Let me take as focus for this comment the last item48 in Dr. Mead's summary of her paper. To the layman who has not occupied himself with the comparative study of human cultures, this recommendation may appear strange; it may appear to be an ethical or philosophical paradox, a suggestion that we discard purpose in order to achieve our purpose; it may even call to mind some of the basic aphorisms of Christianity and Taoism. Such aphorisms are familiar enough; but the layman will be a little surprised to find them coming from a scientist and dressed in all the paraphernalia of analytic thought. To other anthropologists and social scientists, Dr. Mead's recommendations will be even more surprising, and perhaps more meaningless, because instrumentality and "blueprints" are an essential ingredient in the whole structure of life as science sees it. Likewise, to those in political life, Dr. Mead's recommendation will be strange, since they see decisions as classifiable into policy-making decisions versus executive decisions. The governors and the scientists alike (not to mention the commercial world) see human affairs as patterned upon purpose, means and ends, connation and satisfaction.

If anybody doubts that we tend to regard purpose and instrumentality as distinctively human, let him consider the old quip about eating and living. The creature who "eats to live" is the highest human; he who "lives to eat" is coarser-grained, but still human; but if he just "eats and lives," without attributing instrumentality or a spurious priority in time sequence to either process, he is rated only among the animals, and some, less kind, will regard him as vegetable.

Dr. Mead's contribution consists in this—that she, fortified by comparative study of other cultures, has been able to transcend the habits of thought current in her own culture and has been able to say virtually this: "Before we apply social science to our own national affairs, we must re-examine and change our habits of thought on the subject of means and ends. We have learnt, in our cultural setting, to classify behavior into "means' and "ends' and if we go on. defining ends as separate from means and apply the social sciences as crudely instrumental means, using the recipes

* This article was my comment on Margaret Mead's article "The Comparative Study of Culture and the Purposive Cultivation of Democratic Values," published as Chapter IV of Science, Philosophy and Religion, Second Symposium, copyright 1942 by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion, New York. It is here reprinted by permission of the Conference and of Harper & Row, Inc.

I have italicized a parenthesis in footnote 5 which pre-figures the concept of the "double bind."

48 Dr. Mead writes: ". . those students who have de-voted themselves to studying cultures as wholes, as systems of dynamic equilibrium, can make the following contributions:... "4. Implement plans for altering our present culture by recognizing the importance of including the social scientist within his experimental material, and by recognizing that by working toward defined ends we commit ourselves to the manipulation of persons, and therefore to the negation of democracy. Only by working in terms of values which are limited to defining a direction is it possible for us to use scientific methods in the control of the process without the negation of the moral autonomy of the human spirit." (Italics hers.)

of science to manipulate people, we shall arrive at a totalitarian rather than a democratic system of life." The solution which she offers is that we look for the "direction," and "values" implicit in the means, rather than looking ahead to a blueprinted goal and thinking of this goal as justifying or not justifying manipulative means. We have to find the value of a planned act implicit in and simultaneous with the act itself, not separate from it in the sense that the act would derive its value from reference to a future end or goal. Dr. Mead's paper is, in fact, not a direct preachment about ends and means; she does not say that ends either do or do not justify the means. She is talking not directly about ends and means, but about the way we tend to think about ways and means, and about the dangers inherent in our habit of thought.

It is specifically at this level that the anthropologist has most to contribute to our problems. It is his task to see the highest common factor implicit in a vast variety of human phenomena, or inversely, to decide whether phenomena which appear to be similar are not intrinsically different. He may go to one South Sea community, such as the Manus, and there find that though everything that the natives do is concretely different from our own behavior, yet the underlying system of motives is rather closely comparable with our own love of caution and wealth accumulation; or again he may go to another society such as Bali and there find that, while the outward appearance of the native religion is closely comparable with our own—kneeling to pray, incense, intoned utterances punctuated by a bell, etc.— the basic emotional attitudes are fundamentally different. In Balinese religion we find an approval accorded to rote, nonemotional performance of certain acts instead of the insistence upon correct emotional attitude, characteristic of Christian churches.

In every case the anthropologist is concerned not with mere description but with a slightly higher degree of abstraction, a wider degree of generalization. His first task is the meticulous collection of masses of concrete observations of native life—but the next step is not a mere summarizing of these data; it is rather to interpret the data in an abstract language which shall transcend and comprehend the vocabulary and notions explicit and implicit in our own culture. It is not possible to give a scientific description of a native culture in English words; the anthropologist must devise a more abstract vocabulary in terms of which both our own and the native culture can be described.

This then is the type of discipline which has enabled Dr. Mead to point out that a discrepancy—a basic and fundamental discrepancy—exists between "social engineering," manipulating people in order to achieve a planned blue-print society, and the ideals of democracy, the "supreme worth and moral responsibility of the individual human per-son." The two conflicting motifs have long been implicit in our culture, science has had instrumental leanings since before the Industrial Revolution, and emphasis upon individual worth and responsibility is even older. The threat of conflict between the two motifs has only come recently, with increasing consciousness of, and emphasis upon, the democratic motif and simultaneous spread of the instrumental motif. Finally, the conflict is now a life-or-death struggle over the role which the social sciences shall play in the ordering of human relationships. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that this war is ideologically about just this—the role of the social sciences. Are we to reserve the techniques and the right to manipulate people as the privilege of a few planning, goal-oriented, and power-hungry individuals, to whom the instrumentality of science makes a natural appeal? Now that we have the techniques, are we, in cold blood, going to treat people as things? Or what are we going to do with these techniques?

The problem is one of very great difficulty as well as urgency, and it is doubly difficult because we, as scientists, are deeply soaked in habits of instrumental thought those of us, at least, for whom science is a part of life, as well as a beautiful and dignified abstraction. Let us try to surmount this additional source of difficulty by turning the tools of science upon this habit of instrumental thought and upon the new habit which Dr. Mead envisages — the habit which looks for "direction" and "value" in the chosen act, rather than in defined goals. Clearly, both of these habits are ways of looking at time sequences. In the old jargon of psychology, they represent different ways of apperceiving sequences of behavior, or in the newer jargon of gestalt psychology, they might both be described as habits of looking for one or another sort of contextual frame for behavior. The problem which Dr. Mead—who advocates a change in such habits—raises is the problem of how habits of this abstract order are learned.

This is not the simple type of question which is posed in most psychological laboratories, "Under what circumstances will a dog learn to salivate in response to a bell?" or, "What variables govern success in rote learning?" Our question is one degree more abstract, and, in a sense, bridges the gap between the experimental work on simple learning and the approach of the gestalt psychologists. We are asking, "How does the dog acquire a habit of punctuating or apperceiving the infinitely complex stream of events (including his own behavior) so that this stream appears to be made up of one type of short sequences rather than an-other?" Or, substituting the scientist for the dog, we might ask, "What circumstances determine that a given scientist will punctuate the stream of events so as to conclude that all is predetermined, while another will see the stream of events as so regular as to be susceptible of control?" Or, again, on the same level of abstraction let us ask—and this question is very relevant to the promotion of democracy — "What circumstances promote that specific habitual phrasing of the universe which we call "free will' and those others which we call "responsibility,' "constructiveness,' "energy,' "passivity,' "dominance,' and the rest?" For all these abstract qualities, the essential stock-in-trade of the educators, can be seen as various habits of punctuating the stream of experience so that it takes on one or another sort of coherence and sense. They are abstractions which begin to assume some operational meaning when we see them take their place on a conceptual level between the statements of simple learning and those of gestalt psychology.

We can, for example, put our finger very simply on the process which leads to tragedy and disillusion whenever men decide that the "end justifies the means" in their efforts to achieve either a Christian or a blueprinted heaven-on-earth. They ignore the fact that in social manipulation, the tools are not hammers and screwdrivers. A screwdriver is not seriously affected when, in an emergency, we use it as a wedge; and a hammer's outlook on life is not affected because we sometimes use its handle as a simple lever. But in social manipulation our tools are people, and people learn, and they acquire habits which are more subtle and pervasive than the tricks which the blueprinter teaches them. With the best intentions in the world, he may train children to spy upon their parents in order to eradicate some tendency prejudicial to the success of his blueprint, but because the children are people they will do more than learn this simple trick—they will build this experience into their whole philosophy of life; it will color all their future attitudes to-ward authority. Whenever they meet certain sorts of con-text, they will tend to see these contexts as structured on an earlier familiar pattern. The blueprinter may derive an initial advantage from the children's tricks; but the ultimate success of his blueprint may be destroyed by the habits of mind which were learned with the trick. (Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that the Nazi blueprint will break down for these reasons. It is probable that the unpleasant attitudes here referred to are envisaged as basic both to the plan itself and to the means of achieving it. The road to hell can also be paved with bad intentions, though well-intentioned people find this hard to believe.)

We are dealing, apparently, with a sort of habit which is a by-product of the learning process. When Dr. Mead tells us that we should leave off thinking in terms of blue-prints and should instead evaluate our planned acts in terms of their immediate implicit value, she is saying that in the upbringing and education of children, we ought to try to inculcate a sort of by-product habit rather different from that which we acquired and which we daily reinforce in ourselves in our contacts with science, politics, newspapers, and so on.

She states perfectly clearly that this new shift in the emphasis or gestalt of our thinking will be a setting forth into uncharted waters. We cannot know what manner of human beings will result from such a course, nor can we be sure that we ourselves would feel at home in the world of 1980. Dr. Mead can only tell us that if we proceed on the course which would seem most natural, planning our applications of social science as a means of attaining a defined goal, we shall surely hit a rock. She has charted the rock for us, and advises that we embark on a course in a direction where the rock is not; but in a new, still uncharted direction. Her paper raises the question of how we are to chart this new direction.

Actually, science can give us- something approaching a chart. I indicated above that we might see a mixed bunch of abstract terms—free will, predestination, responsibility, constructiveness, passivity, dominance, etc. — as all of them descriptive of apperceptive habits, habitual ways of looking at the stream of events of which our own behavior is a part, and further that these habits might all be, in some sense, byproducts of the learning process. Our next task, if we are to achieve some sort of chart, is clearly to get something better than a random list of these possible habits. We must reduce this list to a classification which shall show how each of these habits is systematically related to the others.

We meet in common agreement that a sense of individual autonomy, a habit of mind somehow related to what I have called "free will," is an essential of democracy, but we are still not perfectly clear as to how this autonomy should be defined operationally. What, for example, is the relation between "autonomy" and compulsive negativism? The gas stations which refuse to conform to the curfew—are they or are they not showing a fine democratic spirit? This sort of "negativism" is undoubtedly of the same degree of abstraction as "free will" or "determinism"; like them it is an habitual way of apperceiving contexts, event sequences and own behavior; but it is not clear whether this negativism is a "subspecies" of individual autonomy; or is it rather some entirely different habit? Similarly, we need to know how the new habit of thought which Dr. Mead advocates is related to the others.

Evidently our need is for something better than a random list of these habits of mind. We need some systematic frame-work or classification which shall show how each of these habits is related to the others, and such a classification might provide us with something approaching the chart we lack. Dr. Mead tells us to sail into as yet uncharted waters, adopting a new habit of thought; but if we knew how this habit is related to others, we might be able to judge of the benefits and dangers, the possible pitfalls of such a course. Such a chart might provide us with the answers to some of the questions which Dr. Mead raises—as to how we are to judge of the "direction" and value implicit in our planned acts.

You must not expect the social scientist to produce such a chart or classification at a moment's notice, like a rabbit out of a hat, but I think we can take a first step in this direction; we can suggest some of the basic themes—the cardinal points, if you like—upon which the final classification must be built.

We have noted that the sorts of habit with which we are concerned are, in some sense, by-products of the learning processes, and it is therefore natural that we look first to the phenomena of simple learning as likely to provide us with a clue. We are raising questions one degree more abstract than those chiefly studied by the experimental psychologists, but it is still to their laboratories that we must look for our answers.

Now it so happens that in the psychological laboratories there is a common phenomenon of a somewhat higher degree of abstraction or generality than those which the experiments are planned to elucidate. It is a commonplace that the experimental subject—whether animal or man, becomes a better subject after repeated experiments. He not only learns to salivate at the appropriate moments, or to recite the appropriate nonsense syllables; he also, in some way, learns to learn. He not only solves the problems set him by the experimenter, where each solving is a piece of simple learning; but, more than this, he becomes more and more skilled in the solving of problems.

In semigestalt or semianthropomorphic phraseology, we might say that the subject is learning to orient himself to certain types of contexts, or is acquiring "insight" into the contexts of problem solving. In the jargon of this paper, we may say that the subject has acquired a habit of looking for contexts and sequences of one type rather than another, a habit of "punctuating" the stream of events to give repetitions of a certain type of meaningful sequence.

The line of argument which we have followed has brought us to a point at which statements about simple learning meet statements about gestalt and contextual structure, and we have reached the hypothesis that "learning to learn" is a synonym for the acquisition of that class of abstract habits of thought with which this paper is concerned; that the states of mind which we call "free will," instrumental thinking, dominance, passivity, etc., are acquired by a process which we may equate with "learning to learn."

This hypothesis is to some extent new49 to psychologists as well as to laymen, and therefore I must digress at this point to supply technical readers with a more

49 Psychological papers bearing upon this problem of the relationship between gestalt and simple learning are very numerous, if we include all who have worked on the concepts of transfer of learning, generalization, irradiation, reaction threshold (Hull), insight, and the like. Historically, one of the first to pose these questions was Mr. Frank (L. K. Frank, "The Problems of Learning," Psych. Review, 1926, 33: 329-51; and Professor Maier has recently introduced a concept of "direction" which is closely related to the notion of "deutero-learning." He says: "direction ... is the force which integrates memories in a particular manner without being a precise statement of my meaning. I must demonstrate at least my willingness to state this bridge between simple learning and gestalt in operational terms.

Let us coin two words, "proto-learning" and "deuterolearning," to avoid the labor of defining operationally all the other terms in the field (transfer of learning, generalization, etc., etc.). Let us say that there are two sorts of gradient discernible in all continued learning. The gradient at any point on a simple learning curve (e.g., a curve of rote learning) we will say chiefly represents rate of proto-learning. If, however, we inflict a series of similar learning experiments on the same subject, we shall find that in each successive experiment the subject has a somewhat steeper proto-learning gradient, that he learns somewhat more rapidly. This progessive change in rate of proto-learning we will call "deutero-learning."

From this point we can easily go on to represent deuterolearning graphically with a curve whose gradient shall represent rate of deutero-learning. Such a representation might be obtained, for example, by intersecting the series of protolearning curves at some arbitarily chosen number of trials, and noting what proportion of successful responses occurred in each experiment at this point. The curve of deutero-learning would then be obtained by plotting these numbers against the serial numbers of the experiments.50

Fig. 1. Three Successive Learning Curves with the same subject, showing increase in rate of learning in successive experiments.

memory itself." (N. R. F. Maier, "The Behavior Mechanisms Concerned with Problem Solving,"-Psych. Review, 1940, 47: 43-58.) If for "force" we substitute "habit," and for "memory" we substitute "experience of the stream of events," the concept of deutero-learning can be seen as almost synonymous with Professor Maier's concept of "direction."

50 It will be noted that the operational definition of deutero-learning is necessarily somewhat easier than that of proto-learning. Actually, no simple learning curve represents proto-learning alone. Even within the duration of the single learning experiment we must suppose that some deutero-learning will occur, and this will make the gradient at any point somewhat steeper than the hypothetical gradient of "pure" proto-learning.


12 3

SERIAL NUMBERS OF EXPERIMENTS Fig. 2. Deutero-Iearning Curve derived from the three learning experiments in Fig. 1.

In this definition of proto- and deutero-learning, one phrase remains conspicuously vague, the phrase "a series of similar experiments." For purposes of illustration, I imagined a series of experiments in rote learning, each experiment similar to the last, except for the substitution of a new series of nonsense syllables in place of those already learned. In this example, the curve of deutero-learning represented in-creasing proficiency in the business of rote learning, and, as an experimental fact, such increase in rote proficiency can be demonstrated.51

Apart from rote learning, it is much more difficult to de-fine what we mean by saying that one learning context is "similar" to another, unless we are content to refer the matter back to the experimentalists by saying that learning contexts shall be considered to be "similar" one to another whenever it can be shown experimentally that experience of learning in one context does, as a matter of fact, promote speed of learning in another, and asking the experimentalists to find out for us what sort of classification they can build up by use of this criterion. We may hope that they will do this; but we cannot hope for immediate answers to our questions, because there are very serious difficulties in the way of such experimentation. Experiments in simple learning are already difficult enough to control and to per-form with critical exactness, and experiments in deuterolearning are likely to prove almost impossible.

There is, however, an alternative course open to us. When we equated "learning to learn" with acquiring apperceptive habits, this did not exclude the possibility that such habits might be acquired in other ways. To suggest that the only method of acquiring one of these habits is through repeated experience of learning contexts of a given kind would be logically analogous to saying that the only way to roast pig is by burning the house down. It is obvious that in human education such habits are acquired in very various ways. We are not concerned with a hypothetical isolated

51 C. Hull, Mathematico-Deductive Theory of Rote Learning, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1940.

individual in contact with an impersonal events stream, but rather with real individuals who have complex emotional patterns of relationship with other individuals. In such a real world, the individual will be led to acquire or reject apperceptive habits by the very complex phenomena of personal example, tone of voice, hostility, love, etc. Many such habits, too, will be conveyed to him, not through his own naked experience of the stream of events, for no human beings (not even scientists) are naked in this sense. The events stream is mediated to them through language, art, technology, and other cultural media which are structured at every point by tramlines of apperceptive habit.

It therefore follows that the psychological laboratory is not the only possible source of knowledge about these habits; we may turn instead to the contrasting patterns implicit and explicit in the various cultures of the world studied by the anthropologists. We can amplify our list of these obscure habits by adding those which have been developed in cultures other than our own.

Most profitably, I believe, we can combine the insights of the experimental psychologists with those of the anthropologists, taking the contexts of experimental learning in the laboratory and asking of each what sort of apperceptive habit we should expect to find associated with it; then looking around the world for human cultures in which this habit has been developed. Inversely, we may be able to get a more definite—more operational—definition of such habits as "free will" if we ask about each, "What sort of experimental learning context would we devise in order to inculcate this habit?" "How would we rig the maze or problem-box so that the anthropomorphic rat shall obtain a repeated and reinforced impression of his own free will?"

The classification of contexts of experimental learning is as yet very incomplete, but certain definite advances have been made. 52 It is possible to classify the principal contexts of positive learning (as distinct from negative learning or inhibition, learning not to do things) under four heads, as follows:

(1) Classical Pavlovian contexts

These are characterized by a rigid time sequence in which the conditioned stimulus (e.g., buzzer) always pre-cedes the unconditioned stimulus (e.g., meat powder) by a fixed interval of time. This rigid sequence of events is not altered by anything that the animal may do. In these con-texts, the animal learns to respond to the conditioned stimulus with behavior (e.g., salivation) which was formerly evoked only by the unconditioned stimulus.

(2) Contexts of instrumental reward or escape

52 Various classifications have been devised for purposes of exposition. Here I follow that of Hilgard and Marquis (E. R. Hilgard and D. G. Marquis, Conditioning and Learning, New York, Appleton Century Co., 1940). These authors subject their own classification to a brilliant critical analysis, and to this analysis I am indebted for one of the formative ideas upon which this paper is based. They insist that any learning context can be described in terms of any theory of learning, if we are willing to stretch and overemphasize certain aspects of the context to fit onto the Procrustean bed of the theory. I have taken this notion as a cornerstone of my thinking, substituting "apperceptive habits" for "theories of learning," and arguing that almost any sequence of events can be stretched and warped and punctuated to fit in with any type of apperceptive habit. (We may suppose that experimental neurosis is what happens when the subject fails to achieve this assimilation.)

I am also indebted to Lewin's topological analysis of the contexts of reward and punishment. (K. Lewin, A Dynamic Theory of Personality, New York, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1936.)

These are characterized by a sequence which depends upon the animal's behavior. The unconditioned stimulus in these contexts is usually vague (e.g., the whole sum of circumstances in which the animal is put, the problem-box) and may be internal to the animal (e.g., hunger). If and when, under these circumstances, the animal performs some act within its behavioral repertoire and previously selected by the experimenter (e.g., lifts its leg), it is immediately rewarded.

(3) Contexts of instrumental avoidance

These are also characterized by a conditional sequence. The unconditioned stimulus is usually definite (e.g., a warning buzzer) and this is followed by an unpleasant experience (e.g., electric shock) unless in the interval the animal per-forms some selected act (e.g., lifts leg).

(4) Contexts of serial and rote learning

These are characterized by the predominant conditioned stimulus being an act of the subject. He learns, for example, always to give the conditioned response (nonsense syllable B) after he has himself uttered the conditioned stimulus (nonsense syllable A),.

This small beginning of a classification53 will be sufficient to illustrate the principles with which we are concerned and we can now go on to ask about the

53 Many people feel that the contexts of experimental learning are so oversimplified as to have no bearing upon the phenomena of the real world. Actually, expansion of this classification will give means of defining systematically many hundreds of possible contexts of learning with their associated apperceptive habits. The scheme may be expanded in the following ways:

a. Inclusion of contexts of negative learning (inhibition).

b. Inclusion of mixed types (e.g., cases in which salivation, with its physiological relevance to meat powder, is also instrumental in obtaining the meat powder).

c. Inclusion of the cases in which the subject is able to deduce some sort of relevance (other than the physiological) between some two or more elements in the sequence. For this to be true, the subject must have experience of contexts differing systematically one from another, e.g., contexts in which some type of change in one element is constantly accompanied by a constant type of change in another element. These cases can be spread out on a lattice of possibilities, according to which pair of elements the subject sees as interrelated. There are only five elements (conditioned stimulus, conditioned response, reward or punishment, and two time intervals), but any pair of these may be interrelated, and of the interrelated pair, either may be seen by the subject as determining the other. These possibilities, multiplied for our four basic contexts, give forty-eight types.

d. The list of basic types may be extended by including those cases (not as yet investigated in learning experiments but common in interpersonal relationships) in which the roles of subject and experimenter are reversed. In these, the learning partner provides the initial and final elements, while some other person (or occurrence of the appropriate apperceptive habits among men of various cultures. Of greatest interest—because least familiar—are the Pavlovian pat-terns and the patterns of rote. It is a little hard for members of Western civilization to believe that whole systems of behavior can be built on premises other than our own mixture of instrumental reward and instrumental avoidance. The Trobriand Islanders, however, appear to live a life whose coherence and sense is based upon looking at events through Pavlovian spectacles, only slightly tinted with the hope of instrumental reward, while the life of the Balinese is sensible if we accept premises based upon combining rote with instrumental avoidance.

Clearly, to the "pure" Pavlovian, only a very limited fatal-ism would be possible. He would see all events as preordained and he would see himself as fated only to search for omens, not able to influence the course of events—able, at most, from his reading of the omens, to put himself in the properly receptive state, e.g., by salivation, before the inevitable occurred. Trobriand culture is not so purely Pavlovian as this, but Dr. Lee,54 analyzing Professor Malinowski's rich observations, has shown that Trobriand phrasings of purpose, cause, and effect are profoundly different from our own; and though Dr. Lee does not use the sort of classification here proposed, it appears from Trobriand magic that these people continually exhibit a habit of thinking that to act as if a thing were so will make it so. In this sense, we may describe them as semi-Pavlovians who have decided that "salivation" is instrumental to obtaining "meat powder." Malinowski, for example, gives us a dramatic description of the almost physiological extremes of rage55 which the Trobriand black magician practices in his incantations, and we may take this as an illustration of the semi-Pavlovian frame of mind in contrast with the very various types of magical procedure in other parts of the world, where, for example, the efficacy of a spell may be associated not with the intensity but with the extreme rote accuracy of the recitation.

Among the Balinese56 we find another pattern which contrasts sharply both with our own and with that of the Trobrianders. The treatment of children is such that they learn not to see life as composed of connative sequences ending in satisfaction, but rather to see it as composed of rote sequences inherently satisfying in themselves—a pattern which is to some extent related to that pattern which Dr. Mead has recommended, of looking for value in the act itself rather than regarding the act circumstance) provides the middle term. In these types, we see the buzzer and the meat powder as the behavior of a person and ask: "What does this person learn?" A great part of the gamut of apperceptive habits associated with authority and parenthood is based on contexts of this general type.

54 Dorothy Lee, "A Primitive System of Values," Journal Philos. of Science, 1940, 7: 355-78.

55 A It is possible that semi-Pavlovian phrasings of the stream of events tend, like the experiments which are their prototypes, to hinge particularly upon autonomic reactions — that those who see events in these terms tend to see these reactions, which are only partially subject to voluntary control, as peculiarly effective and powerful causes of outside events. There may be some ironical logic in Pavlovian fatalism which predisposes us to believe that we can alter the course of events only by means of those behaviors which we are least able to control.

56 The Balinese material collected by Dr. Mead and my-self has not yet been published in extenso, but a brief out-line of the theory here suggested is available — cf. G. Bateson, "The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis and Culture," Psychological Review, 1941, 48: 350-55.

as a means to an end. There is, how-ever, one very important difference between the Balinese pattern and that recommended by Dr. Mead. The Balinese pattern is essentially derivative from contexts of instrumental avoidance; they see the world as dangerous, and themselves as avoiding, by the endless rote behavior of ritual and courtesy, the ever-present risk of faux pas. Their life is built upon fear, albeit that in general they enjoy fear. The positive value with which they endow their immediate acts, not looking for a goal, is somehow associated with this enjoyment of fear. It is the acrobat's enjoyment both of the thrill and of his own virtuosity in avoiding disaster.

We are now, after a somewhat long and technical excursion into psychological laboratories and foreign cultures, in a position to examine Dr. Mead's proposal in somewhat more concrete terms. She advises that when we apply the social sciences we look for "direction" and "value" in our very acts, rather than orient ourselves to some blueprinted goal. She is not telling us that we ought to be like the Balinese, except in our time orientation, and she would be the first to disparage any suggestion that fear (even enjoyed fear) should be our basis for assigning value to our acts. Rather, as I understand it, this basis should be some sort of hope—not looking to some far-off future, but still some sort of hope or optimism. In fact, we might summarize the recommended attitude by saying that it ought to be formally related to instrumental reward, as the Balinese attitude is related to instrumental avoidance.

Such an attitude is, I believe, feasible. The Balinese attitude might be defined as a habit of rote sequences inspired by a thrilling sense of ever-imminent but indefinite danger, and I think that what Dr. Mead is urging us toward might be defined in like terms, as a habit of rote sequences inspired by a thrilling sense of ever-imminent but undefined reward.

As to the rote component, which is almost certainly a necessary concomitant of the peculiar time orientation advocated by Dr. Mead, 1, personally, would welcome it, and I believe that it would be infinitely preferable to the compulsive type of accuracy after which we strive. Anxious taking-care and automatic, rote caution are alternative habits which perform the same function. We can either have the habit of automatically looking before we cross the street, or the habit of carefully remembering to look. Of the two I prefer the automatic, and I think that, if Dr. Mead's recommendation implies as increase in rote automatism, we ought to accept it. Already, indeed, our schools are inculcating more and more automatism in such processes as reading, writing, arithmetic, and languages.

As to the reward component, this, too, should not be beyond our reach. If the Balinese is kept busy and happy by a nameless, shapeless fear, not located in space or time, we might be kept on our toes by a nameless, shapeless, unlocated hope of enormous achievement. For such a hope to be effective, the achievement need scarcely be defined.

All we need to be sure of is that, at any moment, achievement may be just around the corner, and, true or false, this can never be tested. We have got to be like those few artists and scientists who work with this urgent sort of inspiration, the urgency that comes from feeling that great discovery, the answer to all our problems, or great creation, the perfect sonnet, is always only just beyond our reach, or like the mother of a child who feels that, provided she pay constant enough attention, there is a real hope that her child may be that infinitely rare phenomenon, a great and happy person.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Supreme Sobriety

Supreme Sobriety

How to Maintain Your Resolution to Be Sober. Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At Sobriety. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Turning Your Love For Cooking Into A Money Maker.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment