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Volume 2

Expanded Contents


1. Introduction and Summary
2. The Concept of Field
3. Reality and the Intentional Field
5. Perceiving Another
6. Intentions, Attitudes, and Interests
7. Perceiving and Behaving
8. Behavior
9. Social Behavior and Interaction
10. Types of Social Interaction
11. The Equation of Social Behavior
12. The Transition to a Sociocultural Field
13. The Sociocultural Space
14. The Field of Social Forces
15. The Sociocultural Field
16. Distances
17. Status Distance
18. Status Distance and Behavior
19. The Fundamental Nature of Power
20. Social Power
21. The Family of Power
22. Social Fields and Antifields
23. Groups and Antifields
24. Class
25. Social Class And the Class-Literature
26. Conflict
27. Conflict in the Sociocultural Field
28. The Elements of Social Conflict
29. The Process of Conflict
30. Social Fields and Types of Societies
31. The State and Political System
32. Societies, Politics, and Conflict
33. Societies in Empirical Perspective
34. Testing for the Existence of Exchange, Authoritative, and Coercive Societies
35. Is Conflict Manifest as Theorized?

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace
Vol. 5: The Just Peace

Other Related Work

The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices...


Chapter 4

Freedom And Intentional Humanism*

By R.J. Rummel

To deny the freedom of the will is to make morality impossible.
---- J. A. Fronde


Are we free to select our goals, determine our future, correct our deficiencies? Given the picture I have drawn of each of us as a dynamic psychological field within a larger whole of society, culture, and environment, can we independently change ourselves and our surroundings, that is, our field? This is the most crucial question, for if we are a wholly determined creature we can only uncover the laws of history, society, and politics governing conflict, violence, and war. We would then find that war and violence are a bloody law of history, an inescapable, horrifying facet of our interaction. Inevitable. However, we are subject to this law only if we are as determined as planets in their orbits. If we are free to alter and create our future, to be a first cause, we can eliminate war and violence. Clearly, this issue is a profound one, and an answer is bound up with our view of our self and will.

Our self, the inner me that I intuit, that is continuous in time, is a power. The self becomes intuitively manifest to us through our psychological structure, processes, and gestalt, through confrontation with external powers that bear upon us and inner forces that we must control.

This power we call the self has several facets. One is the ego, which coordinates and controls our mental activity. Another is the self-sentiment, which through its superordinate self-esteem goal the self actualizes our potentials. A third is the superego, which consists of the normative rules guiding the self; and other facets are the abilities and temperaments, which involve the multifold ways the self actualizes and achieves its goals.

We also have a will. The will exerts conscious control over actions, exercises choice between alternatives, applies practical reason, and brings the self to act. It is also a power, and as such, a facet of the self. The will consciously guides the person towards self-actualization and esteem.

Is the will free to choose? Most fundamentally, freedom is the power to independently generate or create actions. It is spontaneous originality. This definition strikes at the core meaning of the determinism versus free will controversy and enables us to deal directly with the question.

Then, can the will originate choices? We cannot know whether the will is so free. We can, however, argue that it is possible that an act can be determined at the level of phenomena and free at the underlying level of things-in-themselves (Section 30.2 of Chapter 7 in The Dynamic Psychological Field). It is possible for reason to be independent of natural laws and causality and to originate actions. Therefore, as a moral choice of reason let us hypothesize our freedom.

This solution to the free will question unifies both freedom and necessity, scientific laws and libertarian freedom, and entails in doing so a view of logic and time that underscores the conditionality and potentiality of our future. As a self with a will and the inexplicable gift of freedom, we can strive towards that which might be and extricate ourselves from what is.


It is neither sufficient to describe us as a field or to assert we are free. Some larger ethical and philosophical view of humanity must serve as a framework to integrate basic assumptions and help select eventual solutions to our problems. I call this framework intentional humanism. Its descriptive basis is of us as a field, of reality as potentiality actualized through our perspective; its normative basis is of us and our intentions as the central values in themselves; its epistemology is pragmatic.

More specifically truth is a manifold of intuition, reason, and empirical experience. Reason structures and organizes our experience, intuition provides direction, insights, and initial hypotheses.

And reality is a seamless whole where differences and dependencies shade off into each other, here physical, there mind; here potentiality, there actuality; here a field, there free will; here culture, there instincts; here ourselves, there physical nature. Whether this is in reality True we cannot know. We can treat it as provisionally true, draw out its implications in the search for inconsistencies, apply its suggestions, and pragmatically test its conclusions. Within the constraints of our empirical knowledge, we can choose to interpret reality in the light of our own values and act to achieve them.

We comprise an intentional field, which is more than the sum of its biopsychological, environmental, and sociocultural elements. These elements are given meaning for us and make our behavior intelligible as part of the field. At the center of this reality is our mentality, which is distinguished by its intellectual and creative faculties and moral capacity.

In sum, reality is given scale and perspective only by individual meanings, values, and intentions. 


* Scanned from Chapter 4 in R.J. Rummel, The Conflict Helix, 1976. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

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