The Psychic Factors of Civilization
By Lester F. Ward
Two Kinds of Philosophy
The two kinds of philosophy today (1893) are Cosmology and Psychology. The study of the universe (cosmology) has gotten more scientific. And psychology is also now more connected with the brain and nervous system.
Theology was everywhere.
But the look at mind philosophically commenced early in
Both have been revolutionized. They used to be done using Aristotle’s reasoning process as proof. But now both are more scientific.
Sociology must be the basis of sociology. The scientific revolution in psychology, particularly, must be its basis.
The Dual Nature of Mind
Plato got us onto “the idea” and Aristotle did the laws of syllogisms. Kant built upon these. Speculations on mind have always meant the intellect. Descartes saw to this. But what of emotions? What of mind that trickles up?
The Psychological Process
When we run our fingertip along an object we get a sensation and a notion of what it is.
There is sensation which is subjective and the process by which the object is turned into a piece of knowledge. This is perception. The sensation resides wholly in the subject experiencing it. But the perception relates exclusively to the object of nature that it reveals. For this reason we call it objective.
Fingertip and tongue are very sensation oriented. Smell too. It doesn’t always lend to objective perception. Hearing is next on the sliding scale from subject to objective. Sight is very much productive of perception. Taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight is the order.
The sympathetic nervous system is essentially internal; its operations are chiefly or wholly unconscious and cannot be controlled at will, although they are profoundly affected by mental states, however these may have been brought about; it controls the involuntary operations and is the seat of emotions.
Perception is less well understood than sensation. It is intellectual. The first step in the purely intellectual process is the grouping together of the several perceptions furnished by an object into a conception of it.
In telling which are similar and dissimilar we create a judgment which is expressed by a proposition. “The recognition of an identity”.
Refinement of essential characteristics of a group gets us to the ideas in the Platonic sense. But mind does not stop here. It makes groups of groups and thereby we get generalizations.
Reason is more especially the faculty by which the mind reaches conclusions. It uses all of its materials for this. But primarily it uses conceptions, judgments and other high level psychological units.
Objective psychology is the only department of the mind that the older philosophers deemed worthy of study. But another is called intuition. It was probably ignored as it is associated with cunning and lower elements.
The Conative Faculty
Some reactions due to pain and pleasure are conscious and involve the voluntary nervous system. Some are unconscious reactions to sensations. These are actually subconscious perceptions. They bypass conscious awareness and have much to do with health.
Rational consciousness creates idea-motor reactions. They have cause which are farther from sensation, are thus less reliable, but are physical causes of actions nonetheless.
Psychology is the physics of the mind.
In the microcosm and macrocosm there are always multiple causes happening simultaneously. All totaled a decision is made. What is popularly termed the will is the expression of the psychological fact that this or the other impulse actually prevailed due to being stronger than the rest. It isn’t always good. It is the winner.
Origin and Function of Pleasure and Pain
In the natural world everything has a meaning. The mission of science is to ascertain the meaning. Without science and before science, all is mystery. Take the origin of evil.
Feeling was created to consist of pleasure and pain. Indifferent feeling, such as was described as the basis of objective psychology, could have been of no possible use in insuring the life of inchoate plastic organisms. The sensations which led to obtaining nourishment and escape danger must have belonged to the intensive class. The purpose and function of pain is to protect from injury.
Getting nutrition must be an agreeable sensation.
The evil of the world is a mere incident of the complicated conditions under which life exists.
It is commonly supposed that pleasure and pain are opposites. This is not the case. There is no opposite to pleasure but the absence of pleasure.
A kindred error is that pleasure is positive and pain negative. There is nothing more positive than pain.
Nature of the Soul
The soul is the feelings taken collectively. The collective feelings of organic beings and their resultant efforts. Folks have tried to denigrate feeling and made sensual and sensuality pejorative words.
Philosophy is now transferring itself from the realm of reason to that of soul.
The birth of the soul was the dawn of the psychic faculty. Dimly and imperceptibly it worked through the primordial ages, from mollusks to fish and reptile.
The soul is the great transforming agent which has worked its way up through the stages of savagery and barbarism to civilization and enlightenment, the power behind the throne of reason in the evolution of man.
The Philosophy of Desire
“. . . Desire is psychologically a painful state. Desire may, therefore, be called a negative pain, being the disagreeable state experienced from a lack of the means of fulfilling normal functions, as distinguished from positive pain.”
-From Dynamic Sociology
Desire presupposes memory. All animated nature is burning and seething with intensified desires. On the one hand, we have attractions, charms, allurements, and enchantments; hopes, aspirations, longings; determination etc. In another direction are seen grief, sorrow, sadness, repentance and remorse as the expression of the unattained, misdirecteded or irretrievably lost. Even satiety, surfeit, tedium and ennui become intolerable demands for the exercise of normal physical functions.
They all deal with conation – the universal struggle for the satisfaction of desire.
The desire satisfied and terminated what follows? The restoration of equilibrium. Not only is the pain gone, but the pleasure is gone also.
The Will of Schopenhauer
Schopee declared, not without reason, that the intellect was merely an accident, a late graft as it were upon the full-grown tree of mind; that the will was the primary trunk of that tree.
He has done us the service of taking philosophy away from the channels of objective psychology and into the promising channels of subjective psychology. Here, and here alone, is there hope for a science of mind.
Refutation of Pessimism
Pessimism is the negation of pleasure. Does anything intervene between desire and satisfaction? If no, pessimism is true. But pleasure is in there. For nature it is a means, but for us it is an end. Optimism is not realistic. Instead he proposes meliorism. What ever that is.
Put sugar on your tongue. It is cogito without the ergo. More direct.
Happiness is different than pleasure. Pleasure is oft said to be bad and happiness good. Now we know that pleasure is the original good of the sentient world.
Feeling, Function and Action
“The two functions absolutely essential to life are nutrition and reproduction. To these correspond in all sentient beings the two classes of desires. These may be denominated the gustatory and the sexual appetites.”
Feeling impels to function, and function secures protection, nutrition, growth, preservation, reproduction, multiplication and perpetuation.
Feeling and function are distinct things. They have no physiological relation to each other.
Function is the object of nature. Feeling is the object of the sentient being. The object of nature is function while the object of man is happiness.
The Transforming Agency
The newest acquisition in cosmology is evolution.
Two classes of agencies have contributed to higher types of
Below the emergence of the Nervous system all is normal. This is subjective evolution. The extra-normal is when feeling starts to break away from function. This is objective.
Here happiness and action augment pure function.
Sexes (or approximations) appear early on. The female being the real organism and the male getting nutrition while she does her “division”. In birds and mammals we start to males get bigger and dominant over females.
Extra-normal comes in aesthetics. We still like flowers like the early roving male bee, the beauty of feathers, branching antlers and such are aesthetically pleasing.
This, extra-normal faculty happened because females only admitted to parenthood those of superior prowess, physical beauty, size etc.
One of our secondary characteristic that gets selected for is brain power.
But intellect is a more recent creation than soul. Schopenhauer’s claim that intellect is an “accident” is verified.
The Dynamics of Mind
Sterility of the old psychology, so long known as metaphysics, was due to the fact that it was without any dynamic agent. It was lifeless and dealt only with the intellect.
The emotions of female are older, grander and more essential in nature. Desire is a true natural force.
If acted upon by one force the animal body and physical bodies will move in a straight line. If acted upon by two forces that are equal and opposite (Much rarer in animals than purely physical world), it will remain stationary.
In scientific phrase, it is by the transfer of material objects from the static to the dynamical state, from a condition of molar equilibrium to one of molar activity, that the human civilization has been enabled to originate and to advance.
-Dynamic Sociology 379-380
Human phenomenon are properly called social phenomenon. Man is the instrument through which psychic forces operate, and the cause of action.
Subjective psychology is a philosophy of action. We act upon the environ due to them early on.
The sum totals of these transformations constitute what is meant by material civilization. But man never made civilization the end of his efforts. Some say society can only be achieved through the action of the individual, unconscious of the end. It can also be legitimately argued that much greater benefits might be secured if society were the conscious agent. Society has yet begun to seek its end.
It has not reached the state of psychic development attained by the Cretaceous insect when conscious desire began to inspire activity in securing its satisfactions. The society is not yet born. Yet nonetheless, society is the beneficiary of the direct results of human action directed at happiness.
It is the essence of the doctrine of individualism that what is good for the individual must be good for society. Society only exists for the individual. The society is yet only a Platonic idea. Society has no feeling of happiness. Yet such arguments misunderstand that reformers of society are after the ameliorating of the conditions faced by the individual members.
None, he knows of, argue that no changes in society could help reduce evils individuals face.
It would probably be better for personal morality of ethics were only taught historically and philosophically. Another serious evil results from the erroneous belief that moral character can be improved by ethical teaching. The idea of continually guarding the character of others begets an inordinate conception of personal importance. Spencer’s Ethics suffers from this and Comte too.
The moral state is a product of social evolution and a condition to the existence of society. Courts are for incorrigible members. All other morality is social. There is no need to preach morality. It is self-regulating. Society literally compels its members to observe its moral laws.
Immoral practices cause friction to the social machinery.
The supererogatory conduct is that which is not selfish, but for the betterment of society. For whatever reason some cannot avail themselves of the surplus of society. Charity relieves pressure upon this class.
Since an individual seeks the greatest gain for the least effort such charity can be injurious. The degenerate parasite is well known in biology.
The rich are often criminal and lazy as the poor are. The poor also have a right to exist.
The problem of charity is not ethical. There are no rights and wrongs. It is functional. It is sociological. The ethical and sociological standpoints are the opposites of each other. The ethical looks to curbing, the latter to freeing social energy.
“The poor will always be with you” if this is stopped true it will not be the result of ethical teaching, but of improved social organization.
Moral progress is not made due to the enforcement and inculcation of moral precepts. It has been wholly due to the march of events, such as the growth of scientific ideas, the spread of letters, the influence of commerce, the establishment of universities etc. The modern improved morality is a condition to the modern improved state of civilization.
Lester Frank Ward – Psychic Factors p. 112.
Social forces are good or bad according to where they are permitted to expend themselves. The wind is evil when it dashes the vessel on the rocks; it is good when it fills the sails and speeds it on its way.
The Social Forces
The social forces are:
Preservative and Reproductive
- Non-essential forces:
---Dynamic Sociology p. 468
Social forces are essentially psychic. Spencer sought the dynamic element in an analogy with biology. But that was clearly just an analogy. The real forces in society are those of desire. These are the dynamic forces that push all.
The old psychology was wholly devoid of a dynamic department. It was metaphysics of intellect. Psychology doesn’t become a science until its subjective phenomena are considered; because it is in these that its forces lie.
The remembrance of an agreeable sensation and its attendant circumstance gave rise to the representation of pleasure no presently experienced. The transforming agency was neither the desire nor the pleasure of satisfying it, still less the function thereby subserved, but the activities resulting from the efforts put forth in attainment of these ends. Evolution is the result of animal activity.
Treating human action as social motion, the forces producing this motion are the desires, and we have a science which may be called social physics. It constitutes the dynamic department of sociology or dynamic sociology in the primary sense of that term, the department which treats of the social forces.
The Omitted Factor
At the close of CH 5 reference was made to intuition or the intuitive faculty. It belongs to the department of objective psychology.
The problem with social philosophy’s reliance on a biological metaphor is that it takes away human consciousness. We are not blind as evolution is. We supplant “nature” with “art”. The fundamental principle of evolution is natural selection. The fundamental principle of sociology is artificial selection. Survival of the fittest only implies strength. It could better be called destruction of the weakest. Man progresses through the protection of the weak. And so it is throughout. The terms are all reversed.
He tells of punctuated equilibrium in evolution! Dude! Sociology doesn’t realize when soul acquired a directing agent it made us somewhat discreet from biological natural selection. This is as bad as metaphysicians that take intellect to be separate from body.
Chapter Twenty One
Lamark style, if fleas survive by going right in a maze, that instinct will be inherited. The mental qualities first come as instinct. But all instincts are only partially so, and the faculty would soon be strengthened sufficiently to meet and overcome slight changes in the environment.
An insect may not try different paths to get out of a situation. A frog will, unless parts of brain removed then it is back to being inanimate like.
Full intuition is when you are able to explore possible solutions.
The display of this quality would be seen not to coincide exactly with the purely biological development. It will be higher in a hostile environment than in one where dangers are few; predatory animals have it in excess of herbivores.
Intuition consists in a power of looking into a more or less complicated set of circumstances and perceiving that movements which are not in obedience to the primary psychic force are those that promise success. It is, in fact the intellect itself in its fundamental form, is much older than the reason, and is the parent of all later faculties of abstraction and reflection.
Chapter Twenty Two
Where this quality is exercised in the interest of safety, in escaping danger, the degree of penetration is usually, but not always, lower than when exercised in the interest of sustentation or reproduction.
The rivalry of males for the possession of the females is one of the most intense in nature. Not only must they understand the ways of their own sex, but they must cater to the caprices of the females.
Rivals must not only be discomfited in open battle, they must be circumvented in secret intrigue. There must be a rapid development of psychic power, so that brain development may be regarded as a true secondary sexual character, belonging primarily to males.
But in females the forms of refusal are manifold and require skill.
Almost all birds and many mammals habitually feign lameness on the approach of an enemy, and thus seek, usually with success, to decoy the enemy into a fruitless pursuit of themselves until far away from the spot where the young are being kept.
Chapter Twenty Three
In this great struggle brute force diminishes and mind increases. This advance was greatly accelerated by the growth of institutions and the establishment of codes of conduct requisite to life in collectivity.
No combination can be conceived of better calculated to call out, develop, and perfect a mental faculty better than the prizes and temptations of the social state.
The indirect method which best insured success in business is shrewdness.
Among the derivative desires that have grown up in society the most powerful is doubtless ambition. The love of power and its various manifestations have played a principal role in the history of man. The astute monarch or politician always seeks to make it believed that he is acting or their good, and enough will usually credit him. They are the ones who, from the strictly biological standpoint, are the fittest to survive in society. Those therefore who teach sociology from the laws of biology should not only treat them [politicians and demagogues] as the highest types, but should welcome them as the most perfect examples of social development.
Shrewdness, tact, policy, demagogy, diplomacy, strategy are only so many applications of the one principle: that is called intuitive reason. Humans and higher animals have it.
Chapter Twenty Four
Principle of Deception
The intuitive faculty is directed to securing advantage to the agent at the expense of other feeling creatures. As no feeling creature desires this to happen it is necessary that the act be performed against the inclination of those that are losers by it.
The general concealment of emotion of every kind belongs to the category of deception. The display of feeling is a mark of weakness and tells against success. The feigning of indifference to everything is found to be policy. One who seems dejected is classified as deficient.
Those who by whatever method can gain the world’s products are those fittest to survive and those who can obtain none, according to the ethics of biology, to die. The worst are thereby weeded out and the best preserved, and the faculty by which it is done is exalted.
Chapter Twenty Five
Herbert Spencer said intuition was “an undecomposable mental act.”
At first combinations of circumstances were confined to those that were known from repeated experience, likely to arise again. This primary and practical side of the subject has the greatest significance and importance to both psychology and sociology. Men do not depend upon their reason in the ordinary affairs of life. They use, “common sense”
Reasons can lead them to do stupid things where common sense would have worked, his example is the Dred Scott decision.
Chapter Twenty Six
Constant vigilance over her young he believes to be the source of the more fully developed female intuition. Everyone has observed that women will prefer to go the way they have already been if it is safe. This mental tendency can be extreme conservatism. But we also know that women are reformers. Women’s conservatism is not directed towards institutions and and surrounding conditions, but on self and offspring. It is self-preservation, rather than preservation of institutions. Their reforms are crusades against the real or supposed evils that threaten the safety of themselves and their children. Viewed in this light the most radical reform is the most complete conservatism, the conservation of all that they cherish in life.
The female intuition involves no deception, whereas the male has deception as an essential characteristic.
The dominant characteristic of the male faculty is courage, that of the female, prudence. These two antithetical factors are paralleled by the two biological factors of male activity, favorable to adaptation and variability, as contrasted with female passivity, favorable to hereditary transmission and permanence of type. Progressivism held in check by conservation of order.
Chapter Twenty Seven
The Inventive Faculty
The intellectual element, though commonly called a force, is not in reality such. Invention and artificial phenomenon direct the mental forces that do all the work.
-From Dynamic sociology.
Men may be tortured to death to satisfy a tapeworm. This shows the utter indifference of nature to animal suffering. Intuitive perception came about by an attempt to overcome material obstacles to the satisfaction of desire.
Eventually, in the chain of evolution, foresight in storing food for later was needed. Ingenuity was born. Chasing required cunning. Then came taming animals. This took advantage of the law that animals seek to escape pain. Dispersion caused a need for shelter and clothing. War spurred us to invention. Early man was almost invariably warlike. If he preferred peace he was driven to war as a means of defense. The most ingenious nation won. This is much as tusks were generated by natural selection.
Chapter Twenty Eight
Psychology of Invention
The inventive faculty’s similarity to intuition are more important than the differences. A difference between intuition and intuitive reason is that intuition is subjective in that it never asks about things not directly advantageous to the subject.
Objective intuition can also be called disinterested and subjective interested. Businessmen don’t profit from their inventions, shrewd businessmen do. One has strong egoism, the other. . . The inventor perceives the utility of the invention itself. Inventor may be of higher order, but businessman is more fit to survive.
This case illustrates, as crucially as any, the distinction between the current philosophy of society and that of meliorism; between biologic and psychologic sociology.
Passive, negative or female intuition or conservatism generates no improvements. This is a generalization of course.
Chapter Twenty Nine
Now what I maintain, and what the advocates of the new education ought to insist upon in the discussion of this question is that of the exalted faculty of invention.
“The higher acquisitions and achievements of intellect have now become so remote from practical life, that their relations are usually lost sight of.” Herbert Spencer: Principles of Ethics, I, pp. 516-517
The inventive faculty now enjoys intellect for intellect’s sake, this is the birth of inventive genius. So much has this power infected us that the artificial world we live in now seems natural to the extent that the biological school of sociology thinks civilization is just the product of natural forces.
Progress is moving to the more and more artificial.
Astronomy is a more practical subject than ethics to teach the criminal class.
One question remains. Is the inventive genius of man susceptible of cultivation? It seems so self-reinforcing that it can cultivate itself. No. We need a systematic training of he inventive faculty. But servants don’t investigate. His friends even discarded the fountain pen because it was too complicated. Him too. The public is constantly using what it doesn’t understand. But the basic principles upon which inventions are made can be taught to either sex. And it is helpful at times and likely to create some genius.
Part one dealt with the trunk of the psychic forces, feeling. Part two with intuition which was divided into active inventive (intuitive perception, reason and inventive faculties) and passive conservative (female). The higher levels are what philosophy deals with, but these levels could not have just jumped out of nature. Schopenhauer said Kant’s level was a mere accident.
Chiefly the ability to rearrange the materials in possession of the mind into new forms and relations has been discussed. Practical fashioning of tools of immediate utility. But there is also a creative faculty. This is making things not for the utility but for the aesthetic. Literary productions were the amongst the first things made by this.
Some tools were ornamented.
So creative and inventive genius are close to one
another. Shelter and homes are
practical inventions. In
The divergence of creation from invention can be explained in the following manner: In dealing with the actual materials and forces of nature the mind found itself constantly hemmed in by facts. It could only go so far when it would gladly go farther. The mind of inventor hit the hard facts of nature. Inventor had to go beyond nature. Practical art can only rise so high. Statues and paintings show us beyond the limits of nature. The brain itself had now become a an emotional center and seat of enjoyment, and henceforth the mind itself was to have desires to satisfy, and to become in so far itself a dynamic factor or psychic factor.
Chapter Thirty One
Speculative genius denotes all the non-egoistic intellectual faculties not embraced by either inventive genius or creative genius. We started looking for the unexplained phenomena of nature.
The first explanations were based on mans power. They were mono or poly theistic and showed nature was presided over by intelligence. Mythology is theological cosmology. But that didn’t altogether stop rational cosmologies from being developed.
This speculative faculty also looked inward upon itself. Cut loose from its realistic base, philosophy asked if there were anything but the thinking subject and fought battles of shade.
Locke, Descartes and Kant partially brought it back to earth. Physiological psychology popped the metaphysical bubble and it collapsed.
Logic and mathematics are also speculative: not based on the egoistic mind. Being ‘pure’ such might be labeled the highest level of thought. It was not done for the sake of natural selection’s survival value. Thought, thus free of practical effect, is passed on.
Invention and scientific discovery have furnished the material factors of civilization, but generalization and speculation, with all the aids of philosophy and scientific reasoning, have given the world an intellectual civilization, without which material progress would have little value.
Chapter Thirty Two
And so thirty chapters looked at psychogenesis of intellect. His is speculative but Darwinian psych is making it less so. This history highlights the import of intellect. Nihilism and idealism and other isms are thus banished and psych becomes a science.
While intellect embraces all thinking apart from feeling, we must distinguish it carefully from other things:
First it is purely psychic, and not at all of a physiological nature. Recall the subjective, objective distinction. Intellection – the acts of perceiving, cognizing, conceiving, judging, reasoning, generalizing etc are mental. But it is only by the bodily organs that doing makes the intellect known.
Secondly, the intellect must not be confounded with consciousness. Consciousness embraces feeling and is necessary for intellect, but not sufficient. Unconscious feeling is a contradiction in terms.
Next, distinguish between intellect and knowledge. Knowledge is active or passive. The verb knowing is active. In every moment there is a reaction to sensation that goes to perception. Yet there is also practical knowledge that is garnered for its own sake. Intelligence is intellectual capacity in possession of adequate supplies of this kind of knowledge. It is not as disinterested as genius. It is what DeTocquevelle said was necessary for citizens in a representative democracy.
Finally, intellect is not the dynamic agent in the mind. This comes from desire. BUT IT IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY OBJECTS OF THIS WORK TO SHOW THAT WHILE THE SUBJECTIVE FACTORS OF MIND FURNISH THE TRUE SOCIAL FORCES, THE OBJECTIVE FACTORS FURNISH THE GUIDE TO THOSE FORCES.
Will is a force, but not the intellect. Intellect is just a directing agent. The true efficacy if intellectual action is that it makes nature do work. Political economists speak of production, but what is that but the work of natural forces directed by intelligence. The real labor is done by nature, but the product is artificial. Love, as poets tell us, is blind – it is pure desire, “blind impulse”. Instincts often look like rational ones. But they are fixed to the environment in which they happen. Intellect diminishes or removes the friction of the environment and helps us economize the true forces within. This ability separates us from lower animals more than anything else.
Lastly he wants to point out the psychology of intellectual direction. All the intellect does is report a means by which a desire may be attained. He report to consciousness of of the means is a psychosis, it has no muscle component. The action cannot take place until the desire has been aroused to secure such means. The route is then substituted for the desire. Lighting dynamite is muscular. But the Kaboom is intellect.
The intellect is not rare. It is in constant use and ceaselessly directs its possessor. The intellectually directed activities are classed under three general heads; first, movements of the body for the gratification of desire. The second is that of speech or communication. Through this the intellect finds a fuller expression than via mere action. Third is written communication, in which intellect is passed to future generations.
In all three ways we are different than animals and in all three ways we are rational.
::::::SOCIAL SYNTHESIS OF THE FACTORS:::::::::::
“This comparison of legislation to invention is not a mere accidental or convenient analogy. So soon as the mind rises to grasp the conception of social forces, possessing all the essential attributes of the physical forces, and differing from them only as these differ from one another, the actual identity of legislation, as it should be conducted, with mechanical invention as it is alone successfully conducted, becomes at once obvious. The successful inventor, knowing as he first must the nature of the forces and the objects with which he has to deal, so adjusts the latter that the former, though in no way increased or diminished or changed in their essential nature, will, by their natural operation, produce results beneficial to human interests. The true legislator must do precisely this and nothing else. The only difference is, that he is dealing with social forces and objects instead of physical ones.”
Lester Frank Ward – Dynamic Sociology, I, 38.
Throughout the animal kingdom there are found no better examples of energetic industry, than these in which the ends which the activities subserve are altruistic rather than egoistic.
Chapter Thirty Three
The Economy of Nature and the Economy of Mind
Nature is not always economical, but it is practical. Man is economical, but not always practical. Much is lost through error.
Some say there is a limit to sociology because humanity is different from animality and reason is different from instinct. We need new doctrines that deal with this difference. Human husbandry.
To make a man a machine is to make him anything but productive. Economists give too little attention to the nature of the being they are dealing with. It is psychological, not physical things that keep him going.
The Chapter starts (and quotes end) here:
Nature herein will denote all physical (or even psychic) into which the intellectual or rational element does not enter. Mind will be the opposite. So all is covered. This distinction is made to differentiate between economy based on human animal and economy based on rational man. The former is the school of the physiocrats, Adam Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Herbert Spencer and the modern individualists. The latter was foreshadowed by Auguste Comte.
Comte recognized a place for psychology but not as a distinct science. He placed it under “transcendental biology”. Spencer practically ignored the rational element in man. The rational element doesn’t mean that we aren’t predictable, just that we aren’t animals.
Biological economics is also called the economics of life.
Psychological economics is also called the economics of mind.
Nature works only through efficient causes. Adaptations shoot for a minimum of survival value. Huxley gave the example of the herring laying 10,000 eggs so that two can survive. Similarly so many species and tribes have existed and . . . the survival of the fittest. This system is something that no rational being would adopt and yet to meddle is to draw protest (when it comes to humans). The many attempts and failures suggests that nature works by trial and error. It works by multiplication of chances. The energy expended in getting every advantage is profligate. ‘Natural selection’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ imply too much efficiency. Rivers fastest path would be straight. By the time they curve and bump, every bit of water’s length of journey is doubled. Similarly, species arise, die due to environmental change and new ones take over. It isn’t a straight path.
Human progress is much more efficient. Check out the creation of the dagger v. the claw. We are shocked to see anything look efficient in nature. It mimics our teleological supposition. We do the only things worthy of the name economy. Seeds are sewn by nature in a very inefficient way. Spread them and hope a bird comes by. Us. . .
The environment transforms the animal. While man transforms the environment.
Psychological economy is way better than biological economy.
Our law may be defined as the survival of the best adapted structures, the survival of the plastic.
That which taxes any species the most is its organic environment. For animals this rule is iron clad. Theirs is a competition without morals. It isn’t survival of the fittest, nothing reaches its potential in the animal world. Each dies out in succession. It is temporary survival of that which can survive for a while.
Not competition, but invention is what has brought man arts and material civilization. That is the root of the triumph of the mind over natural forces. And the ceaseless aimless competition of nature.
All human institutions (law, marriage, religion, govt etc) can be seen as ways to check competition. Finally, the ethical code and the moral law of enlightened man are nothing else than the means adopted by reason, intelligence and refined sensibility for suppressing and crushing out the animal nature of man – for chaining egoistic competition that all have inherited from their animal ancestors.
We have tried mightily to supplant the competitive economics of life by the cooperative economics of mind, but ain’t out of the woods yet.
The brain of man was originally an engine of competition. Intellect was servant of the will.
Industrial competition, is like that of the animal world (soulless struggle to monopolize) but it is with mind making a true economy of energy. Those that cooperate with each other gain one hundred fold. When competition between individuals becomes the competition between associations. Such associations are the result of the cooperation that is the opposite of competition. Capital has always cooperated and combined. Labor used to fight but is seeing that cooperation beats antagonism. Competition between corporations is a step towards integration and cooperation. Just as humans gave up fighting each other for society. Eventually you get a trust, controlling all, run by a single body of men. Then you have efficiency. You also have the highest price that can be paid, it is not an unmixed evil. But that price is usually lower than under ruthless competition due to efficiency. There are always more buyers than sellers. So competition to be efficient and keep prices low continues.
If there were a total monopoly you could get rid of advertisers! Shoe stores must get the best local, have extra stock and hire extra folk to earn your business. Wasteful.
So competition and cooperation create waste. Wall mart is more efficient than mom and pop.
The real limit to the upward movement of prices is set by the buyers not the sellers.
Rational and animal motives must balance.
Cities make folks competitive and sharp, but the public school system is a cooperation that helps all.
Shrewdness gives way to inventiveness, the individual now is rational and business is competitive. Those who compare society to an organism have failed to notice the comparison is to the lowest form of organism.
Ruthless, dog-eat-dog, amoral competition doesn’t give man his due. The paradox is that individual freedom can only come through social regulation. Free competition must be honest and beneficial, not dishonest and destructive of man. Remove the fangs from corporations, for they have no souls.
Chapter Thirty Four
Meliorism is humanitarianism stripped of sentimentality. It is not ethical. It is the improvement of the social condition through cold calculation. The term comes from a woman named George Elliot. It lies between optimism and pessimism. It hopes for slow improvement.
Parts one and two set forth the leading psychic factors of civilization. Basically, subjective and objective. The will and intuitive faculties contribute to human progress.
Disatifaction with our progress comes from not looking at the state of nature we came from and the assumption that government regulation is the only kind. It is thought that human minds cannot improve things. If we accept limits we are not as pessimistic. Even laissez faire dudes say they believe the government they live under to be necessary. Government is a part of civilization and a product of mind.
It must be admitted that improvements are always possible (not abolishing government).
Civilization consists of something else besides government. Govt. plays a role, but it has been chiefly of allowing the more civilizing influences to operate. It gives security to other normal processes. Government is artificial, but so are all other improvements. Govt. improvement is a result of inventive genius as much as improvements in the plow.
The words civilization and social progress are not strictly synonymous. There may be a high state of civilization which has no progress. All progress is towards happiness or the reduction of pain. Civilization does not essentially consist in securing this end. If it does so it is incidental. Many civilizations hurt men.
Equal distribution wouldn’t give the inventor their due. But of course this due is usually taken by the shrewd businessman. And the inventor having unlimited funds isn’t justice.
Society at large should be the beneficiary of products of art, skill industry and labor. Individuals never make this their end. Individuals, given free reign, will destroy the earth and exploit others for themselves now.
We must lessen social friction that comes about from the survival of the fittest competition model of biological sociologists.
Instead the model of cooperation and division of labor undermine it. The growth of sympathy with the growth of intelligence has mitigated competition as basic drive.
It will be said that limiting competition requires a change in human nature. The answer is that intuitive reason does not crave the injury of others. Inventors deceive nature, but not with feelings to injure. The improvement of man must be seen as scientific, not moral nor ethical.
Chapter Thirty Five
We must extend the term consciousness as far down in the scale of being as feeling is conceived to exist. Sometimes we are “unconscious” of it. Schopenhauer projected the will down to the chemical level, but said none of it was conscious.
The principal objection to the society = organism equation is that it possesses no organ of consciousness.
There are two types of organizations. Some are non territorial (partial). Some only cover the inhabitants of a particular area (universal). All organizations, whether partial or universal, have some rules governing their members.
Universal organizations are homogeneous, partial ones are heterogeneous. Universal orgs are into the general good of its members. Partial ones some restricted purpose.
Universal organizations have rules that can be enforced. Partial ones (Catholic Church for example) can sort of enforce rules.
He doesn’t like the word government as it signifies distinct folk above you. He would rather say we are all part of government or a universal organization. Many who don’t even vote contribute to them via taxes. Why would the government (forgive the word) be taken as the brains of the organization? Lines of communication run up to it from the lower centers (whether consciously or not) and inform its ways.
This analogy (with mind in mind) forms a better analogy than the biological analogy to a cell.
Chapter Thirty Six
The Social Will
Even despotic governments in some ways correspond to the
individual will. People say this isn’t
Governments are often aborted or failures. Often this is due to laws that garner the opposite of the intention. This is due to ignorance of principles involved usually do to blind zeal.
The lower functions of the government are usually carried out well, the higher ones no. This is not to say that the state can never extend its powers. It must seek to obey the will of society though. It must supply that which society demands. It gets its just powers not from the “consent” of the governed (the government cannot be seen as separate from the people only checking if no one is pissed off enough to remove consent), but from the positively known will.
Chapter Thirty Seven
The Social Intellect
Will moves us but intellect guides. Egoistic intellection get us our biological needs, but progress require the inventive faculty rising into inventive genius. Our economy versus natures waste has been detailed. Tribes use the egoistic method of governance. Self-preservation and antagonism to others was the guide. Not much else has been tried.
In Dynamic Sociology he introduced the concept of “attractive legislation” This requires that we get rid of the idea that man has evil propensities. Man has been given some instincts for useful purposes. They must be channeled as water and electricity are. Instead of “thou shalt not”, positive possibilities should be opened up. Moralists try to take out the evil propensities, meliorism teaches that there are only evil consequences of actions dictated by natural impulses. Desire isn’t evil in-and-of itself.
An individual will have different desires if raised in different environments. [here he lacks some knowledge of genetics]. The desires of men depend upon their beliefs ad this is why education is so important (using the term broadly). So long as there is pain to be relieved, the attempt to heighten pleasure seems a sacrilege. Let’s get rid of abuses first.
The legislator must see himself as a scientific discoverer practicing social physics. Not just following polls, but research, observation, experimentation, discovery of laws must be made.
Real legislation is now done by committee. They deliberate and investigate the question before them, weigh evidence etc. They shouldn’t do this by party creed. The voting body should respect the results of their investigation. The goal agreed upon, the methodology should be researched.
The executive branch was seen to just administer law, but other bodies feel the pulse of their industries and areas of expertise more accurately. When the need for reform is heard, it should be given to committee.
History gives the statesman an additional basis for legislation. To legislate one should be conversant with the history of modern nations and their various systems. Few are qualified in this regard.
Furthermore, they should know about the statistical method. This lends itself towards scientific legislation.
Chapter Thirty Eight
Not socialism, Sociocracy stands opposed only to the absence of a regulatory system and regulatory doctrinaires. It says it is the duty of a society to act consciously and intelligently in the direction of guarding its own interests and working out its destiny.
Not democracy, which seems to have no actual goal or form of organization in mind.
And not politics with the creed and divisiveness attached.
Might Spencer be a greater genius than he supposed? Having pointed out what society his and how it became, might he might have unconsciously pointed out how it may be made better?
We’ve really looked at the psychology of man. Now what of society? The social will is a mass of conflicting desires which largely neutralize on another and result in little advancement in any particular direction. The social intellect is weak due to a lack of understood principles.
In Dynamic Sociology he pointed out one certain correction to the current state of things, “The universal diffusion of the maximum amount of the most important knowledge.”
“It is only after the mind of society. . . comes to stand to the social organism in somewhat the relation of the individual mind stands to the individual organism, that any fully developed art of government can be expected to appear.”
He wishes to get the mind of society to be a meme. Such an art will partake of the nature of all other arts and will be the product of the inventive faculty perfected through the inventive genius, and systematized by scientific discovery under the influence of the scientific method and spirit. [this becomes hard when a national agenda doesn’t exist : for this to happen the good of society must be a goal : culturism – he is right!!!]
Individualistic and egoistic considerations backed up the
autocracies and the so-called aristocracies alive and well in
The reaction in the direction of democracy has led to physiocracy. Physiocracy is a habit of thought that also goes by the name of individualism, and is carried so far by many as to amount to a practical anarchism. The demands of less and feebler government has led to plutocracy in the name of individual liberty, by fear mongering about the abuses of authoritarianism and aristocracy.
Wealth is thus made to flow towards certain centers of accumulation while laborers get survival pay. The crimes of exploitation are great, though government is supposed to prevent. The product of thought, government, is must abandon action. When governments worked on the principle of brute force, they could have equalized the distribution of labor. Now they work on mind and are powerless? This is backwards. It is unreasonable to say that injustice by force should be stopped and that injustice by mind should be unrestrained.
Over taxation is historically one of the worst signs of government oppression. Tithes and tribute. Now monopoly is causing folks to pay 25 to 75% extra. Few governments have extorted this much.
It can only be stopped by society itself. No a return to autocracy , aristocracy or radical democracy, but sociocracy.
The individual has reigned long enough. He has pursued his goal naturally. He should not be blamed. Society should follow the methods that made these individuals successful. And being conscious of these goals, it should approach them with the will he did. And we should also pursue these goals using intellect.
Democracy can pass smoothly into sociocracy.
What is the difference? Well it would be less if ‘the people’ really meant the people. The majority acting for society is a different thing from society acting for itself. Democratic governments are largely party governments. Some line or another is chosen. The losing party regards the government as alien and hostile and thinks of nothing but getting back power. While issues are brought up, it is obvious that the rulers care nothing for them. These are tools to get power.
A slight awakening of society would see that there are interest and questions that both parties agree upon and they would cooperate to obtain these goals. The important issues upon which all but a few agree will get their proper degree of attention. For example, when it comes to cable television, we want the cheapest with variety. We want a clean environment. We want insurance for all without the pitfalls of socialized medicine. What is the system that will get us that? We don’t investigate now we partisan posture.
This is not socialism. It doesn’t assume a new man. It must be done with the realization of the nature of man as egoistic and not so altruistic. We must look out for the interests of the rich as well as the poor.
For much time sociocracy must deal with controlling evil that exist. But a positive stage will come in which society adopts measures for its own advancement. We will make guesses based upon known human nature and experiment and note results as in any science. Clearly stated working hypotheses are essential to any science. Evaluation and reworking of the hypotheses are necessary too for a real social science.