Human Nature and the Social Order
Chapter 10: The Social Aspect of Conscience
Charles Horton Cooley
THE RIGHT AS THE RATIONAL -- SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS VIEW -- THE RIGHT AS THE ONWARD -- THE RIGHT AS HABIT -- RIGHT IS NOT THE SOCIAL AS AGAINST THE INDIVIDUAL -- IT IS, IN A SENSE, THE SOCIAL AS AGAINST THE SENSUAL -- THE RIGHT AS A SYNTHESIS OF PERSONAL INFLUENCES -- PERSONAL AUTHORITY -- CONFESSION, PRAYER, PUBLICITY -- TRUTH -- DEPENDENCE OF RIGHT UPON IMAGINATION -- CONSCIENCE REFLECTS A SOCIAL GROUP -- IDEAL PERSONS AS FACTORS IN CONSCIENCE -- SOME IDEAS OF RIGHT ARE UNIVERSAL
I AGREE with those moralists who hold that what we judge to be the right is simply the rational, in a large sense of that word. The mind is the theatre of conflict for an infinite number of impulses, variously originating, among which it is ever striving to produce some sort of unification or harmony. This endeavor to harmonize or assimilate includes deliberate reasoning, but is something much more general and continuous than that. It is mostly an unconscious or subconscious manipulation of the materials presented, an unremitting comparison and rearrangement of them, which ever tends to organize them into some sort of a whole. The right, then, is that which stands this test; the sanction of conscience attaches to those thoughts which, in the long run, maintain their places as part of that orderly whole which the mental instinct calls for, and which it is ever working with more or
(359) less success to build up. That is right which presents itself, after the mind has done its full work upon the matter, as the mentally necessary, which we cannot gainsay without breaking up our mental integrity.
According to this view of the matter, judgments of right and wrong are in no way isolated or radically different in kind from other judgments. Such peculiarity as they have seems to come chiefly from the unusual intensity of the mental conflict that precedes them. The slightest scrutiny of experience shows, it seems to me, that the sharp and absolute distinction often assumed to exist between conscience and other mental activities does not hold good in life. There are gradual transitions from judgments which no one thinks of as peculiarly moral, through others which some would regard as moral and others would not, to those which are universally so regarded; and likewise moral feeling or sentiment varies a good deal in different individuals, and in the same individual under different conditions.
The class of judgments which every one considers as moral is perhaps limited to such as follow an exciting and somewhat protracted mental struggle, involving an imaginative weighing of conflicting personal ideas. A line of conduct has to be chosen; alternatives present themselves, each of which is backed by strong impulses, among which are some, at least, of sympathetic origin; the mind is intensely, even painfully, aroused, and when a decision is reached, it is accompanied by a somewhat peculiar sort of feeling called the sense of obligation, duty, or right. There would
(360) be little agreement, however, as to what sort of situations evoke this feeling. We are apt to feel that any question in regard to which we are much in earnest is a question of right and wrong. To the artist a consciously false stroke of brush or chisel is a moral wrong, a sin; and a good carpenter will suffer remorse if he lets a bad joint go uncorrected.
The fact that the judgment of right is likely to present itself to people of emotional temperament as an imagined voice, admonishing them what they ought to do, is an illustration of that essentially social or interlocutory character of thought, spoken of in an earlier chapter. Our thoughts are always, in some sort, imaginary conversations; and when vividly felt they are likely to become distinctly so. On the other hand, people whose moral life is calm perceive little or no distinction, in this regard, between the conclusions of conscience and other judgments.
Of course, the view that the right is the rational would be untrue, if by rational were meant merely the result of formal reasoning. The judgment of right and the conclusion of formal thought are frequently opposed to each other, because, I take it, the latter is a comparatively narrow, partial, and conventional product of the mind. The former is rational and mentally authoritative in a larger sense; its premises are immeasurably richer; it deals with the whole content of life, with instincts freighted with the inarticulate conclusions of a remote past, and with the unformulated inductions of individual experience. To set the product of a superficial ratiocination over the final
(361) output, in conscience, of our whole mental being, is a kind of pedantry. I do not mean to imply that there is usually an opposition between the two—they should work harmoniously together—but only to assets that when there is, conscience must be regarded as of a profounder rationality.
On the other hand, the wrong, the immoral is, in a similar sense, the irrational. It is that which, after the mind has done its full work upon the matter, presents itself as the mentally isolated, the inharmonious, that which we cannot follow without having, in our more collected moods, a sense of having been untrue to ourselves, of having done ourselves a harm. The mind in its fullest activity is denied and desecrated; we are split in two. To violate conscience is to act under the control of an incomplete and fragmentary state of mind; and so to become less a person, to begin to disintegrate and go to pieces. An unjust or incontinent deed produces remorse, apparently because the thought of it will not lie still in the mind, but is of such a nature that there is no comfortable place for it in the system of thought already established there.
The question of right and wrong, as it presents itself to any particular mind, is, then, a question of the completest practicable organization of the impulses with which that mind finds itself compelled to deal. The working out of the right conclusion may be compared to the process by which a deliberative body comes to a conclusion upon some momentous public measure. Time must be given for all the more important passions, prejudices, traditions, interests, and the
(362) like, to be urged upon the members with such cogency as their advocates can give them, and for attempts to harmonize these conflicting forces so that a measure can be framed which the body can he induced to pass. And when a decision is finally reached there is a sense of relief, the greater in proportion as the struggle has been severe, and a tendency, even on the part of the opposition, to regard the matter as settled. Those people who cannot achieve moral unity, but have always a sense of two personalities warring within them, may be compared to certain countries in whose assemblies political parties are so embittered that they never come to an understanding with one another.
The mental process is, of course, only the proximate source of the idea of right, the conflict by which the competitive strength of the various impulses is measured, and some combination of them achieved; behind it is the whole history of the race and of the individual, in which impulses are rooted. Instinctive passions, like love, ambition, and revenge; the momentum of habit, the need of change, personal ascendencies, and the like, all have their bearing upon the final synthesis, and must either be conciliated or suppressed. Thus in case of a strong passion, like revenge let us say, one of two things is pretty sure to happen: either it will succeed in getting its revengeful impulse, more or less disguised perhaps, judged as right; or, if opposing ideas prove stronger, revenge will be kept under by the rise of an intense feeling of wrong that associates itself with it. If one observes that a person has a very vivid sense of the wrong of some particular impulse,
(363) one may usually infer that he has had in some way to contend with it; either as a temptation in his own mind, or as injuriously manifested in the conduct of others
The natural way to solve a moral question, when immediate action is not required, is to let it lie in the mind, turning it over from time to time as attention is directed to it. In this manner the new situation gradually relates itself to all the mental forces having pertinency to it. The less violent but more persistent tendencies connect themselves quietly but firmly to recalcitrant impulse, enwrapping it like the filaments of a spider's web, and bringing it under discipline. Something of this sort is implied in the rule of conduct suggested by Mr. H. R. Marshall, in his excellent work, Instinct and Reason: "Act to restrain the impulses which demand immediate reaction, in order that the impulse order determined by the existence of impulses of less strength, but of wider significance, may have full weight in the guidance of your life." 
It occurs to me, however, that there is no absolute rule that the right is the deliberate. It is usually so, because the danger of irrationality and disintegration comes, in most cases, from the temporary away of some active impulse, like that to strike or use injurious words in anger. But rationality involves decision as well as deliberation; and there are persons in whom the impulse to meditate and ponder so much outweighs the impulse to decide and act, as itself to endanger the
(364) unity of life. Such a person may well come to feel that the right is the decisive. It seems likely that in most minds the larger rationality, which gives the sense of right, is the sequel of much pondering, but is definitely achieved in moments of vivid insight.
The main significance of the view that the right is the rational is to deny that there is any sharp distinction in kind between the question of right and wrong and other mental questions; the conclusion of conscience being held to be simply a more comprehensive judgment, reached by the same process as other judgments. It still leaves untouched the remoter problems, mental and social, underlying all judgments; as, for instance, of the nature of impulses, of what determines their relative intensity and persistence, of the character of that process of competition and assimilation among them of which judgments are the outcome; and of the social order as determining impulses both indirectly, through its action upon heredity, and directly through suggestion.
And behind these is that problem of problems, to which all the roads of thought lead, that question of organization or vital process, of which all special questions of society or of the mind are phases. From whatever point of view we look at life, we can see something going on which it is convenient to call organization, development, or the like; but I suppose that all who have thought much about the matter feel that we have only a vague notion of what the fact is that lies behind these words.
(365) I mention these things merely to disclaim any present attempt to fathom them, and to point out that the aim of this chapter is limited to some observations on the working of social or personal factors in the particular sort of organization which we call conscience or moral judgment.
It is useless to look for any other or higher criterion of right than conscience. What is felt to be right is right; that is what the word means. Any theory of right that should turn out to be irreconcilable with the sense of right must evidently be judged as false. And when it is urged that conscience is variable, we can only answer that, for this very reason, the right cannot be reduced to a universal and conclusive formula. Like life in all its phases, it is a progressive revelation out of depths we do not penetrate.
For the individual considering his own conduct, his conscience is the only possible moral guide, and though it differ from that of every one else, it is the only right there is for him; to violate it is to commit moral suicide. Speculating more largely on conduct in general he may find the right in some collective aspect of conscience, in which his own conscience appears as member of a larger whole; and with reference to which certain particular consciences, at variance with his own, like those of certain sorts of criminals, may appear as degenerate or wrong—and this will not surprise him, because science teaches us to expect degenerate variations in all forms of life. But, however broad a view he takes, he cannot do otherwise than refer the matter to his conscience; so that what I think, or—to general-
(366)-ize it—what we think, must, in one form or another be the arbiter of right and wrong, so far as there can be any. Other tests become valid only in so far as conscience adopts them.
It would seem that any scientific study of the matter must consist essentially in investigating the conditions and relations of concrete right—the when, where, and why of what people do think is right. Social or moral science can never be a final source or test of morality; though it can reveal facts and relations which may help conscience in snaking its authoritative judgment.
The view that the right is the rational is quite consistent with the fact that, for those who have surplus energy, the right is the onward. The impulse to act, to become, to let out the life that rises within from obscure springs of power, is the need of needs, underlying all more special impulses; and this onward Trieb must always count in our judgments of right: it is one of the things conscience has to make room for. There can be no harmony in a mental life which denies expression to this most persistent and fundamental of all instinctive tendencies: and consequently the equilibrium which the active mind seeks, and a sense of which is one with the sense of right, is never a state of rest, but an equilibrium mobile. Our situation may be said to resemble that of an acrobat balancing himself upon a rolling sphere, and enabled to stand upright only on condition of moving continually forward. The right never remains precisely the same two days in
(367) succession; but as soon as any particular state of right is achieved, the mental centre of gravity begins to move onward and away from it, so that we can hold our ground only by effecting a new adjustment. Hence the merely negative can never be the right to a vigorous person, or to a vigorous society, because the mind will not be content with anything so inadequate to its own nature. The good self must be what Emerson calls a "crescive self," and the right must mark a track across the "waste abyss of possibility" and lead out the energies to congenial exertion.
This idea is nowhere, perhaps, more cogently stated and illustrated than in M. Guyau's penetrating work, A Sketch of Morality. He holds that the sense of duty is, in one aspect, a sense of a power to do things, and that this power tends in itself to create a sense of obligation. We can, therefore we must. "Obligation is an internal expansion—a need to complete our ideas by converting them into action."  Even pain may be sought as part of that larger life which the growing mind requires. " Leopardi, Heine, or Lenau would probably not have exchanged those hours of anguish in which they composed their finest songs for the greatest possible enjoyment. Dante suffered.... Which of us would not undergo a similar suffering? Some heart-aches are infinitely sweet."  And so with benevolence and what is called self-sacrifice. ". . . charity is but one with overflowing fecundity; it is like a
(368) maternity too large to be confined within the family. The mother's breast needs life eager to empty it; the heart of the truly humane creature needs to be gentle and helpful to all."'  "The young man is full of enthusiasm; he is ready for every sacrifice because, in point of fact, it is necessary that he should sacrifice something of himself—that he should diminish himself to a certain extent; he is too full of life to live only for himself." 
The right, then, is not merely the repressive discipline with which we sometimes identify it, but is also something warm, fresh, and outward-looking. That which we somewhat vaguely and coldly call mental development is, when at its best, the revelation of an expanding, variegating, and beautiful whole, of which the right act is a harmonious member.
When, on the other hand, we say that right is largely determined by habit, we only emphasize the other aspect of that progressive mingling of continuity with change, which we see in mental life in all its phases. Habit, we know, makes lines of less resistance in thought, feeling, and action; and the existence of these tracks must always count in the formation of a judgment of right, as of any other judgment. It ought not, apparently, to be set over against novel impulses as a contrary principle, but rather thought of as a phase of all impulses, since novelty always consists, from one point of view, in a fresh combination of habits. It is much the same question as that of suggestion and
(369) choice, or of invention and imitation. The concrete fact, the real thing, in each case, is not one of these as against the other, or one modified by the other, but a single, vital act of which these are aspects, having no separate existence.
Whether a person's life, in its moral or any other aspect, is obviously changeful, or, on the contrary, appears to be merely repetitive or habitual, depends upon whether the state of his mind, and of the conditions about it, are favorable to rapid changes in the system of his thought. Thus if he is young and vigorous, and if he has a natural open-mindedness and keenness of sensibility, he will be so much the more likely, other things equal, to incorporate fresh elements of thought and make a new synthesis, instead of running on habit. Variety of life in the past, preventing excessive deepening of the mental ruts, and contact with strong and novel influences in the present' have the same tendency.
The rigidly habitual or traditionary morality of savages is apparently a reflection of the restriction and sameness of their social life; and a similar type of morals is found even in a complex society, as in China, when the social system has become rigid by the equilibration of competing ideas On the other hand, the stir and change of the more active parts of our society make control by mere habit impossible There are no simple dominant habits; tendencies are mixed and conflicting, so that the person must either be intelligently moral or else degenerate He must either make a fresh synthesis or have no synthesis at all.
What is called principle appears to be simply a habit of conscience, a rule formed originally by a synthesis of various impulses, but become somewhat mechanical and independent of its origin—as it is the nature of habit to do. As the mind hardens and matures there is a growing inaptitude to take in novel and powerful personal impressions, and a corresponding ascendancy of habit and system; social sentiment, the flesh and blood of conduct, partly falls away, exposing a skeleton of moral principles. The sense of duty presents itself less and less as a vivid sympathetic impulse, and more and more as a sense of the economy and restfulness of a definite standard of conduct. When one has come to accept a certain course as duty he has a pleasant sense of relief and of lifted responsibility, even if the course involves pain and renunciation. It is like obedience to some external authority; any clear way, though it lead to death, is mentally preferable to the tangle of uncertainty.
Actions that appear memorable or heroic are seldom achieved at the moment of decisive choice, but are more likely to come after the habit of thought which produces the action has become somewhat mechanical and involuntary. It is probably a mistake to imagine that the soldier who braves death in battle, the fireman who enters the burning building, the brakeman who pursues his duty along the icy top of a moving train, or the fisherman who rows away from his vessel into the storm and mist, is usually in an acute state of heroism. It is all in the day's work; the act is part of a system of thought and conduct which has become
(371) habitual and would be painful to break. Death is not imagined in all its terrors and compared with social obligation; the case is far simpler. As a rule there is no time in a crisis for complicated mental operations, and whether the choice is heroic or cowardly it is sure to be simple. If there is any conflict of suggestions it is brief, and the one that gains ascendancy is likely to be followed mechanically, without calculation of the future.
One who studies the "sense of oughtness" in children will have no difficulty in seeing that it springs largely from a reluctance to break habits, an indisposition, that is, to get out of mental ruts. It is in the nature of the mind to seek a principle or unifying thought—the mind is a rule-demanding instinct—and in great part this need is met by a habit of thought, inculcated perhaps by some older person who proclaims and enforces the rule, or perhaps by the unintended pressure of conditions which emphasize one suggestion and shut out others. However the rule originates, it meets a mental want, and, if not too strongly opposed by other impulses, is likely to be adopted and felt as obligatory just because it is a consistent way of thinking. As Mr. Sully says, "The truth is that children have a tremendous belief in law." 
The books on child-study give many instances of the surprising allegiance which children often give to rule, merely as rule, and even an intermittent observer will be sure to corroborate them. Thus a child five
(372) years odd, when on a visit, was invited to "open his mouth and shut his eyes," and upon his doing so a piece of candy was put into the former. When he tasted it he pulled it out and exclaimed, "Mama don't want me to have candy." Now this did not seem to be affectation, nor was the child other than fond of sweets, nor afraid of punishment or blame; be was simply under the control of a need for mental consistency. The no-candy rule had been promulgated and enforced at home; he had adopted it as part of his system of thought, and, when it was broken, his moral sense, otherwise the harmony of his mind, was shocked to a degree that the sweet taste of the candy could not overcome. Again, R. was subjected nearly every evening for several years to a somewhat painful operation called "bending his foot," intended to correct a slight deformity. After becoming accustomed to this he would sometimes protest and even cry if it were proposed to omit it. I thought I could see that moral allegiance to a rule, merely as such, weakened as he grew older; and the explanation of this I took to be that the increasing competition of suggestions and conflict of precepts made this simple, mechanical unity impossible, and so forced the mind, still striving for harmony, to exert its higher organizing activity and attempt a larger sort of unification. It is the same principle as that which prevents the civilized man from retaining the simple allegiance to rule and habit that the savage has; his complex life cannot be unified in this way, any more than his accounts can be notched on a stick; and he is forced, if
(373) he is to achieve any unity of life, to seek it in some more elaborate standard of behavior. Under uniform conditions the habitual is the rational, and therefore the moral; but under complex conditions this ceases to be the case.
Of course this way of looking at the matter does not do away with all the difficulties involved in it, but does, it seems to me, put habitual and other morality on the common ground of rationality, and show the apparently sharp division between them to be an illusion.
Those who think as I do will reject the opinion that the right is, in any general sense, the social as opposed to the individual. As already stated, I look upon this antithesis as false when used to imply a radical opposition. All our human thought and activity is either individual or social, according to how you look at it, the two being no more than phases of the same thing, which common thought, always inclined to confuse words with things, attempts to separate. This is as true in the ethical field as in any other. The consideration of other persons usually enters largely into questions of right and wrong; but the ethical decision is distinctly an assertion of a private, individualized view of the matter. Surely there is no sound general principle in accordance with which the right is represented by the suggestions of the social environment, and the wrong by our more private impulses.
The right is always a private impulse, always a self-assertion, with no prejudice, however, to its social
(374) character. The "ethical self" is not less a self for being ethical, but if anything more of a self, because it is a fuller, more highly organized expression of personality. All will recognize, I imagine, that a strong sense of duty involves self-feeling, so that we say to ourselves emphatically I ought. It would be no sense of duty at all if we did not feel that there was something about it peculiar to us and antithetical to some of the influences acting upon us. It is important for many purposes to emphasize the fact that the ethical self is always a public self; but it is equally true and important that it is always a private self.
In short, ethical thinking and feeling, like all our higher life, has its individual and social aspects, with no peculiar emphasis on either. If the social aspect is here at its highest, so also is the individual aspect.
The same objection applies to any form of the antithesis self versus other, considered as a general statement of moral situations. It is a fallacious one, involving vague and material notions of what personality is—vague because material, for we cannot, I think, reflect closely upon the facts of personality without seeing that they are primarily mental or spiritual, and by no means even analogous to the more obvious aspects of the physical. As a matter of fact, ego and alter, self and sympathy, are correlative, and always mingled in ethical judgments, which are not distinguished by having less self and more other in them, but by being a completer synthesis of all pertinent impulses. The characteristic of a sense of right is not
(375) ego or alter, individual or social, but mental unification, and the peculiar feeling that accompanies it.
Egoism can be identified with wrong only when we mean by it some narrow or unstable phase of the sell; and altruism, if we take it to mean susceptibility to be impressed by other people, is equally wrong when it, in turn, becomes narrow or unstable, as we see it in hysterical persons. As I have already said, I hold altruism, when used, as it seems to be ordinarily, to denote a supposed peculiar class of impulses, separate from another supposed class called egoistic, to be a mere fiction, engendered by the vaguely material idea of personality just mentioned. Most higher kinds of thought are altruistic, in the sense that they involve a more or less distinct reference to other persons; but when intensely conceived, these same kinds of thought are usually, if not always, self-thoughts, or egoistic, as well.
The question whether a man shall keep his dollar or give it to a beggar, for example, looks at first sight like a question of ego versus alter, because there are two physical bodies present and visibly associated with the conflicting impulses. In this merely physical sense, of referring to one material body rather than another, it is in fact such a question, but not necessarily in any properly mental, social, or moral sense.
Let us look at the matter a moment with reference to various possible meanings of the words altruism and altruistic. Taking the latter word as the most convenient for our purpose, I can think of three meanings, any one of which would answer well enough to the
(376) vague current usage of it: first, that which is suggested by another person, that is by his appearance, words, or other symbols; second, that which is for the benefit of another; third, good or moral.
In the first sense, which carries no moral implication at all, it is altruistic to give to the beggar, but the word is also applicable to the greater part of our actions, since most of them are suggested by others in some way. And, of course, many of the actions included are what are generally called selfish ones. To strike a man with whom we are angry, to steal from one of whom we are envious, to take liberties with an attractive woman, and all sorts of reprehensible proceedings suggested by the sight of another person, would be altruistic in this sense, which I suppose, therefore, cannot be the one intended by those who use the word as the antithesis to egoistic.
If we use the word in the second sense, that of being for the benefit of another, to give to the beggar may or may not be altruistic; thoughtful philanthropy is inclined to say that it is usually for his harm. It may, perhaps, be said that we at least intend to benefit or please him, that this is the main thing, and that it is a question whether the action has an I-reference or a you-reference in the mind of the actor. As to this I would again call attention to what was said of the nature of I and you as personal ideas in Chapter III, and of the nature of egotism in Chapter VI. Our impulses regarding persons cannot, in my opinion, be classified in this way. What could be more selfish than the action of a mother who cannot refuse her child indigest
(377)-ible sweetmeats? She gives them both to please the child and to gratify a shallow self which is identified with him. To refuse the money to the beggar may be as altruistic in the sense of springing from the desire to benefit others, as to give it. The self for which one wishes to keep the dollar is doubtless a social self of some sort, and very possibly has better social claims upon him than the beggar: he may wish to buy flowers for a sick child.
I need hardly add that to give the money is not necessarily the moral course. The attempt to identify the good with what refers to others as against what refers to one's self is hopelessly confusing and false, both theoretically and in practical application.
In short, it is hard to discover, in the word altruism, any definite moral significance.
The individual and the group are related in respect to moral thought quite as they are everywhere else; individual consciences and the social conscience are not separate things, but aspects of one thing, namely, the moral Life, which may be regarded as individual by fixing our attention upon a particular conscience in artificial isolation, or as general, by attending to some collective phase, like public opinion upon a moral question. Suppose, for instance, one were a member of the Congress that voted the measure which brought on the war with Spain. The question how he should vote on this measure would be, in its individual aspect, a matter of private conscience; and so with all other members. But taking the vote as a whole, as a synthesis, showing the moral drift of the group, it appears
(378) as an expression of a social conscience. The separation is purely artificial, every judgment of an individual conscience being social in that it involves a synthesis of social influences, and every social conscience being a collective view of individual consciences. The concrete thing, the moral Life, is a whole made up of differentiated members. If this is at all hard to grasp, it is only because the fact is a large one. We certainly cannot get far unless we can learn to see organization, since all our facts present it.
The idea that the right is the social as opposed to the sensual is, it seems to me, a sound one, if we mean by it that the mentally higher, more personal, or imaginative impulses have on the whole far more weight in conscience than the more sensual. The immediate reason for this seems to be that the mind of one who shares the higher life is so thronged with vivid personal or social sentiments, that the merely sensual cannot be the rational except where it is allied with these, or at any rate not opposed to them. It is for the psychologist to explain the mental processes involved, but apparently the social interests prevail in conscience over the sensual because they are the major force; that is, they are, on the whole, so much more numerous, vivid, and persistent, that they determine the general system of thought, of which conscience is the fullest expression.
We may, perhaps, represent the matter nearly enough for our purpose by comparing the higher and lower kinds of thought to the human race and the inferior animals. The former is so much more powerful,
(379) on the whole, though not always so individually, that it determines, in all settled countries, the general organization of life, erecting cities and railroads, clearing forests, and the like, to suit itself, and with only incidental regard to other animals. The latter are preserved within the system only in so far as they are useful, or at any rate not very troublesome, to mankind. So all sensual impulses are judged by their relation to a system of thought dominated by social sentiment. The pleasures of eating, harmless in themselves, begin to be judged wrong so soon as they are indulged in such a way as to blunt the higher faculties, or to violate justice, decency, or the like. A shipwrecked man, it is felt, should rather perish of hunger than kill and eat another man, because the latter action violates the whole system of social thought. And in like manner it is held that a soldier, or indeed any man should prefer honor and duty to life itself.
The working of personal influence upon our judgments of right is not different in kind from its working upon other judgments: it simply introduces vivid impulses, which affect the moral synthesis something in the way that picking up a weight will change one's centre of gravity and force him to alter his footing.
As was suggested above, the morality of mere rule and habit becomes the less conspicuous in the life of children the more they are subjected to fresh personal influences. If their sympathies are somewhat dull, or if they are secluded, their minds naturally become grooved; and all children, perhaps, become much bound
(380) to habit in matters where personal influence is not likely to interfere. But in most children, and in most matters, it will be found that the moral judgment and feeling are, from the very earliest, intensely sympathetic and personal, charged with shame, affection, anger, jealousy, and desire to please. The mind has already to struggle for harmony among vivid emotions, aroused by the appeals of life to hereditary instinct, each giving intensity to certain ideas of conduct, and tending to sway the judgment of right in their sense.
If the boy who refused the candy, as mentioned above, had possessed a vivid imagination of personal attitudes, which he did not, his situation might have been much more intricate. He might have been drawn to accept it not only by the sweet taste but by a desire to please the friends who offered it; and on the other hand he might have been deterred by a vision of the reproving face and voice of his mother. Thus M., nearly sixteen months old, had been frowned at and called naughty in a severe tone of voice when she tried to claw her brother's face. Shortly after, while sitting with him on the bed, her mother being at a distance, she was observed to repeat the offense and then, without further cause or suggestion, to bow her head and look abashed and guilty. Apparently she had a sense of wrong, a conviction of sin, perhaps consisting only in a reminiscence of the shame she had previously felt when similar behavior was followed by rebuke.
Here, then, we have a simple manifestation of a moral force that acts upon every one of us in countless ways, and every day of his life—the imagined approval
(381) or disapproval of others, appealing to instinctive emotion, and giving the force of that emotion to certain views of conduct. The behavior that connects itself with such social sentiment as we like and feel the impulse to continue, is so much the more likely to be judged as right; but if the sentiment is one from which we are averse, the behavior is the more likely to be judged as wrong. The child's moral sense, says Perez, "begins as soon as he understands the signification of certain intonations of the voice, of certain attitudes, of a certain expression of countenance, intended to reprimand him for what he has done or to warn him against something he was on the point of doing. This penal and remunerative sanction gives rise by degrees to a clear distinction of concrete good and evil." 
A child who is not sensitive to praise or blame, but whose interests are chiefly impersonal, or at any rate only indirectly personal, sometimes appears to have no moral sense at all, to be without the conviction of sin or any notion of personal wrong. He has little experience of those peculiarly acute and trying mental crises which result from the conflict of impulses of sympathetic origin with one another or with animal appetites. This was much the case with R. in his earliest years. Living in quiet surroundings, somewhat iso lated from other children, with no violent or particularly mischievous impulses, occupied all day long with blocks, sand-pile, and other impersonal interests, not sensitive to blame nor inclined to take it seriously, he gave the impression of being non-moral, an unfallen
(382) spirit. M. was the very opposite of all this. From the first week she was visibly impulsive, contentious, sensitive, sympathetic; laying traps for approval, rebelling against criticism, sudden and quick to anger, sinning, repenting, rejoicing; living almost altogether in a vivid personal world.
A character of the latter sort has an intenser moral life, because the variety of strong impulses introduced by a sensitive and personally imaginative temperament are sure to make crises for the mind to wrestle with. The ethics of personal feeling which it has to work out seems widely apart from the ethics of rule and habit, as in fact it is, so far as regards the materials that enter into the moral synthesis. The color and content, all the concrete elements of the moral life, are as different as are the different characters of people: the idea of right is not a fraction of thought alike in all minds, but a comprehensive, integrating state of mind, characteristic of the personality of which it is an expression.
The idea of justice is, of course, a phase of the idea of right, and arises out of the mental attempt to reconcile conflicting impulses. As Professor Baldwin points out, the child is puzzled by contradictions between his simpler impulses, such as those to appropriate food and playthings, and other impulses of more imaginative or sympathetic origin. Needing to allay this conflict he readily grasps the notion of a tertium quid, a reconciling rule or law which helps him to do so.
Our mature life is not radically distinguished from childhood as regards the working of personal influence
(383) upon our moral thought. If there is progress it is in the way of fulness of experience and better organization: the mental life may become richer in those sympathetic or imaginative impulse which we derive from healthy intercourse with the world, and without a good store of which our judgments of right must be narrow and distorted; there may at the same time be a completer ordering and discipline of these materials, a greater power to construct the right, the unifying thought, out of diverse elements, a quicker recognition of it when achieved, and a steadier disposition to act upon it. In most cases, perhaps, a person after thirty years of age gains something in the promptness and steadfastness of his moral judgment, and loses something in the imaginative breadth of his premises. But the process remains the same, and our view of right is still a sort of microcosm of our whole character. Whatever characteristic passions we have will in some way be represented in it, and until we stiffen into mental rigidity and decline, it will change more or less with every important change in our social surroundings.
To a very large class of minds, perhaps to the largest class, the notion of right presents itself chiefly as a matter of personal authority. That is, what we feel we ought to do is simply what we imagine our guide or master would do, or would wish us to do. This, for instance, is the idea very largely inculcated and practiced by the Christian church. It is not anything opposed to or different from the right as a mental synthesis, but simply means that admiration, reverence, or
(384) some other strong sentiment, gives such overwhelming force to the suggestions of a certain example, that they more or less completely dominate the mind. The authority works through conscience and not outside of it. Moreover, the relation is not so one-sided as it would seem, since our guide is always, in one point of view, the creation of our own imaginations, which are sure to interpret him in a manner congenial to our native tendency. Thus the Christ of Fra Angelico is one thing, and the Christ of Michelangelo, directing the ruin of the damned, is quite another.
The ascendancy of personal authority is usually greater in proportion as the mind is of a simple, visually imaginative, rather than reflective turn. People of the sort commonly called "emotional,"' with ready and vivid personal feeling but little constructive power, are likely to yield to an ascendant influence as a whole, with little selection or reconstruction. Their individuality is expressed chiefly in the choice of a master; having chosen, they are all his. If they change masters they change morals at the same time. The mental unity of which they, like all the rest of us, are in search, is found in allegiance to a concrete personality, which saves them the impossible task of abstract thought. Such people, however, usually feel an attraction toward stability in others, and secure it for themselves by selecting a steadfast personality to anchor their imaginations to.
This, of course, is possible or congenial only to those who lack the mental vigor to make in a more intellectual manner that synthesis of which moral judgment
(385) is the expression. Those who have this vigor make use of many examples, and if they acknowledge the pre-eminence of any one, he is likely to be vaguely conceived and to be in reality no more than the symbol of their own moral conclusions.
The immediate power of personal images or influences over our sense of right is probably greater in all of us than we realize. "It is wonderful," says George Eliot in Middlemarch, "how much uglier things will look when we only think we are blamed for them ... and, on the other hand, it is astonishing how pleasantly conscience takes our encroachments on those who never complain, or have nobody to complain for them." That is to say, other persons, by awaking social self-feeling in us, give life and power to certain sentiments of approval or disapproval regarding our own actions. The rule, already suggested, that the self of a sensitive person, in the presence of an ascendant personality, tends to become his interpretation of what the other thinks of him, is a prime factor in determining the moral judgments of all of us. Every one must have felt the moral renewal that comes with the mere presence of one who is vigorously good, whose being enlivens our aspiration and shames our backsliding, who makes us really feel the desirability of the higher life and the baseness and dulness of the lower.
In one of Mr. Theodore Child's papers on French art he relates that Dagnan said after the death of Bastien-Lepage, "With every new picture I paint in future I shall try to think if he would have been satisfied with it." Almost the same has been said by an
(386) American author with reference to Robert Louis Stevenson. And these instances are typical of the general fact that our higher selves, our distinctively right views and choices, are dependent upon imaginative realization of the points of view of other persons. There is, I think, no possibility of being good without living, imaginatively of course, in good company; and those who uphold the moral power of personal example as against that of abstract thought are certainly in the right. A mental crisis, by its very difficulty, is likely to call up the thought of some person we have been used to look to as a guide, and the confronting of the two ideas, that of the person and that of the problem, compels us to answer the question, What would he have thought of it? The guide we appeal to may be a person in the room, or a distant friend, or an author whom we have never seen, or an ideal person of religion. The strong, good men we have once imagined live in our minds and fortify there the idea of worthiness. They were free and noble and make us unhappy to be less.
Of course the influence of other persons often goes by contraries. The thought of one who is repugnant to us brings a strong sense of the wrong of that for which he stands, and our conviction of the hatefulness of any ill trait is much enlivened by intimate contact with one who exhibits it.
The moral potency of confession, and of all sorts of publicity, rests upon the same basis. In opening ourselves to another we are impelled to imagine how our conduct appears to him; we take an outside view
(387) of ourselves. It makes a great difference to whom we confess: the higher the character of the person whose mind we imagine, the more enlightening and elevating is the view of ourselves that we get. Even to write our thoughts in a diary, and so to confess, not to a particular person, but to that vague image of an interlocutor that connects itself with all articulate expression, makes things look different.
It is, perhaps, much the same with prayer. To pray, in a higher sense, is to confront our moral perplexities with the highest personal ideal we can form, and so to be unconsciously integrating the two, straightening out the one in accordance with the other. It would seem that social psychology strongly corroborates the idea that prayer is an essential aspect of the higher life; by showing, I mean, that thought, and especially vivid thought, is interlocutory in its very nature, and that aspiration almost necessarily takes, more or less distinctly, the form of intercourse with an ideal being.
Whatever publishes our conduct introduces new and strong factors into conscience; but whether this publicity is wholesome or otherwise depends upon the character of the public; or, more definitely, upon whether the idea of ourselves that we impute to this public is edifying or degrading. In many cases, for instance, it is ruinous to a person's character to be publicly disgraced, because he, or she, presently accepts the degrading self that seems to exist in the minds of others. There are some people to whom we should be ashamed to confess our sins, and others, perhaps, to whom we should not like to own our virtues. Cer-
(388) -tainly it should not be assumed that it is good for us to have our acts displayed before the generality of persons: while this may be a good thing as regards matters, like the tax-roll, that relate to our obvious duty to the immediate community, it has in most things a somewhat vulgarizing effect, tending to promote conformity rather than a distinctive life. If the scholar's study were on the market-place, so that the industrious townspeople could see how many hours of the day he spends in apparent idleness, he might lack courage to pursue his vocation. In short, we need privacy as against influences that are not edifying, and communion with those that are.
Even telling the truth does not result so much from a need of mental accuracy, though this is strong in some minds, as from a sense of the unfairness of deceiving people of our own sort, and of the shame of being detected in so doing. Consequently the maxim, "Truth for friends and lies for enemies," is very generally followed, not only by savages and children, but, more or less openly, by civilized people. Most persons feel reluctant to tell a lie in so many words, but few have any compunctions in deceiving by manner, and the like, persons toward whom they feel no obligation. We all know business men who will boast of their success in deceiving rivals; and probably few of us hold ourselves to quite the same standard of honor in dealing with one we believe to be tricky and ill disposed toward us, that we would if we thought him honest and well meaning. " Conscience is born of
(389) love" in this as in many matters. A thoughtful observer will easily see that injustice and not untruth is the essence of lying, as popularly conceived.
It is because of our need to recall vanished persons, that all goodness and justice, all right of any large sort, depend upon an active imagination. Without it we are the prisoners of the immediate environment and of the suggestions of the lower organism. It is only this that enables us to live with the best our lives have afforded, and maintain higher suggestions to compete with the baser ones that assail us. Let us hear Professor James again: "When for motives of honor and conscience I brave the condemnation of my own family, club, and 'set'; when as a Protestant I turn Catholic; as a Catholic, freethinker; as a 'regular practitioner,' homeopath, or what not, I am always inwardly strengthened in my course, and steeled against the loss of my actual social self by the thought of other and better possible social judges than those whose verdict goes against me now. The ideal social self which I thus seek in appealing to their decision may be very remote; it may be represented as barely possible. I may not hope for its realization during my lifetime; I may even expect the future generations, which would approve me if they knew me, to know nothing about me when I am dead and gone."  As regards the nearness or remoteness of the companion it would perhaps be sufficient to say that if imagined he is actually present, so far as
(390) our mental and moral life are concerned, and except as affecting the vividness of our idea of him, it makes no immediate difference whether we ever saw him or whether he ever had any corporeal existence at all.
The alteration of conscience due to the advent in thought of a new person is often so marked that one view of duty is quite evidently supplanted by a fresh one, due to the fresh suggestion. Thus, to take an example probably familiar to all who are used to mental application, it sometimes happens that a student is fagged and yet feels that he must think out his problem; there is a strong sense of oughtness backing this view, which, so long as it is unopposed, holds its ground as the call of duty. But now a friend may come in and suggest to him that he ought to stop, that if he goes on he will harm himself and do poor work. Here is another view of right, and the mind must now make a fresh synthesis and come, perhaps, to feel that its duty is to leave off.
Because of its dependence upon personal suggestion, the right always reflects a social group; there is always a circle of persons, more or less extended, whom we really imagine, and who thus work upon our impulses and our conscience; while people outside of this have not a truly personal existence for us. The extent of this circle depends upon many circumstances, as for instance upon the vigor of our imaginations, and the reach of the means of communication through which personal symbols are impressed upon them.
In these days of general literacy, many get their most potent impressions from books, and some, finding this sort of society more select and stimulating than any other, cultivate it to the neglect of palpable persons. This kind of people often have a very tender conscience regarding the moral problems presented in novels, but a rather dull one for those of the flesh-and-blood life about them. In fact, a large part of the sentiments of imaginative persons are purely literary, created and nourished by intercourse with books, and only indirectly connected with what is commonly called experience. Nor should it be assumed that these literary sentiments are necessarily a mere dissipation. Our highest ideals of life come to us largely in this way, since they depend upon imaginative converse with people we do not have a chance to know in the flesh. Indeed, the expansion of conscience that is so conspicuous a fact of recent years, the rise of moral sentiment regarding international relations, alien races, and social and industrial classes other than our own, could not have taken place without the aid of cheap printing and rapid communication. Such understanding and sense of obligation as we have regarding the populace of great cities, for instance, is due chiefly to writers who, like the author of How the Other Half Lives, describe the life of such people in a vivid, personal way, and so cause us to imagine it.
Not to pursue this line of thought too far, it is enough for our purpose to note that conscience is always a group conscience, however the group may
(392) be formed, so that our moral sentiment always reflects our time, our country, and our special field of personal imagination. On the other hand, our sense of right ignores those whom we do not, through sympathy, feel as part of ourselves, no matter how close their physical contiguity. To the Norman conqueror the Saxon was an inferior animal, whose sentiments he no more admitted to his imagination, I suppose, than a farmer does those of his cattle, and toward whom, accordingly, he did not feel human obligation. It was the same with the slaveholder and the slave, and so it sometimes is with employer and wage-earner. The behavior of the Europeans toward the Chinese during the recent invasion of China showed in a striking manner how completely moral obligation breaks down in dealing with people who are not felt to be of kindred humanity with ourselves.
In minds capable of constructive imagination the social factor in conscience may take the form of ideal persons, whose traits are used as a standard of behavior.
Idealization, of this or any other sort, is not to be thought of as sharply marked off from experience and memory. It seems probable that the mind is never indifferent to the elements presented to it, but that its very nature is to select, arrange, harmonize, idealize. That is, the whole is always acting upon the parts, tending to make them one with itself. What we call distinctively an ideal is only a relatively complex and finished product of this activity. The
(393) past, as it lives in our minds, is never a mere repetition of old experience, but is always colored by our present feeling, is always idealized in some sense; and it is the same with our anticipation of the future, so that to wholesome thought expectation is hope. Thus the mind is ever an artist, re-creating things in a manner congenial to itself, and special arts are only a more deliberate expression of a general tendency.
An ideal, then, is a somewhat definite and felicitous product of imagination, a harmonious and congenial reconstruction of the elements of experience. And a personal ideal is such a harmonious and congenial reconstruction of our experience of persons. Its active function is to symbolize and define the desirable, and by so doing to make it the object of definite endeavor. The ideal of goodness is only the next step beyond the good man of experience, and performs the same energizing office. Indeed, as I have already pointed out, there is no separation between actual and ideal persons, only a more or less definite connection of personal ideas with material bodies.
There are all degrees of vagueness or definition in our personal ideals. They may be no more than scattered imaginings of traits which we have met in experience and felt to be worthy; or they may assume such fulness and cohesion as to be distinct ideal persons. There may even be several personal ideals; one may cherish one ideal of himself and a different one for each of his intimate friends; or his imagination may project several ideals of himself, to correspond to various phases of his development.
Probably the phrase "ideal person" suggests something more unified and consistent than is actually present in the minds of most people when they conceive the desirable or good in personal character. Is it not rather ideal traits or sentiments, fragments of personal experience, phases of past intercourse returning in the imagination with a new emphasis in the presence of new situations? We have at times divined in other people courage, generosity, patience, and justice, and judged them to be good. Now, when we find ourselves in a situation where these traits are called for, we are likely to be reminded by that very fact of our previous experience of them; and the memory of it brings these sentiments more vividly to life and gives them more authority in conscience. Thus a person hesitating whether to smuggle in dutiable goods is likely to think in his perplexity of some one whom he has come to regard as honorable in such matters, and of how that one would feel and act under like conditions.
This building up of higher personal conceptions does not lend itself to precise description. It is mostly subconscious; the mind is continually at work ordering and bettering its past and present experiences, working them up in accordance with its own instinctive need for consistency and pleasantness; ever idealizing, but rarely producing clean-cut ideals. It finds its materials both in immediate personal intercourse and through books and other durable media of expression. " Books, monuments, pictures, conversation, are portraits in which he finds the lineaments
he is forming." "All that is said of the wise man . describes to each reader his own idea, describes his unattained but attainable self."  "A few anecdotes, a few traits of character, manners, face, a few incidents, have an emphasis in your memory out of al! proportion to their apparent significance, if you measure them by the ordinary standards. They relate to your gift. Let them have their weight, and do not reject them and cast about for illustrations more usual in literature. What your heart thinks great is great. The soul's emphasis is always right." 
Idealism in this vague form has neither first, second, nor third person. It is simply an impression of the desirable in personality, and is impulsively applied to your conduct, my conduct, or his conduct, as the case may be. The sentiment occurs to us, and the connection in which it occurs determines its moral application. We sometimes speak as if it required an unusual effort of virtue to apply the same standards to ourselves as to others; and so it does, in one sense; but in another it is easier and more common to do this than not to do it. The simplest thing, as regards the mental process concerned, is to take ideas of conduct as they come, without thinking specially where they come from, and judge them by the standard that conscience presents to us. Injustice and personal wrong of all sorts, as between one's self and others, commonly consist, not in imagining the other man's point of view and refusing to give it weight; but in not imagining it, not admitting him to the tribunal
(396) at all. It is in exerting the imagination that the effort of virtue comes in. One who entertains the thought and feeling of others can hardly refuse them justice; he has made them a part of himself. There is, as we have seen, no first or second person about a sentiment; if it is alive in the mind that is all there is to the matter.
It is perhaps the case, however, that almost every person of imagination has at times a special and somewhat definite ideal self, concerning which he has the " my " feeling, and which he would not use in judging others. It is, like all ideals, a product of constructive imagination working upon experience. It represents what we should like to see ourselves, and has an especially vigorous and varied life in early youth, when the imagination projects models to match each new aspiration that gains power over it. In a study of the Continued Stories of children, by Mabel W. Learoyd, many interesting facts are given illustrating sustained self-idealization. These continued stories are somewhat consecutive series of imaginations on the part of the young, recalled and described at a later period. Two-thirds are said to embody an ideal, and the author, in an idealized form, is the hero of many of them. An instance of this same process continued into old age is the fact mentioned by Mr. E. W. Emerson in his Emerson in Concord,  that the poet's diary contains frequent allusion to one Osman, who stands for an ideal self, a more perfect Emerson of his aspiration.
It would always be found, I think, that our ideal self is constructed chiefly out of ideas about us attributed to other people. We can hardly get any distinct view of ourselves except in this way, that is by placing ourselves at the standpoint of some one else. The impressions thus gained are worked over and over, like other mental material, and, according to the imaginative vigor of the mind, more or less reorganized, and projected as an ideal.
With some this ideal is quite definite and visible before the eye of the mind. I have heard the expression " seeing yourself " applied to it. Thus one woman says of another, "She always sees herself in evening dress," meaning that her ideal of herself is one of social propriety or distinction, and that it takes the form of an image of her visible person as it appears to others in a shape expressing these traits. This is, of course, a phase of the reflected self, discussed in the fifth chapter. Some people "see themselves" so constantly, and strive so obviously to live up to the image, that they give a curious impression of always acting a part, as if one should compose a drama with himself as chief personage, and then spend his life playing it. Perhaps something of this sort is inevitable with persons of vivid imagination.
Once formed and familiarized the ideal self serves, like any ideal only more directly, as an incitement to growth in its direction, and a punishment to retrogression. A man who has become used to imagining himself as noble, beneficent, and respected has a real picture in his mind, a fair product of aspiring thought,
(398) a work of art. If his conduct violates this imagination he has a sense of ugliness and shame; there is a rent in the picture, a rude, shapeless hole, shattering its beauty, and calling for painful and tedious repairs before it can be even tolerable to look upon. Repentance is the pain of this spectacle; and the clearer and more firmly conceived the ideal, the greater the pain.
The ideal person or persons of an ethical religion are the highest expression of this creative outreaching of the mind after the admirable in personality. It can hardly be supposed, by any one who is willing to go into the psychology of the matter at all, that they are radically different from other ideal persons, or in any way sharply divided from the mass of personal thought. Any comparative study of idealism, among nations in various stages of civilization, among persons of different intellectual power, among the various periods of development in one individual, can hardly fail, I should say, to leave a conviction that all hangs together, that there is no chasm anywhere, that the most rudimentary idealizing impulse of the savage or the child is of a piece with the highest religious conceptions. The tendency of such a view, of course, is not to drag down the exalted, but to show all as part of a common life.
All ideals of personality are derived from intercourse, and all that attain any general acceptance have a social organization and history. Each historical epoch or nation has its somewhat distinctive personal ideals, which are instilled into the individual
(399) from the general store of thought. It is especially true that the persons of religion have this character. They are communal and cumulative, are gradually built up and become in some degree an institution. In this way they may acquire richness, clearness, sanctity, and authority, and may finally be inculcated as something above and outside of the human mind. The latter is certain to happen if they are made the basis of a discipline to be applied to all sorts of people. The dogma that they are extra-human serves, like the forms and ceremonies of a court, to secure to them the prestige of distance and inaccessibility.
It is a chief function of religious organization to make the moral synthesis more readily attainable, by establishing a spiritual discipline, or system of influences and principles, which shall constantly stimulate one's higher sentiments, and furnish a sort of outline or scaffolding of suggestions to aid him in organizing his thought. In doing this its main agent is the inculcation of personal ideals, although the teaching of creeds is also, perhaps, important to the same purpose. It is apparently part of the legitimate function of organized moral thought to enter the vaguer fields of speculation about conduct and inculcate provisional ideas, relating for instance to the origin and meaning of life—matters which the mind must and will explore, with or without a guide. To have suggested to them definite ways of thinking regarding such matters helps to make mental unity possible, and to save men from the aimless and distracting wanderings that often end in despair. Of course these ideas must be in harmony
(400) with the general state of thought, consistent, for example, with the established results of science. Otherwise they only increase the distraction. But a credible creed is an excellent thing, and the lack of it is a real moral deficiency.
Now in times of intellectual unsettlement, like the present, the ideal may become disorganized and scattered, the face of God blurred to the view, like the reflection of the sun in troubled waters. And at the same time the creeds become incredible, so that, until new ones can be worked out and diffused, each man must either make one for himself—a task to which few are equal—or undergo distraction, or cease to think about such matters, if he can. This state of things involves some measure of demoralization, although it may be part of a movement generally beneficent. Mankind needs the highest vision of personality, and needs it clear and vivid, and in the lack of it will suffer a lack in the clearness and cogency of moral thought. It is the natural apex to the pyramid of personal imagination, and when it is wanting there will be an unremitting and eventually more or less successful striving to replace it. When it reappears it will, of course, express in all its lineaments a new era of thought; but the opinion that it is gone to stay, which is entertained by some, seems very ill grounded.
Comparative studies of the moral ideas of different societies, such as Wm. G. Sumner's work on Folkways, make it clear that the sense of right does, in fact, vary
(401) with the group, and that "the mores can make anything right or anything wrong." Stealing, cannibalism, and many other things that we condemn, may be regarded as permissible, creditable, or even obligatory. Matters of decency, as in dress or manners, are almost wholly conventional, as appears, for instance, when certain Africans spit upon one as a sign of good-will.
It is notable, however, that there are, after all, some ideas of right that are practically universal. Here, for example, are three things that all tribes, so far as I can discover, regard as obligatory:
1. Loyalty to the group. Dante's judgment that traitors belong in the lowest pit of Hell expresses a universal sentiment of mankind.
2. Kindness to members of the group.
3. Adherence to the customs of the tribe.
These are universal because they spring from universal conditions of social life. All men live in cooperating groups, and without loyalty and kindness they cannot co-operate successfully. And conservatism must be cherished, especially among savages, who have no recorded traditions, because it is the means of insuring stability and preserving the results of experience.
Morals are profoundly functional, and beneath many strange divergences there is found a core of likeness corresponding to a similarity in the life-process itself.