Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/592

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
576
[REMINISCENCE
PSYCHOLOGY


the re duplications of the memory-train that have consolidated the central group have entailed their suppression. There is further the difference first mentioned, which is often only a difference of degree, viz. that reminiscences have more circumstantiality, so to say, than mere recognitions have: more of the collateral constituents of the original concrete field of consciousness are reinstated. But of the two characteristics of memory proper-(a) concreteness or circumstantiality, and (b) localization in the past-the latter is the more essential. It sometimes happens that we have the one with little or nothing of the other. For example, we may have but a faint and meagre representation of a scene, yet if it falls into and retains a fixed place in the memory train we have no doubt that some such experience was once actually ours. On the other hand, as in certain so-called illusions of memory, we may suddenly find ourselves reminded by what is happening at the moment of a preceding experience exactly like it-some even feel that they know from what is thus recalled what will happen next; and yet, because we are wholly unable to assign such representation a place in the past, instead of a belief that it happened, there arises a most distressing sense of bewilderment, as if one were haunted and had lost one's personal bearings? It has been held by some psychologists 2 that memory proper includes the representation of one's past self as agent or patient in the event or situation recalled. And this is true as regards all but the earliest human experience, at any rate; still, whereas it is easy to see that memory is essential to any development of self consciousness, the converse is not at all clear, and would involve us in a needless circle. 27. Intimately connected with memory is expectation. We may as the result of reasoning conclude that a certain event Exp edatiom will happen; we may also, in like manner, conclude that acertain other event has happened. But as we should not call the latter memory, so it is desirable to distinguish such indirect anticipation as the former from that expectation which is directly due to the interaction of ideas. Any man knows that he will die, and may make a variety of arrangements in anticipation of death, but he cannot with propriety be said to be expecting it unless he has actually present to his mind a series of ideas ending in that of death, such series being due to previous associations, and unless, further, this series owes its representation at this moment to the actual recurrence of some experience to which that series succeeded before. And as familiarity with an object or event in very various settings may be a bar to recollection, so it may be to expectation: the average Englishman, e.g. is continually surprised without his umbrella, though only too familiar with rain, since in our climate one not specially attentive to the weather obtains no clear representation of its successive phases. But after aseries of events A B C D E has been once experienced we instinctively expect the recurrence of B C . on the recurrence of A, Le. provided the memory-train continues so far intact. Such expectation, at first perhaps slight-a mere tendency easily overbornwbecomes strengthened by every repetition of the series in the old order, till eventually, if often fulfilled and never falsified, it becomes certain and, as we commonly say, irresistible. To have a clear case of expectation, then, it is not necessary that we should distinctly remember any previous experience like it, but only that we should have actually present some earlier member of a series which has been firmly associated by such previous experiences, the remaining members, or at least the next, if they continue serial, being revived through that which is once again realized. This expectation may be instantly checked by reflection, just as it may, of course, be disappointed in fact;'but these are matters which do not concern the inquiry as to the nature of expectation while expectation lasts.

We shall continue this inquiry to most advantage by widening it into an examination of the distinction of present, past and future. To a being whose presentations never passed through 1 Any full discussion of par amnesia, as these very interesting states of mind are called, belongs to mental pathology. 2 As, e.g. James Mill (Analysis of the Human Mind, ch. x.), who treats this difficult subject with great acuteness and thoroughness. the transitions which ours undergo-first divested of the strength and vividness of impressions, again reinvested with them and brought back from the faint world of ideas Present, -the sharp contrasts of “now ” and “ then, ” and P#Sf»=md all the manifold emotions they occasion, would be F"t""° quite unknown. Even we, so far as we confine our activity and attention to ideas are almost without them. Time-order, succession, antecedence, and consequence, of course, there might be still, but in that sense of events as “ past and gone for ever, ” which is one of the melancholy factors in our life; and in the obligation to wait and work in hope or dread to what is “ still to come ” there is much more than time-order. It is to presentations in their primary stage, to impressions, that we owe what real difference we find between now and then, whether prospective or retrospective, as it is to them also that we directly owe our sense of the real, of what is and exists as opposed to the non-existent that is not. But the present alone and life in a succession of presents, or, in other words, continuous occupation with impressions, give us no knowledge of the present as present. This we first obtain when our present consciousness consists partly of memories or partly of expectations as well. An event expected differs from a like event remembered chiefly in two ways-in its relation to present impressions and images and in the active attitude to which it leads. The diverse feelings that accompany our intuitions of time and contribute so largely to their colouring are mainly consequences of these differences. Let us take a series of simple and familiar events A B C D E, representing ideas by small letters, and perceptions by capitals whenever it is necessary to distinguish them. Such series may be present in consciousness in such wise that a b c d are imaged while E is perceived anew, i.e. the whole symbolized as proposed would be a b c d E; such would be, e.g. the state of a dog that had just finished his daily meal. Again, there may be a fresh impression of A which revivesb c d e; we should have then (1) A b c d e-the state of our dog when he next day gets sight of the dish in which his food is brought to him. A little later we may have (2) a b C d e. Here cz b are either after-sensations or primary memory-images, or have at any rate the increased intensity due to recent impression; but this increased intensity will be rapidly on the wane even while C lasts, and a b will pale still further when C gives place to D, and we have (3) a b c D e. But, returning to (2), we should find d e to be increasing in intensity and definiteness, as compared with their state in (1), now that C, instead of A, is the present impression. F or, when A occupied this position, not only was e raised less prominently above the threshold of consciousness by reason of its greater distance from A in the memory-continuum, but, owing to the re duplications of this continuum, more lines of possible revival were opened up, to be successively negatived as B succeeded to A and C to B; even dogs know that “ there is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.” But, where A B C D E is a series of percepts such as we have here supposed-and a series of simpler states would hardly afford much ground for the distinctions of past, present and future there would be a varying amount of active adjustment of sense organs and other movements supplementary to full sensation. In (2), the point at which we have cz b C d e, for instance, such adjustments and movements as were appropriate to b would cease as B lapsed and be replaced by those appropriate to C. Again, as C succeeded to B, and d in consequence increased in intensity and definiteness, the movements adapted to the reception of D would become nascent, and so on. Thus, psychologically regarded, the distinction of past and future and what we might call the oneness of direction of time depend, as just described, (1) upon the continuous sinking of the primary memory-images on the one side, and the continuous rising of the ordinary images on the other side, of that member of a series of percepts then repeating which is actual at the moment; and (2) on the prevenient adjustments of attention, to which such words as “ expect, ” “ await, ” “ anticipate, ” all testify by their etymology. These conditions in turn will be found to depend upon all that is implied in the formation of the memory-train and upon that recurrence of like series Of impresSi0ns which we