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.
. . . The social mind is the phenomenon of many individual minds in interaction, so playing upon one another that they simultaneously feel the same sensation or emotion, arrive at one judgment and perhaps act in concert. ... - Giddings, Principles of Sociology, p. 134.
This is a general statement, for societies of all kinds and sizes, of what the congenial group illustrates on a small scale. There must be some similarity beween the persons to start with, some like-mindedness; this is true of the members of any society, large or small. But the larger society binds its members less completely in a common life than does the small group. This is because the large society unites its members only by some one interest, perhaps narrow and remote, while the small group unites them by many. There is a great difference in the kind of communication which nourishes the mental life of groups. In the congenial group it is direct communication; in the larger groups it is more or less indirect. Direct communication and congenial association play some part in any society, even the largest, and a very important part at that, as we shall soon see; but the interaction between a numerous or widely scattered membership must, of necessity, come chiefly through indirect communication, and almost exclusively so if the membership be both numerous and widely scattered.
The careful reader of course notes that the term social mind is figurative; though it is quite generally adopted in the literature of sociology, care must be taken lest it entrap us. It may not be superfluous to remind the reader that there is no social brain. The social mind is not really a mind at all; it is only the partial agreement of a number of minds under the influence of communication. If we wished our terms to be accurate rather than suggestive, social influence would be better; but the advantage of social mind is that it challenges attention and makes us think.
The function of the social mind in social organization will appear in the chapters immediately succeeding this. It may be noted here, however, that a population must develop a social mind before it can constitute a society. "It is not at all necessary," says Macy, "that history should be true in order to be useful." 1 A story, later found to be mythical, like the legend of the founding of Rome, may serve a useful purpose in uniting a people upon a certain view of themselves and the part they are to play in the world.
. . . What won the battles on the Yalu, in Corea and Manchuria, were the ghosts of our fathers, guiding our hands and beating in our hearts. They are not dead, those ghosts, the spirits of our warlike ancestors. To those who have eyes to see, they are clearly visible. ... - Nitobe, Bushido: the Soul of Japan, p. 188.
. . . The conduct of every person is continuously conditioned by the presence and opinions of others, and especially by the judgments of his friends. The young man who, though not interested in missions, subscribes liberally to a missionary collection, because by his side sits a young lady who is active in missionary enterprises and whose favor he wishes to secure, is an example. ... - Bogardus, Social Psychology, PP. 52, 53.
The direction of ambition is socially determined. We want to be winners at the game that is being played. The small boy's springtime obsession for marbles is gone long before fall, because "the boys aren't playing marbles any more." . . .
. . . Nature does not give us a conscience any more than it gives us a language, but only the capacity to acquire one; social evolution and education must do the rest. ... - Hayes, Introduction to the Study of Sociology, pp. 665-667.
1 The English Constitution, p. 257.
What brings about this agreement? Some agreements come from causes which are too obvious to require explanation: all people eat; the Esquimaux like animal food; the Hindoos want none of it. The same human nature which is in all of us gives us common needs, and the generations of people who have lived before us learned more about how to satisfy those needs than we can ever discover for ourselves, so that in many respects the mere following of our desires leads us in the footsteps of our predecessors. But other agreements are not so obvious although they also may find a basis in location and human nature. Why does Boston want eggs with brown shells, while New York wants eggs with white shells? Why do all of the English-speaking people use a cumbrous system of weights and measures when there is a much better one at hand? Why was the First French Republic, which put the metric system in operation, unable to establish an improved calendar with a week of ten days instead of seven? To understand these things we must resort to man's tendency to imitate his fellows, to form habits, to avoid ridicule, to fear supernatural powers. "The coercion of an epithet of contempt or disapproval," says Sumner, "is something which it requires great moral courage to endure."1
It is in the play-day of childhood that social sympathy, a social sense, and social habits are evolved. . . . Through association, there arises toleration; what we first oppose, we may later learn to tolerate. . . .
In associating with the fellow members of our own groups, we learn that they have the same feelings, the same thoughts, the same willingness to act as we. ... - Bogardus, Social Psychology, pp. 104, 105.
1 Folkways, p. 179.
T. . Dwellers in mountain fastnesses or in the open plains find their activities determined, as is their physical horizon, by the prospects that confront them. The sea molds occupation and character alike. The insularity of Great Britain comes to be a psychological rather than a geographical trait. All local habitations worthy of a name - and not abused Boston alone - come to be states of mind rather than positions on the map. . . .
The source of the psychology of the mass expression - the collective psyche - lies in the gregarious habit of the human kind. Men in groups think otherwise, act otherwise, and are moved otherwise than are the component members in their individual responsiveness and capacity. . . .
. . . The fact that modern schoolboys are far better equipped to understand, utilize, and control the forces of nature than was Aristotle is not due to the superiority of the schoolboys but to the contributions of the Aristotles of past generations. - Jastrow, Character and Temperament, pp. 421, 433, 509.