The Individual and Society
or Psychology and Sociology


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THIS little book has been written under the very exact and exacting limitations of space imposed by the editor of the series.[1] In the space allowed it is impossible to argue or to demonstrate. Accordingly, I have chosen to illustrate a point of view rather than to establish it. No doubt, to those not already committed to a different view, this may itself be about as good a way to make the point as any other -to show that the main facts to be interpreted serve to illustrate it.

I regret, however, that the limitation in size has made it necessary to omit

(8) references to authorities. In my own larger and more reasoned books, of which this is in a sense a sort of popular resume, full citations are made of other and of different theories. With this excuse for the omission, I apologize to those able writers whose works should be mentioned in any treatment of the topics here presented.

The point of view from which I write is, briefly stated, this: Society is looked upon as a mode of organization sui generis; its matter is psychological; its rules of organization are those which characterize the personal development of minds in relation to one another. To this no analogy, drawn from another sphere of fact, biological, chemical, physical, can do any sort of justice: it can be understood only by the knowledge, direct and indirect, of the motives and movements of minds capable of certain modes of intercourse. Sociology itself, dealing with the external and historical aspects of

(9) social life, must allow and demand the psychological interpretation of its results. Anything short of this deprives social theory of its most fruitful points of view, and, so far as it has practical applications, distorts the social fact and mutilates the social body.

In this matter, a fundamental distinction - overlooked notably by those who explain society in biological terms - should be always held in mind: the distinction, namely, between the evolution of the social group as a whole, under conditions of natural selection and competition with other groups, and the inner development of the social life within the group. It is the latter only that is truly social; the former takes account of the conditions, external and auxiliary, but not intrinsic, under which the inner organization takes place and progresses. The evolution of racial, communal, and civil types is most interesting and important; but the statement of the geo-

(10) -graphical, biological, and other conditions under which such differences arise gives no account whatever of the essential social bond, inner and intrinsic, that characterizes each and all of the types alike. This is mental and moral, not physical nor vital.

J. M. B.
December, 1910

The material of the book has also served as basis for a course of twenty-five lectures on "Psycho-Sociology," delivered in the National University of Mexico, October to December, 1910. I wish to acknowledge to the Mexican authorities my appreciation of the honor done me by the invitation to inaugurate the systematic work of the new university.


  1. The French Bibliothéque Internationale de Sociologie, Series in 18, edited by R. Worms (Paris, Giard et Brière, for which this book was written by request. The French edition bears the title, " Psychologie et Sociologie (l'Individu et la Societé). "Besides verbal alterations throughout, I have added one chapter (vi) to the book in the English form.

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