( Originally Published 1915 )
Social Evolution. By studying the various types of con-temporary societies one may learn how society itself came into being. The student might begin by considering the evolution of several social groups which have grown up under his eyes. One might consider them in the order of their complexity, for example, first taking up the rural family, next, perhaps the farming community, then the village, and then the city.' On the other hand, an understanding of the simple processes in the formation of a society might be obtained by a study of existing social institutions, traditions, customs, and organizations in various societies in different stages of development. The latter method would show cross sections of societies in successive stages of evolution. Both methods are needed in order that the student may get a comprehension of the way in which societies come to be. The social institutions of today have had a history, have gone through phases of development. We shall know them only as we understand their respective origins and the course of their various developments. Some are survivals from a stage long since passed. They are fossils as much out of place in the present-day world as the skeleton of the dinosaur. The sanctions which once gave them vitality and significance have passed away. They remain only as traditions, anachronisms. Others are living, vital social institutions and processes, deeply rooted in the social necessities of the present.
The work of the biologists, beginning with Darwin, has made clear to us many features of early social life. This knowledge has been supplemented by the culture historians and archeologists, dealing with both the prehistoric and the historic peoples. Perhaps most illuminating of all has been the work of the comparative ethnologists, who have brought to our attention in the last few years the social organization, the language, customs, beliefs, and ideas of what are called the nature peoples of all lands. Their labors have made it almost possible for the student of society to retrace, step by step, the road along which society has progressed to its present stage.
In our study of social evolution we shall follow the method of the comparative ethnologists.'
The purpose of the study of social evolution is to acquaint the student with social origins and the processes of social growth. He must bear constantly in mind that society has expanded from simple beginnings, part by part, and function by function. Moreover, society is always developing. It is changing in size, in character, in the complexity of its institutions, in the number of its interests, and in the diversity of methods by which it ex-presses its social purposes. This is not to deny that societies exist in a state of arrested development. There are such, but they too are phenomena of social evolution, for they have been different and have become what they are through reacting to certain definite social and environmental conditions. By reason of the fact, however, that arrested or degenerate societies are societies caught in the back eddies of the stream of human life, our chief interest is in those societies which are in a state of progressive development.
Perhaps it hardly needs to be said that in the study of social origins it is assumed that man has developed from a lower animal form. The work of the prehistoric anthropologists and archeologists has made it comparatively easy to retrace in some degree the steps in the physical evolution of man from a being which was neither man nor ape, but had characters similar to those of both. The remains of Dubois's Pithecanthropus erectus, of the Neanderthal man, and of the Heidelberg man give us our best conception of what that being was. The remains of prehistoric men found in the caves of France and Portugal rep-resent the next higher step in evolution. The development in the art and industry of prehistoric men corresponds roughly with their physical evolution. What their social life was like we do not know. The fact, however, that man has developed from animal-like ancestors, considered in connection with the social habits of certain higher animals, makes it highly probable that man's prehistoric ancestors had a social organization intermediate between that of the animals and that of lower types of living men. All these discoveries have made a little clearer for us that shadowy past out of which man emerged with some social organization and some social ideas.'
Social evolution is difficult to present summarily, for society has not developed uniformly from a single idea, but rather from a group of ideas more or less interrelated. Hence, in its treatment we cannot follow through successive stages a clearly defined process like the growth of the tree from the seed, but must consider different phases of activity, such as religion, government, law, political organization, industrial activity, and the family life, each leading from a simple to a complex state of society and each contributing to the solidarity of society as well as to the enlarged number of its activities. An outline of origins followed by a brief survey of the development of important phases of social life is all that can be attempted here.
The Society of Animals. While sociology deals with human society, it is well to note that the beginnings of social organization appear among animals lower in the scale of existence than man. This fact gives the student a ground plan for the superstructure of society. It indicates also how the informal beginning of society rests on a physical basis and develops in proportion to intelligence. It cannot be shown that there is an uninterrupted continuity of development from the social practices of animals to the social practices of human beings, but there is a similarity in many points between the lowest human societies and the highest animal societies. The chief difference is found in the variety and versatility of association. If we consider the law of conflict and survival, it applies alike to animal societies and to natural human groups ; also the principle of association for protection is the same in both. The social instinct exhibited in the pure love of companionship is less pronounced in animal societies than in human societies. The sexual instinct plays an important part in each group, but has less force in the former. The greatest difference is found in a rapidly growing altruism and larger mental power of the human group which permit a high state of cooperation and organization. In other words, animal societies show a few social qualities in embryo which never pass a low grade of development, while human societies show these and many others in a highly developed state.'
We shall find roughly classified two great groups of animals, the non-social and the social, roughly corresponding to the carnivora and the herbivora. The former are highly individualistic, they hunt alone and live most of the year alone the latter cooperate in defense, live in families, and develop in con-sequence elementary social qualities.
Some birds of different species work together unconsciously, each species seeking to help itself. Others of the same species develop a community life, they hold assemblages for migratory purposes, they mix out of pure sociability, and they have the family instinct. But, as Darwin clearly shows, in all animal association the moral sense seems to be wanting. There is no reflection on past acts and no comparison of past acts with present ones, no valuation of their relative importance characteristics which give rise to morality.
Herds of antelopes live in harmony and peace, the leaders giving warning of danger to the group. Elephants have been seen in herds numbering from five to a hundred and fifty. These groups are based on family relationships. Monkeys of the Old World live in troops composed of family groups. One species (Cercopithecus) engages in expeditions under the direction of a leader. He commands the troop, stations sentinels, and gives orders that are understood and obeyed. Another species (Cynocephalus), according to Brehm, exhibits a still higher state of organization.
The Causes of Aggregation. Many influences have caused individuals to associate in groups. Among the more important may be mentioned the desire for companionship, including sexual attraction, the influences of climate, the physical conditions of the earth, the food supply, the consciousness of similarity, identity of interests, the necessity of protection against animals and men, the influence of controlling personalities, and cooperation in industry.
Responding to some or all of these influences, animals have formed social groups. Primitive men, moved by the same factors as the animals and often led by those with a more developed mentality and a keener social consciousness, formed themselves into groups in which social pleasure was fully awakened and in which various social and economic advantages appeared. Illustrations of how animals form into groups are given by the herds of buffaloes which once covered our West, by the beaver colonies to be found even yet in parts of our country, and by such social insects as the ants and the bees. In some of these cases the group is a temporary one, in others more lasting, and in some so stable that one almost wonders if they do not in the matter of stability surpass human social groups.
The Horde. The simplest aggregation of people without formal organization is called a horde. It is less than the human equivalent of the animal " herd." Its leadership is natural, not formal. Its bonds are stronger in some ways, but very little different from those natural bonds of physical and mental superiority and deference to be observed in animal groups. It represents one of the phases of social development. Numerous examples of a horde are cited by Westermarck in his History of Human Marriage.1 There is little organization among such peoples. The constituent families of hordes wander from place to place with no permanent dwellings ; the group is large today and small to-morrow. There are some signs of temporary leadership, but no permanent organization. Life is largely subject to accident. Yet this group of people represents, to a certain extent, the foundation of human society, for it is out of this simple homogeneous assemblage that complex society has risen.
The Beginnings of Social Organization. Within the human horde appear small, more closely related groups of people which form the primordial social organizations. Small industrial, family, and religious groups appear which gradually transform the rather indefinite mass into a social order. These small centers of organized power appear spontaneously. They are the radiating centers of organized social relationships. Here Vogue begins to establish its power. Here Tradition begins to lay down its sacred laws. In these centers social interests find their organized expression. The superior man finds here a way to forward his own ambitions through leadership. The weaker cleave to the stronger because thus they find protection and benefit. Finally, relationships are adjusted and the small groups become independent. Beginning in the differences of sex, at an early period of social life the division of labor causes the differentiation into inchoate industrial groups. As social classes are founded largely on industrial occupations, industrial specialization gives an impetus to the general organization of society. Yet one must not forget that some social classes grow up apart from occupational interests. For example, the ruling dass springs in part from the lust for power and deference to the superior, the ecclesiastical from fear of the unknown, the secret societies so often found in primitive groups from the de-sire for acknowledged precedence, and those strange groups based on the sex taboo observed in some primitive communities,' from the mystery of reproduction and its allied phenomena. But in all of the changes that take place society is organized about small voluntary groups, springing up because of appreciation of the pleasure or advantage to be secured thereby. New groups are formed by a process analogous to budding, but they often branch off in consequence of the development of such motives as jealousy of the power of a leader, fear of a superior, consciousness of temperamental difference between persons and the clashing and occluding of interests.
Kinship. In primitive society the family life was very different from what it is at present. It was more indefinite and irregular. But, beginning with the sympathy of the mother for her offspring, the unity of the family group grew as the bonds of common interest multiplied. Members of the family group were held together primarily by kinship or blood relationship. Whether through the close association of the family group or through the actual consciousness of blood relationship, the family group finally became a unit of social order. Kinship played an important part in all the early phases of social organization. Those of the same blood recognized and protected one another, uniting in offensive and defensive war with other tribes. Such temporary union grew into racial or tribal unity and led to the development of race aversion.
Adoption. But the family group enlarged in other ways than that of natural increase. In the warfare which occurred among various tribes it frequently happened that one tribe was conquered, broken, and scattered, and its members who survived the shock of battle had no protection except when they joined themselves to other tribes. There was no state, no politics, no political government, but only the family or tribal organization. Hence, when an individual or a small family group was left alone, it was obliged to fight its own battles in-dependently or else unite with some family for protection. It became a common custom for conquering tribes to adopt such stray survivors into their own tribes, the only conditions imposed being that of a strict compliance with the laws and customs of the tribe. Thus it was that the family group enlarged continually by natural increase and adoption. The adopted members became identified with the family, helping to fight its battles, following it through its migrations and engaging in the economic pursuits of the tribe.
The Consolidation of Groups. There were always in early society certain tendencies to consolidate small groups into larger ones. Many causes contributed to this result. Among them may be mentioned the external pressure of the physical environment causing the various groups to unite for protection from the weather or from wild animals, the danger from stronger hostile groups which often forced weak groups to unite to resist a common enemy, the recognition of kind whereby like groups tended to unite and like individuals to associate with one an-other, and possibly, more than all, the industrial life demanding unity of effort. The attempt to satisfy a common hunger led to a common sympathy and a common cooperation. This unity of effort extended to other departments of life and had a tendency to consolidate groups which otherwise would have been separated and destroyed.
The Origin of Language. Probably language grew out of the instinctive cries and sounds produced by primitive man under the stress of strong emotions excited by elemental joy, fear, love, and hate, or out of the sounds which he heard about him in a nature full of danger or beauty. These sounds became conventionalized and united with his facial expressions and gestures his prelingual methods of conveying his thoughts and feelings to others. Doubtless, progress began to be rapid in the development of language when the satisfaction of his social instincts led him to play with his fellows. Out of this social fellowship grew the rhythmic dance and choral song. The excitement of the primitive dance, linked as it so often was with the deepest feelings he possessed, the sex and hunger impulses, the joyous exhilaration of the mock combat, the awe-inspiring ceremonies of tribal religion, quickened and heated the mind to the pitch of forging a language, which served to satisfy in a new way his desire for expression and at the same time tended to become a new sharp instrument of emotional stimulation.' Once language had developed under social. stimulation to the point where signs and sounds had become independent and distinguished in thought from the objects they designated, humanity had speech. After this achievement man was able to make comparatively rapid progress. While association pro-. vided the stimulus which gave rise to speech, the latter in turn became a veritable fulcrum of Archimedes in lifting social life to a new complexity and perfection?
Another important step was taken when language became written. Beginning with " reminders " like sticks stuck in the ground or holes dug therein or cords tied in knots, or strung with shells to assist the minstrel or medicine man of the group to recall certain important events, and proceeding through ideograms, signs standing for ideas, such as are still used by the Indians of our Southwest and as they were used by the Dakota Indians in Schoolcroft's time, written language developed phonograms, or signs which stood for certain phonetic values, as in the Chinese and especially in the Japanese language of modern times and in the ancient Egyptian language. The Phoenicians borrowed from the Egyptians certain of these phonograms, attached to them simple sounds and combined them variously in the different words in use and thus gave the world an alphabet. These probably in a general way are the steps in the development : " reminder," ideogram, phonogram, and letter. Written language had even greater importance for humanity in its social development than spoken language.1
Language has always fulfilled an important function in social, organization. Through it as a means of communication the small group has been developed and strengthened and other groups have been united. People of similar languages are attracted towards one another, while those of foreign languages have a tendency to repel one another. The difficulty of establishing social order among diverse groups of people, speaking different languages and having diversity of thought and sentiment, is very great. Even now this difficulty of socialization is observed in our large American cities with their heterogeneous populations. But though in such cases language causes separation, it originally caused association. It is the attempt to communicate thought that gives birth to language. One who seeks for the origin of society will find one of its causes and one of its effects in the action and reaction of language.
Physical Pressure. Another of the important causes of the rise of social groups is the pressure of physical nature on the population. Apart from the fact that the food supply caused people to assemble in the localities where food was most plentiful and most easily obtained, the influences of climate and the physical surface of the earth forced people into groups. Wandering along the rivers in pursuit of fish and game, men came into contact with one another and learned to dwell together. The mountain ranges stayed their migrations and caused a denser population on their slopes or in the adjacent valleys. The shores of the ocean and inland seas and lakes caused them to pause for long periods and finally to establish permanent homes. Violent storms caused them to seek shelter in caves where early associations were formed, and the ice flow from the north caused the population to assemble in the southern valleys. Thus the influence of physical nature everywhere tends to favor the aggregation of men and their association.
Social Pressure. The movement of tribes and races over the earth has caused the extinction of some, the breaking up of others, but the consolidation of still others. The pressure of nomad tribes on the ancient civilization of the various Aryan groups in Europe, of the Huns upon the Teutons, of the various Greek and Roman tribes upon one another, caused a closer social union among the survivors of the struggle. This pressure forces the growth of social institutions as a hothouse forces the growth of plants. These institutions are the result of new ideas, the result of the group consciousness struggling with new situations forced upon it by the pressure of a hostile group. Two of many historic illustrations may be cited to show this. When the white man reached America and began to settle in the North Atlantic region, two great groups of Indians were struggling for the possession of the Atlantic seaboard and the fertile valleys which led down to it. The Algonquins were pressing down from Canada upon the Iroquois already in possession of these places. One result was a confederation known as the league of the Iroquois. An organization was devised whereby the various independent tribes were welded together for defensive purposes. A great development was taking place within these tribes when the coming of the whites interrupted the process. Another example may be seen in the Norman conquest of England. The more or less loosely organized elements of the British population, consisting of the ancient population elements, Celts, Angles, Saxons, and Danes, fused somewhat already in the early Saxon kingdoms and then developing under Danish rule into a larger and more solid organization, were finally welded into a demotic unity and a strongly organized whole under the Normans and their successors. The process culminated under the Tudors and early Stuarts. During the course of this development social structures were greatly multiplied in number. The aggregation of unlike population elements resulting in class conflicts forced the development of agencies of domination, status, and toleration. The instruments of justice, like the courts, were improved, all kinds of judicial machinery were invented like the jury, grand and petit. The laws were greatly multiplied and changed to meet new conditions. Even the common law, the child of custom, was greatly elaborated. Every form of social life underwent readjustment. Social devices of all sorts multiplied.'
Common Ethical Sentiment. The union of various groups of people always depends to a considerable extent upon the existence of a common ethical sentiment, for ethics are deeply rooted in the emotions. In the beginning of society, as now, feeling played a much more important rτle than reason. The sociological basis of morality is custom. Custom is rooted in the feelings and in that mighty social force, social approbation. Therefore, tribal customs touching the relationship of man with man would tend to repel groups with different moral codes and attract those with similar.
The importance of moral sentiments in the formation of social groups rests on the fact that the moral codes of primitive peoples are very rigid and exacting, and therefore play a great part in the socializing process which makes for group unity. Hence, the origin of morality is of importance in any study of the origins of society.
Morality had one of its roots in mother love. At first it was purely instinctive, probably caused by blind natural selection. As such it brought in the wake of its manifestation its own emotional reward and thus became established in the feelings and habits of the creature.
The social root of actions which may come to have a moral value is to be found in custom, by which is meant an act adopted and practiced by a group of people . Out of some customs grow moral acts. Which actions shall become customary, and which of the customary actions of a group shall become moral in their nature depends upon social considerations arising from the so-dal life of the group rather than upon legal or economic considerations.
How an act may come to be customary and then moral may be illustrated best by a concrete example. A group of primitive people come face to face with a new experience such as a pestilence or a famine. At once individuals in that group begin to struggle with the problem of how to avert the calamity. In the individuals' minds psychologically there arises the stress and tension induced by fear in the presence of a new danger. The tendency of the human mind under such conditions is to relieve itself by motor reactions of some kind. Instead of anticipating the modem adage, " When you don't know what to do, do nothing," the primitive mind tends to do something or any-thing. What shall be the act which is to relieve the emotional tension depends much upon the character of the minds composing that group, and upon their previous experiences what they did in previous more or less similar cases. Or, in the absence of any similar experiences some one will do the first thing that suggests itself to him as in any way appropriate. Others may follow his example. Perhaps the families of these men do not die. After the danger is past what they did is re-called, it is related to others and becomes a, part of the group's traditions. In any recurrence of the same or a like danger this act will be performed by many imitators. Thus it will become established in the customs of that group. It is a psychological fact that custom, mere groupai habit, will soon attract to itself certain very definite and strong emotions, and these emotions will be strengthened when the act becomes traditional, fostered by forceful and dogmatic personalities and associated in the common consciousness with group safety.
Again, since some religious practices have their roots in similar emotional tensions,1 the custom often will be adopted by religion and be still further strengthened by coming under religiously dominating influences such as the fear of punishment or the hope of reward by supernatural beings. In all such ways may custom be established.
Whether a customary action was considered moral, immoral, or unmoral was determined by such considerations as the relations of the act to the welfare of the group, and the relations of certain instincts of the individuals to the traditions of the group. The falling away of certain individuals from fixed customary standards aroused ethical questions. This is in accordance with the law of mental development, that matters come to our knowledge by our first becoming aware of the incongruity between the feelings we have enjoyed in the presence of the usual and the feelings aroused when the smooth current of our consciousness has been disturbed by the unusual. Therefore, originally morality was chiefly negative : " Thou shalt not " do this or that. Primitive life is largely a life of privation, a constant struggle against the forces of nature, against wild animals and hostile men. Suffering was the common lot. It was an economy of pain.1 Hence, primitive ethics and primitive religion stressed negative acts of self-deprivation and suffering. This tendency, moreover, was in entire accord with the necessity of repressing the individual in the interests of the group. Only after the group had become consolidated and unified to a certain degree was it safe to emphasize and encourage individual acts positive, independent, and original in their nature. Such acts again were connected psychologically with the partiality of the mother for her child, leading her to sacrifice herself for its benefit, and strengthened by the fact that after a certain social development had been reached they were of advantage for the survival of the group, so that they finally became sanctioned by the whole group. Thus moral sentiment expressed itself in positive acts, and morality became conscious and rational?
Beginning thus with self-sacrifice for the young, the altruistic act extended to self-sacrifice for the wider kindred within the group, then further with the growing consciousness of kind so as to include the nation, the Kingdom of God, and the whole world.
Origin of Public Control. Leadership is implied in all movements of mankind where there is human concerted action. It may be only temporary or accidental leadership, but it must exist under all circumstances except where men are moved to act by common impulse. Wherever, then, there is social order there will be, to a certain degree, leadership. Whether the leader is the head of the household, the medicine man, the man rich in cattle and land, as in ancient Ireland, the chief of the tribe, or the temporary war chief, who leads the host in battle, social order is established in proportion as leadership becomes strong and permanent. As social development proceeds, leadership becomes more varied in its fields. At first the leader was only the strong man, or the man of superior cunning, as the medicine man. Out from these crude beginnings of social leadership, however, in response to growing complexity of social interests and specialization of functions sprang leadership in many lines of activity. Eventually this leadership may develop into a kingship, a parliament, a council, or a constitution ; or into fashions and crazes; into educational, economic, and social orthodoxies ; into vogues, philosophies, modes of thought, and varieties of the Zeitgeist; but it must appear somewhere as a representative of social authority. It becomes a great power for consolidating and unifying the group, tribe, or nation and then for enriching the social life of the particular group.
The Beginning of Justice. While the establishment of justice is not the primary cause of social amalgamation, yet once the group has been established, it certainly hastens the process of socialization. In fact, wherever we find social order appearing there is an opportunity for the development of civil justice, for people cannot associate on a common basis without some means of enforcing justice. The social elements act and react against one another blindly before formal justice is established. Conflicts arise between individuals in the group which must be settled. At first might makes right the stronger man overpowers his antagonist and makes a decision from his own standpoint. But soon civil justice brings in a third party who adjusts the relations between the two, allotting to each man his just dues. The first stirrings of a sense of social justice may even be observed in a herd of animals when one bullying member finally attracts the attention of a number of the herd who unite in meting out punishment to the offender and so secure a form of justice between the two individuals primarily involved. In the human group the origins are much more complex. Here the brute strength, impartial judgment, and finer sympathy of a third individual are supplemented by the weight of tradition as to moral rights and duties and the usages more or less applicable to the dispute, and by an appreciation of the necessity of smoothing out differences that imperil the welfare of the group. Moreover, the increased appreciation of leadership and the growth of moral sentiments in even the lowest savages make for increased deference to the decision of the third party. Like moral sentiment justice began within the group. Within the confines of a blood-kindred would the moral sense first express itself most naturally and easily. Special impetus to the tendencies just noticed to secure formal means of settling disputes doubtless was given by the danger from a hostile group.
The Force of War. Perhaps no other visible agency has accomplished so many and such great changes in the progress of society as war. Conflict of individuals has led to strength of individual character, just as conflict between tribes has led to social strength. True they may both end in the destruction of one or both parties, but those who survive are made stronger to cope with the opposing elements of social life. War has destroyed individuals, tribes, nations. Millions of lives and countless treasures have been sacrificed to war, and yet through it have developed many of the finer qualities of life. Through it man has been taught to obey the will of the stronger ; through it he has been taught not to abuse the weak. War is great in discipline, preparing wild or savage people for the conduct of civil government. It is one of the most important factors in accounting for the origin of many social institutions.' War, how-ever, gave rise to a firmer social structure chiefly by a rough-hewing selective process which threw out all unsound material, and, as Ward has shown,2 by so multiplying social contacts between alien peoples as to stimulate the growth of rigid social structures. It was especially important in securing the transition from an ethnic to a civil society On the other hand, in mutual aid, we have a social beginning of great importance' Arising in the animal group by natural selection mutual aid developed in the kinship group by reason of the heightened social pleasure it provided, and was firmly established in the war measures invented against enemies of the group.
BRANTON, DANIEL G. The Basis of Social Relations, pp. 163-201. CHAPIN, F. S. An Introduction to Social Evolution.
DARWIN, CHARLES. The Descent of Man, Chap. IV.
DUCKWORTH, W. L. H. Prehistoric Man, New York, 1912, Chaps. I, II. ELY, R. T. Evolution of Industrial Society, Chaps. I, II.
GIDDINGS, F. H. Principles of Sociology, pp. 199-356.
GIDDINGS, F. H. "A Theory of Social Causation," Publications of the American Economic Association, Third Series, Vol. V., or Descriptive and Historical Readings in Sociology, pp. 118-121.
Ross, E. A. Social Control, Chap. I.
THOMAS, W. I. Source Book for Social Origins.
TOPINARD, PAUL. Science and Faith, pp. 60-173.
WARD, LESTER F. Dynamic Sociology, Vol. I., Chap. VII.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Why should the student of sociology study social origins?
2. After reading Duckworth, Chaps. I and II, write a description of the probable physical appearance of the earliest man of which we have any remains.
3. What are the fundamental social institutions the origins of which go back to a very early time in the history of man?
4. Trace back to its beginnings in outline, one modern social institution, such as language.
5. What is the importance of language in the development of society?
6. Observe a group of animals, such as a herd of cattle in the pasture, and write a description of the society which they form. (Before writing this exercise read Darwin, Descent of Man, Chap. IV.)
7. How does a human horde differ from an animal herd?
8. Put down in tabular form the chief causes of the coming together of human beings into groups.
9. Read Giddings, A Theory of Social Causation, and state briefly the ways in which the physical environment affects the formation of human societies.
10. Name the agencies which originate common ethical sentiments in your home community.
11. What bearing on the peace movement has the view of war presented in the text?
Outlines Of Sociology:
Social Life In General
Definition And Scope Of Sociology
Purpose And Method Of Sociology
Land And Its People
Organization And Life Of The Family
Disorganization Of The Modern Family
Origin And Development Of The State
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