John E. Boodin
ARE THERE SOCIAL FACTS ?
If we set out to analyze social systems, the first question that arises is naturally: Are there social facts? Is there a distinctive material which is not covered in individualistic psychology or in any other science ?
The science of social theory has been seriously handicapped by two false traditions, one that of physiological materialism, the other that of juristic, formalism. The former doctrine is the logical outcome of a solipsistic psychology. So long as mind is looked upon as inert and detached states of consciousness, it is impossible to have any intelligent theory as regards the interrelationships of minds in society. Causality, on such a theory, must be accounted for in material terms, and mind becomes concomitant to the going' on of material processes. This treatment has its convenience, no doubt, for the abstract type of interest which the psychologist has set himself, though one cannot help feeling the unreality of it even here. When, however, such a conception of mind is taken over by sociology, it leads to an impasse. American sociologists in particular have been infected with the old germ of solipsism, and have been
(706) inclined to limit real causality to the physical world. To quote Giddings:
Thought and feeling, merely as states of consciousness, are not energy. Apart from energy, however, they can do nothing. They can manifest themselves in external action only through the physical energy of nerve and muscle. Therefore all that is done in society or by society, whether consciously or otherwise, is accomplished by physical energy.
In an interesting essay published more recently, viz., A Theory of Social Causation, Professor Giddings tries to sidestep the problem by an ingenious conception of parallelism. He attempts to show, by a number of illustrations, that the phenomena of population - its density and homogeneity - correspond to the character of the material environment-its productivity and accessibility. This is interesting so far as it goes; but the relation of society to its environment is not merely that of correspondence, but in a degree, at least, the making over of the environment to fit our needs. In such a reconstruction of the environment, plans and purposes figure as real factors, and not as a mere byplay to atoms and molecules. It is precisely in dealing with the social mind-with social response and stimulation, tension and equilibrium-that physiological materialism becomes so obviously inadequate. That there are co on understandings, and purposes, and that they are effective in the reconstruction of our environment, must be for social theory now, as in the days of Socrates, the starting-point. With such facts, moreover, we can deal independently of our ignorance of the physical world, as the Greeks likewise have shown.
The other type of prejudice, that of juristic formalism, has no less serious consequences. If the former type of attitude is the
(707) outcome of physiological psychology, the latter is the result of an extreme intellectualism which has found its home especially in Germany. This has tended to hypostasize the institutional aspect of social life, and to treat the individual as a mere accident, and in practice as a mere means to an end. But customs and institutions, when abstracted from the common life of which they are the expression, lose their reality and significance. Important as they are for the development and significance of social life, they cannot be regarded as the whole of that life; and to treat them as such must lead to dangerous consequences in practice as well as in theory. Apart from the living bond of interrelated individuals with their interests and ideals, institutional forms are but lifeless fossils, symbols of a reality that has passed.
In order to steer clear of solipsistic individualism on the one hand, and empty formalism on the other hand, we must examine afresh the nature of those social facts which must be our startingpoint. What seems clear on unbiased examination is that we know minds not as isolated entities, but as entering into unique contexts, with resulting intensification and inhibition of activities. These relations are not stateable as interactions of atoms and molecules, but are relations of a unique kind. If we speak of these contexts as compounds, we have to do at any rate with a peculiar type of chemistry-with mental, not material, chemistry. A new bond is formed as a result of association, with its own characteristic traits. To this creative synthesis the individual units are indeed indispensable factors, but the whole is a new fusion, and not the mere arithmetic sum of individual traits. Unlike mechanical processes, social processes are irreversible, that is, the components are modified in the process, and these modifications are cumulative in their determination of further changes and relations.
Two factors must be taken account of in order to understand the social situation. The primary fact hi social contexts is that of the real presence of minds to each other, their interstimulation and interaction. Beside the fact of presence, however, we must take account of tradition, the cumulative mores of the race. Tradition may be said to be the correlate of the social mind, its unique expression. As the brain conserves the results of individual
(708) experience, so tradition 'conserves social experience. The difference between one age and another, between our own age and that of the Middle Ages, for example, lies primarily, if not altogether, in the difference of tradition. There is no reason to suppose, that our instincts and capacities have undergone any fundamental modifications since the Middle Ages. The difference, therefore, must lie in those beliefs and customs which constitute our peculiar web of life as distinct from theirs. It is sociological rather than psychological, in the individualistic sense of that term. In the varying traditions, the destinies of men are interwoven as the threads of tapestry. It would be a mistake, however, to regard tradition as itself the agent. It is rather the expression, the index, the storing and objectification of common beliefs and purposes. And when it ceases to be such an expression, it is no longer a social fact, but a survival, a flag without a country. What Durkheim  has so strikingly shown in regard to totemism holds in regard to tradition generally. The vital social fact is always the common bond, a unifying interest which holds the individuals together and controls them in a common direction. This bond is primarily one of will, of tendencies to be satisfied, of interests to be organized through intercommunication and interaction. Language and concepts are instruments by means of which this will becomes conscious of its needs, and can the more effectively strive for their realization. Social relations, in other words, are energy relations and must be described as such.
GENERAL POSTULATES OF SOCIAL SYSTEMS
If there are social facts, then the next question is: Do these facts possess the general characteristics which are necessary for systematic treatment? Those characteristics we have found, in another connection, to be three, viz., variables, recurrence, and form. We hold that thee characteristics obtain in social situations. First of all, there are variables or elements which we can identify in various contexts. The primary variables are human individuals
(709) with their reactive properties. Such properties are, on the one hand, the native tendencies in the way of instincts, capacities, and temperament, and on the other, the derived tendencies in the way of habits and purposive reactions which are grafted upon the native. But there are also various grades of secondary variables which must be taken into account, for human individuals do not function as mere abstract entities, but as belonging to groups; and their actions consequently differ with the type of tradition and the complexity of the group life to which they belong. The fact that men already exist in associations, with their systems of beliefs, determines largely the course of the changes that can arise. If it is a law in material chemistry that step-compounds do not affect the reaction of the elements in a new synthesis, this law cannot be said to hold in the chemistry of minds. While the original characteristics of human nature present a great degree of universality as between different ages and races, it is precisely the group centrism with its mores that presents the main problem in the fusing of human individuals in larger unities. We must take account of the folkways, the reactive properties of the groups as such, in any attempt at a fusion of individuals. It is not as biological individuals that the Chinese offer such strenuous resistance to western civilization, but as part of a tradition which determines their outlook and conduct, and which we must respect in order to deal with them successfully. A Chinese baby brought up in western civilization would offer no resistance. The problem of variables becomes, therefore, vastly more complex in the case of social compounds than in the case of material. In either case, however, we must strive to discover the characteristics of the, constituent elements, and their different combining valencies in specific compounds. If we fail to do so, we may find ourselves participants in an explosion.
Beside the characteristics of the units, which enter into social compounds, we must take account of the space and time conditions of social changes. It has been shown by sociologists that the density or sparseness of the population makes a great deal of
(710) difference to the activities and problems that arise. While this condition has been altered through modem means of communication, the problem itself has been intensified by modem conditions of living. The modem city, with its congested population, provides a different set of phenomena from the old rural life. If the space condition is always with us, so is the time condition. In the course of time old customs and forms of organization grow antiquated, and new ones arise to meet the new conditions. We cannot pour new wine into old bottles. In, attempting to initiate social changes, we must have regard to their timeliness. We must respect the laws of social growth. "Watchful waiting" is as important as action, if we would accomplish. the desired results.
In the study of social variables, certain cautions are perhaps necessary. In the first place, social facts are seldom the result of one set of determinants. The tendency has been to emphasize now geographic environment, now economic conditions, now social conflicts, now ideal factors. Social facts, however, are generally the result of a multiplicity of causes. We must therefore adopt the empirical method rather than the speculative. In the second place, social contexts are not so closely woven but that we can note individual variables, functioning relatively independently of each other. Otherwise analysis and specialization would be impossible. As it is, we have various social sciences, each studying an aspect of social changes. Sociology selects for its material the most generic characteristics of group life, while other social sciences, such as economics, deal with more special phases. Such an abstraction is not only not vicious but necessary, though we must always guard against substituting the part for the whole. In the third place, social structures may function relatively independently of their origin, as determined by the systems in which they actually exist rather than by those in which they may have taken their rise. The study of genesis, interesting and important as it is, is not a substitute for causal explanation, nor is it indispensable to it.
The other two postulates, viz., recurrence and form, require perhaps less explanation. Social facts, as physical facts, are in a degree predictable. While they are subject to change in the evernew syntheses in which they enter, they do possess certain per-
(711) -sistent traits which make it possible to anticipate their conduct from moment to moment, in similar situations, and to a certain degree in different situations. Only so would it be possible to have social institutions. Only so could we have that degree of confidence which is essential to business as well as to all other human relations. It is true that, owing to the enormous complexity of the factors which enter into social situations, our predictability is limited. We are able, however, to eke out our personal observations by the statistics of large numbers; and while we cannot predict, perhaps, in each individual case, the choices and preferences and attitudes that may be effective, we may be able to do so for the larger group, and so regulate our conduct. Thus we are able in an approximate way to meet the business needs of a community in spite of the great variety of individual tastes.
In social facts as in physical, we can discover a certain form or organization which makes our facts stateable in definite laws. just as a mathematical equation has not only its variables with their recurrence, but its organizing relation, which we must understand, so with social systems. There is, to be sure, a great difference in the degree of organization. Some human associations are comparatively formless. But even the mob can be understood in terms of some one impulse or tendency, however primitive, which gives its conduct direction. The degree of form depends in group life, as well as in personal life, upon the persistence of a certain purpose or ideal toward which all the activities are made to converge. It is this which makes them intelligible. The worth of group life, as of personal life, is measured by the degree in which the variety of interests is harmonized consistently and proportionately within a comprehensive plan. In actuality, we have all the variations from a well-organized democracy to a primitive mob. To deal effectively with social facts, we must understand the degree and type of organization which prevails, the bond which give,-,, unity to the facts. We cannot deal with the mob in the same way that we deal with an articulated, purposeful group, or vice versa. We must respect the organizing ideal of the group if we would establish relations with it or effect changes in it.
SOME EMPIRICAL LAWS OF SOCIAL SYSTEMS
We have seen that social facts are unique facts. They ate not -to be confused with physical facts on the one hand, nor on the other hand are they mere aggregates of individual facts. We have come to recognize the reality of the social bond with its creative synthesis. Social facts,'. moreover, are activity facts. They are known by the changes which they produce. They are not mere intellectual abstractions. We have also seen that social facts possess the general characteristics which are essential to systems. We must now consider how far it is possible to state social energies in terms of empirical laws. For this purpose we shall adopt a procedure that is generally used in science and deal with social systems as closed systems, in so far as that is possible. In speaking of generalizations about social facts as "laws," we must admit that they are rarely capable of that exact statement which we associate with the term "law" in the physical sciences. There are, however, certain tendencies which we can formulate into fairly definite propositions.
It has been customary since Herbert Spencer, at least among American sociologists, to assume that the laws of physical energy hold equally in the domain of social facts. Both Lester F. Ward and Professor Giddings seem to accept Spencer's vague formula for evolution: "Evolution is an integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter passes from an indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent heterogeneity, and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel transformation." But this formula is too thin to be of any value in explaining social facts; and its validity is doubtful even in the physical realm from which it is borrowed. No one-way process could explain an infinite evolution, not to mention difficulties of direct application. Ward makes the assertion that "the conservation of energy and correlation of forces are as applicable to psychic and social forces as to physical forces,"  but he does not attempt any proof. The same assumption is implied by Giddings:
Social evolution is but a phase of cosmic evolution. All social energy is transmuted physical energy. The original causes of social evolution are the
(713) processes of physical equilibration, which are seen in the integration of matter with the dissipation of motion, or in integration of motion with the disintegration of matter.
No wonder, then, that such laws as the conservation of energy, the law of least action, the law of rhythm, etc., can be predicated of social facts. We cannot agree, however, that the laws of physical energy can be thus transferred bodily into another science. We must be careful to derive the social laws from their own unique facts. Even when the same verbal formula may be used, we must be careful that the meaning is the same in the two cases. A different meaning of a law amounts to a different law.
This is well illustrated by Spencer's general formula. There is integration in the social world as well as in the world of matter. But social integration is not an integration of matter. The latter is conceived as the bringing together of independent mechanical units which exist in merely external relations. The former must be conceived as a through-and-through relation, an interpenetration within common purposes, where the individual components are modified by the common bond, past and present. There is differentiation both in the physical and in the social world. But there is no analogue in the world of scattered material masses in space to the differentiation of functions in society. Even the organic analogue is inadequate, as the individual in society does not function merely in special ways to the exclusion of more general ways. Nor does biological heredity determine wholly such differentiation. At most, it furnishes certain generic capacities. We can discover coherency in both physical and social systems. But the coherency developed in society is not the external coherency of a mechanical system. It means organization within a common purpose, the coadaptation and telescoping of individuals within a common life. It is this common bond, with its impulse to live and continue to live, which establishes both the unity and differentiation. Social integration, finally, means not the dissipation of energy, but the storing of energy in customs and institutions. Thus society is able to lift itself by its boot-straps to a new level. To such storing, there is, so far as we know, no analogue in the
(714) material world. Contrasts might be multiplied indefinitely, but these are sufficient to show the danger of confusing identity of words with identity of relations.
Let us examine now in detail some general propositions concerning social energy. In social energy as in physical, we find it convenient to distinguish between kinetic energy and energy of position. The work done in the case of social energy depends, on the one hand, upon the number of individuals, with their characteristics, their density, and their organization within the group, and on the other hand, upon the degree of emotional excitement. This excitement, moreover, gathers force as it proceeds, perhaps in geometrical ratio, but it is impossible to verify any such definite formula as that for mechanical kinetic energy or 1/2 MV².
That inertia is a reality in social relations, as well as in dealing with the physical world, is a matter of common experience. In the world of social energy, action tends to proceed in a straight line -that is, directly-unless interfered with. Impulses act themselves out, unless there are inhibiting impulses or considerations. Folkways will persist unless there are interfering circumstances. To rouse a group to action, it is necessary to overcome its inertia or the habits of past ways of acting. In the case of social inertia, as in physical, the inertia varies with motion. A group stirred to action offers more resistance to change than a passive group. Inertia also varies with direction. It is easier to meet prejudice by slantwise or indirect suggestion than by direct suggestion.
We have noted that Spencer, Ward, and Giddings assume the validity of, the law of conservation of energy in the social realm.
(715) It is generally admitted now, however, that the law cannot be proved outside of the physical sciences. While there is, on the one hand, dependence of mental energy up on physical, such as nourishment and heat, and while, on the other hand, mental energy seems to be converted into motion and heat, it would certainly be assuming too much to say that we can establish exact equivalences as between mental energy and physical changes. Still less can we reduce mental energy to physical energy. For our purposes at least, we must hold that mental energy is a unique type, and not merely a compound form or a byplay of physical energy. Mental systems have characteristics of their own. They effect unique changes and have unique laws which cannot be affirmed of physical systems. Conservation has, moreover, an entirely different meaning in the mental world. In the physical world conservation means constancy; in the social it means accumulation. Progress is made possible by the running up of social energy in the way of tradition. The difference between the mores of primitive man and the civilization of today is due to such accumulation. It does not seem clear that such accumulation or secondary storing of experience affects the total amount of physical energy in the world. Here, at any rate, we have creative evolution, though we cannot say that the accumulation is absolute, since sometimes whole civilizations have been destroyed with barely a record to show that they existed. If we cannot account for the storing of social energy in physical terms, neither can we account for its loss. What becomes of the accumulated social energy in the way of tradition, art, and institutions when this old earth returns to its former chaos? Will there be equivalences for human civilization in the atoms and molecules or whatever physical elements can be said to persist ? It is hard for us to think of such equivalences. If Fechner is right that the larger cosmic reservoir of experience, in the hierarchy of the universe, takes up and hold-, all the constellations, of experience that ever existed, then we have indeed conservation, but we have more than equivalence in terms of the mechanical theory of the universe.
One thing, however, seems clear, and that is that the quantity of social energy is a limited amount at any one time, and that
(716) spending more of it in one direction means less to spend in divergent directions. The absorption in a great war must necessarily drain energy from most of those activities which are not directly involved in the survival struggle. Absorption in material pursuits tends to lessen the available energy for ideal activities. It is also well to keep in mind that there is a dependence of mental energy upon physical conditions, even though we cannot state an exact law. Proper nourishment, proper temperature, proper bodily position, proper rhythm of work and rest, relative freedom from distracting physical stimuli, have been shown to be important conditions of mental efficiency.
The law of equilibrium is a pervasive and overlapping law. All change might be stated in terms of two fundamental groups of tendencies-tendencies toward equilibrium and tendencies which upset equilibrium. Organic change, as well as physical, may be stated in terms of equilibrium. In the individual organism the tendency to equilibrium shows itself in the evolution of the unstable structure of the individual in response to environmental stimuli, the proper equilibrium being reached when the internal structure of the individual is adapted to its external conditions. In the case of the plant colony it shows itself in the cycle of forms which succeed each other until a climax formation has been reached which is adapted to the conditions, organic and inorganic, and thus becomes stable so long as the conditions are stable. On the level of automatic human adaptation we have similarly a cycle of forms in the way of folkways and institutions until a climax formation is attained -forthe time being. Of such a climax formation we have an illustration in Eskimo civilization before the white man upset the equilibrium with his new mores. On the level of conscious social experimentation the tendency to equilibrium still holds:
Thought in movement has for its only conceivable motive the attainment of belief or thought at rest. Only when our thought about a subject has found rest in belief can our action on the subject firmly and safely begin. Beliefs, in short, are rules for action; and the whole function of thinking is but one step in the production of active habits.
This is as true in social as in individual conduct. The history of society presents a constant tendency toward equilibrium or organized structure. When a disturbance is produced, whether due to the contact with outside groups or to disturbing factors within the group itself, there is a tendency for a settlement of some sort to be reached, for the time being, at least. Every revolution has its reaction when society settles back with the least disturbance of old customs. Unlike the mechanical equilibrium, however, as in the swing of the pendulum, the social equilibrium is never a mere return to the previous status quo. New experience has accumulated into structure, and things can never again be quite the same. Nor need the new equilibrium be an average of the forces involved. Higher ideals than the average of the group may dominate, else reform would be impossible. Unfortunately the ideals may also be lower, as shown in the reversion to the mob.
The tendency to rhythm seems to be a universal tendency. According to Spencer "rhythm results whenever there is a conflict of forces not in equilibrium." This definition does not seem complete. We may have a conflict of forces without rhythm resulting, since the process may be a one-way process. Such a tendency has been generalized into the second law of thermodynamics, according to which energy is continually tending toward an equal distribution of potentials. To be sure, in an infinite process this tendency must be counteracted by another tendency, or the universe would stop. It would seem, then, that cosmic process as a whole must be rhythmic. But in accordance with Spencer's definition, every change would be a rhythm, which does not seem to be the case. Rhythm implies a movement from one equilibrium to another, where constant antagonistic forces predominate alternately in an ascending and descending scale of intensity. It would be easy to multiply illustrations of this tendency to rhythm. Planck has shown in connection with minute radioactive energies that all energy comes in quanta or rhythmic pulses. We are all familiar with the rhythm of the tides and some of the large cosmic movements. In the organic world we can see it illustrated in the development series of complex organisms. In the growth period
(718) anabolic changes predominate over katabolic; at maturity the two tendencies balance; and in senility the katabolic changes in turn predominate-the cycle being ever repeated in the continuous stream of life, so long as life lasts. But we are here concerned primarily with social-rhythm. There are certain periodicities, of group life as well as of organic life. At one time individualism is dominant, at another time centralization; at one time radicalism, at another conservatism. The movement of society is ever from a disturbed equilibrium to a new equilibrium. Now society breaks up the crust of mores to meet new emergencies, and again it settles back to organized ways. Some rhythms may indeed be temporary. The rhythm of inflation and panics in business may be due to a poorly articulated industrial system; but some rhythms seem to be fundamental in the life-process itself. Periods of plasticity are followed by periods of stability and degenerating structure. Like biological organisms, societies have their youth and old age. But unlike an individual biological organism, a society may be old and yet grow young again, if it has sufficient vitality to reconstruct old customs to meet new situations. While it is true that society is made up of individuals, and therefore dependent upon the plasticity of biological organisms, yet a society is not limited to one biological generation. In a society biological generations overlap, the old with the young; and while one generation may grow too stereotyped to adopt new ideals, a new generation can do so. The biological correlate of society is not the individual organism but the species. Unlike mechanical rhythms, social rhythms are cumulative and not a mere repetition. The recurrence of social rhythms is spiral in its cumulative significance rather than a repetition on the same plane, as in the case of mechanical rhythm.
In social systems as well as in physical, there is a law of degradation of energy, though it would be meaningless to transfer the physical law to the social facts. In the social realm there is the constant tendency for purposeful conduct to be simplified into habit or custom. Social structures tend to solidify and become stereotyped, and thus reach a dead level. This does not mean, however, a running down to the lowest level of primitive beginnings. The degradation is relative, not absolute. New plateaus of mores
(719) are established which may mark a far advance over previous levels. Even the worst customs of our own civilization are superior to those of the man-eaters, to use Plato's illustration. Moreover, the energy caked as custom is still available for further reconstruction. It has merely passed from the active to the potential stage.
As a special form of this law of degradation, we may note the tendency in human integration to substitute impersonal relations for personal relations. The more extensive the organization, the greater the tendency for indirect machinery to take the place of face-to-face interstimulation, with a corresponding deadening effect upon personal development. This can be illustrated in the political realm by the ever-increasing tendency to centralization of control in the larger, more inclusive group, and the corresponding effacing of the smaller, more personal groups. With this centralization grows the sense of power, with its vaulting ambition, and the tendency to use the individual and the smaller group as instruments merely. The larger the group, the more it is likely to be cursed with this impersonalism, unless it can find a place for the smaller unity within the organization. The fact that of late the small nations of Europe have contributed to civilization far out of proportion to their size is due no doubt to the fact that, in the nature of things, the personal element has there been less submerged in the impersonal machinery with its impersonal ideals. We have the same problems in the economic field, with corresponding danger. In fact, it is present in all forms of social integration. The critical task of the day is to make the impersonal organization the instrument of the needs of a personal humanity, instead of its master and undoer, as it threatens to be.
There is a law of relativity in the social world, as in the physical. Our standards of value are conditioned by the age in which we live and the group in which we are educated. We can no more grasp an absolute direction in history than we can in space. Our new insights ate conditioned by standards already established. We measure our advance with reference to these, as we measure our time with reference to the stars. That which meets the requirements within our small sphere of relations, and which is not contradicted by other beliefs, seems absolute to us. While we bring
(720) certain formal demands to bear upon experience, these, after all, are limited by the content of experience. Our world may be consistent and harmonious, yet narrow and prejudiced. Our ideals themselves vary in meaning with the ongoing of human experience. Progress, therefore, must be regarded as an article of faith rather than as a scientific induction.
The law of parsimony would seem to hold in social relations as well as in physical, even though not in the game mechanical sense. Ward speaks of this law as being "the highest generalization thus far obtained in psychic and social phenomena," and as having a '.'quality of exactness the most clearly apparent of all psychic and social laws." It is stated by Ward as " the law of greatest gain -for the least effort," which he regards as equivalent to "greatest pleasure for least pain." Tarde calls it "the law of least effort" and Giddings "the law of least resistance." But they agree in holding it to be an exact mechanical law, implying -complete determinism in human volition.
The whole treatment of the law of parsimony in the past is shot through with ambiguities. In the first place we cannot admit that "least effort" is equivalent to "least pain." When we deal with the problem of social aim, we shall see that a theory which holds that pleasure is the aim of conduct is based on an antiquated psychology. Here it suffices to point out that the amount of expenditure of energy bears no relation to pleasure or pain. The maximum expenditure may be pleasant and the minimum may be disagreeable in accordance with whether the expenditure is in line with, or contrary to, the dominant conative tendency. If we limit ourselves in this discussion to terms of effort, we must be prepared to face further ambiguities. We must contrast the spectator's, point of view with the agent's point of view, on the one hand, and the point of view of the moment of activity with the process as a whole, on the other hand. It is not true that the agent necessarily selects what would seem the least effort from the spectator's point of view. Risk and hardship seem to appeal to some human beings at any rate. In volunteering for the present war, the lines of enlistment which promised sure and immediate service at the front were more
(721) popular than the safer and easier forms of service. It cannot be said, at any rate, that we always prefer the things requiring least effort in the objective sense of the least work. If it is an economic law that value depends upon scarcity, we may say that we strive for things in proportion as they are difficult to get. Healthy life, at any rate, enjoys activity and finds idleness irksome. If we say that social activity follows the line of least resistance, we must make clear, further, whether we mean what seems least resistance, or what is actually, in the long run, the least resistance. This question would hardly occur in the realm of mechanics. It is a matter of common experience that an individual or group sometimes follows what seems for the moment the line of least resistance, as in yielding to a temporary passion, but which turns out in the long run to be the line of the greatest resistance. We must remember, further, that human beings are moved by remote considerations as well as immediate, by ideals as well as impulses. Acting along the line of ideal considerations often seems for the time being like acting along the line of greatest resistance, though there can be no doubt that, in the long run, life moves more easily in that direction. McDougall has suggested that in those cases when we seem to act along the line of greatest resistance we are, in fact, drawing upon an organized sentiment. He emphasizes the self-regarding sentiment, though it might, of course, be any other forward-looking sentiment with its remote considerations. It is not possible, however, to lay the controversy of free will and determinism in the realm of group action, any more than in the realm of personal action. In each case the problem resolves itself, as William James has shown, into the question: Can we attend more or less than we actually do at any one time?  If we, individually or collectively, could attend the least fraction more, further considerations and sentiments might be brought into play, and the outcome might be different. Scientifically, at any rate, the problem seems insoluble from the subjective point of view; and we might add that for sociological purposes the subjective approach is futile. We may suggest, too, that the seeming determinism of our
(722) statistical averages may, be due to our taking the facts in the aggregate, not to the determinism of the individual facts.
In order to give any intelligent sociological meaning to the law of parsimony, we must abandon the subjective standpoint, whether of effort or pleasure-pain, and interpret it in terms of the dynamic life of society. This approach has been well stated by Kidd:
In the evolutionary view, the development of human society is regarded as the product of a process of stress, in which progress results from natural selection along the line, not of least effort in realizing human desire, but of the highest social efficiency in the struggle for existence of the materials of which society is composed.
And, we must add, of the societies themselves. Now in this social -struggle there is a tendency to economy. In terms of inertia, it means that we try to get along with the least disturbance of established mores. In terms of positive reconstruction, it means that wherever there. is effective competition the simplest or most economic methods will prevail in the long run. In the case of science, this means that the simplest hypothesis which will meet the facts prevails over more cumbersome hypotheses which might also be made to meet the facts. The Copernican theory prevails over the Ptolemaic. The same is true of inventions in other realms. In industrial competition, the machine which saves energy in running and operation drives out the less economic competitors. In economic and political organization, the simpler type prevails over the more complex, because of its greater efficiency in meeting the needs involved. So in the moral field. The inventions of the great prophets make life proceed more simply and harmoniously. They indicate the lines of. social survival. It must be remembered, however, in all these cases, that simplicity is a relative term. The simplest hypotheses which will meet the needs of modem science seem enormously complex as compared to the hypotheses of the early Greek scientists. The simplest organization that will answer the needs of modem business is complex in comparison to primitive barter. Economy in social evolution means the simplest methods which will meet adequately the social requirements. It is noteworthy that the great inventions, whether economic or moral, have
(723) not seemed, at the time, the lines of least resistance, since they have antagonized established mores. Society likes its customary ways best. It is hard to break old habits. It has, therefore, violently opposed the new and superior ways. But these have proved themselves by the objective tests of competition and survival.
In the social world, as in the physical, there is no action without reciprocal reaction. The agent is modified in the process of interstimulation, as well as the patient. Which is modified the more will depend upon the inertia offered by each. In the relation of parent and child, both are normally transformed in the process of adjustment. But since the child is relatively unorganized, its transformation is the more conspicuous, though the more subtle transformation of the parent is by no means to be neglected. What is true in the interaction of individuals holds in the interaction of groups, whether the interaction be that of superior and inferior, of friendly companionship, or of hostile conquest. The reciprocal effects on the interacting groups will be in proportion to the relative advancement in civilization of each group, and inversely as the inertia of established custom. Rome was more advanced than the Greek peoples in military organization and readily enforced its political will over the Greeks, but succumbed in turn to their superior culture. In each case the opposing mores had been seriously undermined by previously operating causes. Each group, therefore, offered little inertia to the superior mores of the other group.
While the law of action and reaction thus applies in a large way in the social domain, we must not transfer Newton's law of mechanics bodily to the social facts. It would be rash to say that reaction always equals action and is in the opposite direction. The compensatory reaction may not take place at all. The loved or hated or admired individual or group may be entirely unconscious of the other party's emotion, and hence not affected by it. Where the reaction takes place, it may not be the same in kind. Sexual love may give rise to aversion, the attempt at dominating superiority may give rise to contempt, anger may stimulate the sense of the ridiculous instead of the corresponding emotion. The compensatory reaction need not take place at the time, or only partly so. In the case of parental affection, the reciprocal filial reaction is usually weaker than the parental emotion. The deeper
(724) compensatory reaction is projected to the next generation, when the offspring in turn becomes parent. Where the parental affection is not thus stimulated, the compensation does not take place, or is transformed into the more general affection for the species, as in philanthropy or public. spirit. Other emotions may be similarly projected to those having no immediate part in their stimulation. Thus anger may produce a fretful mood affecting those who are entirely innocent in the -production of the original emotion. The reaction, in such a case, may be out of all proportion to the original action. The problem of reaction is, therefore, very much complicated in the case of psycho-social relations. The psycho-social situation, moreover, is a unique result not analyzable into a mechanical, arithmetic resultant of forces, resembling in this respect chemical compounds. it must be borne in mind, further, that in social reactions the ingredients of the situation are permanently altered through the reaction, and thus project the effects indefinitely beyond the unique situation into all future situations into which they enter., This has no parallel in physical situations, as mechanical science conceives them. In the case of social reactions, as in certain chemical reactions, the reaction may be out of all proportion to the action, the latter serving merely as a releasing stimulus to the unstable equilibrium of the other system with its enormous pent-up energy. Witness the conflagration in Europe. In any case of interaction, it holds that we must understand the composition, organization, and equilibrium of the interacting systems.
We may consider the problem of communication as a special aspect of the problem of interaction. There is a tendency on the part of social activities to spread their energy to the neighboring social environment. This law of spreading has been stated in various terms. Tarde uses the term "imitation" to cover all of social communication. McDougall suggests that the term "suggestion" be used for the spontaneous communication of ideas, "sympathy" for the communication of emotions, and "imitation" for the spreading 'of action. At any rate, greater clearness of terminology is to be desired, and the current vague use of the word "imitation" should be discouraged. One of the few attempts at
(725) exact mathematical statement of a sociological law is Tarde's law of imitation: "In the absence of interferences, imitation spreads in geometrical progression." This formula, as Tarde admits, could only hold for abstract conditions. It assumes the absence of interference, which is another way of saying that it assumes an abstract imitative man, whatever that may mean. It also assumes that the group concerned is an infinite quantity, since otherwise the imitation would of course stop. (For certain purposes humanity may be regarded as an infinite quantity in time, in the case of life insurance, for example, though not as regards contemporary units.) But sociology has the right, as other sciences have, to assume' abstract conditions, if explanation is facilitated by so doing. Such procedure is illustrated in Newton's first law of motion and Gibbs's Phase Rule. As such an abstraction, Tarde's law no doubt has its value. In fact, however, man is not merely imitative. There are indeed cases where the communication is practically mechanical, as in the learning by rote of nonsense syllables, and in the unconscious adoption of habits, but in the degree in which these are passive imitations they are meaningless. There can be no real spreading of experience without assimilation. This involves the reconstruction of the stimulus in terms of the mental constitution of the individual and of the tradition of which he is a part. Communication implies interpretation. The mind is not mere passive wax to receive impressions. It makes a selective response to the stimulus. There is no impression without expression, no repetition without variation. This Tarde himself recognized by adding a second law: "Imitations are refracted by their media." 'But he was hampered by his physical analogies; and his statement fails to make clear the dialectic of the learning process.
Giddings' well-known attempt to explain the spreading of psychic activities, and for that matter to account for society itself on the basis of like-mindedness or " consciousness of kind," seems to be, in part at least, a circle. Like-mindedness or similarity of interest must itself be the result of the socializing process; and while, once existing, it facilitates and intensifies social unity, it
(726) cannot be said to be a primary cause of the arising of such unity. gradual unification of mankind, from relatively heterogeneous groups, does in a measure tend toward like-mindedness, but this is evidently the effect rather than the cause of the process. That each generation is to a large extent like-minded in tradition and interests with its predecessors is due to education. Children do not imitate their parents because of like-mindedness, but because of the social pressure brought to bear in the way of sanctions; because of prestige; and eventually, to a certain extent at least, because of the recognized merits of the ways already established. The same relation exists in the main between different social groups. There is, indeed, a fundamental likeness as regards the principal instinctive dispositions, but this is not like-mindedness. A thousand English children transported to Germany and -a thousand German children brought up in English environment would each be like-minded with the group in which they are brought up, and would be loyal to its tradition. It is, of course, true that likemindedness is both cause and effect. Some unities presuppose a considerable degree of like-mindedness. This is the case with such intimate relations as friendship. Where marriage is based on sentimental preference, likeness, both physical and mental, is more striking than difference. But, in general, differentiation of, interests is as characteristic of social development as likeness. Both are aspects of the process of adaptation of "internal relations to external relations "-the reconstruction of the latter in terms of the former, and vice versa. In the words of Davis:
Society is neither similarity nor difference, but is a co-adaptation of members partly similar, partly different. Historical progress is primarily to be interpreted as an increasing co-adaptation, accompanied by increases of difference. as well as similarity. 
The spreading of ideas or activities does tend to be inhibited by antagonistic mores, but the mere absence of antagonistic beliefs may be sufficient for ideas, to -spread. Witness the wide uniformity in primitive societies, as well as the credulity of children. 
Variation is as characteristic of the social stimulus-response relation as similarity. When the variation is significant in the reconstruction of the situation for further response, we call it invention. Two factors must be taken into account in inventiveness-the individual constitution with its tendencies, and the social matrix of experience of which the agent is a part. The former accounts for the uniqueness of the., response, the latter for its content. It makes the difference largely between the results of an Archimedes and a Newton. It is the creative reaction of such geniuses that makes new eras in human development. The scattered issues and fragments of life must lie in solution and germinate in a great mind for new and comprehensive syntheses of experience to be possible. Mechanical imitation and creative invention are limiting cases of the stimulus-response relation, where the constitution of the reagent must be taken into account as well as the character of the stimulus, and where both are abstractions from a unique situation.
A fundamental tendency, wherever psychic activities are involved, is that of selective emphasis. Some type of interest holds the center of control for the time being, subordinating other interests to itself, or crowding them out. It may dominate during long periods of the life of a people; it may be temporary. Giddings suggests that there is always a conscious hierarchy of interests where power ranks at the head, and utility, integrity, and self-realization follow in the order indicated." This he calls the "law of rational choices." But, in the first place, the process of selection is largely unreflective and automatic. Few individuals or groups,
(728) any, are fully conscious of their dominating values. The larger part of our selection is apt to be determined by sentiments which are largely in the background of our consciousness. On this level of non-reflective selection, our choices are controlled by the more or less unconscious scale of values that dominates the group and perhaps the age. If we adopt ideas which depart from the usual régime, we are determined by the prestige, or the way in which the ideas are communicated, rather than by the merit of the ideas. Competition, whether individual or group struggle, will tend to weed out those ways of living which are injurious or ineffective. This may be done by eliminating the group itself. It may, however, be accomplished by forcing reflection upon the inadequate ways of living, and thus result in the invention or adoption of more adequate ways. While group life may rise to the reflective level and exercise rational choice, and it does so under the stress of new problems, yet for the most part the collective mind tends to drop bark to the automatic level, only to be aroused as a sleeping giant, by the necessity of finding a more comfortable position.
As regards, again, the selected content, we may well doubt that the group has such a definite and constant scale of interests as that indicated by Giddings. The emphasis is likely to vary from time to time. On the whole, however, it would seem that the interests which have to do with self-maintenance must ordinarily come first. The economic interest of procuring means of food and shelter, of maintaining a standard of living, and if possible improving that standard, has always been more or less present and dominant. Most, if not all, of the wars of agression have been economic in their final basis. The interest in the continuity of the race must also necessarily be prominent. The numerous regulations of sex relations and of the family, in primitive life, show that this interest was early recognized; and there are those today who would trace all our social activity back to the sex instinct. At any rate, the two interests of self-maintenance and race-maintenance must always have a conspicuous place. Other interests are emphasized in turn, and may overshadow, for the time being, the economic and race interests. In early Christianity the interest in the kingdom of heaven may have overshadowed the interest in this world. But
(729) always there is the tendency to emphasize some one interest, and to subordinate others to it more or less definitely.
An interesting characteristic in connection with emphasis is that of centrism. just as in the field of vision the things that are nearer look larger, and objects seem to diminish with the distance, so in the field of valuation there is a tendency for the individual or group to exaggerate the importance of its own immediate interests and to become correspondingly blind to other contexts of interest. When it is a case of an individual, we speak of this tendency as self-preference or, less euphoniously, as egoism. When it concerns a people, we speak of it as ethnocentrism. Familism, provincialism, patriotism, cosmopolitanism, are terms indicating widening spheres of centrism. Ordinarily the nearer center seems the more real. Its interests seem peculiarly vital. In crises, however, the larger center may claim the dominance, since the existence of the smaller is conditioned upon the larger. The same tendency holds as regards an age or epoch of history. Thus the mediaeval mind, with sublime faith in itself, subordinates all values to its religious emphasis. There is, in any case, a certain self-hypnotization which makes our own immediate context of interest loom peculiarly large and important. This tendency has profoundly influenced both personal and group relations. It is the source of many of the maladjustments of life. At the same time, it seems to be an important element in the efficiency of life. On the whole, by working loyally for the things that are nearest us, in the normal relations of life, we are likely to do most for the remoter ends of life. We are likely thus to promote unconsciously that "projected efficiency" of which Benjamin Kidd made so much. This group centrism is evidently a conservative agency, and militates against the indefinite spreading of ideas and emotions. It thus prevents endless dissipation of energy, though it also furnishes the inertia to progress.
Subjective selection must, in the end, stand the test of objective selection. What determines the significance and permanency of our emphases is not the strength of our individual or even our social preferences, our likes and dislikes, but the adaptation of the life process of society to its environment. And by the environment
(730) we mean not merely the physical environment, with its demands and limitations, but also the social environment, with its competion individuals and groups, and its ever-growing requirements. It means not merely immediate adjustment, but future adjustment as well. In this survival struggle, social fitness, the capacity for .team work, becomes more important than mere individual strength and cunning. In the words of Kidd:
The social process is primarily evolving in the individual not qualities which contribute to his own efficiency in conflict with his fellows, but the qualities wich [sic] contribute to society's efficiency in the conflict through which it is gradually rising towards a more organic type.
The tendency of evolution, therefore, is to produce a socially minded type. To quote Kidd again:
For it is thus not the human mind which is consciously constructing the social process in evolution; it is the social process which is constructing the human mind in evolution.
Organization is a tool of as great importance to human survival as teeth and claws to certain animals. For the potential efficiency of an organized group "must always be taken to be greater than the sum total of the potential efficiency of all its members acting as individuals." In Kipling's words:
For the strength of the pack is the wolf,
And the strength of the wolf is the pack.
Social adaptation is not merely a passive adjustment to a static environment, be that environment physical nature or the folkways of society, but in part, at least, a creative adaptation, in which the environment and its survival conditions are themselves changed. Science has done a great deal to change the nature environment. Nor is reason helpless in the presence of human mores. With each change of social standards new selective conditions are established. The task of civilization is not merely adjustment to
(731) things as they are, but the making over of the conditions of existence in obedience to the demands of the life impulse. Adaptation within a growing society is, therefore, an infinite process with ever new survival conditions.
While the persistence of mores is determined in the long run by their aptness in meeting the conditions of existence, not all mores, any more than all biological structures, change at the same rate. Those mores which are most vital to the maintenance of the group are the ones most responsive to change. Other mores will tend to change in consistency with these, though social structures, like biological, which are not directly affected by survival selection may persist for an indefinite time, simply because they exist and possess the advantage of inertia.
Variation, selection, and adaptation constitute the dynamic categories of social evolution. They are probably present throughout the cosmic process in its various stages of creative synthesis. The seeming uniformity of nature is probably due to our gross averages. Selective reaction is characteristic of reality throughout, and so is adaptation. The present familiar inorganic compounds, as well as biological structures, are the result of a long process of adaptation, and, with radical changes in cosmic conditions, would fail to survive. But in social adaptation, on the reflective plane, at any rate, adaptation ceases to be merely automatic. Conscious participation, criticism, and experimentation short-circuit in many ways nature's hit-or-miss unconscious methods. Society itself, however, is after all but a part of nature's creative striving, and is subject in the end to the great cosmic process that brought it forth.
The relation of complexity to development has been obscured by a false tradition started by Spencer. Spencer assumes as a postulate " the instability of the homogeneous " and, conversely, the stability of the heterogeneous. It must be noted, however, that Spencer's supposedly homogeneous system is not a closed system, but is exposed to heterogeneity from without: "Any finite homogeneous aggregate must inevitably lose its homogeneity, through the unequal exposure of its parts to incident forces."
(732) The basis of instability, then lies not in the homogeneous but in larger heterogeneous system which includes it. Science, at any rate, seems to have. arrived at the opposite conclusion from that of Spencer. In the words of Professor Henderson: "The number of degrees of freedom increases by the same number as the number of components or different forms of energy which are involved in the system." Stated in other words: The instability of a system increases with the complexity of its composition. In terms of physical systems, the law would read: "Other things being equal, the stability of a system diminishes with increase of the number of its undecomposed constituent molecular species, and of the number of different forms of energy, e.g., heat, pressure, electrical potential, surface tension, which are involved in its activities."  The same law would seem to hold for social development. Stated in sociological terms, the law would read: The degrees of freedom of movement increase with the complexity of social relations. It may be heterogeneity of interests within the group, or the contact of different groups, or both types of heterogeneity. A group with few and uniform interests is bound to become bigoted and stationary. "Magnificent isolation" is likely to produce stagnation, while culture contacts with other groups, particularly more advanced groups, will tend to accelerate development. This will be all the more the case if they are competing groups. War furnishes such competition in a one-sided way, and the present germanization of Europe is a striking illustration. But friendly competition in the arts and industries of life is likely to be
(733) more thoroughgoing and permanent in its influence, as it loosens the inhibition of the mores and conduces to real like-mindedness, while war, with its antagonism, tends to stiffen the ethnocentrism and to inhibit profounder influences. The diversity may also be due to internal problems-individual variations in the way of genius or new problems forced by new conditions of existence.
For continuous and fruitful development, however, it is not enough that there shall be complexity, but that the complexity shall be harmonized with reference to a fundamental and comprehensive ideal. Else there may be mere confusion and dissipation of energy. The law of combination has been well formulated by Giddings for sociological purposes:
A population that has but a few interests which, however, are harmoniously combined, will be conservative in its choices. A population that has varied interests which are as yet inharmoniously combined will be radical in its choices. Only the population that has many, varied, and harmoniously combined interests will be consistently progressive in its choices.
An adequate ideal of social combination must mean the realization of the genius of a people in terms of the conditions with which it must cope. Herbart pointed out, long ago, the importance of complexity for the sanity of personal development. It is equally important for the sanity of the group. For groups, as well as individuals, are subject to obsessions and fixed ideas. And curing a powerful group which has thus run amuck may require all the forces of civilization, with enormous sacrifice to the energies of the race.
As regards the motive or aim of conduct, sociologists, following Spencer, have been inclined to psychological hedonism. It has been held that the motive or aim of conduct is always pleasure or the avoidance of pain. This view has been sufficiently exploded by psychological analysis. We aim to realize tendencies. We do not aim at pleasure, but at goods-satisfactory activities. In this sense of good the law of motive may be expressed in the mediaeval phrase, sub specie boni. If we cannot say that we aim at pleasure, neither can we say that we aim at the maximum of pleasure, or the
(734) greatest happiness of the.. greatest number. The difficulty with many sociologists is that they have confused the descriptive inquiry into what actually is the 1 aim that moves human beings with the ethical question, or what ought to be the aim of human beings. The goods aimed at may be one-sided and selfish, whether in the case of the group or the individual. It is true, however, that an aim can only persist in the long run, whether it be that of a group or an individual, when it conduces to the larger human good. Our aims, whether individual or group aims, are subject to survival selection m the organic development of the race. We may say with Kidd:
All the tendencies of development--political, economic, ethical, and psychological--and the contents of the human mind itself, have therefore to be regarded as having ultimate relations to the governing principles of the process as a whole.
What these "governing principles" are our little fragment of history can only dimly foreshadow at best. But we may entertain the faith that just as the child has the best preparation for being the right sort of man, impossible though it is for it to know what a man's life is, when it lives the most normal life of a child, so we, in proportion as we succeed in living normally and sanely now, shall best prepare the way for the higher destiny of the future.
The foregoing is a meager sketch of some of the tendencies which seem to obtain in social processes. By statistical methods we may sometimes give such tendencies a quantitative formulation. But as compared with the laws of mechanical science they must indeed seem vague, and we are indeed rightly suspicious of too exact formulas in the social sciences. Sociology, however, does not differ in this respect from other sciences which deal with complex material. The difficulty of formulating social laws is no excuse for not trying to do so, since understanding social facts must be a matter of supreme concern *to social beings. In the measure that we understand the laws of social facts we can also hope to control them. For the purpose of the study of social laws is not that we shall fie down under them in fatalistic supineness and say that what is must be; but rather that, through our knowledge of the tendencies of society, we may be able to control human development and make it significant by weaving it into comprehensive ideals.