Recent Literature on Social Psychology

James Hayden Tufts

Little has been published during 1910 which belongs primarily to social psychology in the stricter sense of the term. An article which on its face raises a general question is The Fallacy of Social Psychology by G. C. Field in the Hibbert Journal for October (Vol. IX., No. 1, pp. 144-162). The ' fallacy' is the supposition that social psychology, especially as represented by McDougall, is of any use for politics as treated by Graham Wallas. As regards McDougall the difficulty is that whereas psychology classes feeling according to causes the politician is interested rather in effects. Awe in the presence of a king may be identical in origin with the fear of early man in the presence of an enemy, but the practical statesman will not treat it as the same with that fear. Such generalizations as that if the reproductive instinct should die out the race would not continue are fairly obvious without the authority of social psychology. Not a single political truth of importance has social psychology taught us. For political purposes the need is to know how people will act in a particular case under existing conditions, and this is entirely a matter of experience, not scientific analysis of the different emotions. At this point Mr. Field changes the line of attack : granting that, as Graham Wallas maintains, political theory has been guilty of the intellectualist fallacy, and that in reality people in politics are more influenced through the emotions than through the intellect, this is no reason for appealing to their emotions. The important thing is to intellectualize emotional appeals. In order to have guidance for our political action we need political philosophy rather than social psychology. It may doubtless be granted to Mr. Field that social psychology is not a substitute for ethics, and it is further quite obvious that an experienced politician could make shrewder forecasts in most cases than a psychologist as to the popular will. Even so there were logical reasoners before Aristotle and excellent teachers before educational psychology was written. Yet in spite of much elaboration of the obvious there has somehow come into education a more sympathetic attitude — an appreciation of the child's individuality and point of view — and this is probably due largely to the study of psy-

( 407) -chology. In analogous fashion we may expect that social psychology will gradually make the other man's point of view and emotional attitudes more intelligible. And if study of the 'causes' of feelings does this it is certainly not futile. To treat the other man, not merely as a pipe to be played upon, nor on the other hand as merely different and therefore as inexplicable, if not stupid, — this is indispensable for a working faith in democracy. And, as such, it is not to be ignored as a factor in our political philosophy.

The value of social psychology in comprehending and aiding the moral and spiritual life is emphatically recognized by Dr. Stanton Coit in his brochure, The Spiritual Nature of Man (The West London Ethical Society, Queen's Road, Bayswater. Pp. 112. I shilling). The power and value of association and coöperation have been most fully realized in religious societies, but this need not be interpreted in a supranaturalistic way. As Clifford put it, "It is ourself, not ourselves that makes for righteousness." This group-spirit is present ' when two or three are gathered together.' It is more effective with a larger number. Spiritual communion is a fact. One set of interpreters have treated it as miracle; and this has led their critics to deny or ignore it altogether. If attention were fixed on the facts of this communion and coöperation, and if the laws under which it may be most effectively and rationally developed were studied there would be a great gain in the effectiveness of moral agencies. There is no such thing in the life of an individual as a ' spontaneous generation' of moral insight and character. " So far as we have any experience moral life is always generated from precedent moral life." To understand the conditions under which the most helpful psychic environment can be produced and maintained is a most important aim of scientific study.

Diametrically opposed to this doctrine of the responsiveness of human nature to a psychic environment is The Duty of Altruism by Ray Madding McConnell (New York : The Macmillan Co., 1910. p. 255. $1.50 net). For although in one passage Baldwin's account of the genesis of the moral consciousness is approved, the central doctrine is than the moral consciousness is a purely individual affair, untouched by any influence, least of all, by any rational influence. " Differences of character are inborn and unchangeable. The bad man is bad from birth" (p. 197). This is a corollary of Dr McConnell's psychology of the will. " Intelligence is accessory to will and is without moral significance, except as it enables the will better to accomplish itself." The will is thus conceived, as by Schopenhauer,

(408) as a Ding an sich, shut off absolutely from any formative influence of an intellectual sort. It is indeed given a genesis according to the laws of biological evolution: The 'good will " is a natural product, developed in a way which we name 'natural ,evolution.' A 'good 'will or a 'bad' will is as wholly a natural and necessary phenomenon as the nature and development of an animal or plant." From these premises the conclusion is obvious that there is no 'duty' as to ends. " The zöologist does not 'prescribe.' He does not approach a pig and say, you ought to become a goat ; nor does he go to a particular kind of pig and say, you ought to become a different kind of pig. With what reason does the moralist approach a particular kind of man and say you ought to become a different kind of man?" (p. 197). The author sees no alternative between accepting " the individual as the ultimate fact" and claiming "for some imperative an absolute value imposing itself without condition or justification." This last quotation well illustrates the author's general tendency. His categories are so fixed, his divisions, e. g., between intellect and will, between liberty and necessity, between individual and social, are so water-tight, that there is no room for any facts which do not easily lend themselves to such isolation. Commenting on the supposed absurdity involved in the sentence, " I have the ability to modify my character," he says, " the I' is itself 'my character,"' and exclaims, " Have I two characters, one acting and one acted upon?" Precisely, one might reply, so long as ' I' am still in the making, so long as I exist in my ideals as truly as in my past deeds. It is for this very reason that the function of the moral reformer is not just that of the zöologist who classifies pigs and goats. True it is that values, and in particular the value or duty of altruism, cannot be demonstrated to absolutely egoistic beings, and that the individual will must recognize the value or the duty before it is for that person binding. It does not follow that the 'individual will' remains 'individual' during the process of recognition. It may be that just in the adoption of such a value it remakes itself and becomes more and more social. And if we seek the causes which lead to such building up of social character we shall find—the social psychologist believes —social influences at work, and an activity of thought which is as truly an integrant factor in the completed will as is the other factor, viz., impulse and feeling.

In Le Sens de L'Histoire (Paris: Alcan, 1910.. Pp. 429) Max Nordau first criticizes various conceptions of history which see in it some purpose in process of realization, and likewise authors like Marx, who though on the right track in viewing it as caused by human needs

( 409) yet conceive these needs too narrowly. The question how history can be treated in order that it may be more than a series of incidents, and may be in some sense the study of humanity is then considered. The key to such a study must lie in psychology. But neither the psychology of the crowd (collective psychology), nor that of races and peoples, has any basis for existence. Collective bodies are only the sum of individuals. If these latter act differently when in crowds, this is no reason for a special psychology. So do men act peculiarly in presence of a volcano in eruption, but this does not require a different kind of psychology. Nor can a language express the 'soul of a people' for peoples have changed their languages, and the Latin—or its daughter tongues — is spoken by people as diverse as Spanish, Walloon, Roumanian, and Franks. Further the sources for discovering the beginning of history are not the savages of today. These are far from primitive. Rather we should examine the instincts which are the survivals 0.f man's earlier life. Self-preservation and sex are fundamental. There is no proof that man is naturally gregarious. The most significant fact about man follows from his discovery that whenever existence was difficult to maintain the resistance of fellow men was less than that of nature. It was easier—for the strong— to despoil other men than to wrest from nature food, shelter, repose. The most convenient form of ' adaptation' was found to be parasitism. Almost all institutions rest on this. The consummation of parasitic achievement is in the creation of habits of thought among the exploited, which regard this process not as an injustice but as an honor. The parasitic strong — the Mites — contribute nothing to progress. Progress is due to the men of genius who by discovery and invention make knowledge superior to parasitism as a mode of adaptation.

In La Lutte contre le Crime (Paris : Alcan, 1910., 6 fr.) J. -L. de Lanessan aims to discover the sources of crime in order to propose remedies. If, as even Darwin and Spencer supposed, there is an inherited moral sense, it is a simple explanation of crime to say, as some have maintained, that the criminal is defective in this endowment, or that he is atavistic. The author believes that there is no sufficient evidence that crime is due to heredity, or that there has been a certain definite type or grade of conscience common to each epoch. On the contrary, moral conceptions vary not only at successive times but also within the same period with classes, corporate groups, families, and even with individuals. Today, for example, certain murders (e. g., of an unfaithful wife, or lover) are condoned; certain kinds of stealing

(410) (from the government in evading customs or taxes) and fraud (in adulterating goods, etc.) are practiced by those who consider themselves perfectly honest. The sole discoverable difference morally between primitive and modern peoples is that the number of moral individuals increases in the latter. No vice has disappeared from human societies, but the number of the vicious diminishes. “Observation shows that moral ideas are purely individual and that they have their source, either in the natural needs of the individual, or in the relations which he sustains to others, or in the education he receives and the examples which are afforded him."

As regards education and training children fall into three classes: (I) Those whose parents give them little or no training. Egoistic and sexual impulses are very likely to plunge such children into the criminal class. (2) Those who receive on the whole a wholesome training, though defective in certain respects. Children of peasants and working people usually respect life and property, though the former do not scruple to put water into wine, or the latter to slight their work. Children of the bourgeoisie are likely to feel the example of social competition and of striving for wealth, hence crimes of breach of trust or sharp practice are more likely to occur. (3) Those whose parents either train them to vice or by examples of drunkenness, idleness, and violence directly influence them toward a vicious life. About one fourth of the young criminals appear to come from this class. Children abnormally nervous and excitable are peculiarly in need of good education, but they are not necessarily criminal in tendency.

Age, sex, profession, cosmic and social conditions further affect criminality. It is noteworthy, for example, that in the liberal professions the number of convictions per100,000 among notaries, advocates, lawyers, and court officers, i. e., persons who deal with financial affairs, amounted to an average of 48 annually from 1898 to 1901, while among physicians it was 15, and among professors 4. Commercial pursuits furnish 28, domestic service, 18, agriculture, 8. Criminality "attains its maximum intensity during adolescence and youth, in the male sex, in the professions which make misdemeanors easy and expose their members most to alcoholism, in most populous city environments, in massings of working people of intense sort (e. g., in strikes), in warm climates, and in years of scarcity, finally in periods of religious conflicts, of revolutions, and wars — that is to say when all the influences which increase the excitability of men reach their maximum of intensity."

Treatment in view of these facts should be as follows: Children

( 411) of group (3) above should be removed from their parents and educated by the state. Children whose parents cannot watch over them properly because they (the parents) are away from home at work should be cared for during the day. Finally, all minors who are brought before the courts should be placed in schools, industrial, military or naval, and kept there until the age for military service.

The author lays stress also upon his denial of 'free will,' and responsibility,' and consequently of the basis for 'punishment.' He does not hesitate in the same breath to insist on education for the control of impulses, which implies all that at least one doctrine of free will calls for.

Ethical rather than psychological is La Critique du Darwinisme Social, by J. Novicow. (Paris: Alcan, 1910. Pp.407.) Social Darwinism is defined as " the doctrine which considers collective homicide as the cause of the progress of the human species," and although stated thus baldly the doctrine may seem unfamiliar, the author not only finds sanction for it in sociologists like Spencer, Ward, Ratzenhofer and Rénan, but affirms that few do not share it. It is the creed of those who claim to be practiques and réalistes. The biological, anthropological, economic and political aspects of the theory are examined with much detail, but the point of chief psychological interest is the insistence that the prime factor in progress is association. Struggle is indeed general but in itself antagonism is negative and disintegrating; association is equally general and is positive. It produces intensification of life and aids in the mastery over nature which is the source of wealth. Spoliation and banditism may be dominant at certain periods, but careful analysis shows that true strength and union have come in spite of antagonism, not because of it. The general position is that of Huxley in the Romanes lecture, .but .the analysis and criticism is much more extensive and detailed.

Raoul de la Grasserie has collected his studies on language, several of which have been noticed from time to time in the BULLETIN, into a volume which has not yet been received. In the Revue Internationale de Sociologie for February, 1910 (XVIII., pp. 76-113), the same author considers Intolerance  De l'intolérance comme phénomène social'). Religious, political, social, racial, sex (of man for woman), scientific, educational, literary and other forms are described with acuteness. The causes are desire for conservation of self or party, the craving by strong wills to impose themselves upon the weaker, and finally the conviction of the truth of something which we believe useful or necessary to society. Hence doubt is the strongest force for tolerance.


Two little books on language which present a great field in highly condensed form, are F. H. Frick's Die Sprachstämme des Erdkreises, and Die Haupttypen des Sprachbaus (Leipzig: Teubner, 1909. Pp. 143, 156). No psychological interpretation is attempted, except as certain fundamental characteristics of the various types of speech inevitably suggest it, e.g., the suffixes in the language of the upper Zambezi, which refer almost all things spoken of to certain categories. In Liberté de Conscience et Liberté de Science, by Luigi Luzzati, translated from the Italian by J. Chamard (Paris: Giard et Brière, 1910. Pp. 453. 10 fr.) questions of great present interest in France are treated both historically and critically. Much of the work had previously appeared in the form of brief articles. Rationalism et Tradition by Jean Devolvé (Paris : Alcan, 1910. Pp. 180. 2 fr. 50) is likewise of special timeliness in France, as it is an examination of the conditions of effectiveness of a secular or rational morality. This is a pressing problem there because of the system of moral instruction in the public schools. The author believes it a mistake to attempt moral training by the methods of demonstrating and impressing duties. There should be rather the pregressive determination of a value or end already willed. He further believes that the notion of the divine may be given a naturalistic interpretation by which it may function in moral purpose.

' The Rôle of Magic,' by J. T. Shotwell (Amer. Jour. of Sociology, Vol. XV., pp. 781-793), as the wording suggests is more concerned with the function than with the psychology of magic. But, as against Frazer, the author regards it as inseparable historically from religion. Psychologically it is the state of feeling awakened in a man by the consciousness in and around him of mysterious powers. Objectively it is a wonderful uncanny potency set loose by various methods. Not only sacraments, but many social, legal, and political institutions depend upon this attitude. The power of priests and kings attests its influence. It is thus an important factor in the explanation of a large part of history, particularly European history.



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