Franklin Henry Giddings.

Democracy and empire; with studies of their psychological, economic, and moral foundations online

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communities ; the other, the psychological, supported by
those analyses of the relations of sympathy and perception
which I have sketched above. From the standpoint of the
observer of animal and primitive human societies, it is difficult,
if not impossible, to establish a line of demarcation between
the more highly organized bands of animals, like troops of
monkeys, or herds of elephants, or bands of wild horses, and
the simplest hordes of human beings, like Bushmen or Austra-
lian Blackfello\^^s. No one can say when, in the development
of man from brute, sympathy ceased to be the chief stuff or sub-
stance of the social relationship, and thoughts in the form of
inventions and knowledges began to assume that important
place. In like manner, when modern human society is
looked at from the psychological view-point, it is often —
indeed, usually — impossible to say whether sympathy or
thought predominates in the intercerebral action of the
associating individuals. Professor Baldwin's thesis would


compel him to maintain that the same individuals are a
" society " one day and merely a " company " another. At
one time they are thoughtful and self -controlled; at another
time they are an audience swept by emotion, or a mob "given
over to fury. Shall we, then, say that the stuff of society is
thought merely, or feeling merely, or some combination of
the two ? Surely the last of these possibilities is the one
that is most consistent both with evolutionary hypotheses
and with psychological conclusions. The substance of
society at first is sympathy and instinct mainly. At its best
estate, society may rise to a level where thought has for the
moment completely subordinated feeling. But usually, and
throughout the greater part of its career, society is sympathy
and instinct more or less organized, more or less directed,
more or less controlled, by thought. When the thought
element appears, society has become reflective ; and a better
way to mark the distinction between the lowest and the
highest societies than by restricting the word " society " to
the latter and calling the former "companies," is by indicat-
ing this element of reflection. Animal and primitive human
communities for the most part are sympathetic or non-re-
flective societies; progressive human communities in general
are reflective societies. The reflective stage corresponds to
the appearance of the perception of kind and to reflective

But even if we were to accept the thesis that the social
stuff is exclusively intellectual, we could not possibly admit
that it consists of all sorts of thoughts and knowledges
indiscriminately. It undoubtedly includes all sorts of
thoughts and knowledges, but not all sorts of thoughts and
knowledges in and of themselves make society or the social
stuff. The social stuff, so far as it is intellectual, is one
kind of knowledge in particular, namely, knowledge of re-
semblances, knowledge of those modes of like-mindedness
that make cooperation possible. The same logic that leads
Professor Baldwin to try to separate the social stuff from
other kinds of stuff should lead him further to distinguish
the thought that is essentially social, and capable of organiz-


ing all other thoughts and knowledges into social material,
from the thought and knowledge that have no such inherent

Perhaps, however, it is in his few remarks about the social
process that Professor Baldwin has been most unjust to him-
self, and has missed an opportunity to make a reaUy im-
portant contribution to social science. He is willing to
grant that the social process consists in imitation. Yet, if
the earlier chapters of " Social and Ethical Interpretations "
prove anything at all, they prove that imitations are pro-
gressively controlled, as individual development proceeds,
by the process of ejective interpretation, — that is to say,
by interpretation in terms of those ideas of our fellow-men
which we create in the image of ourselves. To carry this
thought into sociology, it is necessary to bear in mind the
function of resemblance, especially of mental and moral re-
semblance, in controlling relationships. In the ejective
processes of the "dialectic of personal growth," not all of
our acquaintances are indiscriminately utilized. We detect
the difference between those who, in ways important to our-
selves, resemble us and those who, in ways important to
ourselves, differ from us. Our ejective interpretations, there-
fore, are accompanied at every step by a process of ejective
selection. Ejective selections, in fact, are the psychological
bases of all social groupings, not only those of the more
intimate sort, such as personal friendships, but those also
of the purely utilitarian sort, like business partnerships.
In a word, while imitation is a process that penetrates so-
ciety through and through, it is not a distinctively social
process. It is wider than the social process, just as thought
is more comprehensive than the social stuff. The distinc-
tive social process is an ejective interpretation and selection.
In its widest form it includes imitation, controlled by or
made a function of ejective selection.

I may now very briefly indicate the further criticisms
which, in pursuance of this thought, must be made upon
Professor Baldwin's views — criticisms, namely, that apply
to his treatment of social policy. No exception is to be


taken to the analysis which describes the individual as the
particularizing social force, and society in its entirety as
the generalizing social force. But I fail to discover in
Professor Baldwin's account of the subject any adequate
recognition of the social causation of individuality. That
causation must be sought in the phenomena of unlikeness in
the social population. Throughout human history, indi-
viduality and the possibility of social variation have been
due to the commingling of ethnic elements, or, within the
same nationality, to the commingling of elements long ex-
posed to different local environments. This commingling
itself is brought about by emigration and immigration. If
the biological phenomenon of panmixia is all that Weis-
mann, Galton, and other investigators have represented it to
be, its levelling effects are counteracted, and social progress
is made possible, only by continual groupings and regroup-
ings in the population under the influence of ejective selec-

Finally, there is no possible explanation of social policy which
leaves out of account the facts of mental and moral resemblance
and the consciousness of kind. Without like-mindedness there
can be neither spontaneous nor reflective cooperation. Not
only must there be an agreement of thought, but for most,
if not for all, public cooperation there must be a vast mass of
sympathies and agreeing emotions. Men must have like
sensations, must be similarly sensitive to suggestion from
resembling fellows, and must subtly enter into like judg-
ments, without always being fully conscious of the process
by which their conclusions are reached. The greater part of
all public action must be described as a consequence of sym-
pathetic and half -reflective agreement in plans and purposes,
rather than as a consequence of systematic deliberation.
Moreover, it must not be forgotten that all public policy is
a means to an end, proximate or ultimate ; and that the ulti-
mate end in every case is the maintenance and development
of a certain ty3)e of man. That type itself is a mode of
resemblance ; and the recognition of it, which directs and
controls all policies, is a mode of the consciousness of kind.



At the general session of the German Association of
Naturalists and Physicians, held at Vienna in September,
1894, an Austrian physicist, Dr. Ernst Mach, delivered an
address which every scientific inquirer should know by heart.
It was entitled, " On the Principle of Comparison in
Physics " ; and in substance it was a lucid analysis of the
nature of scientific thought, and incidentally of the true
nature of science itself. Professor Mach began by recalling
a definition of mechanics which had been given twenty
years before by the great Kirchhoff. Mechanics, Kirchhoff
had said, is " the description, in complete and very simple
terms, of the motions occurring in nature." This definition
had created universal astonishment in scientific circles. It
contained no mention of explanation or of prediction as
functions of science, no allusion to universal or cosmic law,
no hint of any search for first principles or causes. Little
wonder was it, that the scientific mind was amazed. Was
science, the supreme achievement of the nineteenth century,
about to abandon all of its chief pretensions? Mechanics
is of all sciences the most exact and the most advanced.
If, then, mechanics is nothing but description, no other
branch of knowledge can claim to be more. To demonstrate
with perfect clearness that exactly this is the simple and
practically helpful truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth, was the task which Dr. Mach essayed.

I shall not attempt here to repeat this demonstration in
detail. It consisted in showing that description is a putting
together of facts in a coherent system or continuum, which
accurately corresponds to the coherent system or continuum



of reality ; and that explanation, prediction, tlie formulation
of laws, are nothing more and nothing less. When, for
example, the physicist formulates the law of gravitation, as
an attraction of bodies for one another which varies directly
with their masses, and inversely with the squares of their
distances, and predicts that, in accordance with this law, an
unsupported body will fall toward or rise away from the
surface of the earth according as its specific gravity is
greater or less than that of the atmospheric envelope, he
merely puts together, in a single condensed expression, a
large number of observed coherences of fact. And what
are these observed facts? Is the "attraction" which the
formula alleges one of them ? Yes or no, according to our
definition of the word. Shall we say that it is the " pull "
of a "force"? Has any human being ever seen, handled,
or otherwise perceived a force ? Certainly not. And what,
moreover, does any human being know of a "pull"?
Nothing whatever beyond certain sensations of muscular
tension or of political fatigue. All, then, that can actually
be observed of attraction is a certain number of changes in
the successive positions of material objects, and a certain
number of changes in the degrees of rapidity with which
the changes of position take place. All that we can really
experiment with is a number of volumes, densities, positions,
distances, accelerations, and retardations. And our formula
or law, therefore, is nothing more than an accurate descrip-
tion of the way in which these observed facts cohere in an
objective series or system of reality. The object of science
is to extend description, in this sense of the word, until it
includes aU knowable facts of matter, life, mind, and society,
and places each fact in its proper place in the complete

This conception of science — the only one which a critical
examination of the nature of our knowledge permits us to en-
tertain — clearly reveals the exact practical value of science.
As science approaches perfection, the description of the cos-
mos becomes continuous. We discover that every known
; fact has, in coexistence and in sequence, points of contact


with other known facts. The lines and colours in our chart
of the universe are not drawn or splashed at random ; they
lie before the mental vision in a marvellous order of grada-
tions, proportions, series, and systems. All the facts in any
part of our chart are seen to be related to all facts in every
•other part. So we arrive at the conception of nature as
a system of interdependent facts. This conception once
reached, we perceive exactly what we mean when we say
that science enables us to predict combinations of facts not
Tiitherto observed. Convinced by what we already know,
-that our further description of nature will not derange the
.system already apparent in our chart, we expect that further
knowledge will merely continue the curves already partly
•drawn, without changing their equations, fill in unknown
terms of series without changing their formulas, and supply
-shades of colour that will not disturb the scheme already
apparent. Science thus enables us to anticipate facts not
yet actually observed. If, then, we admit that science is
-description, and that description both reveals and presup-
poses the interdependence of the descriptive elements, we
-can accept the theoretical and practical conclusion at which
Dr. Mach arrives, that science completes in thought facts
-that are only partly given.

This conclusion, I affirm, is no less practical than theo
retical, because if such is the nature and function of science,
^science enables us to accommodate our conduct or policy to
combinations of facts not yet completely made, but which
.science assures us will, in the course of time, be made — at
least approximately — in the world of reality. The more
nearly perfect our description of any part of that world be-
comes, the more closely may we adapt our plans, not only to
the things that now are, but to the things that shall be here-

Let us now pass from these general considerations to an
•examination of the nature and the practical value of that
branch of science which attempts to perfect our knowledge of
human society. If the word " description " is a broad enough
ierm to characterize a science so advanced in its methods and



its results as mechanical physics, it surely is broad enough to
characterize the comparatively new and, as yet, very imper-
fect science of sociology. To make our description of human
society more accurate, more coherent, more complete, is a
task grand enough to awaken the enthusiasm and inspire the
labour of any man who has enough of the scientific spirit to
justify a career of sociological investigation. Often has the
sneer been thrown at sociologists that as yet they have been
unable to define their science in terms that anybody but the
sociologist can understand. To the extent that sociologists
have attempted to put into their definition more or less than
the scientific truth, they have deserved their punishment.
The truth is simply that sociology is a scientific description
of society. And this is a definition that even the most non-
I scientific of those journalistic illuminati who have denied
the existence of sociology might, by diligent cogitation,
make out to understand.

What, then, are some of the descriptive elements of soci-
ology, and what practical value have they for the determina-
tion of private conduct and public policy ?

And first, what is society, the combination of facts to be
described ? From one point of view, this question is Hiber-
nian, since the description itself must be the answer. From
another point of view, however, the question is straightfor-
ward and intelligible. It means. What does the word " soci-
ety " stand for in our everyday use of the term ? What
facts about the reality which this word brings to mind are
already known? What, in short, is the starting point of
our descriptive enterprise ? Actually to discover this start-
ing point is not an easy matter. The undertaking may
be compared to that of a mathematician who wishes to
resolve a complicated algebraic equation, and must choose
from among many possible ways of stating it that one which
he can most easily work with in his subsequent opera-
tions. To most of us the word " society " ordinarily means
the agreeable intercourse, the helpful cooperation, and the
historical relations of human beings; it means, in short, a.
large and complex group of human facts which we ordinarily


picture to ourselves in a rather vague way. Is there among
them some one fact that is essential, fundamental, or uni-
versal, and which, therefore, may be selected as a common or
characteristic term ?

Under no other circumstances does the human mind go so
swiftly and so surely to the significant or essential fact in a
bewildering maze of things as when it is under the compel-
ling pressure of a great practical necessity. Nearly two
thousand years ago, one of the most gifted men of any age
found himself under the immediate necessity of trying, for a
great practical purpose, to single out and force upon the at-
tention of mankind the most essential, persistent, and for-
mative fact of human society. That man was the Apostle
Paul. He had been converted to a new religion, and had
become its chief interpreter and missionary. Accepting the
duties which circumstances and his own nature placed be-
fore him, of attempting to spread and organize the new faith
throughout the known world, he was compelled to examine,
with the utmost care, the question of the social form in which
this new interest should be incorporated. All of the older
religions against which Christianity was to make headway
had grown into elaborate social systems, with their priest-
hoods, their carefully graded ranks or classes of believers,
their rituals and festivals. Against their formalism Christi-
anity protested. Its own social principle, like its individual
principle, must be inward and spiritual, rather than external
and legal. We may well believe that during those three
years which the Apostle spent in retirement in Arabia, work-
ing out the detail of his system, he gave most serious thought
to this social aspect of his problem. It was necessary for
him to find a psychological fact or principle of social organiza-
tion, which should be also universal, — as true for the Roman
as for the Jew, for the Barbarian as for the Greek ; so simple
that the bondman, no less than the freeman, could grasp it,
yet so rich in possibilities that the philosophical disputants
of Mars Hill and the practical lawyers on the Capitoline
Hill might be expected to accept and to develop it. What,
then, was the social fact that this subtle thinker and emi-


nently practical man, under such circumstances, fixed upon
as essential and all-comprehensive ?

It was the fact of ^^^miftded«)e^(,i»^Over and over in
his Epistles he forces this fact upon the attention of his read-
ers, and warns them to give heed to it. " Be of the same
mind one toward another," he says to the Romans ; and in
the same Epistle he prays for them, that they may be of the
same mind ; that with one accord and with one mouth they
may glorify their Grod. The Corinthians he beseeches to
" speak the same thing " ; to " have no divisions " among
them ; that they may be " perfected together in the same mind
and in the same judgment." And the Philippians he im-
plores to " stand fast in one spirit, with one soul "; to " be of
the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord."
That it was in truth Paul who first seized upon this social prin-
ciple for practical purposes, we have positive proof. Only in
two places outside of the writings of Paul, can any allusion
to it be found in either the Old or the New Testament.
One is in the first epistle of Peter, where the expression
" finally, be ye all like-minded " is so exactly the phraseology
of Paul that we can hardly doubt that it was borrowed from
him. The other is in Revelation, where ten kings are
spoken of as having one mind. That Paul himself derived
the suggestion from the Greeks is highly probable, since
Aristotle, in the " Ethics," quotes the saying that " birds of a
feather flock together," and recalls a contention of Empe-
docles that "like desires like." But, so far as we know,
neither Greek nor Jew, before Paul, ever singled out this
principle as the all-essential fact to be remembered in the
development of any plan of social organization.

Was Paul right in his selection of the essential social fact ?
Speaking only for myself, and leaving other investigators of
society to form their own conclusions from all available evi-
dence, I must say that after many years of persistent thought
upon this question, I am fully persuaded that he was abso-
lutely and profoundly right. If this be true, we have at
once our provisional definition of society — the conception
from which we go forward to a more complete descriptiDn.


The like-mindedness upon which Paul insists is known and
understood to be such by the individuals who share it. Not
only do A and B agree in their thoughts, feelings, purposes ;,
but also both A and B are aware of their agreement. More-
over, they perceive that agreement is pleasurable ; that the
fruits of concord are happiness and peace ; that discord is not
pleasurable, and is liable to end in disunion. They strive,
as Paul enjoins them, to be without divisions, and to be
"perfected together in the same mind and in the same
judgment." What, then, is a society ? Obviously, it is any
number of like-minded individuals, who know and enjoy
their like-mindedness, and are therefore able to work to-
gether for common ends.

Is not this exactly what we mean by a society when we
use the word in our modern conversation ? A society as
thus conceived may exist for any purpose whatsoever. Can
we think of any society which may net be thus conceived
and defined ? Does there exist a society for the carrying on
of a commercial enterprise ? Who are its members ? Busi-
ness men who think alike in regard to the expediency and
the practical possibilities of the undertaking, — men of like
habits, of similar interests ; men whose intellectual type the
most casual observer can distinguish from that of the scholar,
the artist, or the priest. Does there exist a society for the
reform of the civil service ? Who are its members ? Again,
men of a common mental and moral type; men who are
sensitive to public honour and duty ; men who are willing to
make sacrifices of time and energy for the general good;
men who believe that reform of abuses is possible, and should
patiently be sought. Does there exist a society for the pro-
motion of any branch of scientific knowledge, for the enjoy-
ment and promotion of any form of art, for the prevention of
any form of cruelty, for the kindly help of any class of needy
or suffering beings? Those who belong to such organiza-
tions are men and women of easily distinguished types,
whose common trait, as members of their respective soci-
eties, is their like-mindedness with respect to that object or
purpose for which the society exists.


But with truth it may be said that there are societies of
another kind. Villages, cities, and nations are societies,
less artificial in their formation than those just named.
They are natural aggregations of people which have devel-
oped a social organization. This they have done, how-
ever, only because of like-mindedness. On no other basis
can a political system rest. There must be unanimity of
feeling and opinion upon all fundamental questions of gov-
ernment and policy. All differences and contentions must
be subordinate to the essential, fundamental unity of thought.
Therefore a natural society, a nation, for example, may be
defined as a population composed of like-minded individuals,
who sympathetically work together for common ends.

What, now, is the practical value of this first step in the
scientific description of society, this study of the mind of
the many ? The answer will already have been anticipated.
It brings us to a vantage point where we can clearly see
how sound has been and always will be that instinct of
mankind which opposes a rapid influx of alien elements
into any existing population which is fairly homogeneous,
and which resists all heresy, schism, and dissension when
carried beyond a certain point. One who should name the
questions of greatest practical importance in the United
States to-day, would include among them the question of
the restriction of immigration and the question of the wis-
dom of that policy of our political parties which reads out
of the organization all "mugwumps" and "kickers." Soci-
ology can render no greater practical service than to show
that like-mindedness is, in fact, the absolutely essential con-
dition of social cohesion, and of the efficiency of any social

Online LibraryFranklin Henry GiddingsDemocracy and empire; with studies of their psychological, economic, and moral foundations → online text (page 4 of 29)