Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/585

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
IMAGINATION]
569
PSYCHOLOGY


The most obvious difference is that which Hume called “ the force or liveliness ” of primary presentations as compared ¢1, ,, -asf". with secondary presentations. But what exactly FSUCS Of are we to understand by this somewhat figurative Me"-'° language? A simple difference of intensity cannot be all that is meant, for-though we may be momentarily confused-we can perfectly well distinguish the faintest impression from an image; moreover, we can reproduce such faintest impressions in idea. The whole subject of the intensity of representations awaits investigation. Between moonlight and sunlight or between midday and dawn we can discriminate many grades of intensity; but it does not appear that there is any corresponding variation of intensity between them when they are not seen but imagined. Many persons suppose they can imagine a waxing or a waning sound or the gradual abatement of an intense pain; but what really happens in such cases is probably not a rise and fall in the intensity of a single representation, but a change in the complex represented. In the primary presentation there has been a change of quality along with change of intensity, and not only so, but most frequently a change in the muscular adaptations of the sense-organs too, to say nothing of organic sensations accompanying these changes. A representation of some or all of these attendants is perhaps what takes place when variations of intensity are supposed to be reproduced. Again, hallucinations are often described as abnormally intense images which simply, by reason of their intensity, are mistaken for percepts. But such statement, though supported by very high authority, is almost certainly false, and would probably never have been made if physiological and epistemological considerations had been excluded as they ought to have been. Hallucinations, when carefully examined, seem just as much as percepts to contain among their constituents some primary presentation-either a so-called subjective sensation of sight and hearing or some organic sensation due to deranged circulation or secretion. Intensity alone, then, will not suffice to discriminate between impressions and images. What we may call superior steadiness is perhaps a more constant and not less striking characteristic of percepts. Ideas are not only in a continual fiux, but even when we attempt forcibly to detain one it varies continually in clearness and completeness, reminding one of nothing so much as of the illuminated devices made of gas jets, common at fétes, when the wind sweeps across them, momentarily obliterating one part and at the same time intensifying another. There is not this perpetual flow and flicker in what we perceive. The impressions entering consciousness at any one moment are psychologically independent of each other; they are equally independent of the impressions and images presented the moment before-independent, i.e. as regards their order and character, not, of course, as regards the share of attention they secure. Attention to be concentrated in one direction must be withdrawn from another, and images may absorb it to the exclusion of impressions as readily as a first impression to the exclusion of a second. But, when attention is secured, a faint impression has a fixity and definiteness lacking in the case of even vivid ideas. One ground for this definiteness and independence lies in the localization or projection which accompanies all perception. But why, if so, it might be asked, do. we not confound percept and image when what we imagine is imagined as definitely localized and projected? Because we have a contrary percept to give the image the lie; where this fails, as in dreams, or where, as in hallucination, the image obtains in other ways the fixity characteristic of impressions, such confusion does in fact result. But in normal waking life we have the whole presentation-continuum, as it were, occupied and in operation: we are distinctly conscious of being embodied and having our senses about us. But how is this contrariety between impression and image possible? With eyes wide open, and while clearly aware of the actual field of sight and its filling, one can recall or imagine a wholly different scene: lying warm in bed one can imagine oneself out walking in the cold. It is useless to say the times are different, that what is perceived is present and what is imaged I

is past or future! The images, it is true, have certain temporal marks-of which more presently-by which they may be referred to what is past or future; but as imaged they are present, and, as We have just observed, are regarded as actual Whenever there are no correcting impressions. We cannot at once see the sky red and blue; how is it we can imagine it the one while perceiving it to be the other? When we attempt to make the field of sight at once red and blue, as in looking through red glass with one eye and through blue glass with the other, either the colours merge and we see a purple sky or we see the sky first of the one colour and then of the other in irregular alternation. That this does not happen between impression and image shows that, whatever their connexion, images as a whole are distinct from the presentation-continuum and cannot with strict propriety be spoken of as revived or reproduced impressions. This difference is manifest in another respect, viz. when we compare the effects of diffusion in the two cases. An increase in the intensity of a sensation of touch entails an increase in the ex tensity; an increase of muscular innervation entails irradiation to adjacent muscles; but when a particular idea becomes clearer and more distinct, there rises into consciousness an associated idea qualitatively related probably to impressions of quite another class, as when the smell of tar calls up memories of the sea-beach and fishing boats. Since images are thus distinct from impressions, and yet so far continuous with each other as to form a train in itself unbroken, we should be justified, if it were convenient, in speaking of images as changes in a new continuum; and later on we may see that this is convenient.

Impressions then-unlike ideas-have no associates to whose presence their own is accommodated and on whose intensity their own depends. Each bids independently for attention, so that often a state of distraction ensues, such as the train of ideas left to itself never occasions. The better to hear we listen; the better to see we look; to smell better we dilate the nostrils and sniff; and so with all the special senses: each sensory impression sets up nascent movements for its better reception.” In like manner there is also a characteristic adjustment for images which can be distinguished from sensory adjustments almost as readily as these are distinguished from each other. We become most aware of this as, mutatis mutandis, We do of them, when we voluntarily concentrate attention upon particular ideas instead of remaining mere passive spectators, as it Were, of the general procession. To this ideational adjustment may be referred most of the strain and “ head-splitting ” connected with recollecting, reflecting and all that people call headwork; and the “ absent look ” of one intently thinking or absorbed in reverie seems directly due to the absence of sensory adjustment that accompanies the concentration of attention upon ideas. 22. But, distinct as they are, impressions and images are still closely connected. In the first place, there are two or three well-marked intermediate stages, so that, though We Connexion

cannot directly observe it, we seem justified in assum- of Impresing a steady transition from the one to the other. As sm” 3'1" Images.

the first of such intermediate stages, it is usual to reckon what are often, and-so far as psychology goes inaccurately, styled after-images. They would be better described as after-sensations, inasmuch as they are due either (1) to the persistence of the original peripheral excitation after the stimulus is withdrawn, or (2) to the effects of the exhaustion or the repair that immediately follows this excitation. In the former case they are qualitatively identical with the original sensation and are called “ positive, ” in the latter they are complementary to it and are called “negative ” (see VISION). These last, then, of which we have clear instances only in connexion with sight, are obviously in no Moreover, as we shall see, the distinction between present and past or future psychologically presupposes the contrast of impression and image.

2 Organic sensations, though distinguishable from images by their definite though often anatomically inaccurate localization, furnish no clear evidence of such adaptations. But in another respect they are still more clearly marked off from images, viz. by the pleasure or pain they directly occasion.