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Behaviour, Pareto believes, that is logical also, both subjectively and objectively. An action is logical if the end is objectively attainable and if the means employed are objectively united with the end within the framework of the best knowledge available.

For an action to be logical the logical connection between the means and the end must exist both in the mind of the actor who performs the act and in objective reality, that is, “from the stand-point of other persons who have a more extensive knowledge.

Non-logical action means simply all human action and falling within the scope of the logical (which does not mean that they are necessarily illogical); it is for Pareto a residual category. Pareto is convinced that truly logical action is very rare indeed.


Though suggesting that civil law represents a theoretical form of logical action, Pareto even dubs the behaviour of trial judges as being often non-logical. He argues so because, says he, even the role of the judge necessarily involves more than the mere logical application of abstract legal rules to specific objective cases.

He contends that judicial decisions to a great extent manifest the judge’s sentiments and, Pareto points out, any reference to written law is an ex-post facto explanation of a decision gained in another way. “Court decisions”, he wrote in his Treatise, “depend largely upon the interests and sentiments operative in a society at a given moment, and also upon individual whims and chance events; and but slightly, and sometimes not at all, upon codes or written law.

” The analysis of these inner forces operative in the decision-making process is based upon the critical distinction between logical and non-logical action.

Generally speaking, logical actions are those motivated by reasoning while non-logical actions are those that involve to some degree a motivation by sentiment. Since according to Pareto’s rigorous definition of logical-experimental method, science covers only a narrow domain of reality, logical behaviour can cover only a limited part of the whole range of human behaviour.


In most cases, science cannot help us determine our goals or foresee the consequences of our acts; therefore, the greater part of the human behaviour will be non-logical. However, all men want to give an appearance of logic to behaviour.

Thus by following an inductive procedure in developing his conceptual framework for the analysis of the non-logical element in human behaviour, he is able to argue that although individuals most often fail to demonstrate logical action they do have a rather powerful urge to “logicalize” their behaviour. In other words, Pareto believed that individuals wish to make their behaviour appear logically to follow from a legitimate sea of ideas both to themselves (self-deception) and to others (public deceit).

Residues and Derivations

Although most of human behaviour is non-logical, man is a born reasoner who prefers to believe that his behaviour is logical and determined by his theories; he does not like to think that it is determined by emotions.


So he invents all sorts of “logical” explanations to rationalize his actions. Pareto studied a large number of customs, curious practices, theories, belief-systems, and forms of religious worship, practices of magic or sorcery, doctrines and dogmas that are found in both archaic and advanced societies.

A careful analysis of such customs, practices and doctrines reveals a certain element of consistency. Pareto believed for example, throughout the most diverse civilizations men have assigned a beneficent or maleficent value to certain objects, places, numbers or certain days. References to “lucky number”, “auspicious hour,” “bad omen,” etc., are examples.

Men seek to offer pseudological reasons to logicalize such patterns of behaviour. Thus the phenomenon under observation involves two fundamental elements: (1) the constant element of the concrete phenomenon under consideration, i that is man’s tendency to establish relations between things or to attribute meanings and omens to numbers, places, hours, etc.; (2) those numerous and ingenious theories, to use Pareto’s terminology, is called residues and the latter derivations.

Pareto continued to emphasize the difference between human behaviour as such and rationalistic explanations of that behaviour Rationalistic explanation of human action assumes that human beings first think and formulate their ideas and theories and only after this intellectual function is accomplished do they act in compliance with such formulations.


According to Pareto, quite the opposite is actually what occurs, viz., behaviour does not follow but precedes theory, or in other words, “commission precedes rationalization”. Pareto’s growing cynicism about mankind emanated from his rather bold indictment of man’s integrity, his honor, his ability and willingness to think before acting.

Most human activity, Pareto argued, follows this non-logical scenario. In summary, derivations are those changing elements which account for the development of non-scientific theories or rationalizations of human i behaviour while residues are those relatively unchanging and generally permanent elements.

Residues, about which Pareto wrote much, were conceived of as manifestations of sentiments or at least as corresponding to them and not as equivalents of sentiments. Pareto believed that residues, those permanent elements in man’s rationalization of his behaviour, are intermediary between sentiments which are beyond our direct knowledge in analysis and belief systems and concomitant behaviour which are readily susceptible to scrutiny and analysis.

And, whereas residues are related to what Pareto thought of as human instincts though not synonymous with them, derivations on the other hand only appear when there is reasoning, argumentation, and ideological justification of human action.


For example, if you like Chinese food, it is only a matter of taste, but if you are to develop ingenious theories regarding the superiority of Chinese cooking, then it is a matter of derivations.

More can be said on this point of non-logical action’s relationship to residues and derivations. Residues, Pareto explained, are motivating forces stemming directly from sentiments.

As manifestations of sentiments, they are less deeply buried in the individual; they are more on the surface and thus discernible for analysis of the relationship between ideas and behaviour of an individual, of what he “does” and “says”.

Residues Pareto considers as a fundamental analytical concept of sociology, whereas the analysis of sentiments belongs to the field of pure psychology. Derivations, then, are in effect rationalizations or attempts to give a logical explanation for non-logical behavior.

In his Treatise, Pareto reiterates over and over again what he things to be the most important fact in the sociological analysis of the complex relationship between behaviour and theory, between action and idea.

Pareto cautions the serious minded person never to take ideas at their face value that is, instead of just listening to what people say about their actions, look rather in a deeply probing fashion for the well-springs of those actions below the level of verbal explanation.

And for this, Pareto explains, we must look to residues, which he has classified into six groupings which correspond more or less to certain instincts or emotional propensities of mankind.

They are: (1) the instinct of combinations, or the faculty of associating things; (2) the residue of the persistence of aggregates or what might be called the conservative tendency; (3) the residue of the manifestation if sentiments through exterior acts such as self-expression; (4) the residue of sociability, or the drive to compose societies and to impose uniform conduct; (5) the residue of personal integrity leading to actions that restore lost integrity such as those forming the source of criminal law; and finally, (6) the sexual residue.

Such a classification, Aran feels, “prove dramatically that human behaviour is structured, that residues are not a random affair, that motivation for behaviour is not anarchic, that there is an internal order to human nature, and that one can discover a kind of logic in the non-logic-experimental behaviour of men in society.

” Though Pareto was careful in his explorations of residues, his analysis of derivations is much less detailed. Derivations, for Pareto, are conceived of as surface manifestations ostensibly as explanations of underlying forces in social life.

Examples are numerous. The child is told that he must obey because daddy wants him to. We are asked to accept a theory or doctrine because Aristotle or the Church expounded it.

The ruling elites justify their positions of power in the name of the General Will, Divine Right, social solidarity, freedom, democracy or national integration. There are essentially four categories of derivations in Pareto’s system: (1) derivations of assertion, including affirmations of facts and sentiments; (2) derivations of authority whether of individuals, groups, customs, or divinities; (3) derivations that are in accord with and therefore serve to maintain common sentiments and principles; and finally (4) derivations of verbal proof, such as in the form of metaphors and analogies.

As already noted, Pareto’s overarching analytical interest was non-logical action defended as rational by the actor, or more formally put, Pareto focused on behaviour which is conceived of as logical by the actor but appears objectively non-logical to the observer.

In other words, the observer perceives the so-called logical action culminating in consequences other than those being pursued by the actor. Pareto addressed the issue in this manner.

“The experimental truth of a theory and its social utility are different things. A theory that is experimentally true may now be advantageous, now detrimental to society; and the same applies to a theory that is experimentally false.” And in his the mind and Society, he puts it this way:

“A theory may be in accord with experience and yet be harmful to society or in discord with experience and yet be beneficial to society. Therefore, Pareto was the first to point out the dangers of his probing analysis of behaviour and ideas, particularly as residues tend to surface with sentiments in such research.

Pareto was anxious to illustrate the utility and effectiveness of his analytical use of his theory. He demonstrated, for example, how the same residue can produce a wide spectrum of belief systems or derivations, thereby driving home his contention that individuals deceive themselves when they believe that they take a given course of action on the basis of a particular theory. They do not, says Pareto, in spite of their quick rationalizations to.

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