Social Consciousness Author(s): Charles H. Cooley Source: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 12, No. 5 (Mar., 1907)

Mind is an organic whole made up of co-operating individualities, in somewhat the same way that the music of an orchestra is made up of divergent but related sounds. No one would think it necessary or reasonable to divide the music into, two kinds- that made by the whole and that of particular instruments; and no more are there two kinds of mind-the social mind and the individual mind. When we study the social mind, we merely fix our attention on larger aspects and relations, rather than on the narrower ones of ordinary psychology.

The view that all mind hangs together in a vital whole, from which the individual is never really separate, flows naturally from our growing knowledge of heredity and suggestion, which makes it increasingly clear that every thought we have is linked with the thought of our ancestors and associates, and through them with that of society at large. It is also the only view consistent with the general standpoint of moldern science, which admits nothing isolate in nature.

The unity of the social mind consists, not in agreement, but in organization, in the fact of reciprocal influence or causation among its parts, by virtue of which everything that takes place in it is connected with everything else, and so is an outcome of the whole. Whether, like the orchestra, it gives forth harmony may be a matter of dispute, but that its sound, pleasing or otherwise, is the expression of a vital co-operation, cannot well be denied. 

Social Consciousness
Author(s): Charles H. Cooley
Source: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 12, No. 5 (Mar., 1907), pp. 675-694 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2762377