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itself assuming that plants are not conscious. It has no real end - end in consciousness — until it is brought within the circuit of some individual's consciousness. Adopting Mackenzie's3 criterion of the organic — the having of an end involved in its own nature—it is necessary to deny to the plant the name of organism. The plant in and of itself is not strictly organic. It may be considered as organic in that it is an organic part of a larger whole which includes some conscious individual. In this respect, however, it does not differ from the pebble or the machine. They, too, may be brought into the circuit of a whole of consciousness.
By what right, then, may the plant be regarded as organic in some sense in which the pebble and the machine are not organic? This can be answered better after noticing a certain characteristic of the unity of consciousness. In our own inner experience we are conscious, not only of means and ends, but of a certain circuitous process in which the ends become means and the means ends. Each part of the conscious process serves as a means to keep up all the other partial processes, and, in turn, is an end for which all other partial processes are means. We are not able to discover any final end outside of this interaction. The summum bonum is a situation in which each partial process contributes adequately to the going on of all the other parts. Now, it is not merely the fact that each partial process does act as both means and end, the
“A mechanical system is a collection of parts externally related; it changes by the alteration of its parts; and it has reference to an end which is outside of itself. A chemical system is a compound of parts which are absorbed in the whole ; it does not change except by dissolution; and it has no end to which it refers, In an organism, on the other hand, the relations of the parts are intrinsic; changes take place by an internal adaptation; and its end forms an essential element in its own nature. We are thus led, by contrasting an organism with a mechanical and with a chemical unity, to see some of the most essential points in the conception of organism itself. We see, in short, that an organism is a real whole, in a sense in which no other kind of unity is so. It is in seipso totus, teres, atque rotundus. All its parts belong to it: they cannot be altered, so to speak, without its own consent; and the end which it seeks is also its own. It is a little universe in itself. At the same time, it is a universe, and not a unit; it has parts, and it does grow, and it has an end. We may define it, therefore, as a whole whose parts are intrinsically related to it, which develops from within, and has reference to an end that is involved in its own nature."— Introduction to Social Philosophy, 2d ed., p. 164.
process ever returning upon itself, but the fact that the individual is conscious of this interrelated process constantly repeating itself — of the whole process as maintained by its parts and the parts as deriving their meaning from the whole — that is significant at this point. In other words, the ends are ends for a conscious being; they are subjective.
But certain aspects of experience are objectified by the experiencing individual. There are the physiological processes respiration, digestion, circulation, etc. These are thought of as being bodily processes, and the ends which they subserve as bodily ends. Respiration is to purify the blood; digestion is to furnish suitable material for the building up of the tissues; circulation is to carry needed materials to the tissues and to remove wastes. The process and the function are both stated objectively. Of course, such terms as “ function,” “purpose,
purpose," "end,” and “means " can have no real meaning outside of the experience of the subjective, or reflective, individual. When a function or end is stated objectively, the reflective individual is just taken for granted without being brought directly into consideration. When the physiologist says that the end of respiration is the purification of the blood, he means that it does practically have the effect of changing the character of the blood in a certain way. The underlying assumption is that this change is in some way evaluated in consciousness. It is just this assumption that makes it possible to conceive of the human body as really organic. That is, in order to conceive of it as really organic, it is necessary to make it, not a whole, but an abstracted part, the whole being the unity of experience. From a purely objective standpoint, however, it is possible merely to assume and ignore the conscious side, imputing organic wholeness to the body itself; but when this is done, the term “organic” undergoes a corresponding change of meaning.
Now, plants resemble the human bodily organism in certain important respects. In both there is a certain circuitous, selfreinstating process. Each partial process conditions each of the others and is conditioned by them. The process returns upon itself through a series of changes. In the one there are the partial processes of generation, birth, nutrition, growth, etc., mutually
dependent and constantly repeated; in the other there are seeding, germination, nutrition, growth, etc., likewise mutually dependent and constantly repeated. Having completely objectified the term “organic,” ignoring its implications of consciousness, there is no reason why it should not be applied to plants. When thus used, this circuitousness of the process as a whole — this interdependence of the partial processes — constitutes the entire connotation of the term. Whether the botanist speaks of the function of some part of a plant — the tendril is to enable the vine to climb
or the use of some means to an end by the plant — the vine uses the trellis to lift itself upon — or of some effort put forth by
he plant — the plant reaches out with its tendrils to grasp the trellis — it is all on the same objective level. Although the terms of conscious experience are used, no consciousness is implied.
Stated summarily, the concept of unity involves purpose, or end in consciousness. The various grades or stages of unity are marked by the way the concept of end is involved. If the end lies outside of the thing itself, if it is a mere means, it is not an organic unity. If the end is involved in the nature of the thing, it is an organic unity. The grade of inorganic unity depends upon the degree to which it represents specialized purpose. The hammer represents a higher grade of unity than does the pebble, the engine a higher grade than the hammer. There is no real organic unity except the unity of experience; only a reflective individual can have an end in consciousness. The concepts of purpose, function, means, and ends are objectified and carried over and applied to certain non-conscious unities, thus making them objectively organic or quasi-organic. Such are the unities of biological science, so far as consciousness is ignored. The objectively organic unity of the plant resembles the organic unity of experience in that it is a circuitous, self-reinstating process with interdependent parts. 4
What are the characteristic facts of the social unity? What sort of whole is society? How does the unity of society resemble other forms of unity, and how does it differ from them?
* This is not an attempt to give a systematic statement of the various grades of unity. Only so much of this is done as was valuable for the particular purpose of this paper.
The social process is circuitous and self-reinstating. Each part of the process conditions and is conditioned by every other part. The process returns upon itself, and so goes on continuously. In this respect the social unity differs from the unity of the pebble and the machine, and is similar to that of the plant and to that of reflective consciousness. The pebble passes through a series of changes — is worn by wind and wave and driving sand
but it returns not to the form of a pebble again; its series of changes give birth to no new pebble to pass through a similar series of changes. Similarly with the machine. Through wear and rust and breakage the machine ceases to be a machine, and these changes call no similar machine into being. In the case of the plant there is a round of changes. The seed germinates, the plant grows, passes through a series of changes, produces seed; and the whole process is repeated continuously. Each series of changes returns to the point of beginning — makes a complete circle. Each part of the process is both cause and effect to every other part. So it is in society. There are the various processes which have to do with sustentation, the processes which have to do with control, and the processes that serve to perpetuate the traditions, customs, laws, etc., from generation to generation. Each of these partial processes conditions the others and is conditioned by them. The moral and governmental control which a society exercises over its members is essential to the going on of the industrial processes. Likewise the industrial processes condition the processes of moral and governmental control. Both of these would fail were it not that the traditions, customs, knowledge, laws, beliefs, etc., of the people of one generation were perpetuated in the next; and the perpetuation of these depends upon the processes of sustentation and control. The social series repeats itself in its essential characteristics. Particular social groupings come and go, but each resembles its predecessors in type. Society, then, in virtue of this interdependence of parts, this circuitousness of process, is organic. It remains yet to say in what sense it is organic. Is it subjectively organic? Or is it objectively organic?
Society has no end for itself, no end in consciousness. Society does not have conscious experience. There is no social over-soul. There is no single psychic process corresponding to the whole of the social process. Consequently, society is not a subjectively organic whole. It is not a psychic whole. Social ends are objective. To be real, or subjective, they must be reflected in the conscious experience of some person. The words “function,” "purpose,” “end,” and “ means” when applied to the social unity are used in a purely objective sense. Otherwise there is a social over-soul.
Society, then, is an objectively organic unity in that the purposes and ends of society are not consciously experienced by society as a whole, but are reflected in the experience of the psychic individual. So far the social unity is similar to that of the plant. To this extent the biological analogy is better than the psychological analogy. Still the social unity differs from that of the plant. How does it differ?
If by analysis we break up the biological process into parts, and then still further break these up, and so continue to the smallest partial process known, we shall get, first, partial processes describable in biological terms; then, smaller and smaller processes similarly describable; and, finally, processes that can be described only in physical and chemical terms. Thus in the plant there are germination, nutrition, growth, and fruiting - processes described in terms of plant function. Taking any one process, say nutrition, it can be subdivided into absorption, elaboration, circulation, assimilation, etc.— processes described in terms of plant function. Then take one of these, say elaboration, and it can be described finally only in physical or chemical terms — the food material undergoes certain chemical changes, and it's physical properties are likewise altered. If we look for the real ond or purpose, ze'e cannot find it in the plant as a whole nor in any part. It is outside and belongs to a person.
Now, if we similarly analyze the social process into its greater and smaller parts, the series will be in some respects different. Breaking up the social process into its parts, there are, first, partial social processes of various grades — that is, processes describable in terms of social function. Continuing, we