Franklin Henry Giddings, 1855– 1931: Some Aspects of His Sociological Theory

F. H. Hankins
Smith College


Of the four men who founded American sociology, Giddings most nearly based the inductive science on the newer statistical methods. Accepting Spencer's evolutionism unreservedly, he made social evolution a part of cosmic evolution, thus placing society within the realm of natural history. Social phenomena are due to three orders of stimuli —physical nature, human aggregations, and culture—with constant interaction between them. The function of social science is to disentangle the web of causal relations and to assign to these three their respective roles. He regarded all causal relations as basically mechanistic, but distinguished between machine-like reactions and those that are "ballistic:" His determinism did not, however, lead him to deny volition as a true social cause. An important omission in Giddings' theory was his failure to analyze conscious motives. His "consciousness of kind" is too general and too passive in character to serve as universal motivation in society. Consciousness of kind is defined as "a state of consciousness in which any being recognizes another conscious being as of like kind with himself." It exists, therefore, among animals below man. Giddings seems to end by making the consciousness of kind the basis of gregariousness, although in his latest statement he denies it to animals. Consciousness of kind implies a consciousness of difference; but he does not seem to make sufficient place in his theory for compulsion, antagonism, and conflict. His most significant contribution of recent years dealt with pluralistic behavior. Sociology was becoming for him societal psychology. Consciousness of kind can only be known by entering the fields of psychology and social psychology in order to study the formation of attitudes, the likes and dislikes of the reacting individuals.

It does not seem altogether an accident that the rise of sociology is associated with the development of integration among Western nations. Comte saw in sociology a more comprehensive social science than any then existing. Spencer employed the organismic analogy to picture graphically the conception of society as a unified, evolving

( 350) entity with a mutual interdependence of all its parts. Such a concept could have had little realistic significance in America until our national development had approached the end of the frontier and North, South, East, and West had become united through a lively consciousness of a common destiny. It seems natural that sociology should have definitely emerged as a university study in the late eighties and early nineties. The establishment of sociology was undoubtedly furthered by the general acceptance in intellectual circles of the evolutionary viewpoint and a naturalistic conception of man and society. Ward's Dynamic Sociology of 1883 was a highly stimulating and suggestive application of evolutionary philosophy to social development; Sumner was already promulgating a generalized social science and Spencerian individualism at Yale University; Woodford of Indiana University was having his students read Spencer's Study of Sociology after 1886; and so on.[1]

Giddings entered upon his sociological teaching well versed in the literature of the evolution controversy. Previous to his course at Bryn Mawr in 1890 on "Modern Theories of Sociology," he had long been a student of the many new and profound contributions to our knowledge of man and society which the post-Darwinian era was producing. He tells us:

My interest in sociology .... began while I was yet a youth, when accidentally a copy of the first number of the Popular Science Monthly fell into my hands a few days after its publication, and I read the first chapter of Spencer's Study of Sociology. Before I entered college I had read a lot of Darwin, Tyndall and Huxley, and nearly half of what Spencer had printed. At college, and during ten subsequent years of newspaper work, I kept up my interest and my reading in sociology and was ready to improve the first chance that offered to teach it after I went to Bryn Mawr.

He was thus one of that first generation of American scholars which became imbued with the new learning and the new scientific outlook. The case of sociology and that of psychology are distinctly parallel. In the latter field, Ladd, James, and G. Stanley Hall stand as the triumvirate of founders in this country. They applied, interpreted, expounded, and expanded the new biological evolutionism, with its emphasis on heredity and natural selection, and the new

( 351) physiological and neurological foundations of behavior into what was, for America, a novel and revealing psychology. Of them, both Ladd and James returned largely to philosophy, their first loves; only Hall, who had his own brand of mysticism, remained steadfast in his affection for his new affinity. While the future will doubtless alter perspectives, it now appears that Ward, Sumner, Small, and Giddings occupy a somewhat similar position in American sociology. As founders, they all dealt with fundamental concepts and logical distinctions. All but Sumner dealt largely with philosophical problems related to social theory; Ward remained most completely within the realm of social philosophy; Small's thinking seems to have been cluttered up with philosophical doubts and unresolved elements; Sumner worked more assiduously with the new ethnographical materials; Giddings saw much more clearly than any of the others the needs of an inductive sociology based on the newer statistical methods, and is the only one who made notable contributions thereto. All but Ward occupied strategic positions as successful teachers in great universities.

Giddings' philosophical orientation is in general outline sufficiently clear though he has nowhere made a systematic statement thereof. His writings however,' abound in philosophical statements and reflections. His views were shaped by the classical expounders of concepts to which some professional philosophers have, only in our own day, given the name of "evolutionary naturalism." He was a thorough student of the writings of the positivistic, evolutionary empiricists from Comte onward. With Comte he rejected the assumption that theological and metaphysical speculations are valid explanations of what goes on in the universe. He placed in the quest for verifiable knowledge whatever confidence he had in man's ability to understand himself and his world and to further his own evolution. He held, with unwavering clarity and consistency, to a thoroughly scientific conception of phenomena in every sphere. He could find no earthly reasons for speculations regarding the realm of the unknowable—if there be such—simply because such speculations, not being verifiable, are humanly useless and likely to be sources of gross delusions. He had a proper scorn for the pretensions of the metaphysician and professional philosopher to contribute a special and

( 352) superior brand of knowledge. In one passage he says: "The notion 'causation' like the notion 'explanation' has had a past of which the less said the better. It has kept company with metaphysics."[2]

By way of digression, we may note at this point that it is, of course, an essential part of Comtian positivism that the sociologist shall keep his reasoning processes free from contamination by his ethical prepossessions. This is very probably a superhuman requirement; and "F. H. G." was an intensely human person. He was not only an observer of the human scene; he enjoyed taking an active part in the drama itself. Certain it seems to one who has heard many of his lectures, that he greatly enjoyed the thrill of departing from the serene objectivity of the scientist in order to become the preacher, the advocate, or the denouncer. On these occasions he was almost certain to exhibit more or less intense emotional disturbance. These exhibitions of emotional complexes could no doubt be neatly explained by an up-to-date psychoanalyst more or less acquainted with the evolution of the Giddings personality and its current setting. They were often excellent pedagogical devices, for they started waves of eager discussion. They also had another effect, I think, quite worth noting. They frequently exhibited elements of strength and depth in the Giddings character that won the sincere admiration of his students, and the affectionate reference, 'F. H. G." and, in later years, "the Old Man." Like his master, Spencer, he was deeply attached to ideals of liberty and justice and to that type of democratic liberalism which gave considerable weight to the operation of natural selection in human affairs. He could, therefore, on occasion assert with gusto a sense of personal independence, or denounce with vigor those whose greed and 'ruthless exploitation he believed to be a danger to the type of social organization he preferred. These emotional attachments to the mores of an age were doubtless less valuable as sociological contributions than would have been an analysis of those social forces which will some day transform capitalist society as we know it into something else, but they

( 353) were an integral part of Giddings as a university teacher and citizen of the great republic.[3]

From Mill and Jevons, and later from Karl Pearson, Giddings derived a clear understanding of the logic and methods of science, the limits and relations of inductive and deductive reasoning, and the significance of chance and probability. Here, as in everything he wrote, he first made the thoughts of great minds his own and then thoroughly integrated them with other concepts of his mind. In fact, he seldom stopped at this point but went on to reanalysis, fresh synthesis, additions, and emendations. His mind was extraordinarily busy with a multitude of matters, gifted with unusual capacity for both analysis and generalization and, at least on its intellectual side, unusually well integrated. Inconsistencies and self-contradictions are relatively rare in his writings. At the same time, he retained mental freshness and plasticity; his was a growing mind. His contributions are, therefore, extremely varied and difficult to

( 354) systematize. He came back to the same problem over and over again, often with a new slant, so that different statements of his views on certain issues are very difficult to put together so as to satisfy one's sense of logical clarity and completeness. Something is omitted from one statement which is filled in by another, but the parts do not always go together. This is probably a compliment rather than otherwise, but it makes difficult the task of the expositor and critic. I think a careful reading will show this to be true of his ideas of consciousness of kind, of the relation of consciousness of kind to gregariousness and to association, of the nature of society, and of various other matters.

Take, as illustration, the statement in the "Preface" and on pages 291–92 of Studies which purports to outline whatever system he had. Paragraph i refers to agreements, contracts, and enterprises; then paragraph 2, which ostensibly applies to a later stage in social genesis, says that among these individuals a consciousness of kind converts gregariousness into association. Were they not in association when making their agreements? Moreover, what can one do with the phrase "When the individuals who participate in pluralistic behavior have become differentiated into behavioristic types or kinds"? How did they become thus differentiated? The answer is: through like (or unlike) response to stimulus! But were these stimuli antecedent to gregariousness? In that case, we should have a mere aggregation with little power of communication. But if these individuals had lived together already, they would create most of their own stimuli and would already have values and attitudes which would affect their responses. There are many such outlines in Giddings' work which are highly suggestive and represent bold, pioneering analysis, but which seem, on close scrutiny, to have lacunae in them.[4]

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It was from Spencer that he derived his primary philosophical concepts. He accepted Spencer's cosmic evolutionism unreservedly. He thus saw all the phenomena of the universe as manifestations of a universal equilibration of energy, as the flow or interchange of energy between bodies charged with it in different degrees. Within this process occur those other fundamental processes of integration, differentiation, segregation, and assimilation—of cohesion into organized unities with diversification or specialization of parts, with a tendency for those units of matter affected in like manner by incident energies to become assimilated to each other and to be segregated from other units affected in different manners by the same energies. These processes "make up mechanistic evolution in its simple and primary phases.”[5] The more complex aspects of these processes are due to the fact that evolution is compound, that is, these primary processes are being constantly repeated through the interaction of their previous products with each other. Moreover, phases of integration associated with a loss of contained motion tend to alternate, often in rhythmical fashion, with phases of dissolution associated with increase of motion of contained parts. In their constructive aspects these processes result in an equilibration of energy within and between the parts of an integrating body, with an accompanying development of structure and function. There result internal controls, such as nervous systems in living things and government in groups of men. "Governments and their functions are products of equilibrations between a relatively small group of alert and persistent men reacting to situations, and a relatively large mass of men that are inert and ineffective. "[6]

This view makes social evolution a part of cosmic evolution. In that case it is necessary to have a consistent theory of the relations of the forces and processes of the physical world to the phenomena of society. To this problem Giddings devoted a considerable part of the Principles and parts of various essays, notably "A Theory of

( 356) Social Causation."[7] Fundamental postulates of his position may be stated as follows: "All social energy is transmuted physical energy"; a basic theory of social causation involves a study of "the interaction of physical forces and psychical motives"; "the original causes of aggregation and dispersion are physical forces. But the secondary causes of social phenomena are conscious motives and are products of social life itself."[8]

In the pages which immediately follow the foregoing certain deductions from such principles as the indestructibility of matter and energy, the persistence of force, the universal process of equilibration, and the physical necessity of evolution are worked out. Since all energy is necessarily physical, social phenomena may be explained in terms of the transformation and equilibration of physical energies. "The quantity and the intensity of social activity are proportional to the energy taken from the environment by the social body and transmuted into organic phenomena."[9] Thus density of population depends on food supply. In the redistributions of matter and energy within the population and between the population and its environment, lines of least resistance are followed. Hence colonization follows coast lines and river valleys; strong groups encroach upon weak. Differentiation follows "unlike response to like forces, or likeresponse to unlike forces," and so on, all in the best Spencerian manner backed by frequent reference to appropriate passages in the First Principles.

In the subsequent restatement in "A Theory of Social Causation" the fundamentals remain the same but there is some elaboration and greater concreteness of statement. We are now told that most of the stimuli to which men react are those secondary stimuli which are "products of past responses to antecedent stimuli." In current terminology, men respond for the mist part to "cultural stimuli." "But back of all secondary stimuli, products of past social life, are primary or original stimuli presented to every mind by the multiplicity and presence of fellow beings, by the events and the order of nature, and by the concrete objects of nature. These collectively are the environment, human and physical, and the human is deter-

( 357) -mined by the physical."[10] Giddings now notes an important consideration that did not appear in the earlier statement, namely, "that all stimuli of the primary order, including regional changes, usually stimulate behavior through a social medium created by antecedent stimulation."[11] He then divides physical environments into four types: rich and accessible; rich and relatively inaccessible; poor and accessible; poor and inaccessible. The character of the physical environment determines the composition of the population, which is a consequence of pluralistic reaction to the attractions and repulsions of environmental opportunity. The composition of the population in turn determines the vigor and complexity of the social reactions set going in its midst. Civilizations arise only among composite peoples inhabiting areas of the first type.

In its extremely abstract quality, this theory of the relation of physical forces to social evolution is characteristic of much of Giddings' theorizing. Whether or not one accept the Spencerian metaphysics, one must see that the reasoning here is deductive and that, in so far as concrete data are utilized, they serve only to illustrate conclusions already arrived at. The principles or "laws" set forth pertain primarily to a philosophy seeking the broadest possible generalizations regarding the processes of nature, and only incidentally of social phenomena. Stated a generation ago, this viewpoint had the immense value of asserting in broad outline the continuity of physical and social processes, of placing society within the realm of natural history, and of eschewing the teleological interpretations of an earlier philosophy of history. Most of us today take such a view as a matter of course; our intellectual orientation is scientific rather than theological. Nevertheless, the evolutionary viewpoint, and its logically necessary inference of physical-social continuity, still needs reiteration. It remains for the further progress of the social sciences to give this doctrine and the deductions from it that restatement in distinctly sociological terminology and that inductive character, that specific factual exemplification, necessary to warrant incorporation into the body of knowledge labeled "sociology."

Moreover, the emendations made in the later statement are of interest. Spencer is now further in the background. Among the pri-

( 358) -mary and original stimuli now appear "the multiplicity and presence of fellow beings"; but the latter are of a lower order of primacy than physical nature because their number and compositeness depend on prior human responses to physical nature. At the same time the major part of social phenomena are due to social stimuli. There are thus three orders of stimuli, instead of the two mentioned in the earlier statement: physical nature, human aggregations, and culture. Owing to the highly abstract character of the treatment, little light is thrown on their respective rôles. We can surmise from the general evolutionary theory that there is constant action and reaction between them. The cultural setting is at every stage of its evolution a product of antecedent reactions. It is, therefore, a consequence partly of reactions to primary stimuli and partly of compounded effects of reactions to previous secondary stimuli. The ingredients thus become inextricably entangled.

This theory of social causation seems essentially sound. Its breadth and abstractness put it in the realm of a social philosophy, scientifically oriented. The function of social science is to attempt to disentangle the web of causal relations so as to assign to physical nature, human aggregation, and culture their respective rôles. It must go farther and discover the causal significance of component elements of each order of causes, such as, for physical nature, climate, soil, topography, and so on, and the significance of their combinations with each other and with elements of a different order. Giddings did not apparently consider it any part of his function to carry on these researches, though he was undoubtedly appreciative of a wide variety of researches contributory thereto, such as those of the anthropogeographers, social selectionists, and social psychologists. If this seems to give to his work the characteristics of the armchair philosopher, it nevertheless reveals his undoubted capacity for analysis and generalization. Moreover, one may pray for more such in this day of multitudinous "busy-work" "researches" consisting of mere assemblages of raw data having no concatenation with any defined problem or scientific theory. We may also note, in passing, that this theory of social causation indicates that Giddings was here thinking of sociology as a general social science basic to the special social sciences. This appears to be his most frequent

( 359) view, although in later years he not infrequently identified sociology with societal psychology, or the science of pluralistic behavior. Doubtless the two views can be reconciled. One can find a dozen different definitions of sociology in his writings.

In view of his general philosophical position, Giddings saw all causal relations as basically mechanistic. By this he meant that within the realm of knowable nature there is not any indeterministic causal factor or agent. At the same time his familiarity with the statistical outlook, which sees the operations of multiple causation in terms of chance and probability, led him to a distinction between actions or reactions that are 'machine-like" and those that are "ballistic." In the former the performance is stereotyped or limited in variability, but in the latter it is highly variable and relatively indeterminate. This difference is not absolute but corresponds to an increasing sensitivity of the reacting mechanisms to a wide range and variety of stimuli. Skeletal action is machine-like; human behavior tends to be ballistic; the apparatus of heredity (cells, chromosomes, and genes) is machine-like in form but more or less ballistic in performance. All are mechanistic. Here is a useful distinction. The term "ballistic" calls to mind the scattergram of shots at a bull's-eye and pictures the phenomena of all organic and superorganic nature, especially in the psychological and sociological divisions thereof, as orderly but variable, as due to realistic causes but imbued with a degree of scientific indeterminability due to the interaction of a multiplicity of causes.

At this point Giddings makes a unique contribution to the freewill-determinism problem. He points out that man clings tenaciously to the notion of "free will" for the very simple reason that he has to make his adjustments to a world in which luck and chance play important rôles. Since man has always lived in such a world, he craves adventure and a degree of uncertainty, of risk. Man need not, therefore, worry about the possibility of losing the experience of changing his mind or of adapting his behavior to changing circumstance, which he interprets as his free will. The human mechanisms may be infinitely fine and accurate machines, but the stimuli which play upon them "will swirl forever in turbulences, and play

( 360) pranks.”[12] "Free-will" thus turns out to be merely the variability of responses to infinitely varied combinations of stimuli. The reaction processes are mechanistic in character, but the resulting behavior is ballistic in type.[13]

His determinism did not, however, lead Giddings to hold that volition is not a true social cause; it is a true cause because it is first an effect. Social volition is not an independent, unrelated cause; it is conditioned by physical and organic processes and by past reactions to stimuli. Social volition or social choice, that is, the setting-up of social values, laws, and institutions and the group reactions conditioned thereby, is part of an endless process of adjustment to an ever changing environment. A society may, and often does, make the wrong choices; but the physical processes provide an ultimate check on them through selection which compels them, taken by and large, to contribute to social survival.[14] Giddings makes this process much simpler than it really is; moreover, his term "rational" social choice neglects the difference between a decision which is merely deliberative and one based on a knowledge of foreseen effects. Nevertheless, this "law of social choices" has the supreme merit of once more connecting the social with the physical processes.

 So far we are largely on philosophical ground. When we inquire into the social process in greater detail, I think we discover an important omission in Giddings' theory. He says: "The problems of social process are concerned with successive steps in the interaction of physical forces and conscious motives."[15] This would seem to require an analysis of human motives. But I do not find that Giddings ever made any attempt to outline "conscious motives" and to elucidate their interaction with physical forces. Moreover, today we should need also an analysis of "unconscious" motives. He made the consciousness of kind "the original and elementary subjective fact in society"; and he held that "it is about the consciousness of kind, as a determining principle, that all other motives organize themselves in the evolution of social choice, social volition, or social

( 361) policy. Therefore, to trace the operation of consciousness of kind through all its social manifestations is to work out a complete subjective interpretation of society."[16]

It must be evident, however, that the consciousness of kind is too general and too passive in character to serve as the basic and universal motivation of the infinitely varied behavior of men living in an organized society. There is no systematic study anywhere of those instincts, impulses, drives, needs, wishes, or interests which have served different writers as schematizations of human motivation. From one passage one might gather that the nature and forms of volitional association would give the required evidence as to motivation.[17] The voluntary associations are classified as political, juristic, economic, and cultural.[18] This gives us little clue to subjective processes. Were it not for his insistence on the consciousness of kind as central to his psychological approach, we might assume that he intended to give a wholly objective interpretation. This would be in harmony with the view frequently reiterated in recent years that sociology is societal psychology. The consciousness of kind is, however, subjective, and one may question not only whether it has exclusive right to the whole of the subjective field but also whether it has any more right than the needs or interests above mentioned. On the whole, I think we may say that Giddings wrote a sociology that dispensed with an analysis of human nature. He was not interested in studying either how elementary human nature works out into social habits and institutions or how the social environment conditions and modifies the development of human personality. He proposed three orders or stimuli; but a sociology built on the behavioristic principle of stimulus and response would seem to be under the necessity of providing some analysis of that "human nature" which constitutes the reacting mechanism.

As above noted, however, Giddings limits himself to the consciousness of kind. This is defined as "a state of consciousness in which

( 362) any being, whether low or high in the scale of life, recognizes another conscious being as of like kind with itself." Consciousness of kind exists among animals below man,[19] and yet it is not synonymous with either association or gregariousness. Association is extensive in the animal world; Giddings attributes to it a crucial rôle in the evolution of animal life and of man himself. All along the line association was an aid in the struggle for existence. In the case of man, association is said to account for his mental development, and this in turn for his physical development.[20]

Association is thus very ancient and in most passages is discussed as though precedent to consciousness of kind. There are statements, however, which seem to reverse this chronology. In a number of places social aggregations are attributed to circumstantial pressures;"and because of the segregating action of all incident forces, aggregations are as a rule composed of like units. But presently, within the aggregation, a consciousness of kind appears in like individuals and develops into association."[21] Here association results from the consciousness of kind. In any case, can we accept the doctrine, which is found in many passages, that human aggregations result in the first place from the pressures of incident forces? From the evolutionary viewpoint it seems more probable that the primitive horde was bound by the same bonds that bind the tribe and nation. If Giddings had in mind suck aggregations as a new California goldmining camp, his theory seems sounder; and yet even among such an aggregation the consciousness of kind is thin and tenuous and social organization results largely from force (the vigilantes) and from the diversities of talent and interest among the members.

Equally puzzling is the relation of consciousness of kind to gre-

( 363) -gariousness. His latest and most careful statement of this matter appears in the revised essay "The Mind of the Many."[22] He holds that gregariousness is instinctive or subinstinctive but is not itself an instinct, because there is no psychophysical mechanism therefor. At the same time he puts flight and fighting among the true instincts! A great part of gregariousness is "pluralistic instinctive reaction to common stimulation." This phrase explains why the wolves hunt in packs and why a herd of cattle stampede. But why do packs or herds form in the first place? The answer is that numerous "sub-instinctive" reactions combine to produce this result. The argument is that an animal is aware of itself and receives from herd-fellows stimuli much like those it receives from itself. From other animals it receives "repellent" stimuli, and it is thus thrown back upon the herd. This argument, he notes, would apply equally well to the great carnivores. Why, then, are they not gregarious, although dogs and wolves are? These latter are because they can run long distances and run down their prey; but tigers are not because they must not frighten their prey.

This argument amounts to saying either that the gregariousness of the dog and the solitariness of the tiger are due to an intellectual factor, that is, a rational adjustment of behavior to the necessities of food-getting, or that the behavior pattern is a consequence of instinctive elements. If the former, the traits must be based on experience and acquired thereby in each generation. Giddings says: "Cubs of the stalking carnivora snuggle together in sleep and play together when awake; it is of necessity that they separate when mature."[23] This means that the tiger, conditioned in infancy toward the pack, learns to overcome its gregariousness through experience; hunger teaches it to hunt alone! One wonders what necessity teaches the well-fed house cat solitarily to stalk birds.

There is one further source of confusion on the question of the relation of gregariousness to consciousness of kind, namely, that very much the same description is made of their elements. The latter, like the former, is decomposable, and seems to decompose into about the same things. "Like sensations received from self and from others who resemble self" are elements at the very beginning of conscious

( 364) life which "enter into a consciousness of kind." This latter, however, does not become fully manifest until "the individual becomes intellectually aware of his kind (or kinds)" and "begins to pick and choose his familiars." "His consorting becomes a preferential association, and this is the beginning of society in distinction from the herd. "[24] But Giddings had just shown that the herd animal prefers to consort with his kind and for exactly the same reasons which now furnish the basis for the consciousness of kind. There is like response to the same stimulus and a high degree of pleasurableness in the stimulus of kind as against the repulsion of not-kind. It is not illogical to claim that Giddings ends by making the consciousness of kind the basis of gregariousness. This would seem to be a logical. and tenable position.

Whether or not one go so far as that, however, he may very properly question the value of any attempt either to dispose of gregariousness or to show the primordial social position of consciousness of kind. One cannot conceive of human beings living in isolation, and one cannot conceive of them genetically as a mere aggregation. Language, co-operation, leadership and subordination, and division of labor arose as man himself evolved. There was never some momentous occasion when consciousness of kind appeared on the scene and converted the gregarious herd into society. This approach to the matter is tainted with the same fallacy that imbued the philosophizings of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau over the "state of nature." Man never lived in their fancied states.

This is not to say that the consciousness of kind is not an extremely useful concept, but rather that the evolutionary viewpoint warrants one in assuming that some degree of animal gregariousness and an associated degree of consciousness of kind were passed down to our human progenitors. In his latest statement of the matter,[25] Giddings specifically denies consciousness of kind to animals.

Herd animals are creatures of one kind, but they do not know that they are, because they can't talk, and such consciousness as they have attained has not become self-consciousness. Human beings can talk and are self-conscious and so can discover wherein they differ, and to what extent they are alike    Human society is marked off from animal gregariousness by talk and the consciousness of kind.

( 365) This distinction is too sharp. Of course we do not know that two dogs meeting in the street have a consciousness of kind; our answer may depend on our epistemology; but they usually act as though they recognized a creature of their own kind, and after a certain amount of mutual investigation they assume attitudes of friendliness, mutual toleration, indifference, or hostility. It seems to me as futile to deny some degree of consciousness of kind to animals as it would be to attempt to fix the precise point in the evolution of man and the accompanying development of language at which the consciousness of kind was born. No doubt the growth of language would make the discriminations of kind more detailed; but that it alters the fundamental nature of the basis of association is by no means clear. The growth of numbers keeping pace with the improvements in the industrial arts would give larger play for conscious (and unconscious) likes and dislikes leading to an increasing variety of voluntary associations and other phenomena of social differentiation.

Giddings recognized that a consciousness of kind implies a consciousness of difference. One is not prior to the other, for both arise at the same moment out of reactions to the same stimulus. In the segregating process which differentiates society into a kaleidoscopic variety of groupings, the latter is as essential as the former. Moreover, these differences are not only essential to the organic unity of society; they are the basis of rivalry, competition, exploitation, and conflict; of accommodation, adjustment, toleration, and assimilation. Giddings noted this in what seems to me the best of his many definitions of society.

We may conceive society as any plural number of sentient creatures more or less continuously subject to common stimuli, to differing stimuli and to interstimulation, and responding thereto in like behavior, concerted activity and co-operation, as well as in unlike, or competitive activity, and becoming, therefore, with developing intelligence, coherent through a dominating consciousness of kind, while always sufficiently conscious of difference to insure a measure of individual liberty.[26]

It does not seem to me, however, that Giddings made sufficient place in his theory of social process for compulsion, antagonism,

( 366) and conflict. A society may be formed primarily on the basis of compulsory co-operation; and there is certainly no complex society in which compulsion does not play a part. Then there is that phenomenon to which Sumner gave the very excellent name of "antagonistic co-operation" and which is illustrated by the aphorism that "politics makes strange bed-fellows." The importance of the consciousness of kind as the basis of association appears to be greatest in those voluntary groupings seeking sociability for its own sake; and it seems to be least important in those seeking the realization of some utilitarian or practical interest. It follows that the consciousness of kind may be neither the purpose of an association nor its driving force. A political party may combine the efforts of Hearst, Bryan, and Tammany Hall. Their consciousness of kind is evanescent; and they and their followers join in the same association for a multitude of different reasons. Only slightly less diverse are the motives behind membership in lodges, country clubs, and churches. It is true that like response to the same stimulus produces association; but one may also add that like response to many varied stimuli also produce it. In some of the latter cases the consciousness of kind would seem to be an end-result of actual association rather than a basis for the original grouping.

Finally, it seems to me that Giddings was making long strides toward an objective description of social phenomena. His most significant contributions of recent years dealt with the extremely suggestive idea of pluralistic behavior. Sociology was becoming for him societal psychology. The use of the word "consciousness" is from this point of view objectionable. Giddings used the term so as to avoid the metaphysical implications and obfuscations it arouses. He meant merely that the individual, when manifesting the trait, is subjectively aware of a likeness, physical or mental, between himself and others. It is not enough in Giddings' system that individuals respond in like ways to the same stimulus; they must also be aware of their likeness. The main objection, then, is not that this rules out a vast amount of collective behavior, of social phenomena which are the statistical summation of reactions to like causes, such as the increase of crime with rise of temperature, but that the existence of the consciousness must always be an inference. Science of

( 367) course deals largely with inferences, such as the gene, used as postulates of something known to exist but whose form and size remain to be determined. The consciousness of the consciousness of kind is not in this category. It is an accompaniment of certain kinds of collective behavior; but one may at least raise the question whether, from the standpoint of an objective description of that behavior, we know any more about it when we attribute it to a consciousness of kind than when we describe it as like response to stimulus.[27] Whether this be true or not, we can only learn what are the elements in the consciousness of kind by entering the fields of psychology and social psychology in order to study the formation of attitudes, the likes and dislikes, of the reacting individuals.


  1. A. W. Small, "Fifty Years of Sociology in the United States," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XXI (May, 1916).
  2. Studies in the Theory of Human Society, (New York, 1922), p.130.
  3. The following extract from a letter received from Professor Giddings' son mentions some of the more important civic activities of the great sociologist:
    "As you probably know, my father started out as a newspaper man, his first important work being in Springfield on both the Republican and Union. This interest he kept up all of his life and for many years contributed at least one editorial to the Independent every week. He also wrote quite regularly for Van Nordens and the New York Times Magazine.
    "My father was also always interested in civic affairs and in national policies. He was a member of the Committee of One Hundred which was organized about fifteen years ago to choose a non-partisan candidate for Mayor of New York City. He served for a number of years on the Board of Education of New York City and was especially active prior to our entrance into the World War in urging that the United States take its stand by the side of the Allies. He was one of the principal speakers at Carnegie Hall at the Lusitania Dinner and he toured the country for the National Security League, making speeches throughout the South, Southwest and Middlewest. He was also an officer of the League to Enforce Peace.
    "During his early days in New York City he gave many lectures at the old Cooper Union Brooklyn Academy and the Rand School. At each of these places his audience contained many radicals and people who at that time were classed as Socialists, but who would probably now be termed "Reds."He was then, as ever, fearless in his criticism of the ideas of those to whom he was talking and although he was often threatened anonymously and otherwise, he went right back at his audience the next time.
    "My father never went in for sports of any kind and did not care for games. His hobby was genealogy. He was very fond of his home and his family but in addition, was until quite recently a regular attendant at club nights at the Century Club and Authors' Club and enjoyed nothing better than the meetings of the F.H.G. Club."
  4. Outlines of Giddings' theories will be found in the chapter by John L. Gillin in American Masters of Social Science (edited by Howard W. Odum) and in "The Sociological Theories of Franklin H. Giddings," Amer. Jour. Soc., XXIV (July, 1918), 1–23. For a bibliography, see A Bibliography of the Faculty of Political Science of Columbia University, 1880–1930 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1931). Giddings made contributions to economics, political science, educational theory, and historical and inductive sociology besides his contributions to sociological theory. The present article is necessarily limited to two main features of his theory: his philosophical outlook and the consciousness of kind. It is intended to be expository and critical rather than laudatory. It should not, however, be interpreted as indicating any lack of appreciation. Giddings now appears as one of the greatest sociologists of his generation, and I think the future will not alter that status.
  5. Studies, etc., p. 139.
  6. Ibid., p. 141.
  7. Publ. Amer. Econ. Assn., 1904; republished Studies, etc., chap. viii.
  8. Principles, p. 363.
  9. Ibid., p. 366.
  10. Italics not in original.
  11. Studies, etc., p. 145.
  12. Ibid.,pp.141-3.
  13. For an earlier statement of his views on determinism see Principles, p. 382.
  14. Principles, Book IV, chap. iii, esp. pp. 407—19
  15. Ibid., P. 75.
  16. Ibid., pp. 17 and 19.
  17. He says that "the problems of social process""involve a study of the nature and forms of volitional association, and of its reactions upon social character and activity" (ibid., p.75).
  18. For correlated social traditions see ibid., pp. 144 and 152.
  19. See Principles, p. 18.
  20. Reference is here made to his famous reversal of Fiske's doctrine that the long helplessness of human infancy was due to the complex development of the nervous system and in turn gave rise to sympathy and the social sentiments by compelling parents to remain together. Giddings' view seems no longer tenable in view of the altered rôle now attributed to natural selection. This does not produce new species but only preserves the mutations favorable to survival. The higher development of the nervous system, which he attributed to selection, would depend on mutations which would not, so far as known, be in any way due to association.
  21. Principles, p. 19
  22. Studies, etc., pp. 156 ff.
  23. Ibid., p. 158.
  24. Ibid., p. 166.
  25. Studies, etc., pp. 14, 32—34.
  26. First given in "The Concepts and Methods of Sociology," Amer. Jour. Soc., X (September, 1904), 161—76.
  27. Like response to the same stimulus is quite different, and like response to different stimuli is also another matter.

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