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

James H. Tufts

This volume, begun as a continuation of the Mental Development in the Child and the Race, has assumed, in the working out of the author's plan, a more independent character, and may be considered without extended reference to the former volume. The author has also aimed to make a book on social psychology which should be available for use 'in connection with courses in psychology, ethics and social science.' "This has led to such expansions-some may call them repetitions-of the fundamental ideas of the work as seemed necessary to a fairly complete working out of the social element in connection with each of the greater psychological functions." It is a question whether these expansions or repetitions do not tend to make the author's thought less easy to follow. The further fact that some of the sections have been published separately, while not necessarily an indication that they were not originally thought out as organic parts, may yet account for the difficulty felt in maintaining his orientation which a reader is pretty sure to feel in his first perusal. But the fact that it is doubtless much rather the author's purpose to be stimulating anal suggestive than to lie systematic and final indicates the point of view from which the work should be read.

Considered from this point of view, there can be no question as to the author's success. Whether the reader agrees or disagrees, he is certain to find many new and fruitful problems raised, much acute interpretation of common phenomena in the development of children and (it' society, and molly a new standpoint for the consideration of ethical anal social problems. The treatment of the genesis of a ocisal [sic] and ethical self, of social heredity, of social suppression of the unfit, of social judgment in its relation to art as well as to morals, of selective thinking, of the different stages in development of the emotions, of the successive types of desire, of the matter and process of social organization-to mention merely some of the more prominent topics-will probably not gain the complete assent of most readers to the author's


(314) positions, but it will accomplish a better end in compelling them to rethink their own, and in bringing to their attention factors previously ignored. It may be assumed that the readers of this notice will all read the book itself, and so the purpose of the notice may best be served by a brief statement of its main principles, followed by a consideration of some fundamental positions which seem to need further analysis and development.

Leaving out of account the various more or less related topics introduced for pedagogic completeness, we may state the main problem thus: Man constantly acts with reference to a controlling standard, which while his own, in the sense that it is not external, is yet regarded not at all as private, but as authoritative for others and for himself just because it is so for any self-for self in general. How does such a conception of common reference arise? or, since a 'conception of self' is but another way of describing the same psychological fact, how does such a self arise? What is its content? Through what processes of thought, emotion, sentiment, volition does it evince its activity? What are its relations to those other contents of consciousness which I call my self and thy self, the ego and the alter?

As regards the method by which the 'general self' is built up, the thesis is that it is through a 'give-and-take' (or rather 'take-and-give') process, which forms a sort of 'dialectic of personal growth.' This dialectic has the three phases of a 'projective' stage of contemplation of other partially mysterious being or acts, a 'subjective' stage reached through 'imitation' of such beings or acts, and an 'ejective' stage of return-illumination of such beings or acts in the light of its own subjective experience. "My sense of myself grows by imitation of you, and my sense of yourself grows in terms of myself. Both ego and alter are thus essentially social, each is a socius, and each is an imitative creation" (p. 9) . This means not only that others are understood, interpreted, judged, in terms of my own subjective experience, but also that I think of and judge myself in terms of an experience which includes others, as well as myself, and hence is conceived of no more as mine than as theirs, If it is asked then, how can I desire or strive for others, how sympathize with others, how judge others, and how assume a general standard for my own judgments upon myself (as in ethical judgments, e. g., this is right) ? the answer is that the others,' so far as I understand them or make them my objects in these acts, have all been and are still in most of their content 'me's.' 'Whatever I fancy, hope, fear, desire for self in general, with no qualifications as to which self it is, remains the same whether afterwards I do qualify it


(315) by the word 'my' or by the word 'your'"(p. 16). The very fact that my concept of others is 'ejective' makes it social, because common. The members of a family or a group will all naturally share in this process, and all will possess essentially the same concept of self, and therefore have, at least when opposed to other groups, nearly the same interests and standard of criticism. When we extend our consideration to the past as well as to our contemporaries we have the influences which are so inevitable as to deserve the name of 'social heredity' (pp. 57 ff.). When we consider further that society can use only such members as in some way fit into her process, we have the resulting doctrines (1) that the individual must be born to learn, and (2) that all the individuals must be born to learn the same things, principles directly contrary to (Individualism' (pp. 71 ff.).

Moreover, this 'give-and-take' procedure is characteristic not only of the more predominantly imitative process of the mind; it is no less involved in the apparently contrary processes of invention. For invention is neither (a) a creation out of nothing, nor (b) is it a mere subjective fancy. As contrasted with (a) "the child's originalities are in great part the new ways in which he finds his knowledges falling together in consequence of his attempts to act to advantage on what he already knows," and as distinguished from (b) "the child's originalities are in great measure the combinations of his knowledge which lie feels justified in expecting to hold for others to act on also" (p. 99). Invention is part of imitation in the broadest sense of the term, and the child's sense that some one else must accept it illustrates a real and necessary requirement (p. 113). This leads to the enunciation of the general criterion for the "selection of the valuable variations which remain as truthful thoughts in the mind of the child and the man," viz : "in so far as a personal attitude is involved in a judgment, in so far the organization of the personal self is the ground of the selection of the particular thought as true. And, further, when the self-thought is thus the nucleus of organization, there the social criterion of truth must also be in force" (p. 121): Language, play anal art are treated as social aids to invention,' and illustrate forcibly at once the imitative factor and the appeal to social confirmation and approval.

So far we have considered the sources out of which the social self may rise, and have found them in the two fundamental processes of mental development; but what of this social self as ethical authority ? This has its germs in the vague appreciation by the child of certain mysterious limits upon the conduct of even its parents. [But I am con-


(316) -fident that few children develop in such a favorable moral atmosphere as that of the children observed by the author. To many, if not to most, the parent is 'exlex.'] It grows rapidly under the experience of obedience in which neither the habitual self nor the accommodating self, but a dominating other self, a new alter, determines the action. It gets conscious realization in the recognition of an atmosphere of family propriety, of accepted tradition (pp. 44 ff.) . This is 'ejected', is made common law for all the group, and is the source of conscience, on the one hand, and of our judgments of others, upon the other.

Turning now from the genesis of the socius, in describing which we have considerably varied from Professor Baldwin's order, the points of chief interest in Parts III. and IV., entitled 'The Person's Equipment' and ' The Person's Sanctions,' are an interesting treatment of the emotions as related to the social self, and a discussion of the psychology of desire and will which suffers somewhat from being treated under several rubrics.

In the treatment of the emotions special attention is given to those emotions, such as bashfulness, or sympathy, which, in the author's opinion, have each an organic or instinctive and a reflective form at successive stages in the child's development. The organic form may well be a 'recapitulation' of some of the conditions of our animal ancestors as described by Darwin. The reflective form, if a 'recapitulation,' points rather to some conditions of a primitive human society. In particular, Professor Baldwin conjectures that at a certain stage of spontaneous and friendly confidence which he thinks he detects in children, interjected between the earliest organic bashfulness and a later more self-conscious and self-exhibiting stage of bashfulness, 'has its parallel in the rest which man took after his release from the animal;' ' a scene like that depicted in the life of the Hebrew patriarchs.' This stage preceded the period of a more intense pursuit of self-interest which has its antitype in the later stage of reflective bashfulness. Since the author expressly declares the parallel to be only hypothetical, and takes pains to apostrophize just here the ' learned critic, whose red-rag instinct is keen for theory " far be it from me to expose myself to such an apostrophe. But I must take all exception to the universal existence of the three successive stages in child-life, at least at or near the ages mentioned. In the case of certain children whom I have observed constantly up to the ages of three and four years no indications of reflective bashfulness have appeared, while in the case of certain others, not so closely observed, there never seemed to


(317) be a time when they were not timid and ill at ease with strangers. I think that due allowance for size of families, training of children, playmates and many other factors of the immediate parentage or environment would explain most of these differences, but I am confident that they exist.

Mob-action is held to he neither an atavistic indication of the origin from which society has sprung, nor a warning of the goal toward which society is tending and a condemnation of democracy, but rather a by-product and intensification of features either good or bad in the life of individuals, 'an index of sociality rather than the cause of it, or its main outcome.'

The psychology of voluntary action is first sketched under the heading 'Intelligence' in Chapter VII., where the ends of action are classed as (1) impersonal or objective, (2) personal and subjective, and (3) social or ejective, corresponding to the epochs of thought, since 'the end is a function of the thought-content and it is by acting to realize ends that thought develops' (p. 263)- The various triads are at times a little confusing, but the three epochs as named above are correlative to those named on p.362 as (1) the spontaneous, (2) the intelligent and (3) the ideal or ethical, and the relation to the three stages named under tile emotions is that (t) includes both the 'instinctive' and the spontaneous' stages, while (2) and (3) are subdivisions of the 'reflective.' Further we have as the 'sanctions' in these three epochs respectively, 'impulse,' 'desire' and 'right.' Instead of accepting any one of the theories that desire has for its end ' all object,' 'the enjoyment of an object,' 'enjoyment of self,' 'the self who enjoys,' 'self-realization' or the attainment of a better self,' the author holds that « every mature malt of us has all these desires. And not only so; there are epochs of development which are characterized by one or other of these words, as then the great and prevailing sort of desire." The theories travel all the way from the object to the self' (p. 258).

Parts V. and VI. constitute Book II., 'Society' and deal with 'The Person in Action' and 'Social Organization.' In the former the relation of the individual to society is described by the aid of a biological analogy. As we speak of variation and regression in biology, so the play think of the individual as the particularizing social force and society as the generalizing social force. [But the first seems of doubtful truth, unless we take 'individual' and 'society' in a merely numerical sense, and if so taken society is not a generalizing social force, for it may be maintained that in social and political development


(318) the genius is preėminently the man who feels the situation most sympathetically and, therefore, reshapes the method of dealing with it. He changes things not because he is more particular, private, than others, but because he is more social.] Part of the chapter on social organization has appeared in the September number of the REVIEW, and maintains that the _Process of social organization is the twofold imitation process described at the outset in the dialectic of personal growth, while the matter or content imitated ' consists of thoughts, by which is meant all sorts of intellectual states such as imaginations, privileges and informations.'

I wish now to call attention to certain points in which to me, at least, there is need of further analysis:

1. The concept of the social self. Nothing is more exasperating to a teacher than to lecture for a month upon a given topic, and then be asked naļvely if he will kindly explain what lie means by the conception which be has been elucidating and examining on every side for the hearer's instruction. But at the risk of being considered hopelessly stupid I will state my difficulty; and I can, perhaps, state it best by using a somewhat Hegelian distinction suggested by the author's own term 'dialectic.' Is the social or general self the outcome of the dialectic in such a way that both the ego and the alter must enter into it, and become as such elements of it, or is it conceived as merely the undifferentiated common raw material out of which ego and alter develop, but which does not include them ? There is no place for extended quotation, but if the reader will turn to pp. 12, 16, 29, So and 2(94 lie will find 'general self' used in a way which at least looks in the latter direction, while on pp. 264 and 266 we have an express statement of the opposite sort. Perhaps the note on p. 266 means that both the above alternatives are true and represent successive phases in the development of the social self, but if so the distinction is certainly not carried through with sufficient clearness to put it beyond doubt.

On p. 16 we read, 'whatever I fancy, hope, fear or desire for self in general,' from which we should infer that self in general hall some content. But on p. 294 it is stated that 'this general notion of self is like all general notions considered as general, not a presentation, not a mental content, but an attitude, a way of action.' I do not believe that any one, least of all a child, ever hopes or fears for any such self in general, or 'attitude.'

To my thinking a more faithful way of considering the development is to conceive the child not as differentiating a common stock of


(319) interests into egoistic and altruistic, but as beginning with a narrow, but rapidly widening circle of interests, centering at first chiefly in bodily 'feels' and impulses, in which parents and others figure merely as useful or agreeable parts of the situation. Not that he is reflectively egoistic; he is impulsive, and ego and alter are not yet defined as mutually exclusive ends. He mirrors in look or tone the joy or grief of others, but it is felt as his own, not as theirs. The interests are all his; the self as the subject of interests is and remains always his own, but its content comes to include not merely bodily `feels,' but ends intellectual, artistic, spiritual. He advances to social and ethical life in the proper sense, when through the clear distinction or conflict between his own interests of the above narrower sort, and those of another recognized as such, his self increases in content and takes in parent or neighbor in such wise that their weal or woe as such becomes an interest. This larger self is then the social self. When in tension with any particular or partial group of interests it is the ethical self. The feeling of the tension is the feeling of oughtness. But it is not a self in general.

Professor Baldwin's doctrine is further complicated to my mind by the statement on p. 318, "The thought that the judgment passed is actually in the mind of some other is necessary to a full ethical judgment as such, " and again on the sane page, "It is not enough that I feel what others would say if they knew: I must feel that others are judging because I judge." "To fall short of this is to think not in terms of the general thought of self, etc." In these passages the social self is apparently conceived numerically. The thought is similar to Professor Royce's view expressed in Mind, July, 1897, on the basis of which lie holds causal conceptions impossible of application to psychological sequences because I cannot conceive any one else as observing my psychical states. In both cases it seems to me there is a mistake of taking a particular part of the self-content for the self, and so of denying the self to lie really social.

2. Professor Baldwin makes little use of the conceptions of value in tracing the growth of the ethical self. The child's ethical self is supposed to be born almost entirely through the mediation of law and authority. But surely this is partial. I have been increasingly impressed with the element of truth in Mandeville's shrewd account of the training of children. It is largely by reiteration of the words, 'That is a good girl,' 'It is naughty to do so,' that we impress a sense of parental approval which constitutes, through association of tote anal look, the mediated or modified value of the early acts, and


(320) as this sense of the value gains in extent, to include the operation of acts upon a wider circle, the social and ethical self is in actual force. It mediates the transition from the heteronomy of obedience to an external authority to the autonomy of a really moral conduct.

3. Both the above-mentioned difficulties seem to enter into the treatment of the will. "Ends are a function of the thought content." I should say just as one-sidedly: "Ends are a function of the impulsive, desiring, forth-reaching motor-self." For no object is an end unless it is valued, and we must define value in terms of the organism which experiences it. Objects as things' (intellectually described relations) are never desired, never ends. This is excellently stated by the author himself as regards one stage of desire on pp. 373 f., where he distinguishes a, the object as desired, from 'A, the hard and dry skeleton of rigid reality held in the grip of so-called mechanical law.' But it seems almost impossible that, as stated on p. 3S0, this same 'hard and dry skeleton' A should ever be the typical object of pursuit in the 'spontaneous' or ' objective' period of the child's desire. Surely the hungry child's object is not of this sort. If the hunger is purely the hitherto ungratified impulse, it cannot be said to have any object. If it has once found what will meet its wants, then this becomes its object, but the 'this' is certainly not an A.

Again, in the most developed type of desire, in which the subjective sanction or motive "is just the sentiment called ought," the value element is omitted. This sanction is compared to that of impulse. The person 'cannot explain his reasons for pronouncing conduct right; he has no reasons' (p. 395). This sounds like I duty for duty's sake,' and is liable to the criticisms passed on Kant's theory of desire. There are doubtless persons who seem to act under the influence of just such a sanction, but I think the reply of a student of mine to the stock questions : "Is conscience infallible? Should one always follow it?" shows a more hopeful state of mind. She replied : "Conscience is infallible, but we should not always follow it; sometimes we should be guided by reason." I think Schiller was right in insisting that the good man desires his objects. The question is rather what self is it that desires ? what self is seeking satisfaction?

4. The concept of imitation is used in a very wide sense. Where we speak of 'imitating thought' it is doubtful if we are not using it so broadly as to obscure the distinctive characteristic of apperception. But waiving this point, is not the process conceived too largely as all intellectual repetition without due consideration of the value factor in the determination of what is to be imitated and what neglected? This


(321) seems to me to apply especially to the characterization of the matter and process of social organization. And, moreover, would the imitation of thoughts, as above defined, give rise to any real unity? Is it not rather community of ideals, of ends, of interests which is the essential thing? The author would hold, I suppose, that his view explains community of ends, since 'ends are a function of thought-content,' and if the content is common the ends must be. But because I should maintain that the thought-content, if defined as 'knowledges, information,' etc., is by no means determinative of ends, but rather only a medium for achieving ends, I do not think the formula is adequate.

5. Finally, I may suggest that the function of 'work,' as well as play, in the development of social interaction and cooperation, and in the organization of both individual and community, might be worthy of a chapter in some future edition.

J. H. TUFTS.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO.

Notes

No notes

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