chology, but it is the subject-matter, and all the subject matter, of all the sciences treating of objective reality.

This does not in any sense deny the fact that for the explanation of social phenomena we must bring in the psychic individual. It only means that the social process in its unity is not psychic. The botanist explains the plant-process in part by means of certain chemical processes. But this does not make the plant a chemical unity. From the standpoint of the chemist, the plantprocess is not a process, but a multitude of processes describable in terms of ions, atoms, and molecules. In a similar way the sociologist must explain the social process by means of psychic processes; and, similarly, unity is lost and plurality got by taking the point of view of the psychologist.

If, then, we attempt to describe the activity of several co-operating persons in terms of psychic processes, we have not unity, but plurality. If, on the other hand, we conceive of the activity of all as a single unified process-a social process - we must describe it in objective, not in psychological, terms. In a social group all the members may think and feel and act with reference to the same objective situation. To say that they participate in one thought — thinking process — would imply the existence of a “transcendental somewhat,” which Professor Giddings repudiates.

Whether an activity is social or not does not depend upon its psychic character - whether it is imitative or not — nor upon siniilarity of the objective content of consciousness on the part of associated individuals, nor yet upon their purposive co-operation toward a single objective end. If the activity is socially conditioned, if it derives its meaning from the fact that the actor is a social being, if it does practically tend to maintain the situation

- the social process — then it is social. It is impossible to divide up an individual's activity into social and non-social. All his activity is social. The activity of a savage who climbs a tree for fruit with which to satisfy his hunger is as truly social as that of the orator before his audience, or that of the chieftain leading his followers.

Professor George E. Vincent, in his Social Mind and Educa


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tion, takes a position in some respects similar to that of Professor Giddings. He finds social unity in the common content of consciousness and in co-operative activity. The following quotations are taken from the above-inentioned book:

The sociological organism is in the final analysis a psychic organism."

A distinction must be made at the outset between individual and social consciousness. Each member of society may be conscious of his own thoughts and feelings, but it is only when these thoughts and feelings are common to a whole group that social consciousness appears."

Social consciousness is simply consciousness of the same thought or feeling on the part of communicating individuals."?

Social self-consciousness implies a further element of purposive co-operation between such individuals toward a more or less definite end. 18

Elsewhere Professor Vincent guards against a misinterpretation of his theory. He does not believe in a social over-soul. There is no consciousness but individual consciousness. The necessity for thus guarding himself arises from the fact that the statement that society is a psychic organism practically asserts what he denies. The expression “ thoughts and feelings common to a whole group” involves the self-contradiction of the whole theory. “Common to" implies a plurality, but only one group is mentioned. The expression must mean common to the several persons of a group. But can one thinking process be a thing in which several persons participate? If so, this is a social and at the same time a psychic unity. Otherwise the unity lies entirely on the objective and overt side.

Dr. Charles A. Elwood's theory differs from those of Professors Giddings and Vincent in that he throws the emphasis over on the side of function. To Dr. Elwood the functional unity of the social process on the objective side is brought about through a unified psychic process. The following quotations are taken from his articles entitled “ Prolegomena to Social Psychology," published in the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY:

Now, the assumption that there are “mental phenomena dependent upon a community of individuals ” 10 presupposes psychical processes which are more than merely individual, which are inter-individual.20

15 The Social Mind and Education, p. 92.
16 Ibid., pp. 18, 19.
17 Ibid., p. 69.

ibid., p. 69.
Quoted from KÜLPE, Outlines of Psychology.
20 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF Sociology, Vol. IV, p. 656.





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Social psychology, then, if somewhat more strictly defined, has as its task to examine and explain the form or mechanism of these group psychical processes.

Whatever psychical phenomena may be regarded as pertaining to grouplife as such are, therefore, the proper subject-matter of social psychology.”

It is evident that the only social psychology which is possible is a psychology of the activities and development of the social group, a functional psychology of the collective mind." 23

Is there, then, a collective psychical life, in which the psychical life of the individual is but a constitutive element? . ... The conclusion, therefore, is that there could be no such phenomena as public opinion, the Zeitgeist, tradition, social ideals, and the like, if the individuals of a social group were psychically autonomous and independent. **

But the real proof of the existence of socio-psychical processes is found in the fact that social groups act, that they are functional unities capable of making inner and outer adjustments.25

This principle of organization can be no other, on the psychological side, than a psychical process which extends throughout the group and unifies it.

Human society may, therefore, with propriety be styled a psychical organism.

The concept of the social mind, then, is not meaningless, although it does not mean that society presents a unified consciousness, much less that it is ruled over by a mysterious entity resembling the “soul" of theology and metaphysics.

The theory of inter-individual psychic processes and group psychical processes has been sufficiently criticised. There are no

psychical phenomena pertaining to the group-life as such; there is no collective mind. Public opinion, the Zeitgeist, tradition, social ideals, and the like are not psychic phenomena, if we consider them from the standpoint of their unity. Public opinion, if considered from the standpoint of psychology, is not one, but a thousand opinions. Its unity is purely objective, and, hence, not psychic. Külpe's statement that there are mental phenomena dependent upon a community of individuals need mean only that the individual's psychic processes are socially conditioned — that they are what they are because the individual is a social individual; that the individual thinks, feels, and acts with reference to the actual social situation; and social psychology, from this * Ibid., p. 657.

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24 Ibid., pp. 102, 103. > Ibid., p. 657.

25 Ibid., p. 104. 28 Ibid., Vol. V, p. 100.

27 Ibid., p. 109. 28 Ibid., p. 227.

20 Ibid., p. 104.


point of view, would be a psychology of individual mental processes, so far as these are socially conditioned. It is hard to see how a "psychical process

“extend throughout the group" without the group presenting "unified consciousness," unless we assume that there are some psychic processes which are not processes of consciousness. In fact, this is Dr. Elwood's assumption. He forgets that the psychic process is the process from the standpoint of consciousness as such, and takes certain objective things and calls them psychic.

The merit of the work of the psychological sociologists is that, in spite of a false forın of statement, it has actually assisted in calling attention to the importance of a correct analysis of the psychic individual as a means to the explanation of social phenomena. The older philosophers, political scientists, and economists based their theories upon certain unanalyzed psychological assumptions. They had simplified the character of the psychic individual in a way that seriously falsified it. Some simplification was inevitable. In order to get any statement of a scientific character, it was necessary to reduce the number of factors of so complex a situation by ignoring the less important. The criticism is not that they did ignore some factors, but that through a false analysis they were led to ignore certain factors that were essential to the solution of their problems. This, of course, led to false conclusions. Now, in spite of the fact that much of the psychology used by the psychological sociologists is inadequate, they have helped to create a demand for the use of a better psychology. In spite of the fact that they have confused the unity of the social process with the unity of the psychic process, they have emphasized the fact that the social process can be explained only through a better knowledge of the social individual.

It may be admissible, in conclusion, to venture a somewhat more formal definition of the social unity. A social group is a unity in that all the activities of its various members may be thought of as constituting a whole, and that this conception has scientific and practical value. A social group is an objective unity in that its end lies outside of itself, as a unity — in that society is not conscious. A society may be thought of as organic in that the social process is circuitous, consisting of interdependent parts. It is organic in the same sense that a plant is organic— quasiorganic or objectively organic. A social group is composed of persons who are conscious individuals, and all real social ends are to be found in these individuals. The social unity, then, is an objectively organic unity whose constituent parts are psychic individuals.


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