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Mr. Graham Wallas's The Great Society has a wider scope than its predecessor, Human Nature in Politics. While the latter dealt with the conflict between the abstract theory of representative government and the psychology of practical politics, the former offers a psychological" analysis of the general social organization of a large modern state." A further difference is that the earlier book "turned into an argument against nineteenth-century intellectualism," while the present book turns" at times into an argument against certain forms of twentieth-century anti-intellectualism " (p. v). But the two volumes have much in common. Both have the practical aim of bringing "the knowledge which has been accumulated by psychologists into touch with the actual problems of present civilized life" (p. 20). Both reveal intimate acquaintance with politics, with public administration, with social conditions, and best of all with individual men. Both reveal also a wide knowledge of technical and general literature. To this learning there is joined in both keen analysis, independent judgment, and a strong constructive bent. Finally, both books are written with a charm nourished by the classics, and both sparkle with vitality.
In matters of method, Mr. Wallas's chief contribution is a deliberate effort to base his psychological analysis upon the "complex dispositions." He holds that "for that preliminary view of his subject matter, which he will carry half-consciously in his mind and use for his wider speculations, the social psychologist will . . . be wise to explain human conduct rather by the complex
1 The Great Society. A Psychological Analysis. By Graham Wallas. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1914. 8°, pp. xii + 394.
dispositions, which are the Greatest Common Measures of human nature, than by the elementary dispositions, which are its Least Common Measures" (p. 29).
What, then, are these complex dispositions? Man "inherits a nature . . . containing many thousands of dispositions which incline him to react in various ways to appropriate stimuli. Many of these dispositions should be left rather to anatomy and physiology than to psychology. The psychological dispositions may be divided roughly into comparatively simple facts like the senses, memory, fatigue, etc., and the more complex facts of Instinct and Intelligence (p. 56). Human nature means the sum-total of the human dispositions (p. 22). The advantage of using this term is that it enables "the social psychologist to project. . . all his facts on to one terminological plane" (p. 23). Ordinary language makes it difficult to combine and compare sensations (like pain), processes (like thinking), and emotions (like anger). But combination and comparison become easy when we speak simply of the three dispositions to feel pain, to reason, and to become angry.
So far Mr. Wallas's "dispositions" seem to coincide with Mr. Thorndike's "capacities." But there is an important difference between the concepts of human nature developed by these two men. Mr. Wallas pro
poses to use "disposition" and "nature" "so as to exclude the acquired elements." On this view a man's nature, or any one of his dispositions, becomes " an imaginary point, from which the effects of experience are assumed to start" (p. 23).
Now this proposal, at least when made with reference to the complex dispositions, seems to me to involve a serious error. How can patriotism, or ambition, which Mr. Wallas cites as among "the facts of human nature
which are of greatest importance to the social psychologist" (p. 32), be regarded as dispositions free from acquired elements ? Indeed, can any complex disposition consist wholly of unlearned elements? Mr. Wallas himself says that "dispositions which seem, when considered by themselves, to be homogeneous, are found, when examined in relation to their stimuli, to consist of many independently varying tendencies (p. 60). Is the combination among these original tendencies itself original? If Thorndike is right, we must say no. A man's action in going upstairs to get boracic powder to put on his burnt finger may, as Mr. Wallas says, "be treated either as the result of many elementary dispositions to perceive, to remember, to decide, etc.; or as the result of a single complex disposition to search, with the help both of the senses and the memory, for means of relieving pain" (p. 28). But certainly when it is treated in the latter way" disposition" is not used "so as to exclude . acquired elements."
Mr. Wallas would meet this criticism, I think, by urging that while in all behavior controlled by complex dispositions numerous acquired elements are conspicuous (pp. 23, 38, 45 note, 65, etc.), he is abstracting from these acquired elements and dealing with the naked propensities which remain. What we fear, love, and acquire depends upon the material provided by our several experiences, and our propensities in these directions are themselves modified in the course of exercise; but none the less we get these propensities by inheritance, not from experience, and upon finding appropriate stimuli for their exercise much of our happiness depends. Tried by Mr. Thorndike's searching analysis, however, the residuum of truth in this answer would be small. Apart from all experience, we do tend to fear,
to love, and to acquire certain particular things under certain particular circumstances; but what these particular things and particular circumstances are is not perfectly known. The fears, the loves, the acquisitiveness which are great social forces, which really do concern the social psychologist, are not these naked original propensities; but these propensities made over and standardized by contact from the days of our births with other people, who got their dispositions in question by a similar indissoluble fusion of nature and nurture at the hands of their predecessors.
The issue involved here is not, I think, purely verbal. Every one who does not consider, indeed every one who does not emphasize the fact that the human nature of each generation of men is determined chiefly by its nurture at the hands of the preceding generation misses the most potent single factor in social psychology. "Man is born," says Mr. Wallas, "with a set of dispositions related, clumsily enough but still intelligibly, to the world of tropical or sub-tropical wood and cave which he inhabited during millions of years of slow evolution, and whose main characteristics changed little over vast periods of time" (p. 64). If that were the full story of the human nature with which we become citizens of the Great Society, our plight would be bad indeed. But it is not the full story. Perhaps we have no original capacities which the cave man had not; but before we start in school, still more before we begin to earn our livings and to vote, our numberless unlearned capacities have grown into certain more or less stereotyped combinations utterly different from the combinations of the cave man. It still remains true that "neither our instinctive nor our intelligent dispositions [even as thus made over] find it easy to discover their most useful stimuli " in the Great Society
(p. 65). But happily the disharmony is not that between the original instincts of cave men and the requirements of civilization. It is the disharmony between the requirements of the Great Society and a human nature composed of cave man elements combined with one another in definite forms derived from generations of farmers, handicraftsmen, and petty shopkeepers.
Did Mr. Wallas adhere strictly to his proposal of treating complex dispositions as free from all acquired elements his analysis would contribute little to our understanding of present social problems. Happily he forgets his proposal almost as soon as he makes it, and proceeds to analyze the complex dispositions of greatest social import in the forms in which they manifest themselves today.
A particularly admirable feature of this analysis is the treatment of the relations between Instinct and Intelligence (chapter III). McDougall in his Social Psychology (p. 44) advanced the view that intelligence is but a complex apparatus for finding ways and means toward the ends which are set by instinct. Mr. Wallas, on the contrary, holds "that we are born with a tendency, under appropriate conditions, to think, which is as original and independent as our tendency, under appropriate conditions, to run away" (p. 43). Here, of course, Mr. Wallas and Mr. Thorndike are at one.
There follows a series of chapters (V to IX) discussing the efforts to establish a system of social psychology upon the basis of a single disposition, or of two or three dispositions at the most. The leading doctrines treated are the habit philosophy of Sir Henry Maine and others, the fear philosophy of Hobbes, the pleasure-pain philosophy of Bentham, the psychology of the crowd based upon imitation, sympathy and suggestion by Bagehot, Tarde and their disciples, the social psychology of love