Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/602

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
586
[EMOTION
PSYCHOLOGY


they were before, they have changed relatively to the grub now it has become a butterfly. So, while we are all along preferring a more pleasurable state of consciousness before a less, the content of our consciousness is continually changing; the greater pleasure still outweighs the less, but the pleasures to be weighed are either wholly different, or at least are the same for us no more. What we require then, is not that the higher pleasures shall always afford greater pleasure than the lower did, but that to advance to the level of life on which pleasure is derived from higher objects shall on the whole be more pleasurable and less painful than to remain behind. And this condition seems provided in the fact of accommodation above referred to and in the important fact that attention can be more effectively expended by what we may therefore call improvements in the form of the field of consciousness. But when all is said and done a certain repugnance is apt to arise against any association of the differences between the higher and lower feelings with differences of quantity. Yet such repugnance is but another outcome of the common mistake of supposing that the real is obtained by pulling to pieces rather than by building up. No logical analysis-nay, further, no logical synthesis—is adequate to the fullness of things. For the rest, such aversion is wholly emotional, and has no more an intellectual element in it than has the disgust we feel on first witnessing anatomical dissection sf

Emotion and Emotional Expression.

34. We now pass from the causes of feeling to its effects. We have assumed (§ 7) that the simplest and earliest of these effects are to be found in the various bodily move-Effects of . .

Fee”, , g ments commonly described as the expression or manifestation of emotion. But in a notorious

article, entitled “What is an Emotion?" Professor jamesz attempted to turn this, the common-sense position, upside down. Before proceeding we must, therefore, examine his alternative theory: “ Common sense says: we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run; we are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike.” But, Professor James continues, “the hypothesis here to be defended says that this order of sequence is incorrect: that the one mental state is not immediately induced by the other, that the bodily manifestations must first be interposed between, and that the more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike or tremble because we are sorry, angry or fearful, as the case may be.” In a word, whereas it is commonly supposed that the emotion precedes and produces the expression, it seems here to be maintained that the expression precedes and produces the emotion. But the sequence denied in the first case is a psychological sequence, the sequence maintained in the second is a physiological 'sequence. The subject's experiences of the bodily expressions is here the emotion, and these are physically, not psychically, determined. “ They are sensational processes, ” says Professor James; “ processes due to inward currents set up by physical happenings.” The new theory is, then, in part psychological, in part psycho physical. As to the first part, which the author calls “the vital point of the whole theory, ” it consists mainly in exposing the ambiguity of the phrase “ bodily expression of an emotion ” -a phrase which is liable to mislead us into fancying that “ To look at anything in its elements makes it appear inferior to what it seems as a whole. Resolve the statue or the building into stone and the laws of proportion, and no worthy causes of the former beaut'f l it f '

1 u resu seem now le t behind. So, also, resolve a virtuous act into the passions and some quantitative law, and it seems to be rather destroyed than analysed, thou h after all what was there else it could be resolved into? ” Sir A. érant, Aristotlels Ethics, Essay IV., “ The Doctrine of the Mean, ” i. 210 (2nd ed.). 2 Mind (1884), ix. 188 sqq.; and, again, Principles of Psychology, ch. xxv. Very similar views were advanced independently and almost at the same time by the Danish physiologist C. Lange; hence the name James-Lange theory, by which their views are commonly known. Of Lange's work a German translation was published in 1887.

emotion, like thought, may be antecedent to, or independent of, any expression or utterance. My fear or anger may chance to be expressive to another, but they are of necessity impressive to me. “ A disembodied human emotion is a sheer nonentity.” In so far as I have a certain emotion, in so far I have “ the feelings of its bodily symptoms.” This is true, not to say trite; but how do these symptoms arise? With this 'question we pass to the psycho physical side of the theory, and here it becomes perplexing, and is itself perplexed; for to this question it is driven to return two distinct and divergent answers. First, we are told that it is not the emotion that gives rise to the bodily expression, but that, on the contrary, “the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the existing fact, ” it being beyond doubt “ that objects do excite bodily changes by a reorganised mechanism.” Again: "' Each emotion is, ” for Professor James, “ a resultant of a sum of elements, and each element is caused by a physiological process of a sort already well known. The elements are all organic changes, and each of them is the reflex eject of the existing object.” The old attempts at classification and description being contemptuously dismissed as belonging only to “the lowest stage of science, ” we are informed that now we step from a superficial to a deep order of inquiry. “The questions now are causal: Just what changes does this object and what changes does that object excite?' and ' How come they to excite these particular changes, and not others?' ” But we have not had to wait for the James-Lange theory to raise these questions, and surely there are none that bring out its defects more glaringly. “Objects ” that determine bodily changes by means of reorganized mechanism and without psychical interposition might fairly be taken to be physical objects; and indeed the whole process is expressly described as reflex. But only very slovenly physiologists talk of “ objects ” exciting reflexes: it is inexact even to say that sensations do so. All that reflex action requires is a stimulus. “ The essence of a reflex action, ” says Foster, “consists in the transmutation, by means of the irritable protoplasm of a nerve-cell, of afferent into efferent impulses.” Let Professor James be confronted first by a chained bear and next by a bear at large: to the one object he presents a bun, and to the other a clean pair of heels; or let him first be thrilled by a Beethoven symphony and then by a Raphael Madonna. Will he now undertake to account, in terms of stimuli and their reflex effects, for the very different results of the similar “ causes ” in the one case, or for the similar results of the very different “ causes ” in the other? Such a challenge would certainly be declined, and Professor James would remind us that in his nomenclature “ it is the total situation on which the reaction of the subject is made.” 3 But there is just a world of difference between “object”=stimulus transformed by reorganised mechanism into an efferent discharge, and" object ” =total situation to which the subject reacts. The attempt to explain emotion causally on the lines of the former meaning lands us in the conscious automaton theory, with which we must deal presently: this Professor James rejects. The latter meaning, on the other hand, involves the recognition of the subject's attitude as essential to the reaction, and of this as determined by pleasure, pain or by some “ interest ” resting ultimately on these. Such, with scarcely an exception, has always been, and still remains, the analysis of emotion in vogue among psychologists. It brings to the fore a new category, that of worth or value, one wholly extraneous to the physiologist's domain, and repugnant to the mechanical analogies which are there in place. No doubt such a concept is attained only by reflexion, but the experiences from which it is drawn, the affective states and the conative tendencies of the subject experiencing, must have preceded. From this central standpoint alone the objective situation has a worth which explains the subject's attitude, and here alone can we ind the clue which 3 “ Physical Basis of Emotion, " Psychological Review (1894), p. 518. In this reply to criticisms Professor James is supposed to have modified his views: it would be nearer the truth to say that he has made admissions incompatible with them.