- It is the place of liberal Christianity to state the supremacy of the everlasting ends of life over the means of living, of the believer over the thing believed, the man over the system, the worker over the product. We are not liberals because we believe less but because we believe more. We dare to believe without an infallible guarantee of the substance of our faith in a moral issue. It is not an historical opinion. Liberalism is not a new system of dogma, but a new point of view. ... The place of liberal Christianity is to restore to the moderm man his spiritual integrity.
- "New Pastor in Initial Sermon," The Register and Leader (Des Moines), January 16, 1911, p. 5
The Behavior of Crowds (1920)Edit
- The crowd is a social phenomenon only in the sense that it affects a number of persons at the same time.
- The phenomena which we call the crowd-mind, instead of being the outgrowth of the directly social, are social only in the sense that all mental life has a social significance; they are rather the result of forces hidden in the personal and unconscious psyche of the members of the crowd, forces which are merely released by social gatherings of a certain sort.
The Mystery of Religion (1924)Edit
- Psycho-pathologists very often have to deal with people whose thinking is thus “compulsive.” And when analysis is possible, it is usually found that such persistent ideas are associated with some unconscious impulse. It is characteristic of all compulsive thinking that it is not the outgrowth of conscious reasoning and cannot be modified by evidence. Persons whose thinking is compulsive often seek to “rationalize” it—that is, they resort to ingenious devices to render it plausible or to explain away that which would contradict it. This sort of thinking, as I have tried to show, is a common characteristic of the crowd mind. The thinking of the crowd is dogmatic as a result of causes which are similar to those which render compulsive that of certain neurotics. And dogma is a common element in religion.
Psychology: What it has to Teach You about Yourself and Your World (1924)Edit
- Probably the greatest difference among men is this difference in habits of thought. There are some minds which behave merely like the mechanic who having learned his trade in a certain way never can function in any other.
The Meaning of a Liberal Education (1926)Edit
- Education is emancipation from herd opinion, self-mastery, capacity for self-criticism, suspended judgment, and urbanity.
- ...education is a spiritual revaluation of human life. Its task is to reorient the individual, to enable him to take a richer and more significant view of his experiences, to place him above and not within the system of his beliefs and ideals. If education is not liberalizing, it is not education in the sense of the title of this book.
- I use the term "liberal" not in the political sense, as if it meant half measures, but in its original sense meaning by a liberal education the kind of education which sets the mind free from the servitude of the crowd and from vulgar self-interests.
- Is learning a venture in spiritual freedom that is humanism, or is it a routine process of animal training?
- Education has to do with insight, with valuing, with understanding, with the development of the power of discrimination, the ability to make choice amongst the possibilities of experience and to think and act in ways that distinguish men from animals and higher men from lower.
- There is a quality of the educated mind which may best be described as a kind of sincerity, and conversely the outstanding trait of ignorance is that of clever insincerity.
- Animal training may give one the means to make a living; liberal education gives living a meaning.
- Whoever is concerned about his education should be on his guard against propaganda.
- Every government, our own included, fights with propaganda as deadly as poison gas.
- Governments and churches and ruling classes and commercial groups have always sought to get their hands on the institutions for the education of youth and utilize them for their own interests.
- What the state desires of education is soldiers, reliable voters, law-abiding citizens, contented working men, prosperous traders. Hence a spirit of docility and credulity, often of timidity, prevails in the school.
- Standardization develops a kind of mass mind, which in mature years renders men very susceptible to crowd appeal.
- Dr. Kallen says, "Free public education and private instruction purchasable at a price are both but the community's device to meet present needs by transmitting the past unchanged. They provide a grammar of assent, not a logic of inquiry. The mental posture they habituate the youth in is not the posture of reflection. The mental posture they habituate the youth in is the posture of conformity. They require belief, not investigation. They impose reverence for the past and idealization of the present. They envision the future as a perpetuation of the past, not as a new creation of it. They are Main Street's most powerful instrument of self-reproduction without variation.... They enable government both visible and invisible to continue by consent, for they forestall and inhibit in the citizens of the land the technique of doubt and dissent which is the necessary condition of good government and the true inward-ness of that eternal vigilance so notoriously the price of liberty."
- Common men cherish their naive faiths and ask no questions.
- It is children and savages and the illiterate who have the most implicit faith. It is said that unbelief is sin. This is not so; it is nobler to doubt than to believe, for to doubt is often to take sides with fact against oneself. Nietzsche said that this is characteristic of "higher men."
- Most minds are loaded down with the seriousness of their convictions.
- Crowd men have no sense of humor. It is very difficult to educate solemn and opinionated people.
- The skepticism which has value is that which leads one on to further study and investigation. And it is characterized by intellectual modesty.
- I have characterized education as a victory won over one's wish-fancies and childish egoism, as the lifting of the problems of life to higher and more significant dilemmas, as the attainment of mastery. A humanistic liberalism seeks freedom as broad-mindedness; it strives for a highly civilized, urbane and sophisticated state of mind in which insight is deepened and interest is widened.
- Seek education for yourself and it is the search for the good life. From ancient times men have sought knowledge that they might become better judges of good and evil.
- Moral education is not mere drill in the ways of the herd. The good man's first duty, as Professor Erskine says, is to be intelligent. Good intentions alone do not enable man to judge wisely or behave well. The prevailing idea that one can be at the same time good and stupid has strongly influenced our education.
- It is in the localities where there is least artistic appreciation or intellectual curiosity or cosmopolitan spirit, the places where people have nothing with which to occupy their minds, that we find strongholds of "morality." Where education prevails, people learn to behave themselves as a matter of wisdom and good taste. Those who are sufficiently practiced in the art of living to be able to observe the common decencies without always "watching their step," may sometimes look up from the ground and take a broader view.
- The attitude of authority discourages the spirit of search and criticism. Popular prejudice is entrenched. Non-essentials are over-emphasized. Crowd-mindedness, rather than independence of judgment, prevails.
- Moral training which does not encourage critical examination of popular ideas of what is right and good, does not tend to make men better, but only of one mind.
- Another method of escaping moral responsibility is to run with the crowd. The crowd never considers consequences; it is bent upon vindicating its principles at any cost. It is anonymous; in it the individual may not be held to account.
- Education is training in wisdom and virtue, and the exercise of these is freedom.
Are We Victims of Propaganda, Our Invisible Masters: A Debate with Edward Bernays (1929)Edit
- For purposes of this discussion, propaganda is defined as the manipulation of the public to the end of securing some specific action.
- Propaganda is making puppets out of us. We are moved by hidden strings which the propagandist manipulates.
- Its aim is to “put something over” on people, with or without their knowledge or consent… neither truth nor the basic values of civilization get a fair hearing.
- …prejudice and the well-known weaknesses of human nature are to be exploited and thus encouraged.
- It must be borne in mind that everything the propagandist does or says is for effect—most commonly the effect on fools. The public wants not truth but a show?
- …so long as the public may be manipulated by misrepresentation and by appeal to ignorance and prejudice, it is the public’s own fault if the “knowing ones” make use of questionable methods.
- The evil effect of these attempts to manipulate the multitude by pampering its weaknesses---in return for material and other advantages to persons and for ends not disclosed—is clearly seen in various aspects of our common life. In politics such effect have long been deplorable.
- It is the trivial, the irrelevant, the sensational, the appeal to obsolete bigotry which naturally give it greatest publicity. In such publicity it becomes a mere vulgar caricature of itself.
- One of the serious results of propaganda is that it has caused the public to think that education and propaganda are the same thing, and thus to make an ignorant multitude believe it is being educated when it is only being manipulated. Education aims at independence of judgement. Propaganda offers ready-made opinions for the unthinking herd.
- Education aims at independence of judgment. Propaganda offers ready-made opinions for the unthinking herd.
- The educator aims at a slow process of development; the propagandist, at quick results. The educator tries to tell people how to think; the propagandist, what to think. The educator strives to develop individual responsibility; the propagandist, mass effects. The educator wants thinking; the propagandist, action. The educator fails unless he achieves an open mind; the propagandist, unless he achieves a closed mind.
- One reason why people cherish the delusion that they are still free long after they have lost or destroyed the liberties won by their ancestors lies in the boundless vanity of man when acting as mass. The mass in modern times believes it is sovereign. As sovereign it is free.
The Conflict of the Individual and the Mass in the Modern World (1932)Edit
- The student of social psychology ... is concerned not so much with the panaceas that may be proposed for the solution of the economic problems, but is interested rather in the possibility that under any economic system a maximum number of people should be able to grow from infantile tribal ways to self-directing maturity.
- By the term individual I shall mean that in which each of us is peculiarly himself. I shall emphasize not what is common is us, but what is uncommon, and this leads me to a restatement of our question. In considering what is happening to the individual, I shall discuss what in modern civilization is happening to the uncommon in us. Are we becoming more common or more uncommon? Are the common people destroying the uncommon? Is the public self of us crushing out the personal self? Are we being directed more from without than from within? As our group memberships grow larger, do we as persons tend to grow smaller? Do the tendencies of the present day, mass movements, social organization, publicity, public education, emphasize the unique in man, or enhance the dominance of undifferentiated man acting as mass?
- Individuality is a cultural achievement rather than a gift of nature. During the 19th century it was rather common for people to believe they were expressing their individuality by being "natural."
- In just the measure that education aims to develop the individual with independence of judgment rather than to indoctrinate him with tradition and custom and official dogma, to that degree it separates him from the mass and is successful insofar as it emancipates his mind from the tyranny of herd opinion.
- The so-called natural sentiments of the average man are mostly the inherited prejudices of the once suppressed classes. The emphasis upon natural goodness is, psychologically speaking, unwillingness to submit such prejudices to wholesome self-criticism. Hence the democratic government tends to support each crowd in its delusion of infallibility. The crowd rationalizes its will to rule in terms of narrow and parochial ideas of righteousness and seeks to force conformity to such ideas upon all. The imagined vindication of the common man's notions of goodness is regarded as the ultimate triumph of righteousness. Hence democracy has always manifested a certain crusading spirit, and the democratic Utopia is envisaged as a sort of Roman peace with "righteousness" established by force rather than assent.
- The greater the industrial and political organization, the greater is the emphasis on the individual as a mere mass unit, and the smaller his importance as a single separate person.
- When we think we are most free our opinions and our behavior are being skillfully manipulated by persons operating behind the scenes.
- The propagandist merely wishes you to think as he does. The educator is more modest; he is so delighted if you think at all that he is willing to let you do so in your own way.
- It is impossible to understand the American public without taking into account the tremendous psychological effect of bringing up a generation of people in a daily environment of advertising. It is impossible to escape the advertising man; his sales talk assaults us in the morning newspaper, in the street car, with billboards along the highways, and in his shameless use of the radio. This means that from morning till night, in the midst of our work as in our recreation, we live constantly in an atmosphere of intellectual shoddiness. Every popular prejudice and vulgar conceit is played upon and pandered to in the interests of salesmanship. Everywhere material interests and herd opinion are strengthened to the loss of personal independence. The tendency is to think and speak for effect rather than out of one's inner life. There is a marked decline the ability to play with ideas, or to live the spiritual life for its own sake. Hence a decline in civilization of interest, humor and urbanity. Advertising tends to make mechanized barbarians of us all.
Civilizing Ourselves: Intellectual Maturity in the Modern World (1932)Edit
- The attainment of spirit today requires the very most uncompromisingly critical analysis and revaluation of ideals and enthusiasms, ancient and modern, of which the awakening modern mind is capable.
- The reader will, I think, soon discover that I have tried to affirm the processes of his mental development and ripening of personality---something quite independent both of the self-idolatries of the mass and of those primitive emotional fixations and stereotypes whose antiquated symbolisms linger on under the terminology of religion. If there is anything affirmative in the assertion of the meaning of spiritual maturity in the modern world, then I may hope that the effort of this book will be regarded as constructive.
Psychology and Its Use (1933)Edit
- Psychology is an attempt to gain a scientific understanding of human nature. We are all deeply interested in knowing human nature. When we are not talking about ourselves we are usually talking about our neighbors.
- Psychological knowledge is now necessary for the citizen if he is to play his part wisely in public affairs. Our age is greatly interested in social and political questions. There is a widespread belief that the evils of the world may be abolished by the magic of mass action.
Farewell to Revolution (1935)Edit
- It will hardly be denied that a revolution, whatever else it may be, is a phenomenon of the crowd. I have endeavored to approach the historical survey of revolutionary movements from the standpoint of social psychology.
- Crowd mentality is a kind of simultaneous psychosis which may take possession of any group.