The Interdependence of Factors Basic to the Evolution of Culture

Luther Lee Bernard
Cornell University 

I. The evolution of culture may be separated into three general stages, those of (1) the lowest animal types, (2) median animal types, and (3) the higher animals. The first stage has no culture and the second stage but little. The last stage includes the anthropoids and man. The human division embraces savage, barbarian, and civilized types of culture. II. Under each of these periods or stages are considered nine different factors which influence or determine culture, as follows: (1) gross organic structure, (2) neural organization, (3) language symbolisms, (4) the processes of thinking involved, (4) the phases of invention utilized, (6) the types of environment operative, (7) the types of adjustment functioning, (8) the objectives sought in adjustment, and (9) resulting types of social organization.

The history of science shows that there have been a great many empirical attempts to bring together the facts of history into some condensed classificatory scheme displaying the steps or stages of the development of human institutions as a means to the further interpretation of human history. Sometimes the empirical classifications have been helped out by more or less crude attempts to use the findings of the mental and social sciences, or philosophies, to construct more complete systems of classifications to be used as norms for the measurement of historic movements and for the characterization of contemporaneous phases of culture. These attempts have for the most part belonged to what is known as the

( 178) "philosophy of history." The disgrace into which the old philosophy of history fell was not due to the fact that its speculations were regarded as aside from the point. They were very much to the point, and the conclusions drawn from them were eagerly seized upon as norms of interpretation. Their fault was that there were not sufficient data, either from history or from the social and mental sciences, with which adequately to generalize over such wide temporal and spatial reaches of human behavior. There was need of much preliminary work of fact-gathering and generalizing, not only in history, but also in biology and psychology and in the social sciences, to say nothing of geology and the older sciences, before there could be adequate super-generalizations about the whole course of cultural development. Yet so necessary were some such generalizations felt to be that they have never ceased to be made and used, despite the scorn of the exclusively fact-gathering types of historians and of the social scientists with an administrative bent. Even these scientists recognize in practice, if not in theory, the homely truth that a poor generalization is better than no generalization, because it opens the way through constructive criticism for a better one (7).[1]

The present essay is not an attempt in the field of the philosophy of history, but rather in the field of social psychology, which is concerned with the psycho-social mechanisms and patterns of the adjustment behavior of people living in functional contact with one another. Social psychology is a derivative science—as indeed, for that matter, are all sciences—and it is dependent for data used in its generalizations in part upon all of the mental and social sciences. Almost from the time of its advent as a separate science it has been compelled to use the methods of borrowing and of projective synthetic logic or thinking in order to assemble and generalize the data which it has required for use as a means of interpreting collective human behavior in its widest relationships. The present attempt at the assemblage and correlation of material relative to individual and collective behavior from the several branches of related sciences of behavior is partly empirical and partly projective.

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In other articles (5, 10, 11) and books (8, 9) I have attempted to indicate the apparent line of development of man's inner behavior pattern integration and of the environments which were operative as stimuli sources for the control of this behavior and of the inventions which served to transform the latter. It is the purpose of this article to bring into logical correlation these three factors and others, such as language, the dominant forms of the organism, types of responses and objectives in the adjustment situation, and the forms of social organization, in an effort to show how they have influenced one another in producing the total cultural complex of our civilization. Of course this correlation is not an easy task in view of our present knowledge, but the need of some such schematic presentation is, from the standpoint of the sociologist and the social psychologist, so great that it seems worth while to risk the accompanying tentative diagram and its explanation.

As pointed out elsewhere (8, 9, 11) man has climbed the stairway of civilization or increasing acculturization over the successive behavior steps of instinct, overt and internal habit mechanisms, and vocal and written language, arriving finally in the plane of a scientific technique for the formulation and control of behavior, individual and collective. But the details of the adjustments which he worked out in his thinking and in his inventive responses to his environment, actually creating the most important aspects of that environment, without being adequately aware of the significance of the interrelated processes as a whole, have never been brought together at any one time.[2] The chart here presented attempts to do this in an incomplete and schematic manner. The assumption back of the organization of the chart is that there is a close functional correlation between the stages of development of animal types; their structure and life-periods and motility; the sort of behavior patterns or mechanisms at their disposal; the kinds of language symbolism they possess for the objectification and communication of their inner behavior tendencies or thought

( 180) processes; the types of invention of which they are capable as means to the modification of their adjustments to environment and thereby to the modification and creation of environments to serve in turn as controls over their adjustment responses; the objectives which they set up in adjustment; and the types of social organization in which they live. Each of these factors has at some time in the process of cultural evolution reacted back upon the others, and each is in some degree the product of the others. The advantage of seeing the cultural development process as a whole is self-evident, since only thus can we gain a true perspective of the functioning and development of each phase, and of the organisms—including their personalities and collective behavior—who are the center and carriers of the cultural process. Only a bare outline of the process of functional interrelationships of these factors can now be offered, partly because the minor details are not adequately known and partly because they are seemingly so diverse and complicated that it is difficult or impossible to generalize them in any simple way for a wide range of territory.

I. In a sense the lowest stage of interrelated development presented in the diagram—the one centering about the instinctive behavior processes—is somewhat hypothetical. It may be questioned whether the behavior of even the lowest animal forms is mediated wholly on the basis of instinctive patterns. But hypothetically, and perhaps actually, the assumption offers a good starting-point without in any way invalidating the conclusions regarding the course of development. Among the lowest animals simple structures selected in conformity to a relatively constant natural environment (inanimate and animate) require little or no modification of behavior patterns , in order to make effective adjustments to the simple scheme of feeding and reproducing which constitutes practically the whole gamut of their behavior. There is, of course, no language in the sense of purposive communication among such forms; nor, so far as we know, any conscious processes of any sort. There is therefore no projection of adjustment ends. All responses to the natural environment, which was originally the only environment stimulating them, are comparatively stereotyped. Their organic structures, including the nervous system (where it exists), are too

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( 181) simple to permit of any but the slightest and most superficial variations of response. Yet even here, if we except the very lowest forms without nervous systems, are present the elements of structure and behavior out of which in more advanced types are elaborated the forms of acquired neuro-psychic technique and out of which language is developed. The total. overt behavior responses —there are no partial or substitute symbolic ones—serve to stimulate responses in other organisms, and this, as we shall see, is the primitive basis of language.

II. It is the median animal types, both invertebrates and vertebrates, but distinctly preanthropoid, which cannot make all of their adjustments on an instinctive basis and therefore are compelled to develop differential or acquired behavior patterns. Their habit mechanisms are of the overt type. That is, they are initiated by external or environmental situations and the responses are total overt responses. These acquired adjustment patterns of course utilize the neural mechanisms, but they are not initiated by them. The fact that they are acquired responses means that the old instinct mechanisms are modified by the new requirements of adjustment to the environment or pressures from without. The factors compelling new types of adjustment and therefore a modification of behavior patterns are partly internal and partly external. The longer life-period is the result of internal biochemical changes in the germ plasm or at least in the continuous integrations of the constituent protoplasms. This change was most probably initiated by some change, possibly major, possibly minor, in the environment. Other environmental changes, some of them cataclysmic, and some continuous and incremential, some of cosmic and some of terrestrial origin, some chemical and others physical, may be said to account in the last analysis for the internal structural changes. The world of life and the world-environing life have always been dynamic, and the effects of changes in environment are inevitably reflected in the structures of organisms.

The lengthening of the life-period increased markedly the number and complexity of adjustments which it was necessary for the animal to make to a changing environment. The lower animals which make their adjustments on the basis of instinct either lived

( 182) through a single season or a portion of it, or in a medium, such as water or the earth, which possessed an equable temperature, or they lived in a climate without marked seasonal variations. In some other cases animals which survived a marked change of seasons found refuge in an instinctive metamorphosis or in a change from one medium, e.g., the air, to another medium, as the earth or water, or vice versa. In other cases, if one favored individual of a species of insect or shellfish producing millions of eggs could by some lucky accident survive where thousands or millions perished, this was sufficient to perpetuate the type. But the higher type of animal, of which but relatively a few individuals were produced, living through a number of seasons and possessed of locomotory apparatus which brought its members in contact with many different environmental situations in rapid succession, must find some better method of meeting a highly complex and variable environment than that provided by instincts. Its expanding and increasingly flexible nervous system, involving the growth of ganglia and a cortex with associational neurons, gave it this power of making differential or acquired responses. The increasing development and specialization of sense organs are not the smallest factors in complicating the responsiveness of this median type of organism to its environments. They not only greatly differentiate the organism's effective environment but, by the same token, they increase its powers of making differentiated and acquired adjustments to it.

Of course there is a wide spread in complexity of structure between the lower and the higher types of habit-forming animals below the anthropoid forms. It would require a book instead of a brief article to set forth all of the steps in development of overt habit technique within this general type, even if adequate information were available. But the general processes and principles may be illustrated from our highly generalized classification. The development of inner structural changes as stated, presumably in direct or indirect response to changes in the environment, not only requires a modification of the adjustment responses of the organism to its environment; it results secondarily in a modification of the environment itself. This modification of environment occurring

( 183) through the agency of the animals below man is of course relatively slight and slow. But even in this second general stage of development outlined in our classification there are signs of it. Elsewhere (s) I have shown that the transformation of the natural inorganic and organic environments by men produces physico-social and biosocial environments. These transformed natural environments become social by induction (g). That is, they become necessary links in the social adjustments of men by whom they are created or utilized. Thus any part of nature which is used by man becomes social in this secondary or derivative sense. Such specific transformations of the inorganic and organic environments by man are called "inventions" or the "results of training."

Perhaps we should not speak of inventions at this level of response of the organism to its environment. The method of the response is wholly that of trial and error, and of the crudest type, when it is not still instinctive. Consciousness is probably limited to vague perceptions, except possibly among some of the higher mammals, and there is no recognition of the meaning of the adjustment process by the organism, nor has it any capacity for purposive thinking or for projection or foresight of ends in adjustment. It follows only the most immediate hedonic urges. Yet there are simple unintended modifications of the environment such as changes in the form of the nests and dens constructed, or in the method of taking food, of defense and escape from danger, and the like. Such modifications perhaps are not inventions, but they certainly are the prototypes of later empirical inventions in the same fields. In the field of invention, as in that of language, it must be clear, there is no break between the behavior or the products of behavior which are and are not of the accepted category. Where we begin to apply the term "language" or "invention" is a more or less arbitrary matter, depending in the main upon our preconceptions regarding what constitutes the category. In these cases it is usually considered that some consciousness of purpose or at least of the significance of the adjustment secured by the employment of the behavior is necessary to constitute it invention or language. But this is really an artificial distinction or requirement when we consider

( 184) that from a behavioristic standpoint the mechanisms and the results attained differ on the two sides of the arbitrary dividing-lines only in the degree of their complexity.

Here, as later, total overt responses, partial responses, emotional expression, cries and other sounds in one organism function as stimuli to initiate like or correlated responses in other organisms, although there is no consciousness of the meaning of these responses. For that matter, there is but little consciousness of the meaning of language among the lowest savages. Their responses to language forms are for the most part merely simple and unreflective conditioned responses. Gestures, outside of some mainly instinctive signs of the major emotions, are but slightly developed in this stage, and response to gestures is on the same rudimentary plane. The senses are of course much more highly specialized, particularly among the land vertebrates and mammals, in whom the tactual and higher exteroceptive senses tend to reach their maxi-mum development.

Although the animals later domesticated by man do not undergo the same changes in internal structure and do not acquire the power of making internal inhibitions of total overt responses or of making significant inventions which transform their environment, they do come in contact, mainly indirectly, with the environments which man in the fourth and fifth stages creates. Thus they develop, under his guidance, a much higher degree of overt habit modification than would be possible without human aid in the second stage of development here discussed. They also develop a responsiveness to language which would be impossible without the aid of man. Under the stimulus of such language communication they learn to respond and entreat or threaten with a gesture language which is largely acquired and appears almost to have in it an element of the purposive.

III. The transition stage is of course the border territory for what I have called the "median animal stage" and the "lower human stage," which includes the lowest savage types. Thus it embraces the prehuman anthropoids and the scarcely human types of man himself. This, like the other early stages of animal develop-

( 185) -ment, is conglomerate and incompletely defined. But it is the period of development in which the overt initiation of habit patterns is beginning to be definitely supplemented by the internal initiation and modification of acquired adjustment behavior and the direct or total overt adjustment response begins to give way to preliminary internal adjustment. Memory images or neural sets of such definiteness are stored up in the inner or neuro-psychic technique that the dispositions and impulses which they represent occasionally, or perhaps frequently, inhibit and transform the overtly initiated neural modifications. This change in the method of habit formation, now beginning to be introduced, is destined in future stages of development to become all important in the social behavior of animals and to give to the human type, in which it develops especially, dominance over all other animal types. It, as we shall see, accounts for the rise, and in large part for the continued progress, of civilization.

But this new development in the method of forming habits does not occur without reference to internal and external non-neural changes and corresponding modifications in the environments. The anthropoid animals are characterized by four striking developments in internal structure. They are in this period developing an upright position which gives them a better command of the details of their environment and distinctly a superior visual orientation with reference to it. The sense organs are already practically completed so far as their general mechanisms are concerned. The next step in orientation comes with the development of better mechanisms for the utilization of these sense organs in the orientation process. The upright position also frees the hands from use in locomotion for more intensive application to the problems of sensory orientation and to the manipulation of the environment. The hand becomes specialized in this stage as a fine instrument of general adaptation to the physical environment; and this specialization makes possible the beginning of the transformation in earnest of the natural environment into a physico-social environment.

The extension of the use of the senses is also helped out on the more internal side. There is a correlated development of the fore-

( 186) -brain, both in the size and number of the neural processes in the cortex which function in the process of organizing internally the acquired adjustment patterns and also in their increased flexibility. This rapid development of the forebrain in this stage, and even later, is of the greatest significance for the new habit-adjustment processes. It probably springs largely from the fact that the upright position and the differentiated hands have greatly complicated the problems of the adjustment of the organism to its environment. A larger and more flexible forebrain is necessary to receive and organize the sensory processes which come in and send out transformed responses other than instinctive ones to adjust the organism to the new contacts initiated by the hands and by the new sensory mechanisms arising from the upright position. The speed and range of locomotion and the facilities for defense and the exploitation of the food resources of the environment are also increased by the outer bodily changes; and there must be an internal change in the forebrain to correspond to these changes in overt behavior and to take care of the problems they bring, and even to initiate modifications in the overt responses which will be more effective as means to adjustment.

Another significant factor in increasing the complexity of adjustment by making it in some degree co-operative or coadaptive among the anthropoid and early human animals is the introduction of definite early forms of language. There is some increase in the efficiency of the vocalizing apparatus, and vocal cries approach more closely to the holophrastic content of early human language. The major emotional attitudes are undoubtedly clearly communicated in this stage of development, but apparently there is no intellectual content to language, at least before man appears. The freeing of the hands largely from locomotion also makes it possible for them to assume a language function through the development of gestures. Although the highest form of gesture language undoubtedly developed after the appearance of verbal language, there is no sufficient reason for supposing that there were not forms of manual gestures of considerable importance supplementing in this stage the older pantomimic and total overt response stimuli which are the prototypes of gesture language as we know it.

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The large development of gesture language at this time undoubtedly arose from the fact that the increasing complexity of the adjustments to environment demanded of the organism, and the better mechanisms of the forebrain, which permitted the development of internal inhibitions or the initiation of modifications of habit patterns from within, rendered it impossible for the organism to make total overt responses to environment in the same proportion of cases as formerly. "Life" had become too complex for the organism to act out its behavior completely. More things had to be settled within, in the more complex forebrain. This meant the inhibition of many overt adjustments already begun, especially of the hands, and even of all parts of the body. These partial or abortive responses are the chief content of early gestures. They serve to set up in the observing organism (if it also has had the experience of making like gestures) the same neuro-psychic processes as those which produced them by inhibition in the organism making the gestures (9). In this way there is a communication of attitudes, just as in the case of response to cries, without the necessity of total overt response. This transference of emotional attitudes through gestures and cries is the prototype of the communication of thought, which is for us perhaps the main function of language.

Sensory differentiation of the environment through perception is well under way in this stage, but as yet perceptions lack the definiteness which comes with their conditioning by verbal symbols and the naming of objects. Words have not yet been invented. Consequently there is no abstract thinking. Likewise, thinking with regard to future adjustments is practically non-existent, even among the earliest men. Adjustment responses are still of the trial-and-error type, where they are above the instinctive level. But a tendency is manifest to transfer these to a neuro-psychic basis through the means of internal inhibitions and organization. In so far as there may be said to be any appreciation of objectives in adjustment, the process is perceptually vague and the motives came from the present dynamic organization of the organism rather than from any definite projection of future satisfactions. The motives are themselves of the lowest and most primary hedonic satisfactions.

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Inventions have begun, but on the lowest empirical basis. There cannot be said to be any foresight of their application, even among the low human types. The inventions are simple and accidental, but once established in habit, which is now partly of the nature of internal response, they persist as long as they prove immediately useful. But there is not enough internal or mental behavior organization to carry an invention over any considerable period of time without constant utilization, certainly not from one generation to another. It is very probable that many of the simpler physical and social inventions were made and lost or forgotten in this way a number of times through a period of millennia or possibly of hundreds of thousands of years. The inventions themselves were in the nature of simple transformations of physical objects into slightly modified forms or the use of stones, sticks, etc., in conjunction with the hand or other organs of the body to aid in the procuring of food or in the defense against enemies. In other cases they were habit modifications of behavior made to serve in mutual response situations which thus came to be collective-behavior patterns or crude social inventions. The physical inventions in this period could not have been more complex than the simplest extensions of the bodily organs by the adoption of crude tools and weapons seized from nature. The social inventions were likewise but extensions of instinctive or habitual behavior into collective behavior, such as co-operative attack upon or defense against enemies. Such inventions were not purposive, nor were the inventors aware that they had made inventions as such. They had not yet invented the language symbols with which to objectify their inventive experiences in definite symbolic behavior integrations. The training and domestication of animals such as the dog may have had a beginning in this period, especially among the lower types of men. Also there may have been some improvement in certain types of fruits due to anthropoid or human manipulation. But it is certain that such improvements or domestication were not purposive or even conceptualized. If the dog was domesticated he did it himself by fallowing human savages who afforded him scraps of food and leadership. If fruits were selected, it must have been because animals feeding upon them accidentally dropped the seeds in fer-

( 189) -tile cleared places and then further spread the best seedlings equally unintentionally. Such control over selection and domestication is so negative that it scarcely differs from natural selection. And yet no one can draw a definite line of distinction that is not artificial and arbitrary between such inventive activities and those of a later date. The truth is that all culture is as continuous as is the evolution of living forms itself.

If we fail to recognize this fact it is because we are still under the dominance of cataclysmic theories of interpretation, which are reinforced by the psychological necessity of placing limits to the range of our vision. We see things from points of view because the organism is built and located that way, and because it is necessary to fixate the objective field subject to sensory and perceptual exploration in order to differentiate objects and to use them as points of orientation. We think in terms of comparisons. Hence we must have stages and a beginning of all things, individually and collectively. We lack the facility to see things continuously and yet to see the parts of the moving panorama in proportion without points of fixation, which by the very fact of their being points of fixation or at which the attention is arrested also become means of distortion. One of the main potential services of a scheme or classification of the factors in cultural development should be so to film the developmental process that we can see it more continuously and with less distortion. Another function should be to enable us to see it more comprehensively and compositely.

The environment which bears upon the anthropoid and early human types is still predominantly natural in the traditional sense of that world, but, thanks to the rudimentary inventive processes already outlined, there is some modification of these environments in the direction of the physico-social and the bio-social. The very tendency for the dominant organic types to function more effectively in collective behavior represents a significant increase in the biosocial environment. Any regimentation of living organisms must be regarded as a contribution to the bio-social environment (5, g). There are perhaps also suggestions of the psycho-social environment. While traditions and conventions have not arisen and are not transmissible as concepts in consciousness, the crude behavior

( 190) significance of cries and gestures apparently does stick in the memory sufficiently long to make responses dependent on such elementary language recognition continuous throughout connected periods of time and considerable areas. Language is the essential foundation and carrier of the psycho-social environment, and there is perhaps now sufficient evidence of language to suggest the approach of a psycho-social environment.

Something that looks like the beginnings of organized society also appears. The instinctive collective responses of earlier stages begin to be supplemented by group responses based on acquired adjustment patterns. But group behavior can as yet scarcely be said to be purposive. It merely arises as the coadaptive responses of a number of individuals whose behavior has been conditioned to the same stimuli sources. And the range of these coadaptive responses is no wider than the food, fear, and sex impulses of the organism compel it to be.

IV. When the anthropoid type becomes truly human the neuro-psychic technique of adults has been organized on a habit basis. Language develops into the verbal form, so that images become definite and highly communicable through verbalization. Gesture language also develops in efficiency as an aid to communication, partly because of the stimulus given it by verbal language and partly because of the greater carrying power of the more highly organized neuro-psychic technique. The biological differentiation of brain structure continues throughout the early human period known as "lower savagery," possibly even until the cultural stage known as "barbarism" is reached. This fact makes possible a constant growth in the power of the organism to transfer habit modifications from overt trial-and-error adjustment patterns to internal initiation and organization. More and more the total overt response is inhibited and delayed in complicated and new adjustment situations and the organization of the response patterns is transferred to the neuro-psychic processes preliminary to overt response. The partial responses, or gesture and emotional expression, which arose out of the early stages of inhibition of immediate overt responses, still continue in this stage of enlargement of substitute and preliminary neuro-psychic responses, but gradually verbal

( 191) communication becomes dominant and gestures, etc., become largely supplementary to verbal communication and expression. They become, in ordinary contacts, less violent and highly emotional just in proportion as the language of the subject becomes more verbal and intellectual.

Vocal communication itself was probably of slow growth from the old emotional cries of the preceding stage into the more intellectual verbal symbols which we find at the beginning of the most ancient recorded civilizations. We lack space for any detailed account of the growth of this chief instrument in cultural development, but competent anthropologists have expressed their belief that there was little if any speech, properly speaking, before the time of Neanderthal man. Peoples very much more advanced than Neanderthal man have been described as having a language extremely meager in verbal content or intellectual connotations, and such languages have been reported to change their verbal content to such a degree as to be practically unrecognizable within a period of twenty years (31). The growth of verbal language, with an intellectual content, undoubtedly developed because of the growing complexity of the environment, especially of the physico-social and psycho-social environments, which had in turn been differentiated by the greater development of the forebrain. The hands also had about completed their transformation into culturally manipulative instruments which served to transform the physical environment into physical inventions. This transformation, under the guidance of the superior forebrain, served so to complicate the physical environment alone, that a new language mechanism for purposes of communicating behavior patterns in co-operative and coadaptive adjustments to the physical environments became necessary. The whole content of the communication of such behavior patterns necessary to coadaptive and co-operative adjustments could no longer be carried by gesture mechanisms, holophrastic cries, and other emotional expressions.

The vocalizing apparatus itself was evolving through this period. It is difficult to determine what changes may have taken place in the vocal cords themselves, but the mouth, which is the chief molder of words, was slowly evolving into an apparatus better

( 192) adapted to such a function. Also the chin, said to be necessary for the attachment of certain muscles controlling the tongue and lips in word formation, appeared sometime in this period. These surface structural changes, together with the more complete differentiation of the brain, making possible a higher degree of internal association and integration of behavior patterns, gave birth to verbal language and thence to more or less voluminous development of the psycho-social environment. The growth of language and the more numerous and more complex types of adjustments which it made possible, with the resulting complexity of the social environments of all types, reacted back upon the development of the forebrain by selecting variations or mutations toward greater size and complexity in this organ. The whole process of development of internal structure, of environment, and of language was of course one of close interdependence. Growth of one factor reacted back upon the growth of other factors. And this is also true of all of the factors involved in the cultural-development process.

Both as result and as cause of verbal-language development, abstract conceptual thinking appeared and developed. Perceptions, as instruments in conceptual thinking, also became well defined and objectified as the result of verbalization. If we conceive of thinking in the behavioristic sense as functional behavior of the organism in adjustment situations, we may say that this functional adjustment behavior now came to be largely transferred from external or overt responses to internal or neuro-psychic responses. These inner or neuro-psychic patterns began to accumulate as recall processes which were reproduced in consciousness in symbolic verbal form. Thus the time element in adjustment, which was dominant in overt trial-and-error adjustment, came to be largely eliminated. The space limitation also became less evident through this process of symbolic inner storage and recall. Patterns of adjustment behavior for various places, circumstances, and times came to be closely juxtaposed in their symbolic form in the neuropsychic organization. As a result, a behavior plan adapted to highly complex situations could be worked out internally, or by the process of abstract conceptual thinking, upon the presentation of representative stimuli from the environment (either immediate or

( 193) distant in time and space) to which the adjustment must occur. This internal adjustment obviated the necessity of using the overt trial-and-error method as well as the random expenditure of time and energy which such an adjustment requires. The trial-and-error process of course remained, but it was transferred from overt or neuro-muscular patterns to internal or neuro-psychic patterns. If it occurred in consciousness it was verbal and logical. Such transference of adjustment integration 'to internal behavior processes is of the very greatest significance to man in mastering his environment, or in adjusting himself to it. The increased complexity of the environment and the growing needs of the organism make such a time- and energy-saving method of adjustment necessary. Likewise they create the structural capacity for it and the growth of the technique of verbal language perfects it.

Growing complexity of environment and increasing need for multifarious adjustment due to increased complexity of adjustment also make co-operative adjustment to environment imperative. This co-operative adjustment, which earlier grew out of the coadaptive adjustment of proximate organisms, called forth and compelled the specialization of verbal language as a means to greater effectiveness in co-operative adjustment. But verbal language serves not only to facilitate co-operative adjustment of complex organisms to a highly complex environment; it also serves to shorten the process of adaptation and control in adjustment by providing a logical method of internal selection and organization of behavior to take the place increasingly of the time- and energy-consuming overt trial-and-error adjustments. Furthermore, it brings greater accuracy into the adjustment process because it is able to present practically simultaneously in symbolic form all of the conditions of adjustment instead of compelling the organism to meet them serially as in overt trial-and-error adjustment, where each step may have disproportionate or illogical influence in determining an arrest of adjustment. Civilization could never have come about without such an internal mechanism facilitated by abstract language presentation.

But abstract and logical thinking is still very simple in this stage relative to what it has become in our age. There is no science,

( 193) properly speaking. There are no systems of rational logic designed especially to separate truth from error, and the symbols for expressing quantitative relationships are still very simple and poorly conditioned. Thinking is for the most part qualitative rather than quantitative. The analogue of scientific method of control is magic. It is based on the theory of direct will control, or fiatistic causation without intermediate mechanical causal processes. It, like science in the next stage, grows out of empirical observation, but apparent causal relationships are not tested and checked by refined methods of observation. Consequently an erroneous philosophy and system of controls grew out of the theory and logic of magic which has obsessed and oppressed the world even into our own times and which science has scarcely been able to overturn.

Thinking was still primarily with regard to immediate problems, although there was now an apparatus for projecting behavior adjustments into environmental situations distant both in time and space. The difficulty in the way of projective thinking was the lack of comparative data to give perspective in regard to adjustments projected either into the past or the future. Consequently, the ends or objectives of adjustment were set almost wholly in the present. There was little planning for the future beyond the lifetime of a single generation. Most permanent structures and organizations seem to have been planned as a monument to contemporaneous glory rather than as a preparation for future efficiency. But, while the future was not adequately foreseen, the present was viewed with much more completeness and in greater unity than ever before.

Inventions were much more numerous in this stage and, although still empirical, they were much more complex. They were no longer exclusively accidental, but were not infrequently worked out consciously as more effective adjustments of the organism and of the group to their environments. Physical inventions marched a long way through this period of savagery and early barbarism. Weapons, tools, aids to transportation and communication, clothing, dwellings, even towns, methods of agriculture and zoöculture, the domestication of roots, fruits, grains, and animals, and the use of animals as means of transportation and power sources were the chief lines of physical invention. Social inventions also multiplied

( 194) in the form of group organization, leadership, methods of making war, rituals, cults, bodies of tradition, even cosmologies and crude philosophies. Method inventions were represented in the intricate processes of magic and traditional systems of ethics as well as in the various physical technologies in so far as they had been developed.

The environments were transformed accordingly in response to these inventive processes. For the first time the physico-social and the bio-social environments began to encroach seriously upon the natural environments and to stand as a sort of buffer between the animal type (man) and nature. Nature's directness and severity were largely mitigated by these new types of environment created by the more complex adjustment behavior of man reacting back upon nature and the derived social environments. Also for the first time the psycho-social environment assumed definite form and appreciable volume. This environment always depends upon language, primarily verbal language, content, and in this stage its verbal content was vocal. Traditions sanctioning and enforcing and perpetuating customs, conventions, beliefs, mores, systems of social organization, and theories of magic and of the supernatural were handed down from mouth to mouth and passed on from one person to another over wide areas. The psycho-social environment came to dominate the inventive processes and thus to assume direction over the physico-social and bio-social environments and to expand them as buffers against nature. All of these increasingly complex environments of course reacted back upon the thinking process and stimulated the evolution of neuro-psychic technique of a higher order and the process of invention.

It was in this stage of development that consciously planned and developed social organizations developed out of the embryonic forms which preceded. Collective forms were not, as some writers looking at society from this end of the process have said, the product of conscious interaction only. It has long been known that social organization occurs on the basis of instinctive adjustment even among low types of animals (26, 48). Also, there is an analogous type of interdependence among plants (29). The higher degree of development of the collective behavior, extending even to a re-

( 195) -markable degree of division of function and a corresponding specialization of form, among the ants and bees is proverbial (28, 48). Some sort of grouping on the basis of similar response to the same or similar stimulus is common among the lowest types of animals. Giddings takes this initial similarity of response to similar stimuli as the starting-point in the development of his "consciousness of kind" (17) ; and Espinas (16), observing the co-ordinations of functions which developed from it, was led rightly to assume that animal societies began in a type of adjustment that was far lower than the human. Here again, as we observed in connection with language and invention, there is no justification for the old exclusively introspective criterion which would find the beginnings of these processes only at the point at which man becomes aware of them or manifests conscious intention regarding them. It has remained for the behaviorists to discover that the process is a continuous one from the earliest periods of development and that they change primarily in complexity and toward indirectness of adjustment rather than in kind. Watson (45, 46) has observed this fact with regard to language, and Weiss (47) has raised the question if animals below man do not use their conventionalized responses as the basis of non-introspective generalization. In attempting to give an account of the psycho-social processes of invention (10),I found it impossible on an introspective basis to make any distinction between inventive and preinventive adjustment at the lower human borderline (itself apparently mythical), as had been the custom of earlier writers.

The schools (of fishes), the flocks, and the packs and herds, the most common forms of groupings found among the vertebrates below man, had been supplemented in the lowest human stage of development by a large number of specialized forms of collective response. These forms of collective response constituted at once inventions and environment. They were of course dependent upon the growing specialization of language for their increasing differentiation. The coming of verbal vocal language, which made possible the conveying of some sort of conventionalized intellectual content in words to serve as stimuli to effectively conditioned behavior at a

( 196) considerable distance or at a much later time, widened the group beyond the face-to-face contact limitations. Tribes and confederacies of nations arose, and within these a high degree of specialization of leadership, ritualization, and other forms of customary co-operative behavior arose. Institutions began to appear, and in the period called "barbarism" reached a high degree of traditional and customary organization. As a result, man's domestic, religious, economic, and political life became fairly highly complex and, unfortunately as well as fortunately, highly organized and fixed. His empirical social inventions, like the physical ones which aided in their integration, had by the end of this period developed in complexity to the point where crude projective invention was taking place. Man was beginning to plan his collective behavior beforehand, but without any recognized principles of science to guide him or to sanction the inventions after they were made. Consequently, he usually justified changes in the social organization or collective behavior by invoking a revelation (12). The era of method inventions had not yet risen above the theological form of explanatory thinking (6). These new social organizations also, of course, constituted a tremendous growth in the content of the social environments, both bio-social and psycho-social, and they rested upon a physico-social environment. As environment they reacted back upon the process of adjustment with the result that they increased the volume of thinking adjustment or of invention and thus, by increasing the load of the internal or neuro-psychic organization beyond what it could bear, initiated the final or present stage of adjustment of the basis of externally stored and accumulated symbols (11).

V. In this last stage civilization becomes literate. The vocal verbal symbols, already conditioned to types of inner adjustment behavior and to total overt adjustment responses, are further conditioned to written symbols, which thereby acquire the power of initiating and controlling much more complex and abstract and continuous series of behavior than can be controlled by vocal language. I have endeavored elsewhere (8, 9, 11 ) to summarize the superior adjustment values of written language and will not repeat

( 198) the argument here. This is the stage of animal development in which written (latterly printed) language becomes dominant as a control medium. In this connection, as in all others, it is not possible to say when writing began. All physical inventions are in a sense forms of writing, because they become symbolic controls for the mediation of adjustment responses. Notched sticks, knotted cords, laying the foundations of buildings in certain forms, shaping altars or pottery in prescribed ways, designs on pottery, weapons, ornaments, mutilations of the body, even the ornaments and clothing worn, may be considered as forms of writing usually less cornplex and purposive than the pictograph. More purposive and projective, in the field of invention, is the alphabet, systems of hand-writing, of grammar, printing, and dictionaries.

Adjustment has become infinitely complex among us, and it is constantly changing. It is not possible, therefore, to indicate accurately and fully the causal interrelationships among cultural development processes. Hence, not all of the story is told by saying that the load of adjustment referred to above forced the utilization of external storage of symbolic conditioners of the inner behavior mechanisms. The behavior consequences of this external storage of conventionalized stimuli were unlimited and unpredictable. Tradition, which was the collective analogue of memory or internal storage, began to be secondary to external storage in writing and print, and custom, which was the "overhead" organization of habit in the preceding stage, now began to give way to the more accurate and flexible external supervision of continuity in collective response exercised by the written document and the printed page. Ritual, imbedded in emotional sanction, was destined to become secondary to rational acceptance, and with the coming of science rational adjustment began to supplement authority. Not that authority cannot lurk within written scrolls and printed pages—a fact which searchers for "truth" (a tern which itself has learned to face to the future and away from the past) know only too well. But the days of greatest authority in the written document were those in which the traditions were merely copied into permanent records. Since then laboratories and statistical generalizations have in some

( 199) degree supplanted oracles and mystical revelations, with the result that the printed page and the professional journal have become the symbol of the newest discoveries in adjustment-behavior technique. Even the language of art has latterly tended to become objective and non-authoritarian.

Science has evolved for itself special languages, not for the sake of secrecy (although they do in a measure afford this protection in a too-little-tolerant age), but in order to provide means of condensed and accurate expression. The traditional and customary languages are of course legible to all scientific workers, because they were reared in these media of communication. Mathematics is a general scientific language common to all of the special sciences. But physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, the social sciences, have severally their own languages, with their dependent written dialects. But these languages are so similar that they may all be mastered by a single individual. The mastery of their content is a more difficult matter. While the individual as a member of the numerous groups or forms of collective behavior in which he must participate still uses, or at least responds to, all of the old language forms—vocal verbal language in particular and constantly, and also to holophrastic vocal (as in music), gesture, pantomime, etc. —the scientist who would invent new forms of collective or individual behavior (social and method inventions) or physical aids to adjustment (physical inventions) must employ the more precise and accurate symbols of his scientific languages. It is through these that the projective process of inventive thinking takes place.

Thinking has become extremely complex and abstract among the professional inventors or thinkers of our time. This is so much the case that the masses of the people who still think largely in the old emotional and traditional illogical forms of language are largely out of touch with the leaders of thought. We have invented, partly empirically and partly projectively, an elaborate system of education designed to bring the thought of the masses as nearly as possible within reach of the content and accuracy of the intellectual leaders. But it is by no means as yet working with perfect success. Perhaps the most significant social invention of our age is our col-

( 200) -lectively supported system of research with its avowed purpose of producing primarily new and more complicated method inventions. It is largely because of this research system that the inventors have so outdistanced the masses in their thinking that not even our schools, with their teaching of the languages as well as of the content of science, have been able always to keep them in effective intellectual contact.

The masses have profited so much from the new inventive processes that they are now able to rule and even to determine the limits to which the scientific leaders shall push the inventive process. Perhaps long ago they would have checked their activities where they came in conflict with custom and tradition if the scientists had not provided them with so many material comforts. There is not space even to mention the tremendous contributions of invention to our modern civilization. All modern industry is founded on it, and industry in turn has made possible the support of investigations which have led to a reasonable progress in social invention and in the creation of the multitude of sciences in the last two centuries, themselves the great storehouses of method inventions.

But the next great general step in invention must be in the direction of the perfection and expansion of social organization (social inventions) comparable to that of the physical inventions in the inorganic and organic worlds during the past century. Already we have begun to apply the method of projective invention to the construction of efficient governmental organizations, national, state, and municipal, to the application of psychological and sociological science to educative processes and organization, to the conduct and control of industry, to systems of public-health administration, and to scores of other phases of complex collective living and acting. It is not only in the creation of new or better integrated groups that the method of projective invention in social life has been applied, but also to the development of administrative systems and of the data and principles of the social sciences themselves. Along with these have been invented great and surprisingly effective communicating systems. The modern newspaper and weekly and monthly magazines, with their publics of hundreds of

( 201) thousands, even millions, of readers, are social inventions of the greatest complexity. Physical inventions, such as the telegraph, telephone, and radio, bring in their wake new types or complexities of social relationships and require the invention of new social controls or administrative systems to prevent them from upsetting the balance of the social order, or perhaps they cause the social system to be organized on a higher level because of this complexity.

Such inventions have profoundly modified the character of the social environments and the interrelationships which exist among them. The physico-social and the bio-social environments have increased in importance until they stand almost completely between most men and the natural environments. Even the agricultural and other populations engaged in the extractive industries, who come most closely in contact with nature, have the strenuousness of that contact mollified by all sorts of modern inventions in the nature of tools, machines, improvements in living conditions, and protective devices in labor. The city-dweller has almost no direct contact with unmodified nature left to him, even for aesthetic purposes. Millions of our population scarcely know how their food and clothing are produced, and our industrial system, once organized in local units on the basis of extractive production, is now organized abstractly on a wide scale from the standpoint of capitalistic exploitation. All social organization is, as a matter of fact, being transferred from the local or primary and face-to-face unit to the abstract or derivative overhead type (9).

This of course means that the process of projective invention has created for us a new type of social world which is as abstract and as far removed from direct contact with nature as the new inventive process itself is removed from the old technique of overt habit adjustment to nature. The psycho-social environment constructed from the written document and code and treatise, from the daily paper and magazine, and from the vocalization of the radio and telephone (the last being powerful vocal-control elements in the psycho-social environment) now dominates our collective life. "Talk," as Bagehot (2) called it, is not to be ignored, but it can no longer compete with the swifter means of communication in

( 202) making up the minds of the masses of the people. Tradition is now relatively unimportant as a psycho-social environmental control, even among the masses, and convention is everything among them. Fad, fashion, and craze follow one another in rapid succession. But perhaps what has been lost in stability in the new and dominant type of the psycho-social environment has been made up, in part at least, in dependableness. The greatest difficulty which we now have to face in controlling the content of the psycho-social environment which controls us is to prevent it from being distorted by commercialized or group-interest propaganda and for private profit. This is a real problem which grows with the increased complexity of the psycho-social environment (39). The average individual is not able to test the value of all of the propaganda which reaches him without a more effective training in the data and principles of science than he now possesses. And besides, the process of judgment, even with information, is not always capable of standing out against the insidious appeal and suggestions of propaganda.

This fact brings us face to face with perhaps the greatest weakness of this new phase of cultural development. Our inner biological structure apparently has not changed during the whole of the last period. What structural changes have occurred are evidently acquired and are induced from the external pressures of the environment, especially of the psycho-social environment. Outside of the acquisition of neuro-psychic techniques or organizations these are not particularly important. The latter are, however, significant, for, together with their symbolization and external storage in the psycho-social environment, they constitute the body of our non-material culture or civilization. Other structural changes are external to our neurological and physiological organizations, but they constitute invaluable aids to the effective operation of our senses and generalizing processes. Those physical inventions which, like the microscope and telescope, telephone and radio, extend the range of the senses, and those physical inventions based upon method inventions, such as calculating machines, that aid the generalizing faculties, or the method inventions and social inventions, such as mathematics, statistics, laboratories, and research institutions, which also promote greater efficiency in generalization,

( 203) have all added to the effectiveness of our adjustment responses to environment. They have also greatly complicated them.

But, on the other hand, our physiology is essentially the same and our neural equipment has not expanded. In spite of all of the aids which internal organization under environmental pressures and the extension of our senses and generalizing methods by means of mechanical and social and method inventions have brought to us, we still operate with the same original biological equipment. We are by no means abstract intellectual machines, but are still largely creatures of emotion, in spite of all of the protective and adjusting devices just mentioned. Consequently, our judgments are not always dependable, especially in the face of adroitly manipulated suggestive appeals to emotion.

But our projection of objectives in adjustment has greatly improved. We now include a considerable projection of the present into the future in making our plans for adjustment. Also, and even more important for rational control, we include future generations and peoples at a great distance in our projected plans for adjustment. We are building up a projected science of the future, slowly but with some apparent validity, to guide us in making just such adjustments. That is what the introduction of courses in social progress (when the content of these is not merely historical retrospection) into our university curricula means. We are attempting to get some perspective upon the future and the conditions of effective adjustment of man to his world in the future in order that we may make a reasonable compromise in adapting the present adjustment to future needs. Such an insight into the future and our collective behavior with reference to it involve a more complex use of the process of projective invention than has ever before been attempted. Men are more concerned with the future of mankind on this earth than ever before. The presentation of such a schematic correlation of the factors mutually responsive in the process of the evolution of adjustments of man to nature in the past and present—however sketchy and inadequate it may be—may possibly assist somewhat in affording such perspective. At least, it is always helpful to see the adjustment process as nearly as a whole as is possible.

1. Allport, F. H., Social Psychology.

2.Bagehot, Walter, Physics and Politics. 

3.Bawden, H. Heath, "The Evolution of Behavior," Psy. Rev., XXVI, 247-76. 

4.  Bell, Charles, The Hand (1833). 

5.Bernard, L. L., "A Classification of Environments," Amer. Jour. Soc., Nov., 1925. 

6. ———, "Development of the Concept of Progress," Jour. Social Forces, Jan., May, Sept., 1925. 

7. ———, "The Function of Generalization," Monist, Oct., 1920.

8. ———, Instinct: A Study in Social Psychology (r924).

9.———, An Introduction to Social Psychology (1926). 

10.———, "Invention and Social Progress," Amer. Jour. Social., July, 1923. 

11 ———, "Neuro-Psychic Technique," Psy. Rev., Nov., 1923.

12.———, "The Objective Viewpoint in Sociology," Amer. Jour. Social., Nov., 1919. 

13 Cowan, E. A., "An Experiment Testing the Ability of a Cat to Make Delayed Responses and to Maintain a Given Response toward a Varying Stimulus," Jour. Compar. Psy., III, 1-g. 

14 Craig, Wallace, "A Note on Darwin's Work on the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals," Jour. Abnormal Psy. and Social Psy., XVI, 356-66. 

15 ———, "The Voice of Pigeons Regarded as a Means of Social Control," Amer. Jour. Social. XIV, 86-100. 

16. Espinas, Alfred, Des Sociétés Animales (1878). 

17. Giddings, F. H., Principles of Sociology (1896). 

18.Hart, H., and Pantzer, A., "Have Subhuman Animals Culture?" Amer. Jour. Social., XXX, 703-g. 

19.Herskovits, M. J., and Willey, M. M., "The Cultural Approach to Sociology," ibid., XXIX, r88-99. 

20Hunter, Walter S., The Delayed Reaction in Animals and Children. 

21. ——— "The Delayed Reaction in a Child," Psy. Rev., XXIV, 74-87. 

22. ———. "The Problem of Consciousness," ibid., XXXI, r-31. 

23. ———. "The Symbolic Process," ibid., pp. 478-98. 

24.Huxley, Julian, "Biology and Sociology," Monist, XXXIII, 364-8g. 

25. Köhler, Wolfgang, The Mentality of Apes. 

26. Lameere, M. A., "Les Moeurs sociales des animaux," Bull. de l'Jnst. Gén. Psy., XVI, 23-39. 

27.Libby, Walter, "Conceptual Thinking," Scien. Ma., XV, 435-42. 

28. Lull, R. S., Biological Evolution. 

29. McGhee, W J, "The Beginning of Zoöculture," Amer. Anthropol., X, 215-30.

30. Mach, E., "On the Part Played by Accident in Invention and Discovery," Monist, VI, 161-75. 

31.Marett, R. R., Anthropology, chap. v. 

32.Mason, O. T., Origins of Invention. 

33.Mast, S. O., and Pusch, L. C., "Modification of Response in Amoeba," Biolog. Bull., XLVI, 55-59- 

34.Ogburn, William F., Social Change. 

35.Paulhan, F., Psychologie de l'invention. 

36.Pohlman, A. G., "The Heredity of the Upright Position and Some of Its Disadvantages," Monist, XVII, 570-82. 

37.Russell, S. B., "Advance Adaptation in Behavior," Psy. Rev., XXIV, 413-25. 

38.Shepard, W. T., "Some Observations and Experiments on the Intelligence of the Chimpanzee and Wang," Amer. Jour. Psy., XXXIV, 590-91.

39. Strong, E. K., Jr., "Control of Propaganda as a Psychological Problem," Scien. Mo., XIV, 234-52.

40. Suttie, I. D., "The Development and Evolution of Mind," Jour. Neural. and Psychopath., V, 133-45. 

41.Wallis, W. D., "The Development of the Human Chin," Anat. Rec., XII, 315-28. 

42.Washburn, M. F., The Animal Mind (2d ed.). 

43. ———, "The Social Psychology of Man and the Lower Animals," Studies in Psychology in Honor of E. B. Titchener (1917), pp. II-17. 

44.Watson, J. B., Behavior, an Introduction to Comparative Psychology, chaps. ix, x, 

45. ———, Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist, chaps. viii, ix. 

46.———, "The Place of Kinaesthetic, Visceral and Laryngeal Organization in Thinking," Psy. Rev., XXXI, 339-47.

47.Weiss, A. P., "Behaviorism and Behavior," ibid., pp. 118-4g. 

48.Wheeler, W. M., Social Life among the Insects (1022). 


  1. Figures in parentheses refer to Bibliography at end of article.
  2. An article by H. H. Bawden (3) attempts to cover a portion of the same field in a somewhat similar manner. The reader should refer to Dr. Bawden's article for supplementary material. See also Huxley (24)

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