Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/605

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PSYCHOLOGY


present these movements are apt to be nascent. This association is the result of subjective selection-Le. of feeling-but being once established, it persists like other associations independently of it. (2) T hose movements are especially apt to become nascent which have not been recently executed, which are therefore fresh and accompanied by the organic sensations of freshness, but also those which are frequently executed, and so from habit readily aroused. The latter fact, which chiefly concerns habitual desires, may be left aside for a time. (3) At times, then, when there is a lack of present interests, or when these have begun to wane, or when there is positive pain, attention is ready to fasten on any new suggestion that calls for more activity, requires a change of active attitude, or promises relief. Such spontaneous concentration of attention ensures greater vividness to the new idea, whatever it be, and to its belongings. In some cases this greater vividness may suffice. This is most likely to happen when the new idea affords intellectual occupation, and this is at the time congenial, or with indolent and imaginative persons who prefer dreaming to doing. (4) But when the new idea does not lead off the pent-up stream of action by opening out fresh channels, when, instead of this, it is one that keeps them intent upon itself in an' attitude comparable to expectation, then we have desire. In such a state the intensity of the re-presentation is not adequate to the intensity of the incipient actions it has aroused. This is most obvious when the latter are directed towards sensations or percepts, and the former remains only an idea. If it were possible by concentrating attention to convert ideas into percepts, there would be an end of most desires: “ if wishes were horses beggars would ride.” (5) But our voluntary power over movements is in general of this kind: here the fiat may become fact. When we cannot hear we can' at least listen, and, though there be nothing to fill them, we can at least hold out our hands. It would seem, then, that the source of desire lies essentially in this excess of the active reaction above the intensity of the re-presentation (the one constituting the" impulse, ” the other the “ object ” of desire, or the desideratum), and that this disparity rests ultimately on the fact that movements have, and sensations have not, a subjective initiative. (6) The impulse or striving to act will, as already hinted, be stronger the greater the available energy, the fewer the present outlets, and, habits apart, the fresher the new opening for activity. (7) Finally, it is to be noted that, when such inchoate action can be at once consummated, desire ends where it begins: to constitute a definite state of desire there must be not only an obstacle to the realization of the desideratum-if this were all we should rather call the state one of wishing but an obstacle to its realization by means of the actions its representation has aroused.

However the desire may have been called forth, its intensity is primarily identical with the strength of this impulse to action, Rami, ” of and has no definite or constant relation to the amount Desire ro of pleasure that may result from its satisfaction. F¢°”"3- The feeling directly consequent on desire as a state of want and restraint is one of pain, and the reaction which this pain sets up may either suppress the desire or prompt to efforts to avoid or overcome the obstacles in its way. To 1nqu1re into these alternatives would lead us into the hi here 8

phases of voluntary action; but we must first consider the relation of desire to feeling more closely.

Instances are by no means wanting of very imperious desires accompanied by the clear knowledge that their gratin cation will be positively distasteful! On the other hand it is possible to recollect or picture circumstances known or believed to be intensely pleasurable without any desire for them being awakened at all: we can regret or admire without desiring. Yet there are many psychologists who maintain that desire is excited only by the prospect of the pleasure that may arise through its gratification, and that the strength of the desire is proportional to the intensity of the pleasure thus anticipated. 1 As such an instance may be cited Plato's story of Leontius, the son of Aglaeon, in Rep. iv. 439 fin.

Quidquid petitur petifur sub specie boni is their main formula. The plausibility of this doctrine rests partly upon a seemingly imperfect analysis of what strictly pertains to desire and partly on the fact that it is substantially true both of what we may call “ presentation-prompted ” action, which belongs to an earlier stage than desire, and of the more or less rational action that comes later. In the-very moment of enjoyment it may be fairly supposed that action is sustained solely by the pleasure received and is proportional to the intensity of that pleasure. But there is here no re-presentation and no seeking; the conditions essential to desire, therefore, do not apply. Again, in rational action, where both are present, it may be true -to quote the words of an able advocate of the view here controverted-that “ our character as rational beings is to desire everything exactly according to its pleasure value.” But consider what such conceptions as the good, pleasure value and rational action involve. Here we have foresight and calculation, regard for self as an object of permanent interest-Butler's cool self-love; but desire as such is blind, without either the present certainty of sense or the assured prevision of reason. Pleasure in the past, no doubt, has usually brought about the association between the representation of the desired object and the movement for its realization; but neither the recollection of this pleasure nor its anticipation is necessary to desire, and even when present they do not determine what urgency it will have. The best proof of this lies in certain habitual desires. Pleasures are diminished by repetition, whilst habits are strengthened by it; if the intensity of desire, therefore, were proportioned to the “ pleasure value ” of its »gratif;ication, the desire for renewed gratification should diminish as this pleasure grows less; but, if the present pain of restraint from action determines the intensity of desire, this should increase as the action becomes habitual. And observation seems to show that, unless prudence suggests the forcible suppression of such belated desires or the active energies themselves fail, they do in fact become more imperious, although less productive of positive pleasure, as time goes on.

In this there is, of course, no exception to the general principle that action is consequent on feeling-a greater pleasure being preferred before a less, a less pain before a greater; for, though the feeling that follows upon its satisfaction be less or even change entirely, still the pain of the unsatisfied desire increases as the desire hardens into habit. It is also a point in favour of the position here taken that appetites, which may be compared to inherited desires, certainly prompt to action by present pain rather than by prospective pleasure.

I ntellection.

36. Desire naturally prompts to the search for the means to its satisfaction and frequently to a mental rehearsal of various possible courses of action, their advantages and disadvantages. Thus, by the time the ideational continuum has become-mainly by the comparatively passive working of association-sufficiently developed to furnish free ideas as thinking material, motives are forthcoming for thinking to begin. It is obviously impossible to assign any precise time for this advance; like all others, it is gradual. Fitfully, in strange circumstances and under strong excitement, the lower animals give unmistakable signs that they can understand and reason. But thought as a permanent activity may be fairly said to originate in and even to depend upon the acquisition of speech. This' indispensable instrument, which more than anything else enables our pyschological individual to advance to the distinctly human or rational stage, consists of gestures and vocal utterances, which were originally-and, indeed, are still to a large extent-emotional expressions? Our space will only allow us to note in what 2 Bain, Emotions and Will, 3rd ed., p. 438.

3 It must be noted that, though we still retain our psychological standpoint, the higher development of the individual is only possible through intercourse with other individuals, that is to say, through society. Without language we should be mutually exclusive and impenetrable, like so many physical atoms; with it each several mind may transcend its own limits and share the minds of others. As a