Зображення сторінки

moral seem to lead back to this question :-how is a nervous vibration united to a sentiment ? This was much in his age, at an epoch in which the importance of the nervous system was too often misunderstood, when questions of this kind were put under the form of a strange or unintelligible hypothesis. Thus, he has perceived the fundamental law of psychology, and the fundamental fact of the relations of the physical and the moral.

On the other hand, he has the defects of his time, a somewhat superficial clearness, a talent for simplifying things which leads him to suppress difficulties. We are astonished to see how simple the complicated mechanism of the human soul becomes in his hands. All this comes from a defect of method. Hartley, though a physician, had the tendencies of a geometrician rather than a naturalist. Not with impunity did he borrow his principles from Newton. All his parade of demonstrations, of scholia, and of corollaries, shows that he is much more occupied in setting forth his theory in fine logical order, than in illustrating it by facts. After his day, the method of the natural sciences remained to be applied to psychology; but, though he did not do this, he prepared the way for its being done.


‘THE sceptre of psychology,' says Mr. Stuart Mill, "has decidedly returned to England.' We might go further, and maintain that it has never departed thence. No doubt, psychological studies are now cultivated in England by first-class men, who, by the solidity of their method, and, which is more rare, by the precision of their results, have caused the science to enter upon a new epoch; but this is rather a redoubling than a renewal of its brilliancy. Since the time of Locke, and even before it, the empirical study of the facts of consciousness has always been in favour among the English; no people have done so much for psychology considered apart from metaphysics. If, indeed, we look at the three or four peoples of modern Europe who only have had a philosophical development, with the exception of Germany, apt at everything, though loving metaphysics above all,' we shall see that in Italy experimental psychology is poor, almost nil, because that light, imaginative race, whose life is all outside, have an instinctive repugnance to it; that in France it soon turns to logic, because we have too little taste for patient observation, for exceptions, for accumulated facts, and that we are too fond of compartments, divisions, and subdivisions, order, symmetry, brief and decisive formulas. In England it is natural ; it is the simple result of that disposition to the interior life, to that falling back upon one's-self, whence come poetry and romance of the order which we call intimes. The


Among the contemporary German works in which psychology is more or less considered as "a natural science, we may quote Wundt, Vorlesungen über die Menschen und Thierseele ; Waitz, Lehrbuch der Psychologie als Naturwissenschaft; Fechner, Elemente der Psychophysik ; Lotze, Medicinische Psychologie, and the psychologists of the school of Herbart, Drobisch, Wolkmann, etc. etc.

English contemporary school is therefore the continuation of an uninterrupted tradition; allied, through Brown, to the Scotch school, linked through James Mill with Hartley and Hume, and holding especially by the latter.

As we are now occupied with contemporaries, we shall not go further back than the nineteenth century. As our object is the experimental school, we shall lay aside some illustrious names, such as Hamilton, Mansel, Ferrier, etc., those of metaphysicians or logicians rather than of psychologists.

James Mill, the first on our list, would seem to be excluded by the date of his death (1836). But some of our contemporaries acknowledge him as a precursor. A new edition of his Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind has appeared lately, enriched with full critical notes by Mr. John Stuart Mill, his son, and Mr. Bain, completed in all which concerns linguistics by a philologist, Mr. Andrew Findlater, and in all that concerns erudition by Mr. Grote. The date of this book makes it curious. It is too new, and yet not new enough to obtain a great success.

It is a transitional work which is not well understood until after. Clear, lucid, methodical, well put together, the book errs from want of width and insufficiency of development. Now, opinion does not understand, and above all does not accept a doctrine except by dint of hearing it repeated. Contemporary labours, directed in the same sense, but less concise, and more familiar with the sciences, seem to have lent to his a retrospective value.

The Analysis proceeds much more from Hartley than from the Scotch School. No declamation, no recourse to eloquence; it says, with Hobbes, 'philosophia vera, orationis non modo fucum, sed etiam omnia fere ornamenta ex professo rejicit. No appeal to prejudices or to common sense; no explanation by faculties which are invented to solve difficulties. He particularly dreads "the mystic,' and 'the mysterious.' His explanation of the phenomena of mind is very simple, too simple indeed, for we find in it the logician rather than the psychologist. He reduces everything to sensations, ideas, and the associations of ideas. In the psychical world there is only one fact, sensation, only one law, association.

What is his method ? He does not tell us that; but he almost always proceeds subjectively. In this respect he belongs to the eighteenth century. We do not find in his works any trace of a comparative psychology. He also belongs to this century by his tendency to consider phenomena only in adult minds, and among a civilized people. Carrying the practical spirit of his nation into psychological studies, he thinks, with reason, that education would be more enlightened and more systematic if psychology were more advanced; and that a good analysis of the phenomena of mind ought to serve as the basis of three practical treatises,—one Logical, to lead us to the true, one Moral, to regulate our actions, one Emotional, to develop the individual and the species.

Mr. James Mill, who was at least as well known an historian and economist as philosopher, has left a History of British India, which is considered a powerful and fine work, and Principles of Political Economy, inspired by Smith and Ricardo, which competent judges regard as a solid book, a little difficult because it is so excessively concise, "too abstract, perhaps, to be of popular utility.'

Some details borrowed from the recent Preface to his works will make the reader acquainted with the man :

'Though, like all who value their time for higher purposes, he went little into what is called society, he helped, encouraged, and not seldom prompted, many of the men who were most useful in their generation. From his obscure privacy he was during many years of his life the soul of what is now called the advanced Liberal party ;

and such was the effect of his conversation, and of the force of his character, on those who were within reach of its influence, that many then young, who have since made themselves honoured in the world by a valuable career, look back to their intercourse with him as having had a considerable share of deciding their course through life. . . . As a converser Mr. Mill had few equals; as an argumentative converser, in modern

1 Mr. John Stuart Mill says in his Preface, that by his labours as Administrator of the East India Company, James Mill did much good, and prepared the way for much more, to the millions for whose good or ill government England is responsible.

times, probably none. All his mental resources seemed to be at his command at any moment.'1

At the outset of his philosophic life, Hartley's doctrine took strong hold of his mind. He applied himself to its completion and extension; he is, as Mr. Stuart Mill says, the second founder of the psychology of association.

'I am far from thinking that the more recondite specimens of analysis are always successful, or that the author has not left something to be corrected as well as much to be completed by his successors. The completion has been especially the work of two distinguished thinkers in the present generation, Professor Bain and Mr. Herbert Spencer, in the writings of both of whom Association-Psychology has reached a still higher development. ... What there is in the work that seems to need correction, arises chiefly from two causes. First, the imperfection of physiological science at the time at which it was written. ... Secondly, a certain impatience of detail. The bent of his mind was towards that, in which also his greatest strength lay, in seizing the larger features of a subject—the commanding laws which govern

and connect many phenomena. From this cause (as it appears to me) he has occasionally gone further in the pursuit of simplification, and in the reduction of the more recondite mental phenomena to the more elementary, than I am able to follow him.'

We think that the majority of our readers will agree with Mr. Mill when they shall have perused the following analysis.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]




Sensations and ideas.— 1. The association of ideas—2. Language-3. Memory,

imagination, classification, abstraction-4. Belief.

EVERY one who has read Hume's Essays will remember that this philosopher explains all by three things,-impression, idea,


Preface to the Works of James Mill, by John Stuart Mill, vol. i. p. xv. 2 P. xv. vol. i., Preface by John Stuart Mill.

« НазадПродовжити »