense of a socius, for example, when his own school is brought into rivalry with the school around the corner. A fellow-member of his own school may be bullied in the school; that is an occurrence having only a

(33) one-sided importance in the economy of the school. The bullying may be deserved. At any rate, his inter-social sense gives the other and older boy in the school the right to bully the younger, though the younger be himself. He is willing even to 'fag' in his own school. All this is a part of the peculiar development which his socius has had in its internal progress. But let the bullying be done by a boy from the other school,—however just it be and however powerless he be to prevent it, — he is in arms at once. The other school is outside the circumference of his present social circle.

But a little later we find that we may draw a wider line. Let him come into some sort of relationship with the street-boys who represent no school at all ; and let these strangers attempt to bully his enemies of the other school around the corner, and observe how the interests of the rival school at once become his own. His general school-socius is now active. And it includes all boys who go to school. And it would be only a matter of detail—interesting, it is true—to follow our little hero in the development of his socius into the broader fields of universal human interest; that is, if he be a boy who ever does get interests which may be called universal.

That, however, may wait until we are better prepared to estimate those interests ; for the present, we may try to understand the case in the narrower circles of observation. And before we pass from the family circle,—before the boy gets out of his early imitative stage of self-development, —we find another incident of his growth which is to him of untold importance. I refer to the rise and development of his ethical sense. What shall we say of this, as to its origin and as to its meaning in the social life ?


§ 3.The Person as an Ethical Self [11]

16. Looking back over the path we have already travelled, we see the two poles of the dialectic now familiar to us, standing prominently out : the child has, on one hand, a self which he ejects into the alter. This is the solidified mass of personal material which he has worked into a systematic whole by his series of acts. When he thinks of himself, this is very largely what his consciousness is filled with. Let us now call this the 'self of habit,' or the ' habitual self,'— terms which are common and which carry their ordinary meaning. But, on the other hand, we have found that the child has another self the self that learns, that imitates, that accommodates to new suggestions from persons in the family and elsewhere. It is this self that is in part yet 'projective,' unfinished, constantly being modified by the influences outside, and, in turn, passing the new things learned over to the self of habit. Let us call this, for reasons also evident from the common significance of the term, the 'accommodating self.'  Not that the child has at any time two distinct thoughts of himself existing side by side, — that is not true,— but that his one thought of self at any time is at one or the other pole, is a self of habit or a self of accommodation. Which it is to be, depends upon what kind of an alter is then at the other pole.But I trust this is now clear.[12]

It is a further result that if we continue to ask at any time for a complete notion from outside of that boy's self, we cannot say that either the self of habit or the self of

(35) accommodation adequately expresses it. The only adequate expression of the boy is that which acquaints us with the whole dialectic of his progress, a dialectic which comprehends both these selves and the alter personalities which are progressive functions of his thoughts of himself; that is, with the self of all the rich social relationships, or the' socius.'

It seems then a natural question to ask, whether the boy comes to have any sense of just this inadequacy of his thought of self when he is thinking of himself in either way, either in the way of the habitual or of the accommodating self. In other words, does he go on to reflect upon the' socius,' as a larger bond of union to the different private thoughts of himself ?[13] This is really the question of the evolution of the ethical sense put in closer psychological terms ; and it may be worth while to see to what ethical conclusions this line of distinctions would lead. This conclusion has been anticipated in the following quotation from the work already mentioned.[14]

17. "Whether obedience comes by suggestion or by punishment, it has this genetic value: it leads to another refinement in the sense of self. . . . The child finds himself stimulated constantly to deny his impulses, his desires, even his irregular sympathies, by conforming to the will of another. This other represents a regular, systematic, unflinching, but reasonable personality—still a person, but a very different person from the child's own. In the analysis of 'personality suggestion,' we found this stage of the child's apprehension of persons ; his sense of the regularity of personal character in the

(36) midst of the capriciousness that before this stood out in contrast to the regularity of mechanical movement in things. There are extremes of indulgence, the child learns, which even the grandmother does not permit ; there are extremes of severity from which even the cruel father draws back. Here, in this dawning sense of the larger limits which set barriers to personal freedom, is the ' copy' forming which is his personal-authority, or law. It is 'projective ' because he cannot understand it, cannot anticipate it, cannot find it in himself. And it is only by imitation that he is to reproduce it, and so arrive at a knowledge of what he is to understand it to be. So it is a' copy for imitation. 'It is its aim -so may the child say to himself - and should be mine, if I am awake to it, to have me obey it, act like it, think like it, be like it in all respects. It is not I, but I am to become it. Here is my ideal self, my final pattern, my 'ought' set before me. My parents and teachers are good because, with all their differences from one another, they yet seem to be alike in their acquiescence in this law. Only in so far as I get into the habit of being and doing like them in reference to it, get my character moulded into conformity with it, only so far am I good. And so, like all other imitative functions, it teaches its lesson only by stimulating to action. I must succeed in doing —he finds out, as he grows older and begins to reflect upon right and wrong—if I would understand. But as I thus progress in doing, I forever find new patterns set for me; and so my ethical insight must always find its profoundest expression in that yearning which anticipates but does not overtake the ideal.

"My sense of moral ideal, therefore, is my sense of a

(37) possible perfect, regular will taken over in me, in which the personal and the social self -my habits and my social calls—are brought completely into harmony; the sense of obligation in me, in each case, is the sense of the actual discrepancies in my various thoughts of self, as my actions and tendencies give rise to them."[15]

18. Perhaps no more direct way to bring home the bearing of this present line of distinctions can be found than to cite in illustration one of the familiar social situations which are ethically embarrassing in practical life. I refer to the problem of charitable relief. The dilemma of the benevolent man when a needy tramp comes to his door in a region where there are no organized agencies to investigate the status of individuals of the pauper class,-the dilemma brought upon him by the promptings of his sympathy, on the one hand, and the sense of his duty to society which only the refusal to help the man will fulfil, on the other hand, -this dilemma, which on a larger scale is one of the critical dilemmas of all social endeavour, may be translated directly into the terms of our psychological analysis. We may say that Mr. A has two possible attitudes or courses of conduct before him. And the two are what they are according as he thinks of the tramp in one way or the other. If he thinks of him as an unfortunate, deserving man, possibly hungry, or maimed beyond possibility of self-support, then there is an alter which arouses his 'accommodating' self, his sympathetic impulses, his desire to make an exception in this case.

(38) But when he thinks of the man under the ordinary conditions of the profession of 'tramping,' as a worthless creature of drink, who will continue to burden the community and persuade others to do the same, as long as free food or lodging is given him, or money without work, then he has before him quite a different alter; one that calls out his habitual, aggressive self. His dilemma, therefore, is really due to the shifting of the poles of his inner dialectic. Suppose he be a man of benevolence only, or on the contrary, a man with no willingness to take trouble for the general good ; then he acts at once on the first of the thoughts of self — he has no dilemma. So, on the other hand, if he be very rational in his methods of thought, or very much impressed with the dangers of the tramp tribe, or very impecunious and willing to make law a cloak for private selfishness-in any of these cases he acts promptly in terms of the habitual self; then also he finds no dilemma. So the very fact of the embarrassment, if it arise, is witness to the play of his various thoughts of the tramp.

But this, it is clear, does not exhaust the statement of the dilemma. As a matter of fact, whichever way he decides, he is afterwards haunted by the fear that he has done wrong. The two thoughts of self still remain clamorous. And the question comes up: Why is this so? Why is not the choice of either course right? What is the further standard, to which he feels he should appeal, to settle the case justly ? To ask this question is to ask -is it not ? — for a farther thought of self, one which should see clearer, be wiser, do better than either of these two which come up to create his dilemma. Generally, indeed, we do quiet our apprehensions in just the

(39) way which the terms of our psychological explanations are going on to require ; we appeal to some one else in whom we trust as having arrived at deeper insight, or better information, of the conditions of the social life of the neighbourhood, than we have. He then, this alter, this wise man, is a further thought of a self.

So we may trust to this instance of social embarrassment — with its sharp ethical meaning in our practice — to show that the question of the further development of the sense of self, based, as we said above, on the conflicts of the two earlier partial selves, is really one of vital social meaning, and that, too, in the ethical sense.

19. Again, if we look at the doctrines of the rise of the ethical sense which have become historical, we see that they commonly represent constructions based on the partial selves, described as 'habitual' and 'accommodating' respectively.

These historical doctrines, we may say, fall into two classes:[16] those which base the ethical sentiments upon sympathy, or some form of social instinct, on the one hand; and those, on the other hand, which base them upon custom or habit. Let us look a moment at each of these attempts to account for the genesis of the moral sentiments, taking the latter first.

20. This view seeks to account for the sense in a man that he 'ought' to do a thing, by the tendency in him to feel that things are going well when he is working along the lines guaranteed by his past habits and instincts.[17]

(40) What is best for him to do, is what is right ; and what is best is that which has been established in the course of his life by adaptation, utility, and development. The sense of right, therefore, to this view is simply the consciousness of certain habits of the physical or mental organization. Without going into detail to justify this brief characterization of the theory of the rise of the ethical sense as held by many of the Association psychologists, I may state the lack it has in the view of those of other schools of thought who have criticised it. The lack is this : that the theory of habit does not afford an adequate account of the sense we have, in our acutest ethical experiences, that what we ought to do may run counter to our habitual tendencies. On the habit view, only that kind of action would get the right to have ethical approval attached to it which was so prevalent and regular in the normal life of the individual as to be reflected in his every-day conduct. But the oft-recurring antithesis in practice, no less than the recognition of the same antithesis in ethical theory—see, for example, the statement of it from the pen of a scientist in the Evolution and Ethics of Huxley —between the 'is' and the 'ought,' serves to set the objection to this theory clearly in the light. According to Mr. Huxley the habit of being immoral should make the immoral come to seem right.[18]

(41) This criticism of the habit theory may be put in the terms of the child's social growth without any trouble; and that may serve to show it more forcibly. The child has, as we have seen, a habitual self. It is the outcome of the assimilations and actions which he has already learned. So the tendencies to conduct in realizing the behests of this self are, it is easy to see, the same actions which the advocates of the habit theory bring forward as the acts which, as due to habit or custom, are morally right. Now if we agree with this theory, and say that those acts which are guaranteed by habit are the right ones, then what shall we do with all the tendencies to action coming from the presence of the other self which we have found the child entertaining also, the accommodating self ?The accommodating self is the learning self; the self which comes forward to imitate, to be teachable, sympathetic, generous. I think it only needs to be put into words that both these selves are equally real to convince us that those sharp approvals or condemnations of ourselves which we experience in our judgments of right and wrong, are not always administered in favour of the self of habit.

Or, if we look at the question from the side of the race development of mankind, we find, as I have argued at length in the volume referred to, that the repetitions of habitual performances by an organism would not give growth. In order to grow, to be better as an organism, merely, there must be constant violations or modifications of habit. So if we put the ethical sense only on the plane that some of the advocates of the habit theory claim for it, —i.e., an index of organic utility and development,-even then we must find in it more than the outcome of repeated

(42) habit. This is not the place to carry out this thought; but it is on the surface difficult to see how we could hold that departure from habit as such arouses the sense of wrong, if all through the course of organic and mental development it is by just such violations and modifications of old habits that new adaptations have been secured to the growth and evolution of the organism. There is a sense, it is true, in which the ethical sense may be said to represent a habit; but, as its statement below will show, it is different from the view customarily developed by the associationists.[19]

In short, not to go into this theory further, we may say that it represents an attempt to found the moral sentiments upon one of the two selves which the social life involves,—the self of habit.

21. And the other historical theory mentioned above does the reverse ; it attempts to derive these feelings also from one of the two, but it takes the other. Sympathy, benevolence, —which when reduced to its lowest terms means the retirement of the aggressive, self-seeking agent in man for a period, and in reference to a particular object, — instinctive sympathy is the watchword of the traditional English theory of the moral sentiments. Adam Smith, Darwin, Stephen, and many other apostles of the natural history conception in this realm, think that morality is a complex outcome of animal or social sympathy; and the later writers account for the rise of sympathy by making it of biological utility in the preservation of animal companies.


Put psychologically, this is the recognition of the accommodating self. Actions which are done in deference to the presence and conduct of others, which involve a departure from the first promptings of self-interest, an abeyance of the aggressions of the self of habit,-such actions, this theory holds, are good. Self-denial is the keynote of morality ; that is, in so far as morality is reflective at all. Now it might not be an adequate criticism of this view to say that it is one-sided, as the former theory is other-sided; some one-sided things are true. But the same tests which we applied to the habit theory may be brought into requisition here. Our moral approbations do not ipso facto attach to sympathy nor to the generous man. Is generosity never wrong? Is not sympathy with the condemned murderer a maudlin sort of virtue ?Are the sudden, irresponsible, capricious appeals of our environment to our private sympathies the highest ground and the final criterion of good conduct ?Then is the improvident the better man, and lawlessness better than law.

And is there no virtue after all in habit ?Is the incalculable, the exceptional, the impulsive, normally a higher kind, a safer kind, a more development-furthering kind of action than the regular, well-tested, smooth-working, grounded acts of organic and intellectual habit ?Or, if the reader wish to lift the question up to the higher plane of spiritual interest, setting aside considerations of organic development, let me ask the question differently: Is the kingdom of spirit so chaotic that the accidental suggestions of sympathy are of more value in it than the reasonable action which is ruled by some kind of law? Granted we do not find, with the associationists, that the law of habit is adequate, even in the lower realm of biological

(44) growth, still the absence of law, be it in a realm of higher interests, would seem to be somewhat of a hindrance to our getting an adequate doctrine of the meaning of the ethical life of man.

22. But, more positively: turning now to the child and observing him in the period when his personal relationships are becoming complex, say along through the third year, the dawning moral sense is then caught as it were in the process of making. And in it we have a right to see, as I have had occasion to say in regard to other of the child's processes, the progress of the race depicted with more or less adequacy of detail.

The child begins to be dimly aware of such a presence, in his contact with others, as that which has been called in the abstract the socius. What this is to him is, of course, at this early stage simply an element of personal quality in the suggestions which he now gets from others ; an element which is not done justice to by either of the thoughts of self to which he is accustomed on occasion to react. He notes in the behaviour of his father and mother, whenever certain contingencies of the social situation present themselves, a characteristic which, in the development of 'personality-suggestion,' was termed the 'regularity of personal agency.'[20] He sees the father pained when he has to administer punishment ; and he hears the words,' Father does not like to punish his little boy.' He finds the mother reluctantly refusing to give a biscuit when it is her evident desire to give it. He sees those around him doing gay things with heavy hearts, and forcing themselves to be cheerful in the doing of things which are not pleasant.

(45) He sees hesitations, conflicts, indecisions, and from the bosom of them all he sees emerge the indications of something beyond the mere individual attitudes of the actor, something which stands toward these higher persons from whom he learns, as the family law, embodied possibly in the father, stands toward him.

Now I do not mean that the child sees all this in the terms in which I have described what he 'sees.'He does not see anything clearly. He simply feels puzzled at the richness of the indications of personal behaviour which pour in upon him. But the very puzzle of these situations is just the essential thing. It means that the categories of personality which he has so far acquired, the two selves which exhaust the possible modes of behaviour he is able to depict to himself in thought, are really inadequate. Here in these situations of his father and mother is more personal suggestion, which is still quite 'projective.' It is personal ; things do not show it. But it is not yet understood. The self of habit, no less than the self of accommodation, is thrust aside, as he sees his mother's sorrow when she refuses him the biscuit ; he cannot act aggressively toward her nor yet sympathetically. There must needs be some other type of personal behaviour, some other thought of a self; for if not, then character must after all remain to him a chaotic, capricious thing.

23. We may ask, before we attempt to find a way for the child to extricate himself from this confusion in his thoughts of personality, whether he have in his own experience any analogies which will help him to assimilate the new suggestive elements. And our observation is very superficial if we do not light upon an evident thing in his life; the thing he has come to understand something

(46) about every time he obeys. This is so evidently a thing of value that psychologists long ago struck upon it. The ' word of command' is to Professor Bain the schoolmaster to morality. By it the child gets the habit of personal subjection which, when he illustrates it reflectively, shows itself as morality. This, I think, is true as far as the function of the 'schoolmaster' is concerned ; but much more than this schoolmaster is needed to school the agent boy to morality. How it works, however, another appeal to the growing sense of self will serve to show.

Whenever he obeys, the boy has forced in upon him a situation which his thoughts of himself are not adequate to interpret. He is responding neither to his habitual self nor to his accommodating self. Not to the former, for if the thing he is told to do is something he does not want to do, his habits, his private preferences, are directly violated. And on the other hand he is not acting out his accommodating self simply, just in proportion as he is unwilling to do what he is told to do. If this self held all the room in his consciousness, then obedience would be companionship, and compliance would be no more than approval. No, it is really his private habitual self that is mainly present ; the other being a forced product, unless by dint of schooling in submission his obedience has become free and unconstrained.

Besides these elements, his two selves, then, what more is there to the child ?This : a dominating other self, a new alter, is there ;that is the important thing. And what does it mean ?It means, in the first instance, a lice of conduct on his part which the obedience represents. But in this line of conduct we now have the real schoolmaster to the boy. It is just by it that he learns more

(47) about character, precisely as, by his spontaneous imitations at the earlier stage, he established lines of conduct which taught him more about character. At this stage also, his intelligence is not so rudimentary as at the earlier one. It does not take him long to learn certain great things. By the action he performs through obedience, he learns the meaning of these actions : how they feel, what good or evil results they lead to. And in all his learning by this agency, he learns above all the great lesson essential to the development of his thought of self : that there is a something always present, an atmosphere, a circle of common interest, a family propriety, a mass of accepted tradition. This is his first realisation to himself of what the socius means. It comes by his growth as a personal self, but the process of obedience greatly abbreviates his growth.[21] For a long time it is embodied as a matter of course in the persons whom he obeys. But the social limitations which these persons respectively represent are not always coextensive or parallel. His father and mother often embody very different family spirits to him. And it is only after many tentative adjustments, mistaken efforts to please, excesses of duty in one direction, and instances of rebellion[22] in other directions, that he learns the essential agreements of the different persons who set law to him.

Now this is a new thought of self. How can it be otherwise when all its origin is from persons, and all its char

(48) -acters are learned only by the efforts of the struggling hero to realize their meaning by his own actions ? Apart from the elements of a possible self, there is absolutely nothing. It is his own actions felt, then added to imitatively and made to illustrate the actions of others, with which he fills his consciousness when he thinks of it. And in each of his straining efforts to obey, to do what he is told to do, his success or failure is a further defining of the limitations of one or the other of his old selves, and in so far the creation of a new self which sets law to both of them.

Now this new self arises, as we have seen, right out of the competitions, urgencies, inhibitions of the old. Suppose a boy who has once obeyed the command to let an apple alone, coming to confront the apple again, when there is no one present to make him obey. There is his private, greedy, habitual self, eying the apple ; there is also the spontaneously suggestible, accommodating, imitative self over against it, mildly prompting him to do as his father said and let the apple alone; and there is —or would be, if the obedience had taught him no new thought of self —the quick victory of the former. But now a lesson has been learned. There arises a thought of one who obeys, who has no struggle in carrying out the behests of the father. This may be vague; his habit may be yet weak in the absence of persons and penalties, but it is there, however weak. And it is no longer merely the faint imitation of an obedient self which he does not understand. It carries within it, it is true, all the struggle of the first obedience, all the painful protests of the private greedy self, all the smoke of the earlier battlefield. But while he hesitates, it is now not merely the balance of the old forces

(49) that makes him hesitate ; it is the sense of the new, better, obedient self hovering before him. A few such fights and he begins to grow accustomed to the presence of something in him which represents his father, mother, or in general, the lawgiving personality. So, as he understands the meaning of obedience better, through his own acting out of its behests in varied circumstances, the projective elements of the alter which thus sets law to him become subjective. The socius becomes more and more intimate as a law-abiding self of his own.

24. Then, with this self in him, he proceeds to do with it what we always do with our thoughts of self ; he 'ejects' it into all the other members of the family and of his social circle. He expects, and rightly too, that each brother and sister will have the same responsibility to the Zeitgeist that he has-will reverence the same Penates. He exacts from them the same obedience to father and mother that he himself renders. It is amusing to see the jealousy with which one child in a family will watch the others, and see that they do not transgress the law of the family. If the father makes an exception of one little being, he is quickly 'brought up' by the protests of other little beings.[23] This is a pertinent piece of evidence to the essential truthfulness of the process depicted above, where it was said that the alter is one with the ego as a self, and that it is impossible for the child to attach predicates to the one without, ipso facto, attaching the same predicates to the other. To say that little brother need not obey, when I am called on to obey is

(50) to say that little brother is in some way not a person, that is all. So we constantly have to explain to our children 'the dollie cannot feel,' 'the leather elephant cannot eat,' 'the woolly dog need not be beaten when he gets in the way.' "These things," in short, we say to our children, "are not selves; they have the shapes of possible selves, it may be, and they have so far served as convenient alters for you to practise on, but they need not be expected to take up with you the responsibilities of family life."

So, once born in the fire and smoke of personal friction, the socius lives in the child, a presence of which he can never rid himself. It is the germ of the ideals of life, the measure of the life to come, both in this world and in the next ; for it is this self that the child thereafter pursues in all his development, making it his only to find that it is further beyond him. He is "ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

25.Taking up the sense of morality, therefore, —the sense that we mean when we use the word 'ought,'—we now have it. Let the child continue to act by the rule of either of his former partial selves,-the private habitual self or the accommodating capricious self of impulse and sympathy, -and this new ideal of a self, a self that fulfils law, comes up to call him to account. My father, says the child, knows and would say 'what' and ' how' ; and later, when the father-self has proved not to know all ' whats ' and all ' hows,' then my teacher, my book, my inspired writer, my God, knows 'what' and 'how' still. In so far as I have learned from him, I also know; and this I expect you, my brother, my friend, my alter, to know too, for our common life together. And the sense of this my

(51) self of conformity to what he teaches and would have me do — this is, once for all, my conscience.

We do not need to develop in this place a complete theory of the adult conscience ; that would be outside our topic. But no account of the development of the sense of self, or of the social conditions under which the sense of self arises and grows, as the later developments of our work go on to depict them, would be adequate which left out this highest reach of the child's constructiveness. We are wont to think that we can draw lines in the attainments of mind, interpret so far and leave the rest over; but the surging activities of stimulation and response pass right over our boundary lines, and we find the germs of the higher impregnating the lower stages. The child, when once this sense of a self which is not but ought to be, comes to him, does everything under its law — whether his action conform to what he understands of it or whether he disobey and offend it. He is henceforth never innocent with the innocence of neutrality. He must think of the better with sorrow if he choose the worse, and of the worse with joy if he choose the better; and when he makes his act only in response to the measure of good which he sees, taking a step in the dark, still there is with him the necessary conviction of a self that he groped for, but did not find, -a law behind the chaos of his struggle.

26. It is enough, in this connection, that one or two truths regarding the nature of this ethical self should remain in mind. It is, first of all, a slow social attainment on the part of the child. He gets it only by getting certain other thoughts of self first. Then it takes on various forms, each held to only to be superseded in turn by something higher and richer. The obligation to obey it is also

(52) slow in its rise. It is a function of the self —this self, the socius —just as the tendency to yield to the behests of habit or of sympathy are simply functions, the motor side of their respective contents. The 'ought' comes right up out of the 'must.' Transfer the self to be obeyed from the environment to the inner throne, make it an ego instead of an alter, and its authority is not a whit changed in nature. Something of its executive compulsion is gone; it is one of the very intimate differences between an ego and an alter, that the ego is its own impulsion while the alter brings compulsion ; and as the alter aspect of the new self becomes more and more adequately assimilated, this difference grows more emphatic. The developed ethical sense needs less and less to appeal to an alter self, an authority, a holy oracle, to sanction the ought of conscience; it gets itself more and more promptly executed by its own inner impulsion. A history of the great world religions, or of the inner form of their deities, might be written on the basis of this movement in the form of the ethical self, which also implicates the social Zeitgeist.[24]

27. And a second point to be borne in mind: that as the socius expands in the mind of the child, there is the constant tendency to make it real-to eject it-in some concrete form in the social group. The father, mother, nurse, are apt to be the first embodiment of social law, and their conduct, interpreted through obedience and imitation, the first ethical standard. And as the child finds one man or woman inadequate to the growing complications of the case, other concrete selves are erected in the same way. The popular voice, the literature of the period, the king, 

(53) the state, the church, — all these are choice repositories of the ejected ethical self. Public opinion is our modern expression for the purely social form of this spirit.

28. Then a third point: we may ask what the law is which we find this self embodying. And we get a twofold answer.Most comprehensively it may be said that the law is in one sense always the realized self of somebody. Apart from a self it can be nothing, because nobody would understand it. It must come out of somebody's apprehension of the social situation and the requirements of the case. The parents themselves are usually the source of family law over against the rest of the family. But that they are held to the actual socius —to the relationships existing between them and the others—is seen in any attempts they make to transcend these relationships. Suppose that the father commands each of the family to dance the highland fling and then to write a book. Whether the first of these commands be obeyed, would depend upon whether he has had a right to include in his sense of the alter personalities of the family the accomplishment in question. And, as to the second, it is likely that he would get a laugh for his pains.

But further, the law, thus tempered by the thought of the other selves involved, is a function of the socius-consciousness in each of its two aspects. It is 'projective' to the child when he first receives it and submits himself to it. He does not yet understand it ; it requires him to act blindly. He, in his individual capacity, is not a judge of the wisdom or appropriateness of it. The other person sets it, the self in whom he is then finding his socius realized ; and the child is properly social only if he submit, even if he have to be made properly social by being

(54) compelled to submit. And the other aspect of the law is equally important, that set by the other thought of self which the socius includes, the I 'ejective' embodiment of the law. After the child has obeyed, and learned by obedience, he himself sets the law of the house for the other members of it. And the law then becomes ' common law,' inasmuch as it is engrained in the very thought of the better self of every member of the social group. All commands and behests which are not thus embodied in the spirit of the whole, are yet to a degree really only the reflection of the highest thought of self in the group, that of the father ; if to the others these have not yet become 'common law,' the common dictates of the common social self, that is because the individuals are yet immature members of the circle or family. Put briefly, all law must arise somewhere in the family from the legitimate development of the social self ; and it is realized, or obeyed as law, only as the members of the family come, each in his turn, to mould his social self into intelligent observance of it, and intelligent enforcement of it. And the family is typical of the community.

29. A final observation is this: there is, as was intimated above, a sense in which the socius, the social self, and with it the ethical self, is a self of habit. If this thought of self which we are calling the 'socius' really be, in so far as the child understands his own thought of it, a sense of his denials of both his lower and less social selves -the self of private habit and the self of accommodation in favour of a law set him by an alter, then this very attitude must become in some degree a habit, a tendency to look for a higher law, a moving toward a higher authority. But it is a habit of acting, not a habit of action. It involves

(55)the most acutely painful and difficult violations of old habits of action. It is a habit of violating habits —that is the relation of morality to habit. And it is an interesting side-light on the method of the rise of the successive selves by imitation and submission, that in the lower stages of evolution we find the organism working under the same subtlety. The organism develops only by cultivating the habit of imitating ; while the very value of imitation is that by it the organism acquires new accommodations by breaking up habits already acquired. The organism must be ready, by a habit of acting, to impair the habits of action it already has.[25] And the origin of the moral sense by this method shows it to be an imitative function. We do right by habitually imitating a larger self whose injunctions run counter to the tendencies of our partial selves.[26]

(56) The more refined phases of ethical emotion, together with their influence on social conduct, are considered under the headings of 'Sentiment' and 'Sanction.'[27] .


  1. Quotation from Mental Development in the Child and the Race, 1st ed. p 335 (also printed in Mind, Jan. 1894, pp. 40 f.). A position similar to this has been taken by Royce (Philos.Rev. 1894).Cf. also Avenarius Der menschl. Welbegriff. I have indicated in the earlier work (Ment. Devel., p. 339) the relation of my position to Avenarius' theory of Introjection. On certain anthropological parallels suggested by Höffding and Avenarius, see Appendix F.
  2. In isolating the' thought elements' in the self, I do not, of course, deny the organic sensation and feeling elements; but for our present purposes the latter may be neglected. I add, in Appendix E, short notices of positions taken by Bradley and Royce, which may serve as an introduction to a more complete view on the psychology of self-consciousness.
  3. Even temporary affective experiences tend to be 'ejected.' When I have a headache I cannot see a person riding, jumping, etc., without attributing to him the throbbing which such actions would produce in my own head.
  4. This discussion of ' Interests,' which has already been printed (Monist, April, 1897), is inserted here to illustrate the general application of the topic in social theory. It may be turned to again when the reader has read the chapters on 'Sanction' (IX., X.).
  5. A good instance of this inadequacy of statement from a psychological point of view, is seen in Professor J. Sully's grave discussion as to whether infants are naturally immoral or not (Studies of Childhood, Chap. VII).
  6. Not a logical circle, of course.
  7. Guyau makes the interesting remark that even though we were purely egoistic we should still learn to love, simply through response to the appearance of love in others. 
  8. Of course, we can only say' more likely' in any single instance, and in the other distinctions between boys and girls as well.
  9. The degree of ' originality,' or 'invention,' which each child shows.
  10. Moreover, it is just this fact of identity of personal and family interests which is responsible for the rise of the family considered from an evolution point of view. Animal families, if they are to survive as families, must be . made up of individuals having ingrained in their instinctive life the social qualities which make the animal's own struggle for existence at once also a struggle for the existence of the family group as such; just as the child, in his personal growth, must become a person by becoming a socius. To separate the two in the child is to annihilate the individual person: just so to eradicate the family instinct in the animal is to destroy his private chance for survival, or if not that, at least to prevent the raising, and perhaps the very birth of a second generation. The child in getting to be a person uses social means to that end in his life-history; and the animal in getting to be a species by natural selection in race-history survives by his use of the same means. 
  11. The substance of this paragraph has been printed in the Philosophical Review, May, 1897.
  12. In reality these so-called ' selves' are active attitudes, the content thought of being one and the same.
  13. We saw that he has a sense of it, in his esprit-de-corps.
  14. Mental Development, pp. 344 f., somewhat revised and condensed.
  15. The obligation side is genetically the motor side, as readers of the book cited may possibly recall, since, as I believe, the sense of the general is always a motor or attitude sense. But it is not necessary to develop this here. Cf. Sect. 29, note 2, and Sects. 186-188.
  16. Neglecting for the time the third great historical group of theories, which may be called' ideal.'
  17. And, more especially, ill when he violates them.See Darwin's interesting case of a supposed bird, after migrating, feeling moral remorse at having violated the maternal instinct by leaving the young behind in the nest. (Descent of Man, p. 87.)
  18. I do not see that the hypothesis of race experience or race habit helps the case much, for the child does not inherit the content of morality he gets it the rather through instruction and social example, and has to reduce it to his personal habit just the same, even though it do-as it probably doesembody race custom. How then would such habits differ from his other private habits ?On the point of Huxley's see Sect. 194.
  19. Of course this is only one criticism of the habit views; another would be, that they do not account for reflective morality, since they do not consider the moral sense a function of the thought of self. The relation of private morality to social custom is considered in detail further on.
  20. Mental Development, p. 125.
  21. As he grows older his intellectual faculties are also exercised at their best upon those puzzling situations presented by the behaviour of others toward one another, in which a solution by his own action is not immediately required.
  22. The instances of violent rebellion, which become frantic and dramatic sometimes in young children, are emphasized by Sully (Studies of Childhood, Chap. VIII.) as impressive revelations to the child of the existence of law.
  23. Cf. the instances cited by Sully, loc. cit., Chap. VIII., with his curious explanation of them as implying an 'instinct for order' in the child (p. 284 et seq. ).
  24. Compare what is said on the ' Religious Sanctions,' Chap. X., § 4.
  25. This amounts to what Mr. Huxley describes as nature combating herself (loc. cit., p. 35), and considers so surprising. It is the same point of view, on the ethical plane, that Mr. Romanes has taken on the biological plane (Ment. Evol. in An., p. 20) in saying that heredity cannot provide in advance for its own modification. I have shown that nature does produce just this state of things in biology (cf. Mental Development, Chap. VIII., § 5); Professor Lloyd Morgan has published (Habit and Instinct, p. 264) a similar criticism of Romanes. In the ethical sense we find nature combating herself in the same way; combating by a higher adaptation a lower law of her own making. It is not necessary to say that such an adaptation is 'contrary to nature' and not a part of evolution; for, as Mr. Huxley himself says in a note, it simply requires a larger way of looking at the process of evolution itself. See further allusion to Mr. Huxley's position in Sect. 194 and in Appendix C.
  26. The question of the psychophysics of the moral sense cannot be discussed here; yet the foregoing position would seem to indicate that the sense of obligation must be accompanied in the brain with a pro-- which represents a partial inhibition of lower motor syntheses (representing habits, impulses, etc.) by a higher and more unstable motor integration, into which the lower tend to be brought. This second synthesis stands for the general or ideal self which sets law to the lower partial selves. This view has much in common with that developed by Guyau (Esquisse d'une Morale).He says (Education and Heredity, p. 79) : "Thought, action—they are at bottom identical. And what is called moral obligation or constraint is, in the sphere of the intellect, the sense of this radical identity; obligation is an internal expansion, a need for completing our ideas by making them pass into action. Morality is the unity of the being."
  27. Chaps. VIII. §§ z, 4, IX. § 5, and X. § 4.The ethical is so intimately bound up with the social—as it is one of my main purposes to show-that the later chapters of the essay will all be found to contain ethical matter.

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