Human traits and their social significance (1920) PDF book by Irwin Edman
This book was written, originally and primarily, for use in a course entitled "Introduction to Contemporary Civilization," required of all Freshmen in Columbia College.
t is an attempt to give a bird's-eye view of the processes of human nature, from man's simple inborn impulses and needs to the most complete fulfilment of these in the deliberate activities of religion, art, science, and morals. It is hoped that the book may give the student and general reader a knowledge of the fundamentals of human nature and a sense of the possibilities and limits these give to human enterprise.
Part I consists of an analysis of the types of behaviour, a survey of individual traits and their significance in social life, a brief consideration of the nature and development of the self, individual differences, language and communication, racial and cultural continuity.
Those fruits of psychological inquiry have been stressed which bear most strikingly on the relations of men in our present-day social and economic organization. In consequence, there has been a deliberate exclusion of purely technical or controversial material, however interesting. The psychological analysis is in general based upon the results of the objective inquiries into human behaviour which have been so fruitfully conducted in the last twenty- five years by Thorndike and Woodworth. To the work of the first-mentioned, the author is particularly indebted.
Part II is a brief analysis, chiefly psychological in character, of the four great activities of the human mind and imagination — religion, art, science, and morals. These are discussed as normal though complex activities developed, through the process of reflection, in the fulfilment of man's inborn im- pulses and needs. Thus descriptively to treat these spiritual enterprises implies on the part of the author a naturalistic viewpoint whose main outlines have been fixed for this generation by James, Santayana, and Dewey. To the last-named, the writer wishes to express the very special obligation that a pupil owes to a great teacher.