Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/173

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


recurring sensations will be henceforth identified. Such a living concretion of similars succeeding one another in time, is the idea of a nature or quality, the universal falsely supposed to be an abstraction from physical objects, which in truth are conceived by putting together these very ideas into a spatial and permanent system.

Here we have, if I am not mistaken, the origin of the two terms most prominent in human knowledge, ideas and things. Two methods of conception divide our attention in common life; science and philosophy develop both, although often with an unjustifiable bias in favour of one or the other. They are nothing but the old principles of Aristotelian psychology, association by similarity and association by contiguity. Only now, after logicians have exhausted their ingenuity in criticising them and psychologists in applying them, we may go back of the traditional position and apply the ancient principles at a deeper stage of mental life.

Association by similarity is a fusion of impressions merging what is common in them, interchanging what is peculiar, and cancelling in the end what is incompatible; so that any excitement reaching that centre revives one generic reaction which yields the idea. These concrete generalities are actual feelings, the first terms in mental discourse, the first distinguishable particulars in knowledge, and the first bearers of names. Intellectual dominion of the conscious stream