Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/567

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GENERAL ANALYSIS]
551
PSYCHOLOGY


second. But psychology is not'called upon to transcend the relation of subject to object or, as we may call it, the fact of presentation. On the other hand, as has been said, the attempt to ignore one term of the relation is hopeless; and equally hopeless, even futile, is the attempt, by means of phrases such as consciousness or the unity of consciousness, to dispense with the recognition of a conscious subject.

5. We might now proceed to inquire more closely into the character and relations of the three invariable constituents of F psychical life which are broadly distinguished as eeling. . . . .

cogmtions, feelings and co nations. But we should be at once confronted by a doctrine which, strictly taken, amounts almost to a denial of this tripartite classification of the facts of mind-the doctrine, viz. that feeling alone is primordial and invariably present wherever there is consciousness at all. Every living creature, it is said, feels, though it may never do any more; only the higher animals, and these only after a time, learn to discriminate and identify and to act with a purpose. T his doctrine, as might be expected, derives its plausibility partly from the vagueness of psychological terminology, and partly from the intimate connexion that undoubtedly exists between feeling and cognition on the one hand and feeling and volition on the other. As to the meaning of the term, it is plain that further definition is requisite for a word that may mean (a) a touch, as feeling of roughness; (b) an organic sensation, as feeling of hunger; (c) an emotion, as feeling of anger; (af) feeling proper, as pleasure or pain. But, even taking feeling in the last, its stricter sense, it has been maintained that all the more complex forms of consciousness are resolvable into, or at least have been developed from, feelings of pleasure and pain. The only proof of such position. since we cannot directly observe the beginnings of conscious life, must consist of considerations such as the following. So far as we can judge, we find feeling everywhere; but, as we work downwards from higher to lower forms of life, the possible variety and the defmiteness of sense-impressions both steadily diminish. Moreover, we can directly observe in our own organic sensations, which seem to come nearest to the whole content of primitive or infantile experience, an almost entire absence of any assignable quale. Finally, in our sense experience generally, we find the element of feeling at a maximum in the lower senses and the cognitive element at a maximum in the higher. But the so-called intellectual senses are the most used, and use (we know) blunts feeling and favours intellect ion, as we see in chemists, who sort the most filthy mixtures by smell and taste without discomfort. If, then, feeling predominates more and more as we approach the beginning of conscious life, may we not conclude that it is its only essential constituent P On the contrary, such a conclusion would be rash in the extreme. Two lines, e.g. may get nearer and nearer and yet will never meet, if the rate of approach is simply proportional to the distance. A triangle may be diminished indefinitely, and yet we cannot infer that it becomes eventually all angles, though the angles get no less and the sides do. Before, then, we decide whether pleasure or pain alone can ever constitute a complete experience, it may be well to inquire into the connexion between feeling and cognition, on the one hand, and between feeling and conation on the other, so far as we can now observe. And this is an inquiry which will help us towards an answer to our main question, namely, that concerning the nature and connexions of what are commonly regarded as the three ultimate facts of mind.

Broadly speaking, in any state of mind that we can directly observe, what we find is (1) that we are aware of a certain change Relation vf in our sensations, thoughts or circumstances, (2) F"""3 '° that we are pleased or pained with the change, and Cognition . .

d¢, ,, ,. (3) that we act accordingly. We never find that tion. feeling directly alters—i.e. without the intervention of the action of which it prompts-either our sensations or situation, but that regularly these latter with remarkable promptness and certainty alter it. We have not first a change of feeling, and then a change in our sensations, perceptions and ideas; but, these changing, change of feeling follows. In short, feeling appears to be an effect, which therefore cannot exist without its cause, though in different circumstances the same immediate cause may produce a different amount or even a different state of feeling. Turning from what we may call the receptive phase of an experience to the active or appetitive phase, We ind in like manner that feeling is certainly not-in such cases as we can clearly observwthe whole of what we experience at any moment. True, in common speech we talk of liking pleasure and disliking pain; but this is either tautology, equivalent to saying we are pleased when we are pleased and pained when we are pained; or else it is an allowable abbreviation, and means that We like pleasurable objects and dislike painful objects, as when we say we like feeling warm and dislike feeling hungry. But feeling warm or feeling hungry, we must remember, is not pure feeling in the stricter sense of the word. Within the limits of our observation, then, we find that feeling accompanies some more or less definite presentation which for the sake of it becomes the object of appetite or aversion; in other words, feeling implies a relation to a pleasurable or painful presentation or situation, that, as cause of feeling or as end of the action to which feeling prompts, is doubly distinguished from it. Thus the very facts that lead us to distinguish feeling from cognition and conation make against the hypothesis that consciousness can ever be all feeling. .

But, as already said, the plausibility of this hypothesis is in good part due to a laxity in the use of terms. Most psychologists before Kant, and some even to the present day, P¢e[]uggud speak of pleasure and pain as sensations. But it is Sensation plain that pleasure and pain are not simple ideas, di'“"'t as Locke called them, in the sense in which touches and tastes are-that is to say, they are never like these localized or projected, nor are they elaborated in conjunction with other sensations and movements into percepts or intuitions of the external. This confusion of feeling with sensations is largely consequent on the use of one word pain both for certain organic sensations and for the purely subjective state of being pained. But such pains not only are always more or less definitely localized-which of itself is so far cognition, they are also distinguished as shooting, burning, gnawing, &c., all which symptoms indicate a certain objective quality. Accordingly psychologists have been driven by one means or another to recognize two “ aspects ” (Bain), or “ properties ” (Wundt), in what they call a sensation, the one a “ sensible or intellectual ” or “ qualitative, ” the other an “affective ” or “ emotive, ” aspect or property. The term “ aspect” is figurative and obviously inaccurate; even to describe pleasure and pain as properties of sensation is a matter open to much question. But the point which at present concerns us is simply that when feeling is said to be the primordial element in consciousness more is usually included under feeling than pure pleasure and pain, viz. some characteristic or quality by which one pleasurable or painful sensation is distinguishable from another. No doubt, as we go downwards in the chain of life the qualitative or objective elements in the so-called sensations become less and less definite; and at the same time organisms with well-developed sense-organs give place to others without any clearly differentiated organs at all. But there is no ground for supposing even the amoeba itself to be affected in all respects the same whether by changes of temperature or of pressure or by changes in its internal fluids, albeit all of these changes will further or hinder its life and so presumably be in some sort pleasurable or painful. On the whole, then, there are grounds for saying that the endeavour to represent all the various facts of consciousness as evolved out of feeling is due to a hasty striving after simplicity, and has been favoured by the ambiguity of the term feeling itself. If by feeling we mean a certain subjective state varying continuously in intensity and passing from time to time from its positive phase (pleasure) to its negative phase (pain), then this purely pathic state implies an agreeing or disagreeing something which psychologically determines it. If, on the other hand, we let feeling stand for both this state and the cause of it, then, perhaps, a succession of such “feelings ” may make up a consciousness; but then we are including two of our elementary facts under the name of one