Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/587

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IDEATION]
571
PSYCHOLOGY


predominates, while senility lapses back to the second; in the third, where similarities suggest themselves and the contrast of actual and possible is explicit, we have at length the groundwork of logical comparison. Nevertheless, since imagination plays a conspicuous part in child life before much personal reminiscence appears, it would seem probable that ideas do not first arise as definite memory-images or reminiscences. On the other hand, in the so-called homing instincts of the lower animals we have evidence of isolated “memories ” of a simpler form than ours. ~

The subject is as difficult as it is interesting and important, and we can hardly hope at present for a final solution. One chief obstacle, as is so often the case in psychology, lies in the unsettled connotation of such leading terms as memory, association and idea. Even what is most fundamental of all, that “plasticity ” which we have analysed into retentiveness, differentiation and integration, is sometimes described as if it already involved memory-ideas and their association. Ideas, that is to say, are identified with mere “ residua " of former “ impressions, ” and yet at the same time are spoken of as “ copies " of these: which 15 much like saying the evening twilight is a replica of the noonday glare as well as its parting gleam. Again, the continuous differentiation and red integration of the presentational continuum which mark the progress of perceptual experience are resolved into an original multiplicity of presentational atoms which are associated by “ adhesion " of the contiguous. Yet before the differentiation there was no plurality, and after the integration there is only a complex unity, comparable perhaps with another organic whole, but certainly not with a mosaic stuck together with cement. This mistaken identification by the Associationist psychology of later processes with simpler and earlier ones, by which they are only partially explained, has not only obscured the science with inappropriate concepts but has prevented the question on which we are entering-that concerning the (genesis and development of ideasffrom being ever effectually raise . The discussion of this question will incidentally yield the best refutation of those views.

Experience, we say, is the acquisition of practical acquaintance and efficiency as the result of repeated opportunity and effort. This means that strangeness on the cognitive side gives place to familiarity, and that on the active side clumsiness is superseded by skill. But though analytically distinct, the two sides are, as we have already insisted, actually inseparable: to the uninteresting we are indifferent, and what does not call for active response is ignored. If the original presentations whether sensory or motor, be A, B, C, we find then that they gradually acquire a. new character, become, let us say, AV, BY, CY, fy representing the eventual familiarity or facility, as the case may be. We find, again, a certain sameness in this character, however various the presentations to which it pertains, a sameness which points to the presence of subjective constituents, and to these we may assign the “ feelings ” that enter into accommodation and adjustment. This factor is important as evidence of a subjective co-operation which may enable us to dispense with the mutual “ adhesion's ” and “ attractions” among presentations, on which the Associationists rely. But it is obvious that there must be an objective factor as well; and it is this objective factor in the process giving rise to 'y that now primarily concerns us. We have described that process as assimilation or immediate recognition: the older psychology described it as association of the completely similar, or as automatic association. That the two views have something in common is shown by the juxtaposition of “ automatic ” and “ immediate, ” “ similarity ” and “ assimilation.” To prepare the way for further discussion, let us first ascertain these points of agreement. “ When I look at the full moon, ” said Bain, “ I am instantly impressed with the state arising from all my former impressions of her disc added together.” This we may symbolize in the usual fashion as A-{-an - - - +a3+a2+a1. Now, it will be granted (1) that the present occurrence (full moon) has been preceded by a series of like occurrences, enumerable as r, 2, 3, - - - n; (2) that the present experience (AY) is what it is in consequence of the preceding experiences of these occurrences; and (3) that it “ arises instantly ” as the joint result of such preceding experiences. But it is denied (1) that this present experience is the mere sum, or even the mere “ fusion, ” of the experiences preceding it; (2) that they were qualitatively identical; (3) that they persist severally unaltered, in such wise that experience “ drags at each remove a lengthening chain ” of them. In the case of dexterities, where 'y answers to facility, it is obvious that there is no such series of identical (al, a2, - - - a, ,) at all. From the first rude beginning-say the schoolboy's pothooks-up to the finished performance of the adept there is continuous approximation: awkward and bungling attempts, passing gradually into the bold strokes of mastery. Nor is the case essentially different in cognition where fy answers to familiarity; if we attend, as it is plain we ought, not to the physical fact cognized, but to the individual's perception of it. This, too, is an acquisition, has entailed activity, and is marked by gradual approximation towards clearness and distinctness. The successive experiences of n identical occurrences does not then result in an accumulation of n identical residua. The ineptness of the atomistic psychology with its “physical ” and “ chemical ” analysis is nowhere more apparent than here. Considering the intimate relation of life and mind, and the strong physiological bias shown by the Associationists from Hartley onwards, it is surely extraordinary how completely they have failed to appreciate the light-bearing significance of such concepts as function and development. Facility and faculty (or function) are much the same, both etymologically and actually. As the perfected structure is not so many rudimentary structures “ added together, ” but something that supersedes them completely, must we not say the same of the perfected function? The less fit is not embodied in the fittest that finally survives. Development implies change of form in a continuous whole: every growth into means an equal growth out of: thus one cannot find the caterpillar in the butterfly. Between organic development and mental development there is then more than an analogy.

But though assimilation cannot be analysed into a series of identical ideas (a, , az, ~ - ~ a, ,), either “added together” or “ instantaneously fused, ” yet it does result in an a which may provisionally be called an idea. Such idea is, however, neither a memory-idea in the proper sense nor an idea within the meaning of the term implied in imagination or ideation. For it is devoid of the temporal signs* indicated by the subscript numerals in a, , az, - - -, and it does not yet admit of reproduction as part of an ideational continuum, one, that is, divested of the characteristics belonging to the actual and sensibly present. It is, so to say, embryonic, something additional to the mere sensation assimilated, and yet something less than a “ free or independent idea.” It is, as it has been happily called,2 a tied (gebundene) or implicit idea. We have clear evidence of the sense-bound stage of this immature “ idea ” in the so-called “ memory afterimage ” (cf. § 22). There is, however, nothing in this of memory, save as the term is loosely used for mere retentiveness; and afterpercept would therefore be a less objectionable name for it. This after-percept is entirely sense-sustained and admits of no ideal recall, though-in minds sujiciently advanced-it may persist for a few moments, and so form the basis of such comparison with a second sensation, as we find in the experiments of Weber, Fechner and others? At a still lower level, or in actual perception, we cannot assume even this amount of partial independence, though continuity clearly points to something beyond the bare sensation, which is a pure abstraction, as we may presently see.

It is saying too little to maintain, as some do, that this “ something" is subconscious, on the ground that it is not discoverable by direct analysis. Yet it is saying too much, regardless of this defect, to describe a percept as a preventative-representative 1 On this term cf. below, §§ 24, 28.

2 Cf. Drobisch, Empirische Psychologie (1842), § 31; Holfding, “ Ueber Wiederkennen, Association und psychische Activitat, " in Vierteljahrsschr. f. wissenschaftl. Philosophie, Bd. xiii. and xiv. To Hoffding we are also indebted for the term Bekanntheitsqualitat, which has suggested the 'y character used above. Cf. also Ward, “ Assimilation and Association, " Mind (1894-1895). 3 Recent experiments, however, seem to prove that the afterpercept is not the sole factor, and often is not a factor at all in such successive comparison (so-called); but that what is now termed “ the absolute impression" may supplement it or even replace it Eltogether. As to what is meant by absolute impression, cf. 14, c.