No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

The Analogy of Individual Psychological and Sociological Conditions

Psychological and sociological phenomena can be understood through similar frameworks, where individual elements or persons act in comparable ways, such as in conflicts and alliances. The way in which elements within a mind interact, mirrors how individuals within a society engage with each other.

Individuals within society often behave similarly to elements within a mind, exhibiting patterns of independence, conflict, and cooperation. This analogy helps to understand sociological relationships through psychological concepts. Conflicts within a mind, such as conflicting interests or ideas, resemble social conflicts among individuals or groups. The resolution and dynamics of these conflicts follow similar patterns, whether within an individual or a society. Internal mental processes provide a template for interpreting external social interactions. Conversely, external social phenomena influence and shape internal psychological experiences. This bidirectional influence underscores the interconnectedness of the individual and the society.

The language and concepts we use to describe psychological states often derive from social interactions and vice versa. For instance, terms for mental states like rise and fall or fusion and separation are borrowed from descriptions of physical and social movements. Both individual minds and societies strive for completeness and self-coherence, which leads to inherent conflicts between being a part of a whole and being a distinct entity. This dynamic creates tension and interaction within both psychological and sociological realms.

The individual and society mutually influence each other. The mind's internal conflicts and resolutions can provide insight into social dynamics, while social interactions can offer a framework for understanding internal psychological processes.


Simmel, G. (1908), Exkurs über die Analogie der individualpsychologischen und der soziologischen Verhältnisse, in: in: Soziologie - Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung, p. 763—767, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.