Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development


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I. Comment by Professor Royce on Hegel's Social Theory (cf. Sect. 332).

"The ' master and slave' business is expressly presented as but a very brief and primitive stage in the genesis of the social consciousness, even in the Phänomenologie. In going over the ground again, in the Encyclopädie, Hegel explained in some of the lecture notes (presented as Zusätze in his Werke) that that was a barbarian affair, not to be regarded as related to the modern civilized consciousness, where the Anerkennung, which is everywhere the essence of individual self-

(570) -consciousness, is founded not upon mastery, but upon the dignity of social office. The genesis of this higher sort of consciousness Hegel refers, in all his works, to the Family, to the State, and to much the same special principles of correlation between growing self-consciousness and social surroundings which you and I now insist upon. Hegel was not interested much in individual psychology, but he analyzed the motives of social institutions and process in a frequently quite genetic and psychological spirit, so far as his time permitted. The family tie, the relation of self and one's critics, the relation of free citizen to other freemen,—these are very fundamental and fruitful in Hegel's account. What I miss in him is an express recognition of the imitative factor as such. Hegel's genetic theory assumes that the private self fundamentally wants to possess everything, but finds itself limited, not merely by physical forces, but by its sensitiveness to criticism, to counter-assertion of all sorts, and by that whole sense of the complexity of things which is the very correlative of its longing for universal mastery. This manifold limitation leads, in ways which Hegel usually mentions without any so general explanation as yours, but for all that by much the same road as your theory follows, to ethical selfhood. But your theory insists that the self, even in its private desires, not only wants to possess everything, but, within its limits, to imitate everybody. This involves, of course, an explanation of the phenomena of social sensitiveness which does indeed go beyond Hegel's. For his principles are special, yours and Tarde's is very general."

- Extract from a private letter.

II. Note to p. 133. — 

Yet I think, in opposition to Professor Mezes, who discusses the subject ably (' The Essential Differences between Man and the Other Animals,' read before the Texas Acad. of Sciences, May 6, 1898), that volition, as seen in 'persistent imitation,' may be present in some animals (e.g. the dog, as in the case which he cites from my Mental Devel.: Methods and Processes, p. 386) without leading to sufficient organization of the self to be I reflective.'

III. Note to p. 210.

It is possible that the 'flush' associated with other physiological signs has played a role, as an indication of importance, in connection with sexual selection. This would seem to fall in with Groos' suggestion as to the utility of the coyness of the female. it would, if established, make the operation of sexual selection in a measure reciprocal, as between the sexes, instead of one-sided, as it is usually considered. Something of the sort appears in the charm for the opposite sex which attaches to the blush, even now, in human life.


IV. (Sect. 169 a.) —

The question may very well be asked at this point, how the various so-called ' self-thoughts' hitherto distinguished are related to each other, and also how they are possible if the mind in all its development is proceeding with what has been called an identical content, in its thought of self. It is desirable, therefore, to make sure that we are not entangling ourselves in the meshes of our own details and distinctions. The matter straightens itself out when we recall to mind certain points already made out in what precedes.

First, we may recall the fact that a mental content may be considered either for itself, or with regard to the attitudes, the active processes, which accompany it. We have found, on the one hand, that the active processes are always functions of the content; and, on the other hand, that the content is always largely determined by earlier active processes. This is a genetic circle on which we have already remarked. It follows that the same content may be present in connection with different attitudes. When, for example, a self-content, at whatever stage of its development, is presented, having the additional marks which determine it to be another person, an alter, then the self-attitude aroused may be either what has been called ' aggressive,' or what has been called accommodating,' according as it, the attitude, is determining the content, or as the content is, in some degree, also determining the attitude. In the former case, the alter is 'ejective'; in the latter case, it has elements which are 'projective.' What we mean, therefore, by the ' self of habit or aggression,' and the ' self of accommodation or imitation,' are not different self-contents. They have differences, to be sure, from the presence of an alter requiring one attitude or the other; but these are not elements of self, not self-marks, so to speak, until they have been taken over, by accommodation, from the projective and incorporated in the content of self. The differences of attitude are the differences of real genetic importance.

Second, the distinction between projective and ejective content turns upon the same requirement that we distinguish between content and attitude. When the self-content is accompanied by the aggressive attitude, the alter is never projective, never considered unfinished; it is then always ejective, thoroughly understood. The projective is always the aspect of persons which excites the accommodating imitative attitude. Once accommodated to, however, it becomes self-content, arouses habitual attitudes, and so goes oil to be ejected.

Third, granted then that we have a developing self-content which at any time may be associated either with an aggressive or with an accom-

(572) -modating attitude, what shall we say of the 'general' and of the ' ideal' self ? The general self, like the general everywhere in mental things, is, I believe, an attitude ; an attitude which is a more or less complex integration of the partial attitudes aroused in definite concrete cases. The self-content remains one, growing with experience, it is true, but never more than one self-content. The partial attitudes which habitually determine and express it, tend to realize themselves severally; but it is the mark of the general that they are in some degree held in the larger issue which constitutes the limit of personal growth up to date. The general self is, therefore, the sense of a system of attitudes which avail, by reason of the relative adequacy of their ejective content, to cope with the varied personal experiences of life.

Fourth, this 'general,' however, like all attitudes considered with reference to their contents, is itself inadequate to personal situations not yet covered by experience. The attitude called the general is therefore itself different according as the content is determined 'ejectively' or 'projectively,' i.e. according as it determines the content, or the content in part determines it ; according, that is, as the person met with, or the personal situation experienced, has new, interesting, instructive features, or, on the other hand, is thoroughly understood, and already successfully acted upon. The former is the 'general' as above defined, and as properly designated—the attitude which is not violated in the round of concrete personal experiences ; the latter is the 'ideal' self. The ideal self, then, is the attitude which looks forward toward a statement of the self-content which is not yet secured, and which no concrete self-experience suffices to fulfil, but which would respond adequately, if we had it, to all possible personal demands. In its actual mechanism this means, I think,—what it means also on the lower plane,—the readiness or habit of our motor nature to accommodate itself ever more adequately, while at the same time it is becoming general and spontaneous in its expression. We may, indeed, recall here the outcome of the earlier chapter on the ethical self (Sect. 29) to the effect that in the ethical ' ought' we have a 'habit of violating habits': a call to accommodate to what is as yet unrealized in actual self-content, and so to modify the attitudes which accompany real content.

V. (Sect. 313 a.) — 

§4. Extra-Social Conditions. —While considering as we have the two intra-social or psychological forces, which we have now discussed as the only truly social forces, we should not over-

(573) look the very important group of influences which condition the sociological movement. These influences are really, so to speak, the banks or barriers which set limits to the social current, and even, by interaction with the strictly social forces, leave their marks within the social body. Their relation to the social forces properly so called is similar to that which the psychologists recognize between the strictly psychological and the physiological. The various states of the body, such as intoxication, fatigue, starvation, and over-nourishment, affect the mind, and so influence the individual's mental development; but we do not call these psychological forces. They are of psychological value only because, through the sorts of stimulation and limitation which they afford, they condition certain uniform results in the psychological organization itself. The analogy thus cited — between the extra-social influences with the effects they bring about in the social whole, and the extra-mental or physiological influences with their influence upon the individual's mental life—is indeed more than an analogy. When we reflect, we find that it is through the connection of mind and body — one term of the analogy — that the extra-social forces — the other term of the analogy—get their value. It becomes therefore still more apparent that we cannot call the influences enumerated below social forces; for so far are they from showing direct value in the organization of society, that they become factors in that organization only by the indirect road of stimulation to the nervous system of individuals. It would be just as appropriate to call blood-changes psychological facts, as to call physical changes, such as the cutting of the Suez canal, social facts ; yet both undoubtedly deserve recognition in a philosophical statement of all the determining conditions, in these two branches of knowledge.

The sort of conditions which I mean by the phrase ' extra-social' will appear from the enumeration below. It does not claim to be complete, however. Their full discussion does not come within our province, seeing that they are extra-psychological.

1. Group-Selection (described above, Sect. 120). — In group-selection we have a condition of enormous importance in the development of social aggregations, especially in the instinctive and spontaneous periods ; that is, of so-called 'companies.' It holds, however, for all societies when the conditions are such that groups as groups come into competition. Not only real war, but commercial and social wars of all kinds, illustrate Group-Selection. The working of the principle is strictly analogous, indeed identical, with that of Natural Selection in

(574) biology, an analogy excellently worked out by Bagehot in his remarkable work, ' Physics and Politics.' It is one of the foundation stones also of S. Alexander's work, 'Moral Order and Progress.' Bagehot acutely recognizes the distinction, without explicitly drawing it, between group-selection as a condition of evolution in the earliest stages of human aggregation, and the operation of the real social force of ' discussion' (described above, under the heading ' Generalization') in the higher forms. It is moreover an additional proof that group-selection is a condition, and not a social force, that there is this difference between the lower and the higher; for the lower are determined, as we have seen, very largely by biological principles, such as instinct and physical heredity, and do not involve the social progress which the operation of the psychological forces brings in later on. Yet it is just there that group-selection is all-important.[1]

2. Individual Selection, which is natural selection working upon individuals who are brought into competition for life and death with one another. For instance, let us suppose that a man of genius who has not yet given to the world his invention—his machine which, if produced by him, would have great influence upon the condition of the working classes—that this man meets a burglar in his library and is shot dead. Here is a case of natural selection which determines the course of social evolution in a nation or in the world by the elimination of an individual. Such a case shows that the natural selection of individuals is a condition of importance—when the individuals are important-in social development. But it is not a force even in biology, as we have just seen. It is a negative condition; a statement—in sociology as in biology—of evolution as it is, rather than as it would have been if the conditions had been other. This again is of especial importance in those stages of sociality, in which the direct competition of individuals by physical strength or mental acuteness is in full operation.

3. The Intrusion of the 'Physiological Cycle.'—In an earlier place (Sect. 43) we saw that the 'cycle of causation' which psychological and sociological facts, such as beliefs, desires, etc., represent, often intrudes upon the operation of the 'physiological cycle' by the personal

(575) selection of individuals in marriage. The physical heredity of the individuals is due to the mixed strains of the parents, and hence is in part determined by their mutual choice of each other. The converse is also true: the physiological intrudes upon the sociological, and thus becomes an ' extra-social condition' in its determination. This is seen in all cases in which physical heredity works results in individuals or groups which incapacitate them, especially endow them, or modify in any way their social fitness. A tall manly race of men would have social advantages in winning wives from a higher group, and such marriages would tell at once inside their own group. Where social preferment depended upon physical prowess, the inherited club-foot would be an element of social unfitness. In the fact of what is called physical 'presence,' probably largely a matter of posture and vitality, we all recognize an easy substitute in many social positions for brains, culture, or oratorical gifts. Yet these things are not in themselves social ; nor can they by any manipulation become social. The influence they have is entirely through the psychological states of which they are the conditions. A man with the illusion of a club-foot would be as helpless as if it were real. And where is the hero so commonplace that his ' presence' is not lordly to some love-sick maid ?

4. Then there are the much-talked-of Physical Conditions, 'the broken earth and the vaulted sky,' the canal and the river-course, the mountain and the meadow. These, we are told, determine social development. They do; but by conditioning it, by intrusion upon it, by limiting it, not by being themselves social. That they are never. Let a race of animals that cannot think, nor recognize a social situation; nor know one another as reciprocating and fulfilling social give-and-take, run over the meadows and swim in the rivers, under a sky never so blue—and what effect of a social kind would these physical things have upon them ? But given the psychological traits, make them men — and then what would not the human race do even on the levelest plain ? Here again we have extra-social conditions. The land and water condition separation and segregation, competition and mutual defence, toleration and alliance, commerce and confederation; but the essentials of social matter and process must be there, and it is they

(576) that work under these conditions or those. Again, an illustration from recent biological theory, a case which often turns upon the effects of such physical differences : the facts of Isolation have been said to represent a biological force, since, when animals are isolated from each other, the race is prevented from having the in-mixture of their hereditary strains, and so the heredity of the race is pre-limited. True, as a fact; but why make an abstraction do justice for a force? Isolation is always accomplished by some real force—say a whirlwind which blows away the isolated individuals ; but the biological forces are the life processes in those which are left. The whirlwind is the condition by which the result has been in a measure negatively determined; but who would say that the whirlwind is a biological force? At the most it is an intrusion of physics into the biological cycle. Just so with all the physical changes considered as influencing social life and development: they are conditions, intrusions from physics ; not social forces.

The consideration of these extra-social conditions confirms us therefore in our view that only psychological sources of change can be called ' social forces,' even in the figurative sense in which it is legitimate to use that word at all.[2] Other such conditions may be pointed out, but the examination of them will lead to the same conclusion.


  1. The corresponding truth has often been pointed out (see Cope, 'Primary Factors of Evolution,' Chap. VII.; Cattell, Science, N. S., III., p. 668; Baldwin, Psych. Rev., IV., 1897, P. 219) that natural selection in biological evolution is not a force or cause, but a condition. Spencer's phrase, 'survival of the fittest,' itself analyzes natural selection. The fitness is assumed; it is due to earlier real causes; the survival or selection which 'natural selection' formulates is an ex post facto statement of results. It merely states that no further force of a positive sort is necessary (as against, e.g., ' special creation').
  2. Figurative, since ' force' is a physical conception. It means that which produces a change of rest or motion; and the sorts of forces are those producers of change which manifest themselves under different but constant physical conditions. We speak of mental, sociological, etc., forces in the analogous case of change in phenomena of one of these several orders; and to give the term any intelligible meaning we must keep within the particular order of phenomena as strictly as does the physicist in defining his forces always in terms of motion in space which determines other motion in space. In other words, the force is intrinsic or internal to the movement in which it is said to be exercised.

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