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things, “not x;” but this may be a mere unimportant accident of such mental process. Yet even a mental process as adaptive as is the determination to bolt, and the bolting of, a bedroom door, cannot be properly said to consist of a discrimination ; although, of course, it is “accompanied ” by a formal mental distinction between “ doors bolted” and “doors unbolted,” and by the material distinction of adding one to the group of “ doors actually bolted.” Mr. Romanes goes on to say, “An act of simple perception is an act of noticing resemblances and differences between the objects of such perception." But such an act by no means consists in taking notice of qualities, but in perceiving an object by means of the impressions it makes on the senses, which impressions (and the qualities they imply) have their effect without being adverted to. They hide themselves in making the object itself known.* The impressions and the resemblances and differences with which they correspond, cannot themselves be noticed without a distinct reflex act.
Still more objectionable is Mr. Romanes's next sentence : “Similarly, an act of conception is the taking together or the intentional putting together—of ideas which are recognized as analogous.” To this we reply, A thousand times, No! A mental act of “conception” does not take place in a way similar to that in which an act of sensuous perception takes place ; which latter, as we have seen, Mr. Romanes includes under his term “percepts.” Neither is conception a “taking together," and still less is it an "intentional putting
* See “On Truth,” pp. 91, 96, 101.
together” of ideas in any sense--and à fortiori not in the sense in which Mr. Romanes uses that much abused word.* There need be no “recognition ” of any analogy existing between objects in order that a concept should be formed. Men can form a concept of the sun who do not know, or suspect, that any other sun exists. Even in the commonest cases, as in the concept “apple,” we by no means need to advert to or “recognize ” an analogy existing between different kinds of apples or different specimens of one kind of apple, though, of course, we can turn back our minds and, by reflection, “recognize" such analogy. All that is necessary is that there be such a direct apprehension of an object, as an object of a kind and possessing qualities or existing in one of various states ; but there need be no advertence either to the qualities or states, which are, nevertheless, implicitly apprehended in every direct perception and conception.
But, putting aside the sensuous meanings which Mr. Romanes attaches to the term “idea,” and taking it in the sense of a truly intellectual act of perception, even then a “conception” is not “a taking together” of such ideas, though it may be elicited through our apprehension of different ideas. Thus our conception of the idea, “a marsupial mammal,” may be elicited by our acquisition of ideas concerning the structural and physiological characters, and the environing conditions of the existing and extinct animals belonging to the zoological order, Marsupialia. Yet the idea itself is one single idea. The matter in which we deem Mr. Romanes most mistaken is his notion that an “intentional” putting together of ideas is a necessary preliminary to our forming any mental conception. The infant who sees one or several dogs, does not fulfil any mental intention when it forms its corresponding concept. Neither do the first observers of an object new to them, intentionally put together ideas and group them into a plexus ; but their mental experiences give rise to a spontaneously formed new intellectual product or concept—which may be very imperfect and inadequate, but which is a concept notwithstanding.
* Namely, in the sense of “any product of imagination, from the mere memory of a sensuous impression up to the results of the most abstruse generalization” (p. 34).
Mr. Romanes continues : * “Hence abstraction has to do with the abstracting of analogous qualities.” The expression, “has to do with,” is an exceedingly vague one, and Mr. Romanes's meaning in using it is consequently obscure. We will not, therefore, further criticize it, contenting ourselves with once more observing that abstraction is much more than “the abstracting of analogous qualities, as most notably of all in the formation of that highest abstraction, the idea of " being."
“Reason," our author tells us, "is ratiocination, or the comparison of ratios.” In saying this he further shows himself to be a disciple of Mr. Herbert Spencer, and errs with him. “Reason” is not equivalent to “ratiocination.” It is a wider term, which includes inference, or ratiocination, but is by no means confined to it; for it also includes “intellectual intuition.” †
It is by our reason, but certainly not by any process * p. 46. † As to this, see further, “ On Truth,” p. 220.
of inference, we see that nothing can both be and not be at the same time, or that we know we have any feeling which we may have at the time. That ratiocination cannot be the whole of our reason, or even the most important part of it, is evident. For all proof, or reasoning, must ultimately rest upon truths which carry with them their own evidence, and do not, therefore, need proof. Consequently, the most important, because ultimate, department of our reason must be that which apprehends such self-evident, necessary truths. But inference, or ratiocination itself, is not a comparison of ratios. It is the process of making latent and implicit truth into explicitly recognized truth, in an orderly manner, according to the laws of thought—that is, according to logic.* Denying, therefore, in toto Mr. Romanes's assertion of the similarity of nature between sensuous and intellectual perception, and between recepts and concepts, we none the less freely let pass, without objection, his term “logic of recepts," not only allowing, but strenuously affirming, that the sensitive, imaginative, and associative power of living organisms has its own innate orderly laws, according to which all their feelings, imaginations, and sense-perceptions take place. For the very same reason, however, we cannot agree with Mr. Romanes in objecting † to the terms “ Logic of Feelings” and “Logic of Signs.” For the fact that Feelings belong to the sensitive and emotional side of life, is no reason why they should not occur, and group themselves according to their own laws. "Signs,” it is true, are the expression of psychical conditions, and not such conditions themselves, but they none the less correspond with the orderly arrangement of ideas on the one hand, and of emotional states on the other; being, as Mr. Romanes says, “A reflection of the order or grouping, among the ideas [and feelings] which they are used to express.”
* See “On Truth," chap. v., On Reasoning. † p. 47.
Our author continues: “Even within the region of percepts we meet with a process of spontaneous grouping of like with like, which, in turn, leads downwards to the purely unconscious or mechanical grouping of stimuli in the lower nerve-centres. So that on its objective face the method has everywhere been the same : whether in the case of reflex action, of sensation, perception, reception, conception, or reflection, on the side of the nervous system, the method of evolution has been uniform ; it has everywhere consisted in a progressive development of the power of discriminating between stimuli, joined with the complementary power of adaptive response.”
How, it may be asked, can Mr. Romanes tell what are the various minute changes in the nervous system which respectively accompany the conscious processes of sensation, perception, conception, and reflection? It is difficult to understand how he can venture to speak dogmatically on so obscure a subject. The term "discrimination” is commonly applied to denote rather a mental than a mechanical process. That some corporeal modification accompanies, in us, every intellectual act, we do not for a moment question, and it may be that there is a close analogy between the physical processes in each case. But the passage cited implies much more than this, and is misleading on account of