Review of The Psychic Factors of Civilization by Lester F. Ward; Social Evolution by Benjamin Kidd; Civilization during the Middle Ages by George B. Adams and History of the Philosophy of History by Robert Flint.

An attempt to state the foundations of a sociology definitely based upon psychological methods and data has an interest for psychologists quite independent of its worth

( 201) for students in the social field. This interest is a double one: it is worth while to see what sort of psychological ideas are used to lay the basis of another science, and it is worth while to note the reaction of their social application upon the ideas themselves—to note, that is, how psychological ideas look when handled by one whose chief interest is in their efficiency to explain the development of social life. Accordingly I shall consider Mr. Ward's work on both sides: how in his essay psychology contributes to sociology, and how sociology in his hands supplies valuable data to the psychologist. And if I am led to the conclusion that Mr. Ward gives back considerably more to the psychologist than he succeeds in borrowing from him, the conclusion only adds to the psychologist's interest in the work, however it may square with Mr. Ward's intention.

There are two questions of paramount interest in sociology: one, the question of the nature of the social forces; the other, the question of their control. As it happens, both of these questions are psychical questions. The force which keeps society moving is a psychical one, the "soul," using the term soul not in a theological or even technical philosophical sense, but in its popular meaning—the feelings taken collectively. The power which gives direction to these forces is also psychical—the intellect. Now, on one hand, according to Mr. Ward, these considerations suffice to overthrow the reigning biological method in sociology, as represented by Spencer, in its theory, and still more as to the practical conclusions (laissez-faire) drawn from it. As to this—save to suggest that possibly Mr. Ward takes Spencer somewhat more seriously than a psychologist would take him, and to regret that the somewhat irritating self-consciousness of Spencer's style should occasionally have infected Mr. Ward's way of putting things—we have nothing to do. We are concerned with his subjective psychology, or account of feeling as psychical motor, and his objective psychology, or intellect as psychical director.

Mr. Ward's psychology of feeling and action is a compound (not a happy one, as I shall try to show) of the old-fashioned psychology of sensation, dating from Locke, and Schopenhauer's theory of will. The crudeness of his account

( 202) of sensation and idea may best be gathered from his own words: "When the end of the finger is placed against any material object two results follow. There is produced a sensation depending upon the nature of the object, and there is conveyed to the mind a notion of the nature of the object" (p. 16). If the sensation is indifferent as to pleasure and pain, attention will be fixed upon the notion conveyed, and abstracted from the sensation. In this case perception occurs. What sort of thing the percept of an object will be independent of the qualitative character of the sensation, Mr. Ward does not try to say: he only tells us that "the sensation and the notion are not one and the same, but two distinct things." This complete dualism (he tells us of the "dual" nature of mind, p. 12) lies at the basis of his conception of feeling as psychical and social force, and intellect as directing power.

While indifferent sensations are neglected for the notion which they convey, the intensive sensations meet a different fate. Pleasure and pain are connected with them, and this fact occasions movement: movement which is definite and purposeful[1] —away from object when there is pain, towards it when pleasure. These acts are the simple impulsive movements. But besides this sensori-motor apparatus, there is an ideo-motor apparatus, which gives rise to rational acts. These acts, Mr. Ward asserts (p. 33) , come as clearly as the sensori-motor within the generic definition of being the result of sensations and away from pain and towards pleasure. This may be true; but how it can be true without a complete reconstruction of his original dualism between the "subjective" sensation and the "objective" idea, I fail to see, the "idea" having been defined as wholly without pleasurable or painful quality.

Desire is the next stage of development, and is "the recorded and remembered pain and pleasure." Since the representative states are much more important in our life than presentative sensations, our whole being becomes a theatre of desires seeking satisfaction, but checked in many ways, so that there results a perpetual striving to obtain

( 203) the objects of satisfaction. From this time on the psychology of will completely supersedes that of sensation: the appetites of hunger and thirst, love, ęsthetic and moral cravings, all springs to action, are included under desire, and language is strained to exhibit "all animated nature burning and seething with intensified desires" (pp. 52—53) . We are next told that all desire is a form of pain, while effort aroused by desire is simply to satisfy it, that is, allay the pain. "All the enormous exertions of life are made for the sole purpose of getting rid of the swarm of desires that goad and pursue every living being from birth to death" (p. 55). That a remembered pleasure as well as a remembered pain should be of itself desire, that it should be pain (not simply painful), and that of itself it should know how to terminate itself, and that this termination should be pleasure—all this will probably strike the psychologist as curious enough; but the end is not yet. The satisfaction of desire terminates it, and the subject returns, psychologically, to its previous condition. But this of itself leads to the pessimistic conclusion: the sole spring to action is desire, desire is pain, and the satisfaction of desire is simply the cessation of pain. Yes, replies Mr. Ward, all this would be true if the act of gratifying a desire were absolutely instantaneous (p. 65). But the sensation of gratification is continuous; it takes time; in the higher form of love, indefinite time. "So long as the object is present the pleasure abides" (p. 68). Now I do not intend to question this as a fact; but, again, I do not see how the statement can be true if Mr. Ward's previous psychology be true. All gratification of desire implies the presence of desire; a non-existent desire can hardly be gratified, and all desire is pain. Ergo, as long as there is gratification there is pain—at most a mixed state of pleasure-pain. This is Mr. Ward's only logical conclusion. The object whose permanence gives permanent satisfaction is a visitor from another sphere than that of sheer feeling which forms, with memory, the whole of Mr. Ward's data. The contradiction becomes oppressive when we are further told (p. 74) "that, provided the means of supplying wants can be secured, the greater the number and the higher the rank of such wants, the higher the state of happiness attainable."

While feeling (pleasure) is the result of desire psy-

( 204) -chologically (or for the individual) , function is the result so far as nature is concerned. The satisfaction of the desire to eat builds up the whole system's further structure, and that develops organic function. There is still another result, totally (p. 79) different from either feeling or function. In satisfying desire the individual puts forth action, and this is a condition of building up structure. It is the connecting link between pleasure and function—the consequence of the former, the condition of the latter. The transformations thus wrought constitute material utilities, material civilization. Of these neither the individual nor nature is the beneficiary, but society. Thus there are three distinct ends—function for nature, pleasure for the individual, and action, with its products, for society.

I mention these points for their negative rather than their positive value. All these separations, with the contradictions previously indicated, result logically from the original premises. Let the fundamental thing be conceived as impression resulting from contact with an object, and thought, perception, must be another sort of thing; desire and action can be brought in from passive feeling only by a virtual contradiction, while nature, the individual, and society have independent ends.

For, to begin with the last point, it is simply the insertion of a passive impression between the "object" and the feeling and idea that makes such a break in the respective ends of nature, individual, and society as Mr. Ward introduces. Let once the standpoint of action be taken and there is a continuous process: the sensory ending is a place, not for receiving sensations and starting notions on their road to the mind, but a place (viewed from the standpoint of nature) for transforming the character of motion; the brain represents simply a further development and modification of action, and the final motor discharge (the act proper) the completion of this transformation of action. Whether the discharge is sensori-motor or ideo-motor depends simply upon the intermediate transformation which the original motion undergoes. Now while the psychological description of the process may employ different terms, it cannot involve a different principle. To suppose that feeling starts off action

( 205) attributes a causal power to a bare state of consciousness at which many of the "metaphysicians," before whom Mr. Ward so shudders, would long hesitate. What feeling adds is consciousness of value of action in terms of the individual acting. While this appreciation of value marks a tremendous factor in the development of life, it is altogether too much to suppose that its introduction means the introduction of a new agency: the abdication of "natural" energy (motion) and the substitution for it of a new power-feeling.[2]

Furthermore, there is no reason to make function the "end" of nature: its "end" (like its beginning) is activity, or motion; the structural organization (and the corresponding functioning which goes along with it) being simply the objective manifestation of the transformation of motion. Even from the standpoint of "nature," function (or rather structure, which I take Mr. Ward to mean, since function always is action) is instrumental, not final. Only because Mr. Ward tries to get action out of passive states of feeling (pleasures and pains) does he have to reverse this natural order, and make action the intermediate term between feeling (the individual's end) and function (nature's end). Once adopt the united and continuous standpoint of action, and our three different ends resolve themselves into one—an end which may be termed valuable (felt) functional activity.

It probably is hardly necessary to deal at length with the weakness of Mr. Ward's treatment of original and representative action. The ignoring of impulse, save as representative, or the memory of previous pain and pleasure; the reduction of both ideo-motor and sensori-motor action to response to feelings of pain and pleasure, leaving out of account both the qualitative side of sensation and ideas, and also the connection of sensation (directly) and ideas (indirectly) with impulse; the account of desire as representa-

(206) -tive pleasures, which are suddenly asserted to be a state of pain; the abrupt appearance of permanent objects of satisfaction—all this is its own sufficient commentary.

When, however, we remember that Mr. Ward's original text is the need of relatively less attention to the intellect and more to the motive side of mind, and that his object is to get a basis for social dynamics on the side of its motor powers, we have an instructive object-lesson. All this unsatisfactory and self-contradictory analysis results from the fact that Mr. Ward is so under the spell of an old psychology of sensation that he fails to recognize the radical psychical fact, although just the fact needed to give firm support to his main contentions—I mean impulse, the primary fact, back of which, psychically, we cannot go. Starting with impulsive action, Mr. Ward would have, I think, no difficulty in showing the secondary or mediate position occupied by intellect. In order to secure this, his main purpose, he could well afford to sacrifice both the theory of feelings of pleasure-pain as stimulus to all action, and the old myth of sensation somehow walking from the object over into the mind. He would secure both a consistent psychology and a unification of the ends now attributed to three different existences by a psychology which states the mental life in active terms, those of impulse and its development, instead of in passive terms, mere feelings of pleasure and pain.

It is a pleasure to turn from these somewhat negative results to the other field—the light which Mr. Ward throws upon psychology from the standpoint of sociological evolution. I must omit more than bare reference to Mr. Ward's account of the reaction upon environment resulting from the introduction of specialized psychical phenomena. The points he makes (pp. 84—89) regarding the effects upon vegetable life in the way of the evolution of flowers and fruit, of the appearance of mind (in insect and bird organisms), and concerning the effect upon physical characters, including the brain, of the male animal of the development of sexual appetite in the female, are well worth attention.

But Mr. Ward's main contribution in this direction is in the theory which he propounds regarding the growth of intelligence, and the differentiation of the male and female

( 207) types. It would perhaps hardly be safe to say that there is anything absolutely original in the points urged by Mr. Ward, but I do not know any writer who has made them in so striking and effective a way.

The keyword to the whole evolution of mind is advantage. Gain consists in increased ability to satisfy desire; hence the arousing of direct effort, of that striving which we call brute force. But many desires cannot possibly be satisfied by the primary method of direct effort. When a desire having a certain amount of active vigor at command meets obstacles, the result is that the animal is no longer simply checked; while external motion is arrested internal motility is increased. In this way the animal may continually change its position or point of attack, and thus by an indirect or flank movement finally reach its goal. This advantageous method would be selected and perpetuated until, finally, the power of mental exploration is developed. This incipient power leads up to "intuition," defined as the "power of looking into a complicated set of circumstances, and perceiving t hat movements which are not in obedience to the primary psychic force are those which promise success."

Intelligence is thus indirection—checking the natural, direct action, and taking a circuitous course. This accounts for the touch of moral obliquity attaching to all words naming primitive intellectual traits—shrewdness, cunning, crafty, designing, etc. It also accounts for the large part played by deception in historic social life—military strategy, political diplomacy, and, at present, business shrewdness. It is the legitimate consequence of this stage of mental development. So far as nascent intelligence is directed towards oilier sentient organisms (as it is where the getting of food or avoiding of enemies is concerned), intelligence is egoistic, living at the expense of other organisms. But a further development takes place when it is directed to inanimate objects. Ingenuity is substituted for cunning, and in so far intelligence becomes objective, impersonal, disinterested. When the savage makes a bow and arrow, his ultimate aim, indeed, is still gratification of appetite; but for the time luring his attention must be taken up with a purely objective adjustment—with perception of relations of general utility,

( 208) not of simple personal profit. In this way intelligence gradually, through the mediation of invention, works free from subjection to the demands of personal desire. It sets up its own interest, its own desire, which is comprehension of relations as they are. Scientific discovery and speculative genius are simply farther steps on this same road.

The ordinary biological theory of society does not see beyond the egoistic, exclusive development of intelligence. Its practical conclusions are, therefore, all in the direction of laissez-faire. But a psychological theory must recognize the change in the conditions of evolution wrought by the development of the nonpersonal, objective power of intelligence. True legislation is simply the application in the sphere of social forces of the principle of invention—of objective co-ordination with a view to increase of efficiency, and preventing needless waste and friction. Given a social science and a psychology as far advanced as present physical science, and laissez-faire in society becomes as absurd as would be the refusal to use knowledge of mechanical energy in the direction of steam and electricity. Mr. Ward, however, does not hold that psychology justifies the extreme socialistic conclusion, but rather leaves action a matter of specific conclusion: Let society do as the individual does—do what seems best after detailed study of the relevant facts. This seems good sense, but I doubt if Mr. Ward has duly considered the possibility of this outcome if, as he has previously urged, society has one end, viz., action, and the individual has another, feeling. If this opposition of ends exists, any possible development of intelligence can, it seems to me, only bring the conflict into clearer relief, and bring out definitely the necessity of choosing whichever is considered more important and sacrificing the other. In other words, what is needed is not the substitution of a psychological theory (in terms of individual feeling) for the biological theory (in terms of function), but rather an interpretation of the latter into its psychological equivalents—a theory of consciously organic activity.[3]


At an early period a differentiation into two main types of intuition occurs: male, whose course we have already followed, and female. Male intuition develops with reference to reaching remote ends; it works out means; it is essentially planning or contriving. It develops new schemes, etc. Female intuition develops with reference to the immediate present; it is a question not of getting food at a distance, against obstacles, but of protecting herself and young against present danger. Female intuition develops, therefore, in the line of ability to "size up" the existing situation; it reads signs: it is essentially interpreting, not projective or contriving. This seems to me the nearest approach yet made to putting the psychology of the sexes on something approaching a scientific basis. When Mr. Ward goes on to argue that the male intelligence is radical, the female conservative, I cannot follow him so unreservedly. It seems to me that both the facts and a legitimate deduction from his own theory justify the conclusion that the male intelligence is radical as to ends, but cautious as to immediate methods to be followed—that is, while entertaining new projects easily, is slow in coming to a conclusion as regards their execution. The peculiar abstractness of the male intelligence results from this combination. The female intelligence, while hesitating in the consideration of radically new ends, is decidedly radical in its adoption of means with reference to ends—its tendency is to take the shortest course, irrespective of precedent. The prevalent theory of the essentially conservative. nature of woman's intelligence seems to me a fiction of the male intelligence, maintained in order to keep this inconvenient radicalism of woman in check.

I cannot conclude without adding that Mr. Ward's book is extremely suggestive—as well for what it does not accomplish as for what it does. Its moral (to my mind) is pointing to a step which the book does not itself take. The

( 210) current theory of mind undoubtedly needs reconstruction from the sociological standpoint; it needs to be interpreted as a fact developing with reference to its social utilities. The biological theory of society needs reconstruction from the standpoint of the recognition of the significance of intellect, emotion, and impulse. Mr. Ward seems to me, when all is said and done, to give a compromise and mixture of the two older standpoints, rather than a rereading of either of them.

Three ideas run through and through Mr. Kidd's book, repeated and intertwined without much regard to the logic of formal presentation, and yet so put each time as not to convey the effect of wearisome reiteration. These ideas are: 1. Progress is always effected through competition and struggle. There is infinite narrow variation, some variations tending slightly below, others slightly above, the existing average standard. There is in these variations no essential tendency to progress. Progress comes only through selection of favorable differentiations, and there is no selection save where there is rivalry and struggle. This biological law (with regard to which Dr. Kidd follows Weismannism in its extreme form) holds of human as of animal history. Its scene of operation is simply transferred to the rivalry of nations and of industrial life.

On this point Mr. Ward and Mr. Kidd seem to me to provide necessary correctives of each other. The positive evolutionary significance of conflict seems hardly to be recognized by Mr. Ward; he seems to think that intellectual progress can now cut loose from the conditions under which it originated, namely, preferential advantage in the struggle for existence. To me it appears as sure a psychological as biological principle that men go on thinking only because of practical friction or strain somewhere, that thinking is essentially the solution of tension. But Mr. Ward is strong where Mr. Kidd appears defective: in the recognition of the part which coherent, organized science can play in minimizing the struggle, and in rendering effective that residuum necessary to maintain progress. The elimination of conflict is, I believe, a hopeless and self-contradictory ideal. Not so the directing of the struggle to reduce waste and to secure its maximum contribution. It is not the sheer amount of con-

( 211) -flict, but the conditions under which it occurs that determine its value. Mr. Kidd seems practically to ignore this possibility of increasing control of conflict, and to leave the individual at its mercy; the individual, according to him, is a tool of the conflict in evolving progress, not the conflict a tool of man.

This brings us to the second point. 2. Progress implies the sacrifice of the individual to the race; the individual has to suffer from the conflict in order that the race may enjoy the benefits of progress. This position of itself offers nothing new; the problem has been felt ever since man became conscious of progress. The contentions between Herder and Kant in Germany, between Malthus and the "perfectionists" in England, represent it. But the use to which Mr. Kidd puts the idea is, so far as I know, original, and marks a mind of scope and daring. As man becomes conscious of the extent to which he is sacrificed to a progress in whose benefits he does not share, and as he gains in rational power, he will squarely propound to himself this problem: Why should I continue to suffer simply for the sake of progress? Go to; let us make the best of the present and eliminate struggle and conflict. And from the standpoint of reason this position is logically justified; there is no rational sanction for progress. This is the psychological basis of socialism, for socialism is simply extreme rationalism applied to the existing conditions of life. It proposes to put a stop to the suffering which struggle inflicts on individuals; though this implies a brake on progress.

3. Where then is the sanction for progress, science, or rational method utterly failing to justify it? In feeling subjectively, or religion objectively. The sociological function of religion is to cultivate in the individual passive resignation to or even active co-operation in his sacrifice to the good of future generations. Only in this way can the universality, historical and psychological, of the religious consciousness be explained. The scientific man in his ignoring of, or attack upon, religion fails to notice this sociological, evolutionary meaning, and indirectly plays into the hands of the socialist.

I have given, I think, a fair account of Mr. Kidd's main intentions; what I have not given is his force of statement

( 212) and his wealth of illustrative material. Any detailed criticism upon such radical and far-reaching propositions is out of the question, but I cannot refrain from two suggestions. If the individual is continually sacrificed to the conditions of progress, where is the progress? Mr. Kidd speaks as if sacrifice to progress and sacrifice to welfare of future humanity were the same (see p. 291). But this cannot be; the benefit which will accrue to the future generations must, when their turn comes, be incidental to the sufferings attendant upon conflict as a condition of further progress. The process never amounts to anything, never has any value, unless it has it both now and then, i.e., all the time. Mr. Kidd seems to me to have fallen into the old pit of a continual progress towards something. This indicates my second suggestion. The antithesis which Mr. Kidd makes between what constitutes the happiness of the individual and the conditions of progress appears to be overdrawn and out of perspective. Overlooking the fact that the sense of contributing to progress is an important, and to many an indispensable, rational ingredient of happiness, what ground is there for the assumption that the individual's rational conception of happiness excludes all-suffering arising from struggle? I do not see that the case stands otherwise for the conditions of happiness (individual welfare) than for the conditions of progress (general welfare). A certain intensity and, so to speak, tautness of activity appear requisite to happiness; and rivalry or struggle, for anything we know, is as constantly necessary to keep us strung up to the proper pitch for happiness as it is to afford the conditions which enable preferential selection (progress) to act.

All this is upon the supposition that Mr. Kidd is justified in his extreme Weismannism of premise. If we suppose that consciously acquired activity, and habits formed under the direction of intelligence, are conserved, the case against his point is much strengthened. While struggle and consequent pain are not eliminated, the vibration is so loaded by established habits as to lessen its range. There is even no need to suppose that the conservation of rationalized activity is direct or through the organism; if the environment is so changed as to set up conditions which stimulate and facilitate

( 213) the formation of like habits on the part of each individual, the same end is reached.

I hope it will not seem an injustice to Professor Adams's lucid and substantial piece of work if, after having called attention to its helpfulness to students of intellectual as well as of political development, I use it to point a moral for psychologists. As giving an adequate and coherent account of the general conditions and movement through the Middle Ages, the book is highly valuable to any one who is trying to understand the philosophy of that period. But from a narrower psychological standpoint the value is, in the main, negative. I mean that it indicates the slight extent to which psychology has as yet penetrated into the sciences which lie nearest to it, the historical. Psychology has not as yet made of itself a generally useful tool; it has not impressed the worker in other fields so that he feels the necessity of keeping his eyes open for the psychical development, the growth in consciousness; nor does it give him much help when he does attempt this. To take one point: Professor Adams recognizes clearly the great significance of the Middle Ages in discovering the individual and bringing him to the light of day (pp. 9',92). But this is treated mainly as an objective change—a change in political status. The extent to which this depended upon a changed psychical attitude, and the part played by the implicit and explicit psychological theory of mediaeval thought—all this does not meet recognition. And yet this seems the key to understanding the outer transformation. Now this, of course, is no reflection upon the historian; he cannot be expected to stop historical investigation in order to make for himself adequate psychological instruments; it is, once more, a warning and a stimulus to the psychologist.

It is hardly necessary to do more than to call attention to Professor Flint's noble beginning of a monumental work. The present volume (of 700 pp.), after an Introduction dealing with Greek and Roman speculation upon history, is devoted to the philosophy of history in France, and we are led to anticipate further volumes upon England, Italy, and Germany. I cannot pretend to have the knowledge required to speak critically of this book; indeed, so wide is its range


  1. If this be true in the unqualified way in which Mr. Ward states it, it is difficult to see why the intellect should ever be needed to "direct."
  2. It may avoid misapprehension here if I remark that I am not arguing that the "external" motion is the cause of the "internal" state of consciousness. To treat one as cause of the other is to suppose one independent of the other, and thus to break the continuity. My point is, that if one chooses to take the standpoint of physical science and describe as far as possible the psychical occurrence, this occurrence is one of the transformation and complication of motion. The fact of feeling and of the existence of ideas must be recognized, but they must be treated from the standpoint of the development of action.
  3. Before passing on to the next topic, I wish to remark that Mr. Ward's general theory of the evolution of intelligence seems to me to promise a much more hopeful reconciliation of the a posteriori and the a priori than Spencer's method. The "raining in" of an external environment upon the organism until its main features are reproduced in the organization of the latter offers more difficulties than it solves. From Mr. Ward's standpoint, the development is always controlled by the organism itself—it occurs in the process by which the latter reaches its own end, and in that sense (probably the only tolerable one) is a priori, while the whole process is itself an experimental one.

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