Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development
HIS SOCIAL SANCTIONS: SOCIAL OPPOSITION
262. THE social sanctions are those reasons for action which bear in upon the individual from the social environment. They are the influences which have become in some way representative in social life, and which constitute the more important elements in the moral atmosphere of the group in which a particular individual lives. It will be remembered that we have already had a concept similar to this in the matter of so-called 'social heredity,'  except that social heredity has reference to the bearing in of these influences upon the individual to affect his inherent and normal personal growth ; that is, social heredity describes the individual's indebtedness to the social influences and the method of his reception of them. It does not attempt, however, to define the specific forms which they take on as motive influences in the mind of the individual. Nevertheless to answer the question of social sanction is to carry further the theory of social heredity.
We have also had before us another topic which comes into close connection with the present one : the topic of the 'social aids to invention.'  These 'aids' we found to be certain instruments of social use which the child acquires, and which serve as indispensable helps to his
(406) growth into the social heritage. The conclusions, as well as the methods of analysis of the section on ' social aids,' may be taken as showing the channels through which the social environment administers its lessons for the individual's growth—especially, it will be recalled, in the great spheres of language, literature, art, and play.
263. Allowing these more or less adequate developments, therefore, to set us our further problem, we find the task now before us somewhat shortened. It becomes the question: what are the leading objective categories of social life through which the elements of the individual's 'social heritage' have crystallized into representative institutions during the growth of society ? and in what way do these institutions normally exercise sanctions upon the active life of the individuals ?
We find, as a matter of fact, the following sets of institutions in society, each exerting in its own way a sanction upon the acts of individuals: —
|Institutions exercising Social Sanctions|
|1. Natural||3. Civil|
|2. Pedagogical and Conventional||4. Religious|
These different types of institutions we may pass briefly in review, not at all for purposes of description nor of theory, but simply to show the way in which they do, as a matter of fact, bear in upon each member of the community and afford him more or less urgent sanctions for his conduct.
§1. The Natural Sanctions
264. By the 'natural' institutions of society I mean those sorts of social organization which arise directly out
(407) of the nature of man. Such, primarily, is the family. The relationships of the family are typical of a set of influences which have already been briefly indicated. They are characterized by natural esprit de corps. The family esprit de corps has such a firm root in the breast of the individual that family action is as necessary to him as action in his own private interest. The naturalness of such action from family esprit de corps is seen in the powerful place it has in animal life.
The natural sanctions extend, however, beyond the family. The influence of kinship may be traced out into all the ramifications of blood-relationship. Not only so, but a similar natural bond, which the historians of society trace back to the family, extends to the various natural aggregations into which the social body falls at different periods in its development from the family to the village community, then through the various stages of tribal and patriarchal organization. This we need not dwell upon. Nor is it necessary to follow the development through the more enlightened periods for which we have the historical records—from the feudal in Europe, the civic unit in Greece, and the other forms of restricted communal organization all based upon the natural bond, up into the forms of higher political and social institutions. This esprit de corps shows itself also sentimentally in patriotism, race feeling, colour prejudice, etc.Students of philosophy, also, need not to be reminded that the race was many ages getting its concept of universal brotherhood. The distinction of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, Greek and Barbarian, in its innumerable forms, is not yet entirely obsolete in the popular mind. National spirit is only a form of natural esprit de corps.
(408) Each successive widening of the bond only serves to show its reality. The family bond remains, although the family relationship is no longer massgebend for all social organization, nor prohibitory of wider social attachments. Civic pride, which in our modern life is near to family pride, yet allows the wider forms of natural organization to perfect themselves beside it. National life, with all its flying of flags and blowing of horns, nevertheless does not supersede the family nor the city attachments; nor does it altogether deaden that most sublime of all the natural sentiments,—the sentiment of humanity and universal brotherhood. So not only has this natural social sanction had its history; it has become more varied and influential the farther down in history we trace the evolution of humanity.
265. It is only a step further to recognize the forms of sanction which the natural esprit de corps of man brings to the life of the individual, reflecting themselves in his conduct as immediate reasons for his action. They are generally unconscious or subconscious. We do not hear a man questioning with himself as to whether he shall expose himself to the weather for his child, nor whether he shall go out to defend his city. The school hero whom we had occasion to cite before does not ask the question which school --his own or the one around the corner -- is more worthy of his devotion and of his fists. And having settled that point on more direct grounds than argument, he does not fall to arguing before he pitches into the town boy who reviles the school which he himself has just before attacked. So it is in the larger affairs of the adult, who fights for country when country is attacked; for race when race questions succeed those of country; for family when its honour is impugned; for himself when
(409) his brother treads upon his rights. He does it all with the spontaneity which shows the action in each case to be natural in the most intimate sense of the word. Its naturalness is its justification. To say that he has no justification is to say that things which are not natural to him might yet come to him with a stronger appeal. The only solution in such a case is the solution of a conflict of sanctions—a condition which is common enough.
But admitting that men do act on these direct natural sanctions, the important further question then is: what relation does this social or public sanction have to his own private sanctions, those which we have been pointing out in the preceding chapter ? This question introduces us to the line of inquiries which bring in a contrast between the sanctions and actions upon sanctions of the individual's own nature and those of society; a topic which serves to focus the main theoretical positions of the earlier chapters. I shall, therefore, take it up here, and also again in connection with each of the sorts of social sanction which we have to consider.
266. What relation, then, exists between the natural sanctions for actions done from family and other forms of esprit de corps, and the private sanctions which the individual has for his personal acts? Evidently these are not two classes, but one. It is clear that in actions done from natural esprit de corps, the individual is acting simply and only from impulse. The fact that he does not reason, that he does not hesitate, nor ask even for ethical or social justification —these facts show that he is now in the region of just that form of compulsion which we called, in the consideration of his impulses, the sanction of 'necessity.' To be sure, the arena of his action is now a different one;
(410) it is now the social arena. His action has reference to a wider circle, —family, school, league, city, state, —and he is conscious of this reference. The content of his consciousness is different, for his mind is filled up with the being or beings for whom he is acting. But that does not alter the fact that the sanction is simply that of impulse. To make it anything else is to say that he appeals to other sources of influence for his reasons; and it is quite impossible to point out any other sources. When we ask him why he fights for his brother, he replies simply, as was said above, 'because he is my brother.' He cannot tell you by what law a man should defend his brother.
He may be quite willing, indeed, to confess that his brother is, from the point of view of reasonable desert and ethical worth, quite unworthy of his pains; but then —he still fights for his brother! The sanctions drawn from more remote social regions or from the regions of his own higher social and ethical nature simply fail of application. He acts because he must, and there he stands, saying with that devotion to his personal nature which Luther put in words for all time: 'I can do no otherwise.'
We have seen reasons, in our study, for the coincidence between this form of social sanction and that of the individual's impulsive nature. The instincts of natural affection, of natural esprit de corps, are engrained in the very nervous organization of man. They stand on the basis of private possessions to him, much as his more self-seeking and defensive reactions do. Their relation to the other and, in many ways, higher influences of life are just those which subsist between all his impulses and his higher sanctions, —the relation spoken of above,
(411) where something was said of the interaction between the different forms of personal sanction.
The conclusion, then, to which we come in reference to the relation between natural social sanctions and personal sanctions is this : that the former are identical with the sanction of necessity in the personal sphere. There are not two spheres of personal action in this realm of spontaneous conduct, one private and the other social; the antithesis is a false one; there is only one sphere, that of the sanction of necessity. The social reference of the action is as natural to the individual as are his private references; and the sanction is one.
267. A case illustrating the extreme force of these natural sanctions —perhaps the most striking case— is found in the care taken by parents for the next generation. "Why is it," we are asked, "that a man will submit to all sorts of social restrictions, will work his fingers to the bone, will deny himself comforts and necessities, that he may lay by money for his children?" It is not the sanction merely of personal success or happiness that prompts him, for that would lead him to calculate the chances on the basis of reflective egoism, in most or all cases, and, if carried to an extreme, lead to the neglect of his children —or to the suppression of the family instinct, that there might be no next generation at all. But we do not find men acting commonly in that way. The sanction of the impulsive nature comes in first to decree otherwise. The denial of that would, as the event shows, be to most men harder and lead to more distressing consequences —especially when we come to see that the family instincts are immensely reinforced from the social impulses as well—than the gratification of it.
Nor can it be called unreasonable to indulge it. The sanction even of intelligence is not, as a matter of fact, necessarily on the side of egoism; this we have already seen. Purely selfish and egoistic action is the exception ; and considering the entire equipment of the average man, it is unreasonable. On the contrary, the intelligence comes to ally itself normally with the impulses of social and family life.
The care of children, with all the social consequences which it entails, is as deep-seated as the impulse to think. The measure of intelligence, in these matters, is seen in the degree to which the self which is identified with the end of desire and choice is the full self, with all its normal springs of action. It is intelligent to act for this self; and this self is also, as these social impulses show, in great measure such a social self as is the father of children.
(413) When, indeed, the thought of self has once become ethical, the extreme egoistic reference of the intelligence is normally inhibited in this sphere as in others.
§ 2. The Pedagogical and Conventional Sanctions
268. The second class of social institutions which claim our attention are those which we may describe as pedagogical, in the broadest sense. The word has reference to the training of the individual member of society for his place and activities in life. It is evident, from a survey of society, that such institutions play an important place in the social economy, that they bring a most important series of sanctions to bear upon every sane member of the community.
With these go also the 'conventional' institutions, by which I mean those which owe their continuance to public opinion, economic and industrial necessities, etc., stopping short of the legal and civil, which have executive agencies to enforce their enactments.
No detail of the institutions of education or convention is necessary here, since the sanctions which they bring are the same in kind, whatever be the varieties of organization which they show. The school, the university, the apprentice's bench, the clerk's desk, the business rule, all require the individual to submit to certain regulations, both positive and negative in nature, which are vital to his success in becoming an effective member of society, in the way which his choice of life conditions prescribes. These ways, in which the fact of having to learn in order to act comes to set the reasons for the actual course which the person pursues, are the essential
(414) considerations to us now; and the 'reasons' themselves are social sanctions.
269. For preliminary purposes, we may contrast the cases of action from these influences into two great classes: the actions of submission to regulations to which the person is compelled to submit, on the one hand; and those, on the other hand, to which he voluntarily or spontaneously submits. The latter class, it is evident, will include many sorts of restraint, discipline, etc., to which it is necessary that he should submit; but the fact that he chooses to do so voluntarily suffices to throw them into the second class mentioned.
First, as to the influences of an educational kind —in the broadest sense—to which the individual social learner bows his head submissively that he may learn. These actions evidently belong to the pedagogical discipline, which comes rather late in life, when the student or social actor has free choice of the course he intends to pursue, and of the means, degree of excellence, etc., which appear to him good. The reason that we find it well to throw all these influences together for remark, is that they are not in any sense peculiarly social influences after the individual has once made them personal to himself by choosing them. This is the more evident when we throw the consideration of them on the side of sanction. The sanction becomes at once personal, in becoming the conscious reason on which the individual acts, although they remain also social. They are always social, since they are the prescriptions, which society
(415) makes for success in this or that career. But it is not as social prescriptions that the individual pursues them ; nor are the sanctions which society brings to bear on him operative only because they are prescriptions of society. By making choice of this line or act of conduct, he sets them up in his own mind as objects of desire; and thus makes himself, in these particular spheres of action, liable to the personal sanction of desire.
The consideration already given in the earlier section (Chap. IX., § 3) to the sanction of desire, therefore, covers this case also. And we may at once say that, as for the social prescriptions of a pedagogical or conventional kind, which the individual voluntarily embraces as objects of desire, they are without further change personal prescriptions, and so have his personal sanction. Any antithesis between the social and the individual in regard to these influences, and the actions to which they lead, is ipso facto impossible.
270. Passing, then, to certain remaining pedagogical influences, —those to which the individual submits by example or by suggestion, without choice or without knowing that he is under them,—we have to inquire into the kinds of sanction which they bring, and the relation of these to his personal ones. It may be well to indicate the fact that this class and the foregoing are not mutually exclusive in their actual range with different individuals, or even in the case of a single individual. The same social prescriptions may be accepted voluntarily by one man, and rejected by another ; such cases are common enough. And the same prescription may be now accepted and now rejected by the same man. In disposing, therefore, of the class of cases already spoken
(416) of, we have not settled the place of any particular social regulation; we have merely found that, in all cases of a certain conscious attitude, on the part of the actor, toward a regulation of whatever kind, his sanction is then determined by his attitude. In this second case —that is, in cases in which this attitude is absent—we have a series of interesting instances. All the phenomena of social heredity, already spoken of in detail, come in here; phenomena which show the child or adult absorbing without effort or explicit choice the details of his social birthright, from the earliest lessons in deportment to the last imitative responses which he makes to the 'copies' in style, dress, opinion, etc., of those about him, and in all the larger spheres of literature, art, political opinion, humane and philanthropic sentiment, and general social conformity. What are the sanctions for these performances ?
271. There are two general concepts which have about equal application to these phenomena; both concepts with which we are now fairly familiar. These instances of action seem to get their sanction about equally from the individual's 'social emotion as such'—as we have found it well to call it (Chap. VI., § 4)—on the one hand, and from his sensitiveness to 'public opinion' on the other hand.
By 'social emotion as such,' it will be remembered, we understood the phenomena of collective action, contagion of feeling, mob-influence, etc., which is a favourite topic just now with psychologically inclined writers on social themes. Our earlier examination of the phenomena enables us to give these factors of collective action their right place with reference to the individual. We came to the con-
(417) -clusion that the phenomena are only exaggerated instances of the gregarious tendency or impulse, upon which all social life rests, and consequently that they arise through the imitative relation. This is the type of function to which all these tendencies may be reduced. The whole growth of the individual, both in his instruction and in his invention, proceeds by imitation. It is the law of his acquisition. The socially characteristic attitude in man must, whatever else it include, include the impulse or instinct to imitate. Once give this impulse a chance to operate without restraint or with encouragement in a group of men, and free action of the collective or co-operative type results.
Besides the opportunities to show itself afforded to this impulse by collective suggestion, —the extreme case being mob-action, —the sphere of education gives it all the while its chance to get in its work. In education, not only is imitation not restrained ; it is, on the contrary, constantly appealed to and encouraged. The child that does not imitate does not learn. It is only a short step, therefore, to the conclusion that the individual's reason for acting in accordance with the educational and conventional prescriptions is simply that he feels moved to imitate spontaneously whenever he can; and his reason, that is his sanction.
272. The same follows, also, from the analysis of the individual's process of conceiving himself. It would be trite to repeat that the sense of self grows by constant absorption from the personality suggestions thrown in the way of the child by his social fellows. He must learn of his fellows if he would grow in knowledge of himself. But the only way that he can learn of his fellows is
(418) by doing what they do, so as to feel as they feel and know what they know. Again, the only way—after he has made his imitative interpretations in his own self-thought— that he can enrich the personalities of others with the same attributes, is to read back imitatively into them the things he knows about himself. The point of value to us now is this: that both of these are imitative processes. They proceed by imitative steps; and the real sanction that the child or man has for all the acts of general social conformity, represented by his personal emotions and attitudes, is the sanction which his imitation expresses.
Imitation, however, is an impulsive and spontaneous thing. In all the forms of action to which it gives rise it falls under the head of impulse, and so has the sanction that impulse in general has: the sanction of psychological necessity. We reach the conclusion, therefore, that the sanction of all those elements of action, in the pedagogical realm, which spring from the spontaneous conformities of the individual to the imitative lessons of the social body—the sanction of all these actions is necessity; and we come round again to the personal type of sanction.
273. The same reduction to the personal sanction holds also, it is just as well to say at once, of the other ingredient in these acts of educational and conventional conformity: the element spoken of above as the influence of public opinion. This has already been described and treated in connection with social and ethical sentiment.
(419) The word 'publicity' has been used to describe the social reference which characterizes ethical actions. Its place in the growth of the ethical and social sense has been indicated; and we have only to recall the position which the alter thought holds in all the personal development of a man, to see that public opinion gets its sanction not from the fact that it is public (in an objective sense, as common or open to all men), but from the fact that it is privately conceived to be public (has publicity ascribed to it in the individual's private thought). All social knowledge must have both public and private value to me, if it is to have any influence on my actions in the way of giving them sanction. The private aspect then makes the sanction personal.
To make this plain, we may recall the truths that even in the spontaneous period of action the child cannot treat others with the deference due to personality—the deference due to their opinion, his public's opinion —without taking the personal attitudes which make the thought of the alter, of the public, also the thought of himself. His thought of an act, as good, or sanctioned, for them to perform, is necessarily the thought of it as also good, sanctioned, for him to perform. It is good to perform, that is as far as he goes; and it is a matter of indifference whether the performer be he or they. This follows from the oneness of the sense of self.
When we track the matter of public opinion into the intellectual period, we find it possible again to utilize at once our earlier results. The sense of public opinion may be distinguished from the simple fact of public opinion. Public opinion may influence a man's intellectual processes, although he may not be thinking with refer-
(420) -ence to public opinion, nor even know that it is influencing him. Each such case is one or other of those just considered: either a case of unconscious social conformity by imitation, so falling under the sanction of impulse, or a case of social and ethical judgment and sentiment which falls under the sanction of desire.
But the man may act with explicit reference to public opinion in one or more of certain other ways which we have come to recognize. Either he acts with a view to changing, appeasing, persuading, his fellow-men,—in which case his action has again the personal sanction of desire,—or he acts from the vantage-ground of more or less adequate knowledge of others' approval or condemnation. This latter case proceeds upon the analysis just made above, where we found that his sense of another's judgment involved himself, as passing the same judgment through the reciprocity of the relation of the ego and alter personalities. This makes the sanction, now ethical, a personal one. We come upon it again later, in considering the more ethical influences which society exerts upon the individual.
Or yet again, the man may act with a view to utilizing public opinion, or some other form of social influence, for some indirect personal end, —a process which we have described at some length as characterizing the child's advent into the intelligent period. This, it is clear, brings the influence of public opinion out of the social sphere altogether into that of private ends; and makes the sanction again clearly one of desire.
So we have to conclude that the influence of public opinion is exerted entirely through sanctions private to the individual in the first instance, however common they
(421) may be to different individuals; and that, in this realm, the antithesis between personal and social sanctions is again false, since there are no exclusively social sanctions as such.
274. There remains only one other aspect of the pedagogical problem which bears. upon this matter of sanction that of the compulsory social conformities. There are certain things which the child and the adult must learn in order to live socially; just as there are some things which he must do—certain duties to society—in order to live. The things of his learning, however, fall really in the other category, that of doing. Learning is a thing that he must do. And as the sanctions of our next category, called the 'civil ' sanctions, take cognizance of these cases of doing in the compulsory meaning of the term, this sort of learning may be brought up again under that head.
§3. The Civil Sanctions
275. We come now to consider those great institutions of social life which exist from generation to generation as monuments to what is most human: institutions of government, law, justice, etc. It is evident, of course, that we cannot attempt within the limits of the present essay —even if we were prepared to do so—to develop a philosophy of these great permanent social and political institutions. The very classification of them together in the scheme of treatment now proposed shows that it is only a single aspect of them which is to he brought forward. That aspect is their sanction aspect, so to speak. And the justification of the grouping together of things otherwise so disparate is here. I mean to say that the
(422) sphere of all those institutions of a social kind to which the individual must submit as a good citizen —and to which he must still submit in a more imperative sense if he be a bad citizen—is the same from the point of view of their sanction, which we may call the 'civil sanction.'
The question which comes before us, therefore, in this connection concerns the nature of this civil sanction. Do we find here, in the things which society and its institutions require of the individual man, a reason or sanction for action which is distinctively social, that is, a sanction for which the individual has no equivalent in his own nature as a personal actor ?
276. At first sight, it looks as though we should have to answer this question in the affirmative. And those who are familiar with the socialistic literature of the present day will see that the affirmative answer to this question is the first and unanimous assumption of modern socialism. It is, of course, characteristic of the nihilistic and anarchistic positions to claim that society represents in its great institutions of law, justice, vested property, etc., a great power which is enforcing its regulations upon the individual against his will, and, in many cases, against his reason and judgment. It is as well to recognize the extreme form of this doctrine in order to trace it also in the milder forms in which it presents itself in socialism. The socialistic propaganda to-day seems to me to get its strength from two elements in its teaching: first, its real return to individualism : that is, its full recognition of the autonomy of the individual, acting under the personal form of sanction; and second, its supposition of a real antithesis between the interests and sanctions of the individual and those of the social group as society is at
(423) present constituted. The first of these elements is seen in the assumption that the individual is capable of governing himself without the compulsory machinery by which society administers the accumulated and still developing wisdom of the ages. This position, of course, opens the socialist doctrine to the criticism that the individual is a very poor creature after all; that to trust him to do better, after he has undone the work of the past, is not convenient. Yet I do not care to discuss this question, since it is the other element of the socialistic position which principally concerns us.
This other element — the assumption that there is a real antithesis between the demands made upon a man by the civil order of the time and the demands of his own nature—seems to me to be present in all this modern development. And there must be in some sense a real antithesis here, since these writers seem to illustrate such an antithesis in their own personal attitude.
The relations of the individual to his social environment are such, however, that we are led to make two statements, under which we should expect the different aspects of the case to fall, if our previous discussions have brought us to correct views. These we may state and then develop, in view of the asserted antithesis between the two factors.
I. We find reason for distinguishing between the average man and the exceptional man ; the man socially normal on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the man socially remarkable, such as the genius at one extreme of mental variation and the mentally defective at the other.
II. The antithesis between the sanctions of the civil and those of a personal kind arise only to the exceptional man, or to the exceptional judgments of the average man.
277. We may consider first the 'average man' with reference to both of these statements, dwelling a little on the first; for, while no one would deny that there are average men and exceptional men, yet the sense in which it is to be enforced below requires that it be clearly understood from the social and ethical points of view.
I. The socially 'average' man is the man who passes normally through the stages of social learning represented by the pedagogical sanctions already spoken of. We saw, in asking as to the qualifications of the candidate for the heritage which society offers, that they were two: he must be born to learn, and all must be born to learn the same things. Only on the assumption of these qualifications in the individuals is the development of social institutions at all possible. For, as we also saw, if a large proportion of the young of any generation should be born to rebel against the pedagogical sanctions of their group, or with strains of heredity which make it impossible for them to profit by the teachings of society, so soon must society go to pieces; unless, indeed, it have some resource apart from the appeal to individuals for the enforcement of the sanctions which its organization prescribes. There must always be an average person who represents two things:
(425) first, the degree of social hereditary endowment which normally develops in the channels of established social usage and requirement; and second, he must represent in his mature opinions the usages, sympathies, and formulated demands of social conformity as such.
This latter requirement is more difficult to see, but it is real. The development of the ethical, and of the peculiarly social sense which goes with the ethical, gives that 'publicity' to the ideal judgments of the individual which (as we saw in Sect. 200) means that the public knows of the private act and agrees with the private agent in his judgment of it. This is a necessary thing in all the maturer members of society. The decrees of society get their passage, in the first instance, only through the recognition by many individuals of this publicity of judgment with the objective agreements upon which it rests. They then pass into legal enactments and so become crystallized in institutions. But back of them there still remain, and must remain, the individuals who represent just the average social attainment embodied in the public civil enactments.
In these individuals, who establish the social level, so to speak, society finds the court of appeal; not as individuals, but as the standard bearers, in their collective or public capacity, of her own standards. Of course, the two qualifications of the average individual are not distinct; it is only through the first that he gets the second. Only through his pedagogical training can he grow into the judgments, sentiments, etc., which make him finally a fit bearer of the public standards of his time. And the psychological reader will see the meaning of it all in the individual's own development. It is the essential growth
(426) of his personality which is concerned in the attaining of social conformity of personal judgment, in the first instance; and his growth into that 'publicity' of judgment, which makes him at once a loyal supporter of the social institutions of his day and place, is an equally essential and momentous phase of his personal development.
278. II. The second of our points may be raised in reference to this average man. Can there be an antithesis between the social sanctions under which his life of conformity is lived, and the personal sanctions which his own nature lays down? Is it possible that he may conform to the civil enactments of his country and time under protest of his personal nature?
We have in this matter one of the most subtle phases of the developed social consciousness, and we may not hope to say anything final. I think, however, that the distinctions now made serve to give us the main lines of a partial answer. The distinction between the normal and the exceptional has to be carried further in two ways.
1. First, individuals vary in their normal, about one or other of the personal standards of sanction which all have in common. We have already remarked that some prefer the intellectual sanction ; in them it rules the impulsive, and, in some degree, also the ethical. Others, on the contrary, naturally live lives of impulse; while a third class exhibit a most refined ethical sensitiveness.
This distinction in individuals —within the class of average men —represents one possibility of a conflict between the social and the personal sanctions ; that shown by the theorist or dissenter as such. Here is the man who argues about society on the basis of the intellectual sanction alone. The majority of socialistic writers —to take
(428) one case only—seem to me to fall here: men who themselves represent, in their training, the average which comes from a life of normal social conformity, and who generally represent standard judgments also, as to the usages and customs of society; but who proceed to reason beyond these standards by their application of the intellectual sanction to problems which do not permit of purely intellectual solutions. For their argumentation does violence to other sanctions which are still in force, and upon which the institutions of society are built.
The important thing to be noted in this case is more than the antithesis between the social and the personal; it is the antithesis between the two sorts of personal sanction. There is an average social judgment, but it is unsupported by the intellect: a conflict of personal sanctions results. The individual theorist gets a result from the joint action of his personal sanctions, different from that which the average man gets; an adjustment in favour of new intellectual conclusions, with their social corollaries. This leads him to raise his voice, on intellectual grounds, in opposition to the existing social order; at the same time that his personal endorsement of the social sanctions keeps him within the sphere of practical conformity.
As an extreme example of this interesting strife of sanctions we find the anarchist. Here is a man whose intellectual, hedonic, or economic sanctions lead him into open rebellion against the social order. He seems to me, however, to fall outside the class of average men, since his private reproduction of current social sanctions is so inadequate.
279. 2. The second way in which the distinction between the average and the exceptional gets application, in the
(428) sphere still of the average class, is in the judgments of the single individual himself. The average man's judgments vary from the usual to the exceptional. Here is the common case of the hobby. Many of us are practically insane on some one topic. Our friends grant us indulgence when we strike our hobby. The psychology of hobbies is well written; it is the case of a preferred apperceptive system grown to an inordinate size. And it is not difficult to construe it in terms of the play of sanctions. A man may see so clearly the reasons for a thing—be they personal, social, intellectual, ethical—that he allows that thing to overshadow in his mind other things for which he would also see the sanction if he once gave their thought a chance. And inasmuch as these other things do get a chance in the minds of others, and perhaps get a more urgent sanction than the one thing upon which his thought dwells, he comes into conflict with them and their institutions. The current revolt—fortunately largely literary and theoretical — against marriage is a capital case in point. The sentimental sanction which the emotional life seems sometimes to give to the violation of the law of marriage gets, in the mind of Mr. Grant Allen,—to take an instance of one who, by publishing his opinions, has made himself fair play for criticism, —an importance which justifies a revolt against the social prescriptions of established society. The social sanctions for marriage seen in the existence and separate life of the family—with all that this means to the theory of social sanctions, especially in its pedagogical and ethical aspects,—all this is overweighed in the mind of such a writer, we may suppose, by the sanction of a
(429) personal kind represented by the opinion: la marriage, c'est l'injustice. But this is not primarily an antithesis between social and personal sanctions; it is rather again a controversy among different sanctions arising about a particular problem, in the mind of an individual who is, in other respects, a man of conformity to the judgments which the institutions of society represent. In so far as it does come to the test of argument between men, it furnishes a case of the opposition between the intellectual and the social sanctions, to be spoken of again below.
There is here also a form of conflict which takes its rise in the 'private opposition' of the individual, whether from contrary suggestion, exaggerated self-competence, or mere love of social contrast between himself and others; a set of phenomena pointed out in an earlier place. This conflict is quite on the plane of private impulse, except in so far as it takes on intellectual and ethical form. The sanction for such actions of private opposition is, therefore, in any case, personal.
280. The general conclusion already intimated seems just, therefore, that so far as the average man is concerned, his sanctions are not of two kinds, one set social and the other set personal, between which there arises chronic or acute opposition; but on the contrary, he has only one set of sanctions, those which he regards as his own. The actual oppositions which do arise in his life and opinion are rather apropos of questions regarding which he finds room for discussion, and for the more thoroughgoing application of the intellectual sanction.
281. 3. Before we leave the consideration of the average man, however, a single further point may be indicated.
(430) We see that, so far from finding opposition between the social requirements of life and his personal sanctions for conduct, his tendency is quite in the opposite direction. As a general thing, he lives so well under the shadow of the social roof, that a certain social discount is put upon originality of view, and more still upon originality of action. The average man is reduced to the size of the social crevice into which his rearing and his obedience have thrust him. So far from finding it a trial to conform to society's requirements, he finds himself in torment when he is forced out of them. There is a certain benumbing effect upon the individuals in this social relationship; an effect which is conspicuous in the type of attitude already called 'conservatism.' This great force in society becomes crystallized in a prevalent spirit of conventional conformity to type, and a certain veneration for age and rule which make social excellence out of the average, and put a discount on progress. If further evidence were needed to prove the absence of opposition between the social and the personal sanction in general, and in the average man, it would be found in this conservatism. It becomes a habit of mind. It makes a virtue of dulness and a vice of invention. It is but another case of that tendency of which we have seen several examples before,—the general tendency to social inertia and habit.
It is largely in reference to this, it seems, that the intellectual opposition between the personal and the social, ns just pointed out, gets its development. The oppositions which arise through the use of intelligence upon social and political questions is first of all joined in an issue with the formulations of the conservative
(432) extreme. And many of the oppositions really cease there. The opposition is very sharp, however, in many cases; and it is often in the intolerance of conservatism, with its social tradition, that 'radicalism' finds its opportunity. I do not mean to take up again these two opposed forces in social and political life, —a topic worthy, however, of fuller consideration, —but only to point out that the actual opposition of the acute kind seen in political strife, and in the many controversies which have marked the path of human progress through the ages, has had much of its motive in the artificial intensity of these two habits of mind. Real as may be the opposition of the intelligence and its sanctions to the established forms of government, religion, and social convention,—and its reality is of the first importance for the life and progress of the social as such when the intelligence is on the side of the higher and the ethical,—yet it must not be considered as finding its true measure in the tide of passion arrayed on the side of one or other of these two habitual attitudes of mankind.
282. Coming now to the exceptional men, we have a very different state of things. Men may be social exceptions in many different ways; and possibly the best method of describing some of them—as well as the shortest way of answering our question in reference to them —is by looking first at the cases for which society has special or exceptional forms of treatment. It would, of course, be impossible to deny opposition between the personal and the social sanctions for conduct in cases in which society takes direct cognizance of just this op-
(432) -position. The treatment may be brief, however, seeing that some of these social variations have already been mentioned. First of all, there are the defective classes. These do not recognize the regulations of society simply because they cannot. Their presence does not affect the progress of society, because they are not elements in society one way or the other. They are a problem for society to use its wits on, that it may carry them with as little loss of energy as possible; that is all. Among the defectives we may include all kinds of defect, physical, mental, and moral, up to the cases in which the defect becomes of actual or threatened damage to others in some way; in this case, we begin to have various sorts of violent and criminal persons. These, again, society deals summarily with. The opposition is real; but it is not fruitful.
And what I mean by saying that it is not fruitful is this: that these men have no following, they do not represent an influence of vitality to come into opposition to the organizing and reducing forces of society. They furnish problems both to society and to the individual, but neither finds in them an ally.283. Yet there is one interesting aspect of the defect recognized as moral, which brings it in some degree within the range of our earlier topics. Crime is contagious. Crime is a defect which becomes, from the sphere in which it develops, essentially anti-social. So the contagion of it, the following that it gets from the fact of 'plastic imitation' already spoken of, leads to a semi-organized revolt, in some cases, against the highest sanctions of society. It is clear, however, that such
(433) movements of contagion in crime, as similar movements in the acts of the mob, fall within the sphere of impulse in the individual's consciousness. That is all that need be added to what has already been said.
284. There remain, however, two great classes of the 'exceptional.' They are the intellectually exceptional and the ethically exceptional. When we come to put the question whether in these there is any opposition between the personal and the social sanctions, certain truths immediately come to mind, drawn from the consideration of the genius in the earlier chapter. We found that the man of exceptionally good intellectual endowment might be a variation in one or both of two ways. He might be a great thinker and a man of good social judgment — the true genius — or a man of great intellectual ability and of poor judgment—the pseudo-genius. We also saw that a man of either of these types might come into direct conflict with the sanctions of society: the genius, to instruct; and the pseudo-genius, to rebel. Let us rest for the present in this conclusion, referring for its justification to the earlier section of our essay; and say, as a net gain to our thought, that real opposition may arise between the personal and the social sanctions of a man on the side of his intelligence. He may not judge true what society judges true; and he may not submit voluntarily, or at all.
This may take two forms from the point of view of such a man's sanctions. First, the 'sanction of truth' may be invoked by him in his theoretical thinking, and lie may adopt ends different from those currently pursued. Second, he may invoke the ' sanction of success ' both with refer-
(434) -ence to the action which society requires of him and with reference to the regulations which are social —by success understanding the expediency and appropriateness of the results secured to the ends which he and society agree in setting up.
This conclusion may be added to that of the same kind reached above, where we considered the case of the exceptional judgment of the average man; and we have the view that there may be direct opposition between the sanctions of the two kinds, social and personal, in the intellectual sphere, —a confirmation of the general statements made at the beginning of our consideration of the civil sanctions.
The consideration of the corresponding ethical conflict which is due to the individual's moral variations follows on a later page. It implicates the entire theory of social progress, which is still to be expounded. The normal ethical and religious sanctions, however, are considered in the next paragraph.
§4. The Ethical and Religious Sanctions
285. Coming, finally, to ask about the ethical and religious sanctions which the social life imposes upon men, we find it possible to be very brief; for in this sphere the distinction between the personal and the social is not generally made, even in society itself, in our day.
It seems evident from the discussions of preceding pages that there can be no opposition between society and the individual in the matter of the essential demands of the moral and religious consciousness. The fact of
(435) 'publicity' in all religious and ethical thought makes it necessary that the same ideal should be erected in the individual and in the community in which the individual is reared, since the growth of the ideal self-thought in the individual depends constantly upon the absorption of moral and religious suggestions from the social environment. This has been spoken of at sufficient length. Both the individuals and society must be moral and religious, and similarly moral and religious. Speaking, then, of the 'matter' of the ideal consciousness, as it is realized in the 'ought' judgments, on the one hand, and in the feelings of dependence and mystery, on the other hand, we may say that opposition does not normally arise between society and the man. Their sanction is the same, — a function of the necessary movement of the human mind in its development toward an ideal self-thought. In the ethical judgments this sanction is administered exclusively by the individual conscience. It is a personal sanction; yet the 'publicity' of it makes it also a matter of mutual judgment, to which each individual is, as we have seen, peculiarly sensitive.
The same may be said in the main of the religious life. Historically, it is true, there has been a real question here; and history shows us the possibility of an acute opposition in the religious sphere. Religion has been given an artificial civil sanction. But yet it is true, as a matter of fact, that there is now, at least in the countries which separate State and Church, and make the right of worship a matter of the individual conscience, no question about public
(436) religious sanctions, since religion is no longer a thing of recognized social sanction at all.
286. As far as there is, however, in informal urgency about religious conformity, —a sort of sanction exerted upon the individual through the social usages and strenuous beliefs of his community, —this comes under the head of pedagogical sanction of the more conventional type seen in public opinion, of which we have already said enough. The average man yields so readily to suggestion in this sphere, and goes, indeed, so readily to extremes in his suggestibility, that the sphere of religion becomes and has always been a stronghold of the conservative spirit. This is the more emphasized in history by the dogmatic claims of religious systems, which amount to civil sanctions of a supernatural kind, so to speak, coming to reinforce the pedagogical sanctions, and so to create what may be called a new sanction altogether,—that of divine authority. The relation of this to the other forms of sanction does not concern us directly, except as raising the new question as to the autonomy of the individual in his action under the sanctions which he finds personal to himself. Considered in this light, it is well to look a little more closely at what I may designate the sanction of religious authority.
287. It is when we come to what may be called the 'form' of the religious sentiment,—the institutions, and more especially the doctrines, in which it is cast at this time or that, — that we find this influence in operation. A genetic theory of doctrine—of which religious doctrine is the best instance—remains to be written. But when it is written, it will have to answer the question as to the general relation of the human intelligence to human senti-
(437) -ment, and the social uses made of the intelligence in influencing sentiment. The problem of the rise, progress, and sanction of religious doctrine really rests upon that of the relation of these different personal functions to one another. In the first place, we have seen that the essential utility of the intelligence, both in race development and in the individual's personal growth, is its use in opening the avenues and directing the expressions of feeling, emotion, and sentiment. This appeared in the checks and inhibitions which we saw the child exerting upon his own conduct as soon as he came to act intelligently. It appeared also in the social uses which we saw him so acutely making of the attitudes, emotions, actions, of others in his social environment. We saw reason to believe also that this is so important a factor in social progress—this intellectual control of the social agencies—that its advent marks one of the great crises in race-history. We should expect, if this be true, that this all-directing power—the power of thought—would not leave this highest province of our emotional nature free from its constructive endeavour, either in the one province—the individual's private judgments—or in the other, the religious judgments of the race.
This expectation is realized in the very relation which intelligence bears to sentiment. This has also been intimated. The content of religious sentiment takes on, by the very conditions of its rise in and with the individual's personal growth, certain forms of rational statement. The categories of personality, cause, and design are among these constant intelligent moulds of the religious ideal; and the concrete filling which they get, once and again, has its char-
(438) -acter from the degree of refinement which the personality constructions, sustaining the ideal, show at this epoch or that. There must always arise, therefore, religious doctrines in the individual and religious dogmas in society.
288. We have also seen that there is a necessary ejective postulation of the intellectual content of the ideal; in this case, of the religious formulation. The existence of the object of worship is a function of its very thought; for there is no divorce between personal thought and personal belief. Reality comes only by an artificial abstraction from thought. So there is always a direct objectifying of religious sentiment in the world. Men are theists in some form.
289. And man is not isolated. His sense of the publicity of his beliefs makes him, in a sense, a legislator for others. His own sense of ethical obligation is just this element of publicity itself reflected subjectively. So the obligation to do what he ought and to make others do what they ought is never absent from his sense of the divine being who is the embodiment of what ought to be done, and the source of its sanction.
There arises, therefore, ipso facto, with the religious sentiment, some public religious institution. It is a social institution. In early times, before the differentiation of the sentiments, it is also a political institution. This institution becomes, from the element of publicity, more a rallying-place for conservatism than any other institution. It has the supernatural sanction direct from the personal divinity. The individual who is so far exceptional in his personal growth as to reach an intellectual construction of the religious ideal different in its form from the form thus divinely sanctioned, is a rebel against
(439) society and against God. And it is only a step for society to conclude, in such a case, as it concludes in all the cases of anti-social individuals who are harmful to established institutions, that such an individual should be suppressed. History bears witness to the strenuousness of this conviction.
290. Religious doctrine is an attempt to put into intellectual formulas the ideal which shall satisfy the sense of dependence, mystery, sin—and all the phases of religious and ethical emotion —once for all. It must be once for all, since its very ideal demands its finality. But this once-for-allness, with the legislative character for all intelligences which goes with it, makes it impossible that it should provide for the very process of development which its own genesis and social progress require. So when there arises a reformer, a prophet, a new systematizer, he can get recognition only in one of two ways, both of which are interestingly represented in great historical personages; either (1) by making the revelation which he brings purely practical, i.e., in the social and ethical sphere of personal attitude, in which improvement is directly enjoined, or (2) by showing that his doctrines are but new interpretations of old truths, serving to confirm the faith of society and the teachings of the ecclesiastical circle. But it is evident that either of these may be a subterfuge; a surrender to the finality which the supernatural sanction attaches to religious formulations. It remains to ask how religious progress is possible, if this supernatural sanction continue in force.
291. I think the solution of history goes far to prove the theoretical solution of the conflict between the personal and the social sanctions given above. There has
(440) been a gradual reduction of the social form of religious sanction, claiming both supernatural and civil authority, to the ethical form of personal sanction. As long as the supernatural sanction had its locus in society, so long did it necessarily weigh on the side of conservatism and lead to social stagnation and decay. For then the formulas in which it was embodied, having no part in the progressive social movement which the individual's personal growth represented, remained final, dogmatic, and extrinsic as well to the more refined and subtle movements of social and ethical sentiment. It has been just the growth of ethical sentiment, with the ever renewed and revised adjustments in the social body, to which it tends to lead, which has made possible the reduction of the supernatural sanction to the personal form. This has led to a gradual entrainment of the religious sentiment in the channels of ethical culture, with a corresponding emphasis upon the religious autonomy of the individual, while this in turn has strengthened the personal form of the religious sanction, as of course it must; since it has brought to an end the conflict between the sanctions of personal duty administered by conscience and those of religious rites and observances administered by an infallible but external authority. The place of the social religious sanction, therefore, in human progress has been, like all other social sanctions, available and advantageous for progress —that is, apart from its conservative function—only in proportion as it has reflected essential ethical growth; and so it has been constantly undergoing restatement, as the demands of the developing ethical consciousness have been enlarged.
In so far as it has tended, in
(441) this epoch or that, to divorce itself from the ethical sense of the community, and to crystallize into dogmatic statement to which consent and submission were arbitrarily enjoined, so far has religion, or, more properly speaking, theology, been a limitation to be transcended —a straitjacket to be thrown off. It is thus that the great reformation movements of religious history have arisen.
292. Finally, it should be remarked that the reduction of the social sanction of religion to the ethical form of personal sanction reverses the relation which is often assumed between morals and religion. The higher forms of religious sentiment arise by the same mental movement which issues in ethical sentiment also; that of the development of the ideal or public self-thought. Hence it is impossible to separate the two sanctions except in the way just indicated as that of early history, by which the religious sanction was lodged in society, whether in Church or State. So the question as to which has priority in the purely personal realm is largely a fictitious question. Yet inasmuch as the ethical involves positive mental construction, and reflects the actual thought of the social situation, it must be the nerve-element in the development of the individual, and with him, as we shall see later on, of society also. The religious sentiment is in a sense an added thing: not mechanically added at all, but considered as lying less near to the centre of personal growth, and as being a further outcome, in the life of emotion, of the process of growth. The individual could not believe in a good deity until he had conceived the good person and become aware of the obligation in his own breast impelling to the achievement of like good personality. Before this
(442) the thought of deity is without the attribute goodness, because the self-thought is without it. There is then a continuous upward progress in the religious life keeping pace with the progress of the ethical life.
If the question should still be put, therefore, in the form in which a recent writer, already referred to, has put it, making his answer the keynote to his theory of social progress, we should be obliged to answer it in a way which directly antagonizes his theory. Instead of considering the religious sanction as the leading motive to human progress, and that despite the lack of support from the $rational sanction' so called, we should say that the religious is an outgrowth and constant index of the ethical sanction, that its social value is mainly on the side of its conservative influence, and that the ethical is the most important as well as the most 'rational' of all the springs of human action, whether public or private.
293. It has been said that the identification of the religious and ethical sanctions in the breast of the individual tends to emphasize the religious and give value to it; a further word may be in place to show that this is true.
We have seen in our earlier expositions of the 'dialectic of personal growth' that the social tests to which the growing results of personal interpretation and thought are all along brought, are essential to the growth of personality itself. A function of the ejective personalities, which are our social fellows, is just to afford constant confirmations, checks, touchstones, to the individual with respect to the value of his creations. It is through the operation of this intrinsic social checking, that the judgment of the
(443) individual upon the worth of his personal thoughts arises and grows to be more and more adequate.
If this be true of the lower stages of development in which the concrete personalities of our environment serve as monitors and guides, how much the more in the higher reaches where the ejective personality represents the ideal, the good, the perfect, the Deity. The subjective movement whereby the ejective ideal of the religious life is constituted and given real existence and personality, is essential, at each stage of ethical progress, to the continued erection of the subjective ethical ideal itself. The religious consciousness is, therefore, in its integrity both a cause and an effect. It is the effect of the ethical construction which has gone before, and which is embodied in the content of the accepted religious beliefs. But it is cause in respect to the complete acceptance and loyal pursuit of the ethical ideal ; and it is also, in so far, cause in respect to the further progress of the ethical construction, which involves, among the elements which go into its establishing, the full social confirmation derived through personal relation to the ejective personality which the religious life postulates.
Religious faith and with it religious institutions are, therefore, indispensable to humanity, because they represent normal and essential mental movements. They are necessary at once to ethical competence and to ethical progress. Yet it still remains true, as we saw immediately above, that in social progress they exert their influence indirectly, through the ethical sanction which is personal to the individual.
294. So much for the philosophy of the religious sanction. It bears directly on our present topic. It shows historically the possibility of a direct opposition in the
(444) ethical and religious realm between society and the individual; and for us its main lesson is there. In our present stage of civilization, as was said above, it does not commonly take this form; yet it sometimes does, as is seen in religious, ecclesiastical, and even ethical 'boycotting,' and other forms of interference with the individual's personal life. We are emancipated from this form of the opposition, so far indeed as we are, only through the battles which individuals have fought, largely single-handed, with society and its institutions.
The reality of this conflict between authority and thought is now to be found in our own bosoms.
We feel the finality of the religious teaching of our childhood very strongly perhaps; it has all the weight of social heredity and the formal shape into which our social growth has moulded it; and if so be that through that restlessness of thought which makes man at once the inventive and the social being that he is —if once through this we find our ethical ideal taking on another embodiment than that which the religious sanctions of our training have earlier given to it, then is the conflict a long and hard return, in our own life, to the scenes of strife which have marked the saddest periods of human history.
295. We have now completed our survey of the so-called social sanctions. We have found that, while it is right to call them social sanctions, their opposition to the personal sanctions is largely fictitious. Indeed, we are justified in saying that there is no social sanction which does not—both in its origin and in its function—rest upon the personal ones. The oppositions which may arise between society and the individual are, in each case, capable of being construed as oppositions between the sanctions which the individual's own personal nature prescribes at different periods of his growth, or by reason of shifting emphasis in his mental operations.
Of these oppositions, only two cases stand out as real factors in the social problem on the one side, and in the ethical problem on the other side. These two oppositions are those which represent the individual (I) in intellectual and (2) in ethical revolt against the prescriptions of society. The revolt of intelligence is the motive of the theoretical reconstructions with which men wish to reform society or to instruct it, in this matter or in that. The ethical revolt takes the form of protest or of attempted reconstruction in the spheres of the ethical, religious, and generally sentimental usages to which society is committed. In each of these realms, the opposition brought out by this revolt of intellect or sentiment is so sharp that its meaning becomes the outstanding problem of social and ethical theory. It remains to see whether the further application of psychological principles will throw any light upon its meaning,
(446) and upon the terms under which its ultimate solution may be expected.
296. This application of psychological principles, however, leads us to undertake a broader examination of the historical movement of society itself, in which the oppositions between the individual's intelligence and sentiment and the requirements of social conformity naturally show themselves. We may then hope to see the function of the very opposition itself; finding that it contributes a factor to the philosophy of the whole movement. In that case, we may finally find a sanction for the opposition — a sanction of the philosophical kind. So we may now turn to the question: what place in social development, if any, has the opposition between the personal sanctions and the social sanctions