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In perusing the preceding pages the reader must have been struck by two things—the agreement of the philosophers whom we have passed in review, upon the chief questions of psychology, and their disagreement upon certain secondary points. If, then, laying aside personal opinions and disputed solutions, we bring forward the points on which they are agreed, we shall thus procure a summary of the labours and results of the experimental school of psychology. We shall endeavour to reduce them to certain fundamental propositions, and to exhibit them in methodical order.
The object of psychology is the facts of consciousness, their laws, their immediate conditions and causes. Psychology proposes to itself either to analyse complex facts, or simply to show how they are formed by a synthesis of simple facts.
Psychology deals with phenomena only. It does not know what the soul or the mind is. That is a question out of its reach, which it refers to metaphysics. It is neither spiritualist nor materialist : it is experimental.
Its method is double : it studies psychological phenomena, subjectively, by means of consciousness, memory, and reasoning; objectively, by means of the facts, signs, opinions, and actions which interpret them. Psychology does not study the facts of consciousness simply in the adult state ; it endeavours to discover and to follow their development. It contains a morphology.
It also has recourse to the comparative method. It does not disdain the humblest manifestations of psychical life, remembering that nothing has been more useful to comparative physiology than the study of minute organisms.
Consciousness is the word which expresses, in the most general way, the various manifestations of psychological life. It consists of a continuous current of sensations, ideas, volitions, feelings, etc.
The first fundamental fact—that which constitutes conscious ness—is the perception of a difference.
The second fundamental fact—that which continues consciousness—is the perception of a resemblance.
The only primitive and irreducible psychological fact is SENSATION.
Our various sensations may be classed in seven principal groups :-1. muscular sensations; they inform us of the nature and the degree of effort of our muscles; these sensations, of a very general character, and which come first in chronological order, form a separate kind; 2. organic sensations, which reveal to us the good or bad state of our internal organs; 3. taste ; 4. smell ; 5. touch ; 6. hearing ; 7. sight. The sensations of this last group are the most elevated and the most important; they only, with the sensations of hearing, have an aesthetic character.
The most general law which regulates psychological phenomena is the LAW OF ASSOCIATION. In its comprehensive character it is comparable to the law of attraction in the physical world. Association takes place either between facts of the same nature, association of sensations among themselves, of ideas among themselves, of volitions among themselves, etc., or between facts of a different nature : associations of sentiments with ideas, of sensations with volitions, etc.
The two principal facts which serve as the basis of association are resemblance and contiguity.
Association produces either successions or simultaneities.
The objects which we call external (a man, a house) are aggregates formed by simultaneous association.
How do we perceive them?
Perception of the external world is not a purely passive state, in which the mind would resemble a mirror reflecting objects in a dull dead way. It is the common work of the sentient subject and the object felt.
Outside of us, and independently of our perceptions, there exists a material world, which condemns idealism.
It is conformable to the data of the sciences to believe that this material world, taken in itself, does not resemble the perceptions of it which we have ; this condemns vulgar realism.
Our perceptions are then internal conditions which correspond to external existences, but which do not resemble them. When I perceive an oak, my perception corresponds to a particular external object, but it is not the copy of it.
Perception is a product which differs from its two factors (subject, object) as water differs from oxygen and hydrogen.
The correlatives (subject' and 'object’ are the two least inexact term by which the fundamental antithesis of knowledge and of existence can be expressed. Matter and Spirit, external and internal, are the popular synonyms for them, but lend themselves more to an equivocal interpretation.
The fundamental irreducible experience which gives the notion of externality is resistance.
The facts of consciousness having the property of lasting, of leaving their trace, and reappearing, thence result memory and imagination. Assod
Association is the groundwork of these phenomena, although it does not entirely explain them.
The question of belief or affirmation remains stated, but not solved, by common consent. Some, Mr. James Mill and Mr. Herbert Spencer, explain it by an indissoluble association ; others, Mr. A. Bain and Mr. John Stuart Mill, discern in it a form of our active nature, that is to say, of our will.
Reasoning, under its primitive form, goes from the particular to the particular. By the accumulation of particular truths general propositions are formed; and then reasoning is called induction. The general proposition is a simplification, a memorandum, a register of notes grouped under a single formula. It serves as a starting-point for deduction.
In short, the process of reasoning, taken in its totality, sets out from the particular and issues in the particular, by traversing the general, which is a collection of particulars.
Syllogism is so little the type of reasoning that it is, properly speaking, only a process of verification.
On the origin of ideas the school with which we are now occupied does not go with the sensualists (Locke, Condillac), nor with the rationalists (Descartes, Leibnitz), nor with the criticists (Kant).
It says to the sensualists: Your hypothesis of tabula rasa is false, contrary to facts. It forgets that in the 'act of knowing the mind gives out at least as much as it receives. Whence comes it that two men, having had the same education, the same impressions, the same surroundings, are sometimes entirely different in everything? This fact alone checkmates your theory.
It says to the rationalists: You have correctly perceived that in the act of knowing there is something which comes from within, but your hypothesis of ideas innate, or virtually so, is untenable. What is an idea in a latent state, an idea which one does not think? Besides, if these ideas are primitive and readymade in intelligence, why are they produced so late, instead of being the first in chronological order?
It says to the partisans of Kant: Your transcendental doctrine of the forms of thought, though sound in logic, is bad in psychology. It is quite true that these forms are at the bottom of our consciousness, since we can draw them from it, but how do they come there? This is a question of genesis which you do not examine, because you always reason upon the hypothesis of an adult and completely constituted mind.
These solutions set aside, the school gives its own. nises in mind a proper spontaneity which elaborates and transforms materials which come from without; but this spontaneity has its root in the organism, especially in the constitution of the nervous system. Several peculiarities are explained by the transmission of the hereditary system.
In short, this solution is the physiological transformation of the Kantian doctrine of the forms of thought.
The two most general relations conceived by human intelligence are those of succession and simultaneousness.
The relation of succession is the more simple : it constitutes the fact of primitive consciousness.
The relation of simultaneousness is a duplication of the preceding : it consists in a succession which can be reversed, that
It recogis to say, thought indifferently, at first in a certain order, afterwards in the contrary order, so that one goes from A to C and from C to A equally.
An important notion attaches itself to the relation of succession, that of cause, or, as the school has it, of sequence, of which it is only a particular case.
Causality is constant and uniform succession. The invariable antecedent is called cause, the invariable consequent is called effect. The hypothesis of an efficacious power, forming a mysterious link between them, is an imaginary complication, in so far as we hold to phenomenal causes, as the school intends us to do.
The whole of the relations of succession is Time.
The character of infinitude proper to these two ideas of time and space, that is to say, the impossibility to our intelligence of conceiving them to have limits, is explained by the law of association. We cannot conceive a moment of time without that idea awakening irresistibly in us the idea of a moment to follow, and then of another. It is the same with space. Association is irresistible, because the experimental data which serve as its basis have always been without exception.
The study of the affective phenomena,-emotions and feelings, —is very incomplete in the English experimental school. The following small number of points are those on which its members are agreed
The two fundamental facts are pleasure and pain.
The emotions or passions are of two kinds, simple and compound.
There is no agreement upon either the name or the number of the simple emotions.
All manifestations of æsthetics or moral feeling are unanimously ranged among the compound emotions.
The will has its source in the activity either of the organism or of the instincts, appetites, and passions.
Under its adult form, will is a directing, regulating power. But before it reaches that condition it goes through a period of gropings, of efforts, and of conquest. Voluntary power,