Mind and Society: Epistemological Essays on Sociology by Bartholomeus Landheer

By Bartholomeus Landheer

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At any given moment only a number of these impulses appear in the conscious mind while others, probably by far the greatest majority, do not pass the threshold of consciousness but remain in the subconscious mind or may not enter the mind at all as in the case of purely mechanical or chemical processes in which the central nervous system is not concerned unless there is a disturbance in these processes which puts the higher nerve centers into operation. 42 OBSERVATIONS ON SOCIAL THEORY If the organism is seen as being constantly in motion, it is c1ear that only those impulses will appear in the conscious mind which contain the possibility of being translated into action on the basis of a certain selectivity.

What is needed primarily is epistemological analysis which makes clear what can be expected of the social and the exact sciences instead of a too ready assumption that they can follow comparable methods and comparable results. The process of abstraction as weIl as that of arriving at a conclusion about the relationships between given and classified phenomena is determined by the nature of the object. , to treat a body of facts under a given aspect in order to arrive at a form of understanding which direct observation does not pennit.

If we view this development as a process of continued, but nonlinear evolution, it is clear that the first stage, namely that of primitive or pre-literate societies must be based upon the long- OBSERVATIONS ON SOCIAL THEORY 47 term spiritual reaction, in view of the long road ahead of it, as well as of the shortterm reaction in view of its rather primitive response to the environment as well as to a relatively not-highly differentiated social group. If the process of civilization were a linear one, it would be obvious that the rational control reaction would increase steadily as is assumed in the theories of progress.

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