Psychological Interpretations of Society

By Michael M. Davis Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

WE are theorizing about society because we are so tremendously interested in social action. Individual deeds, to modern men, are pale and petty beside those group problems and doings which react upon individuals with such determining power for good or evil. And social doings, like individual, are fascinating just because their origin is so recondite. The immediate forces of social life are as immaterial as thought--are thoughts, even thoughts about thoughts, "dreams of a shadow," and yet out of such evanescent energies the mightiest movements of history have sprung.

All higher life, brute as well as human, blossoms in some form of social expression, whose essence is an adaptation between individual deeds such that these make for ends common to others, uniting in some degree individual acts with the interests of others than the individual actor. The essence of society is adaptation, expressed as coöperated action among the constituent members of a group, and the extent and permanence of this coöperation is the practical criterion of the social.

One of the puzzles of society is to understand how diverse individual wills permit, and even develop and extend, concerted action. Millions of brain-cells are co- ördinated to think as one brain. Physiology tries to tell how. Millions of brains coördinate themselves and

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