The Function of Socialization in Social Evolution

Chapter 13: The Affective Aspect of Socialization

Ernest W. Burgess

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Socialization, in its affective aspect, or personal participation in the attitude, feeling, and sentiment of the group is necessary both for personal development and for social progress. The hold of sentiment upon human action and its "almost irresistible" power have been recognized, both by those who approve and by those who condemn its rôle in progress. "Sentiment," says Cooley, "is the chief motive-power of life, and as a rule lies deeper in our minds and is less subject to essential change than thought, from which, however, it is not to be too sharply separated."[1] Ward states the universal aspect of the rôle of the affective nature of man. "Throughout all time past, the mass of mankind has been carried along by the power of sentiment."[2]

At the present time, however, there is a tendency among a certain group of sociologists to minimize the rôle of feeling in social life. Bernard has contributed an incisive but extreme statement of this point of view. He asserts "(1) that feeling is a purely individualistic and subjectivistic criterion of evaluation, (2) that feeling can be a cause of activity only when mental states or processes rather than objective social results are made the ends of attention and effort, (3) that pleasurable feeling can become attached to any activity regard-less of the social or even individual value of that activity, and hence (4) that the sanction or evaluation of feeling upon conduct is worthless as a criterion of the individual or social utility of that conduct."[3] Let us consider these points in detail.

1. The statement that "feeling is a purely individualistic and subjectivistic criterion of valuation" apparently fails to differentiate between the meaning of "individualistic" and "subjectivistic." Feeling is undoubtedly a subjective experience, and so is thought, but is it therefore necessarily individualistic? The feelings that accompany our social instincts certainly have a distinct social reference

( 204) and a positive socializing influence. Then, too, the development of our affective experience, like our intellectual life, takes place in the group situation and becomes thoroughly saturated with social meaning. Family pride, patriotism, loyalty, are sentiments, or highly evolved feeling complexes, which have obvious social significance. Ellwood, it is true, states that feeling "is the true subjective or individualistic element in the mental life." But he recognizes the one-sided nature of this statement when he adds that though feeling is "through and through an individual matter," its tendencies "must necessarily be individualistic except as it tends to conform to racially uniform tendencies or instincts on the one hand, or to social control on the other."[4] In this exception (the italics are mine) Ellwood points out the social nature of the origin, development, and function of feeling.

2. Bernard's analysis of the neural basis of feeling is a valuable contribution to social theory, even though he fails to realize all its implications. His modified statement of the Meyer theory of the neural correlate of pleasantness and unpleasantness[5] gives sociologists a scientific interpretation of the exact process of feeling. "Feeling . . . is the result of the correlation, i. e., the supplementation or interference of nervous processes in such a way as to increase or to diminish the neural activity along a certain or given pathway. Where a nervous process or set is augmented, pleasantness is experienced, and where a nervous process or set is weakened or diminished, there is unpleasantness."[6] It is just in this reinforcing and inhibiting activity that the function of feeling consists. As Ellwood says, "Feeling does, however, modify activity. If the feeling tone aroused by an activity is pleasurable, the activity is rein-forced, but if it is disagreeable or painful, the activity tends to be inhibited."[7]

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3.  While Bernard is right in pointing out the relativity of feeling, he errs in not recognizing that feeling has not an absolute but only a limited range of relativity. Certainly the instances cited to indicate the pathology of pleasantness and unpleasantness as in sex abnormalities[8] and excessive use of drugs are evidence against rather than for the theory of the absolute relativity of feeling. The modifiability of feeling as well as of the instinctive tendencies through experience suggests the possible rôle of socialization through social influences in the process. 

4.  Bernard's conclusion that because of this evidence the criterion of feeling as a guide for conduct is "worthless" is open to question. Feeling, because of its reinforcing and inhibiting activity in relation to the act, does represent the immediate attitude of the person. With the normal individual within broad limits this "neural set" stands for what is organically and racially advantageous. Within narrower limits this mental attitude of acceptance and refusal[9] represents habit, the "me-side" of custom, for the "mores" in their affective aspect mean the participation of the person in the emotional attitude of the group, sanctioning or disapproving con-duct from the standpoint of social welfare. 

The hypothesis that the feelings are purely individualistic fails to square with the evidence presented by psychologists in their study of the development of the social self. The person develops in the primary groups of the home, playground, and community,[10] all aspects of his mental life : affective as well as cognitive and volitional. The emotional nature of the child in its growth becomes peculiarly responsive to the social influences of intimate personal group life. As Mead has clearly and concretely indicated, the growth of personality in all aspects is social.[11]

To what extent, then, does feeling give us a guide to conduct? A basis for answering this question may be furnished by a schematic outline of the act. We may use the conventional illustration of the boy and the forbidden candy. Here is the candy as the stimulus and the impulse of the boy to take and eat. We may infer that the

( 206) sensory neural processes connected with the sense-organs directly stimulated appear in consciousness and tend to reinforce the general neural activity and to complete the act. But in this situation a conflicting impulse to draw back manifests itself in consciousness, first as an inhibiting tendency and then as an emotional crisis in which there is a rivalry of the tendency to respond to the stimulus of the candy and the tendency to respond to the mental image of the mother's negative attitude. The emotional tension may resolve itself into either the act of taking the candy or of withdrawal, or may lose its force and pass into a reflective stage in which the mental imagery suggests the functional basis of the maternal prohibition, i. e., the injurious physiological effects of excessive eating of candy. Even this relatively reflective process is likely to be colored by rein-forcing or inhibiting affective tones ; and final action in accordance with the personal judgment of right or socially desirable conduct is accompanied by the feeling of an "inward glow." In this situation, while the feeling tones are not the object of the act, they represent in consciousness the criteria of the act. The rôle of feeling in its function of reinforcing or inhibiting neural activity is therefore of prime significance in the socialization of the person. With this general recognition of the rôle of the affective aspect of socialization, we shall now consider the significance of personal participation in the organized attitudes and sentiments of social groups and in the objective creations of these attitudes, such as art and religion.

The meaning of personal participation in the affective life of the group for the development of personality and the ongoing of progress lies in at least four considerations : (1) Personal participation in the feeling and sentiment of the group plays a dynamic and progressive, as well as a passive and conservative rôle in social evolution. (2) Social evolution depends upon the refinement of feeling and the breadth of sympathy for the maintenance of the achievements of civilization. (3) Personal participation in the values of art and of religion is a significant means of promoting social solidarity as well as an important medium of personal development. (4) Personal participation in the social developments of the aesthetic and ethical values is desirable because of man's greater capacity for enjoyment than for creation.

1. The participation of the person in the organized affective life of the group makes possible its progressive as well as its conservative

( 207) function. A consideration of the function of the affective consciousness in the individual will serve to illustrate its wider scope of activity in the group. The significance of affection in its complex, as well as in its simple forms is, as we have seen, evaluative.[12] Thus pleasure and pain are the sign-posts of the organically beneficial and injurious; they are the " ‘mental attitudes’ of acceptance and refusal."[13] This monitory function of affective consciousness becomes more definite and directional in the emotional psychosis. "The significance of emotion as a fact of consciousness would seem, therefore, to be resident in this monitory function, represented by its compelling announcement of needed adjustments, its report of unstable equilibrium."[14] But even in the individual pleasantness and unpleasantness and emotion are not simply conservative of racial experience : they mediate change of response according to the situation of the organism. When an instinctive or habitual co-ordination breaks down, the fact is reported in consciousness as painful or irritating, and random efforts are made to make the required adaptation. The reconstruction of the co-ordination seems also to be mediated by the affective elements. Thus, in human experience, its most general form shows itself in the building up of hand-and-eye co-ordinations in a game of skill, such as tennis. Out of the random strokes by trial and error, mediated by discomfort at "bad" strokes and pleasure at "good" strokes, is developed the particular co-ordination to meet the particular situation. So also in the social life of the person. Through participation in the attitudes and sympathies of various groups the person adapts his congenital attitudes fitted for organic welfare to meet the complex environment of modem civilization. The transformation of the dynamic but destructive emotions into socially valuable habits is as important a process for social stability and well-being as the organization of instincts into habits. On the other hand, affective attitudes are as significant for social change as for social order. Feelings of uneasiness, dissatisfaction, irritation, even more definite attitudes, as fear and anger, often indicate the crisis, become part of the problem, and necessitate readjustment.

( 208) A highly organized form of conduct sanctioned[15] by sentiment and convictions of its value is found in the "mores." While appreciating the high value of Professor Sumner's analysis of the formation and the function of the "mores" in human life, it is necessary to dissent from him in regard to his conception of the uselessness of conscious effort to modify them. Sumner thus describes the origin and influence of folkways : "The folkways are habits of the individual and customs of the society which arise from efforts to satisfy needs ; they are intertwined with goblinism and demonism and primitive notions of luck, and so they win traditional authority. Then they become regulative for succeeding generations and take on the character of a social force. They arise no one knows whence or bow. They grow as if by the play of internal life energy. They can be modified, but only to a limited extent, by the purposeful efforts of men. In time they lose power, decline, and die, or are transformed. While they are in vigor they very largely control individual and social undertakings, and they produce and nourish ideas of world philosophy and life policy."[16] His conception of the unconscious origin and modification of the "mores" is indicated in the following passage: "The folkways, therefore, are not creations of human purpose and wit. They are like products of natural forces which men unconsciously set in operation, or they are like the instinctive ways of animals, which are developed out of experience, which reach a final form of maximum adaptation to an interest, which are handed down by tradition and admit of no exception or variation, yet change to meet new conditions, still within the same limited methods, and without rational reflection or purpose." [17]

While emotion, sentiment, and "pathos," organized about the approved ways of conduct, act as a conservative force, emotional reaction against an outworn or outgrown idea or practice is the dynamic force which destroys the old folkways and transforms the new folkways into "mores." Most certainly the first step in the process is not rational, but many of the intermediate steps may be so. What blinded Sumner to the actual process involved was that the stages of change in the character of the folkway are often difficult

( 209) to detect and to analyze. Whenever we can trace the process, we shall generally discover the active conscious efforts of individuals mediating the change.

Without the knowledge of the facts of the case, the transition from female infanticide to girl-rearing among Cossacks at Jaik might be ascribed merely to slight variations which soon introduced the new folkway. But a study of the case shows that the change involved, first of all, to be sure, the emotional reaction of one family against the practice, and later the conscious decision of the whole community. "The following account is given of the Cossacks which have settled at Jaik : `Because of the murderous customs of these robbers, or more probably because of a certain superstitious notion, or as some think, because on account of the cries of the children they would not be able to conceal their abode from their foes nor protect it from capture, they made a community-contract with each other, that their children should be slain at birth. They actually practiced this tyranny some years, as all the Cossacks of Jaik still affirm, only with the difference that some think that they slew merely the girls and spared the boys. After a period of this inhuman policy a daughter was born to a man of this tribe by the name of Tit Fedorow. The tears of his wife touched him and he concealed the girl baby for two years in his home. But, finally, some of his comrades discovered it, and he perceived that it could no longer be concealed. Since just at this time a Cossack Assembly was in session, he took his daughter in his arms, carried her into the circle and spoke abruptly. It was true that he knew of the common agreement against the rearing of children, but he could not bathe his hands in his own blood. With this speech he delivered to court-martial not only the innocent child, but also himself, because he had made light of the mutual compact. At first the majority decided that both, the father as well as the child, should die in order that their law and their compact should not be violated and weakened. But, finally, the larger number became touched and moved to pity. Full of sympathy, they cried that both should be spared. Thus, not only was this Cossack, Tit Fedorow, and his little daughter saved from death, but the inhuman contract was entirely repealed and since this time they have reared all their children." [18]

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The growth of anti-slavery sentiment in the North before the Civil War affords many examples of the ways in which mental attitudes arise and grow. It was the emotional reaction of northerners against certain of the exceptional evils of slavery which furnished the dynamic power for the abolition propaganda and made imperative the formulation of purposive programs of reform. The emotional shock experienced by Abraham Lincoln by his experience in the New Orleans slave-market did not dissipate itself in sentimental sympathy, or concentrate itself into a blind, unreasoning hatred of the South, but it chained the attention and awakened the intellect of the future emancipator of the slaves to the demands of humanity for a rational solution of the question. "He saw a slave, a beautiful mulatto girl, sold at auction. She was felt over, pinched, trotted around to show to bidders that said article was sound, etc. Lincoln walked away from the sad, inhuman scene with a sick feeling of unsmotherable hate. He said to John Hanks this : `By God ! if I ever get a chance to hit that institution, I'll hit it hard, John.'" [19]

These two illustrations of the progressive character of personal participation in the change and reconstruction of the mental attitudes of the group indicate the function of the emotions, in particular, and the affective consciousness, in general, in social progress. It is this progressive dynamic activity of the emotions in relation to the solution of social problems that Patten identifies with social religion. While we may not agree with him in. his definition, we cannot dispute the reality of the process which he describes. "Religion begins not with a belief in a God but with an emotional opposition to removable evils. It is a psychic reaction, not an intellectual conviction, and its one essential element is its program for saving social outcasts. Our social instincts are thus evoked in its favor, and its opposite lies in the selfish tendencies that would force to the wall those not fitted for the struggle demanded for survival."[20] Disregarding for present purposes Patten's identification of religion with this emotional state antagonistic to social evils, we find in his statement recognition of

( 211) the rôle played in social change by a person emotionally aroused by the malfunctioning of a social habit. Emotions are evaluative, they carry in them, even in their sublimated forms, vestiges of their significance for life-survival, for success or failure. They furnish the dynamic power which, organized and rationally directed, brings about the solution of the social problem.

2. The dynamic force which conserves the tested and tried and which motivates change resides, as we have seen, in the affective life of man. But the rôle of feeling in social progress is determined not merely by its intensity, but more characteristically by its kind and by its organization about significant objects in the stimuli-response situation. We have already indicated how important a part the intensity of the emotion, which is the exponent of the tension of the rivalry between stimulus and response, plays as the dynamic of social change.

Even more important than the quantitative force of feeling is the nature of its organization around appropriate stimuli in the natural and the social world. The limited range of the relativity of feeling is important for socialization. The definite organization of the affective life of the person with the refinement of emotion which may accompany the process is the unconscious and conscious product of experience and education. The refinement of the feelings and sensibilities means a more and more delicate adjustment of the organism to a growing complexity of stimuli so that injurious responses may be inhibited and desirable responses set free. Two methods may secure the desired delicate emotional adjustment of the person to his social world : (a) control of external stimuli by society so as not only to eliminate stimuli which call out personally and socially injurious responses but also to render attractive stimuli which promote behavior of advantage to the individual and the group; and (b) the control of the situation by the individual so that his organized moral personality reacts as a whole rather than as discrete parts.

a) The social group has always sought to control the stimuli impinging upon its members. Two methods of control have been utilized. One policy of the group has been to modify or eliminate the objective stimuli, as in the substitution of flinch for playing cards, or in the outlawing of the saloon in prohibition states. The

( 212) other policy of the group has been to change the nature of the affective response of the person to certain stimuli in the environment, where the natural or organic response would be at variance with con-duct conceived to be socially desirable. Taboo in primitive society, Puritan "mores," and a gentleman's code of honor all represent the formation of definite affective attitudes involving the establishment of criteria for conduct.

The importance of control of the stimuli by the group is based on two main considerations: first, the limited range of the relativity of feeling, and secondly, the plasticity of response in the child and the youth. Stimuli with an organic or instinctive appeal, such as gambling, narcotics, and sex, tend readily to call out in the individual responses with pleasureable feeling tone, which may become habitual and injurious to the person and to the group. The problem is particularly acute where the child is exposed to these stimuli. Child psychologists have pointed out the suggestibility of children. The studies of Freud and others have made more exact the decisive and permanent influence of early impressions upon the emotional life of the person. Practical social workers and parents are coming to realize the necessity of protecting the child from those stimuli which make a premature and morbid appeal to instinctive tendencies and develop corresponding affective attitudes. In twentieth-century society the problem has become intensified because of the commercialization of recreation and of the stimuli with an organic sanction. The unregulated moving-picture show with its "Robber and Indian" films and its vivid and often attractive portrayal of details of crime, debauchery, and vice, the uncensored ragtime music with its coarse if not vulgar lines, the unsupervised dance hall with its "animal" dances and undesirable associations, prostitution, commercialized and segregated, often under police protection, the unrestricted sale of opium and other drugs, the open saloon, all rep-resent stimuli which make an appeal to the elemental in the impulsive life and organic makeup of all of us. These are all stimuli which the community can more or less efficiently control. Until recent years, however, society in its corporate capacity has been almost indifferent to the devastation of character wrought there from or has cynically levied tribute upon the special interests which were profiting from the exploitation of these stimuli.

( 213) At the present time a consensus of opinion has been arrived at to the effect that childhood in its emotional development must be safe-guarded from the unrestricted play of these stimuli. It is recognized that certain stimuli call out impulses with an intense accompanying emotional excitement which represent responses no longer individually or socially advantageous and without a function in either the racial or the social situation. Instead, an affective attitude is developed which tends to promote and sanction activity opposed to the welfare of the person and the group.

Consequently strong popular movements are now on foot to control these commercialized stimuli. States and cities have established boards of censors for moving-picture films. Public dances are under municipal supervision in practically all our large cities. Scores of our larger cities have abolished the attractive segregated vice district. The waxing prohibition wave is steadily increasing the extent of dry territory where the open saloon is no longer a constant stimulus to the drinking of intoxicating liquors. Society seems determined by the elimination or regulation of these commercialized stimuli to protect childhood and youth. It is highly desirable that this social control be not too coercive and repressive. Its aim, so far as possible, should be to eliminate merely those aspects of the stimuli which are injurious and to substitute therefor stimuli calling out responses which function in the emotional and moral development of the person. Above all, so far as adults are concerned, we must place our chief reliance upon the inner direction of conduct by the person. But this standpoint implies a high degree of socialization of the affective life.

b) As important as social control of stimuli is the personal control made possible by the higher organization and development of the emotional life of the individual. Social evolution, if it be not abortive, depends upon the refinement of feeling and of sympathy in personal development for the maintenance of the achieved stage of civilization. The down-pulling forces in society originate in the unrefined or perverted affective nature of its members. The element that threatens the disintegration of modern civilization is not ignorance, but "bad"and "low"taste. Coarseness, vulgarity, intemperance, sensualism, lust, vice, are the expressions of unrefined or perverted human interests, which, uncontrolled, tend to undermine the achievements of the past. Is twentieth-century science but to

( 214) minister to the crude tastes and coarse desires of barbarians? Higher economic advance should be the basis for the promotion of the higher human values.

Yet modern life, like all times of transition, exhibits a curious admixture of barbarism and civilization. Especially acute in our age is that huge problem of every generation to civilize the child and the youth equipped at birth for a savage rather than a civilized existence. Added to the barbarism of the rising generation is the barbarism of our immigrants. Ragtime and the vaudeville, the prevalence of slang, architectural monstrosities, yellow-journalism, are everyday manifestations of this mental attitude. Snobbishness, posing, conspicuous expenditure, are evidence in the "higher" social circles of arrested development on the affective side of life.

The chief function of socialization in its affective aspect is, there-fore, to transform the emotions representing attitudes corresponding to primitive society and often socially injurious into socially valuable sentiments. Emotion is the subjective side of instinctive impulse; sentiment, the "me-side" of habit. The refinement of emotion is not so much in changing its organic nature, though that does change with experience, as in the fixation of its response in relation to certain stimuli. As the instinctive co-ordination disappears without its adequate stimuli, so the emotion dwindles away. Herein, as we have seen, lies in the group, to a large extent, the supreme control[21] over the higher development of the aesthetic and moral qualities of human nature. The refinement of feeling, thus secured, substitutes personal for social control of response to stimuli. The musician gets no pleasure from the coarser forms of ragtime. Few persons will be found who are equally ardent admirers of Henry James and Harold Bell Wright. Washington Gladden, with his vital social experience, remains cold to the crude emotional appeal of a Billy Sunday. Personal participation in art and religion, therefore, provides a social medium for the refinement of feeling. For art and religion embody in institutional form the achieved objective aesthetic and ethical goods of humanity.

Breadth of sympathy, while achieved in a sentimental way, through art, poetry, and history, finds its effective development in intimate contact with the struggles, victories, and defeats of men

( 215) and women. Sympathy in its organic form may be socially injurious, may be wasted on cats and dogs, if it does not find a functional stimulus. This, then, is the function of social workers to acquire such sympathetic understanding of oppressed classes that they may impart the contagion of their sympathy to those who live apart from destitution. The splendid social service of Jane Addams has been fitly characterized by Graham Taylor as "interpreter."

3. Personal participation in art and religion brings about refinement of feeling and breadth of sympathy. Art, one of the earliest products of socialization, has been an efficient and attractive medium f or the socializing of the individual. Bücher[22] showed the reciprocal relation of rhythm to work. The mimetic dance, the drama, the folk-song, the war-dance, among primitive people exercise a hypnotic effect upon the person, assimilating and organizing the individual feeling of the members of the group into a social emotional unity. While the development of the technical side of art has doubtlessly tended to separate the artist from the group, still, at the present time, art through literature and the drama plays an important part in life.

Tolstoi has analyzed the social psychological meaning of art: "To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling—this is the activity of art. . . . Art is a human activity, consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them." [23] Feeling, then, is not individualistic, as some assert,[24] but distinctly social. "Whereas by words," he continues, "a man transmits his thoughts to another, by means of art he transmits his feelings."[25] This fact that art is fundamentally social, that it is the subtlest form of communication, explains its important influence upon the formation of personal attitudes. Ideas with emotional coloring, "idea-forces," spread rapidly throughout the group. Art, by means of sentiment, gives the highest power of diffusion to thought.

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The relation of art to personal development has two aspects. First, the person finds pleasure and self-expression (Einfühling[26] is the apt term in German) in rhythm, color, word-picture, allusion, rhyme. The old masters in painting, the English classics in literature, classical music, are valuable for personal development, if by real enjoyment of them the individual acquires the sense of artistic appreciation. Then, when the person has achieved standards of aesthetic appreciation, he is enabled to evalue contemporary art, not mechanically by slavish imitation of the old, but by participation in the artistic spirit which lives in all great art. Just as the painter finds himself in a mastery of the technique of the past, so the lover of art joins in the community of feeling of the race and its progressive realization through an appreciation of the beautiful engendered by contact with the highest expressions of feeling in art, in literature, and in music.

Since art is the highest expression of the communion of feeling, it plays a dynamic rôle in social change. Democratic participation in art has made the stage and literature an important medium of inter-mental activity. The dominance of the audience over the playwright and actor, of the public over the author, is so strong that the latter little more than express and intensify the opinions and moral convictions of playgoers and fiction readers. Jane Addams emphasizes the rôle of the stage as a teacher of morality : "There is no doubt that we are at the beginning of a period when the stage is becoming the most successful popular teacher in public morals. . . . The stage is dealing with these moral themes in which the public is most interested. . . . While many young people, and older ones as well, go to the theater if only to see represented and to hear discussed the themes which seem to them so tragically important, there is no doubt that what they hear here, flimsy and poor as it often is, easily becomes their actual moral guide. In moments of moral crisis, they turn to the sayings of the hero who found him-self in a similar plight."[27]

Of equal importance with the stage is the influence of literature upon moral ideas. The sacred books of all religions have drawn upon art to lend attractiveness to the religious sanction of morality.

( 217) The poet and the writer of fiction have created social types that exert a guiding influence upon conduct. It is a commonplace to refer to the effect of Uncle Tom's Cabin in solidifying and intensifying northern antipathy for slavery. Weems's Life of Washington in its mendacious idealization of the father of our country had a part in the molding of a Lincoln.[28] The publication of Eikon Basilike, the ostensible autobiography of Charles I, the martyred king, by reason of its pathos and, sentiment, had an important place in accelerating the reaction from Puritanism.[29]

An examination of contemporary art in fiction and in plays furnishes proof of its function in socialization. Those books and plays dealing with situations of fundamental human interest which enforce the moral qualities approved by intimate group association clearly indicate the inter-mental action of author and public. Those literary productions which endeavor vividly to present social problems and to stimulate thought reveal a more active participation of the author in the socializing process. So important is art as a vehicle of thought that social science and artistic expression might with mutual profit form an alliance to promote by attractive presentation rational public thinking on social problems.

Religion as an aspect of personality and as a factor in progress has been variously appraised and judged. Many of the theories of religion are of the content order. Belief in spirits or in supernatural beings as a criterion of religion makes of it no fundamental constituent of social and personal life, leaves it without root in human nature, a mere passing mental attitude in human experience. Functional definitions of religion are in terms of attitude. Tolstoi defines it from the mystical, passive point of view: "True religion is the establishment by man of such a relation to the Infinite Life around him, as, while connecting his life with this Infinitude and directing his conduct, is also in agreement with his reason and with human knowledge." [30] Small defines religion from the active personal and functional standpoint : "I commit myself physically, mentally, and spiritually, to promote all those things which have the highest human value."[31] Religion, then, is the consciousness of my right relation

( 218) as an individual to the universe, or as a person to the social order. It may in different persons and social groups emphasize either the mystical or the practical mode of expression. I may adapt my attitude to fit the world, or I may endeavor to control the world. I may accept the present order of things as final, or I may throw my energies into the reform of "things as they are."

There exists a tendency to define religion in social terms and to limit its function to social service. The definition of Patten, quoted above, tends in this direction.[32] A recent writer on the psychology of religion takes this same position. Religion is defined as "the consciousness of the highest social values."[33] A definition of religion in purely social terms is defective because the religious attitude has its roots in prehuman tendencies. The biological makeup of the person is more fundamental than his social nature. The person has other interests, other values to achieve than the social. Yet granting this point, the identifying of religious activity with the realizing of social values is of worth as emphasizing relative importance. We live in a world of things and a world of persons. So far as the physical world is concerned, the greater part is unmodifiable by us, and what is changeable is modifiable by collective effort. On the other hand, the social world of which I am a part is changeable. Social inequality, social injustice, social misery, are defects of a social system that can be changed by conscious social action. An article recently appeared in the Hibbert Journal entitled "Is the Universe Friendly?" The scientific point of view is that nature is absolutely indifferent. We may ask the question, Is the social order friendly? So far, at present, as it is impersonal, so far as it has not become socialized, it is unfriendly. But herein lies the great difference: whereas we cannot change the attitude of the universe toward us, we can change the attitude of the social order. The realizing of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is bound up with the achieving of a socialized social order.

What, then, is the function of religion? Religion is centered around those things vital to the person and the group. Crawley points out that "the religion of the civilized man is, no less than that of the savage, concerned most intimately with elemental facts and interests such as life and death. It consecrates birth,

( 219) adolescence, and marriage, it assists the sick, and surrounds the dead with its halo. . . . The religious emotion consecrates such elemental concerns—its objective, in one word, is Life."[34] Modern religion, however, realizes that "the more abundant life" is to be realized by persons, not as individuals, but as members of social groups. Individual salvation has become an aspect of social salvation.

We do not desire to minimize the social function of religion in social development. A foremost exponent of the dynamic effect of the religious attitude in social progress is Kidd. He opposes the theory that social evolution depends upon intellectual progress. His thesis is that the sanction for progress is religious, that is, super-natural or ultra-rational. The chief points in his line of proof are  (a)the influence of the mediaeval church in the Middle Ages and of Protestantism in modern times in developing[35] humanitarianism ;  (b)the contention that the present privileges of once exploited classes have not been wrung by force but conceded[36] by the humanity of the classes in power; and (c) that religion, by securing equality of opportunity makes for social efficiency in the struggle for existence.[37] With allowance for errors of exaggeration due to zeal in the defense of his thesis, Kidd has demonstrated that religion has been a factor in progress. 

The dynamic character of religion is due to its emotional basis. Ward points out what Kidd, for that matter, asserts, that religion is a highly evolved organization of the emotions. " The psychical agencies that have stirred up mankind have been chiefly of a religious nature. Religion is the embodied and organized state of the emotions. It represents the combined forces of human feeling. The immense success with which religious reformers have met has been due to the almost irresistible power of their emotional nature, and never to their intellectual supremacy." [38] The strength of the emotional reaction in religion may attach itself to any stimulus.

( 220)

"Religion is not a department, not a body of distinctive facts or dogmas or practices, but a certain quality of the nervous organism, a psychic tone, temper, or diathesis, which may be applied to any subject, but in fact tends, owing to its character and origin, to con-fine its action to one or two."[39] In society at present religion tends to concentrate upon social service. "In our age the common religious perception of men is the consciousness of the brotherhood of man—we know that the well-being of man lies in union with his fellow-men. True science should indicate the various means of applying this consciousness to life. Art should transform this perception into feeling. The task of art is enormous. Through the influence of real art, aided by science guided by religion, that peaceful co-operation of man which is now obtained by external means—by our law courts, police, charitable institutions, factory inspection, etc.—should be obtained by man's free and joyous activity."[40]

4. Personal participation in social feeling is necessary not only because of the progressive nature of the emotions, and because of the rôle of art and religion in personal development and in facilitating social change, but because the capacity for enjoyment is greater than the capacity for creation. There are those who insist that the person should obtain interest and pleasure out of his work in the joy of workmanship. With the great advance in the utilization of labor-saving machinery such an end is not in sight. The shortening of the hours of labor gives the laborer surplus time. This leisure enables the workman to become a larger consumer. Consumption above the minimum standard of subsistence means fuller participation in the inter-mental process. Progress will be markedly accelerated when our entire population becomes a leisure class, with free opportunity to participate in the goods of life.

This examination, then, of the rôle of the affective element in progress indicates that the participation of the person in the feeling of the group is as necessary for social advance as is his sharing in the collective thinking. While feeling does not direct activity, it evaluates activity, thereby furnishing the cues and impelling to activity. But feeling is deeply rooted in the organic life of man and must become correlated with definite stimuli in order to prove effective in social progress. The process in which this correlation is made lies in participation in social action.


1 Social Organisation, p. 177.

2 Ward, Dynamic Sociology, I, 11.

3 "The Transition to an Objective Standard of Social Control," in the American Journal of Sociology, XVI(1910-11), 212.

4 Op. cit., p. 257.

5"While the correlate of sensation is the nervous current itself, the correlate of pleasantness and unpleasantness is the increase or decrease of the intensity of a previously constant current if the increase or decrease is caused by a force acting at a point other than the point of sensory stimulation."—"The Nervous Correlate of Pleasantness and Unpleasantness," in the Psychological Review, XV (1908), 307.

6Op. cit., p. 187.

7Op. cit., p. 114.

8 Op. cit., p. 334.

9 Cf. Angell, op. cit., p. 320.

10 Cooley, Social Organization, chaps. iii-v.

11 Supra, p. 7, note.

12 See also Hayes, "Social Values," in the American Journal of Sociology, XVIII (1912-13), 470-71.

13 Angell, op. cit., p. 320.

14 Ibid., p. 378.

15 Sumner, Folkways, p. 3.

16 Ibid., Preface, pp. iii-iv.

17 Ibid., p. 4.

18 Stern, op. cit., II, 445-46; quotes as authority Die jaiker Miliz und ihre Verfassung, Büschings Magazin.

19 Letter of William H. Herndon of October 21, 1882, containing the story on the authority of John Hanks. (Arnold, Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1885, p. 31, note). A later biographer gives the substance of this story but states that it has been "hopelessly exaggerated in the telling."(Hapgood, Abraham Lincoln, 1899, p. 25).

20 Social Basis of Religion, 1911, p. 13.

21 Cf. Addams, The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets, 1909; Ross, Social Control.

22 Arbeit und Rhythmus, 4th ed., 1909.

23What Is Art? (Maude's trans., 1898), p. 50.

24Supra, pp. 203 ff.

25 Op. cit., p. 48.

26Lipps, Aesthetik, 1903.

27"The Reaction of Moral Instruction Upon Social Reform" in the Survey, XXII (1909), 19.

28 Arnold, op. cit., pp. 23-24.

29 Green, op. cit., III, 265.

30 What Is Religion? (Tchertkoff's and Fifield's trans., 1902), pp. 7-8.

31 Lecture on "Modernism."

32 Supra, p. 210.

33Ames, Psychology of Religious Experience, 1910, Preface, p. viii.

34 "Origin and Function of Religion," in the Sociological Papers, III (1907), 246.

35 "Social Evolution, 1894, pp. 151ff.

36 Ibid, p. 179.

37 Ibid., pp. 185-86, 227, 327.

38"Dynamic Sociology, I, 11.

39 Crawley, op. cit., p. 245.

40 Tolstoi, What Is Art' p. 210.

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