Ideals of Conduct: An Exposition of Moral Attitudes

By John Dashiell Stoops | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX
THE SYNTHESIS OF INDIVIDUALITY AND SOLIDARITY

The social patterns of experience are so variable and have undergone such a change that it is no wonder that our intellectualistic and individualistic modes of thought have regarded them as the product of purely individual thinking. It is easy to see the social patterns that run through the pack, the horde, the clan and tribe, the ancient city-states; but in the ever-widening circles of modern life, these traditional forms of social behavior have been quite blotted out of our thought.

The development of knowledge in the modern world turned the burning focus of introspection on the sources of conduct. And a strange transformation took place. Introspection knew nothing of the older social patterns of conduct. A custom or a habit, when it gets filtered through the processes of introspection, becomes a series of observed phenomena with the "go," the drive, left out. In this way the drive of habit and custom and the consciousness of solidarity lose their significance for a theory of conduct. In the modern world this basic social trend to live in groups which makes possible the world of society is so covered over by the later and higher and more conscious processes of the human mind that many individuals seem unaware of its existence.

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