Human Nature and the Social Order

Chapter 7: Hostility

Charles Horton Cooley

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I GIVE a chapter to Hostility not only because it is an important phase of human nature, but because I wish to use it as a type of the development in social life of an instinctive emotion. The process of transformation here indicated goes on very similarly in the cases of fear, love, grief, and other emotions of which I shall not treat in detail.

Anger, like other emotions, seems to exist at birth as a simple, instinctive animal tendency, and to undergo differentiation and development parallel with the growth of imagination. Perez, speaking of children at about the age of two months, says, "they begin to push away objects that they do not like, and have real fits of passion, frowning, growing red in the face, trembling all over, and sometimes shedding tears." They also show anger at not getting the breast or bottle, or when washed or undressed, or when their toys are taken away. At about one year old " they will beat people, animals, and inanimate

(265) objects if they are angry with them," [1] throw things at offending persons, and the like.

I have observed phenomena similar to these, and no doubt all have who have seen anything of little children. If there are any writers who tend to regard the mind at birth as almost tabula rasa so far as special instincts are concerned, consisting of little more than a faculty of receiving and organizing impressions, it must be wholesome for them to associate with infants and notice how unmistakable are the signs of a distinct and often violent emotion, apparently identical with the anger or rage of adults. What grown-up persons feel seems to be different, not in its emotional essence, but in being modified by association with a much more complicated system of ideas.

This simple, animal sort of anger, excited immediately by something obnoxious to the senses, does not entirely disappear in adult life. Probably most persons who step upon a barrel-hoop or run their heads against a low doorway can discern a moment of instinctive anger toward the harming object. Even our more enduring forms of hostility seem often to partake of this direct, unintellectual character. Most people, but especially those of a sensitive, impressible nature, have antipathies to places, animals, persons, words—to all sorts of things in fact—which appear to spring directly out of the subconscious life, without any mediation of thought. Some think that an animal or instinctive antipathy to human beings of a different race is natural to all mankind. And among

(266) people of the same race there are undoubtedly persons whom other persons loathe without attributing to them any hostile state of mind, but with a merely animal repugnance. Even when the object of hostility is quite distinctly a mental or moral trait, we often seem to feel it in an external way, that is, we see it as behavior but do not really understand it as thought or sentiment. Thus duplicity is hateful whether we can see any motive for it or not, and gives a sense of slipperiness and insecurity so tangible that one naturally thinks of some wriggling animal. In like manner vacillation, fawning, excessive protestation or self-depreciation, and many other traits, may be obnoxious to us in a somewhat physical way without our imagining them as states of mind.

But for a social, imaginative being, whose main interests are in the region of communicative thought and sentiment, the chief field of anger, as of other emotions, is transferred to this region. Hostility ceases to be a simple emotion due to a simple stimulus, and breaks up into innumerable hostile sentiments associated with highly imaginative personal ideas. In this mentally higher form it may be regarded as hostile sympathy, or a hostile comment on sympathy. That is to say, we enter by sympathy or personal imagination into the state of mind of others, or think we do, and if the thoughts we find there are injurious to or uncongenial with the ideas we are already cherishing, we feel a movement of anger.

This is forcibly expressed in a brief but admirable


study of antipathy by Sophie Bryant. Though the antipathy she describes is of a peculiarly subtle kind, it is plain that the same sort of analysis may be applied to any form of imaginative hostility.

"A is drawn out toward B to feel what he feels. If the new feeling harmonizes, distinctly or obscurely, with the whole system of A's consciousness—or the part then identified with his will—there follows that joyful expansion of self beyond self which is sympathy. But if not—if the new feeling is out of keeping with the system of A's will—tends to upset the system, and brings discord into it—there follows the reaction of the whole against the hostile part which, transferred to its cause in B, pushes out B's state, as the antithesis of self, yet threatening self, and offensive." Antipathy, she says, "is full of horrid thrill." "The peculiar horror of the antipathy springs from the unwilling response to the state abhorred. We feel ourselves actually like the other person, selfishly vain, cruelly masterful, artfully affected, insincere, ungenial, and so on." . . . "There is some affinity between those who antipathize." [2] And with similar meaning Thoreau remarks that "you cannot receive a shock unless you have an electric affinity for that which shocks you," and that "He who receives an injury is to some extent an accomplice of the wrongdoer." [3]

Thus the cause of hostility is imaginative or sympathetic, an inimical idea attributed to another mind.

(268) We cannot feel this way toward that which is totally unlike us, because the totally unlike is unimaginable, has no interest for us. This, like all social feeling, requires union of likeness with difference.

It is clear that closer association and more knowledge of one another, offer no security against hostile feeling. Whether intimacy will improve our sentiment toward another man or not depends upon the true relation of his way of thinking and feeling to ours, which intimacy is likely to reveal. There are many persons with whom we get on very well at a certain distance, who would turn out intensely antipathetic if we had to live in the same house with them. Probably all of us have experienced in one form or another the disgust and irritation that may come from enforced intimacy with people we liked well enough as mere acquaintances, and with whom we can find no particular fault, except that they rub us the wrong way. Henry James, speaking of the aversion of the brothers Goncourt for Sainte-Beuve, remarks that it was "a plant watered by frequent intercourse and protected by punctual notes." [4] It is true that an active sense of justice may do much to overcome unreasonable antipathies; but there are so many urgent uses for our sense of justice that it is well not to fatigue it by excessive and unnecessary activity. Justice involves a strenuous and symmetrical exercise of the imagination and reason, which no one can keep up all the time; and those who display it most on important occasions ought to be free to indulge somewhat their whims and prejudices in familiar intercourse.


Neither do refinement, culture, and taste have any necessary tendency to diminish hostility. They make a richer and finer sympathy possible, but at the same time multiply the possible occasions of antipathy. They are like a delicate sense of smell, which opens the way to as much disgust as appreciation. Instead of the most sensitive sympathy, the finest mental texture, being a safeguard against hostile passions, it is only too evident from a study of the lives of men of genius that these very traits make a sane and equable existence peculiarly difficult. Read, for instance, the confessions of Rousseau, and observe how a fine nature, full of genuine and eager social idealism, is subject to peculiar sufferings and errors through the sensibility and imagination such a nature must possess. The quicker the sympathy and ideality, the greater the suffering from neglect and failure, the greater also the difficulty of disciplining the multitude of intense impressions and maintaining a sane view of the whole. Hence the pessimism, the extravagant indignation against real or supposed wrong-doers, and not infrequently, as in Rousseau's case, the almost insane bitterness of jealousy and mistrust.

The commonest forms of imaginative hostility are grounded on social self-feeling, and come under the head of resentment. We impute to the other person an injurious thought regarding something which we cherish as a part of our self, and this awakens anger, which we name pique, animosity, umbrage, estrangement, soreness, bitterness, heart-burning, jealousy, indignation, and so on; in accordance with variations which these words suggest. They all rest upon

(270) a feeling that the other person harbors ideas injurious to us, so that the thought of him is an attack upon our self. Suppose, for instance, there is a person who has reason to believe that he has caught me in a lie. It makes little difference, perhaps, whether he really has or not; so long as I have any self-respect left, and believe that he entertains this depreciatory idea of me, I must resent the idea whenever, through my thinking of him, it enters my mind. Or suppose there is a man who has met me running in panic from the field of battle; would it not be hard not to hate him? These situations are perhaps unusual, but we all know persons to whom we attribute depreciation of our characters, our friends, our children, our workmanship, our cherished creed or philanthropy, and we do not like them.

The resentment of charity or pity is a good instance of hostile sympathy. If a man has self-respect, he feels insulted by the depreciating view of his manhood implied in commiserating him or offering him alms. Self-respect means that one's reflected self is up to the social standard: and the social standard requires that a man should not need pity or alms except under very unusual conditions. So the assumption that he does need them is an injury—whether he does or not— precisely as it is an insult to a woman to commiserate her ugliness and bad taste, and suggest that she wear a veil or employ some one to select her gowns. The curious may find interest in questions like this: whether a tramp can have self-respect unless he deceives the one who gives him aid, and so feels superior to him,

(271) and not a mere dependent. In the same way we can easily see why criminals look down upon paupers.

The word indignation suggests a higher sort of imaginative hostility. It implies that the feeling is directed toward some attack upon a standard of right, and is not merely an impulse like jealousy or pique. A higher degree of rationalization is involved; there is some notion of a reasonable adjustment of personal claims, which the act or thought in question violates. We frequently perceive that the simpler forms of resentment have no rational basis, could not be justified in open court, but indignation always claims a general or social foundation. We feel indignant when we think that favoritism and not merit secures promotion when the rich man gets a pass on the railroad, and so on.

It is thus possible rudely to classify hostilities under three heads, according to the degree of mental organization they involve; namely, as

1. Primary, immediate, or animal.

2. Social, sympathetic, imaginative, or personal, of a comparatively direct sort, that is, without reference to any standard of justice.

3. Rational or ethical; similar to the last but involving reference to a standard of justice and the sanction of conscience.

The function of hostility is, no doubt, to awaken a fighting energy, to contribute an emotional motive force to activities of self-preservation or aggrandizement.


In its immediate or animal form this is obvious enough. The wave of passion that possesses a fighting dog stimulates and concentrates his energy upon a few moments of struggle in which success or failure may be life or death; and the simple, violent anger of children and impulsive adults is evidently much the same thing. Vital force explodes in a flash of aggression; the mind has no room for anything but the fierce instinct. It is clear that hostility of this uncontrolled sort is proper to a very simple state of society and of warfare, and is likely to be a source of disturbance and weakness in that organized state which calls for corresponding organization in the individual mind.

There is a transition by imperceptible degrees from the blind anger that thinks of nothing to the imaginative anger that thinks of persons, and pursues the personal idea into all possible degrees of subtlety and variety. The passion itself, the way we feel when we are angry, does not seem to change much, except, perhaps, in intensity, the change being mostly in the idea that awakens it. It is as if anger were a strong and peculiar flavor which might be taken with the simplest food or the most elaborate, might be used alone, strong and plain, or in the most curious and recondite combinations with other flavors.

While it is evident enough that animal anger is one of those instincts that are readily explained as conducive to self-preservation, it is not, perhaps, so obvious that socialized anger has any such justification. I think, however, that, though very liable to be ex-

(273)-cessive and unmanageable, and tending continually to be economized as the race progresses, so that most forms of it are properly regarded as wrong, it nevertheless plays an indispensable part in life.

The mass of mankind are sluggish and need some resentment as a stimulant; this is its function on the higher plane of life as it is on the lower. Surround a man with soothing, flattering circumstances, and in nine cases out of ten he will fail to do anything worthy, but will lapse into some form of sensualism or dilettanteism. There is no tonic, to a nature substantial enough to bear it, like chagrin—"erquickender Verdruss," as Goethe says. Life without opposition is Capua. No matter what the part one is fitted to play in it, he can make progress in his path only by a vigorous assault upon the obstacles, and to be vigorous the assault must be supported by passion of some sort. With most of us the requisite intensity of passion is not forthcoming without an element of resentment; and common sense and careful observation will, I believe, confirm the opinion that few people who amount to much are without a good capacity for hostile feeling, upon which they draw freely when they need it. This would be more readily admitted if many people were not without the habit of penetrating observation, either of themselves or others, in such matters, and so are enabled to believe that anger, which is conventionally held to be wrong, has no place in the motives of moral persons.

I have in mind a man who is remarkable for a certain kind of aggressive, tenacious, and successful pur-


suit of the right. He does the things that every one else agrees ought to be done but does not do—especially things involving personal antagonism. While the other people deplore the corruption of politics, but have no stomach to amend it, he is the man to beard the corrupt official in his ward, or expose him in the courts or the public press—all at much pains and cost to himself and without prospect of honor or any other recompense. If one considers how he differs from other conscientious people of equal ability and opportunity, it appears to be largely in having more bile in him. He has a natural fund of animosity, and instead of spending it blindly and harmfully, he directs it upon that which is hateful to the general good, thus gratifying his native turn for resentment in a moral and fruitful way. Evidently if there were more men of this stamp it would be of benefit to the moral condition of the country. Contemporary conditions seem to tend somewhat to dissipate that righteous wrath against evil which, intelligently directed, is a main instrument of progress.

Thomas Huxley, to take a name known to all, was a man in whom there was much fruitful hostility. He did not seek controversy, but when the enemies of truth offered battle he felt no inclination to refuse; and he avowed—perhaps with a certain zest in contravening conventional teaching—that he loved his friends and hated his enemies. [5] His hatred was of a noble sort, and the reader of his Life and Letters can hardly doubt that he was a good as well as a

(275) great man, or that his pugnacity helped him to be such. Indeed I do not think that science or letters could do without the spirit of opposition, although much energy is dissipated and much thought clouded by it. Even men like Darwin or Emerson, who seem to wish nothing more than to live at peace with every one, may be observed to develop their views with unusual fulness and vigor where they are most in opposition to authority. There is something analogous to political parties in all intellectual activity; opinion divides, more or less definitely, into opposing groups, and each side is stimulated by the opposition of the other to define, corroborate, and amend its views, with the purpose of justifying itself before the constituency to which it appeals. What we need is not that controversy should disappear, but that it should be carried on with sincere and absolute deference to the standard of truth.

A just resentment is not only a needful stimulus to aggressive righteousness, but has also a wholesome effect upon the mind of the person against whom it is directed, by awakening a feeling of the importance of the sentiments he has transgressed. On the higher planes of life an imaginative sense that there is resentment in the minds of other persons performs the same function that physical resistance does upon the lower. [6] It is an attack upon my mental self, and as a sympathetic and imaginative being I feel it more than I would a mere blow; it forces me to consider the

(276) other's view, and either to accept it or to bear it down by the stronger claims of a different one. Thus it enters potently into our moral judgments.

"Let such pure hate still underprop
Our love that we may be
Each other's conscience." [7]

I think that no one's character and aims can be respected unless he is perceived to be capable of some sort of resentment. We feel that if he is really in earnest about anything he should feel hostile emotion if it is attacked, and if he gives no sign of this, either at the moment of attack or later, he and what he represents become despised. No teacher, for instance, can maintain discipline unless his scholars feel that he will in some manner resent a breach of it.

Thus we seldom feel keenly that our acts are wrong until we perceive that they arouse some sort of resentment in others, and whatever selfish aggression we can practise without arousing resistance, we presently come to look upon as a matter of course. Judging the matter from my own consciousness and experience, I have no belief in the theory that non-resistance has, as a rule, a mollifying influence upon the aggressor. I do not wish people to turn me the other cheek when I smite them, because, in most cases, that has a bad effect upon me. I am soon used to submission and may come to think no more of the unresisting sufferer than I do of the sheep whose flesh I eat at dinner.

(277) Neither, on the other hand, am I helped by extravagant and accusatory opposition; that is likely to put me into a state of unreasoning anger. But it is good for us that every one should maintain his rights, and the rights of others with whom he sympathizes, exhibiting a just and firm resentment against any attempt to tread upon them. A consciousness, based on experience, that the transgression of moral standards will arouse resentment in the minds of those whose opinion we respect, is a main force in the upholding of such standards.

But the doctrine of non-resistance, like all ideas that have appealed to good minds, has a truth wrapped up in it, notwithstanding what appears to be its flagrant absurdity. What the doctrine really means, as taught in the New Testament and by many individuals and societies in our own day, is perhaps no more than this, that we should discard the coarser weapons of resistance for the finer, and threaten a moral resentment instead of blows or lawsuits. It is quite true that we can best combat what we regard as evil in another person of ordinary sensibility by attacking the higher phases of his self rather than the lower. If a man appears to be about to do something brutal or dishonest, we may either encounter him on his present low plane of life by knocking him down or calling a policeman, or we may try to work upon his higher consciousness by giving him to understand that we feel sure a person of his self-respect and good repute will not degrade himself, but that if anything so improbable and untoward should occur, he must, of course,

(278) expect the disappointment and contempt of those who before thought well of him. In other words, we threaten, as courteously as possible, his social self. This method is often much more efficient than the other, is morally edifying instead of degrading, and is practiced by men of address who make no claim to unusual virtue.

This seems to be what is meant by non-resistance; but the name is misleading. It is resistance, and directed at what is believed to be the enemy's weakest point. As a matter of strategy it is an attack upon his flank, aggression upon an unprotected part of his position. Its justification, in the long run, is in its success. If we do not succeed in making our way into the other man's mind and changing his point of view by substituting our own, the whole manoeuvre falls flat, the injury is done, the ill-doer is confirmed in his courses, and you would better have knocked him down. It is good to appeal to the highest motives we can arouse, and to exercise a good deal of faith as to what can be aroused, but real non-resistance to what we believe to be wrong is mere pusillanimity. There is perhaps no important sect or teacher that really inculcates such a doctrine, the name non-resistance being given to attacks upon the higher self under the somewhat crude impression that resistance is not such unless it takes some obvious material form, and probably all teachers would be found to vary their tactics somewhat according to the sort of people with whom they are dealing. Although Christ taught the turning of the other cheek to the smiler, and that the

(279) coat should follow the cloak, it does not appear that he suggested to those who were desecrating the Temple that they should double their transactions, but, apparently regarding them as beyond the reach of moral suasion, he "went into the Temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of them that sold doves." It seems that he even used a scourge on this occasion. I cannot see much in the question regarding non-resistance beyond a vague use of terms and a difference of opinion as to what kind of resistance is most effective in certain cases.

It is easy and not uncommon to state too exclusively the pre-eminence of affection in human ideals. No one, I suppose, believes that the life of Fra Angelico's angels, such as we see them in his "Last Judgment," circling on the flowery sward of Paradise, would long content any normal human creature. If it appears beautiful and desirable at times, this is perhaps because our world is one in which the supply of amity and peace mostly falls short of the demand for them. Many of us have seen times of heat and thirst when it seemed as if a bit of shade and a draft of cold water would appease all earthly wants. But when we had the shade and the water we presently began to think about something else. So with these ideals of unbroken peace and affection. Even for those sensitive spirits that most cherish them, they would hardly suffice as a continuity. An indiscriminate and unvarying amity is, after all, disgusting.

(280) Human ideals and human nature must develop together, and we cannot foresee what either may become; but for the present it would seem that an honest and reasonable idealism must look rather to the organization and control of all passions with reference to some conception of right, than to the expulsion of some passions by others. I doubt whether any healthy and productive love can exist which is not resentment on its obverse side. How can we rightly care for anything without in some way resenting attacks upon it?

Apparently, the higher function of hostility is to put down wrong; and to fulfil this function it must be rationally controlled with a view to ideals of justice. In so far as a man has a sound and active social imagination, he will feel the need of this control' and will tend with more or less energy, according to the vigor of his mind, to limit his resentment to that which his judgment tells him is really unjust or wrong. Imagination presents us with all sorts of conflicting views, which reason, whose essence is organization, tries to arrange and control in accordance with some unifying principle, some standard of equity: moral principles result from the mind's instinctive need to achieve unity of view. All special impulses, and hostile feeling among them, are brought to the bar of conscience and judged by such standards as the mind has worked out. If declared right or justifiable, resentment is indorsed and enforced by the will; we think of it as righteous and perhaps take credit with ourselves for it. But if it appears grounded on no broad

(281) and unifying principle, our larger thought disowns it, and tends with such energy as it may have to ignore and suppress it. Thus we overlook accidental injury, we control or avoid mere antipathy, but we act upon indignation. The latter is enduring and powerful because consistent with cool thought; while impulsive, unreasoning anger, getting no reinforcement from such thought, has little lasting force.

Suppose, for illustration, one goes with a request to some person in authority, and meets a curt refusal. The first feeling is doubtless one of blind, unthinking anger at the rebuff. Immediately after that the mind busies itself more deeply with the matter, imagining motives, ascribing feelings, and the like; and anger takes a more bitter and personal form, it rankles where at first it only stung. But if one is a fairly reasonable man, accustomed to refer things to standards of right, one presently grows calmer and, continuing the imaginative process in a broader way, endeavors to put himself at the other person's point of view and see what justification, if any, there is for the latter's conduct. Possibly he is one subject to constant solicitation, with whom coldness and abruptness are necessary to the despatch of business—and so on. If the explanation seems insufficient, so that his rudeness still appears to be mere insolence, our resentment against him lasts, reappearing whenever we think of him, so that we are likely to thwart him somehow if we get a chance, and justify our action to ourselves and others on grounds of moral disapproval.

Or suppose one has to stand in line at the post-

(282)-office, with a crowd of other people, waiting to get his mail. There are delay and discomfort to be borne; but these he will take with composure because he sees that they are a part of the necessary conditions of the situation, which all must submit to alike. Suppose, however, that while patiently waiting his turn he notices some one else, who has come in later, edging into the line ahead of him. Then he will certainly be angry. The delay threatened is only a matter of a few seconds; but here is a question of justice, a case for indignation, a chance for anger to come forth with the sanction of thought.

Another phase of the transformation of hostility by reason and imagination, is that it tends to become more discriminating or selective as regards its relation to the idea of the person against whom it is directed. In a sense the higher hostility is less personal than the lower; that is, in the sense that it is no longer aimed blindly at persons as wholes, but distinguishes in some measure between phases or tendencies of them that are obnoxious and others that are not. It is not the mere thought of X's countenance, or other symbol, that arouses resentment, but the thought of him as exhibiting insincerity, or arrogance, or whatever else it may be that we do not like; while we may preserve a liking for him as exhibiting other traits. Generally speaking, all persons have much in them which, if imagined, must appear amiable; so that if we feel only animosity toward a man it must be because we have apprehended him only in a partial aspect. An undisciplined anger, like any other un-

(283)-disciplined emotion, always tends to produce these partial and indiscriminate notions, because it overwhelms symmetrical thought and permits us to see only that which agrees with itself. But a more chastened sentiment allows a juster view, so that it becomes conceivable that we should love our enemies as well as antagonize the faults of our friends. A just parent or teacher will resent the insubordinate behavior of a child or pupil without letting go of affection, and the same principle holds good as regards criminals, and all proper objects of hostility. The attitude of society toward its delinquent members should be stern, yet sympathetic, like that of a father toward a disobedient child.

It is the tendency of modern life, by educating the imagination and rendering all sorts of people conceivable, to discredit the sweeping conclusions of impulsive thought—as, for instance, that all who commit violence or theft are hateful ill-doers, and nothing more—and to make us feel the fundamental likeness of human nature wherever found. Resentment against ill-doing should by no means disappear; but while continuing to suppress wrong by whatever means proves most efficacious, we shall perhaps see more and more clearly that the people who are guilty of it are very much like ourselves, and are acting from motives to which we also are subject.

It is often asserted or assumed that hostile feeling is in its very nature obnoxious and painful to the human mind, and persists in spite of us, as it were,

(284) because it is forced upon us by the competitive conditions of existence. This view seems to me hardly sound. I should rather say that the mental and social harmfulness of anger, in common experience, is due not so much to its peculiar character as hostile feeling, as to the fact that, like lust, it is so surcharged with instinctive energy as to be difficult to control and limit to its proper function; while, if not properly disciplined, it of course introduces disorder and pain into the mental life.

To a person in robust condition, with plenty of energy to spare, a thoroughgoing anger, far from being painful, is an expansive, I might say glorious, experience, while the fit is on and has full control. A man in a rage does not want to get out of it, but has a full sense of life which he impulsively seeks to continue by repelling suggestions tending to calm him. It is only when it has begun to pall upon him that he is really willing to be appeased. This may be seen by observing the behavior of impulsive children, and also of adults whose passions are undisciplined.

An enduring hatred may also be a source of satisfaction to some minds, though this I believe to be unusual in these days, and becoming more so. One who reads Hazlitt's powerful and sincere, though perhaps unhealthy, essay on the Pleasure of Hating, will see that the thing is possible. In most cases remorse and distress set in so soon as the fit of anger begins to abate, and its destructive incompatibility with the established order and harmony of the mind

(285) begins to be felt. There is a conviction of sin, the pain of a shattered ideal, just as there is after yielding to any other unchastened passion. The cause of the pain seems to he not so much the peculiar character of the feeling as its exorbitant intensity.

Any simple and violent passion is likely to be felt as painful and wrong in its after-effects because it destroys that harmony or synthesis that reason and conscience strive to produce; and this effect is probably more and more felt as the race advances and mental life becomes more complex. The conditions of civilization require of us so extensive and continuous an expenditure of psychical force, that we no longer have the superabundance of emotional energy that makes a violent outlet agreeable. Habits and principles of self-control naturally arise along with the increasing need for economy and rational guidance of emotion; and whatever breaks through them causes exhaustion and remorse. Any gross passion comes to be felt as "the expense of spirit in a waste of shame." Spasms of violent feeling properly belong with a somewhat apathetic habit of life, whose accumulating energies they help to dissipate, and are as much out of place to-day as the hard-drinking habits of our Saxon ancestors.

The sort of men that most feel the need of hostility as a spur to exertion are, I imagine, those of superabundant vitality and somewhat sluggish temperament, like Goethe and Bismarck, both of whom declared that it was essential to them. There is also a

(286) great deal of old-fashioned personal hatred in remote and quiet places, like the mountains of North Carolina, and probably among all classes who do not much feel the stress of civilization. Rut to most of those who share fully in the life of the time, intense personal animosities are painful and destructive, and many fine spirits are ruined by failure to inhibit them.

The kind of man most characteristic of these times, I take it, does not allow himself to be drawn into the tangle of merely personal hatred, but, cultivating a tolerance for all sorts of men, he yet maintains a sober and determined antagonism toward all tendencies or purposes that conflict with his true self, with whatever he has most intimately appropriated and identified with his character. He is always courteous, cherishes as much as possible those kindly sentiments which are not only pleasant and soothing but do much to oil the machinery of his enterprises, and by wasting no energy on futile passion is enabled to think all the more clearly and act the more inflexibly when he finds antagonism necessary. A man of the world of the modern type is hardly ever dramatic in the style of Shakespeare's heroes. He usually expresses himself in the most economical manner possible, and if he has to threaten, for instance, knows how to do it by a movement of the lips, or the turn of a phrase in a polite note. If cruder and more violent tactics are necessary, to impress vulgar minds, he is very likely to depute this rough work to a subordinate. A foreman of track hands may have to be a loud-voiced, strong-armed, palpably aggressive person; but

(287) the president of the road is commonly quiet and mild-mannered.

The mind is greatly aided in the control of animosity by the existence of ready-made and socially accepted standards of right. Suffering from his own angry passions and from those of others, one looks out for some criterion, some rule of what is just and fair among persons, which he may hold himself and others to, and moderate antagonism by removing the sense of peculiar injury. Opposition itself, within certain limits, comes to be regarded as part of the reasonable order of things. In this view the function of moral standards is the same as that of courts of justice in grosser conflicts. All good citizens want the laws to be definite and vigorously enforced, in order to avoid the uncertainty, waste, and destruction of a lawless condition. In the same way right-minded people want definite moral standards, enforced by general opinion, in order to save the mental wear and tear of unguided feeling. It is a great relief to a person harassed by hostile emotion to find a point of view from which this emotion appears wrong or irrational, so that he can proceed definitely and with the sanction of his reason to put it down. The next best thing, perhaps, is to have the hostility definitely approved by reason, so that he may indulge it without further doubt. The unsettled condition is worst of all.

This control of hostility by a sense of common allegiance to rule is well illustrated by athletic games.

(288) When properly conducted they proceed upon a definite understanding of what is fair, and no lasting anger is felt for any hurts inflicted, so long as this standard of fairness is maintained. It is the same in war: soldiers do not necessarily feel any anger at other soldiers who are trying to shoot them to death. That is thought of as within the rules of the game. As Admiral Cervera's chief of staff is reported to have said to Admiral Sampson, "You know there is nothing personal in this." But if the white flag is used treacherously, explosive bullets employed, or the moral standard otherwise transgressed, there is hard feeling. It is very much the same with the multiform conflicts of purpose in modern industrial life. It is not clear that competition as such, apart from the question of fairness or unfairness, has any tendency to increase hostility. Competition and the clash of purposes are inseparable from activity, and are felt to be so. Ill-feeling flourishes no more in an active, stirring state of society than in a stagnant state. The trouble with our industrial relations is not the mere extent of competition, but the partial lack of established laws, rules, and customs, to determine what is right and fair in it. This practical lack of standards is connected with the rapid changes in industry and industrial relations among men, with which the development of law and of moral criteria has by no means kept pace. Hence there arises great uncertainty as to what some persons and classes may rightly and fairly require of other persons and classes; and this uncertainty lets loose angry imaginations.


It will be evident that I do not look upon affection, or anger, or any other particular mode of feeling, as in itself good or bad, social or antisocial, progressive or retrogressive. It seems to me that the essentially good, social, or progressive thing, in this regard, is the organization and discipline of all emotions by the aid of reason, in harmony with a developing general life, which is summed up for us in conscience. That this development of the general life is such as to tend ultimately to do away with hostile feeling altogether, is not clear. The actively good people, the just men, reformers, and prophets, not excepting him who drove the money-changers from the Temple, have been and are, for the most part, people who feel the spur of resentment; and it is not evident that this can cease to be the case. The diversity of human minds and endeavors seems to be an essential part of the general plan of things, and shows no tendency to diminish. This diversity involves a conflict of ideas and purposes, which, in those who take it earnestly, is likely to occasion hostile feeling. This feeling should become less wayward, violent, bitter, or personal, in a narrow sense, and more disciplined, rational, discriminating, and quietly persistent. That it ought to disappear is certainly not apparent.

Something similar to what has been said of anger will hold true of any well-marked type of instinctive emotion. If we take fear, for instance, and try to recall our experience of it from early childhood on, it seems clear that, while the emotion itself may

(290) change but little, the ideas, occasions, suggestions that excite it depend upon the state of our intellectual and social development, and so undergo great alteration. The feeling does not tend to disappear, but to become less violent and spasmodic, more and more social as regards the objects that excite it, and more and more subject, in the best minds, to the discipline of reason.

The fears of little children [8] are largely excited by immediate sensible experiences — darkness, solitude, sharp noises, and so on. Sensitive persons often remain throughout life subject to irrational fears of this sort, and it is well known that they play a conspicuous part in hysteria, insanity, and other weak or morbid conditions. But for the most part the healthy adult mind becomes accustomed and indifferent to these simple phenomena, and transfers its emotional sensibility to more complex interests. These interests are for the most part sympathetic, involving our social rather than our material self—our standing in the minds of other people, the well-being of those we care for, and so on. Yet these fears—fear of standing alone, of losing one's place in the flow of human action and sympathy, fear for the character and success of those near to us—have often the very quality of childish fear. A man cast out of his regular occupation and secure place in the system of the world feels a terror like that of the child in the dark; just as impulsive, perhaps just as purposeless and paralyz

(291)-ing. The main difference seems to be that the latter fear is stimulated by a complex idea, implying a socially imaginative habit of mind.

Social fear, of a sort perhaps somewhat morbid, is vividly depicted by Rousseau in the passage of his Confessions where he describes the feeling that led him falsely to accuse a maid-servant of a theft which he had himself committed. "When she appeared my heart was agonized, but the presence of so many people was more powerful than my compunction. I did not fear punishment, but I dreaded shame: I dreaded it more than death, more than the crime, more than all the world. I would have buried, hid myself in the centre of the earth: invincible shame bore down every other sentiment; shame alone caused all my impudence, and in proportion as I became criminal the fear of discovery rendered me intrepid. I felt no dread but that of being detected, of being publicly and to my face declared a thief, liar, and calumniator....', [9]

So also we might distinguish, as in the case of anger, a higher form of social fear, one that is not narrowly personal, but relates to some socially derived ideal of good or right. For instance, in a soldier the terror of roaring guns and singing bullets would be a fear of the lowest or animal type. Dread of the disgrace to

(292) follow running away would be a social fear, yet not of the highest sort, because the thing dreaded is not wrong but shame—a comparatively simple and nonrational idea, People often do what they know is wrong under the inHuence of such fear, as did Rousseau in the incident quoted above. But, supposing the soldier's highest ideal to be the success of his army and his country, a fear for that, overcoming all lower and cruder fears—selfish fears as they would ordinarily be called—would be moral or ethical.


  1. Perez, The First Three Years of Childhood, p. 66.
  2. Mind. new series, vol. iv., p. 365.
  3. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, pp. 303, 328.
  4. See his essay on the Journal of the Brothers Goncourt.
  5. See his Life and Letters, vol. ii, p. 192.
  6. Compare Professor Simon N. Patten's Theory of Social Forces, p. 135.
  7. Thoreau, A Week, etc., p. 304.
  8. Compare G. Stanley Hall's study of Fear in the American Journal of Psychology, vol. 8, p. 147.
  9. The terrors of our dreams are caused largely by social imaginations. Thus Stevenson, in one of his letters, speaks of "my usual dreams of social miseries and misunderstandings and all sorts of crucifixions of the spirit."—Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, i, p. 79. Many of us know that dream of being in some public place without decent clothing.

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