The Law of Social Participation

John E. Boodin
Carleton College


Human nature is known through behavior, but the reaction must be studied in social relations not merely physiological reaction,. The reality of the group has been too long neglected. Lévy-Bruhl has a law of participation which assumes a difference between primitive man, whose mind is pre-logical, and modern man, a distinction which closer analysis fails to justify. The real law of participation may be stated: In order to understand human beings we must take them in their social matrix. The identification has three stages varying with the unity of conviction, the amount of opposition and the number of participants. Three types of participation are distinguishable: first, the automatic, where the individual is unquestioning and unthinking; second, the dogmatic, a transition type; and third, the critical, where the test of truth is objective experience and not the strength of group conviction. It is creative participation and therefore social. For it deals with social material, is social in its incentive, social in its test, and is inspired by social ideals. Creativeness makes significant addition to the meaning and value of the world. Reason does not mean the negation of mysticism, for we need, in an age of heartless science, a new sense of emotional unity, else science will be an instrument of selfish destruction.


It is a profound truth that we know human nature through behavior. But the study of mere physiological behavior does not take us far. We are still largely ignorant of the physiological expression of human nature,. The measurements of the pulse and breathing, and some obscure organs that we do not usually mention, have not thrown much light on human conduct. At best the physiological reactions are a dubious index. The same physiological reflexes may be the expression of different emotions and attitudes. And again the same emotions and attitudes may have different expressions. The futility of the attempt to investigate, by the reaction method, such complex differences of organization as are involved in sex and race, is only too apparent. To get any adequate knowledge of human nature, at any rate, we must study it in the network of social relations as expressed in the variety of social responses and in the social products of language, art, and institutions. It is thus that we come to understand the canali-

(23) -zation of human conduct into habit and its organization into the existing patterns of behavior. It is thus that we get an insight into the propensities, capacities, and limitations of human nature.

As an illustration of the limitations of the physiological method a simple example will suffice. Who would dare say that the physiological reaction to the command "hush!" expresses the variety of tendencies involved in such different situations as the sick room, the school, the church, the game of hide-and-seek, etc. And yet the meaning of these situations to the participants is vastly different, even though outwardly they may comply in the same way. It is only when we understand the social genesis of such meanings that we can follow the process of stimulus-response from the kinaesthetic-auricular language situation in actual social communication. through the stage of incipient action to which it dwindles in remembered speech, until an automatic cerebral set may be the only equivalent of the social meaning on the side of the individual organism. There is indeed an innate physiological disposition to talk, which reports itself in the motor-auditory sensations, but these would be mere senseless babble except for the group situations for which the disposition of speech has evolved and which in turn have been greatly extended by articulate speech.

Nor can we understand human behavior by the study of human beings as abstract individuals. It has been said that "sociology, or the study of man in the group, must found its results upon a study of the individual."[1] It is true that sociology in the past has been largely individualistic and particularistic. It has proceeded from individual to individual and has ignored the reality of the group. It has been prone to select some particular factor— environment, instinct, habit, sympathy, imitation, etc. —  and thus tried to explain social conduct. This accounts for the barrenness of sociology in the past. It has failed to discover its own unique problem. In other words it has failed to take into account the reality of the group. It has tried to synthesize society from abstract individuals, instead of starting with the analysis of society as it exists, before

(24) reconstructing it in terms of its scientific models. And so it has found itself with bricks without mortar.

We need to awake to the fact that with the group— its consciousness of participation, its cumulative tradition and control— a new fact appears in the history of the earth's crust and this fact must become central in our science of human conduct. Just as with the creative synthesis of life we have a new order of reality which science must take account of as such, and not merely as a sum of elements entering into the life compound, so with the creative synthesis of the group we have a new order of fact which thenceforth conditions human conduct in a unique way. No doubt there are transition links from the group to the individualistic animals which stalk alone. Such a link is the instinctive herd. But the herd is not a social group. It does not have the consciousness of participating in a common life with its tradition and symbols. Once this situation exists, it becomes a unique factor of selection and survival. We cannot resolve it into abstract conditions, but we must understand the conditions in terms of it. Like the life compound, it is not only itself a unique creative synthesis, but it is the basis for further creative synthesis in its cumulative growth and reaction. No doubt the social group has its definite place. in cosmic and organic evolution, based upon an immanent law of creativeness which we do not understand, but it also becomes a creative factor in determining the conditions of further evolution. By all inherent law of rectigradation, instincts and capacities for further development of group life arise and, in turn individuals and groups with defective instincts and capacities eliminated or subordinated.

One thing is clear, at any rate: that to understand human beings we must understand them as functioning or failing to function with reference to each other in society. This has never been clearer than in the present transition in human history. As the electric furnace has enabled us to study the bonds in material compounds, the effect of their dissolution in the stress of heat the forming of new compounds, so in the heat and stress of the social struggle which we are watching today, we can see the effects of the dissolution of old group bonds with their sanctions

( 25) and the precipitation of human elements into new compounds with corresponding liberation of energy and temporary disorder.

To understand the conduct of human beings we must understand their participation, consciously or unconsciously, in group beliefs and ideals, with the control that these exercise over them. Eliminate this social factor in conduct, and we no longer have human conduct. The sociologist is little concerned with the question of the psychological content which symbolizes this social factor in the individual consciousness. This content may consist entirely in sensations. There may be no central images in the old sense, least of all any generic images. No doubt movements and motor sensations occupy an important function in the fixation of meanings, since meanings are uses, operations to which we can put contents, not mere abstract pictures. But movements and sensations do not account for the social planes of meaning which intersect us as individuals, which make our actions converge on common ends. We share in action directly, only to a limited extent when certain reflexes in the infant are set off by the physiological movements in others as in yawning or smiling. At any rate such psychomotor actions are relatively unimportant. The important part of conduct to us is conduct which has reference, consciously or unconsciously, to social meanings— conduct which looks to the control of present sensations and impulses by the common matrix of customs and ideals in which we must somehow share to have human conduct. In short, human beings are not physiological automata, but social beings. Their conduct can be understood only as we understand their interstimulation within a network of social relations with its cumulative tradition. It may also be well to add, in these days of quack reform, that it would be well for the sociologist to understand human conduct before he tries to reform it. If he deals with human beings as abstract individuals that can be ushered into a democratic paradise if they only can master the technique of counting ballots, his reforms are likely to be as futile in the future as in the past. We had better learn the art of diagnosis before we administer remedies, and this we can learn only by first investigating the anatomy and physiology of society.

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The French sociologists, especially Durkheim and Lévy-Bruhl, have taken advanced ground in their emphasis of the reality of the social group. It is to Lévy-Bruhl that we owe the phrase, "law of participation," though his statement of the law is too specialized and too limited in scope to serve as a universal principle of explanation. It is rather a theory of the primitive mind, which e distinguishes sharply from the European mind; and this theory is based upon a study of the totemic beliefs of certain aboriginal races. He sums s up his conclusions under two heads:

1. The institutions, practices and beliefs of the primitive races imply a prelogical and mystical mind, oriented differently from ours.

2. The collective representations and the connections among these representations which constitute this mind are governed by the law of participation and, being so governed, are indifferent to the law of contradictions.[2]

This "law of participation" he states as follows:

Lacking a satisfactory formula, we can attempt an approximation. I should say that in the collective representations of the primitive mind, objects, beings, phenomena, can in a manner incomprehensible to us, be themselves or other than themselves at the same time. In a manner not less incomprehensible, they emit and they receive forces, powers, qualities, mystical influences which can be felt outside themselves, without ceasing to exist where they are. In other words, for that type of mind. the opposition between the one and the many does not impose the necessity of affirming one of the terms if the other is denied, or reciprocally. The opposition has only a secondary interest. Sometimes it is perceived; often it is not. Often it disappears before a mystical essence, common to two beings, which, to our manner of thinking, cannot possibly be taken, one for the other, without leading to absurdity. For example the Trumai (a tribe of Northern Brazil) boast of being araras (red parrots).[3]

The primitive mind is, according to Lévy-Bruhl, indifferent to logical classification and to verification in terms of experience which are supposed to characterize the European mind. Instead of logical classifications there "are established complex participations."

They are equivalent to, or at least they correspond to, what for us are classifications; the social participations being felt with great intensity by each individual consciousness and serving as a center, so to speak, around which

(27) other participations mass themselves. But there is nothing there which resembles, except in appearance, our logical generalizations. The latter imply series of concepts of definite extension and intension and constitute a ladder whose rungs are tested by reflective thought. The prelogical mind does not objectify nature in this way. It lives rather by feeling its own participation in it, and by feeling nature's participations everywhere; and it translates these complexes of participations into social forms. The element of generality, if it exists, can be sought only in the participation which radiates, in the mystical property, circulating between certain beings, which unites them and which identifies them in the collective representation.[4]
Lévy-Bruhl seems to have overemphasized the difference between the primitive type of mind and that of the European races. Boas,[5] the anthropologist, finds no such gulf. The difference between the savage mind and ours would seem to be due to the background of tradition rather than any absolute difference in mental processes. The contrast which Lévy-Bruhl has made so striking is clue to the fact that he has selected a set of customs, long ago stereotyped, among certain savage peoples and contrasted them with the science of the European. But we also have our crust of custom in which we participate as groups and where we are indifferent to contradictions. Our etiquette, our religion, our moral and political traditions, are full of them. Just think of accepting the Copernican view of the world and that of the ancient Hebrews at the same time. Lévy-Bruhl himself recognizes the persistence of the prelogical mind in certain fields, viz., "in morals, politics and religion" — just as in the more primitive type of civilization. In any case we, like the savage, accept a vast mass of tradition and convention uncritically, on the authority of the group of which we are a part, and because we are a part of it, requiring no other ground than the collective faith or opinion of the group. Beliefs thus accepted may be called alogical as contrasted with beliefs which we consciously subject to the test of experience. With most people as a matter of fact even their science is accepted in that manner. They have no more logical ground for the Copernican theory than for the doctrine of the Trinity. When we do question the conventional beliefs it is because of some stress, and then our thinking lasts only as long as the stress.


There are, to be sure, certain periods of transition when a wide readjustment of our mores takes place. It is also true that the primitive mind is more likely to harden and stay put because of the less complexity of the social structure and less pressure from external contacts. But this is a relative matter. The intricate social system of savages, such for example as their marriage classifications, do not arise without thought, even though the reasons they give us now may have nothing to do with the founding of the institutions. And in spite of the monotony of conditions, we find savage peoples today in various stages of evolution and transition. Thus we find, in the marriage customs of adjacent tribes in Australia, the maternal totem, the maternal and paternal totem coexisting, the paternal totem alone, and finally the disregarding of both the maternal and paternal totems. It is evident that in some parts of Australia the whole system of totemic beliefs and practices is becoming antiquated and intermarrying takes place very much as it does among us. If they move slowly it is because of lack of pressure. Under their relatively simple conditions of existence, many of their customs are well adapted, though different from ours. Other customs seem to work because of the inadequacy of their knowledge, as for example their ceremonies to produce rain. But we must remember that it is still customary among European races to pray for rain, inconsistent though it is with our natural science. The breaking and reconstruction of customs, with savages as with us, is due to their failure to work in the light of experience, especially their failure to produce prosperity.

It is hard to see why totemism as a system of beliefs should be regarded as so peculiarly mysterious as to differentiate the mind of the races that hold it from our own mind, as Lévy-Bruhl seems to think. It is true that the origins of totemism as of so many ancient beliefs, is wrapped in mystery. Perhaps Andrew Lang is right that the exogamous marriage relations which are the rule in totemism have their origin in the discipline of the male in driving away the sons from his mates and forcing them to seek their mates elsewhere and that the animal names are sobriquets thrown at these wife robbers before the connubium and friendly exchange existed.[6] But that is speculation. We find totemism as an already

(29) established social system and also as a religious cult. Whatever may be the origin of the totem emblems, they are now bound up with a belief in kinship. As Durkheim puts it: "The fundamental thing in this religion is that the men of the clan and the different beings whose form the totemic emblems reproduce, pass as being made of the same essence. When this belief was once admitted, the bridge between different kingdoms was already built."[7] The totem names and emblems of the clan came by a natural psychological process to signify the social bond, the common life, of the clan. To quote Durkheim again: "Since the clan cannot exist without a name and an emblem, and since this emblem is always before the eyes of men, it is upon this, and the objects whose image it is, that the sentiments which society arouses in its members are fixed. Men were thus compelled to represent the collective force, whose reaction they felt in the form of things serving as flag to the group. Therefore, in the idea of this force, were mixed up the most different kingdoms. Moreover, the cause whose action we observe was not peculiar to totemism; there is no society where it is not active. In a general way, a collective sentiment can become conscious of itself only by being fixed upon some material object. But by this very fact it participates in its nature."[8]

That primitive peoples should have confused the social kinship of membership in a common group and common tradition with the biological kinship of common ancestry does not seem so extraordinary when we remember that the official anthropologists of certain highly unified nations of today have seriously tried to show the unity and superiority of race of such nations without any regard for well-known historical facts. I refer of course especially to German anthropologists before the war. But, aside from anthropologists, it seems to be natural for peoples who have become unified in tradition and sentiment to regard themselves as of one blood. The more primitive races simply have a more picturesque way of symbolizing the belief.

Mysticism is not peculiar to any stage of civilization. In situations of great emotional intensity it is natural for the individual

( 30) to identify himself with the group. In intense moments of patriotism the individual identifies himself with the nation and counts his life as nothing. This identification also extends by psychological association to the symbols and other expressions of the national life. The flag for the soldier becomes the embodiment of the spirit of his country and he gladly gives his life to recover it. In intense religious moments, the soul feels its unity with God, sometimes in an abandon of mystic ecstasy. Here too the tendency is to identify the life of religion with symbols which not seldom come to be regarded as the reality itself. This is abundantly illustrated in the Christian religion. The hymns speak of the saving grace of the cross. In the medieval conception of the Eucharist we see how the symbol of the spiritual bond of the community with its Founder became identified with the reality itself and how the words of the communion office: "This is my body" and "This is my blood" became the basis of a mystical theory of transubstantiation. The bread was supposed to become actually charged into the body of Christ and the wine into his blood, at any rate in essence even though the accidents, the outward appearances, remained the same. The cup out of which Jesus drank was supposed to have mystical power, as shown in the stories of the Holy Grail. Mystical participation is not limited in any case to savage societies nor does their psychology offer any peculiarities.

There is, however, riot merely the mystical side to such systems as totemism, there is also the intellectual. In its more elaborate forms at any rate, totemism is a theory of the universe. So far from such a theory being opposed to modern science, we must regard it as the beginning of scientific classification— the attempt to identify the somehow unlike. I quote Durkheim:

The great service that religions have rendered to thought is that they have constructed a first representation of what these relations of kinship between things may be . . . . . The essential thing was not to leave the mind enslaved to visible appearances, but to teach it to dominate them and to connect what the senses separated; for, from the moment when men have an idea that there are internal connections between things, science and philosophy become possible . . . . . So far is it from true that this mentality has no connection with ours. Our logic was born of this logic. . . . Today, as formerly, to explain is to show how one thing participates in one or several others. It has been

( 31) said that the participations of this sort implied by the mythologies violate the principle of contradiction and that they are by that opposed to those implied by scientific explanations. Is not the statement that a man is a kangaroo or the sun a bird, equal to identifying the two with each other? But our manner of thought is not different when we say of heat that it is a movement, or of light that it is a vibration of the ether, etc. Every time that we unite heterogeneous terms by an internal bond we forcibly identify contraries. Of course the terms we bring together are not those which the Australian brings together; we choose them according to different criteria and for different reasons; but the processes by which the mind puts them in connection do not differ essentially . . . . . We do not believe that. it is possible to characterize the mentality of inferior societies by a single and exclusive inclination for indistinction. If the primitive mind confounds things which we distinguish, he also distinguishes things which we connect together.[9]

In any case it is from the consciousness of social interpenetration and social unity that we extend interpenetration and unity to the larger world. And the collective consciousness of the primitive clans, stimulated by their religious emblems and sacraments, gave them their categories for dealing with the universe. It is well to go back to these beginnings occasionally to remind ourselves of the social character of all knowledge.

It is not easy to say whether there is an increase in the relative amount of thinking. Each age flatters itself that it is the most intelligent, since it naturally must interpret the universe from its point of view and hence other points of view seem more or less unreal to it. So we are likely to take for granted that the age in which we live is the high-water mark of civilization. But to the more or less detached critic who takes longer perspectives, this axiom may not seem indubitable. Thus, to Gallon, the Greeks in their heyday were as much beyond us in the scale of intellectuality as we are beyond the African negro; and, to Gladstone, we are far inferior in logical thought to the masters of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. We certainly should have appeared slovenly to them. But it is not a question so much of the amount of thinking as of how the thought process is controlled. To what extent is it controlled by the authority of the group? And to I what extent is it controlled pragmatically, i.e., by the tests of experience ? In the Middle Ages, thought, however exact and

( 32) systematic, way: controlled by the reverence for religious authority. The church furnished the premises for men's reasoning. Today we feel that we are more original and less dependent upon group participation because we contrast our habits of thought and action with the older tradition. It is true that. scientific method has gained great headway since the Middle Ages, and this means liberation from blind custom and corresponding control by experience. But it is after all a small corner of even the scientist's life that is thus affected. The greater part of his world he takes on trust, on faith in some group. And when we. take the mass of the population, the originality is more apparent than real. Its conduct is determined almost as much as that of primitive man by the group attitude. We may boast of our modernism. and our lack of respect for the past; we may follow winds of doctrine rather than theological dogmas; we may be controlled by fashion rather than custom, but are we therefore more logical, more sane and reasonable than our ancestors ? Are we not as much slaves of the standards of the group as they were, though the standards may have changed? We accept the Copernican universe and Darwinian evolution, as we accept the fashion of our clothes, because they are the thing. We have substituted the ideal of novelty for loyalty to tradition, the ideal of a democracy of counting heads for the conception of supernatural authority, the ideal of self-expression for social restraint. But are we therefore any more thoughtful than our forbears? We are controlled by crowd suggestion rather than institutional authority. But do we therefore have a more reasonable control? Is the prestige of the new necessarily more logical than the prestige of the old? Are we not in either case bound by the control of the group, do we not dance to its time, do we not find things reasonable because the group stamps them as such, and worth while because the group emphasizes them? Are we not really like sheep following the lead of the herd, though we imagine that we are choosing our own way?

Lévy-Bruhl bas done a great service in calling attention to the fact of participation. But he fails to give us the rationale of the process. He deals with effects rather than causes. The important aspect of the case is the consciousness of group participation.

( 33) The participation in things is the consequence of group participation. It is because of the consciousness, however vague, of a common bond that men create names and emblems to symbolize this bond; and in turn the signs make the reality objective and effective. That the primitive peoples should have inverted the process and conceived the signs, the common emblems, as the reality is not to be wondered at when we understand our own psychology. Rather the tendency is inevitable so long as the participation in group life is uncritical. Furthermore, Lévy-Bruhl has unduly narrowed participation to the automatic acceptance of the beliefs and practices of the group. We shall try to show later that there are various types of participation. At one end of the scale we have participation which is controlled by the authority of the group through prestige and habit. Here the standard is group conviction. At the other end of the scale we have participation which strives to understand the social matrix in terms of individual experience and to evaluate it in terms of objective standards— the workability of customs in terms of conscious human needs, utilitarian, logical, ethical, aesthetic., etc. Any one epoch in the development of a race or individual is shot through with these various types in varying degrees, depending upon the stresses or problems that may arise. But in any case group dependence constitutes a large part of life, even of the most thoughtful, since we must share the heritage of the group in order to interpret it and since our human limitations make it possible to cover only a small part of life in terms of first-hand experience, and even this only in co-operation with past and present workers in the field.


We have seen now that social participation is a fact which must be taken account of in order to understand the beliefs, standards, and conduct of human beings. Human beings do not live unto themselves nor die unto themselves, as the non-social animals do, but in their science and in their illusions, in their virtues and in their vices they are influenced by the fact of association. The group sentiment, we have seen, must have emblems to focus the common consciousness, and these emblems thus

(34) become part of the association. It may be a totem sign or an institutional name or a flag or a constitution. In any case the emblem is invested with the collective life of the group. And in turn the emblem becomes an independent source of group sentiment, so that we worship the name of France or Britain or the United States of America; we pay homage to the flag and die for it as a thing having value in itself; we come to regard the constitution as the source of our rights and liberties; the religious ritual itself becomes a means of salvation. The law of group participation is the same at all stages and in all condition, of social life; it is only the accidents that differ. The extension of the association to include things, as well as human beings, is obviously itself an accident and varies with the emotional intensity. And so is the relative identification or detachment on the part of the individual participant. What is essential for us is the fact of social participation as a factor determining in a degree at least the attitude and conduct of the individual.

If we now attempt to state the law of participation in its most general terms, it amounts to this: that in order to understand the beliefs and conduct of human beings, we must take them in their social matrix—  the temper, attitudes, and cumulated experience of the group and age in which they live. We cannot understand them merely as abstract individuals, with certain instincts and capacities, as our individualistic psychology and our individualistic sociology have alike tried to do. This is as true of the scientific type of mind as of the dogmatic; of Bruno and Galileo as of the Inquisition; of Protestant reformers as of medieval theologians; of the modern European as of the totem clans; of Herbert Spencer with his philosophic anarchism as of Hegel with his submergence of the individual in his state-god.

When we examine the identification of the individual with the group we find various degrees. We may state this consciousness of identification under the following laws: First, it varies with the unity of conviction or devotion to a cause on the part of the participants. Some causes awaken conflicting reactions in the members of the group. They are likely at any rate to give

( 35) rise to discussion and individual consciousness as contrasted with group consent. So far as there is collective consciousness in regard to disputed issues it is the collective consciousness of subgroups rather than the larger group. In the present political state, such issues as the tariff, the size of the income tax, the claims of labor give rise to more or less definite subgroups as well as individual reactions. The issue, moreover, must be felt to be a vital issue in order to produce any marked consciousness of participation; it cannot seem a dead issue or a trivial issue. The causes which stimulate loyalty are those that are felt as momentous to the safety and prosperity of the group. This can easily be illustrated in any group— the labor union, the political state, the business corporation.

Secondly, the consciousness of identification varies with opposition to the cause. Loyalty is likely to be merely dormant until the common cause is challenged. The devotees of a religion may be comparatively indifferent until persecution, the violation of the religious conscience, sets in. And then we have the marvels of martyrdom where the contagion of courage and faith stimulates even the comparatively weak to sublime sacrifice. People may speak indifferently and even critically of their nation until its life is threatened; and then the flood tide of emotion and heroism rises to meet the crisis. The love of family may dwindle to a mere "of course" until loss of the family bond is threatened, and then a mother's sacrifice knows no bounds. So strong becomes the feeling of solidarity in times of crisis to the group, that the utmost impatience and even vindictiveness is felt toward members who fail to participate in the loyalty and sacrifice. This has been abundantly illustrated in national wars as regards the attitude to the conscientious objector and still more to the wilful slacker. The greater the danger to the group, the greater the intolerance to dissenters who attempt to follow their individual judgment. Crises always take on a religious character and the devotion to the group becomes mystical or sacramental. Individual abandon to the cause becomes complete by those who participate in the group consciousness. This, of course, does not apply to those who share

( 36) in the group conduct from fear of the group. They may still remain individuals, apart in their consciousness, even though dominated by the group.

Thirdly, the group consciousness varies with the number of participants. Men find it easier to renounce their individual and class claims in the crowd under the inspiration of a common cause than as individuals. The consciousness of being one in a mass tends to inhibit individuality and to intensify the abandon to the cause. Hence the importance of mass meetings for stimulating enthusiasm as opposed to individual canvassing or printed communications. The intensity of the totem bond grows by the contagion of the mutual excitement in the dances, mutilations, and various ceremonies carried out. Conversions take place from the hypnotic excitement of the religious occasion when even hardened sinners yield. Courage spreads to the indifferent through army discipline and through the participations of millions in common danger. To observations may be ventured in connection with the consciousness of this identification of the individual with the group. One is that the intellectual meaning varies inversely with identification, i.e., it is greatest when the individual is most wide-awake, in other words when he differentiates himself .from the mass; and it decreases as the individual becomes submerged —  approaching its vanishing point as our individuality is lost in the group. On the other hand, feeling or the emotional meaning is in inverse relation to intelligence. It is greatest in moments of self-effacement, such as the state of patriotic excitement and religious rapture, and decreases with the intellectual scrutiny of our relations to the group. Hence those who wish to inhibit individual reflection and action and to secure abandon to a cause strive to produce a crowd effect. They make use of symbols and formulae, fraught with feeling; they use music; they shout; in short they try to produce the maximum of emotional excitement that so they may take us off our guard and sweep our customary scruples out of the way. It is so that conversions are produced; so people are made to part with their money for a cause; so their fighting blood is roused, when calm individual thought might decide otherwise.

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If we now study social participation from the point of view of tile control of the group over the mental processes of the individual, we may distinguish three types. In the first place, the participation may be automatic —  the individual accepting unquestioningly and unthinkingly the customs and beliefs of the group. A great deal of our common life is ordinarily thus accepted. It is thus that we take our etiquette and; for the most part, the fashions. We accept similarly a whole body of conventional belief— the science, religion, and institutions of the clay. Among custom-ridden peoples the past is accepted because it is old and venerable and presided over by ancestral spirits. Among convention-ridden peoples, the current beliefs and practices are accepted because they are the thing. Most of us, and all of us to a great extent, are swayed by the authority of the group. We take things because they are approved and standardized for us. We live second hand. We are rarely masters, we are mostly slaves, of destiny. This is what Rousseau means in the opening sentence of his Social Contract: "Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains." But Rousseau was mistaken in affirming that man is born free. Freedom is something he must win in the school of society; and the chains are part of the discipline of man that he may learn to walk— not alone, but a free man, a free creator among comrades, if that time ever comes.

While it is a fact that we are dominated by the group, the fact is not a justification of such control. The ideal for humanity is rather that we should bring our conscious personal reactions and thus enrich the common fund of life. But this is more easily said than done. Life is overlaid with group opinion and group standards before we are mature enough to think. The prestige of the authority about us, backed as it is by the entire pressure of group conviction, overawes us and impresses the habits of the group upon us until we become social automata. We fall unconsciously into the ways of evaluating and judging that are socially approved. It is easier to follow the herd than to assert one's individuality. Society, moreover, from the beginning has put a premium on

(38) conformity and discourages dissenters by all the means at its disposal. It praises loyalty as the supreme virtue. After ages of social selection it is a wonder that there is any individuality left. And indeed the mass of human beings are content to follow the lead whether of custom or fashion. They fall into step whether in institutions or in crowds.

The first instinct of the group, as of the individual, is self-preservation. Hence its strong emphasis on conformity. It took untold ages to build up social restraint and back of it is the jungle. And the jungle returns whenever social restraint lapses. Hence the group is always nervous about individual innovations. Its chief interest is stability and order, the conserving of the values of the past and handing them on. Its motto in case of doubt is that it is expedient that the individual should die rather than the whole people perish. If the group cannot accomplish the end of suppressing nonconformity by legal punishments and so dispose of the refractory individual, it does so none the less effectively by social sanctions. It bribes the individual by preferment when he furthers group interest and dazzles him with future glory. If he persists, on the other hand, in his individualistic way, he is ostracized. His opportunities for advancement are barred. He must lead a lonely existence. To its mundane means of restraint, it generally adds the supernatural sanction—  a glorious heaven for conformists.

In its punishment of nonconformity, society does not distinguish between nonconformity that is atavism and nonconformity that is progress. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified between two thieves. It is nonconformity which society punishes in its blind zeal for self-preservation. The merits do not matter as a rule. The greater the danger seems to the existing order, the more relentless it is in suppressing the individual. The motto of society is "Safety first." Yet progress must be bought at a, risk. There will always be the antinomy between the demands of security and those of progress. As Bernard Shaw puts it: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

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It is true that of late we have gone a long way in breaking down old customs. There is today but little reverence for authority in the old sense, but instead we are slaves of the herd, of crowd sentiment. And while we have thus a consciousness of being more free and independent and boast our superiority to the past, we may as a matter of fact be even more of slaves. Our tolerance today is probably no deeper seated than that of former generations. We are tolerant perhaps in what they condemned. But they too built the tombs of the prophets of the past. If our prejudices are really affected— our pride in nationality and race or our class interests— our passions flare up as quickly as theirs, and more so because of our lack of permanent sanctions. Real emancipation must come— not from substituting the authority of the crowd for the authority of custom but from the cultivation of greater thoughtfulness in human beings. It means the substitution of utility, of welfare, of enlightened experience for blind conformity.

Such emancipation does not mean the breaking with the past nor walking aloof from men. It means, on the contrary, a profound sympathy with human striving through the ages. While the Prophet proclaims: "Ye have heard those of old say . . . . but I say unto you," the same Master of men has also said: "Think not that I am come to destroy but to fulfill." For the striving of the past is pregnant with the future. It is only man's deadness and idolatry of the past that must be broken through. Even when a man fancies himself most original, it is easy for the critic to point out his indebtedness. The true pioneer, the creator in any field, does indeed participate in the real striving of the race. He shares its life blood. He brings into clearness its deepest motives— motives incrusted by convention and often hidden from society which vents its wrath on those which guide it into the light, because the light perchance destroys their gossamer illusions. After all, those who carry on the pioneer work of the prophets of the past are truer to them than those who build their tombs and crucify those which are sent.

It is, moreover, not merely a matter of intellectual, moral, or aesthetic enrichment that we cultivate individuality and open-mindedness. But it is even a matter of group safety. Blind

(40) loyalty, herd conformity, when it breaks under stress, results in anarchy. No peoples are so tragic just now as those who, because of their thraldom in the past, lack intelligent experience to rebuild their shattered social structures. A people that is accustomed to discuss and think cannot run wholly amuck. We must, therefore, break the spell of blind loyalty to the group, be it state group or church group or labor group, if we would save the group. Only the group which loses its life in wholesome regeneration can ultimately find it.

Only through such encouragement of individual expression can there be genuine progress, whether in religion, morals, science, or art. In order to make the group significant, we must break away from automatic participation to conscious sharing and experimentation. We must emancipate the individual from slavery to the herd, whether it be the slavery of custom or the still worse tyranny of passion. We must dare to think, to interpret the meaning of life as it comes through our experience, mindful that this is made out of the tissue of the past and that the eternal pattern of our dreams is forever beyond. This will stake us humble in the worship of the best as we see it.

Automatic participation may take many forms, but it always means the suppression of the individual— his conscience and reason. This is well brought out in Laski's account of De Maistre and Bismarck:

The fundamental faith of each was beyond the sphere of reason— with De Maistre it was the dogmas of catholicism, with Bismarck the revelations of an evangelical Christianity. Each saw in a world of individualization the guarantee of disruption and evolved a theory to secure its suppression. Each loved passionately the ideal of unity since that seemed to then, both the surest guarantee of survival . . . . . Each failed to understand that tremendous truth inculcated by Lamennais when he urged that the real unity of doctrine —  whether political or religious— can come only from the possession of freedom . . . . . They did not sec that however organic be the community in which we live, man is a solitary no less than a social being, and his ideal world at bottom interstitial. however much he acts in common, he wishes also act alone; however much he thinks as a member of the herd, he will wish also to think as a lonely wanderer. It is perhaps an antinomy; but it is one which no theory of the State dare afford to neglect. For an attitude which makes boundaries of authority commensurate with the bonds of mind is at war with the instincts most pregnant with human good.[10]

(41) I should not say that man wishes to think as "a lonely wanderer," but that he wishes to think society in terms of his experience as well as his experience in terms of society. He becomes conscious, in short, of being not merely an imitative, but a creative intelligence.

A transition type of control is that where the authority of the group is recognized as supreme, but where the individual devoutly strives to understand and interpret the meaning of the group. This we may call the dogmatic type. This attitude of mind is best illustrated by the piety of the Middle Ages. After Augustine there was no question of the supremacy of the church in matters of belief and conduct. Men bowed reverently to its authority. Belief in the authority of the church came first. But the pious upholders of the authority of the church did not feet that there was any fundamental antagonism between faith and reason. If the motto was: "I believe in order that I may understand," it was still thought possible, allowing for our finite limitations, to understand. Augustine, indeed, became more and more depressed by the depravity of human nature in its original condition and correspondingly emphatic in his belief in man's dependence upon the church and its means of grace; but he never entirely abandoned his postulate that the faith of the church is reasonable. Anselm, in a somewhat apologetic way, attempts to state the entire gamut of church doctrines in the light of reason, though always mindful of its limitations. It is Abelard who with characteristic boldness and brilliance proclaims the right of reason to understand what faith has already accepted. For him there are no dark and impenetrable recesses in the solemn edifice of beliefs that the church has erected. But it must always be remembered that, even in the most speculative period, men bowed to the authority of the church; and their recantations, when the official verdict was against them, were no mock ceremonies to save their skin. Hence martyrdom in the Middle Ages was rare, even though the spirit of pioneers like Roger Bacon was broken by long years in dungeons before their piety was accepted and they were given a clean bill of health.

Toward the end of the Middle Ages the church grew fearful of the boldness of an awakened reason and leaned more to Tertullian's motto: "I believe because it is absurd." In other words it insisted

(42) upon an automatic or mystical acceptance of the characteristic church doctrines. Even then there was room for the systematization of church doctrines and their defence against unbelievers; and there grew up such magnificent systems as that of Thomas Aquinas which still are marvels of formal logic, even though the premises are put beyond the reach of reason. Reason could no longer claim a domain coextensive with that of faith even though consecrated by faith. It became merely the handmaid of faith— a methodical device rather than an end in itself. And as time went on even this humble rôle of reason was abandoned for the automatic acceptance of all that pertained to the supernatural world, thus limiting reason to the world of nature. Even here, however, it was restricted by the official acceptance of Aristotle and the Ptolomaic theory. Copernicus, the unconscious founder of a new era, still bowed reverently to the spiritual authority of his superiors in dedicating to his abbot the heliocentric theory. It was only in succeeding generations that reason succeeded in emancipating itself from the authority of the church. Bruno preferred to die for the truth as he saw it rather than compromise by even a technical recantation; and Galileo, even though his body and courage were broken through persecution, was convinced, in spite of his recantation, that the authority of facts cannot be invalidated by the authority of the church. A new consciousness had come which set the authority of experience above that of ecumenical councils. And a. strange authority the latter have exercised when one recollects that: their decisions were often arrived at by methods which would have shamed a modern political caucus.

It is not necessary, however, to go back to the Middle Ages to illustrate the type of control where reason is made the handmaid of custom. We find it no less in protestantism where the Hebrew Scriptures were made the supreme and sufficient guide of life. Protestantism has had its great constructive epochs and has erected imposing theological systems, but faith in a written oracle set the end and limitations. The premises lay in tradition, reason. was the method bywhich they were built into a structure— a structure which, however man-made, became itself the object of religious reverence, which has held a denomination enthralled sometimes

( 43) for centuries and thus created artificial cleavages, preventing men from co-operating in the great fundamental cause of human betterment.

Nor is it only in the religious field where reason becomes the mere handmaid of custom. We can easily illustrate the same process in the political field. Thus the American Constitution, which was the outgrowth of earnest discussion and compromise and which was regarded as having its saving grace in the possibility of amendment, became itself the embodiment of authority, until the criticizing of the Constitution became well-nigh synonymous with treason. It was indeed permitted by the courts to interpret the Constitution; and in turn the interpretative systems became invested with the same group reverence until the cake of judicial custom became well-nigh unbreakable. We are only gradually beginning to claim our birthright of using our reason to meet the crises of experience as our forbears claimed that privilege for themselves.

Even in such fields as science, where reason is supposed to be most at home, we drift invariably into traditions and schools. Darwin's hypothesis of chance variations and natural selection has not merely become a dogma of science, but has been erected into a philosophy of the universe; and the limitations of the hypothesis and the empirical spirit of its creator have been lost sight of in an intolerant tradition which has had serious consequences, not only for the development of natural science but for the social ideals and progress of the race. This is only one instance where mysticism has supplanted reason in science and where the authority of facts has been forced to yield to the authority of tradition. In every field of science we are haunted by ghosts of the past to which lesser minds pay superstitious reverence and by which even greater minds are misled into false assumptions. And the most dangerous ghost of all is that mechanical materialism which, while it has no scientific credentials but is simply a false dogma tacked on to science, has become fashionable among scientists. If science is always in danger of subordinating reason and experience to dogmas, the danger is even greater iii philosophy and art where the emotional element naturally plays a greater part

( 44) and considerations of value are apt to obscure the demands of fact. And hence, in philosophy and art, we are prone to go in schools with corresponding blindness to the real merits of the issues.

The dogmatic type of social participation which we have just discussed, viz., where social interpretation is controlled by the collective faith of the group, is a higher and more fruitful type than that of mere automatic acceptance. For, in the dogmatic type; reason is at work and eventually the new wine mist break the old bottles. While the activity of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was controlled by pious obedience to the church it was a genuinely creative activity. In their disinterested loyalty to the cause, they builded better than they knew. Their mysticism knew no trammels in its religious devotion; and their hymns and prayers still satisfy a deep spiritual need. Their Gothic cathedrals, which are the objective form of their deep devotion, would, in Ruskin's mind, abundantly justify the ages which have been mistakenly called "Dark Ages"; and we still value them as among the highest creations of the human spirit.. A theology which gave us Dante's Divine Comedy cannot be said to have been in vain. By their sincerity and devotion, the creators of the last centuries of the Middle Ages made a reconstruction of social ideals inevitable and thus set future ages their task. Their disinterested loyalty to the group bond, moreover, may well be a pattern to us in our futile individualism.

In the critical type of social participation, the control is objective. We do not accept beliefs and ideals merely because the group holds them, but because they prove themselves in human experience. We examine into the purpose of social institutions and reconstruct them to meet the needs of man. We accept them, if we do accept them, neither because they are venerable nor because they are fashionable, but because they satisfy the demands of human experience. We accept theories, not because they are the collective judgment of the past nor because some distinguished individual may have held them, but because the facts of human experience vindicate them. Sometimes one man of great vision may be worth rill the rest. Galileo was right and the ecclesiastical tribunal that forced him to retract was wrong, in spite of the

( 45) authorities of the past and the authority of the church. The test of truth in the end is objective experience and not the strength of group conviction. Human appreciation is the criterion of beauty, not the traditional canons of any school. The real test of a social system is its results in the way of human co-operation and human happiness.

While we speak of this type as critical participation, this does not mean a merely negative or mephistophelian criticism. It is critical in that it strives to understand social institutions and beliefs instead of taking them for granted. It evaluates them in terms of an objective standard instead of accepting them wholesale. It inquires into their fitness to meet the present instead of tracing their family tree in the past. It follows the maxim to walk in the light as God gives us to see the light, rather than in the light which shone some hundreds of years ago. Instead of trying to fit human beings arbitrarily into the models of the past, it strives to remake the models to fit real human beings. It is constructive criticism. It uses the material of the past to build the nobler temple of the future. It is individual criticism, in that it brings the richness of individual experience and individual insight into the common fund of life. But this does not mean that it atomizes society into abstract individuals and regards the end of life as an individual end. On. the contrary it is creative participation in a common life, bending all its energy to enrich the common life.

Creative participation is social. It is a mistake to regard the creator as a lonely individual, set off from his kind. On the contrary he is truly creative because he drinks more deeply than the rest from the fountain of our common life. In the first place, the material he deals with is social material. In order to reconstruct the past, he must first sympathetically participate in the past. He is part of the creative succession of the centuries. He carries the spirit and work of his predecessors forward to meet the new needs and problems of man. He thus shares in the capital of the past, not as a parasite, but enlarges it by his thoughtfulness and sacrifice. He gratefully uses the heritage of the past. Only thus is progress possible. The more original he is, the more indebted

( 46) he is to the labors of the past. It is because he stands on the shoulders of the past that he can reach higher than the past. Not because he has more genius, but because the creators of the past have given him the greater opportunity. An individual or group which breaks with the past and ignores its lessons flounders is chaos. Accomplishment is possible because. we participate in the labors of others.

While the tendency in the past was toward loyally to custom, today the tendency is to caprice, novelty. But not all novelty is creative. A great, deal of it, most of it in fact, merely litters up the universe. Every illusion, nightmare, error, sin, has an element of novelty; but they are not therefore creative. Creative novelty is significant, it enriches the meaning of the world, its goodness, truth, and beauty. It has continuity with the past, it is soul of, its soul. It is cumulative in that it re-creates the past and in turn makes possible greater creativeness in the future. This is creative intelligence as contrasted with the riot of chance. Chalice rarely, if ever, produces anything worth while. It is but the raw material of creative intelligence. The passion for mere novelty is no more reliable as a guide than the passion for tradition. Of the two the latter is the safer, but life can go on only by creating itself anew out of the past. If mere novelty is anarchy and dissipation of energy, mere tradition is a. stagnant and deadening pool. The past must take on new life by being fructified through the stream of present creativeness.

In the second place, creative participation is social in its incentive. Individual participation must be understood in its living social matrix. Creativeness has come in waves iii the history of the race. Criticism, the loosening of the crust of the past, wines in epochs. Isolated instances of creativeness, when by any chance they come, are apt to fail of fruition. The creator must come in the fulness of time. The fifth and fourth centuries B.C. are a notable epoch in European development. There was the breaking of the old crust, due to contacts of West with East. There was a new westward movement of adventure and discovery. There was the interstimulation of genius in Miletus, in the Pythagorean fraternity, in the Socratic circle. There was a high plateau of

( 47) creativeness, not merely individual instances. Thought, too, is contagious as shown in the great epochs of thought.

The twelfth and thirteenth centuries A.D., which give us another high-water mark in civilization, were likewise an epoch of new culture contacts— the Crusades, the influence of Saracen and Jewish civilization upon Western Europe, the, rediscovery of Greek thought— and the interstimulation of genius in unselfish devotion to a common cause in monasteries and universities. The Elizabethan age was again a high-water mark with its geographical and scientific discoveries, its large contacts of cultures, its sense of expansiveness, its interstimulation of genius. It is not necessary to pursue the matter further to show that creativeness is not a matter of isolated stars, but of constellations; that the ages have their springtimes when events conspire to bring out the latent qualities of genius. Great creators come in groups, great epochs are the crests of the rising forces of humanity. Genius remains barren without the social incentive to produce.

In the third place, individual participation is social in its test. While the test of critical creativeness is not the collective conviction of the group, it cannot be merely individual experience or individual satisfaction. The scientific theory must be capable of being tested by other workers. The art work must be capable of being appreciated by human beings who are prepared for it. Virtue must be tested by the social relations which it makes possible. There can be no such thing as purely individual validity. The insight does indeed rise in the individual brain, under the artesian pressure of social stimulus and the labor of events, the total extent of which we can only dimly grasp. The value, too, has a certain uniqueness from the peculiar texture of the individual mind and its refraction of the light. But the validity can never be purely individual. Truth must be a common chart to life, so far as it is truth. Else it is illusion. Beauty must be capable of entering into the common stream of appreciation of those who are duly and truly prepared. Virtue must manifest itself in superior capacity of living together, in common helpfulness.

Finally, the ideals which guide and inspire the creator must be social ideals. They must be ideals of human sharing. The

(48) creator does not create for himself but for society; and his joy is in becoming a part of and in enriching the life of society. He does not live unto himself. What scientist desires truth for himself alone? What artist creates beauty for his private satisfaction? What virtue can there be in living unto one's self ? Even the monk in his cell strove to purify himself for the communion of saints.

Creative intelligence means discovery— discovery of facts, discovery of order, discovery of values. But it: is not passive discovery, if such a thing were possible, not mere photography, be it in science, art, or morality. Discovery is possible only by creative imagination. It requires also the co-operative effort: of numerous workers within a common plan. It must be based upon a cumulative creative tradition, through the generations of workers, if there is to be genuine progress, else genius becomes a mere fleeting will-o'-the-wisp against the darkness of our ignorance. The universe does not yield its secrets without concerted effort on our part. It reveals its law, order, and beauty to those in whom the instinct for order and beauty is awakened through social conflict and who strive to make real this feeling for order and beauty by selecting among the seemingly confused details of experience those characteristics which make the world significant for us. The creative genius in the universe can be comprehended only by creative effort in us, its parts. Not that the selection is arbitrary where creative intelligence succeeds in bringing clearness and distinctness. For creative intelligence is part of the humble crust of the earth, the crest of the wave of cosmic star-dust, and part also of its creative synthesis. Law may be man-made, but man is made by the earth and the universe. Creative intelligence is meaningful and ordered selection, with a color and radiance all its own, in its varying creative contexts of man and nature— a light that never was on sea or land. It is this uniqueness of significance which constitutes the infinite richness of the universe. This creativeness is going on perhaps everywhere, though known to us only in connection with the particular organization of the earth's crust that we call human nature. But who shall say that the larger order of which we are a part and expression, does not mani-

( 49) -fest in an even greater degree this creative synthesis, with a cumulation of the increments of creativeness worth while?

Creativeness, in any case, does not consist in mere novelty, but in making a significant addition to the meaning and value of the world. It is not enough that this particular moment is in some respect different from other moments, that this perception is not just identical with other peoples' perceptions. In every genuine thought-process, there is an enrichment of the universe, as the old and the new are wedded in a new act of insight. The succession of moments seems for the most part a mere repetition of a tale that is told, because it is irrelevant, it adds nothing of consequence. Creative intelligence makes all things new. If it discovers the past, it gives it, also new significance and value in the larger context of experience. If it prepares for the future, it brings about also a new synthesis which is a genuine surprise to itself as it weaves the available material into new form. It is superior to rules and canons for these are but the abstract reflections upon its activity. And creative intelligence is always orderly; it has a cumulative unity and harmony of its own which outstrips our conventions in its spiral flight of recurrent melody with new value. It brings a formative idea to the life of individuals and groups; and it is with this formative idea that a soul is born, be it in the individual or in the group. Yea, the formative idea is the soul. All else is raw material. It is not that the group bond becomes less real when it becomes conscious of its reality and meaning in the individual consciousness, but then we become creative sharers instead of mere slaves.


We have so far contrasted mysticism and reason, and it is true that the mystical mood is at the opposite pole of the scale from the critical mood. But the critical mood can at any rate recognize the place of the mystical mood. We are not only thinkers but mystics. We have need not only of science, but of sacraments: It is true that we can only be conscious of our destiny by being awake as individuals, but it is also true that we can only realize our destiny, and the destiny of creative intelligence itself, by

(50) participating in the common life of the group and the race. Mysticism and reason are exclusive as attitudes, but they must both be present as forms of realization of a creative personality. Mysticism instead of being alogical or antilogical, as blind, automatic mysticism is may be the florescence of creative intelligence; and reason instead of being anti-mystical may be the awakening in the individual of the common life, that so it may bring its meaning into clearness and distinctness and thus create wisely. There is a satisfaction in mystical communion which reason cannot give, though this satisfaction is worthless if bought at the expense of reason.

But creative intelligence cannot always be strenuous and wide-awake; if it is to accomplish anything worth while, it must sometimes take a holiday and dream. The individual who contributes most significantly to the definition of life is the one who has also the greatest capacity for sharing life, for identifying himself with his kind— your Socrates, your Dante, your Shakespeare, your Lincoln. And it was the greatest of them all who said, "He that loseth his life shall find it." But it makes a world of difference whether a man lose himself in the hypnotic counting of beads, the performance of meaningless ceremonies, the repeating of dead formulas, or participates creatively in the common life. The latter alone participates really and truly in the life of the group, because he grasps the meaning of the group; the former is an automaton, a sleep-walker. There is a world of difference between a dervish and a St. Paul.

We must get away from that false contrast between mysticism and reason which would make the former primitive and anti-intelligent and the latter cold and individualistic. There is, as a matter of fact, no dry light of reason in true genius, but reason enamored by harmonies, propelled by a faith which outstrips its attainment; and there is no true appreciation and communion which is not the condensation of intelligence touched by emotion. Reason when it is abstract and individualistic goes to seed; and mysticism without its awakenings in moments of criticism becomes a. meaningless jungle of superstition.

What, we need to emphasize, in an age of heartless science, is not merely intellectual criticism, but a new sense of emotional

(51) unity, if science is to be art instrument of reconstruction, instead of selfish destruction. As the poet Yeats puts it:

Many have grown weary of the individualism of the nineteenth century, which now seems less able in creation than in criticism. Intellectual agreements, propagandas, dogmas, we have always had, but emotional agreements which are so much more lasting and put no constraint upon the soul, we have long lacked . . . . . There has been a development in various forms of literature— in French unanisme for instance— toward the expression through an intellectual difference, of an emotional agreement with some historical or local group or crowd; toward the celebration, for instance, not of one's self but of one's neighbors, of the country or the street where one lives.

At any rate what we need today is less emphasis upon the individual or class or separatist group, and more emphasis upon community and humanity, if we are to weather the storm of elemental forces, so violently set loose, and construct a nobler futures— less of the spirit of particularistic realization whether of individual self, or of individual group as antagonistic to other groups, and more of the spirit of devotion to the common life and the common welfare, less pan-Teutonism, or pan-Slavism or pan-Anglicism and more of pan-humanity. In this participation, mystical devotion and clarifying reason must both enter as complementary factors, if the result is to be worth while. And with intelligent devotion to a genuine community there will come ,such restraint of passion, whether passion for self-assertion or passion for class and national assertion, as is consistent with and necessary for wholesome living together— a new passion for the realization of humanity even when inconsistent with our particularistic and separatist claims.

It is not an accident that we are turning back to the later Middle Ages for lessons in our present crisis. There was there a strong sense of solidarity, of self-restraint, of devotion to a cause. It is seen in the creative work in art, in religion, in philosophy. It is seen also in the industrial realm in the organization of the guild system and the experiment in government by the co-operation of guilds. While we no doubt need the social consciousness of the Middle Ages, we cannot return to that period. That would be worse than repeating its failure. With Ibsen's Master Builder ße have broken away from the building of temples to a past tradition which had little respect for the individual and which made

(52) the institution supreme. In our revolt, we hate decided to build human homes and to improve our material conditions— to give man what belongs to man. But we are now seeing the futility of mere economic and material advancement unless we also build the air castles of the spirit; not for self-gratification, as Ibsen's Master Builder did and fell, but community ideals, the ideals of humanity and of the future. Science without. mystical devotion to the common good cannot save the world. The next epoch must be that of an enlightened devotion to the common ideal— science working nut the dream of faith, faith clarified by science; the individual self or the particular group awakening to its reality and value and in turn contributing that reality and value to the whole. Reason thus ceases to be the slave of mysticism and asserts its right to experiment and to know, but on the other hand mysticism ceases to be regarded as an irrational residue and comes to its own as a genuine and essential aspect of life without which reason must. he abstract and barren. Each becomes complementary to the other in creative participation. Creative participation then becomes a third category by means of which we call solve the long-standing antinomies of mysticism and reason, the community and the individual.

In a deep sense the medieval formula, Credo ut intelligam, "I believe in order that I may understand," holds— not in the sense that the tradition of the community is all-sufficient and contains all truth, but in the sense that we must start with sympathetic faith in the community and the cumulative labors. of the ages. We must live society in order to interpret it. But we must also have faith in our creative intelligence to carry forward the labors of the past, to express its trend and the trend of the cosmos of which it is a part in more adequate forms and thus enrich and make meaningful the spirit of the ages. For it is by re-creating the past in devotion to the creative spirit of history that we come to understand the past, at the same time that we help create the future.

If there is to be a new era for humanity, if we are going to emerge from the jungle of our passions and prejudices into a. harmonious society, we must develop intelligence and individuality, that men

(53) may give of their best; we must encourage experimentation and criticism that so we may find out what is best. We must possess the spirit of thoughtfulness, the venturesomeness of the creative life, the comradeship of free men. Anything else will fail. We have tried the sanction of force, but now it fails to hold. We have tried religious opiates, but now they fail to put to sleep. We must meet the problem conscientiously, for it will no longer down. Ahead is either a redeemed society or the jungle. And the second jungle bids to be infinitely worse than the first.

But while we must encourage individuality and criticism, we must also remember that it is only in devotion to the whole that individuality can become fruitful and criticism constructive. And so reason and mysticism must supplement each other in a complete realization of life. Both are fundamental aspects of life. Mysticism cannot be banished by civilization. There is more to life than logical abstractions. There is the common bond of sentiment and loyalty. If reason cannot construct this bond, it can at least acknowledge it as a fact, and must do so in order to under. stand social phenomena. in such a case, the mystical ceases to be regarded as primitive or as an irrational superstition; it comes to its own as a genuine aspect of life without which society would disintegrate into atoms. Reason, on the other hand, instead of being hostile to the mystical, becomes the clarifying light which keeps it from degenerating into superstition and makes it a healthy part of our common life. The mystical element in our experience is not forced always to be blind or the intellect to deal with barren abstractions. In order to understand the unity of nature, we must feel our own unity with nature. In order to understand the meaning of society we must live the social bond.


  1. Pillsbury, Essentials of Psychology, p. 11.
  2. Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inferieures, p. 425.
  3. Ibid., p. 77
  4. Ibid., pp. 140, 141.
  5. Primitive Traits.
  6. Article "Totemism," Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.).
  7. The Elementary Forms of Religions Life (trans. by Swain), p. 236.
  8. Ibid., p. 236.
  9. Ibid., pp. 237, 238.
  10. The Problem of Sovereignty, pp. 264, 265.

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