The American Journal of Sociology/Volume 01/Number 5/Sociology and Psychology
SOCIOLOGY AND PSICHOLOGY.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY. V.
In our efforts to fix the true position of sociology we have now considered its relations to cosmology, biology, and anthropology. It remains to consider its relations to psychology. The founder of sociology placed it next above biology in the scale of diminishing generality and increasing complexity, and maintained that it had that science as its natural basis and as the substratum into which its roots penetrated. Herbert Spencer, although he treated psychology as a distinct science and placed it between biology and sociology in his system of Synthetic Philosophy, made no attempt to affiliate sociology upon psychology, while on the contrary he did exert himself to demonstrate that it has exceedingly close natural affinities with biology, as was shown in the third paper. At the close of that paper the fact came clearly forth that almost the only legitimate comparisons between society and a living organism were those in which the nervous system was taken as the term of comparison. In other words, it was clear even then that the class of attributes in the individual animal with which those of society could best be compared were its psychic attributes. If we are to have a science of psychology distinct from biology these attributes belong to that science, and hence it is really psychology and not biology upon which sociology directly rests. I hope to show the importance of this truth both from the purely logical and also from the wholly practical side.
Psychology, as the science of mind, embraces the entire field of psychic phenomena. This field is not restricted to the purely intellectual operations which have formed the exclusive subject of philosophy until a quite recent date, nor even to the more enlarged field of the senses and the intellect embraced in more modern works; it reaches out and gathers to its fold that other not merely neglected but generally despised field variously called the passions, the affections, and the emotions. In short everything which is not clearly a vital attribute—is not exclusively concerned in furthering the functions of life—must belong to mind and form a part of psychology. The subdivision of mind which I prefer is that into sense and intellect, using the word sense as synonymous with feeling in general. But as most forms of intellection may be regarded as modes of thinking, it is sometimes clearer to draw the antithesis between feeling and thought. But as adjective forms are convenient and as all feelings are in the philosophical sense affections, it often strengthens the conception to refer to the feelings in this general sense as constituting the affective side of mind, or the affective faculties. Similarly, as all intellectual processes grow out of the primary process of perception, it is sometimes convenient to designate these as constituting the perceptive side of mind. From still another point of view the science of psychology may be divided into subjective and objective. Affective phenomena relate exclusively to the subject and yield no notion of the object, while perceptive phenomena have for their primary function to acquaint the subject with the qualities of the object. We thus have the two great fields of subjective and objective psychology.
But it matters not what terms we use, the distinction is always the same and should be rigidly adhered to. It is much confused in modern discussions, and the word "mind," which formerly always meant the operations of the intellect only, has come in recent times to be used in the sense of feeling only, the thinking process itself being described as a form of feeling. There is a sense in which this cannot be denied, for without feeling there could be no consciousness; still the subjective process, feeling, can be distinguished from the objective product, knowledge, and the two fields kept apart.
Mind is of biological origin. Feeling was first developed under the operation of the law of survival for the protection of plastic organisms, taking the positive form of pleasure to induce them to seek nourishment and reproduce their kind, and the negative form of pain to induce them to escape enemies and other dangers. These were sufficient for all the lower forms of life and constitute almost the only form of psychic manifestation below the human stage. With man, however, and, in an embryonic form, in some of the higher animals, a new element was introduced, first exclusively as an aid to the will, which is the active expression of the affective powers. This was the perceptive element, by means of which the ends of being were rendered more secure, and the creatures in which it was most highly developed became the winners in the race. Man proved to be the specially favored of all the earth's inhabitants in this most important respect, and was thus enabled to become not only master of all other life but of the physical forces of nature as well.
Although, as was shown in the last paper, the intellect, as the result of superior brain-development, is the one leading attribute that distinguishes the human race from all other races and constitutes man, still, it was not developed at the expense of, or as a substitute for, his affective faculties, but pari passu with them and as an aid to them. It is therefore clear that it is these affective attributes that hold the first place and constitute that to which all others are subservient. Intellect is not an end in itself. It is only a means to the end. The end itself is the good. If life be considered desirable the preservation and continuation of life must be looked upon as a good. But closer analysis shows that even this may, from a certain point of view, be regarded as a means. The good itself is distinct from it. We are thus met by the necessity of making a broad distinction which is of the utmost importance to sociology. The biological must be clearly marked off from the psychological standpoint. The former is that of function, the latter that of feeling. It is convenient and almost necessary in order to gain a correct conception of these relations, to personify Nature, as it were, and bring her into strong contrast with the sentient creature. Thus viewed, each may be conceived to have its own special end. The end of Nature is function, i. e., life It is biological. The end of the creature is feeling, i. e., it is psychic. From the standpoint of Nature, feeling is a means to function. From the standpoint of the organism, functfon is a means to feeling. Pleasure and pain came into existence in order that a certain class of beings might live, but those beings, having been given existence, now live in order to enjoy. This enjoyment of life, which we may say was not contemplated by Nature, or to use Weismann's expression, was "unintended," and which forms no necessary part of the general scheme of Nature, becomes, once it has been introduced, the sole end of the beings capable of it. As Nature cares nothing for their enjoyments and is indifferent to their sufferings so they in turn care nothing for her great scheme of evolution, and would not make the smallest personal sacrifice to further it. Yet, from the ver.y manner in which this new element came into the world, this single pursuit of their own good proves to be that which could alone secure the success of Nature's scheme. Pleasure means life and pain means death. This new element is nothing more nor less than the moral element. No such element exists in Nature outside of this class of beings. Nature is wholly unmoral. The moral world is a comparatively restricted one. It is confined exclusively to animal life, includingof course human life. Yet it is not to be despised. To Nature at large it is nothing. To the sentient world it is everything. Man belongs to that world and it is everything to him. Only it is needful that he should recognize that it is no part of the scheme of Nature except accidentally, or at most incidentally. The realization of this truth is calculated to teach him that modesty which is essential even to his own welfare. The prevalent view that ethics is a vast system coextensive with the universe belongs to that class of vainglorious conceptions that make up the anthropocentric philosophy of the prescientific period and of the uninformed generally, and tends, like all crude and vaunting ideas, to render men arrogant and intolerant. But having said thus much it is necessary to recognize also that sociology has no other course left than to proceed upon the assumption that the good is everything.
Now the good, at bottom, is nothing else than agreeable sensation as it was developed for the preservation of life. Those who are in the habit of regarding this as trifling or unworthy do not consider, usually do not know, that this was the only way by which the scheme of Nature could be carried out. Without it not only could man never have come into existence, but there could have been nothing in existence higher than the vegetable. This agreeable sensation which early takes the form of pleasure possesses every conceivable degree, not merely of intensity or pitch, but also of quality or timbre. It is all in itself good. It is the good. All pleasure is not only good but right if it results in no harm. But to result in harm is simply to deprive of pleasure, so that the proposition is correct in its simple form if we give the right meaning to words. But in consequence of these degrees in the intensity and quality of pleasures everything becomes relative, and morality is reduced to choosing among pleasures those which are best. Here again the primary principle applies. Best is the superlative of good, and the good is pleasure. So the best is the greatest pleasure. The ethical end is to secure the maximum absolute enjoyment. No one would question these statements if they were applied to animals. They are equally true of men, and philosophers simply deceive themselves when they deny them and seek to bring in some foreign element. What they do is wrongly to limit the term pleasure to the coarser, sensual forms and deny its applicability to the higher, spiritual forms. But the two pass insensibly into each other and no line can be drawn that will completely separate them. They are all good in themselves and some only seem bad relatively to others. The least refined pleasures are in fact the most essential. They are most closely connected with function. They were the first developed and served, as they will always serve, their purpose in carrying out the scheme of Nature—the preservation, increase, and continuation of life. If possible, therefore, they have an even higher sanction than the more refined pleasures, which do not serve to the same extent, if at all, the disinterested ends of Nature, and exist far more for their own sake, egoistically. This shows clearly that the problem of ethics is to secure the greatest pleasure. It is discovered that the higher, spiritual pleasures are the most enduring. Although they may lack something of the intensity of the other class they much more than counterbalance this loss by their superior permanence. They thus possess greater volume. It is clear that in securing them the gain is in the direction of more pleasure. This is really the only meaning that the word "gain" can have. The relative worthiness of pleasures is therefore ultimately based on the quantity of pleasure yielded. It is this and nothing else that is meant when virtue is enjoined and vice condemned.
In any attempt to draw up a scale of pleasures in their ascending order the localized sexual feeling would probably be put at the bottom as the most purely physical and least spiritual, but it should be observed that it is the most essential of all, having to do with the preservation not merely of the individual but of the race. Next in order would come the pleasure yielded by the organs of incretion and nutrition (tongue, palate, stomach, etc.). These are also second in importance and serve to preserve the life of the individual. The third place would be taken by the pleasures of hearing and sight upon which the fine arts rest. Although they probably yield to enlightened races more satisfaction than the ones already named, no one will claim that they possess any such importance from the broader standpoint of function and life. The pleasures of the emotions might be given the fourth place. They are both refined and enduring, and make up the greater part of all that the majority of mankind value in the world. Yet except in so far as they are so intimately linked with the sexual instinct as to be virtually a part of it, as maternal and conjugal affection, they seem to exist chiefly for their own sake, neither preserving, perpetuating, nor enhancing life. This class of pleasures passes gradually up, as the result of increasing sympathy, from those of mere friendship and mutual attachment, through love of the helpless, to the purest altruism, which may be set down as a fifth class of pleasures.
The pleasure of "doing good" is among the most delicious of which the human faculties are capable, and becomes the permanent stimulus to thousands of worthy lives. It is usually looked upon as the highest of all motives, and by some as the ultimate goal toward which all action should aspire. It should first be observed that the very act of doing good presupposes evil, i. e., pain. Doing good is necessarily either increasing pleasure or diminishing pain. Now if all devoted themselves to doing good it is maintained that the sufferings of the world would be chiefly abolished. Admitting that there are some evils that no human efforts could remove, and supposing that by united altruism all removable evils were done away, there would be nothing left for altruists to do. By their own acts they would have deprived themselves of a calling. They must be miserable, since the only enjoyment they deemed worthy of experiencing would be no longer possible, and this suffering from ennui would be among those which lie beyond human power to alleviate. An altruistic act would then alone consist in inflicting pain on one's self for the sole purpose of affording others an opportunity to derive pleasure from the act of relieving it. I do not put the matter in this light for the purpose of discouraging altruism, but simply to show how short-sighted most ethical reasoning is. In the second place it is to be noted that, however pure and exalted this class of pleasure may be, it is one that is somewhat difficult to obtain. Life for the average person is more or less of a humdrum routine, and opportunities for noble acts are rare. Any attempt to go beyond the normal course of uniform politeness, kindness, uprightness, and honesty, becomes dramatic or quixotic, and is readily detected as a sham. Only in hospital and asylum work is there room to devote a life to ministration, and even there it is found that scientific nursing is better than the mere display of sympathy and zeal.
For my own part I never have regarded the altruistic as the highest and purest of human motives. I place above them in this scale the pleasures of the intellect, and would make this the sixth and last class. The brain is not merely the organ of knowing. It is an emotional center also, and the feelings to which its exercise give rise are the most important from the standpoint of feeling of all that we have considered. On the other hand they are the farthest removed from the domain of function. To the race they contribute nothing. Nature never intended that they should exist, for they are of no use to her. Their service is a personal one to the possessor of this faculty, and not to the world. I shall soon show their bearing upon our science of sociology. For the present I am considering them from the standpoint not only of psychology but of subjective psychology, as I have defined it. The pleasures of the intellect, if they do not do good in the altruistic sense, at least do no harm. They are the farthest removed from the sensual or physical of all pleasures. They are rarely intense, but they are the most lasting of all pleasures. They are purely spiritual, and least capable of abuse. They possess a certain dignity and nobility beyond all others. Finally, they are not difficult to secure, and nearly or quite every person may partake freely of them during the greater part of life. They are numerous, but the principal ones belong to two groups. These groups may be respectively denominated the acquisitive and the constructive, or the receptive and the reproductive. "Reason," says Schopenhauer, "is female in its nature; it can only bring forth after it has conceived." The earlier portion of every one's life is devoted to acquiring—I will not say knowledge, would that it were! It is devoted to laying in the store from which it is to draw during the later parts. In a properly organized mind and under a just system of education this acquirement is chiefly knowledge, either of things or of actions. It is either learning what or learning how. Now, as each individual must begin at the beginning and learn everything for himself, the education of each new generation would be a matter for utter despair if there were no extenuating circumstances. The human mind would no more nourish itself from considerations of cold calculation than would the body of either man or animals without an immediate personal motive constantly impelling it in that direction. Not only the past intellectual success but the future hope of mankind lie in the fact that the mind is endowed with an appetite. The satisfaction of this mental appetite is, with the single exception next to be noted, the highest, most enduring, and most profitable of all human enjoyments. It is a solace which all may find, a luxury which never surfeits or reacts unfavorably, a passion whose unlimited indulgence is always safe. For all these reasons the volume of enjoyment thus derived is greater than that derived from any of the sources hitherto considered.
But there is one still higher pleasure, the most exalted of all. This is the discovery of truth. Sweet as may be this receptive process,—the act of intellectual conception—, the productive or reproductive process—the act of intellectual parturition—is yet sweeter. The raw materials that have been received into the mind through all the senses, the results of experience and education, undergo a process of gestation, as it were, and are developed into new shapes. To drop the figure, the innumerable items of acquired knowledge are brought into relations with one another, compared, combined, and organized into conceptions of varying degrees of generality. Truth is the recognition of identity under varying aspects. The mind devotes itself to the discovery of truth amidst all the manifold elements of its stored materials. This is the highest form of thinking. The identities are usually between the higher psychic units. The primary psychic unit is simple perception, but it is not until a multitude of registered perceptions have been organized into units of higher degrees that the process of identification begins. The higher the degree of the units the greater their resemblance to one another, and very complex psychic units are perceived to be all closely related. All knowing is a perception of relations, and this highest form of knowing is the perception of the relations that subsist among the largest psychic aggregates. This may take the form of generalization and be a classification of such aggregates. The truth then discovered is the position of the various conceptions in the hierarchy. But these conceptions are not merely subjective. They are built of materials from the outside world and they represent conditions existing in that world. Only in so far as they do this are they truths. But not to dwell on the psychology of the subject, what here concerns us is the fact that every such act of the mind is attended with an intense satisfaction. It seems almost a mockery to call it a pleasure, so far above all those experiences commonly called pleasures does it rise, but it certainly belongs to the same great psychic group as all other pleasures, and our language lacks the appropriate term to characterize it.
The power to discover truth exists in all minds, but in most, it must be confessed, it is very feeble, while comparatively few ever attempt to exercise it. This is, therefore, in the present condition of our race, a limited source of gratification, but it is capable of indefinite extension, and makes up in its sterling worth what it lacks in range and universality. Without it there would be no science, for science rests upon the discovery of truth and not merely upon the accumulation of facts. The real moral progress of the world is due to science, and therefore this motive may be regarded as the most altruistic of all.
It thus appears that as a rule those desires whose satisfaction is most important from the standpoint of nature or function are least important from the standpoint of the individual or feeling. That is to say, the more essential they are to life the less pleasure they yield, and vice versa. The first of these qualities may be called necessity, the second utility, and, thus defined, the necessity of a desire stands in an inverse ratio to its utility.
The several classes of human pleasures, therefore, as treated above, arranged in the descending order of their necessity and ascending order of their utility, will stand as follows: 1. Reproductive. 2. Nutritive. 3. Æsthetic. 4. Emotional. 5. Moral. 6. Intellectual.
I have dwelt thus at length upon the scale of pleasures because, as we shall now perceive, they constitute the basis of all human activity. It is upon this affective part of mind that sociology rests, and not upon its intellectual part. Sociology is a science and as such it deals with a field of phenomena controlled by certain forces. The social forces are human motives, and all motives, in the correct sense of the term have feeling as their end. To attain pleasure or avoid pain is the only incentive to action. All motives are desires, and the term which expresses the aggregate of desires is will. Desire, as I have formerly shown, is a true natural force. The motor of the social world is will. It is what I have called the dynamic agent in society. The full import of this truth will be brought out in the seventh paper. I have merely worked up to it here to show the direct manner in which sociology bears upon psychology.
Thus far we have confined ourselves exclusively to the affective side of the mind, or subjective psychology. It is in this region that the motive power of social operations has been found to reside. However trivial the affections may seem to the metaphysician, they are of primary importance to the sociologist. But while they constitute the source of power in social events this is their entire function. They constitute the dynamic agent and nothing else. To render this power effective a directive agent is required. This is furnished by the intellect. It is the guide of the feelings. It is useless to speculate as to the relative value of these two agencies. Both are absolutely essential to so complicated a mechanism as society. The familiar comparison of society to an ocean steamer remains the clearest that has been proposed. The feelings embodied in will are represented by the engines, while the intellect is typified in the helm. The former in both cases is clearly the primary constituent, and yet without the latter it would fail of its purpose.
It is, however, worthy of remark, that what has been said applies only to man and society. Lower in the scale of life we practically have the dynamic without the directive agent. Unreasoning beings are devoid of a guide. They follow their feelings only. They are like a ship without a rudder. The substitutes are, first, a close adaptation to their environment, so that there are, so to speak, no reefs, shoals, or rocks, upon which they can be wrecked, all not thus adapted having already been wrecked; and, second (which is only a particular case of the first), instincts, that have been developed through selective elimination, and which limit the feelings and will to particular grooves in which they may safely act. It is upon this that depends all the social advance that animals have made, and the study of animal sociology would differ from that of human in dealing with instincts and adaptations instead of rational acts. So that while all associative phenomena rest on subjective psychology, distinctively human association depends upon and presupposes a fully developed rational faculty.
I have called this the perceptive, as distinguished from the affective side of mind. This term, though inadequate to express the highest processes of the intellect is well adapted to describe the incipient stages of rational life. Since the new biology has taught us to account for every organ and attribute by the law of advantage, the intellect of man has presented the most marked obstacle to this mode of interpreting nature. It is admitted even by Weismann and Wallace, the leading apostles of the neo-Darwinian school, that the highest intellectual faculties cannot be thus accounted for. So far as I am aware I am the only one who has attempted to show a way out of this difficulty. I cannot go far into the question in this paper, and must be content for the most part to refer to the place where I have developed the thought. I will merely say that the intellect must be considered as the result of ages of slow development, that it began far back in the animal series, and that its sole purpose originally was to assist the will in attaining the objects of desire. Its primary stage I call intuition, passing into intuitive reason and judgment. The first form of knowing was a perception of relations, and this fully justifies the expression perceptive faculties. Their whole purpose was the creature's advantage, and they formed as legitimate a subject for natural selection to work upon as any other. The particular brain structures requisite to serve as organs of direction were immediately affected by the selective process, and developed normally under its influence. And thus was built up, cell upon cell, the enlarged brain of the highest animals, and especially of man, who seems to have been the first to reach the point where mental forces completely gained the mastery over physical ones, so that the only advantageous qualities worth mentioning were those that helped him to foresee, circumvent, and outwit the rest of creation. The evolving intellect throughout all this long presocial and premoral period was exclusively devoted to the egoistic interests of individuals, acquiring sagacity, shrewdness, and tact, and exercising cunning, craft, strategy and diplomacy in attaining its ends.
But this cunning was not wholly applied to animate things. A large stream of it took the direction of circumventing and taming the physical forces of nature. Cunning thus applied was called ingenuity and resulted in invention. This proved the most advantageous use to which the new agency could be put, and led to the development of the arts. Man may have been gregarious before there were any arts, but he can scarcely be said to have been social. Society, in its modern acceptation, must have originated simultaneously with the earliest form of art. We can scarcely conceive of art without society or society without art. The development of society has been the development of art, and human civilization has advanced through all the stages of culture into which ethnologists subdivide it as the result of successive advances in the perfection of the arts.
We are not now dealing with art but with mind, and our point of view makes it clear that the intellect in its primary characteristics was thoroughly practical in the sense that those races in which it was best developed were the fittest to survive, and this is all that the biologic law requires to account for the increase of an organ or faculty. It is also apparent that it has never lost this quality, and that the law was applicable throughout the human period, that it has operated during the historic period as fully as in the prehistoric, and that, in a much modified form, it may be said to be still in operation even in the most advanced races. The intellect is still an advantageous attribute in the biologic sense, and the difficulty before referred to is reduced to showing the relation of the advantageous to the non-advantageous faculties. The latter have been habitually regarded as constituting the whole of mind, and hence it became impossible to account for the origin of mind on natural principles. It is only necessary to affiliate the speculative powers upon the egoistic ones. This I have also attempted to do, and I believe successfully, on the neo-Lamarckian principle of the transmission of characters acquired by individual effort. I thus account for both the creative and the speculative genius of man, and the intellect in its most fully equipped form no longer presents an insoluble problem. These so-called higher faculties are simply derivative, and represent a surplus that has accumulated over and above what was demanded for the essentials of life.
The consideration of the intellect as the directive agent, highly essential as it was, constitutes nevertheless a sort of digression or interruption of the main principle that was under discussion. In resuming the thread I will put some of the results previously reached into a somewhat different form. It was found convenient to personify Nature and ascribe to her an end or object. This object was generalized under the term Function. The object of the sentient creature was at the same time shown to be Feeling. Something was said of the scheme of Nature, or evolution, in the organic world. This, on closer inspection, proves to be distinct from function or the simple preservation and continuation of life. The latter involves growth and multiplication, but not change. Evolution, on the contrary, depends wholly upon change, and this involves a new principle, viz., activity or effort. It is through individual effort that the organism is molded to the environment, and this organic modification is what constitutes those perfectionments of structure that result in progressive development. We may therefore personify Evolution also, and ascribe to it an end or object. It is in the interest of Evolution that the organism put forth efforts to attain its ends. The purely biological formula may therefore be stated as follows:
The object of Nature is Function.
The object of the Organism is Feeling.
The object of Evolution is Effort.
Rising to the human plane, we have simply to adjust our terms to the advanced state of things. For the first proposition no change need be made in the formula. In the second proposition, the organism becomes Man, and the sum of agreeable feeling which he seeks may be expressed by the word Happiness. In the third element, instead of the world at large, the beneficiary of human exertion is Society. The sociological formula will therefore stand as follows:
The object of Nature is Function.
The object of Man is Happiness.
The object of Society is Effort.
Washington, D. C.
- Die Vernunft ist weiblicher Natur: sie kann nur geben, nachdem sie empfangen hat. Schopenhauer. Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, Vol. I., Leipzig, 1859, p. 59
- Dynamic Sociology, Vol. II., p. 95 ff. Psychic Factors of Civilization, pp. 55, 94.
- Psychic Factors of Civilization, Part II.