The man who is turned outward says that all human problems can be solved by controlling environment. That is, he says human thought can be changed, altered, controlled, through organization, whether of work or of the means of production and distribution, and so forth. He regards man as clay, to be conditioned by environment, and so by the controlling of that environment and in the perfecting of the group, the individual will have an opportunity to express himself. That is, he will no longer be antisocial because, being mere clay to be conditioned, his environment can be controlled and so his ambitions, his outlook, his desires will never be opposed to the group and be antisocial. Man then will be conditioned according to a new set of ideas and theories so that he can never come, as an individual, into conflict with the group or with society.
If you think that man is nothing else than matter to be conditioned, to be shaped, to be controlled, then there is nothing more to be said. Then life is very simple. Let us all, then, work for the mere perfection of environment, following a certain set of theories and ideas, and be conditioned by them.
Now, I am not against or for this point of view. I want to go into it more fully. If man is merely a social entity and if altering circumstances and environment and creating in him the habit of seeking the well-being of the group alone so that he shall not be antisocial - if that is all, then, it seems to me, life becomes very shallow, a series of unfulfilled, superficial actions.
New York City
1st Public Talk 11th March, 1935