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1. Human Interest in Human Nature

The human interest in human nature is proverbial. It is an original tendency of man to be attentive to the behavior of other human beings. Experience heightens this interest because of the dependence of the individual upon other persons, not only for physical existence, but for social life.

The literature of every people is to a large extent but the crystallization of this persistent interest. Old saws and proverbs of every people transmit from generation to generation shrewd generalizations upon human behavior. In joke and in epigram, in caricature and in burlesque, in farce and in comedy, men of all races and times have enjoyed with keen relish the humor of the contrast between the conventional and the natural motives in behavior. In Greek mythology, individual traits of human nature are abstracted, idealized, and personified into gods. The heroes of Norse sagas and Teutonic legends are the gigantic symbols of primary emotions and sentiments. Historical characters live in the social memory not alone because they are identified with political, religious, or national movements but also because they have come to typify human relationships. The loyalty of Damon and Pythias, the grief of Rachel weeping for her children, the cynical cruelty of the egocentric Nero, the perfidy of Benedict Arnold, the comprehending sympathy of Abraham Lincoln, are proverbial, and as such have become part of the common language of all the peoples who participate in our occidental culture.

Poetry, drama, and the plastic arts are interesting and significant only so far as they reveal in new and ever changing circumstances the unchanging characteristics of a fundamental human nature. Illustrations of this naïve and unreflecting interest in the study of mankind are familiar enough in the experience and observation of any of us. Intellectual interest in, and the scientific observation of, human traits and human behavior have their origin in this natural interest and unreflective observation by man of his fellows. History, ethnology, folklore, all the comparative studies of single cultural traits, i.e., of language, of religion, and of law, are but the more systematic pursuit of this universal interest of mankind in man.

2. Definition of Human Nature

The natural history of the expression “human nature” is interesting. Usage has given it various shades of meaning. In defining the term more precisely there is a tendency either unwarrantedly to narrow or unduly to extend and overemphasize some one or another of the different senses of the term. A survey of these varied uses reveals the common and fundamental meaning of the phrase.

The use which common sense makes of the term human nature is significant. It is used in varied contexts with the most divergent implications but always by way of explanation of behavior that is characteristically human. The phrase is sometimes employed with cynical deprecation as, “Oh, that’s human nature.” Or as often, perhaps, as an expression of approbation, “He’s so human.”

The weight of evidence as expressed in popular sayings is distinctly in depreciation of man’s nature.

It’s human natur’, p’raps, if so,
Oh, isn’t human natur’ low,

are two lines from Gilbert’s musical comedy “Babette’s Love.” “To err is human, to forgive divine” reminds us of a familiar contrast. “Human nature is like a bad clock; it might go right now and then, or be made to strike the hour, but its inward frame is to go wrong,” is a simile that emphasizes the popular notion that man’s behavior tends to the perverse. An English divine settles the question with the statement, “Human nature is a rogue and a scoundrel, or why would it perpetually stand in need of laws and religion?”

Even those who see good in the natural man admit his native tendency to err. Sir Thomas Browne asserts that “human nature knows naturally what is good but naturally pursues what is evil.” The Earl of Clarendon gives the equivocal explanation that “if we did not take great pains to corrupt our nature, our nature would never corrupt us.” Addison, from the detached position of an observer and critic of manners and men, concludes that “as man is a creature made up of different extremes, he has something in him very great and very mean.”

The most commonly recognized distinction between man and the lower animals lies in his possession of reason. Yet familiar sayings tend to exclude the intellectual from the human attributes. Lord Bacon shrewdly remarks that “there is in human nature, generally, more of the fool than of the wise.” The phrase “he is a child of nature” means that behavior in social relations is impulsive, simple, and direct rather than reflective, sophisticated, or consistent. Wordsworth depicts this human type in his poem “She Was a Phantom of Delight”:

A creature not too bright or good
For human nature’s daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.

The inconsistency between the rational professions and the impulsive behavior of men is a matter of common observation. “That’s not the logic, reason, or philosophy of it, but it’s the human nature of it.” It is now generally recognized that the older English conception of the “economic man” and the “rational man,” motivated by enlightened self-interest, was far removed from the “natural man” impelled by impulse, prejudice, and sentiment, in short, by human nature. Popular criticism has been frequently directed against the reformer in politics, the efficiency expert in industry, the formalist in religion and morals on the ground that they overlook or neglect the so-called “human factor” in the situation. Sir Arthur Helps says:

No doubt hard work is a great police-agent; if everybody were worked from morning till night, and then carefully locked up, the register of crimes might be greatly diminished. But what would become of human nature? Where would be the room for growth in such a system of things? It is through sorrow and mirth, plenty and need, a variety of passions, circumstances, and temptations, even through sin and misery, that men’s natures are developed.

Certain sayings already quoted imply that the nature of man is a fact to be reckoned with in controlling his behavior. “There are limits to human nature” which cannot lightly be overstepped. “Human nature,” according to Periander, “is hard to overcome.” Yet we also recognize with Swift that “it is the talent of human nature to run from one extreme to another.” Finally, nothing is more trite and familiar than the statement that “human nature is the same all over the world.” This fundamental likeness of human nature, despite artificial and superficial cultural differences, has found a classic expression in Kipling’s line: “The Colonel’s Lady an’ Judy O’Grady are sisters under their skins!”

Human nature, then, as distinct from the formal wishes of the individual and the conventional order of society, is an aspect of human life that must be reckoned with. Common sense has long recognized this, but until recently no systematic attempt has been made to isolate, describe, and explain the distinctively human factors in the life either of the individual or of society.

Of all that has been written on this subject the most adequate statement is that of Cooley. He has worked out with unusual penetration and peculiar insight an interpretation of human nature as a product of group life.

By human nature we may understand those sentiments and impulses that are human in being superior to those of lower animals, and also in the sense that they belong to mankind at large, and not to any particular race or time. It means, particularly, sympathy and the innumerable sentiments into which sympathy enters, such as love, resentment, ambition, vanity, hero-worship, and the feeling of social right and wrong.

Human nature in this sense is justly regarded as a comparatively permanent element in society. Always and everywhere men seek honor and dread ridicule, defer to public opinion, cherish their goods and their children, and admire courage, generosity, and success. It is always safe to assume that people are and have been human.

Human nature is not something existing separately in the individual, but a group nature or primary phase of society, a relatively simple and general condition of the social mind. It is something more, on the one hand, than the mere instinct that is born in us though that enters into it and something less, on the other, than the more elaborate development of ideas and sentiments that makes up institutions. It is the nature which is developed and expressed in those simple, face-to-face groups that are somewhat alike in all societies; groups of the family, the playground, and the neighborhood. In the essential similarity of these is to be found the basis, in experience, for similar ideas and sentiments in the human mind. In these, everywhere, human nature comes into existence. Man does not have it at birth; he cannot acquire it except through fellowship, and it decays in isolation.

3. Classification of the Materials

With the tacit acceptance by biologists, psychologists, and sociologists of human behavior as a natural phenomenon, materials upon human nature have rapidly accumulated. The wealth and variety of these materials are all the greater because of the diversity of the points of view from which workers in this field have attacked the problem. The value of the results of these investigations is enhanced when they are brought together, classified, and compared.

The materials fall naturally into two divisions: (a) “The Original Nature of Man” and (b) “Human Nature and Social Life.” This division is based upon a distinction between traits that are inborn and characters socially acquired; a distinction found necessary by students in this field. Selections under the third heading, “Personality and the Social Self” indicate the manner in which the individual develops under the social influences, from the raw material of “instinct” into the social product “the person.” Materials in the fourth division, “Biological and Social Inheritance,” contrast the method of the transmission of original tendencies through the germ plasm with the communication of the social heritage through education.

a) The original nature of man. No one has stated more clearly than Thorndike that human nature is a product of two factors, (a) tendencies to response rooted in original nature and (b) the accumulated effects of the stimuli of the external and social environment. At birth man is a bundle of random tendencies to respond. Through experience, and by means of the mechanisms of habit and character, control is secured over instinctive reactions. In other words, the original nature of man is, as Comte said, an abstraction. It exists only in the psychic vacuum of antenatal life, or perhaps only in the potentiality of the germ plasm. The fact of observation is that the structure of the response is irrevocably changed in the process of reaction to the stimulus. The Biography of a Baby gives a concrete picture of the development of the plastic infant in the environment of the social group.

The three papers on differences between sexes, races, and individuals serve as an introduction into the problem of differentiating the aspects of behavior which are in original nature from those that are acquired through social experience. Are the apparent differences between men and women, white and colored, John and James, those which arise from differences in the germ plasm or from differences in education and in cultural contacts? The selections must not be taken as giving the final word upon the subject. At best they represent merely the conclusions reached by three investigators. Attempts to arrive at positive differences in favor either of original nature or of education are frequently made in the interest of preconceived opinion. The problem, as far as science is concerned, is to discover what limitations original nature places upon response to social copies, and the ways in which the inborn potentialities find expression or repression in differing types of social environment.

b) Human nature and social life. Original nature is represented in human responses in so far as they are determined by the innate structure of the individual organism. The materials assembled under this head treat of inborn reactions as influenced, modified, and reconstructed by the structure of the social organization.

The actual reorganization of human nature takes place in response to the folkways and mores, the traditions and conventions, of the group. So potentially fitted for social life is the natural man, however, so manifold are the expressions that the plastic original tendencies may take, that instinct is replaced by habit, precedent, personal taboo, and good form. This remade structure of human nature, this objective mind, as Hegel called it, is fixed and transmitted in the folkways and mores, social ritual, i.e., Sittlichkeit, to use the German word, and convention.

c) Personality and the social self. The selections upon “Personality and the Social Self” bring together and compare the different definitions of the term. These definitions fall under three heads:

(1) The organism as personality: This is a biological statement, satisfactory as a definition only as preparatory to further analysis.

(2) Personality as a complex: Personality defined in terms of the unity of mental life is a conception that has grown up in the recent “individual psychology,” so called. Personality includes, in this case, not only the memories of the individual and his stream of consciousness, but also the characteristic organization of mental complexes and trends which may be thought of as a supercomplex. The phenomena of double and multiple personalities occur when this unity becomes disorganized. Disorganization in releasing groups of complexes from control may even permit the formation of independent organizations. Morton Prince’s book The Dissociation of a Personality is a classic case study of multiple personality. The selections upon “The Natural Person versus the Social and Conventional Person” and “The Divided Self and the Moral Consciousness” indicate the more usual and less extreme conflicts of opposing sentiments and interests within the organization of personality.

(3) Personality as the rôle of the individual in the group: The word personality is derived from the Latin persona, a mask used by actors. The etymology of the term suggests that its meaning is to be found in the rôle of the individual in the social group. By usage, personality carries the implication of the social expression of behavior. Personality may then be defined as the sum and organization of those traits which determine the rôle of the individual in the group. The following is a classification of the characteristics of the person which affect his social status and efficiency:

(a) physical traits, as physique, physiognomy, etc.; (b) temperament; (c) character; (d) social expression, as by facial expression, gesture, manner, speech, writing, etc.; (e) prestige, as by birth, past success, status, etc.; (f) the individual’s conception of his rôle.

The significance of these traits consists in the way in which they enter into the rôle of the individual in his social milieu. Chief among these may be considered the individual’s conception of the part which he plays among his fellows. Cooley’s discriminating description of “the looking-glass self” offers a picture of the process by which the person conceives himself in terms of the attitudes of others toward him.

The reflected or looking-glass self seems to have three principal elements: the imagination of our appearance to the other person; the imagination of his judgment of that appearance; and some sort of self-feeling, such as pride or mortification. The comparison with a looking-glass self hardly suggests the second element, the imagined judgment, which is quite essential. The thing that moves us to pride or shame is not the mere mechanical reflection of ourselves, but an imputed sentiment, the imagined effect of this reflection upon another’s mind. This is evident from the fact that the character and weight of that other, in whose mind we see ourselves, makes all the difference with our feeling.

Veblen has made a subtle analysis of the way in which conduct is controlled by the individual’s conception of his social rôle in his analysis of “invidious comparison” and “conspicuous expenditure."

d) Biological and social inheritance. The distinction between biological and social inheritance is sharply made by the noted biologist, J. Arthur Thomson, in the selection entitled “Nature and Nurture.” The so-called “acquired characters” or modifications of original nature through experience, he points out, are transmitted not through the germ plasm but through communication.

Thorndike’s “Inventory of Original Tendencies” offers a detailed classification of the traits transmitted biologically. Since there exists no corresponding specific analysis of acquired traits, the following brief inventory of types of social heritages is offered.


(a) means of communication, as language, gesture, etc.; (b) social attitudes, habits, wishes, etc.; (c) character; (d) social patterns, as folkways, mores, conventions, ideals, etc.; (e) technique; (f) culture (as distinguished from technique, formal organization, and machinery); (g) social organization (primary group life, institutions, sects, secondary groups, etc.).

On the basis of the work of Mendel, biologists have made marked progress in determining the inheritance of specific traits of original nature. The selection from a foremost American student of heredity and eugenics, C. B. Davenport, entitled “Inheritance of Original Nature” indicates the precision and accuracy with which the prediction of the inheritance of individual innate traits is made.

The mechanism of the transmission of social heritages, while more open to observation than biological inheritance, has not been subjected to as intensive study. The transmission of the social heritage takes place by communication, as Keller points out, through the medium of the various senses. The various types of the social heritages are transmitted in two ways: (a) by tradition, as from generation to generation, and (b) by acculturation, as from group to group.

In the communication of the social heritages, either by tradition or by acculturation, two aspects of the process may be distinguished: (a) Because of temperament, interest, and run of attention of the members of the group, the heritage, whether a word, an act of skill, or a social attitude, may be selected, appropriated, and incorporated into its culture. This is communication by imitation. (b) On the other hand, the heritage may be imposed upon the members of the group through authority and routine, by tabu and repression. This is communication by inculcation. In any concrete situation the transmission of a social heritage may combine varying elements of both processes. Education, as the etymology of the term suggests, denotes culture of original tendencies; yet the routine of a school system is frequently organized about formal discipline rather than around interest, aptitude, and attention.

Historically, the scientific interest in the question of biological and social inheritance has concerned itself with the rather sterile problem of the weight to be attached on the one hand to physical heredity and on the other to social heritage. The selection, “Temperament, Tradition, and Nationality” suggests that a more important inquiry is to determine how the behavior patterns and the culture of a racial group or a social class are determined by the interaction of original nature and the social tradition. According to this conception, racial temperament is an active selective agency, determining interest and the direction of attention. The group heritages on the other hand represent a detached external social environment, a complex of stimuli, effective only in so far as they call forth responses. The culture of a group is the sum total and organization of the social heritages which have acquired a social meaning because of racial temperament and of the historical life of the group.



1. Original Nature Defined

A man’s nature and the changes that take place in it may be described in terms of the responses of thought, feeling, action, and attitude which he makes, and of the bonds by which these are connected with the situations which life offers. Any fact of intellect, character, or skill means a tendency to respond in a certain way to a certain situation involves a situation or state of affairs influencing the man, a response or state of affairs in the man, and a connection or bond whereby the latter is the result of the former.

Any man possesses at the very start of his life that is, at the moment when the ovum and spermatozoon which are to produce him have united numerous well-defined tendencies to future behavior. Between the situations which he will meet and the responses which he will make to them, pre-formed bonds exist. It is already determined by the constitution of these two germs that under certain circumstances he will see and hear and feel and act in certain ways. His intellect and morals, as well as his bodily organs and movements, are in part the consequence of the nature of the embryo in the first moment of its life. What a man is and does throughout life is a result of whatever constitution he has at the start and of the forces that act upon it before and after birth. I shall use the term “original nature” for the former and “environment” for the latter. His original nature is thus a name for the nature of the combined germ-cells from which he springs, and his environment is a name for the rest of the universe, so far as it may, directly or indirectly, influence him.

Three terms, reflexes, instincts, and inborn capacities, divide the work of naming these unlearned tendencies. When the tendency concerns a very definite and uniform response to a very simple sensory situation, and when the connection between the situation and the response is very hard to modify and is also very strong so that it is almost inevitable, the connection or response to which it leads is called a reflex. Thus the knee-jerk is a very definite and uniform response to the simple sense-stimulus of sudden hard pressure against a certain spot.

When the response is more indefinite, the situation more complex, and the connection more modifiable, instinct becomes the customary term. Thus one’s misery at being scorned is too indefinite a response to too complex a situation and is too easily modifiable to be called a reflex. When the tendency is to an extremely indefinite response or set of responses to a very complex situation, as when the connection’s final degree of strength is commonly due to very large contributions from training, it has seemed more appropriate to replace reflex and instinct by some term like capacity, or tendency, or potentiality. Thus an original tendency to respond to the circumstances of school education by achievement in learning the arts and sciences is called the capacity for scholarship.

There is, of course, no gap between reflexes and instincts, or between instincts and the still less easily describable original tendencies. The fact is that original tendencies range with respect to the nature of the responses from such as are single, simple, definite, uniform within the individual and only slightly variable amongst individuals, to responses that are highly compound, complex, vague, and variable within one individual’s life and amongst individuals.

A typical reflex, or instinct, or capacity, as a whole, includes the ability to be sensitive to a certain situation, the ability to make a certain response, and the existence of a bond or connection whereby that response is made to that situation. For instance, the young chick is sensitive to the absence of other members of his species, is able to peep, and is so organized that the absence of other members of the species makes him peep. But the tendency to be sensitive to a certain situation may exist without the existence of a connection therewith of any further exclusive response, and the tendency to make a certain response may exist without the existence of a connection limiting that response exclusively to any single situation. The three-year-old child is by inborn nature markedly sensitive to the presence and acts of other human beings, but the exact nature of his response varies. The original tendency to cry is very strong, but there is no one situation to which it is exclusively bound. Original nature seems to decide that the individual will respond somehow to certain situations more often than it decides just what he will do, and to decide that he will make certain responses more often than it decides just when he will make them. So, for convenience in thinking about man’s unlearned equipment, this appearance of multiple response to one same situation and multiple causation of one same response may be taken roughly as the fact.

2. Inventory of Original Tendencies

I. Sensory capacities

II. Original attentiveness

III. Gross bodily control

IV. Food getting and habitation
A. Food getting
1. Eating.
2. Reaching, grasping, putting into the mouth.
3. Acquisition and possession.
4. Hunting (a) a small escaping object, (b) a small or moderate-sized object not of offensive mien, moving away from or past him.
5. Possible specialized tendencies.
6. Collecting and hoarding.
7. Avoidance and repulsion.
8. Rivalry and co-operation

B. Habitation
1. Responses to confinement.
2. Migration and domesticity

V. Fear, fighting, and anger
A. Fear
1. Unpleasant expectation and drea. Anxiety and
worr. Dislike and avoidanc. Shoc. Flight,
paralysis, etc.
B. Fighting
1. Escape from restrain. Overcoming a moving obstacle.
3. Counter-attac. Irrational response to pain.
5. Combat in rivalr. Resentment of presence of other
males in courtshi. Angry behavior at persistent
C. Anger

VI. Responses to the behavior of other human beings
A. Motherly behavior
B. Filial behavior
C. Responses to presence, approval, and scorn of men
1. Gregariousnes. Attention to human being. Attention-getting.
4. Responses to approval and scorn.
5. Responses by approval and scorn
D. Mastering and submissive behavior
1. Displa. Shynes. Self-conscious behavior
E. Other social instincts
1. Sex behavio. Secretivenes. Rivalr. Co-operation.
5. Suggestibility and oppositio. Envious
and jealous behavio. Gree. Ownershi. Kindliness.
10. Teasing, tormenting, and bullying
F. Imitation
1. General imitativenes. Imitation of particular forms
of behavior

VII. Original satisfiers and annoyers

VIII. Minor bodily movements and cerebral connections
A. Vocalization
B. Visual exploration
C. Manipulation
D. Other possible specializations
1. Constructivenes. Cleanlines. Adornment and art
E. Curiosity and mental control
1. Curiosit. The instinct of multiform mental activity.
3. The instinct of multiform physical activity.
4. The instinct of workmanship and the desire for excellence
F. Play

IX. The emotions and their expression

X. Consciousness, learning, and remembering

3. Man Not Born Human

Man is not born human. It is only slowly and laboriously, in fruitful contact, co-operation, and conflict with his fellows, that he attains the distinctive qualities of human nature. In the course of his prenatal life he has already passed roughly through, or, as the biologists say, “recapitulated,” the whole history of his animal ancestors. He brings with him at birth a multitude of instincts and tendencies, many of which persist during life and many of which are only what G. Stanley Hall calls “vestigial traces” of his brute ancestry, as is shown by the fact that they are no longer useful and soon disappear.

These non-volitional movements of earliest infancy and of later childhood (such as licking things, clicking with the tongue, grinding the teeth, biting the nails, shrugging corrugations, pulling buttons, or twisting garments, strings, etc., twirling pencils, etc.) are relics of past forms of utilities now essentially obsolete. Ancient modes of locomotion, prehension, balancing, defense, attack, sensuality, etc., are all rehearsed, some quite fully and some only by the faintest mimetic suggestion, flitting spasmodic tensions, gestures, or facial expressions.

Human nature may therefore be regarded on the whole as a superstructure founded on instincts, dispositions, and tendencies, inherited from a long line of human and animal ancestors. It consists mainly in a higher organization of forces, a more subtle distillation of potencies latent in what Thorndike calls “the original nature of man.”

The original nature of man is roughly what is common to all men minus all adaptations to tools, houses, clothes, furniture, words, beliefs, religions, laws, science, the arts, and to whatever in other men’s behavior is due to adaptations to them. From human nature as we find it, take away, first, all that is in the European but not in the Chinaman, all that is in the Fiji Islander but not in the Esquimaux, all that is local or temporary. Then take away also the effects of all products of human art. What is left of human intellect and character is largely original not wholly, for all those elements of knowledge which we call ideas and judgments must be subtracted from his responses. Man originally possesses only capacities which, after a given amount of education, will produce ideas and judgments.

Such, in general, is the nature of human beings before that nature has been modified by experience and formed by the education and the discipline of contact and intercourse with their fellows.

Several writers, among them William James, have attempted to make a rough inventory of the special instinctive tendencies with which human beings are equipped at birth. First of all there are the simpler reflexes such as “crying, sneezing, snoring, coughing, sighing, sobbing, gagging, vomiting, hiccuping, starting, moving the limb in response to its being tickled, touched or blown upon, spreading the toes in response to its being touched, tickled, or stroked on the sole of the foot, extending and raising the arms at any sudden sensory stimulus, or the quick pulsation of the eyelid.”

Then there are the more complex original tendencies such as sucking, chewing, sitting up, and gurgling. Among the more general unlearned responses of children are fear, anger, pugnacity, envy, jealousy, curiosity, constructiveness, love of festivities, ceremonies and ordeals, sociability and shyness, secretiveness, etc. Thorndike, who quotes this list at length, has sought to give definiteness to its descriptions by clearly defining and distinguishing the character of the situation to which the behavior cited is a response. For example, to the situation, “strange man or animal, to solitude, black things, dark places, holes and corners, a human corpse,” the native and unlearned response is fear. The original response of man to being alone is an experience of discomfort, to perceiving a crowd, “a tendency to join them and do what they are doing and an unwillingness to leave off and go home.” It is part of man’s original nature when he is in love to conceal his love affairs, and so forth.

It is evident from this list that what is meant by original nature is not confined to the behavior which manifests itself at birth, but includes man’s spontaneous and unlearned responses to situations as they arise in the experience of the individual.

The widespread interest in the study of children has inspired in recent years a considerable literature bearing upon the original and inherited tendencies of human nature. The difficulty of distinguishing between what is original and what is acquired among the forms of behavior reported upon, and the further difficulty of obtaining accurate descriptions of the situations to which the behavior described was a response, has made much of this literature of doubtful value for scientific purposes. These studies have, nevertheless, contributed to a radical change in our conceptions of human nature. They have shown that the distinction between the mind of man and that of the lower animals is not so wide nor so profound as was once supposed. They have emphasized the fact that human nature rests on animal nature, and the transition from one to the other, in spite of the contrast in their separate achievements, has been made by imperceptible gradations. In the same way they have revealed, beneath differences in culture and individual achievement, the outlines of a pervasive and relatively unchanging human nature in which all races and individuals have a common share.

The study of human nature begins with description, but it goes on from that point to explanation. If the descriptions which we have thus far had of human nature are imperfect and lacking in precision, it is equally true that the explanations thus far invented have, on the whole, been inadequate. One reason for this has been the difficulty of the task. The mechanisms which control human behavior are, as might be expected, tremendously complicated, and the problem of analyzing them into their elementary forms and reducing their varied manifestations to precise and lucid formulas is both intricate and perplexing.

The foundation for the explanation of human nature has been laid, however, by the studies of behavior in animals and the comparative study of the physiology of the nervous system. Progress has been made, on the one hand, by seeking for the precise psycho-chemical process involved in the nervous reactions, and on the other, by reducing all higher mental processes to elementary forms represented by the tropisms and reflex actions.

In this, science has made a considerable advance upon common sense in its interpretations of human behavior, but has introduced no new principle; it has simply made its statements more detailed and exact. For example, common sense has observed that “the burnt child shuns the fire,” that “the moth seeks the flame.” These are both statements of truths of undoubted generality. In order to give them the validity of scientific truth, however, we need to know what there is in the nature of the processes involved that makes it inevitable that the child should shun the fire and the moth should seek the flame. It is not sufficient to say that the action in one case is instinctive and in the other intelligent, unless we are able to give precise and definite meanings to those terms; unless, in short, we are able to point out the precise mechanisms through which these reactions are carried out. The following illustration from Loeb’s volume on the comparative physiology of the brain will illustrate the distinction between the common sense and the more precise scientific explanation of the behavior in man and the lower animals.

It is a well-known fact that if an ant be removed from a nest and afterward put back it will not be attacked, while almost invariably an ant belonging to another nest will be attacked. It has been customary to use the words memory, enmity, friendship, in describing this fact. Now Bethe made the following experiment: an ant was placed in the liquids (blood and lymph) squeezed out from the bodies of nest companions and was then put back into its nest; it was not attacked. It was then put in the juice taken from the inmates of a “hostile” nest and was at once attacked and killed. Bethe was able to prove by special experiments that these reactions of ants are not learned by experience, but are inherited. The “knowing” of “friend and foe” among ants is thus reduced to different reactions, depending upon the nature of the chemical stimulus and in no way depending upon memory.

Here, again, there is no essential difference between the common sense and the scientific explanation of the behavior of the ant except so far as the scientific explanation is more accurate, defining the precise mechanisms by which the recognition of “friend and foe” is effected, and the limitations to which it is subject.

Another result of the study of the comparative behavior of man and the lower animals has been to convince students that there is no fundamental difference between what was formerly called intelligent and instinctive behavior; that they may rather be reduced, as has been said, to the elementary form of reaction represented by the simple reflex in animals and the tropism in plants. Thus Loeb says:

A prominent psychologist has maintained that reflexes are to be considered as the mechanical effects of acts of volition of past generations. The ganglion-cell seems the only place where such mechanical effects could be stored up. It has therefore been considered the most essential element of the reflex mechanism, the nerve-fibers being regarded, and probably correctly, merely as conductors.

Both the authors who emphasize the purposefulness of the reflex act, and those who see in it only a physical process, have invariably looked upon the ganglion-cell as the principal bearer of the structures for the complex co-ordinated movements in reflex action.

I should have been as little inclined as any other physiologist to doubt the correctness of this conception had not the establishment of the identity of the reactions of animals and plants to light proved the untenability of this view and at the same time offered a different conception of reflexes. The flight of the moth into the flame is a typical reflex process. The light stimulates the peripheral sense organs, the stimulus passes to the central nervous system, and from there to the muscles of the wings, and the moth is caused to fly into the flame. This reflex process agrees in every point with the heliotropic effects of light on plant organs. Since plants possess no nerves, this identity of animal with plant heliotropism can offer but one inference these heliotropic effects must depend upon conditions which are common to both animals and plants.

On the other hand, Watson, in his Introduction to Comparative Psychology, defines the reflex as “a unit of analysis of instinct,” and this means that instinctive actions in man and in animals may be regarded as combinations of simple reflex actions, that is to say of “fairly definite and generally predictable but unlearned responses of lower and higher organisms to stimuli.” Many of these reflex responses are not fixed, as they were formerly supposed to be, but “highly unstable and indefinite.” This fact makes possible the formation of habits, by combination and fixation of these inherited responses.

These views in the radical form in which they are expressed by Loeb and Watson have naturally enough been the subject of considerable controversy, both on scientific and sentimental grounds. They seem to reduce human behavior to a system of chemical and physical reactions, and rob life of all its spiritual values. On the other hand, it must be remembered that human beings, like other forms of nature, have this mechanical aspect and it is precisely the business of natural science to discover and lay them bare. It is only thus that we are able to gain control over ourselves and of others. It is a matter of common experience that we do form habits and that education and social control are largely dependent upon our ability to establish habits in ourselves and in others. Habit is, in fact, a characteristic example of just what is meant by “mechanism,” in the sense in which it is here used. It is through the fixation of habit that we gain that control over our “original nature,” which lifts us above the brutes and gives human nature its distinctive character as human. Character is nothing more than the sum and co-ordination of those mechanisms which we call habit and which are formed on the basis of the inherited and instinctive tendencies and dispositions which we share in so large a measure with the lower animals.

4. The Natural Man

“Its first act is a cry, not of wrath, as Kant said, nor a shout of joy, as Schwartz thought, but a snuffling, and then a long, thin, tearless a-a, with the timbre of a Scotch bagpipe, purely automatic, but of discomfort. With this monotonous and dismal cry, with its red, shriveled, parboiled skin (for the child commonly loses weight the first few days), squinting, cross-eyed, pot-bellied, and bow-legged, it is not strange that, if the mother has not followed Froebel’s exhortations and come to love her child before birth, there is a brief interval occasionally dangerous to the child before the maternal instinct is fully aroused.”

The most curious of all the monkey traits shown by the new-born baby is the one investigated by Dr. Louis Robinson. It was suggested by The Luck of Roaring Camp. The question was raised in conversation whether a limp and molluscous baby, unable so much as to hold up its head on its helpless little neck, could do anything so positive as to “rastle with” Kentuck’s finger; and the more knowing persons present insisted that a young baby does, as a matter of fact, have a good firm hand-clasp. It occurred to Dr. Robinson that if this was true it was a beautiful Darwinian point, for clinging and swinging by the arms would naturally have been a specialty with our ancestors if they ever lived a monkey-like life in the trees. The baby that could cling best to its mother as she used hands, feet, and tail to flee in the best time over the trees, or to get at the more inaccessible fruits and eggs in time of scarcity, would be the baby that lived to bequeath his traits to his descendants; so that to this day our housed and cradled human babies would keep in their clinging powers a reminiscence of our wild treetop days.

There is another class of movements, often confused with the reflex that is, instinctive movements. Real grasping (as distinguished from reflex grasping), biting, standing, walking, are examples of this class. They are race movements, the habits of the species to which the animal belongs, and every normal member of the species is bound to come to them; yet they are not so fixed in the bodily mechanism as the reflex movements.

The one instinct the human baby always brings into the world already developed is half a mere reflex act that of sucking. It is started as a reflex would be, by the touch of some object pencil, finger, or nipple, it may be between the lips; but it does not act like a reflex after that. It continues and ceases without reference to this external stimulus, and a little later often begins without it, or fails to begin when the stimulus is given. If it has originally a reflex character, that character fades out and leaves it a pure instinct.

My little niece evidently felt a difference between light and darkness from the first hour, for she stopped crying when her face was exposed to gentle light. Two or three report also a turning of the head toward the light within the first week. The nurse, who was intelligent and exact, thought she saw this in the case of my niece. I did not, but I saw instead a constant turning of the eyes toward a person coming near her that is, toward a large dark mass that interrupted the light. No other sign of vision appeared in the little one during the first fortnight. The eyes were directed to nothing, fixed on nothing. They did not wink if one made a pass at them. There was no change of focus for near or distant seeing.

The baby showed no sign of hearing anything until the third day, when she started violently at the sound of tearing paper, some eight feet from her. After that, occasional harsh or sudden sounds oftener the rustling of paper than anything else could make her start or cry. It is well established by the careful tests of several physiologists that babies are deaf for a period lasting from several hours to several days after birth.

Taste and smell were senses that the baby gave no sign of owning till much later. The satisfaction of hunger was quite enough to account for the contentment she showed in nursing; and when she was not hungry she would suck the most tasteless object as cheerfully as any other.

Our baby showed from the first that she was aware when she was touched. She stopped crying when she was cuddled or patted. She showed comfort in the bath, which may have been in part due to freedom from the contact of clothes, and to liking for the soft touches of the water. She responded with sucking motions to the first touch of the nipple on her lips.

Our baby showed temperament luckily of the easy-going and cheerful kind from her first day, though we could hardly see this except by looking backward. On the twenty-fifth day, toward evening, when the baby was lying on her grandmother’s knee by the fire, in a condition of high well-being and content, gazing at her grandmother’s face with an expression of attention, I came and sat down close by, leaning over the baby, so that my face must have come within the indirect range of her vision. At that she turned her eyes to my face and gazed at it with the same appearance of attention, and even of some effort, shown by the slight tension of brows and lips, then turned her eyes back to her grandmother’s face, and again to mine, and so several times. The last time she seemed to catch sight of my shoulder, on which a high light struck from the lamp, and not only moved her eyes but threw her head far back to see it better, and gazed for some time with a new expression on her face “a sort of dim and rudimentary eagerness,” says my note. She no longer stared, but really looked.

The baby’s increased interest in seeing centered especially on the faces about her, at which she gazed with rapt interest. Even during the period of mere staring, faces had oftenest held her eyes, probably because they were oftener brought within the range of her clearest seeing than other light surfaces. The large, light, moving patch of the human face (as Preyer has pointed out) coming and going in the field of vision, and oftener chancing to hover at the point of clearest seeing than any other object, embellished with a play of high lights on cheeks, teeth, and eyes, is calculated to excite the highest degree of attention a baby is capable of at a month old. So from the very first before the baby has yet really seen his mother her face and that of his other nearest friends become the most active agents in his development and the most interesting things in his experience.

Our baby was at this time in a way aware of the difference between companionship and solitude. In the latter days of the first month she would lie contentedly in the room with people near by, but would fret if left alone. But by the end of the month she was apt to fret when she was laid down on a chair or lounge, and to become content only when taken into the lap. This was not yet distinct memory and desire, but it showed that associations of pleasure had been formed with the lap, and that she felt a vague discomfort in the absence of these.

Nature has provided an educational appliance almost ideally adapted to the child’s sense condition, in the mother’s face, hovering close above him, smiling, laughing, nodding, with all manner of delightful changes in the high lights; in the thousand little meaningless caressing sounds, the singing, talking, calling, that proceed from it; the patting, cuddling, lifting, and all the ministrations that the baby feels while gazing at it, and associates with it, till finally they group together and round out into the idea of his mother as a whole.

Our baby’s mother rather resented the idea of being to her baby only a collection of detached phenomena, instead of a mamma; but the more you think of it, the more flattering it is to be thus, as it were, dissolved into your elements and incorporated item by item into the very foundations of your baby’s mental life. Herein is hinted much of the philosophy of personality; and Professor Baldwin has written a solid book, mainly to show from the development of babies and little children that all other people are part of each of us, and each of us is part of all other people, and so there is really no separate personality, but we are all one spirit, if we did but know it.

5. Sex Differences

As children become physically differentiated in respect of sex, so also does a mental differentiation ensue. Differences are observed in the matter of occupation, of games, of movements, and numerous other details. Since man is to play the active part in life, boys rejoice especially in rough outdoor games. Girls, on the other hand, prefer such games as correspond to their future occupations. Hence their inclination to mother smaller children, and to play with dolls. Watch how a little girl takes care of her doll, washes it, dresses and undresses it. When only six or seven years of age she is often an excellent nurse. Her need to occupy herself in such activities is often so great that she pretends that her doll is ill.

In all kinds of ways, we see the little girl occupying herself in the activities and inclinations of her future existence. She practices house work; she has a little kitchen, in which she cooks for herself and her doll. She is fond of needlework. The care of her own person, and more especially its adornment, is not forgotten. I remember seeing a girl of three who kept on interrupting her elders’ conversation by crying out, “New clothes!” and would not keep quiet until these latter had been duly admired. The love of self-adornment is almost peculiar to female children; boys, on the other hand, prefer rough outdoor games, in which their muscles are actively employed, robber-games, soldier-games, and the like. And whereas, in early childhood, both sexes are fond of very noisy games, the fondness for these disappears earlier in girls than in boys.

Differences between the sexes have been established also by means of experimental psychology, based upon the examination of a very large number of instances. Berthold Hartmann has studied the childish circle of thought, by means of a series of experiments. Schoolboys to the number of 660 and schoolgirls to the number of 652, at ages between five and three-fourths and six and three-fourths years, were subjected to examination. It was very remarkable to see how, in respect to certain ideas, such as those of the triangle, cube, and circle, the girls greatly excelled the boys; whereas in respect of animals, minerals, and social ideas, the boys were better informed than the girls. Characteristic of the differences between the sexes, according to Meumann, from whom I take these details and some of those that follow, is the fact that the idea of “marriage” was known to only 70 boys as compared to 227 girls; whilst the idea of “infant baptism” was known to 180 boys as compared to 220 girls. The idea of “pleasure” was also much better understood by girls than by boys. Examination of the memory has also established the existence of differences between the sexes in childhood. In boys the memory for objects appears to be at first the best developed; to this succeeds the memory for words with a visual content; in the case of girls, the reverse of this was observed. In respect of numerous details, however, the authorities conflict. Very striking is the fact, one upon which a very large number of investigators are agreed, that girls have a superior knowledge of colors.

There are additional psychological data relating to the differences between the sexes in childhood. I may recall Stern’s investigations concerning the psychology of evidence, which showed that girls were much more inaccurate than boys.

It has been widely assumed that these psychical differences between the sexes result from education, and are not inborn. Others, however, assume that the psychical characteristics by which the sexes are differentiated result solely from individual differences in education. Stern believes that in the case of one differential character, at least, he can prove that for many centuries there has been no difference between the sexes in the matter of education; this character is the capacity for drawing. Kerschensteiner has studied the development of this gift, and considers that his results have established beyond dispute that girls are greatly inferior in this respect to boys of like age. Stern points out that there can be no question here of cultivation leading to a sexual differentiation of faculty, since there is no attempt at a general and systematic teaching of draughtsmanship to the members of one sex to the exclusion of members of the other.

I believe that we are justified in asserting that at the present time the sexual differentiation manifested in respect of quite a number of psychical qualities is the result of direct inheritance. It would be quite wrong to assume that all these differences arise in each individual in consequence of education. It does, indeed, appear to me to be true that inherited tendencies may be increased or diminished by individual education; and further, that when the inherited tendency is not a very powerful one, it may in this way even be suppressed.

We must not forget the frequent intimate association between structure and function. Rough outdoor games and wrestling thus correspond to the physical constitution of the boy. So, also, it is by no means improbable that the little girl, whose pelvis and hips have already begun to indicate by their development their adaption for the supreme functions of the sexually mature woman, should experience obscurely a certain impulsion toward her predestined maternal occupation, and that her inclinations and amusements should in this way be determined. Many, indeed, and above all the extreme advocates of women’s rights, prefer to maintain that such sexually differentiated inclinations result solely from differences in individual education: if the boy has no enduring taste for dolls and cooking, this is because his mother and others have told him, perhaps with mockery, that such amusements are unsuited to a boy; whilst in a similar way the girl is dissuaded from the rough sports of boyhood. Such an assumption is the expression of that general psychological and educational tendency, which ascribes to the activity of the will an overwhelmingly powerful influence upon the development of the organs subserving the intellect, and secondarily also upon that of the other organs of the body. We cannot dispute the fact that in such a way the activity of the will may, within certain limits, be effective, especially in cases in which the inherited tendency thus counteracted is comparatively weak; but only within certain limits. Thus we can understand how it is that in some cases, by means of education, a child is impressed with characteristics normally foreign to its sex; qualities and tendencies are thus developed which ordinarily appear only in a child of the opposite sex. But even though we must admit that the activity of the individual may operate in this way, none the less we are compelled to assume that certain tendencies are inborn. The failure of innumerable attempts to counteract such inborn tendencies by means of education throws a strong light upon the limitations of the activity of the individual will; and the same must be said of a large number of other experiences.

Criminological experiences appear also to confirm the notion of an inherited sexual differentiation, in children as well as in adults. According to various statistics, embracing not only the period of childhood, but including as well the period of youth, we learn that girls constitute one-fifth only of the total number of youthful criminals. A number of different explanations have been offered to account for this disproportion. Thus, for instance, attention has been drawn to the fact that a girl’s physical weakness renders her incapable of attempting violent assaults upon the person, and this would suffice to explain why it is that girls so rarely commit such crimes. In the case of offenses for which bodily strength is less requisite, such as fraud, theft, etc., the number of youthful female offenders is proportionately larger, although here also they are less numerous than males of corresponding age charged with the like offenses. It has been asserted that in the law courts girls find more sympathy than boys, and that for this reason the former receive milder sentences than the latter; hence it results that in appearance merely the criminality of girls is less than that of boys. Others, again, refer the differences in respect of criminality between the youthful members of the two sexes to the influences of education and general environment. Morrison, however, maintains that all these influences combined are yet insufficient to account for the great disproportion between the sexes, and insists that there exists in youth as well as in adult life a specific sexual differentiation, based, for the most part, upon biological differences of a mental and physical character.

Such a marked differentiation as there is between the adult man and the adult woman certainly does not exist in childhood. Similarly in respect of many other qualities, alike bodily and mental, in respect of many inclinations and numerous activities, we find that in childhood sexual differentiation is less marked than it is in adult life. None the less, a number of sexual differences can be shown to exist even in childhood; and as regards many other differences, though they are not yet apparent, we are nevertheless compelled to assume that they already exist potentially in the organs of the child.

6. Racial Differences

The results of the Cambridge expedition to the Torres Straits have shown that in acuteness of vision, hearing, smell, etc., these peoples are not noticeably different from our own. We conclude that the remarkable tales adduced to the contrary by various travelers are to be explained, not by the acuteness of sensation, but by the acuteness of interpretation of primitive peoples. Take the savage into the streets of a busy city and see what a number of sights and sounds he will neglect because of their meaninglessness to him. Take the sailor whose powers of discerning a ship on the horizon appear to the landsman so extraordinary, and set him to detect micro-organisms in the field of a microscope. Is it then surprising that primitive man should be able to draw inferences which to the stranger appear marvelous, from the merest specks in the far distance or from the faintest sounds, odors, or tracks in the jungle? Such behavior serves only to attest the extraordinary powers of observation in primitive man with respect to things which are of use and hence of interest to him. The same powers are shown in the vast number of words he will coin to denote the same object, say a certain tree at different stages of its growth.

We concluded, then, that no fundamental difference in powers of sensory acuity, nor, indeed, in sensory discrimination, exists between primitive and civilized communities. Further, there is no proof of any difference in memory between them, save, perhaps, in a greater tendency for primitive folk to use and to excel in mere mechanical learning, in preference to rational learning. But this surely is also the characteristic of the European peasant. He will never commit things to memory by thinking of their meaning, if he can learn them by rote.

In temperament we meet with just the same variations in primitive as in civilized communities. In every primitive society is to be found the flighty, the staid, the energetic, the indolent, the cheerful, the morose, the even-, the hot-tempered, the unthinking, the philosophical individual. At the same time, the average differences between different primitive peoples are as striking as those between the average German and the average Italian.

It is a common but manifest error to suppose that primitive man is distinguished from the civilized peasant in that he is freer and that his conduct is less under control. On the contrary, the savage is probably far more hidebound than we are by social regulations. His life is one round of adherence to the demands of custom. For instance, he may be compelled even to hand over his own children at their birth to others; he may be prohibited from speaking to certain of his relatives; his choice of a wife may be very strictly limited by traditional laws; at every turn there are ceremonies to be performed and presents to be made by him so that misfortune may be safely averted. As to the control which primitive folk exercise over their conduct, this varies enormously among different peoples; but if desired, I could bring many instances of self-control before you which would put to shame the members even of our most civilized communities.

Now since in all these various mental characters no appreciable difference exists between primitive and advanced communities, the question arises, what is the most important difference between them? I shall be told, in the capacity for logical and abstract thought. But by how much logical and abstract thought is the European peasant superior to his primitive brother? Study our country folklore, study the actual practices in regard to healing and religion which prevail in every European peasant community today, and what essential differences are discoverable? Of course, it will be urged that these practices are continued unthinkingly, that they are merely vestiges of a period when once they were believed and were full of meaning. But this, I am convinced, is far from being generally true, and it also certainly applies to many of the ceremonies and customs of primitive peoples.

It will be said that although the European peasant may not in the main think more logically and abstractly, he has, nevertheless, the potentiality for such thought, should only the conditions for its manifestations education and the like ever be given. From such as he have been produced the geniuses of Europe the long line of artists and inventors who have risen from the lowest ranks.

I will consider this objection later. At present it is sufficient for my purpose to have secured the admission that the peasants of Europe do not as a whole use their mental powers in a much more logical or abstract manner than do primitive people. I maintain that such superiority as they have is due to differences (1) of environment and (2) of variability.

We must remember that the European peasant grows up in a (more or less) civilized environment; he learns a (more or less) well-developed and written language, which serves as an easier instrument and a stronger inducement for abstract thought; he is born into a (more or less) advanced religion. All these advantages and the advantage of a more complex education the European peasant owes to his superiors in ability and civilization. Rob the peasant of these opportunities, plunge him into the social environment of present primitive man, and what difference in thinking power will be left between them?

The answer to this question brings me to the second point of difference which I have mentioned the difference in variability. I have already alluded to the divergencies in temperament to be found among the members of every primitive community. But well marked as are these and other individual differences, I suspect that they are less prominent among primitive than among more advanced peoples. This difference in variability, if really existent, is probably the outcome of more frequent racial admixture and more complex social environment in civilized communities. In another sense, the variability of the savage is indicated by the comparative data afforded by certain psychological investigations. A civilized community may not differ much from a primitive one in the mean or average of a given character, but the extreme deviations which it shows from that mean will be more numerous and more pronounced. This kind of variability has probably another source. The members of a primitive community behave toward the applied test in the simplest manner, by the use of a mental process which we will call A, whereas those of a more advanced civilization employ other mental processes, in addition to A, say B, C, D, or E, each individual using them in different degrees for the performance of one and the same test. Finally, there is in all likelihood a third kind of variability, whose origin is ultimately environmental, which is manifested by extremes of nervous instability. Probably the exceptionally defective and the exceptional genius are more common among civilized than among primitive peoples.

Similar features undoubtedly meet us in the study of sexual differences. The average results of various tests of mental ability applied to men and women are not, on the whole, very different for the two sexes, but the men always show considerably greater individual variation than the women. And here, at all events, the relation between the frequency of mental deficiency and genius in the two sexes is unquestionable. Our asylums contain a considerably greater number of males than of females, as a compensation for which genius is decidedly less frequent in females than in males.

7. Individual Differences

The life of a man is a double series a series of effects produced in him by the rest of the world, and a series of effects produced in that world by him. A man’s make-up or nature equals his tendencies to be influenced in certain ways by the world and to react in certain ways to it.

If we could thus adequately describe each of a million human beings if, for each one, we could prophesy just what the response would be to every possible situation of life the million men would be found to differ widely. Probably no two out of the million would be so alike in mental nature as to be indistinguishable by one who knew their entire natures. Each has an individuality which marks him off from other men. We may study a human being in respect to his common humanity, or in respect to his individuality. In other words, we may study the features of intellect and character which are common to all men, to man as a species; or we may study the differences in intellect and character which distinguish individual men.

Individuals are commonly considered as differing in respect to such traits either quantitatively or qualitatively, either in degree or in kind. A quantitative difference exists when the individuals have different amounts of the same trait. Thus, “John is more attentive to his teacher than James is”; “Mary loves dolls less than Lucy does”; “A had greater devotion to his country than B had”; are reports of quantitative differences, of differences in the amount of what is assumed to be the same kind of thing. A qualitative difference exists when some quality or trait possessed by one individual is lacking in the other. Thus, “Tom knows German, Dick does not”; “A is artistic, B is scientific”; “C is a man of thought, D is a man of action”; are reports of the fact that Tom has some positive amount or degree of the trait “knowledge of German” while Dick has none of it; that A has some positive amount of ability and interest in art while B has zero; whereas B has a positive amount of ability in science, of which A has none; and so on.

A qualitative difference in intellect or character is thus really a quantitative difference wherein one term is zero, or a compound of two or more quantitative differences. All intelligible differences are ultimately quantitative. The difference between any two individuals, if describable at all, is described by comparing the amounts which A possesses of various traits with the amounts which B possesses of the same traits. In intellect and character, differences of kind between one individual and another turn out to be definable, if defined at all, as compound differences of degree.

If we could list all the traits, each representing some one characteristic of human nature, and measure the amount of each of them possessed by a man, we could represent his nature read his character in a great equation. John Smith would equal so many units of this, plus so many units of that, and so on. Such a mental inventory would express his individuality conceivably in its entirety and with great exactitude. No such list has been made for any man, much less have the exact amounts of each trait possessed by him been measured. But in certain of the traits, many individuals have been measured; and certain individuals have been measured, each in a large number of traits.

It is useless to recount the traits in which men have been found to differ. For there is no trait in which they do not differ. Of course, if the scale by which individuals are measured is very coarsely divided, their differences may be hidden. If, for example, ability to learn is measured on a scale with only two divisions, (1) “ability to learn less than the average kitten can” and (2) “ability to learn more than the average kitten can,” all men may be put in class two, just as if their heights were measured on a scale of one yard, two yards, or three yards, nearly all men would alike be called two yards high. But whenever the scale of measurement is made fine enough, differences at once appear. Their existence is indubitable to any impartial observer. The early psychologists neglected or failed to see them precisely because the early psychology was partial. It believed in a typical or pattern mind, after the manner of which all minds were created, and from whom they differed only by rare accidents. It studied “the mind,” and neglected individual minds. It studied “the will” of “man,” neglecting the interests, impulses, and habits of actual men.

The differences exist at birth and commonly increase with progress toward maturity. Individuality is already clearly manifest in children of school age. The same situation evokes widely differing responses; the same task is done at differing speeds and with different degrees of success; the same treatment produces differing results. There can be little doubt that of a thousand ten-year-olds taken at random, some will be four times as energetic, industrious, quick, courageous, or honest as others, or will possess four times as much refinement, knowledge of arithmetic, power of self-control, sympathy, or the like. It has been found that among children of the same age and, in essential respects, of the same home training and school advantages, some do in the same time six times as much, or do the same amount with only one-tenth as many errors.


1. Human Nature and Its Remaking

Human beings as we find them are artificial products; and for better or for worse they must always be such. Nature has made us: social action and our own efforts must continually remake us. Any attempt to reject art for “nature” can only result in an artificial naturalness which is far less genuine and less pleasing than the natural work of art.

Further, as self-consciousness varies, the amount or degree of this remaking activity will vary. Among the extremely few respects in which human history shows unquestionable growth we must include the degree and range of self-consciousness. The gradual development of psychology as a science and the persistent advance of the subjective or introspective element in literature and in all fine art are tokens of this change. And as a further indication and result, the art of human reshaping has taken definite character, has left its incidental beginnings far behind, has become an institution, a group of institutions.

Wherever a language exists, as a magazine of established meanings, there will be found a repertoire of epithets of praise and blame, at once results and implements of this social process. The simple existence of such a vocabulary acts as a persistent force; but the effect of current ideals is redoubled when a coherent agency, such as public religion, assumes protection of the most searching social maxims and lends to them the weight of all time, all space, all wonder, and all fear. For many centuries religion held within itself the ripening self-knowledge and self-discipline of the human mind. Now, beside this original agency we have its offshoots, politics, education, legislation, the penal art. And the philosophical sciences, including psychology and ethics, are the especial servants of these arts.

As to structure, human nature is undoubtedly the most plastic part of the living world, the most adaptable, the most educable. Of all animals, it is man in whom heredity counts for least, and conscious building forces for most. Consider that his infancy is longest, his instincts least fixed, his brain most unfinished at birth, his powers of habit-making and habit-changing most marked, his susceptibility to social impressions keenest; and it becomes clear that in every way nature, as a prescriptive power, has provided in him for her own displacement. His major instincts and passions first appear on the scene, not as controlling forces, but as elements of play, in a prolonged life of play. Other creatures nature could largely finish: the human creature must finish himself.

And as to history, it cannot be said that the results of man’s attempts at self-modeling appear to belie the liberty thus promised in his constitution. If he has retired his natural integument in favor of a device called clothing, capable of expressing endless nuances, not alone of status and wealth, but of temper and taste as well conservatism or venturesomeness, solemnity, gaiety, profusion, color, dignity, carelessness or whim, he has not failed to fashion his inner self into equally various modes of character and custom. That is a hazardous refutation of socialism which consists in pointing out that its success would require a change in human nature. Under the spell of particular ideas monastic communities have flourished, in comparison with whose demands upon human nature the change required by socialism so far as it calls for purer altruism and not pure economic folly is trivial. To any one who asserts as a dogma that “human nature never changes,” it is fair to reply, “It is human nature to change itself.”

When one reflects to what extent racial and national traits are manners of the mind, fixed by social rather than by physical heredity, while the bodily characters themselves may be due in no small measure to sexual choices at first experimental, then imitative, then habitual, one is not disposed to think lightly of the human capacity for self-modification. But it is still possible to be skeptical as to the depth and permanence of any changes which are genuinely voluntary. There are few maxims of conduct, and few laws so contrary to nature that they could not be put into momentary effect by individuals or by communities. Plato’s Republic has never been fairly tried; but fragments of this and other Utopias have been common enough in history. No one presumes to limit what men can attempt; one only inquires what the silent forces are which determine what can last.

What, to be explicit, is the possible future of measures dealing with divorce, with war, with political corruption, with prostitution, with superstition? Enthusiastic idealism is too precious an energy to be wasted if we can spare it false efforts by recognizing those permanent ingredients of our being indicated by the words pugnacity, greed, sex, fear. Machiavelli was not inclined to make little of what an unhampered ruler could do with his subjects; yet he saw in such passions as these a fixed limit to the power of the Prince. “It makes him hated above all things to be rapacious, and to be violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain.” And if Machiavelli’s despotism meets its master in the undercurrents of human instinct, governments of less determined stripe, whether of states or of persons, would hardly do well to treat these ultimate data with less respect.

2. Human Nature, Folkways, and the Mores

It is generally taken for granted that men inherited some guiding instincts from their beast ancestry, and it may be true, although it has never been proved. If there were such inheritances, they controlled and aided the first efforts to satisfy needs. Analogy makes it easy to assume that the ways of beasts had produced channels of habit and predisposition along which dexterities and other psycho-physical activities would run easily. Experiments with new born animals show that in the absence of any experience of the relation of means to ends, efforts to satisfy needs are clumsy and blundering. The method is that of trial and failure, which produces repeated pain, loss, and disappointments. Nevertheless, it is the method of rude experiment and selection. The earliest efforts of men were of this kind. Need was the impelling force. Pleasure and pain, on the one side and the other, were the rude constraints which defined the line on which efforts must proceed. The ability to distinguish between pleasure and pain is the only psychical power which is to be assumed. Thus ways of doing things were selected which were expedient. They answered the purpose better than other ways, or with less toil and pain. Along the course on which efforts were compelled to go, habit, routine, and skill were developed. The struggle to maintain existence was carried on, not individually, but in groups. Each profited by the other’s experience; hence there was concurrence toward that which proved to be most expedient.

All at last adopted the same way for the same purpose; hence the ways turned into customs and became mass phenomena. Instincts were developed in connection with them. In this way folkways arise. The young learn them by tradition, imitation, and authority. The folkways, at a time, provide for all the needs of life then and there. They are uniform, universal in the group, imperative, and invariable.

The operation by which folkways are produced consists in the frequent repetition of petty acts, often by great numbers acting in concert or, at least, acting in the same way when face to face with the same need. The immediate motive is interest. It produces habit in the individual and custom in the group. It is, therefore, in the highest degree original and primitive. Out of the unconscious experiment which every repetition of the ways includes, there issues pleasure or pain, and then, so far as the men are capable of reflection, convictions that the ways are conducive to social welfare. When this conviction as to the relation to welfare is added to the folkways, they are converted into mores, and, by virtue of the philosophical and ethical element added to them, they win utility and importance and become the source of the science and the art of living.

It is of the first importance to notice that, from the first acts by which men try to satisfy needs, each act stands by itself, and looks no further than immediate satisfaction. From recurrent needs arise habits for the individual and customs for the group, but these results are consequences which were never conscious and never foreseen or intended. They are not noticed until they have long existed, and it is still longer before they are appreciated. Another long time must pass, and a higher stage of mental development must be reached, before they can be used as a basis from which to deduce rules for meeting, in the future, problems whose pressure can be foreseen. The folkways, therefore, are not creations of human purpose and wit. They are like products of natural forces which men unconsciously set in operation, or they are like the instinctive ways of animals, which are developed out of experience, which reach a final form of maximum adaptation to an interest, which are handed down by tradition and admit of no exception or variation, yet change to meet new conditions, still within the same limited methods, and without rational reflection or purpose. From this it results that all the life of human beings, in all ages and stages of culture, is primarily controlled by a vast mass of folkways handed down from the earliest existence of the race, having the nature of the ways of other animals, only the topmost layers of which are subject to change and control, and have been somewhat modified by human philosophy, ethics, and religion, or by other acts of intelligent reflection. We are told of savages that “it is difficult to exhaust the customs and small ceremonial usages of a savage people. Custom regulates the whole of a man’s actions his bathing, washing, cutting his hair, eating, drinking, and fasting. From his cradle to his grave he is the slave of ancient usage. In his life there is nothing free, nothing original, nothing spontaneous, no progress toward a higher and better life, and no attempt to improve his condition, mentally, morally, or spiritually.” All men act in this way, with only a little wider margin of voluntary variation.

The folkways are, therefore: (1) subject to a strain of improvement toward better adaptation of means to ends, as long as the adaptation is so imperfect that pain is produced. They are also (2) subject to a strain of consistency with each other, because they all answer their several purposes with less friction and antagonism when they co-operate and support each other. The forms of industry, the forms of the family, the notions of property, the constructions of rights, and the types of religion show the strain of consistency with each other through the whole history of civilization. The two great cultural divisions of the human race are the oriental and occidental. Each is consistent throughout; each has its own philosophy and spirit; they are separated from top to bottom by different mores, different standpoints, different ways, and different notions of what societal arrangements are advantageous. In their contrast they keep before our minds the possible range of divergence in the solution of the great problems of human life, and in the views of earthly existence by which life-policy may be controlled. If two planets were joined in one, their inhabitants could not differ more widely as to what things are best worth seeking, or what ways are most expedient for well-living.

Custom is the product of concurrent action through time. We find it existent and in control at the extreme reach of our investigations. Whence does it begin, and how does it come to be? How can it give guidance “at the outset”? All mass actions seem to begin because the mass wants to act together. The less they know what it is right and best to do, the more open they are to suggestion from an incident in nature, or from a chance act of one, or from the current doctrines of ghost fear. A concurrent drift begins which is subject to later correction. That being so, it is evident that instinctive action, under the guidance of traditional folkways, is an operation of the first importance in all societal matters. Since the custom never can be antecedent to all action, what we should desire most is to see it arise out of the first actions, but, inasmuch as that is impossible, the course of the action after it is started is our field of study. The origin of primitive customs is always lost in mystery, because when the action begins the men are never conscious of historical action or of the historical importance of what they are doing. When they become conscious of the historical importance of their acts, the origin is already far behind.

3. Habit and Custom, the Individual and the General Will

The term Sitte (mores) is a synonym of habit and of usage, of convention and tradition, but also of fashion, propriety, practise, and the like. Those words which characterize the habitual are usually regarded as having essentially unequivocal meanings. The truth is that language, careless of the more fundamental distinctions, confuses widely different connotations. For example, I find that custom to return to this most common expression has a threefold significance, namely:

1. The meaning of a simple objective matter of fact. In this sense we speak of the man with the habit of early rising, or of walking at a particular time, or of taking an afternoon nap. By this we mean merely that he is accustomed to do so, he does it regularly, it is a part of his manner of life. It is easily understood how this meaning passes over into the next:

2. The meaning of a rule, of a norm which the man sets up for himself. For example, we say he has made this or that a custom, and in a like meaning, he has made it a rule, or even a law; and we mean that this habit works like a law or a precept. By it a person governs himself and regards habit as an imperative command, a structure of subjective kind, that, however, has objective form and recognition. The precept will be formulated, the original will be copied. A rule may be presented as enjoined, insisted upon, imposed as a command which brings up the third meaning of habit:

3. An expression for a thing willed, or a will. This third meaning, which is generally given the least consideration, is the most significant. If, in truth, habit is the will of man, then this alone can be his real will. In this sense the proverb is significant that habit is called a second nature, and that man is a creature of habit. Habit is, in fact, a psychic disposition, which drives and urges to a specific act, and this is the will in its most outstanding form, as decision, or as “fixed” purpose.

Imperceptibly, the habitual passes over into the instinctive and the impulsive. What we are accustomed to do, that we do “automatically.” Likewise we automatically make gestures, movements of welcome and aversion which we have never learned but which we do “naturally.” They have their springs of action in the instinct of self-preservation and in the feelings connected with it. But what we are accustomed to do, we must first have learned and practiced. It is just that practice, the frequent repetition, that brings about the performance of the act “of itself,” like a reflex, rapidly and easily. The rope dancer is able to walk the rope, because he is accustomed to it. Habit and practice are also the reasons not only why a man can perform something but also why he performs it with relatively less effort and attention. Habit is the basis not only for our knowing something but also for our actually doing it. Habit operates as a kind of stimulus, and, as may be said, as necessity. The “power of habit” has often been described and often condemned.

As a rule, opinions (mental attitudes) are dependent upon habit, by which they are conditioned and circumscribed. Yet, of course, opinions can also detach themselves from habit, and rise above it, and this is done successfully when they become general opinions, principles, convictions. As such they gain strength which may even break down and overcome habit. Faith, taken in the conventional religious sense of assurance of things hoped for, is a primitive form of will. While in general habit and opinion on the whole agree, there is nevertheless in their relations the seeds of conflict and struggle. Thought continually tends to become the dominating element of the mind, and man thereby becomes the more human.

The same meaning that the will, in the usual individual sense, has for individual man, the social will has for any community or society, whether there be a mere loose relationship, or a formal union and permanent association. And what is this meaning? I have pointed this out in my discussion of habit, and present here the more general statement: The social will is the general volition which serves for the government and regulation of individual wills. Every general volition can be conceived as corresponding to a “thou shalt,” and in so far as an individual or an association of individuals directs this “thou shalt” to itself, we recognize the autonomy and freedom of this individual or of this association. The necessary consequence of this is that the individual against all opposing inclinations and opinions, the association against opposing individuals, wherever their opposition manifests itself, attempt, at least, to carry through their will so that they work as a constraint and exert pressure. And this is essentially independent of the means which are used to that end. These pressures extend, at least in the social sense, from measures of persuasion, which appeal to a sense of honor and of shame, to actual coercion and punishment which may take the form of physical compulsion. Sitte develops into the most unbending, overpowering force.

4. The Law, Conscience, and the General Will

In the English language we have no name for it (Sittlichkeit), and this is unfortunate, for the lack of a distinctive name has occasioned confusion both of thought and of expression. Sittlichkeit is the system of habitual or customary conduct, ethical rather than legal, which embraces all those obligations of the citizen which it is “bad form” or “not the thing” to disregard. Indeed, regard for these obligations is frequently enjoined merely by the social penalty of being “cut” or looked on askance. And yet the system is so generally accepted and is held in so high regard, that no one can venture to disregard it without in some way suffering at the hands of his neighbors for so doing. If a man maltreats his wife and children, or habitually jostles his fellow-citizens in the street, or does things flagrantly selfish or in bad taste, he is pretty sure to find himself in a minority and the worse off in the end. But not only does it not pay to do these things, but the decent man does not wish to do them. A feeling analogous to what arises from the dictates of his more private and individual conscience restrains him. He finds himself so restrained in the ordinary affairs of daily life. But he is guided in his conduct by no mere inward feeling, as in the case of conscience. Conscience and, for that matter, law, overlap parts of the sphere of social obligation about which I am speaking. A rule of conduct may, indeed, appear in more than one sphere, and may consequently have a twofold sanction. But the guide to which the citizen mostly looks is just the standard recognized by the community, a community made up mainly of those fellow-citizens whose good opinion he respects and desires to have. He has everywhere round him an object-lesson in the conduct of decent people toward each other and toward the community to which they belong. Without such conduct and the restraints which it imposes there could be no tolerable social life, and real freedom from interference would not be enjoyed. It is the instinctive sense of what to do and what not to do in daily life and behavior that is the source of liberty and ease. And it is this instinctive sense of obligation that is the chief foundation of society. Its reality takes objective shape and displays itself in family life and in our other civic and social institutions. It is not limited to any one form, and it is capable of manifesting itself in new forms and of developing and changing old forms. Indeed, the civic community is more than a political fabric. It includes all the social institutions in and by which the individual life is influenced such as are the family, the school, the church, the legislature, and the executive. None of these can subsist in isolation from the rest; together they and other institutions of the kind form a single organic whole, the whole which is known as the nation. The spirit and habit of life which this organic entirety inspires and compels are what, for my present purpose, I mean by Sittlichkeit.

Sitte is the German for custom, and Sittlichkeit implies custom and a habit of mind and action. It also implies a little more. Fichte defines it in words which are worth quoting, and which I will put into English:

What, to begin with, does Sitte signify, and in what sense do we use the word? It means for us, and means in every accurate reference we make of it, those principles of conduct which regulate people in their relations to each other, and which have become matter of habit and second nature at the stage of culture reached, and of which, therefore, we are not explicitly conscious. Principles, we call them, because we do not refer to the sort of conduct that is casual or is determined on casual grounds, but to the hidden and uniform ground of action which we assume to be present in the man whose action is not deflected and from which we can pretty certainly predict what he will do. Principles, we say, which have become a second nature and of which we are not explicitly conscious. We thus exclude all impulses and motives based on free individual choice, the inward aspect of Sittlichkeit, that is to say, morality, and also the outward side, or law, alike. For what a man has first to reflect over and then freely to resolve is not for him a habit in conduct; and in so far as habit in conduct is associated with a particular age, it is regarded as the unconscious instrument of the Time Spirit.

The system of ethical habit in a community is of a dominating character, for the decision and influence of the whole community is embodied in that social habit. Because such conduct is systematic and covers the whole of the field of society, the individual will is closely related by it to the will and the spirit of the community. And out of this relation arises the power of adequately controlling the conduct of the individual. If this power fails or becomes weak, the community degenerates and may fall to pieces. Different nations excel in their Sittlichkeit in different fashions. The spirit of the community and its ideals may vary greatly. There may be a low level of Sittlichkeit; and we have the spectacle of nations which have even degenerated in this respect. It may possibly conflict with law and morality, as in the case of the duel. But when its level is high in a nation we admire the system, for we see it not only guiding a people and binding them together for national effort, but affording the greatest freedom of thought and action for those who in daily life habitually act in harmony with the General Will.

Thus we have in the case of a community, be it the city or be it the state, an illustration of a sanction which is sufficient to compel observance of a rule without any question of the application of force. This kind of sanction may be of a highly compelling quality, and it often extends so far as to make the individual prefer the good of the community to his own. The development of many of our social institutions, of our hospitals, of our universities, and of other establishments of the kind, shows the extent to which it reaches and is powerful. But it has yet higher forms in which it approaches very nearly to the level of the obligation of conscience, although it is distinct from that form of obligation. I will try to make clear what I mean by illustrations. A man may be impelled to action of a high order by his sense of unity with the society to which he belongs, action of which, from the civic standpoint, all approve. What he does in such a case is natural to him, and is done without thought of reward or punishment; but it has reference to standards of conduct set up by society and accepted just because society has set them up. There is a poem by the late Sir Alfred Lyall which exemplifies the high level that may be reached in such conduct. The poem is called Theology in Extremis, and it describes the feelings of an Englishman who had been taken prisoner by Mahometan rebels in the Indian Mutiny. He is face to face with a cruel death. They offer him his life if he will repeat something from the Koran. If he complies, no one is likely ever to hear of it, and he will be free to return to England and to the woman he loves. Moreover, and here is the real point, he is not a believer in Christianity, so that it is no question of denying his Savior. What ought he to do? Deliverance is easy, and the relief and advantage would be unspeakably great. But he does not really hesitate, and every shadow of doubt disappears when he hears his fellow-prisoner, a half-caste, pattering eagerly the words demanded.

I will take another example, this time from the literature of ancient Greece. In one of the shortest but not least impressive of his Dialogues, the “Crito,” Plato tells us of the character of Socrates, not as a philosopher, but as a good citizen. He has been unjustly condemned by the Athenians as an enemy to the good of the state. Crito comes to him in prison to persuade him to escape. He urges on him many arguments, his duty to his children included. But Socrates refuses. He chooses to follow, not what anyone in the crowd might do, but the example which the ideal citizen should set. It would be a breach of his duty to fly from the judgment duly passed in the Athens to which he belongs, even though he thinks the decree should have been different. For it is the decree of the established justice of his city state. He will not “play truant.” He hears the words, “Listen, Socrates, to us who have brought you up”; and in reply he refuses to go away, in these final sentences: “This is the voice which I seem to hear murmuring in my ears, like the sound of the flute in the ears of the mystic; that voice, I say, is murmuring in my ears, and prevents me from hearing any other. And I know that anything more which you may say will be vain.”

Why do men of this stamp act so, it may be when leading the battle line, it may be at critical moments of quite other kinds? It is, I think, because they are more than mere individuals. Individual they are, but completely real, even as individual, only in their relation to organic and social wholes in which they are members, such as the family, the city, the state. There is in every truly organized community a Common Will which is willed by those who compose that community, and who in so willing are more than isolated men and women. It is not, indeed, as unrelated atoms that they have lived. They have grown, from the receptive days of childhood up to maturity, in an atmosphere of example and general custom, and their lives have widened out from one little world to other and higher worlds, so that, through occupying successive stations in life, they more and more come to make their own the life of the social whole in which they move and have their being. They cannot mark off or define their own individualities without reference to the individualities of others. And so they unconsciously find themselves as in truth pulse-beats of the whole system, and themselves the whole system. It is real in them and they in it. They are real only because they are social. The notion that the individual is the highest form of reality, and that the relationship of individuals is one of mere contract, the notion of Hobbes and of Bentham and of Austin, turns out to be quite inadequate. Even of an everyday contract, that of marriage, it has been well said that it is a contract to pass out of the sphere of contract, and that it is possible only because the contracting parties are already beyond and above that sphere. As a modern writer, F. H. Bradley of Oxford, to whose investigations in these regions we owe much, has finely said: “The moral organism is not a mere animal organism. In the latter the member is not aware of itself as such, while in the former it knows itself, and therefore knows the whole in itself. The narrow external function of the man is not the whole man. He has a life which we cannot see with our eyes, and there is no duty so mean that it is not the realization of this, and knowable as such. What counts is not the visible outer work so much as the spirit in which it is done. The breadth of my life is not measured by the multitude of my pursuits, nor the space I take up amongst other men; but by the fulness of the whole life which I know as mine. It is true that less now depends on each of us as this or that man; it is not true that our individuality is therefore lessened; that therefore we have less in us.”

There is, according to this view, a General Will with which the will of the good citizen is in accord. He feels that he would despise himself were his private will not in harmony with it. The notion of the reality of such a will is no new one. It is as old as the Greeks, for whom the moral order and the city state were closely related; and we find it in modern books in which we do not look for it. Jean Jacques Rousseau is probably best known to the world by the famous words in which he begins the first chapter of the Social Contract: “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Those who think themselves to be the masters of others cease not to be greater slaves than the people they govern.” He goes on in the next paragraph to tell us that if he were only to consider force and the effects of it, he would say that if a nation was constrained to obey and did obey, it did well, but that whenever it could throw off its yoke and did throw it off, it acted better. His words, written in 1762, became a text for the pioneers of the French Revolution. But they would have done well to read further into the book. As Rousseau goes on, we find a different conception. He passes from considering the fiction of a social contract to a discussion of the power over the individual of the General Will, by virtue of which a people becomes a people. This General Will, the Volonté Generale, he distinguishes from the Volonté de Tous, which is a mere numerical sum of individual wills. These particular wills do not rise above themselves. The General Will, on the other hand, represents what is greater than the individual volition of those who compose the society of which it is the will. On occasions, this higher will is more apparent than at other times. But it may, if there is social slackness, be difficult to distinguish from a mere aggregate of voices, from the will of a mob. What is interesting is that Rousseau, so often associated with doctrine of quite another kind, should finally recognize the bond of a General Will as what really holds the community together. For him, as for those who have had a yet clearer grasp of the principle, in willing the General Will we not only realize our true selves but we may rise above our ordinary habit of mind. We may reach heights which we could not reach, or which at all events most of us could not reach, in isolation. There are few observers who have not been impressed with the wonderful unity and concentration of purpose which an entire nation may display above all, in a period of crisis. We see it in time of war, when a nation is fighting for its life or for a great cause. We have marvelled at the illustrations with which history abounds of the General Will rising to heights of which but few of the individual citizens in whom it is embodied have ever before been conscious even in their dreams.

By leadership a common ideal can be made to penetrate the soul of a people and to take complete possession of it. The ideal may be very high, or it may be of so ordinary a kind that we are not conscious of it without the effort of reflection. But when it is there it influences and guides daily conduct. Such idealism passes beyond the sphere of law, which provides only what is necessary for mutual protection and liberty of just action. It falls short, on the other hand, in quality of the dictates of what Kant called the Categorical Imperative that rules the private and individual conscience, but that alone, an Imperative which therefore gives insufficient guidance for ordinary and daily social life. Yet the ideal of which I speak is not the less binding; and it is recognized as so binding that the conduct of all good men conforms to it.


1. The Organism as Personality

The organism and the brain, as its highest representation, constitute the real personality, containing in itself all that we have been, and the possibility of all that we shall be. The complete individual character is inscribed there with all its active and passive aptitudes, sympathies, and antipathies; its genius, talents, or stupidity; its virtues, vices, torpor, or activity. Of all these, what emerges and actually reaches consciousness is only a small item compared with what remains buried below, albeit still active. Conscious personality is always but a feeble portion of physical personality.

The unity of the ego, consequently, is not that of the one-entity of spiritualists which is dispersed into multiple phenomena, but the co-ordination of a certain number of incessantly renascent states, having for their support the vague sense of our bodies. This unity does not pass from above to below, but from below to above; the unity of the ego is not an initial, but a terminal point.

Does there really exist a perfect unity? Evidently not in the strict, mathematical sense. In a relative sense it is met with, rarely and incidentally. In a clever marksman in the act of taking aim, or in a skilled surgeon performing a difficult operation all is found to converge, both physically and mentally. Still, let us take note of the result: in these conditions the awareness of real personality disappears; the conscious individual is reduced to an idea; whence it would follow that perfect unity of consciousness and the awareness of personality exclude each other. By a different course we again reach the same conclusion; the ego is a co-ordination. It oscillates between two extreme points at which it ceases to exist: viz., perfect unity and absolute inco-ordination. All the intermediate degrees are met with, in fact, and without any line of demarcation between the healthy and the morbid; the one encroaches upon the other.

Even in the normal state the co-ordination is often sufficiently loose to allow several series to coexist separately. We can walk or perform manual work with a vague and intermittent consciousness of the movements, at the same time singing, musing; but if the activity of thought increases, the singing will cease. With many people it is a kind of substitute for intellectual activity, an intermediate state between thinking and not-thinking.

The unity of the ego, in a psychological sense, is, therefore, the cohesion, during a given time, of a certain number of clear states of consciousness, accompanied by others less clear, and by a multitude of physiological states which, without being accompanied by consciousness like the others, yet operate as much as, and even more than, the former. Unity, in fact, means co-ordination. The conclusion to be drawn from the above remarks is namely this, that the consensus of consciousness being subordinate to the consensus of the organism, the problem of the unity of the ego is, in its ultimate form, a biological problem. To biology pertains the task of explaining, if it can, the genesis of organisms and the solidarity of their component parts. Psychological interpretation can only follow in its wake.

2. Personality as a Complex

Ideas, after being experienced in consciousness, become dormant (conserved as physiological dispositions) and may or may not afterward be reawakened in consciousness as memories. Many such ideas, under conditions with some of which we are all familiar, tend to form part of our voluntary or involuntary memories and many do not. But when such is the case, the memories do not ordinarily include the whole of a given mental experience, but only excerpts or abstracts of it. Hence one reason for the fallibility of human memory and consequent testimony.

Now under special conditions, the ideas making up an experience at any given moment tend to become organized into a system or complex, so that when we later think of the experience or recall any of the ideas belonging to it, the complex as a whole is revived. This is one of the principles underlying the mechanism of memory. Thus it happens that memory may, to a large extent, be made up of complexes. These complexes may be very loosely organized in that the elementary ideas are weakly bound together, in which case, when we try to recall the original experience, only a part of it is recalled. Or a complex may be very strongly organized, owing to the conditions under which it is formed, and then a large part of the experience can be recalled. In this case, any idea associated with some element in the complex may, by the law of association, revive the whole original complex. If, for instance, we have gone through a railroad accident involving exciting incidents, loss of life, etc., the words “railroad,” “accident,” “death,” or a sudden crashing sound, or the sight of blood, or even riding in a railroad train may recall the experience from beginning to end, or at least the prominent features in it, i.e., so much as was organized. The memory of the greater part of this experience is well organized, while the earlier events and those succeeding the accident may have passed out of all possibility of voluntary recall.

To take an instance commonplace enough but which happens to have just come within my observation: A fireman was injured severely by being thrown from a hose wagon rushing to a fire against a telegraph pole with which the wagon collided. He narrowly escaped death. Although three years have passed he still cannot ride on a wagon to a fire without the memory of the whole accident rising in his mind. When he does so he again lives through the accident, including the thoughts just previous to the actual collision when, realizing his situation, he was overcome with terror, and he again manifests all the organic physical expressions of fear, viz.: perspiration, tremor, and muscular weakness. Here is a well-organized and fairly limited complex.

Among the loosely organized complexes in many individuals, and possibly in all of us, there are certain dispositions toward views of life which represent natural inclinations, desires, and modes of activity which, for one reason or another, we tend to suppress or are unable to give full play to. Many individuals, for example, are compelled by the exactions of their duties and responsibilities to lead serious lives, to devote themselves to pursuits which demand all their energies and thought and which, therefore, do not permit of indulgence in the lighter enjoyments of life, and yet there may be a natural inclination to partake of the pleasures which innately appeal to all mankind and which many pursue. The longing for these recurs from time to time. The mind dwells on them, the imagination is excited and weaves a fabric of pictures, thoughts, and emotions which thus become associated into a complex. There may be a rebellion and “kicking against the pricks” and thereby a liberation of the emotional force that impresses a stronger organization on the whole process. The recurrence of such a complex is one form of what we call a “mood,” which has a distinctly emotional tone of its own. The revival of this feeling tone tends to revive the associated ideas and vice versa. Such a feeling-idea complex is often spoken of as “a side to one’s character,” to which a person may from time to time give play. Or the converse of this may hold, and a person who devotes his life to the lighter enjoyments may have aspirations and longings for more serious pursuits, and in this respect the imagination may similarly build up a complex which may express itself in a mood. Thus a person is often said to have “many sides to his character,” and exhibits certain alternations of personality which may be regarded as normal prototypes of those which occur as abnormal states.

Most of what has been said about the formation of complexes is a statement of commonplace facts, and I would not repeat it here were it not that, in certain abnormal conditions, disposition, subject, and other complexes, though loosely organized, often play an important part. This is not the place to enter into an explanation of dissociated personality, but in such conditions we sometimes find that disposition complexes, for instance, come to the surface and displace or substitute themselves for the other complexes which make up a personality. A complex which is only a mood or a “side of the character” of a normal individual may, in conditions of dissociation, become the main, perhaps sole, complex and chief characteristic of the new personality. In Miss Beauchamp, for instance, the personality known as BI was made up almost entirely of the religious and ethical ideas which formed one side of the original self. In the personality known as Sally we had for the most part the complex which represented the enjoyment of youthful pleasures and sports, the freedom from conventionalities and artificial restraints generally imposed by duties and responsibilities. In BIV the complex represented the ambitions and activities of practical life. In Miss Beauchamp as a whole, normal, without disintegration, it was easy to recognize all three dispositions as “sides of her character,” though each was kept ordinarily within proper bounds by the correcting influence of the others. It was only necessary to put her in an environment which encouraged one or the other side, to associate her with people who strongly suggested one or the other of her own characteristics, whether religious, social, pleasure loving, or intellectual, to see the characteristics of BI, Sally, or BIV stand out in relief as the predominant personality. Then we had the alternating play of these different sides of her character.

In fact, the total of our complexes, which, regarded as a whole and in view of their reaction to the environment, their behavior under the various conditions of social life, their aptitudes, feeling-tones, “habits,” and faculties, we term character and personality, are in large part predetermined by the mental experiences of the past and the vestiges of memory which have been left as residual from these experiences. We are the offspring of our past.

The great mass of our ideas involve associations of the origin of which we are unaware because the memories of the original experience have become split and a large portion thus has become forgotten even if ever fully appreciated. We all have our prejudices, our likes and dislikes, our tastes and aversions; it would tax our ingenuity to give a sufficient psychological account of their origin. They were born long ago in educational, social, personal, and other experiences, the details of which we have this many a year forgotten. It is the residua of these experiences that have persisted and become associated into complexes which are retained as traits of our personality.

3. The Self as the Individual’s Conception of His Rôle

Suggestion may have its end and aim in the creation of a new personality. The experimenter then chooses the sort of personality he wishes to induce and obliges the subject to realize it. Experiments of this kind succeeding in a great many somnambulists, and usually producing very curious results, have long been known and have been repeated, one might say, almost to satiety within the last few years.

When we are awake and in full possession of all our faculties we can imagine sensations different from those which we ordinarily experience. For example, when I am sitting quietly at my table engaged in writing this book, I can conceive the sensations that a soldier, a woman, an artist, or an Englishman would experience in such and such a situation. But, however fantastic the conceptions may be that we form, we do not cease to be conscious withal of our own personal existence. Imagination has taken flight fairly in space, but the memory of ourselves always remains behind. Each of us knows that he is himself and not another, that he did this yesterday, that he has just written a letter, that he must write another such letter tomorrow, that he was out of Paris for a week, etc. It is this memory of passed facts a memory always present to the mind that constitutes the consciousness of our normal personality.

It is entirely different in the case of the two women, A and B , that M. Richet studied.

Put to sleep and subjected to certain influences, A and B forget their identity; their age, their clothing, their sex, their social position, their nationality, the place and the time of their life all this has entirely disappeared. Only a single idea remains a single consciousness it is the consciousness of the idea and of the new being that dawns upon their imagination.

They have lost the idea of their late existence. They live, talk, and think exactly like the type that is suggested to them. With what tremendous intensity of life these types are realized, only those who have been present at these experiments can know. Description can only give a weak and imperfect idea of it.

Instead of imagining a character simply, they realize it, objectify it. It is not like a hallucination, of which one witnesses the images unfolding before him, as a spectator would. He is rather like an actor who is seized with passion, imagines that the drama he plays is a reality, not a fiction, and that he has been transformed, body and soul, into the personality that he sets himself to play.

In order to have this transformation of personality work it is sufficient to pronounce a word with some authority. I say to A , “You are an old woman,” she considers herself changed into an old woman, and her countenance, her bearing, her feelings, become those of an old woman. I say to B , “You are a little girl,” and she immediately assumes the language, games, and tastes of a little girl.

Although the account of these scenes is quite dull and colorless compared with the sight of the astonishing and sudden transformations themselves, I shall attempt, nevertheless, to describe some of them. I quote some of M ’s objectivations:

As a peasant. She rubs her eyes and stretches herself. “What time is it? Four o’clock in the morning!” She walks as if she were dragging sabots. “Now, then, I must get up. Let us go to the stable. Come up, red one! come up, get about!” She seems to be milking a cow. “Let me alone, Gros-Jean, let me alone, I tell you. When I am through my work. You know well enough that I have not finished my work. Oh! yes, yes, later.”

As an actress. Her face took a smiling aspect instead of the dull and listless manner which she had just had. “You see my skirt? Well, my manager makes me wear it so long. These managers are too tiresome. As for me, the shorter the skirt the better I like it. There is always too much of it. A simple fig leaf! Mon Dieu, that is enough! You agree with me, don’t you, my dear, that it is not necessary to have more than a fig leaf? Look then at this great dowdy Lucie where are her legs, eh?”

As a priest. She imagines that she is the Archbishop of Paris. Her face becomes very grave. Her voice is mildly sweet and drawling, which forms a great contrast with the harsh, blunt tone she had as a general. (Aside.) “But I must accomplish my charge.” She leans her head on her hand and reflects. (Aloud.) “Ah! it is you, Monsieur Grand Vicar; what is your business with me? I do not wish to be disturbed. Yes, today is the first of January, and I must go to the cathedral. This throng of people is very respectful, don’t you think so, monsieur? There is a great deal of religion in the people, whatever one does. Ah! a child! let him come to me to be blessed. There, my child.” She holds out to him her imaginary bishop’s ring to kiss. During this whole scene she is making gestures of benediction with her right hand on all sides. “Now I have a duty to perform. I must go and pay my respects to the president of the Republic. Ah! Mr. President, I come to offer you my allegiance. It is the wish of the church that you may have many years of life. She knows that she has nothing to fear, notwithstanding cruel attacks, while such an honorable man is at the head of the Republic.” She is silent and seems to listen attentively. (Aside.) “Yes, fair promises. Now let us pray!” She kneels down.

As a religious sister. She immediately kneels down and begins to say her prayers, making a great many signs of the cross; then she arises. “Now to the hospital. There is a wounded man in this ward. Well, my friend, you are a little better this morning, aren’t you? Now, then, let me take off your bandage.” She gestures as if she were unrolling a bandage. “I shall do it very gently; doesn’t that relieve you? There! my poor friend, be as courageous before pain as you were before the enemy.”

I might cite other objectivations from A ’s case, in the character of old woman, little girl, young man, gay woman, etc. But the examples given seem sufficient to give some idea of the entire transformation of the personality into this or that imaginary type. It is not a simple dream, it is a living dream.

The complete transformation of feelings is not the least curious phenomenon of these objectivations. A is timid, but she becomes very daring when she thinks herself a bold person. B is silent, she becomes talkative when she represents a talkative person. The disposition is thus completely changed. Old tastes disappear and give place to the new tastes that the new character represented is supposed to have.

In a more recent paper, prepared with the co-operation of M. Ferrari and M. Hericourt, M. Richet has added a curious detail to the preceding experiments. He has shown that the subject on whom a change of personality is imposed not only adapts his speech, gestures, and attitudes to the new personality, but that even his handwriting is modified and brought into relation with the new ideas that absorb his consciousness. This modification of handwriting is an especially interesting discovery, since handwriting, according to current theories, is nothing more than a sort of imitation. I cite some examples borrowed from these authors.

It is suggested in succession to a young student that he is a sly and crafty peasant, then a miser, and finally a very old man. While the subject’s features and behavior generally are modified and brought into harmony with the idea of the personality suggested, we may observe also that his handwriting undergoes similar modifications which are not less marked. It has a special character peculiar to each of the new states of personality. In short, the graphic movements change like the gestures generally.

In a note on the handwriting of hysterical patients, I have shown that under the influence of suggested emotions, or under the influence of sensorial stimulations, the handwriting of a hysterical patient may be modified. It gets larger, for example, in cases of dynamogenic excitation.

The characteristic of the suggestion that we have just studied is that it does not bear exclusively on perception or movement that is to say, on a limited psychic element; but there are comprehensive suggestions. They impose a topic on the subject that he is obliged to develop with all the resources of his intellect and imagination, and if the observations be carefully examined, it will also be seen that in these suggestions the faculties of perception are affected and perverted by the same standard as that of ideation. Thus the subject, under the influence of his assumed personality, ceases to perceive the external world as it exists. He has hallucinations in connection with his new psychological personality. When a bishop, he thinks he is in Notre Dame, and sees a host of the faithful. When a general, he thinks he is surrounded by troops, etc. Things that harmonize with the suggestion are conjured up. This systematic development of states of consciousness belongs to all kinds of suggestions, but is perhaps nowhere else so marked as in these transformations of personality.

On the other hand, everything that is inconsistent with the suggestion gets inhibited and leaves the subject’s consciousness. As has been said, alterations of personality imply phenomena of amnesia. In order that the subject may assume the fictitious personality he must begin by forgetting his true personality. The infinite number of memories that represent his past experience and constitute the basis of his normal ego are for the time being effaced, because these memories are inconsistent with the ideal of the suggestion.

4. The Natural Person versus the Social and Conventional Self

Somewhat after the order of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I seem to possess two distinct personalities, being both at the same time but presenting no such striking contrast as the Jekyll-Hyde combination. They are about equally virtuous. Their main difference seems to be one of age, one being a decade or so in advance of the other.

At times they work harmoniously together and again at cross-purposes. I do not seem to have developed equally. Part of me sits humbly at the feet of the other part of me and receives advice and instruction. Part of me feels constrained to confess to the other part of me when it has done wrong and meekly receives rebuke. Part of me tries to shock the other part of me and to force the more dignified part to misbehave and giggle and do things not considered correct in polite society.

My younger part delights to tease the older, to doubt her motives, to interrupt her meditations. It wants to play, while my older self is more seriously inclined. My younger self is only twelve years old. This is my real self. To my own mind I am still a little girl with short dresses and a bunch of curls. For some reason my idea of self has never advanced beyond this point. The long dress and the hair piled high will never seem natural. Sometimes I enjoy this duality and again I do not. Sometimes the two parts mingle delightfully together, again they wrangle atrociously, while I (there seems to be a third part of me) sit off and watch the outcome.

The older part gets tired before the younger. The younger, still fresh and in a good humor, undertakes to furnish amusement for the older. I have often thrown myself on the bed wearied and exhausted and been made to shake with laughter at the capers of the younger part of me. They are capers indeed. On these occasions she will carry on conversations with friends real friends fairly bristling with witticisms, and although taking both parts herself, the parry and thrust is delightful.

Sometimes, however, the younger part of me seems to get up all awry. She will carry on quarrels heated quarrels from morning to night, taking both sides herself, with persons whom I (the combination) dearly love, and against whom I have no grievance whatever. These are a great distress to my older self.

On other days she seems to take the greatest delight in torturing me with imaginary horrors. She cuts my throat, pulls my eyes out of their sockets, removes tumors, and amputates limbs until I wonder that there is anything left of me. She does it all without administering anaesthetics and seems to enjoy my horror and disgust.

Again, some little jingle or tune will take her fancy and she will repeat it to herself until I am almost driven to madness. Sometimes it is only a word, but it seems to have a fascination for her and she rolls it as a sweet morsel under her tongue until sleep puts an end to it.

Again, if I (the combination) fall ill, one part of me, I have never discovered which, invariably hints that I am not ill at all but merely pretending. So much so that it has become with me a recognized symptom of incipient illness.

Moreover, the younger and older are never on the same side of any question. One leans to wisdom, the other to fun. I am a house divided against itself. The younger longs to dance, to go to the theater and to play cards, all of which the older disapproves. The younger mocks the older, calls her a hypocrite and the like until the older well-nigh believes it herself and almost yields to her pleadings. The older listens sedately to the sermon, while the younger plans her Easter suit or makes fun of the preacher.

The older declares she will never marry, while the younger scouts the idea of being an old maid. But even if she could gain the consent of the older, it were but little better, they differ so as to their ideals.

In society the difference is more marked. I seem to be a combination chaperone and protegee. The older appears at ease, the younger shy and awkward she has never made her debut. If one addresses a remark to her she is thrown into utter confusion until the older rushes to the rescue. My sympathy is with the younger, however, for even to this day I, the combination, can scarce resist the temptation to say nothing when there is nothing to say.

There is something tragic to me in this Siamese-twins arrangement of two so uncongenial. I am at one and the same time pupil and teacher, offender and judge, performer and critic, chaperone and protegee, a prim, precise, old maid and a rollicking schoolgirl, a tomboy and a prude, a saint and sinner. What can result from such a combination? That we get on tolerably is a wonder. Some days, however, we get on admirably together, part of me paying compliments to the other part of me whole days being given to this until each of us has such a good opinion of herself and the other that we feel on equal terms and are at our happiest.

But how dreadful are the days when we turn against each other! There are not words enough to express the contempt which we feel for ourselves. We seem to set each other in the corner and the combination as a whole is utterly miserable.

I can but wonder and enjoy and wait to see what Myself and I will make of Me.

5. The Divided Self and Moral Consciousness

Two ways of looking at life are characteristic respectively of what we call the healthy-minded, who need to be born only once, and of the sick souls, who must be twice-born in order to be happy. The result is two different conceptions of the universe of our experience. In the religion of the once-born the world is a sort of rectilineal or one-storied affair, whose accounts are kept in one denomination, whose parts have just the values which naturally they appear to have, and of which a simple algebraic sum of pluses and minuses will give the total worth. Happiness and religious peace consist in living on the plus side of the account. In the religion of the twice-born, on the other hand, the world is a double-storied mystery. Peace cannot be reached by the simple addition of pluses and elimination of minuses from life. Natural good is not simply insufficient in amount and transient; there lurks a falsity in its very being. Cancelled as it all is by death, if not by earlier enemies, it gives no final balance, and can never be the thing intended for our lasting worship. It keeps us from our real good, rather; and renunciation and despair of it are our first step in the direction of the truth. There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.

In their extreme forms, of pure naturalism and pure salvationism, the two types are violently contrasted; though here, as in most other current classifications, the radical extremes are somewhat ideal abstractions, and the concrete human beings whom we oftenest meet are intermediate varieties and mixtures. Practically, however, you all recognize the difference: you understand, for example, the disdain of the Methodist convert for the mere sky-blue healthy-minded moralist; and you likewise enter into the aversion of the latter to what seems to him the diseased subjectivism of the Methodist, dying to live, as he calls it, and making of paradox and the inversion of natural appearances the essence of God’s truth.

The psychological basis of the twice-born character seems to be a certain discordancy or heterogeneity in the native temperament of the subject, an incompletely unified moral and intellectual constitution.

“Homo duplex, homo duplex!” writes Alphonse Daudet. “The first time that I perceived that I was two was at the death of my brother Henri, when my father cried out so dramatically, ‘He is dead, he is dead!’ While my first self wept, my second self thought, ’How truly given was that cry, how fine it would be at the theater.’ I was then fourteen years old. This horrible duality has often given me matter for reflection. Oh, this terrible second me, always seated whilst the other is on foot, acting, living, suffering, bestirring itself. This second me that I have never been able to intoxicate, to make shed tears, or put to sleep. And how it sees into things, and how it mocks!”

Some persons are born with an inner constitution which is harmonious and well balanced from the outset. Their impulses are consistent with one another, their will follows without trouble the guidance of their intellect, their passions are not excessive, and their lives are little haunted by regrets. Others are oppositely constituted; and are so in degrees which may vary from something so slight as to result in a merely odd or whimsical inconsistency, to a discordancy of which the consequences may be inconvenient in the extreme. Of the more innocent kinds of heterogeneity I find a good example in Mrs. Annie Besant’s autobiography.

I have ever been the queerest mixture of weakness and strength, and have paid heavily for the weakness. As a child I used to suffer tortures of shyness, and if my shoe-lace was untied would feel shamefacedly that every eye was fixed on the unlucky string; as a girl I would shrink away from strangers and think myself unwanted and unliked, so that I was full of eager gratitude to anyone who noticed me kindly; as the young mistress of a house I was afraid of my servants, and would let careless work pass rather than bear the pain of reproving the ill-doer; when I have been lecturing and debating with no lack of spirit on the platform, I have preferred to go without what I wanted at the hotel rather than to ring and make the waiter fetch it. Combative on the platform in defense of any cause I cared for, I shrink from quarrel or disapproval in the house, and am a coward at heart in private while a good fighter in public. How often have I passed unhappy quarters of an hour screwing up my courage to find fault with some subordinate whom my duty compelled me to reprove, and how often have I jeered at myself for a fraud as the doughty platform combatant, when shrinking from blaming some lad or lass for doing their work badly. An unkind look or word has availed to make me shrink myself as a snail into its shell, while, on the platform, opposition makes me speak my best.

This amount of inconsistency will only count as amiable weakness; but a stronger degree of heterogeneity may make havoc of the subject’s life. There are persons whose existence is little more than a series of zigzags, as now one tendency and now another gets the upper hand. Their spirit wars with their flesh, they wish for incompatibles, wayward impulses interrupt their most deliberate plans, and their lives are one long drama of repentance and of effort to repair misdemeanors and mistakes.

Whatever the cause of heterogeneous personality may be, we find the extreme examples of it in the psychopathic temperament. All writers about that temperament make the inner heterogeneity prominent in their descriptions. Frequently, indeed, it is only this trait that leads us to ascribe that temperament to a man at all. A dégénère superieur is simply a man of sensibility in many directions, who finds more difficulty than is common in keeping his spiritual house in order and running his furrow straight, because his feelings and impulses are too keen and too discrepant mutually. In the haunting and insistent ideas, in the irrational impulses, the morbid scruples, dreads, and inhibitions which beset the psychopathic temperament when it is thoroughly pronounced, we have exquisite examples of heterogeneous personality. Bunyan had an obsession of the words, “Sell Christ for this, sell him for that, sell him, sell him!” which would run through his mind a hundred times together, until one day out of breath with retorting, “I will not, I will not,” he impulsively said, “Let him go if he will,” and this loss of the battle kept him in despair for over a year. The lives of the saints are full of such blasphemous obsessions, ascribed invariably to the direct agency of Satan.

St. Augustine’s case is a classic example of discordant personality. You all remember his half-pagan, half-Christian bringing up at Carthage, his emigration to Rome and Milan, his adoption of Manicheism and subsequent skepticism, and his restless search for truth and purity of life; and finally how, distracted by the struggle between the two souls in his breast, and ashamed of his own weakness of will when so many others whom he knew and knew of had thrown off the shackles of sensuality and dedicated themselves to chastity and the higher life, he heard a voice in the garden say, “Sume, lège” (take and read), and opening the Bible at random, saw the text, “not in chambering and wantonness,” etc., which seemed directly sent to his address, and laid the inner storm to rest forever. Augustine’s psychological genius has given an account of the trouble of having a divided self which has never been surpassed.

The new will which I began to have was not yet strong enough to overcome that other will, strengthened by long indulgence. So these two wills, one old, one new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contended with each other and disturbed my soul. I understood by my own experience what I had read, “Flesh lusteth against spirit, and spirit against flesh.” It was myself indeed in both the wills, yet more myself in that which I approved in myself than in that which I disapproved in myself. Yet it was through myself that habit had obtained so fierce a mastery over me, because I had willingly come whither I willed not. Still bound to earth, I refused, O God, to fight on thy side, as much afraid to be freed from all bonds as I ought to have feared being trammeled by them.

Thus the thoughts by which I meditated upon thee were like the efforts of one who would awake, but being overpowered with sleepiness is soon asleep again. Often does a man when heavy sleepiness is on his limbs defer to shake it off, and though not approving it, encourage it; even so I was sure it was better to surrender to thy love than to yield to my own lusts, yet, though the former course convinced me, the latter pleased and held me bound. There was naught in me to answer thy call, “Awake, thou sleeper,” but only drawling, drowsy words, “Presently; yes, presently; wait a little while.” But the “presently” had no “present,” and the “little while” grew long. For I was afraid thou wouldst hear me too soon, and heal me at once of my disease of lust, which I wished to satiate rather than to see extinguished. With what lashes of words did I not scourge my own soul. Yet it shrank back; it refused, though it had no excuse to offer. I said within myself: “Come, let it be done now,” and as I said it, I was on the point of the resolve. I all but did it, yet I did not do it. And I made another effort, and almost succeeded, yet I did not reach it, and did not grasp it, hesitating to die to death, and live to life; and the evil to which I was so wonted held me more than the better life I had not tried.

There could be no more perfect description of the divided will, when the higher wishes lack just that last acuteness, that touch of explosive intensity, of dynamogenic quality (to use the slang of the psychologists), that enables them to burst their shell, and make irruption efficaciously into life and quell the lower tendencies forever.

6. Personality of Individuals and of Peoples

In my opinion personality is not merely a unifying and directing principle which controls thought and action, but one which, at the same time, defines the relation of individuals to their fellows. The concept of personality includes, in addition to inner unity and co-ordination of the impulses, a definite attitude directed toward the outer world which is determined by the manner in which the individual organizes his external stimulations.

In this definition the objective aspect of personality is emphasized as over against the subjective. We should not in psychological matters be satisfied with subjective definitions. The mental life is not only a sum of subjective experiences but manifests itself invariably also in a definite series of objective expressions. These objective expressions are the contributions which the personality makes to its external social environment. More than that, only these objective expressions of personality are accessible to external observation and they alone have objective value.

According to Ribot, the real personality is an organism which is represented at its highest in the brain. The brain embraces all our past and the possibilities of our future. The individual character with all its active and passive peculiarities, with all its antipathies, genius, talents, stupidities, virtues, and vices, its inertia and its energy is predetermined in the brain.

Personality, from the objective point of view, is the psychic individual with all his original characters, an individual in free association with his social milieu. Neither innate mental ability, nor creative energy, nor what we call will, in and of themselves, constitutes personality. Nothing less than the totality of psychical manifestations, all these including idiosyncrasies which distinguish one man from another and determine his positive individuality, may be said to characterize, from the objective point of view, the human personality.

The intellectual horizon of persons on different cultural levels varies, but no one, for that reason (because of intellectual inferiority), loses the right to recognition as a person, provided that he maintains, over against his environment, his integrity as an individual and remains a self-determining person. It is the loss of this self-determined individuality alone that renders man completely impersonal. When individual spontaneity is feebly manifested, we speak of an ill-defined or a “passive” personality. Personality is, in short, from the objective point of view, a self-determining individual with a unique nature and a definite status in the social world around him.

If now, on the basis of the preceding definition, we seek to define the significance of personality in social and public life, it appears that personality is the basis upon which all social institutions, movements, and conditions, in short all the phenomena of social life, rest. The people of our time are no more, as in the Golden Age, inarticulate masses. They are a totality of more or less active personalities connected by common interests, in part by racial origin, and by a certain similarity of fundamental psychic traits. A people is a kind of collective personality possessing particular ethnic and psychological characteristics, animated by common political aspirations and political traditions. The progress of peoples, their civilization, and their culture naturally are determined by the advancement of the personalities which compose them. Since the emancipation of mankind from a condition of subjection, the life of peoples and of societies has rested upon the active participation of each member of society in the common welfare which represents the aim of all. The personality, considered as a psychic self-determining individual, asserts itself the more energetically in the general march of historical events, the farther a people is removed from the condition of subjection in which the rights of personality are denied.

In every field of activity, the more advanced personality “blazes a new trail.” The passive personality, born in subjection, is disposed merely to imitate and to repeat. The sheer existence of modern states depends less on the crude physical force and its personified agencies, than on the moral cohesion of the personalities who constitute the nation.

Since the beginning of time, it is only the moral values that have endured. Force can support the state only temporarily. When a nation disregards the moral forces and seeks its salvation in the rude clash of arms, it bears within itself the seeds of its own destruction. No army in the world is strong enough to maintain a state, the moral basis of which is shaken, for the strength of the army rests upon its morale.

The importance of personality in the historic life of peoples is manifest in periods when social conditions accelerate the movement of social life. Personality, like every other force, reaches its maximum when it encounters resistance, in conflict and in rivalry when it fights hence its great value in friendly rivalry of nations in industry and culture, and especially in periods of natural calamities or of enemies from without. Since the fruits of individual development contribute to the common fund of social values, it is clear that societies and peoples which, other things being equal, possess the most advanced and active personalities contribute most to the enrichment of civilization. It does not seem necessary to demonstrate that the pacific competition of nations and their success depends on the development of the personalities which compose them. A nation weak in the development of individualities, of social units which compose it, could not defend itself against the exploitation of nations composed of personalities with a superior development.


1. Nature and Nurture

We have seen that the scientific position in regard to the transmissibility of modifications should be one of active scepticism, that there seems to be no convincing evidence in support of the affirmative position, and that there is strong presumption in favor of the negative.

A modification is a definite change in the individual body, due to some change in “nurture.” There is no secure evidence that any such individual gain or loss can be transmitted as such, or in any representative degree. How does this affect our estimate of the value of “nurture”? How should the sceptical or negative answer, which we believe to be the scientific one, affect our practice in regard to education, physical culture, amelioration of function, improvement of environment, and so on? Let us give a practical point to what we have already said.

a) Every inheritance requires an appropriate nurture if it is to realize itself in development. Nurture supplies the liberating stimuli necessary for the full expression of the inheritance. A man’s character as well as his physique is a function of “nature” and of “nurture.” In the language of the old parable of the talents, what is given must be traded with. A boy may be truly enough a chip of the old block, but how far he shows himself such depends on “nurture.” The conditions of nurture determine whether the expression of the inheritance is to be full or partial. It need hardly be said that the strength of an (inherited) individuality may be such that it expresses itself almost in the face of inappropriate nurture. History abounds in instances. As Goethe said, “Man is always achieving the impossible.” Corot was the son of a successful milliner and prosperous tradesman, and he was thirty before he left the draper’s shop to study nature.

b) Although modifications do not seem to be transmitted as such, or in any representative degree, there is no doubt that they or their secondary results may in some cases affect the offspring. This is especially the case in typical mammals, where there is before birth a prolonged (placental) connection between the mother and the unborn young. In such cases the offspring is for a time almost part of the maternal body, and liable to be affected by modifications thereof, e.g., by good or bad nutritive conditions. In other cases, also, it may be that deeply saturating parental modifications, such as the results of alcoholic and other poisoning, affect the germ cells, and thus the offspring. A disease may saturate the body with toxins and waste products, and these may provoke prejudicial germinal variations.

c) Though modifications due to changed “nurture” do not seem to be transmissible, they may be re-impressed on each generation. Thus “nurture” becomes not less, but more, important in our eyes.

“Is my grandfather’s environment not my heredity?” asks an American author quaintly and pathetically. Well, if not, let us secure for ourselves and for our children those factors in the “grandfather’s environment” that made for progressive evolution, and eschew those that tended elsewhere.

Are modifications due to changed nurture not, as such, entailed on offspring? Perhaps it is just as well, for we are novices at nurturing even yet! Moreover, the non-transmissibility cuts both ways: if individual modificational gains are not handed on, neither are the losses.

Is the “nature” the germinal constitution, to wit all that passes from generation to generation, the capital sum without the results of individual usury; then we are freed, at least, from undue pessimism at the thought of the many harmful functions and environments that disfigure our civilization. Many detrimental acquired characters are to be seen all around us, but if they are not transmissible, they need not last.

In the development of “character,” much depends upon early nurture, education, and surrounding influences generally, but how the individual reacts to these must largely depend on his inheritance. Truly the individual himself makes his own character, but he does so by his habitual adjustment of his (hereditarily determined) constitution to surrounding influences. Nurture supplies the stimulus for the expression of the moral inheritance, and how far the inheritance can express itself is limited by the nurture-stimuli available just as surely as the result of nurture is conditioned by the hereditarily determined nature on which it operates. It may be urged that character, being a product of habitual modes of feeling, thinking, and acting, cannot be spoken of as inherited, but bodily character is also a product dependent upon vital experience. It seems to us as idle to deny that some children are “born good” or “born bad,” as it is to deny that some children are born strong and others weak, some energetic and others “tired” or “old.” It may be difficult to tell how far the apparently hereditary goodness or badness of disposition is due to the nutritive influences of the mother, both before and after birth, and we must leave it to the reader’s experience and observation to decide whether we are right or wrong in our opinion that quite apart from maternal nutritive influence there is a genuine inheritance of kindly disposition, strong sympathy, good humor, and good will. The further difficulty that the really organic character may be half-concealed by nurture-effects, or inhibited by the external heritage of custom and tradition, seems less serious, for the selfishness of an acquired altruism is as familiar as honor among thieves.

It is entirely useless to boggle over the difficulty that we are unable to conceive how dispositions for good or ill lie implicit within the protoplasmic unit in which the individual life begins. The fact is undoubted that the initiatives of moral character are in some degree transmissible, though from the nature of the case the influences of education, example, environment, and the like are here more potent than in regard to structural features. We cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, though the plasticity of character under nurture is a fact which gives us all hope. Explain it we cannot, but the transmission of the raw material of character is a fact, and we must still say with Sir Thomas Browne: “Bless not thyself that thou wert born in Athens; but, among thy multiplied acknowledgments, lift up one hand to heaven that thou wert born of honest parents, that modesty, humility, and veracity lay in the same egg, and came into the world with thee.”

2. Inheritance of Original Nature

The principles of heredity (may be recapitulated as follows):

First of all, we find useful the principle of the unit-character. According to this principle, characters are, for the most part, inherited independently of each other, and each trait is inherited as a unit or may be broken up into characters that are so inherited.

Next, it must be recognized that characters, as such, are not inherited. Strictly, my son has not my nose, because I still have it; what was transmitted was something that determined the shape of his nose, and that is called in brief a “determiner.” So the second principle is that unit-characters are inherited through determiners in the germ cells.

And finally, it is recognized that there really is no inheritance from parent to child, but that parent and child resemble each other because they are derived from the same germ plasm, they are chips from the same old block; and the son is the half-brother to his father, by another mother.

These three principles are the three corner stones of heredity as we know it today, the principles of the independent unit-characters each derived from a determiner in the germ plasm.

How far are the known facts of heredity in man in accord with these principles? No doubt all human traits are inherited in accordance with these principles; but knowledge proceeds slowly in this field.

As a first illustration I may take the case of human eye color. The iris is made up of a trestle-work of fibers, in which are suspended particles that give the blue color. In addition, in many eyes much brown pigment is formed which may be small in amount and gathered around the pupil or so extensive as to suffuse the entire iris and make it all brown. It is seen, then, that the brown iris is formed by something additional to the blue. And brown iris may be spoken of as a positive character, depending on a determiner for brown pigment; and blue as a negative character, depending on the absence of the determiner for brown.

Now when both parents have brown eyes and come from an ancestry with brown eyes, it is probable that all of their germ cells contain the determiner for brown iris pigmentation. So when these germ cells, both carrying the determiner, unite, all of the progeny will receive the determiner from both sides of the house; consequently the determiners are double in their bodies and the resulting iris pigmentation may be said to be duplex. When a character is duplex in an individual, that means that when the germ cells ripen in the body of that individual each contains a determiner. So that individual is capable, so far as he is concerned, of transmitting his trait in undiminished intensity.

If a parent has pure blue eyes, that is evidence that in neither of the united germ cells from which he arose was there a determiner for iris pigmentation; consequently in respect to brown iris pigmentation such a person may be said to be nulliplex. If, now, such a person marry an individual duplex in eye color, in whom all of the germ cells contain the determiner, each child will receive the determiner for iris pigmentation from one side of the house only. This determiner will, of course, induce pigmentation, but the pigmentation is simplex, being induced by one determiner only. Consequently, the pigmentation is apt to be weak. When a person whose pigment determiners have come from one side of the house forms germ cells, half will have and half will lack the determiner. If such a person marry a consort all of whose germ cells contain the determiner for iris pigmentation, all of the children will, of course, receive the iris pigmentation, but in half it will be duplex and in the other half it will be simplex. If the two parents both be simplex, so that, in each, half of the germ cells possess and half lack the determiner in the union of germ cells, there are four events that are equally apt to occur: (1) an egg with the determiner unites with a sperm with the determiner; (2) an egg with the determiner unites with a sperm without the determiner; (3) an egg without the determiner unites with a sperm with the determiner; (4) an egg without the determiner unites with a sperm without the determiner. Thus the character is duplex in one case, simplex in two cases, and nulliplex in one case; that is, one in four will have no brown pigment, or will be blue eyed. If one parent be simplex, so that the germ cells are equally with and without the determiner, while the other be nulliplex, then half of the children will be simplex and half nulliplex in eye pigment. Finally, if both parents be nulliplex in eye pigmentation (that is, blue eyed), then none of their germ cells will have the determiner, and all children will be nulliplex, or blue eyed. The inheritance of eye color serves as a paradigm of the method of inheritance of any unit-character.

Let us now consider some of the physical traits of man that follow the same law as brown eye color, traits that are clearly positive, and due to a definite determiner in the germ plasm.

Hair color is due either to a golden-brown pigment that looks black in masses, or else to a red pigment. The lighter tints differ from the darker by the absence of some pigment granules. If neither parent has the capacity of producing a large quantity of pigment granules in the hair, the children cannot have that capacity, that is, two flaxen-haired parents have only flaxen-haired children. But a dark-haired parent may be either simplex or duplex; and so two such parents may produce children with light hair; but not more than one out of four. In general, the hair color of the children tends not to be darker than that of the darker parent. Skin pigment follows a similar rule. It is really one of the surprises of modern studies that skin pigment should be found to follow the ordinary law of heredity; it was commonly thought to blend. The inheritance of skin color is not dependent on race; two blonds never have brunette offspring, but brunettes may have blondes. The extreme case is that of albinos with no pigment in skin, hair, and iris. Two albinos have only albino children, but albinos may come from two pigmented parents.

Similarly, straight-haired parents lack curliness, and two such have only straight-haired children. Also two tall parents have only tall children. Shortness is the trait: tallness is a negative character. Also when both parents lack stoutness (are slender), all children tend to lack it.

We may now consider briefly the inheritance of certain pathological or abnormal states, to see in how far the foregoing principles hold for them also. Sometimes the abnormal condition is positive, due to a new trait; but sometimes, on the contrary, the normal condition is the positive one and the trait is due to a defect.

Deaf-mutism is due to a defect; but the nature of the defect is different in different cases. Deaf-mutism is so varied that frequently two unrelated deaf mutes may have hearing children. But if the deaf-mute parents are cousins, the chances that the deafness is due to the same unit defect are increased and all of the children will probably be deaf.

From the studies of Dr. Goddard and others, it appears that when both parents are feeble-minded all of the children will be so likewise; this conclusion has been tested again and again. But if one of the parents be normal and of normal ancestry, all of the children may be normal; whereas, if the normal person have defective germ cells, half of his progeny by a feeble-minded woman will be defective.

Many criminals, especially those who offend against the person, are feeble-minded, as is shown by the way they occur in fraternities with feeble-mindedness, or have feeble-minded parents. The test of the mental condition of relatives is one that may well be applied by judges in deciding upon the responsibility of an aggressor.

Not only the condition of imperfect mental development, but also that of inability to withstand stress upon the nervous system, may be inherited. From the studies of Dr. Rosanoff and his collaborators, it appears that if both parents be subject to manic depressive insanity or to dementia precox, all children will be neuropathic also; that if one parent be affected and come from a weak strain, half of the children are liable to go insane; and that nervous breakdowns of these types never occur if both parents be of sound stock.

Finally, a study of families with special abilities reveals a method of inheritance quite like that of nervous defect. If both parents be color artists or have a high grade of vocal ability or are litterateurs of high grade, then all of their children tend to be of high grade also. If one parent has high ability, while the other has low ability but has ancestry with high ability, part of the children will have high ability and part low. It seems like an extraordinary conclusion that high ability is inherited as though due to the absence of a determiner in the same way as feeble-mindedness and insanity are inherited. We are reminded of the poet: “Great wits to madness sure are near allied.” Evidence for the relationship is given by pedigrees of men of genius that often show the combination of ability and insanity. May it not be that just that lack of control that permits “flights of the imagination” is related to the flightiness characteristic of those with mental weakness or defect?

These studies of inheritance of mental defect inevitably raise the question how to eliminate the mentally defective. This is a matter of great importance because, on the one hand, it is now coming to be recognized that mental defect is at the bottom of most of our social problems. Extreme alcoholism is usually a consequence of a mental make-up in which self-control of the appetite for liquor is lacking. Pauperism is a consequence of mental defects that make the pauper incapable of holding his own in the world’s competition. Sex immorality in either sex is commonly due to a certain inability to appreciate consequences, to visualize the inevitableness of cause and effect, combined sometimes with a sex-hyperesthesia and lack of self-control. Criminality in its worst forms is similarly due to a lack of appreciation of or receptivity to moral ideas.

If we seek to know what is the origin of these defects, we must admit that it is very ancient. They are probably derived from our ape-like ancestors, in which they were normal traits. There occurs in man a strain that has not yet acquired those traits of inhibition that characterized the more highly developed civilized persons. The evidence for this is that, as far back as we go, we still trace back the black thread of defective heredity.

We have now to answer the question as to the eugenical application of the laws of inheritance of defects. First, it may be pointed out that traits due to the absence of a determiner are characterized by their usual sparseness in the pedigree, especially when the parents are normal; by the fact that they frequently appear where cousin marriages abound, because cousins tend to carry the same defects in their germ plasm, though normal themselves; by the fact that two affected parents have exclusively normal children, while two normal parents who belong to the same strain, or who both belong to strains containing the same defect, have some (about 25 per cent) defective children. But a defective married to a pure normal will have no defective offspring.

The clear eugenical rule is then this: Let abnormals marry normals without trace of the defect, and let their normal offspring marry in turn into strong strains; thus the defect may never appear again. Normals from the defective strain may marry normals of normal ancestry, but must particularly avoid consanguineous marriages.

The sociological conclusion is: Prevent the feeble-minded, drunkards, paupers, sex-offenders, and criminalistic from marrying their like or cousins or any person belonging to a neuropathic strain. Practically it might be well to segregate such persons during the reproductive period for one generation. Then the crop of defectives will be reduced to practically nothing.

3. Inheritance of Acquired Nature: Tradition

The factor in societal evolution corresponding to heredity in organic evolution is tradition; and the agency of transmission is the nervous system by way of its various “senses” rather than the germ-plasm. The organs of transmission are the eye, ear, tongue, etc., and not those of sex. The term tradition, like variation and selection, is taken in the broad sense. Variation in nature causes the offspring to differ from the parents and from one another; variation in the folkways causes those of one period (or place) to differ from their predecessors and to some extent among themselves. It is the vital fact at the bottom of change. Heredity in nature causes the offspring to resemble or repeat the present type; tradition in societal evolution causes the mores of one period to repeat those of the preceding period. Each is a stringent conservator. Variation means diversity; heredity and tradition mean the preservation of type. If there were no force of heredity or tradition, there could be no system or classification of natural or of societal forms; the creation hypothesis would be the only tenable one, for there could be no basis for a theory of descent. If there were no variation, all of nature and all human institutions would show a monotony as of the desert sand. Heredity and tradition allow respectively of the accumulation of organic or societal variations through repeated selection, extending over generations, in this or that direction. In short, what one can say of the general effects of heredity in the organic realm he can say of tradition in the field of the folkways. That the transmission is in the one case by way of the sex organs and the germ-plasm, and in the other through the action of the vocal cords, the auditory nerves, etc., would seem to be of small moment in comparison with the essential identity in the functions discharged.

Tradition is, in a sense and if such a comparison were profitable, more conservative than heredity. There is in the content of tradition an invariability which could not exist if it were a dual composite, as is the constitution of the germ-plasm. Here we must recall certain essential qualities of the mores which we have hitherto viewed from another angle. Tradition always looks to the folkways as constituting the matter to be transmitted. But the folkways, after the concurrence in their practice has been established, come to include a judgment that they conduce to societal and, indeed, individual welfare. This is where they come to be properly called mores. They become the prosperity-policy of the group, and the young are reared up under their sway, looking to the older as the repositories of precedent and convention. But presently the older die, and in conformity with the ideas of the time, they become beings of a higher power toward whom the living owe duty, and whose will they do not wish to cross. The sanction of ghost-fear is thus extended to the mores, which, as the prosperity-policy of the group, have already taken on a stereotyped character. They thus become in an even higher degree “uniform, universal in a group, imperative, invariable. As time goes on, they become more and more arbitrary, positive, and imperative. If asked why they act in a certain way in certain cases, primitive people always answer that it is because they and their ancestors always have done so.” Thus the transmission of the mores comes to be a process embodying the greatest conservatism and the least likelihood of change. This situation represents an adaption of society to life-conditions; it would seem that because of the rapidity of succession of variations there is need of an intensely conserving force (like ethnocentrism or religion) to preserve a certain balance and poise in the evolutionary movement.

Transmission of the mores takes place through the agency of imitation or of inculcation; through one or the other according as the initiative is taken by the receiving or the giving party respectively. Inculcation includes education in its broadest sense; but since that term implies in general usage a certain, let us say protective, attitude taken by the educator (as toward the young), the broader and more colorless designation is chosen. Acculturation is the process by which one group or people learns from another, whether the culture or civilization be gotten by imitation or by inculcation. As there must be contact, acculturation is sometimes ascribed to “contagion.”

4. Temperament, Tradition, and Nationality

The temperament of the Negro, as I conceive it, consists in a few elementary but distinctive characteristics, determined by physical organizations and transmitted biologically. These characteristics manifest themselves in a genial, sunny, and social disposition, in an interest and attachment to external, physical things rather than to subjective states and objects of introspection, in a disposition for expression rather than enterprise and action.

The changes which have taken place in the manifestations of this temperament have been actuated by an inherent and natural impulse, characteristic of all living beings, to persist and maintain itself in a changed environment. Such changes have occurred as are likely to take place in any organism in its struggle to live and to use its environment to further and complete its own existence.

The result has been that this racial temperament has selected out of the mass of cultural materials to which it had access, such technical, mechanical, and intellectual devices as met its needs at a particular period of its existence. It has clothed and enriched itself with such new customs, habits, and cultural forms as it was able, or permitted to use. It has put into these relatively external things, moreover, such concrete meanings as its changing experience and its unchanging racial individuality demanded. Everywhere and always it has been interested rather in expression than in action; interested in life itself rather than in its reconstruction or reformation. The Negro is, by natural disposition, neither an intellectual nor an idealist, like the Jew; nor a brooding introspective, like the East Indian; nor a pioneer and frontiersman, like the Anglo-Saxon. He is primarily an artist, loving life for its own sake. His metier is expression rather than action. He is, so to speak, the lady among the races.

In reviewing the fortunes of the Negro’s temperament as it is manifested in the external events of the Negro’s life in America, our analysis suggests that this racial character of the Negro has exhibited itself everywhere in something like the rôle of the wish in the Freudian analysis of dream-life. The external cultural forms which he found here, like the memories of the individual, have furnished the materials in which the racial wish, i.e., the Negro temperament, has clothed itself. The inner meaning, the sentiment, the emphasis, the emotional color, which these forms assumed as the result of their transference from the white man to the Negro, these have been the Negro’s own. They have represented his temperament his temperament modified, however, by his experience and the tradition which he has accumulated in this country. The temperament is African, but the tradition is American.

If it is true that the Jew just because of his intellectuality is a natural-born idealist, internationalist, doctrinaire, and revolutionist, while the Negro, because of his natural attachment to known familiar objects, places, and persons, is pre-adapted to conservatism and to local and personal loyalties if these things are true, we shall eventually have to take account of them practically. It is certain that the Negro has uniformly shown a disposition to loyalty during slavery to his master and during freedom to the South and the country as a whole. He has maintained this attitude of loyalty, too, under very discouraging circumstances. I once heard Kelly Miller, the most philosophical of the leaders and teachers of his race, say in a public speech that one of the greatest hardships the Negro suffered in this country was due to the fact that he was not permitted to be patriotic.

Of course all these alleged racial characteristics have a positive as well as a negative significance. Every race, like every individual, has the vices of its virtues. The question remains still to what extent so-called racial characteristics are actually racial, i.e., biological, and to what extent they are the effect of environmental conditions. The thesis of this paper, to state it again, is: (1) that fundamental temperamental qualities, which are the basis of interest and attention, act as selective agencies and as such determine what elements in the cultural environment each race will select; in what region it will seek and find its vocation in the larger social organization; (2) that, on the other hand, technique, science, machinery, tools, habits, discipline, and all the intellectual and mechanical devices with which the civilized man lives and works remain relatively external to the inner core of significant attitudes and values which constitute what we may call the will of the group. This racial will is, to be sure, largely social, that is, modified by social experience, but it rests ultimately upon a complex of inherited characteristics, which are racial.

The individual man is the bearer of a double inheritance. As a member of a race, he transmits by interbreeding a biological inheritance. As a member of society or a social group, on the other hand, he transmits by communication a social inheritance. The particular complex of inheritable characters which characterizes the individuals of a racial group constitutes the racial temperament. The particular group of habits, accommodations, sentiments, attitudes, and ideals transmitted by communication and education constitutes a social tradition. Between this temperament and this tradition there is, as has been generally recognized, a very intimate relationship. My assumption is that temperament is the basis of the interests; that as such it determines in the long run the general run of attention, and this, eventually, determines the selection in the case of an individual of his vocation, in the case of the racial group of its culture. That is to say, temperament determines what things the individual and the group will be interested in; what elements of the general culture, to which they have access, they will assimilate; what, to state it pedagogically, they will learn.

It will be evident at once that where individuals of the same race and hence the same temperament are associated, the temperamental interests will tend to reinforce one another, and the attention of members of the group will be more completely focused upon the specific objects and values that correspond to the racial temperament. In this way racial qualities become the basis for nationalities, a nationalistic group being merely a cultural and, eventually, a political society founded on the basis of racial inheritances.

On the other hand, when racial segregation is broken up and members of a racial group are dispersed, the opposite effect will take place. This explains the phenomena which have frequently been the subject of comment and observation, that the racial characteristics manifest themselves in an extraordinary way in large homogeneous gatherings. The contrast between a mass meeting of one race and a similar meeting of another is particularly striking. Under such circumstances characteristic racial and temperamental differences appear that would otherwise pass entirely unnoticed.

When the physical unity of a group is perpetuated by the succession of parents and children, the racial temperament, including fundamental attitudes and values which rest in it, is preserved intact. When, however, society grows and is perpetuated by immigration and adaptation, there ensues, as a result of miscegenation, a breaking up of the complex of the biologically inherited qualities which constitute the temperament of the race. This again initiates changes in the mores, traditions, and eventually in the institutions of the community. The changes which proceed from modification in the racial temperament will, however, modify but slightly the external forms of the social traditions, but they will be likely to change profoundly their content and meaning. Of course other factors, individual competition, the formation of classes, and especially the increase of communication, all co-operate to complicate the whole situation and to modify the effects which would be produced by racial factors working in isolation.


1. Conceptions of Human Nature Implicit in Religious and Political Doctrines

Although the systematic study of it is recent, there has always been a certain amount of observation and a great deal of assumption in regard to human nature. The earliest systematic treatises in jurisprudence, history, theology, and politics necessarily proceeded from certain more or less naïve assumptions in regard to the nature of man. In the extension of Roman law over subject peoples the distinction was made between jus gentium and jus naturae, i.e., the laws peculiar to a particular nation as contrasted with customs and laws common to all nations and derived from the nature of mankind. Macauley writes of the “principles of human nature” from which it is possible to deduce a theory of government. Theologians, in devising a logical system of thought concerning the ways of God to man, proceeded on the basis of certain notions of human nature. The doctrines of original sin, the innate depravity of man, the war of the natural man and the spiritual man had a setting in the dogmas of the fall of man, redemption through faith, and the probationary character of life on earth. In striking contrast with the pessimistic attitude of theologians toward human nature, social revolutionists like Rousseau have condemned social institutions as inherently vicious and optimistically placed reliance upon human nature as innately good.

In all these treatises the assumptions about human nature are either preconceptions or rationalizations from experience incidental to the legal, moral, religious, or political system of thought. There is in these treatises consequently little or no analysis or detailed description of the traits attributed to men. Certainly, there is no evidence of an effort to arrive at an understanding of human behavior from an objective study of its nature.

Historic assumptions in regard to human nature, no matter how fantastic or unscientific, have exerted, nevertheless, a far-reaching influence upon group action. Periods of social revolution are ushered in by theorists who perceive only the evil in institutions and the good in human nature. On the other hand, the “guardians of society,” distrustful of the impulses of human nature, place their reliance upon conventions and upon existing forms of social organization. Communistic societies have been organized upon certain ideas of human nature and have survived as long as these beliefs which inspired them controlled the behavior of members of the group.

Philosophers from the time of Socrates have invariably sought to justify their moral and political theories upon a conception, if not a definition, of the nature of man. Aristotle, in his Politics and Hobbes in his Leviathan, to refer to two classics, offer widely divergent interpretations of human nature. Aristotle emphasized man’s altruistic traits, Hobbes stressed his egoistic disposition. These opposite conceptions of human behavior are explicit and in each case presented with a display of evidence. Yet students soon realize that neither philosopher, in fashioning his conception, is entirely without animus or ulterior motive. When these definitions are considered in the context in which they occur, they seem less an outgrowth of an analysis of human nature, than formulas devised in the interest of a political theory. Aristotle was describing the ideal state; Hobbes was interested in the security of an existing social order.

Still, the contribution made by social and political philosophers has been real. Their descriptions of human behavior, if inadequate and unscientific, at least recognized that an understanding of human nature was a precondition to social reorganization. The fact that philosophical conceptions and ideal constructions are themselves social forces and as such frequently represent vested interests, has been an obstacle to social as well as physical science.

Comte’s notion that every scientific discipline must pass through a theological and metaphysical stage before it assumed the character of a positive science seems to be true as far as sociology is concerned. Machiavelli shocked the moral sense of his time, if not the moralists of all time, when he proposed to accept human nature as it is as a basis for political science. Herbert Spencer insisted upon the futility of expecting “golden conduct from leaden instincts.” To the utopian social reformers of his day he pointed out a series of welfare measures in England in which the outcome was the direct opposite of the results desired.

This negative criticism of preconceived notions and speculations about human nature prepared the way for disinterested observation and comparison. Certain modern tendencies and movements gave an impetus to the detached study of human behavior. The ethnologists collected objective descriptions of the behavior of primitive people. In psychology interest developed in the study of the child and in the comparative study of human and animal behavior. The psychiatrist, in dealing with certain types of abnormal behavior like hysteria and multiple personality, was forced to study human behavior objectively. All this has prepared the way for a science of human nature and of society based upon objective and disinterested observation.

2. Literature and the Science of Human Nature

The poets were the first to recognize that “the proper study of mankind is man” as they were also the first to interpret it objectively. The description and appreciation of human nature and personality by the poet and artist preceded systematic and reflective analysis by the psychologist and the sociologist. In recent years, moreover, there has been a very conscious effort to make literature, as well as history, “scientific.” Georg Brandes in his Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature set himself the task to “trace first and foremost the connection between literature and life.” Taine’s History of English Literature attempts to delineate British temperament and character as mirrored in literary masterpieces.

The novel which emphasizes “milieu” and “character,” as contrasted with the novel which emphasizes “action” and “plot,” is a literary device for the analysis of human nature and society. Emile Zola in an essay The Experimental Novel has presented with characteristic audacity the case for works of fiction as instruments for the scientific dissection and explanation of human behavior.

The novelist is equally an observer and an experimentalist. The observer in him gives the facts as he has observed them, suggests the points of departure, displays the solid earth on which his characters are to tread and the phenomena develop. Then the experimentalist appears and introduces an experiment, that is to say, sets his characters going in a certain story so as to show that the succession of facts will be such as the requirements of the determinism of the phenomena under examination call for. The novelist starts out in search of a truth. I will take as an example the character of the “Baron Hulot,” in Cousine Bette, by Balzac. The general fact observed by Balzac is the ravages that the amorous temperament of a man makes in his home, in his family, and in society. As soon as he has chosen his subject he starts from known facts, then he makes his experiment and exposes Hulot to a series of trials, placing him among certain surroundings in order to exhibit how the complicated machinery of his passions works. It is then evident that there is not only observation there, but that there is also experiment, as Balzac does not remain satisfied with photographing the facts collected by him, but interferes in a direct way to place his characters in certain conditions, and of these he remains the master. The problem is to know what such a passion, acting in such surroundings and under such circumstances, would produce from the point of view of an individual and of society; and an experimental novel, Cousine Bette, for example, is simply the report of the experiment that the novelist conducts before the eyes of the public. In fact, the whole operation consists of taking facts in nature, then in studying the mechanism of these facts, acting upon them, by the modification of circumstances and surroundings, without deviating from the laws of nature. Finally, you possess knowledge of the man, scientific knowledge of him, in both his individual and social relations.

After all that may be said for the experimental novel, however, its primary aim, like that of history, is appreciation and understanding, not generalization and abstract formulas. Insight and sympathy, the mystical sense of human solidarity, expressed in the saying “to comprehend all is to forgive all,” this fiction has to give. And these are materials which the sociologist cannot neglect. As yet there is no autobiography or biography of an egocentric personality so convincing as George Meredith’s The Egoist. The miser is a social type; but there are no case studies as sympathetic and discerning as George Eliot’s Silas Marner. Nowhere in social science has the technique of case study developed farther than in criminology; yet Dostoevsky’s delineation of the self-analysis of the murderer in Crime and Punishment dwarfs all comparison outside of similar studies in fiction. The function of the so-called psychological or sociological novel stops, however, with its presentation of the individual incident or case; it is satisfied by the test of its appeal to the experience of the reader. The scientific study of human nature proceeds a step farther; it seeks generalizations. From the case studies of history and of literature it abstracts the laws and principles of human behavior.

3. Research in the Field of Original Nature

Valuable materials for the study of human nature have been accumulated in archaeology, ethnology, and folklore. William G. Sumner, in his book Folkways, worked through the ethnological data and made it available for sociological use. By classification and comparison of the customs of primitive peoples he showed that cultural differences were based on variations in folkways and mores in adaptation to the environment, rather than upon fundamental differences in human nature.

The interests of research have resulted in a division of labor between the fields of original and acquired nature in man. The examination of original tendencies has been quite properly connected with the study of inheritance. For the history of research in this field, the student is referred to treatises upon genetics and evolution and to the works of Lamarck, Darwin, DeVries, Weismann, and Mendel. Recent discoveries in regard to the mechanism of biological inheritance have led to the organization of a new applied science, “eugenics.” The new science proposes a social program for the improvement of the racial traits based upon the investigations of breeding and physical inheritance. Research in eugenics has been fostered by the Galton Laboratory in England, and by the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor in the United States. Interest has centered in the study of the inheritance of feeble-mindedness. Studies of feeble-minded families and groups, as The Kallikak Family by Goddard, The Jukes by Dugdale, and The Tribe of Ishmael by M’Culloch, have shown how mental defect enters as a factor into industrial inefficiency, poverty, prostitution, and crime.

4. The Investigation of Human Personality

The trend of research in human nature has been toward the study of personality. Scientific inquiry into the problems of personality was stimulated by the observation of abnormal behavior such as hysteria, loss of memory, etc., where the cause was not organic and, therefore, presumably psychic. A school of French psychiatrists and psychologists represented by Charcot, Janet, and Ribot have made signal contributions to an understanding of the maladies of personality. Investigation in this field, invaluable for an understanding of the person, has been made in the study of dual and multiple personality. The work of Freud, Jung, Adler, and others in psychoanalysis has thrown light upon the rôle of mental conflict, repression, and the wishes in the growth of personality.

In sociology, personality is studied, not only from the subjective standpoint of its organization, but even more in its objective aspects and with reference to the rôle of the person in the group. One of the earliest classifications of “kinds of conduct” has been ascribed by tradition to a disciple of Aristotle, Theophrastus, who styled himself “a student of human nature.” The Characters of Theophrastus is composed of sketches humorous and acute, if superficial of types such as “the flatterer,” “the boor,” “the coward,” “the garrulous man.” They are as true to modern life as to the age of Alexander. Chief among the modern imitators of Theophrastus is La Bruyere, who published in 1688 Les caractères, où les moeurs de ce siecle, a series of essays on the manners of his time, illustrated by portraits of his contemporaries.

Autobiography and biography provide source material for the study both of the subjective life and of the social rôle of the person. Three great autobiographies which have inspired the writing of personal narratives are themselves representative of the different types: Caesar’s Commentaries, with his detached impersonal description of his great exploits; the Confessions of St. Augustine, with his intimate self-analysis and intense self-reproach, and the less well-known De Vita Propria Liber by Cardan. This latter is a serious attempt at scientific self-examination. Recently, attention has been directed to the accumulation of autobiographical and biographical materials which are interpreted from the point of view of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. The study Der Fall Otto Weininger by Dr. Ferdinand Probst is a representative monograph of this type. The outstanding example of this method and its use for sociological interpretation is “Life Record of an Immigrant” contained in the third volume of Thomas and Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant. In connection with the Recreation Survey of the Cleveland Foundation and the Americanization Studies of the Carnegie Corporation, the life-history has been developed as part of the technique of investigation.

5. The Measurement of Individual Differences

With the growing sense of the importance of individual differences in human nature, attempts at their measurement have been essayed. Tests for physical and mental traits have now reached a stage of accuracy and precision. The study of temperamental and social characteristics is still in the preliminary stage.

The field of the measurement of physical traits is dignified by the name “anthropometry.” In the nineteenth century high hopes were widely held of the significance of measurements of the cranium and of physiognomy for an understanding of the mental and moral nature of the person. The lead into phrenology sponsored by Gall and Spurzheim proved to be a blind trail. The so-called “scientific school of criminology” founded by Cesare Lombroso upon the identification of the criminal type by certain abnormalities of physiognomy and physique was undermined by the controlled study made by Charles Goring. At the present time the consensus of expert opinion is that only for a small group may gross abnormalities of physical development be associated with abnormal mental and emotional reactions.

In 1905-11 Binet and Simon devised a series of tests for determining the mental age of French school children. The purpose of the mental measurements was to gauge innate mental capacity. Therefore the tests excluded material which had to do with special social experience. With their introduction into the United States certain revisions and modifications, such as the Goddard Revision, the Terman Revision, the Yerkes-Bridges Point Scale, were made in the interests of standardization. The application of mental measurements to different races and social classes raised the question of the extent to which individual groups varied because of differences in social experience. While it is not possible absolutely to separate original tendencies from their expression in experience, it is practicable to devise tests which will take account of divergent social environments.

The study of volitional traits and of temperament is still in its infancy. Many recent attempts at classification of temperaments rest upon as impressionistic a basis as the popular fourfold division into sanguine, melancholic, choleric, and phlegmatic. Two of the efforts to define temperamental differences rest, however, upon first-hand study of cases. Dr. June E. Downey has devised a series of tests based upon handwriting material for measuring will traits. In her pamphlet The Will Profile she presents an analysis of twelve volitional traits: revision, perseverance, co-ordination of impulses, care for detail, motor inhibition, resistance, assurance, motor impulsion, speed of decision, flexibility, freedom from inertia, and speed of movement. From a study of several hundred cases she defined certain will patterns which apparently characterize types of individuals. In her experience she has found the rating of the subject by the will test to have a distinct value in supplementing the test for mentality.

Kraepelin, on the basis of his examination of abnormal mental states, offers a classification of types of psychopathic personalities. He distinguishes six groups: the excitable, the unstable, the psychopathic trend, the eccentric, the anti-social, and the contentious. In psychoanalysis a simpler twofold division is frequently made between the introverts, or the “introspective” and the extroverts, or the “objective” types of individual.

The study of social types is as yet an unworked field. Literature and life surround us with increasing specializations in personalities, but attempts at classification are still in the impressionistic stage. The division suggested by Thomas into the Philistine, Bohemian, and Creative types, while suggestive, is obviously too simple for an adequate description of the rich and complex variety of personalities.

This survey indicates the present status of attempts to define and measure differences in original and human nature. A knowledge of individual differences is important in every field of social control. It is significant that these tests have been devised to meet problems of policies and of administration in medicine, in industry, in education, and in penal and reformatory institutions. Job analysis, personnel administration, ungraded rooms, classes for exceptional children, vocational guidance, indicate fields made possible by the development of tests for measuring individual differences.