Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/613

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

determination, which could not be present at first, that constitutes “ the third relation betwixt these objects." This “ internal impression " generated by association is then projected; “for 'tis a common observation that the mind has a great propensity to spread itself on external objects.”

The subjective origin and the after-projection we must admit, but all else in Hume's famous doctrine seems glaringly at variance with facts. In one respect it proves too much, for not all constant sequences are regarded as causal, as according to his analysis they ought to be; again, in another respect it proves too little, for causal connexion is continually predicated on a first occurrence. The natural man has always distinguished between causes and signs or portents; but there is nothing to show' that he produced an effect many times before regarding himself as the cause of it. S. Mill has indeed obviated the first ob'ection epistemologically by adding to constant conjunction the furtfier characteristic of “ unconditionality." But this is a conception that cannot be psychologically explained from Hume's premises, unless perhaps by resolving it into the qualification that the invaxiability must be compjete and not partial, whereupon the second objection applies. “ conditional " is a word for which we can find no meaning as long as we confine our attention to temporal succession. It will not do to say both that an invariable succession generates the idea, and that such invariable succession must be not only invariable but also unconditional in order to generate it. We may here turn the master against the disciple: “ the same principle, ” says Hume, “ cannot be both the cause and the effect of another, and this is perhaps the only proposition concerning that relation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain” (op. cit. p. 391). Unconditionality is then part of the causal relation and yet not the product of invariable repetition.

Perhaps the source of this element in the relation will become clear if we examine more closely the so-called “ internal impression ” of the mind, which according to Hume constitutes the whole of our idea of power or efficacy. To illustrate the nature of this impression Hume cites the instant passage of the imagination to a particular idea on hearing the word commonly annexed to it, when “ 'twill scarce be possible for the mind by its utmost efforts to prevent that transition" (op. cit. p. 393). It is this determination, then, which is felt internally, not erceived externally, that we mistakenly transfer to ob'ects and) regard as an intelligible connexion between them. But, if Hume admits this, must he not admit more? Can it be pretended that it is through the workings of association among our ideas that we first feel a determination which our utmost efforts can scarce resist, or that we feel such determination under no other circumstances? If it be allowed that the natural man is irresistibly determined to imagine an apple when he hears its name or, to expect thunder when he sees lightning, must it not also be allowed that he is irresistibly determined much earlier and in a much more impressive way when overmastered by the elements or by his enemies? But, further, such instances bring to light what Hume's “ determination " also implies, viz. its necessary correlative, effort or action. Even irresistible association can only be known as such by efforts to resist it. Hume allows this when he says that his principles of association “ are not infallible causes; for one may fix his attention during some time on any one object without looking farther ” (op. cit. p. 393). But the fact is, we know both what it is to act and what it is to suffer, to go where we would and to be carried where we would not, quite apart from the workings of association. And, had Hume not confused the two different inquiries, that concerning the origin of the idea of causation and that concerning the ground of causal inference or law of causation, it could never have occurred to him to offer such an analysis of the former as he does.

Keeping to the»former and simpler question, it would seem that when in ordinary thinking we say A causes this or that in B we project or analogically attribute to A what 'we experience in acting, and to B what we experience in being acted on; and the structure of language shows that such pro'ection was made long before it was sus cted that what A once did and B once suffered will be done amffuffered in the same circumstances again. The occasions suitable for this projection are determined b the temporal and spatial relations of the objects concerned, which relations are matter of intuition. These are of no very s ecial interest from a psychological point of view, but the subjective ei)ements we shall do well to consider further. First of all, we must note the distinction of immanent action and transient action; the former is what we call action simply, and implies only a single thing, the agent; the latter, which we might with advantage call effectuation, implies two things, a patient as well as an agent. In scientific language the agent in an transitive act is called a causa immanens and so distinguished from the agent in effectuation or causa transients. 'Common thought, however, does not regard mere action as caused at all; and we shall find it, in fact, impossible to resolve action into efiectuation. But, since the things with which we ordinarily deal are complex, have many parts, properties, members, phases, and in consequence of the analytic rocedure of thought, there ensues, indeed, a continual shifting oflthe point of view from which we regard any given thing, so that what is in one aspect one'thing is in another many (cf. § 20). So it comes about that, when regarding himself as one, the natural man speaks of himself as Walking, shouting, &c.; but, when distinguishing between himself and his members, he speaks of raising his voice, moving his legs, and so forth. Thus no sooner do we resolve any given action into an effectuation, by analytically distinguishing within the original agent an agent and a patient, than a new action appears. Action is thus a simpler notion than causation and inexplicable by means of it. It is certainly no easy problem in philosophy to determine where the resolution of the complex is to cease, at what point we must stop, because in the presence of an individual thing and a simple activity. At any rate, we reach such a point psychologically in the conscious subject, and that energy in consciousness we call attention. If this be allowed, Hume's critique of the notion of efficacy is really wide of the mark. “ Some, ” 1 he says, “ have asserted that we feel an energy or power in our own mind; and that, having in this manner acquir'd the idea of power, we transfer that quality to matter, where we are not able immediately to discover it .... But to convince us how fallacious this reasoning is, we need only consider that the will, being here consider'd as a cause, has no more a discoverable connexion with its effects than any material 'causehas with its proper effect .... The effect is there [too] distinguishable and separable from the cause, and could not be foreseen without the experience of their constant conjunction "' (0p., cit. p. 455). This is logical analysis, not psychological; the point is that the will is not considered as a cause and distinguished from its effects, nor in fact considered at all. It is not a case of sequence between two separable impressions; for we cannot really make the indefinite regress that such logical distinctions as that between the conscious subject and its acts implies. Moreover, our activity as such is not directly presented at all; we are, being active; and further than this psychological analysis will not go.” There are, as we have seen, two ways in which this activity is manifested, the receptive or passive and the motor or active in the stricter sense-(cf. § 8) and our experience of these we project in predicating the causal relation. But two halves do not make a whole; so we have no complete experience of effectuation, for the simple reason that we cannot be two things at once. We are guided in piecing it together by the temporal and spatial relations of the things concerned. Hence, perhaps, some of the antinomies that beset this concept. In its earliest form, then, the so-called necessary connexion of cause and effect is perhaps nothing more than that of physical constraint. To this, no doubt, is added the strength of expectation-as Hume supposed-when the same effect has been found invariably to follow the same cause. Finally, when upon the basis of such associated uniformities of sequence a definite intellectual elaboration of such material ensues, the logical necessity of reason and consequent finds a place, and so far as deduction is applicable cause and reason become interchangeable ideas.


43. The mention of logical necessity brings us to a new topic, viz. the “ objectivity ” of thought and cognition generally. The psychological treatment of this topic is tantamount to an inq uiry into the characteristics of the states of mind we call certainty, doubt, belief-all of which centre round the one fact of evidence. Between the certainty that a proposition is true and the certainty that it is not there may intervene many grades of uncertainty. We may know that A is sometimes B, or sometimes not; or that some at least of the conditions of B are present or absent; or the, presentation of A may be too confused for distinct analysis. This is the region of probability, possibility, more or less obscurity. Leaving this aside, it will be enough to notice those cases in which certainty may be complete. With that certainty which is absolutely objective, i.e. with knowledge, psychology has no direct concern; it is for logic to. furnish the criteria by which knowledge is ascertained.

Emotion and desire are frequent indirect causes of subjective certainty, in so far as they determine the constituents and the 1 Hume here has Locke and Berkeley specially in view. Locke as a. patient and acute inquirer was incomparably better as a psychologist than a man addicted to literary foppery like Hume, for all his ¥nius, could possibly be. On the particular question, see Locke, ssay, bk. ii. c. 21, §§ 3-5.

2 In an article (Mind, 1886, p. 317) Mr F. H. Bradley created some stir by declaring that “ the present' use of these phrases [active energy] is ittle better than a scandal and a main obstacle in the path of English psychology.” In Mind for 1902' and 1903 he has made important contributions towards clearing up the supposed confusion, and the subject is still being debated. But the main contention of the text, that activity is for psychology at all events ultimate and unanalysable, seems still to await refutation. A brief notice of some of the diverse views obtaining will be found in an address, “The Problems of General Psychology, " by Ward Philosophical Review (1904), pp. 608 sqq., Y