This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
So far in this chapter attention has been confined to the qualities which man possesses in common with beings of lower orders than himself, and which they often possess in equal degree with himself. These qualities have been noticed here because they are primitive, strong, ineradicable; they make the warp of human society. What then are the distinctly human qualities which make the woof of society?
The quality which more than any other puts man in a class by himself, apart from all the rest of the animal kingdom, is associative memory: man can relate his experiences and so become intelligent; he can form concepts. These higher mental qualities, according to the physiological psychologists, have their seat in the cerebrum or fore-brain.
For example, the average brain weight of a man's brain in European races is 1360 grams, and that of a woman's brain of the same races is 1211 grams, while the average brain weight of the great anthropoid apes (gorilla, chimpanzee, and orang-utan) is only 360 grams. Thus in the orang-utan the brain represents only one half of one per cent of the body-weight, while in European man the proportion is at least three per cent. - Parmelee, Science of Human Behavior, pp. 172, 173.
The ratio of cerebral weights would be much greater than the ratio of total brain weights, because the size of the cerebrum in lower animals approaches noticeably nearer to that of the cerebellum and the medulla than in man. This larger cerebrum, with the intelligence accompanying it, is thought to have caused the development of the other distinctive features of man's anatomy: the more prominent forehead and chin, the less prominent jaws and teeth, the adaptation of the anterior limbs for manipulation rather than locomotion, and the double curvature of the spine which the erect posture requires. Another result is the lengthened period of infancy. With capacity to remember and relate experiences, comes a need for time to have experience and to develop out of it a system of habits suited to the environment. Bodily growth is slow; the nervous system remains plastic for many years; there is large capacity for education.
Some psychologists recognize a special instinct of curiosity which seeks for what is behind; objects are not merely mirrored in the mind; the mind seeks to represent the invisible relations between objects. Science, accordingly, has to recognize the existence of two worlds, the outer or objective world of things and the inner or subjective world of ideas in each person's mind. Each mind is constantly striving to make this inner world more satisfactory to itself. The profound differences between persons are in the way they construct this inner world; it is on these differences that the most important groupings of people are based.
The specific form of activity, then, to which the "urge and drive of life " impels man is that of the intellect. Intellect, combined with gregariousness, gives rise to communication - the subject of the next chapter.
... A man is not at his best until he is able to think all that he does, and to follow all his conditions and actions with intellectual comprehension. - Small, General Sociology, p. 462.
His mind abhors a vacuum. Novel experiences are to him their own sufficient reward.
Not only sensing things, but also appreciating the connection of events, is intrinsically satisfying to man. A child likes not only to hear a whistle, but also to find the noise coming whenever he blows it. He likes to see a ball roll across the floor, but even more to have it roll after his act of throwing. "Tumbling blocks" are a delight; but "blocks tumbling after a push" are an added delight. . . .
We may call it instinct of "Pleasure at being a cause," or of "Mental control." More exactly it is the satisfyingness of the exercise of connections in the brain whereby doing something makes something happen.
Now this tendency for the exercise of the connecting or learning or habit forming powers of man to be satisfying to him is of wide-spread influence. As soon as man gets the ability to have ideas and plans, he enjoys getting one idea from another, making a plan and having a result from it, and countless other cases of thinking something - getting some result therefrom. When a man has acquired the powers of intellect or skill it is often as instinctive or "natural" for him to enjoy their unforced exercise as to enjoy food, sleep, or conquest. Other things being equal, mental activity is satisfying in and of itself. - Thorndike, Education, pp. 77, 78.
There is nothing in existence which man does not try to master, but it is his fellow man whom he tries most persistently to master.
The proper study of mankind is man. . . . The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
- Pope, Essay on Man, Epistle II.
When two strangers meet each tries to understand the other - to see through him, "take his measure," learn "how to take him," - all for the purpose of exercising control over him if possible, or if that seems out of the question, then of extorting recognition of superiority in some particular quality; each seeks to establish for himself some assured position in the mind of the other. The instinct of control has as its necessary correlate the instinct of submission, for if every man would die rather than yield recognition to another, there would be no control and no society.
There is by original nature, a complex interplay of activities between one human being and another with whom he has to do, whereby, as a resulting stable equilibrium, one has the attitude of mastery and the other of submission. Such crude determinants of superiority and inferiority, of who shall command and who obey, are of course greatly modified by early training, yet they remain, beneath more rational and humane habits, to perplex the gentle, handicap the modest and peaceful, and make the maintenance of order in the school-room an art wherein the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove must often simulate the tiger's fearless readiness to attack. - Thorndike, Education, pp. 80-82.
On this subject Wallas speaks of -
. . . the two instincts which Mr. McDougall calls negative and positive "self-feeling," but which I prefer to call the conflicting instincts (both of them being necessary in a gregarious or semi-gregarious society) to "give a lead" to others, and " to take a lead " from others. - Wallas, The Great Society, pp. 32, 33.
Out of this meeting between two persons a great variety of adjustments is possible, some of which the psychologists attribute to special instincts. There is display, attention-getting, self-assertion; hunting, pugnacity, anger, elation, teasing, bullying, scorn, cruelty; there is shyness, secretiveness, self-abasement, submission, envy. McDougall, in his Social Psychology, gives a list of seven instincts and their corresponding emotions; three of them are merely forms of control or submission, and three others mean just that when applied to persons. Thorndike has, in his Education, and also in Volume I of Educational Psychology, a chapter on the "Social
Instincts." Five of the varieties of instinctive action which he describes might be classed as forms of control or submission. But it should not be necessary for the sociologists to follow the psychologists into these analyses, at least until the psychologists come to more agreement among themselves.
The result of all this flux is that the merely descriptive literature of the emotions is one of the most tedious parts of psychology. ... I should as lief read verbal descriptions of the shapes of the rocks on a New Hampshire farm. - James, Psychology, Vol. II, p. 448.
It may seem that more attention should be given to the emotions at this point. But since emotion is only a feeling accompaniment, the sociologist is not much interested in the varieties of it, however important they may be in the life of the individual. Emotion interests the sociologist through the varieties of action with which emotion of some kind comes, because it is through the feelings that a population becomes psychically welded so as to be capable of energetic mass movement.
Emotion applies the spur to the mental gait; it is an obstruction-meeting device reserved not for the run but for the jump in the hurdle-race of life. - Jastrow, Character and Temperament, p. 109.