Review of Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development by James Mark Baldwin

 Professor Baldwin's important book [1] may be termed either a sociological psychology or a psychological sociology. Various attempts at social psychology, as a psychology of corporate or community action, thought and sentiment, in their various manifestations, we already have. Mr. Baldwin's purpose is rather to show how social factors and relations enter into and determine the consciousness of the individual, so that any psychological account which ignores the social influences and proceeds to evolve the individual out of him-self, so to speak, is necessarily defective and "abstract." Put positively, and in Mr. Baldwin's own words, "A man is a social outcome rather than a social unit" (p. 87). On the sociological side, Mr. Baldwin's determination to find psychological considerations the important ones is equally marked. As he says: "It seems to me to be a permanent advance that the biological analogy is giving place to a psychological analogy, and that this is leading the writers in so-called `sociology' to examine the psychological processes which lie wrapped up in the activities and responsibilities called social" (p. 475). The conclusion is that, since society is really the organization of thoughts, "the true analogy is not that which likens society to a physiological organism, but rather that which likens it to a psychological organization" (p. 544)

This two-faced aspect of the work reflects itself in the arrangement and treatment of the topics. Book i discusses "the person" in order to find out what social constituents make him up, and how; Book ii discusses "society," to discover the personal elements and processes which form and control it. In detail, the book on Personality considers the

( 403) various dominant stages in its development: its equipment of instinct, intelligence and sentiments, and its sanctions or controlling motives in conduct. And in each case the object is the same—to reveal the persistent and important presence of social data and relationships. On the social side, there is a discussion first of the social forces, showing the directions of growth which are parallel to the moments in the development of the person; secondly, a discussion of the process and matter of social organization and the direction of social progress; and thirdly, a summing up in terms of applications of the conclusions reached to rules of conduct—rules of conduct, by the necessity of the case, looking to a synthesis of individual initiative with social application and reference.

I shall here make no attempt to follow the exact order of this discussion, and for two reasons. In the first place, the variety of particular topics discussed is so great that omission and condensation are a necessity, especially as the importance of many of these topics is such as to tempt one into discursiveness. And, in the second place, there is a certain single movement, termed by Mr. Baldwin "the dialectic of personal growth," which gives the key to the variety of topics. As the book now stands, the reader is more or less confused, and even annoyed, by the multiplicity of references back and forth. The same topic is discussed over and over again, and in many cases it is difficult, if not impossible, to see either that any essentially new point of view has been reached or that any intrinsically new material is introduced. It would add to the intelligibility and the effectiveness of the volume if there were such a redistribution of material as would centralize the variety of treatments we now have—as for example, the five separate discussions of the ethical—about their common principle.

Since, as just indicated, this fundamental principle is found in the theory of the moments and stages of personal growth, I shall begin with a somewhat extended summary of Professor Baldwin's views on this subject. The prevailing popular view isolates the ego from the alter. One's own self is considered as quite a distinct entity, and the selves of other people are of course equally independent. Moreover, each self is something pretty definitely fixed once for all. Just as one person may come into external relation to an-

( 404) -other, so, of course, changes in the outward manifestations of the self are recognized. But the essential self remains after all practically identical—it matures, it gains additional habits, but that is about all. Professor Baldwin questions radically both phases of the popular assumption. The self is not something fixed, it is rather a growth, and any examination of it is futile which is not based upon the salient epochs of this growth. Moreover, the content of the self, as it exists in consciousness, is by no means an isolated, separate matter. The thought of self, whether as referred to the ego or the alter, is to a very considerable extent a common thought. What one attributes to the self, what one wants for the self, he wants equally for his own self and for other selves because of this identity of content. And even when the thought of ego is consciously marked off from the thought of alter, it is not because it has an original independent content of its own; it is rather an attitude assumed in the presence of the other. It is therefore intrinsically conditioned upon consciousness of the other. As Mr. Baldwin puts it in general terms: "My thought of self is in the main, as to its character as a personal self, filled up with my thought of others distributed variously as individuals; and my thought of others as persons is mainly filled up with myself."

I have spoken of two factors in the conception of the self. But it is not to be understood that Mr. Baldwin makes any separation here. On the contrary, the consideration of the stages of the personal growth of the self is at the same time the key to the relationship between ego and alter. There are three stages of the thought of self. The first is projective. Here the child does not discriminate consciously between himself and others. He does apparently distinguish between selves and things. The thing stands for relatively mechanical regularity. The behavior of persons is irregular, unstable; it cannot be anticipated. It brings in continually novel and surprising factors. It thus introduces an element which lies decidedly in advance of present achievement. It is apparently for this reason that it is termed projective, but Mr. Baldwin is by no means as full and explicit on the nature of the projective self as one could wish.

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As the child begins to imitate these novel unmastered features, he makes them his own, he transfers them over into himself. Thus he enters upon the subjective stage. He becomes a subject to himself, distinct from others. While psychologically this only occurs through the introduction of effort into his attempts at imitation, yet, since the material is derived imitatively from others, the content of the subject is clearly nothing peculiar or unique.

Now the child begins to utilize his new thought of self. He does it in two ways. In the first place he sees that others, those who up to this time have been simply projects, are also subjects to themselves. He realizes them, too, as persons like himself. In other words, the ordinary dualism between ego and alter breaks down here, because just as one conceives his ego only through material derived from others, so he appreciates them as others only by transferring or reading out his own accomplishments. In the second place, he insists that others shall be like him. He does not simply intellectually ascribe personality to them, but in and through his acts he insists practically upon this identity of personality content—for, psychologically, action is always the motor functioning of a thought-content. This third stage is the ejective.

If this view is correct, popular conceptions must, as Mr. Baldwin insists, be greatly revised. Not only do we get a common element underlying the distinction of ego and alter, but we cannot understand any exhibition in which ego or alter is clearly differentiated excepting as we inquire after the other term in the relationship. Each, in Mr. Baldwin's language, is a pole; polarization is obviously a phenomenon of reciprocity, of correlation. Just what makes up the content of the child's thought of himself at a given time will depend upon whether he is in the projective, subjective or ejective stage; and which stage he is in is simply a matter of the type of relation assumed towards others. We cannot say that the child is selfish or generous in any fixed sense of those terms —not in the meaning of developed social significance which they possess for adults. If the other person is uncertain, dominating, presenting novel features, the child is thrown into the learning, imitative attitude; he is compliant, docile,

( 406) servile. Such will be the case with his elders in general, and with his father in particular. But others will be ejects to the child. He has mastered their modes of action. There is nothing in them excepting what the child reads in. So he is aggressive, superior, apparently egoistic in dealing with them. The practical attitude, in a word, changes with the change in the thought-content. The child to whom others are projects, who is imitative, may be said psychologically to be subject to suggestion and to be in the attitude of accommodation. The child to whom others are ejects is the person of habit. Accommodation and habit—these are the two typical and alternating modes of personal activity.

We now have the data for the explanation of the ethical self. Neither the docile, imitative, accommodating self, nor yet the aggressive, assertive, habitual self, is the whole or true self. The true self is the self in the whole process of development with the full circuit of social relationships involved—the "Socius" in Mr. Baldwin's terminology. Now if we can find the circumstances under which the child be-comes conscious of the inadequate and partial character of the "habitual" and the "accommodating" self, and be-comes aware of the socius as their bond of union, we shall understand the genesis of the ethical sense. This sense of inadequacy arises through the requirement of obedience, of conformity to the will of others. Where one has to face an ethical problem, it means precisely that one cannot follow either his natural sympathetic accommodating impulses or yet his self-assertive, habitual tendencies. He has the consciousness of an ideal self conforming to a law in which these opposed tendencies are reconciled. Now "whenever he obeys, the boy has forced in upon him a situation which his thoughts of himself are not adequate to interpret." He is not responding to his habitual self because his private preferences may be directly violated. He is not acting out his accommodating self because he may be very unwilling to do what he is doing. There is a new self there, the law-giving personality. It is this which, by representing a common interest, a family propriety, the mass of accepted tradition, brings home to him what the socius means. In one sense it is projective, it is ideal, beyond him, but as it is conformed

(407) to, and its meaning learned, it becomes ejective, it is realized as a common principle which all must observe. Moreover, this law is always the realized self of some one. It is an achieved personality. It is this sense of a person which is real for itself and yet ideal for the agent, but as ideal a law which must be realized through him, which constitutes the essence of conscience.

The ethical self is thus essentially a social self. (The discussion up to this time is a synopsis of Chapter i. What is now said is derived from Chapter 8) . Its social quality is, of course, obvious from both points of view, the subjective and the ejective. On the one hand, the sense of this higher personality arises through the presence of other personalities from whom the demand for obedience proceeds and in whom the model of goodness is embodied. On the other side, the child continually reinforces and guides himself in his obedience by expecting the approval of others; and then, more actively, he insists that the law he obeys become also a law for others. What he has learned to obey he insists that others obey also. There is thus in reality but one application of the "ought"—it is to the common content or "socius" which is assumed to be present both in ego and alter. Because of this continual play back and forth, this give-and-take, there is a solidarity in the ethical realm of the individual and his social fellows. The individual learns his ethical lessons from society. The ethical accomplishment or attainment of one generation is handed on to the next, and thus becomes not only a standard for a particular individual, but also a matter of common and united attainment for all—social heredity. It is in the ethical sphere that we find the highest expression of the real bond between the social whole and the individual.

That the ethical self is essentially a social self appears also in the sphere of emotion and sentiment. Publicity is a controlling factor in this sphere. Self-condemnation is associated with the image of some one else who disapproves. There is no lively emotional reaction as long as the sin is simply private. It is in actual or imagined awareness on the part of others of his own doing that the individual gets the purchase on his act which brings out remorse and repentance —his reaction against it. So, too, the sense of moral approval

( 408) is never at its best excepting when accompanied with the knowledge or belief that it is socially shared. The ethical self is thus social both objectively, that is, as to its content; and subjectively, or as to our own feeling towards conduct. It is so objectively, because, by its very nature, it is a thought which assimilates and combines the partial thoughts of self and eliminates all merely private traces and references. It is so subjectively, because we cannot really judge our own conduct ethically, and get the proper emotional re-action to it, unless we realize that others are passing the same sort of judgment that we pass, or would judge in the same way if they only knew of it. (I put in the two alternatives because Mr. Baldwin does not seem quite certain on this point. Sometimes publicity is found in the fact that others actually know of the act; in other cases the requirement of publicity is fulfilled imaginatively.) On the ejective side, the individual's sense of the generality, the publicity of his ethical ideas and beliefs, makes him a legislator for others. He is always, in so far forth, a reformer or prophet—that is to say, he must insist, that as ethical, his ideas are of necessity valid for every one. Thus, the measure of his own sincerity and depth of conviction will be found in his efforts to secure similar recognition from others.

Mr. Baldwin uses the same dialectic to explain the nature and value of religious sentiments (Chs. 8 and 10). The ethical sense is derived through contact with personalities who impose laws, and in turn it finds embodiment in the concept of the ideal personality. There is the tendency to make the ideal person real, "a separate corporate personality." As all the ideal elements are gradually concreted in this one great ejective personality, the moral ideal takes shape in the God-idea. Corresponding to this on the social side, with reference to the sanctions which act upon the individual, we find a public religious institution with its accompanying content of religious doctrine. If we consider, not the ejective side, but the relation of the subject to the projective aspects of personality, we have an explanation of the sense of something transcendent, something infinite and in-capable of adequate embodiment in any positive form, constituting the other great factor in religious sentiment—a

( 409) feeling of awe and of mystery. The ejective attitude may be summed up in the sense of dependence, finding expression in faith; the projective in the feeling of mystery expressed in reverence for a person. While the religious sentiment thus grows out of the ethical, religion in turn represents such realization of its essential factors as to react upon it and give it a necessary support. It is through this reaction that religious forces become legitimate factors in social progress. Here Mr. Baldwin makes the very important point that religious institutions ought to affect social progress and in course of historical development have actually come to do so indirectly; that is, through inspiring and reinforcing the ethical sanction in the individual rather than directly or through immediate social pressure and enforcement. This point, which may not unfairly be termed a psychological rendering of the notion of the separation of church and state, seems to me of great suggestiveness.

I turn now to some of the points which Mr. Baldwin brings out in discussing the matter from the social side. He points out that it is customary to put physical heredity and social environment in marked antagonism to each other, as when it is asked which is the more important in the development of the individual. The real solution of the question lies in the discovery of the falsity of the antithesis. Physical heredity must itself have some social functioning and social control. It is quite out of the question that it should work in any large sense either contrary to, or independently of, the forces in the social environment which are continually playing on the individual. Physical heredity, in other words, will be effective just in the degree in which it co-operates with the social environment—this, if I understand it, is the idea which Mr. Baldwin expresses in the term "social heredity." More specifically, it finds expression in the statements that the individual must be born to learn and that all the individuals must be born to learn the same things. Physical heredity must, on the negative side, not be of a sort to throw the individual into antagonism beyond a certain point with the interests of the community; positively, it must lend itself, must have an active trend, towards just the sort and variety of relationships which the social tradition imposes. The real

(410) identity of physical heredity and social environment comes out also from the other side, when we call to mind that the social environment can be only the sphere of the exercise of the collective heredities of individuals.

The consideration of invention and of the nature of genius involves points of so much importance that a more extended statement is required. The principle which Mr. Baldwin is most concerned with is that invention, while proceeding through the medium of the thought of the individual, cannot be considered as arbitrary and uncontrolled from the social point of view. Whether we take it at its origin or in its outcome, its nature and value are socially determined and estimated. The novel, which is introduced in invention, always arises from the platform or level of attainment which has been socially constituted through imitation. It is a variation of elements within this content, so as to adapt it to the action required by new conditions, rather than an abrupt introduction from without. Invention is selection, emphasis, and thus readjustment, on the platform of the attained. Psychologically the originality of the child is found in the way he imitates, in the new combinations which he hits upon, and in the new sense of his own powers gained while he is engaged in imitating: it is not a process set over against imitation. In previous terminology, it is a phase of the operation by which the projective becomes subjective. It is thus a social variation rather than an individualistic creation. But we must go further. We have still to reckon with the ejective process. The child not only acts upon his own original conception, but demands that others do so too. He reads his new thought outward; he makes it a factor in his construing of other personalities, in what he demands and expects of them. He endeavors to make his invention socially valid, to get recognition for it. Moreover, this demand reacts upon the novel thought itself to revise and purify it. The child changes his idea of his new invention and of himself in relation to it according as others approve or disapprove, according as he can or cannot utilize it as a means of directing their action. In a word, the child's sense of the value of his invention depends upon the amount and kind of social recognition which it receives. We all use this criterion of availabil-

( 411) -ity for social assimilation as a standard by which to judge of the significance and the validity of our new thoughts, which are tentative and hypothetical excepting as we anticipate their social reception. In this connection Mr. Baldwin gives an interesting discussion of language, play and art as social aids to invention, in originating and testing the new elements.

The application to the discussion of genius may be briefly indicated. The sane man, the average good social member, is the one who instinctively utilizes the social standard of value in measuring his own ideas. The genius is the one who unites with this faculty the power of unusual variation. The crank, the visionary, the fanatic, shares with him this capacity for variation, but lacks essentially the power to view his own thoughts from the standpoint of the social judgment. We may say that many inventions are tested simply by time. The original novelty is more or less of an accident. If it is imitated, adopted, assimilated, it becomes organized into the social traditions; it is given validity through social acceptance. But the genius unites to his power of great variation the power of anticipating the social reaction. He is, so to speak, more social in his judgment than existing society itself. He can take the standpoint of a later, more developed society, and from its standpoint can estimate and select the variations that occur to him. It is through the scientific and esthetic inventions of the genius that social progress is largely determined. Considering great discoveries from this point of view, we find what has already been shown to be true of inventions and the individual is true of them. They are rooted in the knowledge already possessed by society. The content of the discovery, if it far transcends the working level of existing society, is of necessity inert and futile. It represents a centre of crystallization, a nucleus of social habits. But while it is thus a precipitate, a condensation of existing social interests, it is also a locus of social accommodation. Existing institutions must readjust them-selves in order to be adapted to the new factor.

This idea finds further development in Mr. Baldwin's distinction of social forces as particularizing and as generalizing. The individual, qua individual, is the variation, the

( 412) new thought, the invention in social matter. There is no need to say once more that these variations all fall within certain limits of social attainment, nor that they function with reference to a future society. It is perhaps necessary to recognize that the initiative of all progress is found in the individual. Society never changes en masse; it changes first in the new conception born in the mind of some individual. The generalizing social force is correlative. It is assimilation, through imitation, of this idea on the part of others. The thought must cease to be simply the individual's thought and become valid by being made into a social habit. Through this process, elements of too extreme variation from the current level are eliminated, and permanence is secured. While the particularization represents the initiation of social progress, generalization represents its carrying out, its actual realization. Hence it is that society is conceived as the organization of "thoughts, intellectual states, such as imaginations, knowledges and informations."

We have here the key to both the agreements and the conflicts, particularly in the ethical sphere, of the individual and society. Upon the whole there must be agreement. All ethical conduct must have a public social reference; and even when the individual is an ethical reformer he must start from the existing platform of social sentiment. On the other hand, the ethical rules and criteria found in society are simply generalizations of what once was the deeper insight of the individual. But a final conflict is possible. The individual may govern himself by an ethical principle in advance of social attainment and may insist, in opposition to the established order, that others obey it also. Apparently, according to Mr. Baldwin, there is no common standard nor umpire in this final and irreducible antinomy. The individual cannot argue; morality is not a thing of logical sanction, and society must stand with equal blindness to its own rules, and insist upon them against the individual who would change its ethical order. It seems to be a sheer case of arbitrary moral intuition on one side, versus positive established convention on the other. And apparently (apparently, I say, for Professor Baldwin is so brief on this point that there is danger of misunderstanding) the only

(413) appeal is to results; one or the other does ultimately come out ahead.

Fragmentary and schematic as is the above summary, I hope it will not entirely fail of two purposes: first, to suggest some of the main lines of thought, particularly with reference to ethical application, where probably the interest of most lies; and, secondly, to induce the reader to turn to the book for himself. It remains to state certain criticisms which have occurred to me during my study of Mr. Bald-win's book. At the outset, let me say that I am in hearty sympathy with the type of results reached by Mr. Baldwin. His insistence upon the social character of the self, upon the development of individuality through social give-and-take; his conception of the ethical self as the organized or integrated unity which takes up into itself attitude and tendencies otherwise partial; his conception of social influences in giving form and content to conscience—all these points seem to me in line with what is most healthy and most fertile in contemporary thought. From the standpoint of the reader who is interested in results rather than in methods, and who must be helped by Mr. Baldwin's work out of the too prevalent individualism into a more adequate social point of view, there is nothing to express save acquiescence and gratitude. But the student, as distinct from the general reader, is of necessity interested not merely in results, but also in the methods by which they are reached. From this point of view I find certain questions, certain doubts, continually intruding. From limitation of space, I can only state salient points quite dogmatically, and cannot undertake to prove what I have to say. But the dogmatic statement may at least serve to put the reader in possession of a point of view which is a possible alternative.

Upon the social side, with all due sympathy for the re-action from a too exclusively biological conception of society, it may be questioned whether society can be adequately conceived as an "organization of thoughts." If one accepts the evolutionary point of view at all (which, of course, Mr. Baldwin does) , one cannot fail to recognize that "thoughts" are relevant, if not merely relative, to the life process—to functioning activities. Thought comes in to interpret, to

( 414) control, to mediate, to evaluate these activities. So does feeling, of course. (It is difficult to account for Mr. Bald-win's slighting of feeling.) Any view which disregards the transfiguring capacity of the psychical in general, and of thought in particular, in relation to the sphere of vital activities, is certainly inadequate. Society is not merely biological. But it does not follow that we must go to the other extreme, and set thoughts and knowledges up as a substitute for activities. Conscious activities, vital functions which are valued in both feeling and thought, interests, in a word, these seem to me the real "matter" of social organization. "Community of interests" is definitely more fundamental than uniformity of thought. The conception of society as an organization of imaginations and informations is pale, faded and academic, unreal, when we look at that instinctive, uneasy, boiling cauldron of tendencies, desires and ends which comes to the mind's eye when we think of society as a concrete fact.

Nor does Mr. Baldwin's theoretical justification for his position seem adequate. Briefly stated, it is that imitation is the method of "give-and-take" which makes society, and that imitation must be of thought-contents. Desire and belief are motor functions of the ideas to which they attach—hence we must have identity of ideas before we can get identity of belief and desire. If we set feeling and impulse up as material for imitation, we should get only a society where habit, fixity, is all, and in which no accommodation, and hence no progress, is possible. So we find, in the dialectic of personality-growth, all the emphasis thrown upon effecting similar thought-contents.

There seem to me three very doubtful psychological assumptions here. The statement that imitation of impulse and feeling would give only a rigid society is merely an assertion, no proof is offered. "Impulse," at least, would seem to move in just the other direction—to be a break in an established habit.[2]

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Secondly, fixing upon imitation as, par excellence, the social process seems to me either very arbitrary, or else to involve such an extensive and loose use of the term as to take away its significance. I cannot fully discuss this problem here; but the following questions and considerations occur. Can "thought" be imitated at all? Can anything but action, in one form or another, be imitated? Does not Mr. Baldwin very much exaggerate the part played by conscious imitation in the child? I should say that conscious imitation is rare, and relatively late. The little child does not imitate me (I mean in his consciousness, as distinct from an observer's) or even my acts. When the other person is consciously "copy," then precisely the child is engaged in "monkey shines," or is offensively "smart" Mr. Baldwin seems not free from the psychologist's fallacy here. The observer calls a result imitative because he sees both persons concerned; but the process, to the infant, is not imitation. It is a case of the adjustment of a response to a stimulus—that is, his eye-activity stimulates his hand; it directs it in its doing. And if we ask why the response is, as a matter of fact, imitative, the answer is, because we have here a co-ordination which has been of great importance to the race, and which the child is even now trying to build up. In all directions, his hand is following the lead of the eye, is getting its cues from it. There is a period before which the child is inaccessible to a given form of imitative suggestion. There is a later period when he is cold to it. The interval, in which the child is open, must be precisely the period when the child is instinctively urgent in this direction, as sounds are imitated when the babbling impulse is strongest in him. Thus, imitation comes in to mediate the child's natural tendency, not to set him off on a new and "social" track.

Finally, taking imitation as a social phenomenon, I should say that it is, upon the whole, a social effect rather than a social cause. Persons have, through the necessities of common conditions of life, formed certain habits in common, and the structural adaptations for these habits have been "selected," or fixed. That a stimulus, which is a fragment of one of these habits, should serve to set off the other portions of it, is not a matter of surprise. But if this is the case, persons imitate one another because of previous com-

( 416) -mon modes of living, because of a companionship or sociality previously established. It is a mark, a sign of sociality, but not to any considerable extent a cause.

Again, while I agree with all Mr. Baldwin says about an act considered as a motor function of an ideal content, so far as it means that some other activity does not supervene upon the idea from without, he appears to me to go only halfway. The idea, the knowledge content, grows out of, as well as leads up to, action. It represents a meeting place, a nodal point, in two or more habits, giving rise to conflict, temporary inhibition. The idea is all the time developing as an idea. It is not fixed, clear and self-contained from the start. The intellectual side of desire and belief grows in and through actions, instead of being a finished antecedent. The idea is intermediary, in other words. It has a motor function only because it has a motor origin and a motor quality intrinsically and throughout. This involves a modification not only of Mr. Baldwin's theory of desire, of the relation of intelligence to impulse, and to ethical sentiment, but also of the relation of imitation to thought. "Reinstatement" of any previous content, or of a content exhibited by another, ceases to be the main thing; reconstruction, readjustment, becomes the function of knowledge.

Upon the social side, this change of psychology would carry with it many other important changes. It would not be necessary any longer to rule out or ignore the part played in social organization and development by the physical environment. The emphasis being upon interaction and mutuality of interest, any stimulus which operates in this direction is relevant. It would not be necessary to rule out or ignore the part played by competition, struggle and survival of the fittest. The real test of the social work done by the inventor of the telegraph is not the number of people who imitate either his act or his thought, it is the readjustment of actions, and of the exercise of interests that he makes necessary. It is the new stimulus he gives, the new mode of control he introduces. The invention changes the price of daily bread, makes the daily newspaper, compels new methods of doing business—all of which affect me profoundly as a social being, even though I use the telegraph but once

( 417) a year. And in making itself valid in this interplay of forces, there is plenty of room for struggle, for existence and for selection. The psychological is no longer set over against the biological.

The same general line of consideration applies also to the "irreducible" ethical antinomy between the individual and society. If a "thought" arising in the individual is the fundamental matter, and if it simply remains for society to imitate or not to imitate, as it sees fit, the case is certainly hopeless. But if an idea, a thought, arises with reference to the redirection it gives action, then there is already a social criterion for the worth of the idea: its power of social solution and synthesis. On the other side, the social reaction is not left a brute, arbitrary thing. Just in proportion as the idea represents, and provides a method for, more effective and more harmonious activity, in so far it must come to recognition—not by imitation, nor yet necessarily through any uniform intellectual assent, but through the medium of the social reorganization it effects. Doubtless there is tension here. The ideal or insight of the individual can be elaborated and tested only through its application; its function is to afford a method for organizing action and it re-mains to see if it will perform that office. But this is no more an irreducible conflict between the individual and society, than is the precisely analogous reciprocal action that goes on between the scientific hypothesis advanced by some individual thinker and the received body of knowledge at a given time.

In its fundamental aspects, I do not find Professor Baldwin's account of the ethical personality on the individual side more convincing. At first, the scheme seems attractive: an imitative self, in relation to a novel, dominating personality, and accordingly "accommodating," compliant, generous; a personality, in relation to "ejective" personalities, who, having mastered his lessons, is aggressive and self-assertive, because habitual; finally, the ethical self which subjects both of these to a generalized law-giving and law-abiding ideal personality. What I question in this scheme involves substantially the same principle already discussed on the social side: the substitution, as it seems to me, of connection be-

( 418) -tween distinct personalities through the medium of intellectual contents, for distinctions and identifications of interest within a unity of action, a unity of reciprocal adjustments effected by stimuli and responses. The child, I should say, defines himself and others all the time in terms of this larger whole of interaction, in terms of the particular part played by each in maintaining and developing it. It is primarily this whole of "give-and-take" in action, and only derivatively in ideas, which makes the real "socius," and which, as it is gradually brought to consciousness in its organizing, and therefore controlling, relations to its members, appears as the ethical self. I can only briefly suggest the reasons for this change of conception.

In the first place, the identification of the "projective" self, in relation to the imitative, as the irregular, the uncertain, seems to me very doubtful. At first, as Mr. Baldwin recognizes, the "other," the parent or nurse, is the one whose movements bring satisfaction. It is not necessary, I think, to give this any conscious hedonic coloring. The bringing of satisfaction is the fulfilling of the child's wants, providing conditions for the fulfillment of his own active tendencies, organically responding in a word. This union of demand and satisfaction is the infant's first world—there is no distinction of subject ego which needs, and object alter which supplies. But, as the child begins to recognize and to anticipate (generally in the seventh month), he begins also to suffer disappointment and loss. He begins now consciously to mark himself off as the one who demands, who incites, and some one else as the one in whose power his satisfaction or discomfort lies. Then begin to develop all those facts which Mr. Baldwin truly and vividly describes (pp. 123-24 of Mental Development) , of the child's watchfulness, his acute attention to all changes in countenance, gesture, and movement. Not, however, merely as strange intellectual presentations to be made one's own through imitation, but as signs of actions performed or to be performed in relation to the infant's own activities—as completing them, arousing them, directing them. And, of course, the corresponding growth in self-sense is of the activities that call forth those of the parent, or that in turn answer to them. Imitation appears at

( 419) this time because, as already suggested, it is an important case (only a case however) of the general principle of adjustment of stimulus and response. One learns by imitation, because imitation is a mode of acting, of co-ordinating.

As these adjustments are made, habits are formed—rather, the adjustment effected is the habit. The child proceeds to utilize the habit as a power with which he makes new and more complex co-ordinations—arousing new and interesting activities in others, replying in new and valuable ways to what they do. In terms of this development of an inclusive whole of action, he continues to define himself and others—conscious definition being most acute at times of greatest tension, that is, at times when there is the greatest difficulty in maintaining or securing easy and full interplay.

If we turn to the facts, we shall find good reason to question the division into an imitative accommodating self in relation to parents, and an habitual, assertive self, in relation to dolls and smaller children. It would be as near the truth to say that when the child is with his parents he is not imitating; and that when he is imitating them he is not compliant; or, on the other side, that when the child is "habitual," he is not aggressive, and he is with his elders. It is impossible to make any general statements at all based on the supposed presentations or relations of intellectual con-tents. The child is certainly as apt to imitate his elders when he is not with them; in many cases, such imitation would be considered impertinent and at once rebuked. In many, perhaps most, cases the child learns from his parent not by imitating, but rather by responding, by following the lead of some question or direction. He utilizes his habits to carry the suggestion into effect. The child is compliant, not when he does not know what to expect, not when he feels a domineering power over him (except in cases of terrorism, which I am sure is far from what Mr. Baldwin means) ; but when he has some idea of the probabilities of the case, and so of what is expected of him. Moreover, as to the moral implications, the child may be compliant from prudential calculation, or as a mode of deceit, as well as from generosity or sympathy; and certainly rudeness and discourtesy lend themselves as easily to imitation as do their opposites. It is only

( 420) in logical form that imitation is identical with the accommodating attitude. On the other side, what does the "trying on," the experimenting of the "ejective" period mean but just that habits are still forming—the child is learning him-self and others? It is poor pedagogy and poor psychology particularly to associate learning with the receptive, compliant attitude. On the moral side, his "bossing," tyrannizing tendencies are just as much efforts to imitate and his efforts to discover himself, as they are merely to assert fixed habits. But the child is also sympathetic in this attitude. He "loves," pets, protects, and nurses dolls and younger children, as well as manipulates them.

So lacking, indeed, are we in any criterion for personality, sense, and social attitude, on the basis of the attempt to define them in terms of reactions to intellectual contents, that Mr. Baldwin himself frequently shifts his ground. Sometimes, it is the assimilating process which makes one the "subject"; by taking things into one's personality, they become new, different, inventive in quality. This is the particularizing process. Then the "ejective" process is the imitative one. This is no longer the generalizing process, but habit is private. Sometimes it is the development on the "subject" side, which makes the "contrary" boy, the boy of marked individuality, while the ejective process is the one which gives social dependence and distrust of self!

That the ethical self is precisely the self as the whole self seems to me the keynote to ethical psychology. But, here again, two modes of interpretation are oven to us. Are we to find this wholeness primarily on the static or on the dynamic side? That is, is it found first in a thought, which then passes into action; or is the organization of habits and tendencies into a functioning whole the primary thing? Mr. Baldwin seems ambiguous as to the import of this "whole" self. There are traces, to my mind, of two incompatible views. One of these, in line with his professed theory, throws all the emphasis upon the influence of one personality directly upon another, through the medium of the content presented for obedience. The other, and, to me, better theory throws the emphasis upon the social whole, upon the organized unity of interests through action. This theory seems

( 421) to me much the truer; but it involves a wide departure from the doctrine which makes sociality consist in we transfer of a given intellectual content from one person to another. Upon the first alternative, the law-giving personality is all, upon one side; the merely conforming personality receiving into himself, he knows not why, some idea from the other, is all, upon the other side. But what makes the command of the superior personality ethical? Certainly, it is not the mere fact that it is command. And what makes conformity, on the part of the inferior personality, ethical? Certainly not the mere fact that it has the form of obedience. This leads to the second position—the "other" personality is not the source of moral law, but simply the mediator who, through deeper insight and greater power of interpretation and expression, reveals to the child the reality of the situation, the organized action, in which as agent he is implicated. The moral law is the law of this situation, and the moral self is the one which organizes its various powers into unity through functioning them in reference to the situation.

The individualistic conception is emphasized in such sayings as this: "The sense of this my self of conformity to what he [father, brother, friend, God] teaches and would have me do—this is once for all, my conscience" (pp. 50-51, italics mine). It is implied in making obedience of one person to another the chief instrument of moralization—a superstition which seems to me to originate in just that individualistic philosophy against which Mr. Baldwin's book is a valiant and successful protest. When he says: "We appeal to some one else in whom we trust, as having arrived at deeper insight or better information of the conditions of the social life of the neighborhood than we have" (p. 39); while the interpretation is a little ambiguous (depending upon how much we take it merely on trust), the implication is that the conditions of social life are the really controlling ethical considerations, and that the "other" personality has fallen into his proper ethical place—not a law-giver, but a translator, an interpreter. This view comes out more un-ambiguously in the following: "The parents themselves are usually the source of family law over against the rest of the family. But that they are held to the actual socius and to the

( 422) relationships existing between them and the others—is seen in any attempts they make to transcend these relationships" (p.53).The words I have italicized have meaning only on the basis of an organic unity of action and interest, consciousness of which, as an organizing principle for the individual, constitutes conscience. Intellectual content, passing from one personality to another, disappears from the scene—or, at least, retreats to its subservient and tributary position.

I fear that in following these criticisms, the reader may have lost sight of the woods for the trees. But they are made as illustrations of one principle—that society, whether from the side of association (sociology) or of individualization (psychology), is to be interpreted with reference to active interests or organized interactions, not with reference to thoughts, intellectual contents. As I have carried criticism about as far probably as any one will be inclined to carry it, I cannot close without expressing my sincere conviction that Mr. Baldwin has opened a new and important field to psychologist and sociologist; that he has introduced us to this field in most generous fashion, through the profusion of his observations and suggestions; and that he has brought to light problems and considerations which must for a long time profoundly influence discussion. My criticism is to be interpreted as evidence of the sincerity of this conviction.


  1. Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development: A Study in Social Psychology, by James Mark Baldwin. New York: Macmillan Co., 1897.
  2. It is interesting to note that the only passage to which Mr. Baldwin refers in his justification of his statement is a discussion of suggestibility in case of "mob action," where the trait insisted upon, how-ever, is not fixity of habit, but capriciousness, explosiveness, frenzy, volatility!

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