The Foundations of Normal and Abnormal Psychology/Part 2/III

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The Foundations of Normal and Abnormal Psychology by Boris Sidis
Modifications of Moments in the Organized Aggregate

In pointing out the parallel in the series of moments as they appear in ontogenesis and phylogenesis, we must make some restrictions. The series of the subordinate-moments in the organization of a highly evolved and complex moment may be homologous to the phylogenetic series, but still the two greatly differ in character. Each moment in the series subordinate to the principal moment is greatly modified in its activity and, as such, differs in nature from the moment of the corresponding stage in the phylogenetic series. A complicated act after a series of repetitions sinks into the subconscious, becomes degraded in character and falls to the level of the so-called "secondary automatic" acts. This does not mean that in the phylogenetic or even in the ontogenetic evolution the moment occupying a parallel stage is of a secondary automatic character, as it appears in the moment of higher organization.

When the sensori-motor series going to constitute the secondary automatic act becomes well organized, the links in the series fall to a minimum of psychic intensity, but the moment consciousness occupying a corresponding position in the scale of evolution has a higher psychic intensity than the one characteristic of the secondary automatic stage. The psychosis of a dog, horse, mouse, rabbit is hardly of the same order of intensity characteristic, for instance, of the act with which one buttons his coat, opens his door, walks in the street, or simply maintains his equilibrium. The consciousness of the dog, rabbit or mouse may be and surely is of a lower order than that of a man, but its intensity is not necessarily of the same level with the automatic activity of man.

The greater differentiation of elements in the highly constituted being is also their greater simplification. The lower a moment is in the scale of a highly organized being, the more differentiated it is, and the more simplified is its function in the organic whole. Quite different is it in the case of the lower type of moment in the phylogenetic series, there the differentiation has not proceeded far, and although it may be low in type and structure, the very lack of differentiation of function makes that lowly moment more complex as to function. A low moment of a high type of organization is lower than a high moment in a lower type of organization. A moment occupying a low stage in a statically established hierarchy is really lower than a corresponding stage in either the phylogenetic or ontogenetic series. The highest moment-consciousness of a fish is homologous with a very low moment in man, but the latter lacks the intensity to which the former attains.

The moment by entering as a unit in an organized hierarchy becomes degraded and loses much of its psychic activity by becoming differentiated and confined to one mode of reaction, though reaching its acme of perfection in that direction. The number of functions present, though in an imperfect, undeveloped, sketchy way, in the representatives of the low type of moment becomes narrowed down, even limited to one function, highly developed and intensified in the lower representatives of moments belonging to a hierarchy organized on the plan of a higher type.

If a, b, c, d, e ...etc., represent the functioning modes of a low type of moment, then the total of functioning modes of the moment may be represented by the sum (a1+b1+c1+d1+e1+ . . . ), each function is in its first degree, that is, it is present in a primitive undeveloped form. The low moment, however, forming a part of a highly developed organic hierarchy, becomes highly differentiated in the process of evolution of the whole and is finally reduced to the exercise of one function only, fully developed and intensified to its highest pitch. The number of functions then present in a primitive form in the moment of low type is in the course of evolution gradually sundered into its units, each unit reaching a high stage of perfection in the low moment belonging to a high type of moment hierarchy.

If a function in its primitive form is represented by a quantity, then the same or analogous function highly developed may be represented by the same or similar quantity raised to (nth) degree. Now let a1 stand for the primitive function, then an will stand for the fully developed function. The number of the moment's functions is limited, but highly developed. The moment's functioning activities may be represented by the formula: an + bn. The highest moment of the low type has a richer and more variable content than the lower moment belonging to the higher type. This truth can be still further realized by having recourse to the higher guiding moment-consciousness, the lower moments are shown there to work with an almost mechanical-like activity. Man, dog, or monkey with their spinal or medullary ganglia only fall lower than a fully developed fish or a full grown lobster.

If we come to consider the moment of corresponding stages in the ontogenetic and phylogenetic series, we once more meet with resemblance, but at the same time with one of fundamental difference. The moment of high type that passes ontogenetically the stages of phylogenetic evolution does it in a general, and, so to say, sketchy form, each stage of ontogenesis in reality fundamentally differing from that of the parallel stage in phylogenesis. Just as the human embryo in the course of its growth and passing the stages that reflect phylogenesis is not necessarily once a worm, then a fish, then a bird, but only approaches these types in a most general form, so also is it in the case of the moment in the different stages of its growth; it approaches the lower types of activity in a most general and sketchy form.

The moment in phylogenesis is independent and is fully developed, while the corresponding stage in ontogenesis is but a stage in the growth of another and higher moment, and as such is certainly different in nature from the phylogenetic moment. The embryo in the first state, though provided with gills, is still not a fish and could not live in water. The consciousness of the infant in passing through stages running parallel to the lower moments-consciousness does not temporarily become that particular low moment-consciousness. It is simply a general outline of the type of moment-consciousness that the higher moment is passing or a stage in the course of its ontogenetic development.

The infant in the growth of its psychic life does not actually turn butterfly, fish, bird, monkey, savage, he does not really pass those modes of psychic states, but he passes through stages which in a general outline remotely resemble the lower grades of animal psychosis. All the stages are determined by the principal type of moment-consciousness, and, in reality, are not a series of low moments ending in a high type, but stages of growth of one high type of moment-consciousness. The stages through which the infant and child pass are the evolution of man. The moments of the low forms develop on the type of an+bn+cn+ . . . . , while the moments of the highest forms develop on the type of (a+b+c+d+ . . . .)n, a far more complex organization.