Animals and Men: Studies in Comparative Psychology

By David Katz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ANIMALS

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ANIMALS FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF MAN

THE social life of animals and especially that of social insects has from time immemorial suggested comparison between animal societies and state institutions evolved by man. The harmony prevailing in the beehive or the ant colony has often been contrasted with the struggle which constantly threatens human organization. There has been more than one Utopian who, considering the future of mankind, thought it possible to take the communities of social insects as models for shaping human society. Scientific examination did not fail to realize the limits to all comparisons between the social life of insects and that of men. In human society we are confronted with the problem of bringing about an organization of personalities. These personalities are equipped with reasoning power and moral freedom, and therefore bear moral responsibility, whereas bees and all the other social insects never rise above the level of a purely natural existence. Insects are controlled by the law of their species to such a degree that there is no chance of conflicting personal interests. That is the reason why complete harmony is assured in the beehive.

Whereas a comparison between the societies of social insects and those of men has never led to more than vague analogies, the social life of higher animals has lately proved to have much in common with that of human groups. The far-reaching parallels, existing as they do between social groups of higher animals and human beings, have led to the

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