Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/566

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[GENERAL ANALYSIS
PSYCHOLOGY


we find not merely that these psychological aspects of sexual life are greatly extended, but we find also prolonged education of offspring by parents and imitation of the parents by offspring. Even language, or, at any rate “ the linguistic impulse, ” is not wholly absent among brutes.1 'I'hus as the sensori-motor adjustments of the organism to its environment generally advance in complexity and range, there is a concomitant advance in the variety and intimacy of its relations specially with individuals of its kind. It is therefore reasonable to assume no discontinuity between phases of experience that for the individual are merely objective and phases that are also ejective as well; and once the ejective level is attained, some interchange of experience is possible. So disappears the great gulf fixed betwixt subjective or individual and inter subjective or universal experience by rival systems in philosophy. 4. From this preliminary epistemological discussion we may pass on to the psychological analysis of experience itself. As to this, there is in the main substantial agreement; the elementary facts of mind cannot be expressed in less than three propositions-“ I feel somehow, ” “I know something, ” “ I do something.” But here at once there arises an important question, viz. What after all are we to understand by the subject of these propositions? The proposition “I feel somehow ” is not equivalent to “ I know that I feel somehow.” To identify the two would be to confound consciousness with self-consciousness. We are no more confined to our own immediate observations here than elsewhere; but the point is that, whether seeking to analyse one's own consciousness or to infer that of a lobster, whether discussing the association of ideas or the expression of emotions, there is always an individual self or “ subject ” in question. It is not enough to talk of feelings or volition's: what we mean is that some individual-man or worm-feels, strives, acts, thus or thus. Obvious as this may seem, it has been frequently either forgotten or gainsaid. It has been forgotten among details or through the assumption of a medley of faculties, each treated as an individual in turn, and among which the real individual was lost. Or it has been gainsaid, because to admit that all psychological facts pertain to an experiencing subject or experiment seemed to imply that they pertained to a particular spiritual substance, which was simple, indestructible, and so forth; and it was manifestly desirable to exclude such assumptions from psychology as a science aiming only at a systematic exposition of what can be known and verified by observation. But, howeverfmuch assailed or disowned, the concept of a “mind ” or conscious Egm subject is to be found implicitly or explicitly in all psychological writers whatever-not more in Berkeley, who accepts it as a fact, than in Hume, who treats it as a fiction. This being so, we are far more likely to reach the truth eventually if we openly acknowledge this inexpugnable assumption, if such it prove, instead of resorting to all sorts of devious periphrases to hide it. Now wherever the word Subject, or its derivatives, occurs in psychology we might substitute the word Ego and analogous derivatives, did such exist. But Subject is almost always the preferable term; its impersonal form is an advantage, and it readily recalls its modern correlative Object. Moreover, Ego has two senses, distinguished by Kant as pure and empirical, the latter of which was, of course, an o'b ject, the Me known, while the former was subject always, the I knowing. By pure Ego or Subject it is proposed to denote here the simple fact that everything experienced is referred to a Self experiencing. This psychological concept of a self or subject, then, is after all by no means identical with the metaphysical concepts of a soul or mind-atom, or of mind-stuff not atomic; it may be kept as free from metaphysical implications as the concept of the biological individual or organism with which it is so intimately connected.

Sublect or

The attempt, indeed, has frequently been made to resolve the former into the latter, and so to find in mind only such an indi-Attempts to vi duality as has an obvious counterpart in this individuextmde the alnty of the organism, ue. what we may call an objective Elm individuality. But such procedure owes all its plausibility to the fact that it leaves out of sight the difference between the biological and the psychological standpoints. All that the biologist means by a dog is “ the sum of the phenomena 7 1 Cf. Darwin, Descent of Man, i. 56.

which make up its corporeal existence.”'2 And, inasmuch as its presentation to any one in particular is a point of no importance, the fact of presentation at all may be very well dropped out of account. Let us now turn to psychology: Why should we not here follow Huxley and take “ the word 'soul ' simply as a name for the series of mental phenomena which make up an individual mind”? 3 Surely the moment we try distinctly to understand this question we realize that the cases are different. “ Series of mental phenomena” for whom? For any passer-by such as might take stock of our biological dog? No, obviously only for that individual mind itself; yet that is supposed to be made up of, to be nothing different from, the series of phenomena. Are we, then, (I) quoting ]. S. Mill's words, “ to accept the paradox that something which ex hypolhesi is but a series of feelings, can be aware of itself as a series " P 4 Or (2) shall we say that the several parts of the series are mutually phenomenal, much as A may look at B, who was just now looking at A? Or (3) finally, shall we say that a large part of the so-called series, in fact every term but one, is phenomenal for the rest-for that one?

As to the first, paradox is too mild a word for it; even contradiction will hardly suffice. It is as impossible to express “ being aware of ” by one term as it is to express an equation or any other relation by one term: what knows can no more be identical with what is known than a weight with wtimat it weighs. If a series of feelings is what is known or presente, then what knows, what it is resented to, cannot be that series of feelings, and this without regard) to the point Mill mentions, viz. that the infinitely greater part of the series is either past or future. The question is not in the first instance one of time or substance at all, but simply turns upon the fact that knowledge or consciousness is unmeaning except as it implies something knowing or conscious of something. But it may be replied: Granted that the formula for consciousness is something doing something, to put it generally; still, if the two somethings are the same when I touch myself or when I see myself, why may not agent and patient be the same when the action is knowing or being aware of; why may I not know myself—in fact, do I not know myself? .Certainly not; agent and patient never are the same in the same act; such terms as self-caused, self-moved, self-known, el id genus omne, either connote the incom rehensible or are abbreviated expressions -as, e.g. touching oneself) when one's right hand touches one's left. And so we come to the alternative: As one hand washes the other, may not different members of the series of feelings be subject and object in turn? Compare, for example, the state of mind of a man succumbing to temptation (as he pictures himself enjoying the coveted good and impatiently repudiates scruples of conscience or dictates of prudence) with his state when, filled with remorse, he sides with conscience and condemns this “ former self "-the “ better self ” having meanwhile become supreme. Here the cluster of presentations and their associated sentiments and motives, which together played the role of self in the first situation, have-only momentarily it may be true, but still have-for the time the place of not-self; and under abnormal circumstances this partial alternation may become complete alienation, as in what is called “ double consciousness." Or again, the development of self-consciousness might be loosely described as taking the subject or self of one stage as an object in the next-self being, e.g. first identified with the body and afterwards distinguished from it. But all this, however true, is beside the mark; and it is really a very serious misnomer to speak, as e.g. Herbert Spencer does, of the development of self consciousness as a “ differentiation of subject and object.” It is, if anything, a differentiation of object and object, i.e. in plainer words, it is a differentiation among presentations-a differentiation every stgp of which gmplies just that relation to a subject which it is su ose to su erse e.

Iphere still rerinains the alternative, expressed in the words of J. S. Mill, viz. “ the alternative of believing that the Mind or Ego is something different from any series of feelings or possibilities of them.” To admit this, of course, is to admit the necessity of distinguishing between Mind or Ego, meaning the unity or continuity of consciousness as a complex of presentations, and Mind or Ego as the subject to which this complex is presented. In dealing with the body from the ordinary biological standpoint no such necessity arises. But, whereas there the individual organism is spoken of unequivocally, in psychology, on the other hand, the individual mind may mean either (i.) the series of feelings or “ mental phenomena' above referred to; or (ii.) the subject of these feelings for whom they are phenomena; or (iii.) the subject of these feelings or phenomena plus the series of feelings or phenomena themselves, the two being in that relation to each other in which alone the one is subject and the other a series of feelin s, phenomena or objects. It is in this last sense that Mind is used in empirical psychology! Its exclusive use in the first -sense is favoured only by those who shrink from the speculative associations connected with its exclusive use in the 2

p. 171.

3 Huxley, ap. cit. p. 172.

Examination of Sir W. Hamilton's Ph1losophy, ch. xii. fin. 5 A meaning better expressed, as said above, by experience. T. H.'Huxley, Hume, “ English Men of Letters Series, " (1879),