Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/607

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
INTELLECTION]
591
PSYCHOLOGY


to negotiation, we should say, that they have always recourse to conquest, the custom which we have acquired of attributing certain relations to ideas still follows the words and makes us immediately perceive the absurdity of that proposition.”1 How intimately the two are connected is shown by the surprises that give what point there is to puns, and by the small confusion that results from the existence of homonymous terms. The question thus arises—What are the properly ideational elements concerned in thought? Over this question psychologists long waged fight as either nominalists or conceptualises. The former maintain that what is imaged in

Connexion with a general concept, such as triangle, is some individual triangle “ taken in a certain light, " while the latter maintain that an “ abstract idea ” is formed embodying such constituents of the several particulars as the concept connotes, but dissociated from the specific or accidental variations that distinguish one particular from another. As often happens in such controversies, each side saw the weak point in the other. The nominalists easily showed that there was no distinct abstract idea representable apart from particulars; and the conceptualises could as easily show that a particular presentation “ considered in a certain light ” is no longer merely a particular presentation nor yet a mere crowd of presentations. The very thing to ascertain is what this consideration in a certain light implies. Perhaps a speedier end might have been put to this controversy if either party had been driven to define more exactly what was to be understood by image or idea. Such ideas as are possible to us apart from abstraction are, as we have seen, revived perccpts. not revived sensations, are complex total re-presentations made up of partial re-presentations, which may igure in other totals (cf. § 21). Reproductive imagination is so far but a faint rehearsal of actual percepts, and constructive imagination but a faint anticipation of possible percepts. In either case we are busied with elementary presentations complicated or synthesized to what are tantamount to intuitions, in so far as the forms of intuition remain in the idea, though the fact, as tested by movement, &c., is absent. The several partial re-presentations, however, which make up an idea might also be called ideas, not merely in the wide sense in which every mental object may be so called, but also in the narrower sense as secondary presentations, i.e. as distinguished from primary presentations or impressions. But such isolated images of an impression, even if possible, would no more be intuitions than the mere impression itself would be one: taken alone the one would be as free of space and time as is the other. Till it is settled, therefore, whether the ideational elements concerned in conception are intuitive complexes or something answering to the ultimate elements of these, nothing further can be done. In the case of what are specially called “ concrete ” as distinct from “ abstract ” concepts-if this rough-and-ready, but unscientific, distinction may be allowed-the idea answering to the concept differs little from an intuition, and we have already remarked that the generic image (Gefneinbild of German psychologists) constitutes the connecting link between imagination and conception. But even concerning these it is useless to ask what does one imagine in thinking, ag. of triangle or man or colour. We never-except for the sake of this very inquiry attempt to fix our minds in this manner upon some isolated concept; in actual thinking ideas are not in consciousness alone and disjointedly, but as part of a context. When the idea “ man” is present, it is present in some proposition or question, as-Man is the paragon of animals; In man there is nothing great but mind; and so on. It is quite clear that in understanding or mentally verifying such statements very different constituents out of the whole complex “ man ” are prominent in each. Further, what is present to consciousness when a general term is understood will differ, not only with a different context, but also the longer we dwell upon it: we may either analyse its connota-1 Treatise of Human Nature (Green and Grose's ed.), pt. i. § vii. p. 33x.

Cf. Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, lntrod. § 16, Hume, op. cit. § 7.

tion or muster its denotation, as the context or the cast of our minds may determine. Thus what is relevant is alone prominent, and the more summary the attention we bestow the less the full extent and intent of the concept are displayed. To the nominalist's objection, that it is impossible to imagine a man without imagining him as either tall or short, young or old, dark or light, and so forth, the conceptualise might reply that at all events percepts may be clear without being distinct, that we can recognize a tree without recognizing what kind of tree it is, and that, moreover, -the objection proves too much: for, if our image is to answer exactly to fact, we must represent not only a tall or a short man, but a man of definite stature-one not merely either light .or dark, but of a certain precise complexion. But the true answer rather is that in conceiving as such we do not necessarily imagine a man or a tree at all, any more thanif such an illustration may serve-in writing the equation to the parabola we necessarily draw a parabola as well. The individuality of a concept is thus not to be confounded with the sensible concreteness of an intuition either distinct or indistinct, and “ the pains and skill ” which Locke felt were required in order to frame what he called an abstract idea are not comparable to the pains and skill that may be necessary to discriminate or decipher what is faint or fleeting. The material “framed ” consists no doubt of ideas, if by this is meant that in thinking we work ultimately with the ideational continuum, but what results is never a mere intuitive complex nor yet a mere group of such. The concept or “ abstract idea ” only emerges when acertain intelligible relation is established among the members of such a group; and the very same intuition may furnish the material for different concepts as often as a different geistfiges Band is drawn between them. The stufi of this bond, as we have seen, is the word, and this brings into the foreground of consciousness when necessary those elements—whether they form an intuition or not-which are relevant to the concept. Conception, then, is not identical with imagination, although the two terms are still often, and were once generally, regarded as synonymous. The same ultimate materials occur in each; but in the one they start with and retain a sensible form, in the other they are elaborated into the form which is called “ intelligible.”

37. The distinctive character of this intellectual synthesis lies, we have seen, in the fact that it is determined entirely by what is synthesized, whether that be the elemen- Genera, tary constituents of intuitions or general relations ¢|, ,, ,., ,¢¢e, . of whatever kind among these. It differs, therefore, and Growth in being selective from the synthesis of association, :;""t°"°° which rests upon contiguity and unites together on whatever occurs together. It differs also from any synthesis, though equally voluntary in its initiation, which is determined by a purely subjective preference, since intellect ion depends upon objective relations alone. Owing to the influence of logic, which has long been in a much more forward state than psychology, it has been usual to resolve intellect ion into comparison, abstraction, and classification, after this fashion: AB CM and AB CN are compared, their differences M and N left out of sight, and the class notion ABC formed including both; the same process repeated with ABC and ABD yields a higher class notion AB; and so on. But our ideational continuum is not a mere string of ideas of concrete things, least of all such concrete things as this View implies. Not till our daily life resembles that of a museum porter receiving specimens will our higher mental activity be comparable to that of the savant who sorts such specimens into cases and compartments. What we perceive is a world of things in continual motion, waxing, waning, the centres of manifold changes, affecting us and apparently affected by each other, amenable to our action and, as it seems, continually interacting among themselves. Even the individual thing, as our analysis of perception has attempted to show, is not a mere sum of properties which. can be taken to pieces and distributed like type, but a whole combined of parts very variously related. To understand intellect ion we must look at its actual development under the impetus of practical needs,