Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/581

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PERCEPTION]
565
PSYCHOLOGY


the new with the old, no determination of likeness, and no subsequent classification. The pure sensation we may regard as a psychological myth; and the simple image, or such sensation revived, seems equally mythical, as we may see later on. The nth sensation is not like the first: it is a change in a presentation-continuum that has itself been changed by those preceding; and it cannot with any propriety be said to reproduce these past sensations, for they never had the individuality which such reproduction implies. Nor does it associate with images like itself, since where there is association there must first have been distinctness, and what can be associated can also, for some good time at least, be dissociated.

19. To treat of the localization of impressions is really to by which the psychological

a knowledge of space. At

inquiry it seems desirable first

what lies within our purview,

give an account of the steps

L¢, ¢ ., ”, , t;, -, ,, individual comes to

oflmpres- the outset of such an

S'°“S- of all to make plain

and what does not, lest we disturb the peace of those who, confounding philosophy and psychology, are ever eager to fight for or against the a priori character of this element of knowledge. That space is a priori in the epistemological sense it is no concern of the psychologist either to assert or to deny. Psychologically a priori or original in such sense that it has been either actually or potentially an element in all presentation from the very beginning it certainly is not. It will help to make this matter clearer if we distinguish what philosophers frequently confuse, viz. the concrete spatial experiences, constituting actual localization for the individual, and the abstract concept of space, generalized from what is found to be common in such experiences. A gannet's mind “ possessed of” a philosopher, if such a conceit may be allowed, would certainly afford its tenant very different spatial experiences from those he might share if he took up his quarters in a mole. So, any one who has revisited in after years a place from which he had been absent since childhood knows how largely a “ personal equation, ” as it were, enters into his spatial perceptions. Or the same truth may be brought home to him if, walking with a friend more athletic than himself, they come upon a ditch, which both know to be twelve feet wide, but which the one feels he can clear by a jump and the other feels he cannot. In the concrete “up ” is much more than a different direction from “ along.” The hen-harrier, which cannot soar, is indifferent to a quarry a hundred feet above it»-to which the peregrine, built for soaring, would at once give chase-but is on the alert as soon as it descries prey of the same apparent magnitude, but upon the ground. Similarly, in the concrete, the body is the origin or datum to which all positions are referred, and such positions differ not merely quantitatively but qualitatively. Moreover, our various bodily movements and their combinations constitute a network of co-ordinates, qualitatively distinguishable but geometrically, so to put it, both redundant and incomplete. It is a long way from these facts of perception, which the brutes share with us, to that scientific concept of space as having three dimensions and no qualitative differences which we have elaborated by the aid of thought and language, and which reason may see to be the logical presupposition of what in the order of mental development has chronologically preceded it. That the experience of space is not psychologically original seems obvious —quite apart from any successful explanation of its origin from the mere consideration of its complexity. Thus we must have a plurality of objects-A out of B, B beside C, distant from D, and so on; and these relations of externality, juxtaposition, and size or distance imply further specialization, for with a mere plurality of objects we have not' straightway spatial differences. Juxtaposition, e. g. is only possible when the related objects form a continuum; but, again, not any continuity is extensive. Now how has this complexity come about? The first condition of spatial experience seems to lie in what has been noted above (§ rr) as the ex tensity of sensation. This Enensny much we may allow is original; for the longer we reflect the more clearly we see that no combination or association of sensations varying only in intensity and quality, not even if motor presentations are added, will account for this space-element in our perceptions. A series of touches a, b, c, d may be combined with a series of movements mi, mr, ms, m4; both series may be reversed; and finally the touches may be presented simultaneously. In this way we can attain the knowledge of the coexistence of objects that have a certain quasi-distance between them, and such experience is an important element in our perception of space; but it is not the whole of it. For, as has been already remarked by critics of the associationist psychology, we have an experience very similar to this in singing and hearing musical notes or the chromatic scale. The most elaborate attempt to get ex tensity out of succession and coexistence is that of Herbert Spencer. He has done, perhaps, all that can be done, and only to make it the more plain that the entire procedure is a iiarepov 1rp6Tepo1/ We do not first experience a succession of touches or of retinal excitations by means of movements, and then, when these impressions are simultaneously presented, regard them as extensive, because they are associated with or symbolize the original series of movements; but, before and apart from movement altogether, we experience that massiveness or ex tensity of impressions in which movements enable us to find positions, and also to measure.1 But it will be objected, perhaps not without impatience, that this amounts to the monstrous absurdity of making the contents of consciousness extended. The edge of this objection will best be turned by rendering the concept of ex tensity more precise. Thus, suppose a postage stamp pasted on the back of the hand; We have in consequence a certain sensation. If another be added beside it, the new experience would not be adequately described by merely saying we have a greater quantity of sensation, for intensity involves quantity, and increased intensity is not what is meant. For a sensation of a certain intensity, say a sensation of red, cannot be changed into one having two qualities, red and blue, leaving the intensity unchanged; but with ex tensity this change is possible. For one of the postage stamps a piece of wet cloth of the same size might be substituted and the massiveness of the compound sensation remain very much the same. Intensity belongs to what may be called graded quantity: it admits of increment or decrement, but is not a sum of parts. Extensity, on the other hand, does imply plurality: we might call it latent or merged plurality or a “ ground ” of plurality, inasmuch as to say that a single presentation has massiveness is to say that a portion of the presentation-continuum at the moment undifferentiated is capable of differentiation. Attributing this property of ex tensity to the presentation continuum as a whole, we may call the relation of any particular sensation to this larger whole its local sign, and can see L I gl that, so long as the ex tensity of a presentation admits on ' gas of diminution without the presentation becoming nil such presentation either has or may have two or more local signs-its parts, taken separately, though identical in quality and intensity, having a different relation to the whole. Such difference of relation must be regarded fundamentally as a ground or possibility of distinctness of sign-whether as being the ground or possibility of different complexes or otherwise-rather than as being from the beginning such an overt difference as the term “local sign, ” when used by Lotze, is meant to imply? From 1 We are ever in danger of exaggerating the competence of a new discovery; and the associationists seem to have fallen into this mistake, not only in the use they have made of the concept of association in psychology in general, but in the stress they have laid upon the fact of movement when explaining our space-perceptions in particular. Indeed, both ideas have here conspired against them association in keeping up the notion that we have only to deal with a plurality of discrete impressions, and movement in keepin to the front the idea of sequence. Mill's Examination of Hamilton érd ed., p. 266 seq.) surely ought to convince us that, unless we are prepared to say, as Mill seems to do, “ that the idea of space is at bottom one of time ” (p. 276), we must admit the inadequacy of our experience of movement to explain the origin of it.

“To illustrate what is meant by different complexes it will be enough to refer to the psychological implications of the fact that scarcely two portions of the sensitive surface of the human body are anatomically alike. Not only in the distribution and character of