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Copyright, 1892 



Copyright, 192G 


June, 1Q23 



In preparing the following abridgment of my larger 
work, the ' Principles of Psycho}ogy, , *my chief aim has been 
to make it more directly available for class-room use. i 
For this purpose I have omitted several whole chapters 
and rewritten others. I have left out all the polemical 
and historical matter, all the metaphysical discussions and 
purely speculative passages, most of the quotations, all the 
book-references, and (I trust) all the impertinences, of the 
larger work, leaving to the teacher the choice of orally 
restoring as much of this material as may seem to him 
good, along with his own remarks on the topics successively 
studied. Knowing how ignorant the average student is of i 
physiology, I have added brief chapters on the various 
senses. In this shorter work the general point of view, 
which I have adopted as that of ' natural science/ has, I 
imagine, gained in clearness by its extrication from so 
much critical matter and its more simple and dogmatic 
statement. About two fifths of the volume is either new 
or rewritten, the rest is ' scissors and paste.' I regret to 
have been unable to supply chapters on pleasure and pain, 
aesthetics, and the moral sense. Possibly the defect may 
be made up in a later edition, if such a thing should ever I 
be demanded. 

I cannot forbear taking advantage of this preface to 
make a statement about the composition of the ' Principles \ 
of Psychology. 7 My critics in the main have been so 
indulgent that I must cordially thank them; but they 
have been unanimous in one reproach, namely, that my 


order of chapters is planless and unnatural ; and in one 
charitable excuse for this, namely, that the work, being 
largely a collection of review-articles, could not be expected 
to show as much system as a treatise cast in a single mould. 
Both the reproach and the excuse misapprehend the facts 
of the case. The order of composition is doubtless un- 
shapely, or it would not be found so by so many. But 
planless it is not, for I deliberately followed what seemed 
to me a good pedagogic order, in proceeding from the 
more concrete mental aspects with which we are best 
acquainted to the so-called elements which we naturally 
come to know later by way of abstraction. The opposite 
order, of ' building-up ' the mind out of its ( units of com- 
position,' has the merit of expository elegance, and gives a 
neatly subdivided table of contents ; but it often pur- 
chases these advantages at the cost of reality and truth. 
I admit that my ' synthetic ' order was stumblingly carried 
out ; but this again was in consequence of what I thought 
were pedagogic necessities. On the whole, in spite of my 
critics, I venture still to think that the - unsystematic ' 
form charged upon the book is more apparent than pro- 
found, and that we really gain a more living understand- 
ing of the mind by keeping our attention as long as 
possible upon our entire conscious states as they are con- 
cretely given to us, than by the post-mortem study of their 
comminuted ' elements.' This last is the study of artificial 
abstractions, not of natural things* 

* In the present volume I have given so much extension to the 
details of 'Sensation' that I have obeyed custom and put that 
subject first, although by no means persuaded that such order intrinsi- 
cally is the best. I feel now (when it is too late for the change to 
be made) that the chapters on the Production of Motion, on Instinct, 
and on Emotion ought, for purposes of teaching, to follow immedi- 
ately upon that on Habit, and that the chapter on Reasoning ought 
to come in very early, perhaps immediately after that upon the Self. 
I advise teachers to adopt this modified order, in spite of the fact 
that with the change of place of 'Reasoning' there ought 
properly to go a slight amount of re- writing. 


But whether the critics are right, or I am, on this first 
point, the critics are wrong about the relation of the mag- 
azine-articles to the book. With a single exception all the 
chapters were written for the book; and then by an after- 
thought some of them were sent to magazines, because the 
completion of the whole work seemed so distant. My 
lack of capacity has doubtless been great, but the charge of 
not having taken the utmost pains, according to my lights, 
in the composition of the volumes, cannot justly be laid at 
my door. 



Introductory . . . . . . i 

Psychology defined; psychology as a natural science, its 
data, i. The human mind and its environment, 3. The pos- 
tulate that all consciousness has cerebral activity for its 
condition, 5. 


Sensation in General . . . . . .9 

Incoming nerve-currents, 9. Terminal organs, 10. ' Spe- 
cific energies,' II. Sensations cognize qualities, 13. Knowl- 
edge of acquaintance and knowledge-about, 14. Objects of 
sensation appear in space, 15. The intensity of sensations, 16. 
Weber's law, 17. Fechner's law, 21. Sensations are not 
psychic compounds, 23. The ' law of relativity,' 24. Effects 
of contrast, 26. 


Sight . . . . . . . .28 

The eye, 28. Accommodation, 32. Convergence, binocular 
vision, 33. Double image, 36. Distance, 39. Size, color, 
40. After-images, 43. Intensity of luminous objects, 45. 


Hearing ...... 

The ear, 47. The qualities of sound, 43. Pitch, 44. ' Tim- 
bre,' 45. Analysis of compound air-waves, 56. No fusion of 
elementary sensations of sound, 57. Harmony and discord, 
58. Discrimination by the ear, 59. 





Touch, the Temperature Sense, the Muscular Sense, 

and Pain . . . . . . . .60 

End-organs in the skin, 60. Touch, sense of pressure, 60. 
Localization, 61. Sensibility to temperature, 63. The muscu- 
lar sense, 65. Pain, 67. 


Sensations of Motion . . . . .70 

The feeling of motion over surfaces, 70. Feelings in joints, 
74. The sense of translation, the sensibility of the semicircu- 
lar canals, 75- 


The Structure of the Brain . . . .78 

Embryological sketch, 78. Practical dissection of the sheep's 
brain, 81. 


The Functions of the Brain . . . .91 

General idea of nervous function, 91. The frog's nerve- 
centres, 92. The pigeon's nerve-centres, 96. What the hemi- 
spheres do, 97. The automaton-theory, 101. The localization 
of functions, 104. Brain and mind have analogous ' elements,' 
sensory and motor, 105. The motor zone, 106. Aphasia, 108. 
The visual region, no. Mental blindness, 112. The auditory 
region, mental deafness, 113. Other centres, 116. 


Some General Conditions of Neural Activity . . 120 

The nervous discharge, 120. Reaction-time, 121. Simple 
reactions, 122. Complicated reactions, 124. The summation 
of stimuli, 128. Cerebral blood-supply, 130. Brain-thermome- 
try, 131. Phosphorus and thought, 132. 


Habit . . . . . . . .134 

Its importance, and its physical basis, 134. Due to pathways 
formed in the centres, 136. Its practical uses, 138. Concate- 


nated acts, 140. Necessity for guiding sensations in 
secondarily automatic performances, 141. Pedagogical 
maxims concerning the formation of habits, 142. 

The Stream of Consciousness . . . .151 

Analytic order of our study, 151. Every state of mind 
forms part of a personal consciousness, 152. The same state 
of mind is never had twice, 154. Permanently recurring ideas 
are a fiction, 156. Every personal consciousness is continuous, 
157. Substantive and transitive states, 160. Every object 
appears with a ' fringe ' of relations, 163. The ' topic ' of the 
thought, 167. Thought may be rational in any sort of 
imagery, 168. Consciousness is always especially interested 
some one part of its object, 170. 


The Self . . . . . .176 

The Me and the I, 176. The material Me, 177. The social 
Me, 179. The spiritual Me, 181. Self -appreciation, 182. 
Self-seeking, bodily, social, and spiritual, 184. Rivalry of the 
Mes, 186. Their hierarchy, 190. Teleology of self-interest, 
193. The I, or ' pure ego,' 195. Thoughts are not com- 
pounded of ' fused ' sensations, 196. 'The ' soul ' as a com- 
bining medium, 200. 'The sense of personal identity, 201. 
Explained by identity of function in successive passing 
thoughts, 203. Mutations of the self, 205. Insane delusions, 
207. Alternating personalities, 210. Mediumships or posses- 
sions, 212. Who is the Thinker, 215. 


Attention ........ 217 

The narrowness of the field of consciousness, 217. Dis- 
persed attention, 218. To how much can we attend at once? 
219. The varieties of attention, 220. Voluntary attention, its 
momentary character, 224. To keep our attention, an object 
must change, 226. Genius and attention, 227. Attention's 
physiological conditions, 228. The sense-organ must be 
adapted, 229. The idea of the object must be aroused, 232 
Pedagogic remarks, 236. Attention and free-will, 237. 




Conception ....... 239 

Different states of mind can mean the same, 239. Concep- 
tions of abstract, of universal, and of problematic objects, 
240. The thought of ' the same ' is not the same thought 
over again, 243. 


Discrimination ..... . 244 

Discrimination and association ; definition of discrimination, 
244. Conditions which favor it, 245. The sensation of differ 
ence, 246. Differences inferred, 248. The analysis of com- 
pound objects, 248. To be easily singled out, a quality should 
already be separately known, 250. Dissociation by varying 
concomitants, 251. Practice improves discrimination, 252. 


Association . ...... 253 

The order of our ideas, 253. It is determined by cerebral 
laws, 255. The ultimate cause of association is habit, 256. 
The elementary law in association, 257. Indeterminateness of 
its results, 258. Total recall, 259. Partial recall, and the law 
of interest, 261. Frequency, recency, vividness, and emotional 
congruity tend to determine the object recalled, 264. 
Focalized recall, or 'association by similarity,' 267. Volun- 
tary trains of thought, 271. The solution of problems, 273. 
Similarity no elementary law ; summary and conclusion, 277. 


The Sense of Time ...... 280 

The sensible present has duration, 280. We have no sense 
for absolutely empty time, 281. We measure duration by the 
events which succeed in it, 283. The feeling of past time is a 
present feeling, 285. Due to a constant cerebral condition, 


Memory . . . . . . . . 287 

What it is, 287. It involves both retention and recall, 289. 
Both elements explained by paths formed by habit in the 
brain, 290. Two conditions of a good memory, persistence and 


numerousness of paths, 292. Cramming, 295. One's native 
retentiveness is unchangeable, 296. Improvement of the 
memory, 298. Recognition, 299. Forgetting, 300. Patholo- 
gical conditions, 301. 


Imagination ....... 302 

What it is, 302. Imaginations differ from man to man; 
Galton's statistics of visual imagery, 303. Images of sounds, 
306. Images of movement, 307. Images of touch, 308. Loss 
of images in aphasia, 309. The neural process in imagina- 
tion, 310. 


Perception ....... 312 

Perception and sensation compared, 312. The perceptive 
state of mind is not a compound, 313. Perception is of 
definite things, 316. Illusions, 317. First type: inference of 
the more usual object, 318. Second type: inference of the 
object of which our mind is full, 321. 'Apperception,' 326. 
Genius and old-fogyism, 327. The physiological process 
in perception, 329. Hallucinations, 330. 


The Perception of Space ..... 335 

The attribute of extensity belongs to all objects of sensa- 
tion, 335. The construction of real space, 337. The processes 
which it involves: 1) Subdivision, 338; 2) Coalescence of 
different sensible data into one ' thing,' 339; 3) Location in an 
environment, 340; 4) Place in a series of positions, 341; 5) 
Measurement, 342. Objects which are signs, and objects 
which are realities, 345. The ' third dimension,' Berkeley's 
theory of distance, 346. The part played by the intellect in 
space-perception, 349. 


Reasoning . . . . . . .351 

What it is, 351. It involves the use of abstract characters, 
353- What is meant by an ' essential ' character, 354. The 
'essence' varies with the subjective interest, 358. The two 


great points in reasoning, ' sagacity ' and 4 wisdom,' 360. Sa- 
gacity, 362. The help given by association by similarity, 
364. The reasoning powers of brutes, 367. 


Consciousness and Movement ..... 370 

All consciousness is motor, 370. Three classes of move- 
ment to which it leads, 372. 


Emotion ........ 373 

Emotions compared with instincts, 373. The varieties of 
emotion are innumerable, 374. The cause of their varieties, 
375. The feeling, in the coarser emotions, results from the 
bodily expression, 375. This view must not be called ma- 
terialistic, 380. This view explains the great variability of 
emotion, 381. A corollary verified, 382. An objection replied 
to, 383. The subtler emotions, 384. Description of fear, 385. 
Genesis of the emotional reactions, 386. 


Instinct ........ 391 

Its definition, 391. Every instinct is an impulse, 392. In- 
stincts are not always blind or invariable, 395. Two prin- 
ciples of non-uniformity, 398. Enumeration of instincts in 
man, 406. Description of fear, 407. 


Will ......... 415 

Vo^ntary acts, 415. They are secondary performances, 
415. No third kind of idea is called for, 418. The motor- 
cue, 420. Ideo-motor action, 432. Action after deliberation, 
428. Five chief types of decision, 429. The feeling of effort, 
434. Healthiness of will, 435. Unhealthiness of will, 436. 
The explosive will : (1) from defective inhibition, 437 ; (2) 
from exaggerated impulsion, 439. The obstructed will, 441. 
Effort feels like an original force, 442. Pleasure and pain as 
springs of action, 444. What holds attention determines ac- 
tion, 448. Will is a relation between the mind and its 


* ideas,' 449. Volitional effort is effort of attention, 450. The 
question of free-will, 455. Ethical importance of the phe- 
nomenon of effort, 458. 


Psychology and Philosophy ..... 461 
What the word metaphysics means, 461. Relation of con- 
sciousness to the brain, 462. The relation of states of mind to 
their ' objects,' 464. The changing character of consciousness, 
466. States of consciousness themselves are not verifiable 
facts, 467. 




The definition of Psychology may be best given in the 
words of Professor Ladd, as the description and explana- 
tion of states of consciousness as such. By states of con- 
sciousness are meant such things as sensations, desires, 
emotions, cognitions, reasonings, decisions, volitions, and 
the like. Their ' explanation ' must of course include 
the study of their causes, conditions, and immediate con- 
sequences, so far as these can be ascertained. 

Psychology is to be treated as a natural science in this 
book. This requires a word of commentary. Most think- 
ers have a faith that at bottom there is but one Science of 
all things, and that until all is known, no one thing can be 
completely known. Such a science if realized, would be 
Philosophy. Meanwhile it is far from being realized ; and 
instead of it, we have a lot of beginnings of knowledge 
made in different places, and kept separate from each other 
merely for practical convenience 7 sake, until with later 
growth they may run into one body of Truth. These provi- 
sional beginnings of learning we call ' the Sciences ' in the 
plural. In order not to be unwieldy, every such science 
has to stick to its own arbitrarily-selected problems, and to 
ignore all others. Every science thus accepts certain data 
unquestioningly, leaving it to the other parts of Philosophy 


to scrutinize their significance and truth. All the natural 
sciences, for example, in spite of the fact that farther re- 
flection leads to Idealism, assume that a world of matter 
exists altogether independently of the perceiving mind. 
Mechanical Science assumes this matter to have ' mass ' and 
to exert ' force/ defining these terms merely phenomenally, 
and not troubling itself about certain unintelligibilities 
which they present on nearer reflection. Motion similarly 
is assumed by mechanical science to exist independently of 
the mind, in spite of the difficulties involved in the 
assumption. So Physics assumes atoms, action at a dis- 
tance, etc., uncritically; Chemistry uncritically adopts all 
the data of Physics; and Physiology adopts those of Chem- 
istry. Psychology as a natural science deals with things in 
the same partial and provisional way. In addition to the 
1 material world ' with all its determinations, which the 
other sciences of nature assume, she assumes additional 
data peculiarly her own, and leaves it to more developed 
parts of Philosophy to test their ulterior significance and 
truth. These data are — 

i. Thoughts and feelings, or whatever other names tran- 
sitory states of consciousness may be known by. 

2. Knowledge, by these states of consciousness, of other 
things. These things may be material objects and events, 
or other states of mind. The material objects may be 
either near or distant in time and space, and the states o* 
mind may be those of other people, or of the thinker him- 
self at some other time. 

How one thing can know another is the problem of what 
is called the Theory of Knowledge. How such a thing as 
a ' state of mind ' can be at all is the problem of what has 
been called Rational, as distinguished from Empirical, 
Psychology. The full truth about states of mind cannot 
be known until both Theory of Knowledge and Rational 
Psychology have said their say. Meanwhile an immense 
amount of provisional truth about them can be got to- 
gether, which will work in with the larger truth and be 


interpreted by it when the proper time arrives. Such a 
provisional body of propositions about states of mind, and 
about the cognitions which they enjoy, is what I mean by 
Psychology considered as a natural science. On any ul- 
terior theory of matter, mind, and knowledge, the facts and 
laws of Psychology thus understood will have their value. 
If critics find that this natural-science point of view cuts 
things too arbitrarily short, they must not blame the book 
which confines itself to that point of view; rather must 
they go on themselves to complete it by their deeper 
thought. Incomplete statements are often practically nec- 
essary. To go beyond the usual ' scientific ' assumptions 
in the present case, would require, not a volume, but a 
shelfful of volumes, and by the present author such a shelf- 
ful could not be written at all. 

Let it also be added that the human mind is all that can 
be touched upon in this book. Although the mental life of 
lower creatures has been examined into of late years with 
some success, we have no space for its consideration here, 
and can only allude to its manifestations incidentally when 
they throw light upon our own. 

Mental facts cannot be properly studied apart from 
the physical environment of which they take cogniz- 
ance. The great fault of the older rational psychology was to 
set up the soul as an absolute spiritual being with certain 
faculties of its own by which the several activities of remem- 
bering, imagining, reasoning, willing, etc., were explained, al- 
most without reference to the pecularities of the world with 
which these activities deal. But the richer insight of modern 
days perceives that our inner faculties are adapted in ad- 
vance to the features of the world in which we dwell, adapted, 
I mean, so as to secure our safety and prosperity in its midst. 
Not only are our capacities for forming new habits, for 
remembering sequences, and for abstracting general prop- 
erties from things and associating their usual consequences 
with them, exactly the faculties needed for steering us in 
this world of mixed variety and uniformity, but our emo- 


tions and instincts are adapted to very special features of 
that world. In the main, if a phenomenon is important 
for our welfare, it interests and excites us the first time we 
come into its presence. Dangerous things fill us with invol- 
untary fear; poisonous things with distaste; indispensa- 
ble things with appetite. Mind and world in short have 
been evolved together, and in consequence are something 
of a mutual fit. The special interactions between the outer 
order and the order of consciousness, by which this harmony, 
such as it is, may in the course of time have come about, 
have been made the subject of many evolutionary specula- 
tions, which, though they cannot so far be said to be con- 
clusive, have at least refreshed and enriched the whole sub- 
ject, and brought all sorts of new questions to the light. 

The chief result of all this more modern view is the 
gradually growing conviction that mental life is primarily 
teleological ; that is to say, that our various ways of feeling 1 
and thinking have grown to be what they are because of 
their utility in shaping our reactions on the outer world. 
On the whole, few recent formulas have done more service 
in psychology than the Spencerian one that the essence of 
mental life and bodily life are one, namely, ' the adjust- 
ment of innner to outer relations.* The adjustment is to 
immediately present objects in lower animals and infants. 
It is to objects more and more remote in time and space, 
and inferred by means of more and more complex and 
exact processes of reasoning, when the grade of mental 
development grows more advanced. 

Primarily then, and fundamentally, the mental life is for 
the sake of action of a preservative sort. Secondarily and 
incidentally it does many other things, and may even, when 
ill ' adapted/ lead to its possessor's destruction. Psychol- 
ogy, taken in the widest way, ought to study every sort of 
mental activity, the useless and harmful sorts as well 
as that which is ' adapted.' But the study of the harmful 
in mental life has been made the subject of a special 
branch called ' Psychiatry ' — the science of insanity — and 


the study of the useless is made over to ' Esthetics. ' 
Esthetics and Psychiatry will receive no special notice in 
this book. 

All mental states (no matter what their character as 
regards utility may be) are followed by bodily activity of 
some sort. They lead to inconspicuous changes in breath- 
ing, circulation, general muscular tension, and glandular or 
other visceral activity, even if they do not lead to conspic- 
uous movements of the muscles of voluntary life. Not 
only certain particular states of mind, then (such as those 
called volitions, for example), but states of mind as such, 
all states of mind, even mere thoughts and feelings, are 
motor in their consequences. This will be made manifest 
in detail as our study advances. Meanwhile let it be set 
down as one of the fundamental facts of the science with 
which we are engaged. 

It was said above that the ' conditions ' of states of con- 
sciousness must be studied. The immediate condition of a 
state of consciousness is an activity of some sort in the 
cerebral hemispheres. This proposition is supported by so 
many pathological facts, and laid by physiologists at the 
base of so many of their reasonings, that to the medically 
educated mind it seems almost axiomatic. It would be 
hard, however, to give any short and peremptory proof of 
the unconditional dependence of mental action upon neural 
change. That a general and usual amount of dependence 
exists cannot possibly be ignored. One has only to con- 
sider how quickly consciousness may be (so far as we know) 
abolished by a blow on the head, by rapid loss of blood, by 
an epileptic discharge, by a full dose of alcohol, opium, 
ether, or nitrous oxide — or how easily it may be altered in 
quality by a smaller dose of any of these agents or of others, 
or by a fever, — to see how at the mercy of bodily happenings 
our spirit is. A little stoppage of the gall-duct, a swallow 
of cathartic medicine, a cup of strong coffee at the proper 
moment, will entirely overturn for the time a man's views 
of life. Our moods and resolutions are more determined 


by the condition of our circulation than by our logical 
grounds. Whether a man shall be a hero or a coward is 
a matter of his temporary ' nerves.' In many kinds of 
insanity, though by no means in all, distinct alterations of 
the brain-tissue have been found. Destruction of certain 
definite portions of the cerebral hemispheres involves losses 
of memory and of acquired motor faculty of quite determi- 
nate sorts, to which we shall revert again under the title of 
aphasias. Taking all such facts together, the simple and 
radical conception dawns upon the mind that mental action 
may be uniformly and absolutely a function of brain-action, 
varying as the latter varies, and being to the brain-action 
as effect to cause. 

This conception is the ' working hypothesis ' which 
underlies all the * physiological psychology ' of recent 
years, and it will be the working hypothesis of this book. 
Taken thus absolutely, it may possibly be too sweeping a 
statement of what in reality is only a partial truth. But 
the only way to make sure of its unsatisfactoriness is to 
apply it seriously to every possible case that can turn up. 
To work an hypothesis ' for all it is worth ' is the real, and 
often the only, way to prove its insufficiency. I shall there- 
fore assume without scruple at the outset that the uniform 
correlation of brain-states with mind-states is a law of na- 
ture. The interpretation of the law in detail will best show 
where its facilities and where its difficulties lie. To some 
readers such an assumption will seem like the most unjus- 
tifiable a priori materialism. In one sense it doubtless is 
materialism: it puts the Higher at the mercy of the Lower. 
But although we affirm that the coming to pass of thought 
is a consequence of mechanical laws, — for, according to 
another ' working hypothesis/ that namely of physiology, 
the laws of brain-action are at bottom mechanical laws, — 
we do not in the least explain the nature of thought by 
affirming this dependence, and in that latter sense our 
proposition is not materialism. The authors who most 
unconditionally affirm the dependence of our thoughts 


on our brain to be a fact are often the loudest to insist that 
the fact is inexplicable, and that the intimate essence of 
consciousness can never be rationally accounted for by any 
material cause. It will doubtless take several generations 
of psychologists to test the hypothesis of dependence 
with anything like minuteness. The books which postu- 
late it will be to some extent on conjectural ground. 
But the student will remember that the Sciences constantly 
have to take these risks, and habitually advance by zig- 
zagging from one absolute formula to another which cor- 
rects it by going too far the other way. At present Psychol- 
ogy is on the materialistic tack, and ought in the interests 
of ultimate success to be allowed full headway even by 
those who are certain she will never fetch the port without 
putting down the helm once more. The only thing that is 
perfectly certain is that when taken up into the total body 
of Philosophy, the formulas of Psychology will appear with 
a very different meaning from that which they suggest so 
long as they are studied from the point of view of an 
abstract and truncated ' natural science/ however practi- 
cally necessary and indispensable their study from such a 
provisional point of view may be. 

The Divisions of Psychology. — So far as possible, then, 
we are to study states of consciousness in correlation with 
their probable neural conditions. Now the nervous system 
is well understood to-day to be nothing but a machine for 
receiving impressions and discharging reactions preserva- 
tive to the individual and his kind — so much of physiology 
the reader will surely know. Anatomically, therefore, the 
nervous system falls into three main divisions, comprising — 

1) The fibres which carry currents in; 

2 ) The organs of central redirection of them ; and 

3) The fibres which carry them out. 

Functionally, we have sensation, central reflection, and 
motion, to correspond to these anatomical divisions. In 
Psychology we may divide our work according to a similar 


scheme, and treat successively of three fundamental con- 
scious processes and their conditions. The first will be 
Sensation; the second will be Cerebration or Intellection; 
the third will be the Tendency to Action. Much vagueness 
results from this division, but it has practical conveniences 
for such a book as this, and they may be allowed to pre- 
vail over whatever objections may be urged. 



Incoming nerve-currents are the only agents which 
normally affect the brain. The human nerve-centres are 
surrounded by many dense wrappings of which the effect is 
to protect them from the direct action of the forces of the 
outer world. The hair, the thick skin of the scalp, the 
skull, and two membranes at least, one of them a tough 
one, surround the brain; and this organ moreover, like the 
spinal cord, is bathed by a serous fluid in which it floats 
suspended. Under these circumstances the only things 
that can happen to the brain are: 

i) The dullest and feeblest mechanical jars; 

2) Changes in the quantity and quality of the blood- 
supply; and 

3) Currents running in through the so-called afferent or 
centripetal nerves. 

The mechanical jars are usually ineffective; the effects 
of the blood-changes are usually transient; the nerve-cur- 
rents, on the contrary, produce consequences of the most 
vital sort, both at the moment of their arrival, and later, 
through the invisible paths of escape which they plough in 
the substance of the organ and which, as we believe, remain 
as more or less permanent features of its structure, modify- 
ing its action throughout all future time. 

Each afferent nerve comes from a determinate part 
of the periphery and is played upon and excited to its 
inward activity by a particular force of the outer world. 
Usually it is insensible to other forces: thus the optic nerves 



are not impressible by air-waves, nor those of the skin by 
light-waves. The lingual nerve is not excited by aromatic 
effluvia, the auditory nerve is unaffected by heat. Each 
selects from the vibrations of the outer world some one 
rate to which it responds exclusively. The result is that 
our sensations form a discontinuous series, broken by enor- 
mous gaps. There is no reason to suppose that the order 
of vibrations in the outer world is anything like as inter- 
rupted as the order of our sensations. Between the quick- 
est audible air-waves (40,000 vibrations a second at the 
outside) and the slowest sensible heat-waves (which num- 
ber probably billions), Nature must somewhere have real- 
ized innumerable intermediary rates which we have no 
nerves for perceiving. The process in the nerve-fibres 
themselves is very likely the same, or much the same, in 
all the different nerves. It is the so-called ' current ' ; but 
the current is started by one order of outer vibrations in 
the retina, and in the ear, for example, by another. This is 
due to the different terminal organs with which the several 
afferent nerves are armed. Just as we arm ourselves with 
a spoon to pick up soup, and with a fork to pick up meat, 
so our nerve-fibres arm themselves with one sort of end- 
apparatus to pick up air-waves, with another to pick up 
ether-waves. The terminal apparatus always consists of 
modified epithelial cells with which the fibre is continuous. 
The fibre itself is not directly excitable by the outer agent 
which impresses the terminal organ. The optic fibres are 
unmoved by the direct rays of the sun; a cutaneous nerve- 
trunk may be touched with ice without feeling cold.* The 
fibres are mere transmitters; the terminal organs are so 
many imperfect telephones into which the material world 
speaks, and each of which takes ud but a portion of what 

♦The subject may feel pain, however, in this experiment; and it 
must be admitted that nerve-fibres of every description, terminal 
organs as well, are to some degree excitable by mechanical violence 
and by the electric current. 


it says; the brain-cells at the fibres' central end are as 
many others at which the mind listens to the far-off 

The ■ Specific Energies ' of the Various Parts of the j 
Brain. — To a certain extent anatomists have traced defi- 
nitely the paths which the sensory nerve-fibres follow after 
their entrance into the centres, as far as their termination in 
the gray matter of the cerebral convolutions.* It will be 
shown on a later page that the consciousness which accom- 
panies the excitement of this gray matter varies from one 
portion of it to another. It is consciousness of things seen, 
when the occipital lobes, and of things heard, when the 
upper part of the temporal lobes, share in the excitement. 
Each region of the cerebral cortex responds to the stimula- 
tion which its afferent fibres bring to it, in a manner with 
which a peculiar quality of feeling seems invariably cor- 
related. This is what has been called the law of ' specific 
energies 9 in the nervous system. Of course we are with- 
out even a conjectural explanation of the ground of such 
a law. Psychologists (as Lewes, Wundt, Rosenthal, Gold- 
scheider, etc.) have debated a good deal as to whether the 
specific quality of the feeling depends solely on the place 
stimulated in the cortex, or on the sort of current which the 
nerve pours in. Doubtless the sort of outer force habitu- 
ally impinging on' the end-organ gradually modifies the 
end-organ, the sort of commotion received from the end- 
organ modifies the fibre, and the sort of current a so-modi- 
fied fibre pours into the cortical centre modifies the centre. 
The modification of the centre in turn (though no man 

* Thus the optic nerve-fibres are traced to the occipital lobes, the 
olfactory tracts go to the lower part of the temporal lobe (hippo- 
campal convolution), the auditory nerve-fibres pass first to the 
cerebellum, and probably from thence to the upper part of the 
temporal lobe. These anatomical terms used in this chapter 
witl be explained later. The cortex is the gray surface of the 


can guess how or why) seems to modify the resultant con- 
sciousness. But these adaptive modifications must be ex- 
cessively slow; and as matters actually stand in any adult 
individual, it is safe to say that, more than anything else, 
the place excited in his cortex decides what kind of thing 
he shall feel. Whether we press the retina, or prick, cut, 
pinch, or galvanize the living optic nerve, the Subject always 
feels flashes of light, since the ultimate result of our opera- 
tions is to stimulate the cortex of his occipital region. 
Our habitual ways of feeling outer things thus depend on 
which convolutions happen to be connected with the par- 
ticular end-organs which those things impress. We see the 
sunshine and the fire, simple because the only peripheral 
end-organ susceptible of taking up the ether-waves which 
these objects radiate excites those particular fibres which 
run to the centres of sight. If we could interchange the 
inward connections, we should feel the world in altogether 
new ways. If, for instance, we could splice the outer 
extremity of our optic nerves to our ears, and that of our 
auditory nerves to our eyes, we should hear the lightning 
and see the thunder, see the symphony and hear the con- 
ductor's movements. Such hypotheses as these form a good 
training for neophytes in the idealistic philosophy! 

Sensation distinguished from Perception. — It is im- 
possible rigorously to define a sensation'; and in the actual 
life of consciousness sensations, popularly so called, and per- 
ceptions merge into each other by insensible degrees. All 
we can say is that what we mean by sensations are first 
things in the way of consciousness. They are the immedi- 
ate results upon consciousness of nerve-currents as they 
enter the brain, and before they have awakened any sug- 
gestions or associations with past experience. But it is 
obvious that such immediate sensations can only be realized 
in the earliest days of life. They are all but impossible to 
adults with memories and stores of associations acquired. 
Prior to all impressions on sense-organs, the brain is 
plunged in deep sleep and consciousness is practically non- 


existent. Even the first weeks after birth are passed in 
almost unbroken sleep by human infants. It takes a 
strong message from the sense-organs to break this slumber. 
In a new-born brain this gives rise to an absolutely pure 
sensation. But the experience leaves its ' unimaginable 
touch ' on the matter of the convolutions, and the next im- 
pression which a sense-organ transmits produces a cerebral 
reaction in which the awakened vestige of the last impres- 
sion plays its part. Another sort of feeling and a higher 
grade of cognition are the consequence. ' Ideas ' about the 
object mingle with the awareness of its mere sensible pres- 
ence, we name it, class it, compare it, utter propositions 
concerning it, and the complication of the possible con- 
sciousness which an incoming current may arouse, goes on 
increasing to the end of life. In general, this higher con- 
sciousness about things is called Perception, the mere 
inarticulate feeling of their presence is Sensation, so far as 
we have it at all. To some degree we seem able to lapse 
into this inarticulate feeling at moments when our atten- 
tion is entirely dispersed. 

Sensations are cognitive. A sensation is thus an ab- 
straction seldom realized by itself; and the object which a 
sensation knows is an abstract object which cannot exist 
alone. ' Sensible qualities ' are the objects of sensation. The 
sensations of the eye are aware of the colors of things, those 
of the ear are acquainted with their sounds ; those of the skin 
feel their tangible heaviness, sharpness, warmth or coldness, 
etc., etc. From all the organs of the body currents may 
come which reveal to us the quality of pain, and to a cer- 
tain extent that of pleasure. 

Such qualities as stickiness, roughness, etc., are sup- 
posed to be felt through the cooperation of muscular sen- 
sations with those of the skin. The geometrical qualities 
of things, on the other hand, their shapes, bignesses, dis- 
tances, etc. (so far as we discriminate and identify them), 
are by most psychologists supposed to be impossible with- 
out the evocation of memories from the past; and the 


cognition of these attributes is thus considered to exceed 
the power of sensation pure and simple. 

* Knowledge of Acquaintance ' and ' Knowledge 
about/ — Sensation, thus considered, differs from perception 
only in the extreme simplicity of its object or content. Its 
object, being a simple quality, is sensibly homogeneous ; and 
its function is that of mere acquaintance with this homo- 
geneous seeming fact. Perception's function, on the other 
hand, is that of knowing something about the fact. But 
we must know what fact we mean, all the while, and the 
various whats are what sensations give. Our earliest 
thoughts are almost exclusively sensational. They give us 
a set of whats, or thats, or its; of subjects of discourse in 
other words, with their relations not yet brought out. The 
first time we see light, in Condillac's phrase we are it rather 
than see it. But all our later optical knowledge is about 
what this experience gives. And though we were struck 
blind from that first moment, our scholarship in the sub- 
ject would lack no essential feature so long as our memory 
remained. In training-institutions for the blind they teach 
the pupils as much about light as in ordinary schools. 
Reflection, refraction, the spectrum, the ether-theory, etc., 
are all studied. But the best taught born-blind pupil of 
such an establishment yet lacks in knowledge which the 
least instructed seeing baby has. They can never show 
him what light is in its i first intention '; and the loss of 
that sensible knowledge no book-learning can replace. All 
this is so obvious that we usually find sensation * postulated * 
as an element of experience, even by those philosophers 
who are least inclined to make much of its importance, or 
to pay respect to the knowledge which it brings. 

Sensation distinguished from Images. — Both sensation 
and perception, for all their difference, are yet alike in that 
their objects appear vivid, lively, and present. Objects 
merely thought of, recollected, or imagined, on the contrary, 
are relatively faint and devoid of this pungency, or tang, 
this quality of real presence which the objects of sensation 


possess. Now the cortical brain-processes to which sensa- 
tions are attached are due to incoming currents from the 
periphery of the body — an external object must excite the 
eye, ear, etc., before the sensation comes. Those cortical 
processes, on the other hand, to which mere ideas or images 
are attached are due in all probability to currents from 
other convolutions. It would seem, then, that the currents 
from the periphery normally awaken a kind of brain- 
activity which the currents from other convolutions are 
inadequate to arouse. To this sort of activity — a pro- 
founder degree of disintegration, perhaps — the quality of 
vividness, presence, or reality in the object of the resultant 
consciousness seems correlated. 

The Exteriority of Objects of Sensation. — Every thing 
or quality felt is felt in outer space. It is impossible to con- 
ceive a brightness or a color otherwise than as extended and 
outside of the body. Sounds also appear in space. Con- 
tacts are against the body's surface; and pains ajways 
occupy some organ. An opinion which has had much 
currency in psychology is that sensible qualities are first 
apprehended as in the mind itself, and then ' projected ' from 
it, or ' extradited/ by a secondary intellectual or super-sen- 
sational mental act. There is no ground whatever for this 
opinion. The only facts which even seem to make for it 
can be much better explained in another way, as we shall see 
later on. The very first sensation which an infant gets is 
for him the outer universe. And the universe which he 
comes to know in later life is nothing but an amplifica- 
tion of that first simple germ which, by accretion on the 
one hand and intussusception on the other, has grown 
so big and complex and articulate that its first estate 
is unrememberable. In his dumb awakening to the con- 
sciousness of something there, a mere this as yet (or some- 
thing for which even the term this would perhaps be 
too discriminative, and the intellectual acknowledgment of 
which would be better expressed by the bare interjection 
1 lo! '), the infant encounters an object in which (though it 


be given in a pure sensation) all the ' categories of the 
understanding ' are contained. // has externality, objec- 
tivity, unity, substantiality, causality, in the full sense in 
which any later object or system of objects has these things. 
Here the young knower meets and greets his world; and 
the miracle of knowledge bursts forth, as Voltaire says, as 
much in the infant's lowest sensation as in the highest 
achievement of a Newton's brain. 

The physiological condition of this first sensible experi- 
ence is probably many nerve-currents coming in from 
various peripheral organs at once; but this multitude of 
organic conditions does not prevent the consciousness from 
being one consciousness. We shall see as we go on that 
it can be one consciousness, even though it be due to 
the cooperation of numerous organs and be a conscious- 
ness of many things together. The Object which the 
numerous inpouring currents of the baby bring to his 
consciousness is one big blooming buzzing Confusion. 
That Confusion is the baby's universe; and the universe of 
all of us is still to a great extent such a Confusion, poten- 
tially resolvable, and demanding to be resolved, but not 
yet actually resolved, into parts. It appears from first to 
last as a space-occupying thing. So far as it is unanalyzed 
and unresolved we may be said to know it sensationally; 
but as fast as parts are distinguished in it and we become 
aware of their relations, our knowledge becomes perceptual 
or even conceptual, and as such need not concern us in the 
present chapter. 

The Intensity of Sensations. — A light may be so weak 
as not sensibly to dispel the darkness, a sound so low as not 
to be heard, a contact so faint that we fail to notice it. In 
other words, a certain finite amount of the outward stimu- 
lus is required to produce any sensation of its presence at 
all. This is called by Fechner the law of the threshold — 
something must be stepped over before the object can gain 
entrance to the mind. An impression just above the 
threshold is called the minimum visible, audibile, etc. 



From this point onwards, as the impressing force increases, 
the sensation increases also, though at a slower rate, until 
at last an acme of the sensation is reached which no increase 
in the stimulus can make sensibly more great. Usually, 
before the acme, pain begins to mix with the specific char- 
acter of the sensation. This is definitely observable in 
the cases of great pressure, intense heat, cold, light, and 
sound; and in those of smell and taste less definitely so 
only from the fact that we can less easily increase the force 
of the stimuli here. On the other hand, all sensations, 
however unpleasant when more intense, are rather agree- 
able than otherwise in their very lowest degrees. A faintly 
bitter taste, or putrid smell, may at least be interesting. 

Weber's Law. — I said that the intensity of the sensation 
increases by slower steps than those by which its exciting 

Fig. i. 

cause increases. If there were no threshold, and if every 
equal increment in the outer stimulus produced an equal 
increment in the sensation's intensity, a simple straight line 
would represent graphically the ' curve ' of the relation 
between the two things. Let the horizontal line stand for 
the scale of intensities of the objective stimulus, so that at 
o it has no intensity, at 1 intensity 1, and so forth. Let 
the verticals dropped from the slanting line stand for the 
sensations aroused. At o there will be no sensation; at 1 
there will be a sensation represented by the length of the 
vertical S 1 — 1, at 2 the sensation will be represented by 


S 2 — 2, and so on. The line of S's will rise evenly be- 
cause by the hypothesis the verticals (or sensations) increase 
at the same rate as the horizontals (or stimuli) to which 
they severally correspond. But in Nature, as aforesaid, 
they increase at a slower rate. If each step forward in the 
horizontal direction be equal to the last, then each step 
upward in the vertical direction will have to be somewhat 
shorter than the last; the line of sensations will be convex 
on top instead of straight. 









Fig. 2. 

Fig. 2 represents this actual state of things, o being 
the zero-point of the stimulus, and conscious sensation, 
represented by the curved line, not beginning until the 
1 threshold ' is reached, at which the stimulus has the 
value 3. From here onwards the sensation increases, but 
it increases less at each step, until at last, the ' acme ' being 
reached, the sensation-line grows flat. The exact law of 
retardation is called Weber's law, from the fact that he first 
observed it in the case of weights. I will quote Wundt's 
account of the law and of the facts on which it is based. 

"Every one knows that in the stilly night we hear things unnoticed 
in the noise of day. The gentle ticking of the clock, the air circu- 
lating through the chimney, the cracking of the chairs in the room, 
and a thousand other slight noises, impress themselves upon our 
ear. It is equally well known that in the confused hubbub of the 
streets, or the clamor of a railway, we may lose not only what our 
neighbor says to us, but even not hear the sound of our own voice. 


The stars which are brightest at night are invisible by day; and 
although we see the moon then, she is far paler than at night. 
Every one who has had to deal with weights knows that if to a 
pound in the hand a second pound be added, the difference is im- 
mediately felt ; whilst if it be added to a hundredweight, we are not 
aware of the difference at all. . . . 

"The sound of the clock, the light of the stars, the pressure of the 
pound, these are all stimuli to our senses, and stimuli whose out- 
ward amount remains the same. What then do these experiences 
teach ? Evidently nothing but this, that one and the same stimulus, 
according to circumstances under which it operates, will be felt 
either more or less intensely, or not felt at all. Of what sort now 
is the alteration in the circumstances upon which this alteration in 
the feeling may depend ? On considering the matter closely we see 
that it is everywhere of one and the same kind. The tick of the 
clock is a feeble stimulus for our auditory nerve, which we hear 
plainly when it is one, but not when it is added to the strong 
stimulus of the carriage-wheels and other noises of the day. The 
light of the stars is a stimulus to the eye. But if the stimulation 
which this light exerts be added to the strong stimulus of daylight, 
we feel nothing of it, although we feel it distinctly when it unites 
itself with the feebler stimulation of the twilight. The pound- 
weight is a stimulus to our skin, which we feel when it joins itself 
to a preceding stimulus of equal strength, but which vanishes when 
it is combined with a stimulus a thousand times greater in amount. 

"We may therefore lay it down as a general rule that a stimulus, 
in order to be felt, may be so much the smaller if the already pre- 
existing stimulation of the organ is small, but must be so much the 
larger, the greater the preexisting stimulation is. . . . The simplest 
relation would obviously be that the sensation should increase in 
identically the same ratio as the stimulus. . . . But if this simplest 
of all relations prevailed, ... the light of the stars, e.g., ought to 
make as great an addition to the daylight as it does to the darkness 
of the nocturnal sky, and this we know to be not the case. ... So 
it is clear that the strength of the sensations does not increase in 
proportion to the amount of the stimuli, but more slowly. And now 
comes the question, in what proportion does the increase of the 
sensation grow less as the increase of the stimulus grows greater? 
To answer this question, every-day experiences do not suffice. We 
need exact measurements, both of the amounts of the various 
stimuli, and of the intensity of the sensations themselves. 

"How to execute these measurements, however, is something 
which daily experience suggests. To measure the strength of sen- 
sations is, as we saw, impossible ; we can only measure the difference 


of sensations. Experience showed us what very unequal differences 
of sensation might come from equal differences of outward stimulus. 
"But all these experiences expressed themselves in one kind of 
fact, that the same difference of stimulus could in one case be felt, 
and in another case not felt at all — a pound felt if added to another 
pound, but not if added to a hundredweight. . . . We can quickest 
reach a result with our observations if we start with an arbitrary 
strength of stimulus, notice what sensation it gives us, and then see 
how much we can increase the stimulus without making the sensa- 
tion seem to change. If we carry out such observations with 
stimuli of varying absolute amounts, we shall be forced to choose 
in an equally varying way the amounts of addition to the stimulus 
which are capable of giving us a just barely perceptible feeling of 
more. A light to be just perceptible in the twilight need not be near 
as bright as the starlight; it must be far brighter to be just per- 
ceived during the day. If now we institute such observations for 
all possible strengths of the various stimuli, and note for each 
strength the amount of addition of the latter required to produce a 
barely perceptible alteration of sensation, we shall have a series 
of figures in which is immediately expressed the law according to 
which the sensation alters when the stimulation is increased. ..." 

Observations according to this method are particularly 
easy to make in the spheres of light, sound, and pressure. 
Beginning with the latter case, 

"We find a surprisingly simple result. The barely sensible addi- 
tion to the original zveight must stand exactly in the same proportion 
to it, be the same fraction of it, no matter what the absolute value 
may be of the weights on which the experiment is made. ... As 
the average of a number of experiments, this fraction is found to 
be about 1-3; that is, no matter what pressure there may already be 
made upon the skin, an increase or a diminution of the pressure will 
be felt, as soon as the added or subtracted weight amounts to one- 
third of the weight originally there." 

Wundt then describes how differences may be observed 
in the muscular feelings, in the feelings of heat, in those 
of light, and in those of sound; and he concludes thus: 

"So we have found that all the senses whose stimuli we are 
enabled to measure accurately, obey a uniform law. However vari- 
ous may be their several delicacies of discrimination, this holds true 
of all, that the increase of the stimulus necessary to produce an 


increase of the sensation bears a constant ratio to the total stimulus. 
The figures which express this ratio in the several senses may be 
shown thus in tabular form : 

Sensation of light 1/100 

Muscular sensation. * 1/17 

Feeling of pressure, *\ 

" " warmth, ^ 1/3 

" " sound, J 

"These figures are far from giving as accurate a measure as 
might be desired. But at least they are fit to convey a general 
notion of the relative discriminative susceptibility of the different 
senses. . . . The important law which gives in so simple a form 
the relation of the sensation to the stimulus that calls it forth was 
first discovered by the physiologist Ernst Heinrich Weber to obtain 
in special cases." * 

Fechner's Law. — Another way of expressing Weber's law 
is to say that to get equal positive additions to the sensa- 
tion, one must make equal relative additions to the stimu- 
lus. Professor Fechner of Leipzig founded upon Weber's 
law a theory of the numerical measurement of sensations, 
over which much metaphysical discussion has raged. Each 
just perceptible addition to the sensation, as we gradually 
let the stimulus increase, was supposed by him to be a unit 
of sensation, and all these units were treated by him as 
equal, in spite of the fact that equally perceptible incre- 
ments need by no means appear equally big when they 
once are perceived. The many pounds which form the 
just perceptible addition to a hundredweight feel bigger 
when added than the few ounces which form the just per- 
ceptible addition to a pound. Fechner ignored this fact. 
He considered that if n distinct perceptible steps of in- 
crease might be passed through in gradually increasing a 
stimulus from the threshold-value till the intensity s was 
felt, then the sensation of s was composed of n units, which 
were of the same value all along the line.f Sensations once 
represented by numbers, psychology may become, according 

* Vorlesungen uber Menschen u. Thierseele, Lecture VII. 
t In other words, 5 standing for the sensation in general, and 
d for its noticeable increment, we have the equation dS — const. 


to Fechner, an ' exact ' science, susceptible of mathematical 
treatment. His general formula for getting at the number 
of units in any sensation is S = C log R, where 5 stands for 
the sensation, R for the stimulus numerically estimated, 
and C for a constant that must be separately determined by 
experiment in each particular order of sensibility. The 
sensation is proportional to the logarithm of the stimulus; 
and the absolute values, in units, of any series of sensations 
might be got from the ordinates of the curve in Fig. 2, if 
it were a correctly drawn logarithmic curve, with the 
thresholds rightly plotted out from experiments. 

Fechner 's psycho-physic formula, as he called it, has 
been attacked on every hand; and as absolutely nothing 
practical has come of it, it need receive no farther notice 
here. The main outcome of his book has been to stir up 
experimental investigation into the validity of Weber's 
law (which concerns itself merely with the just perceptible 
increase, and says nothing about the measurement of the 
sensation as a whole) and to promote discussion of statis- 
tical methods. Weber's law, as will appear when we take 
the senses, seriatim, is only approximately verified. The 
discussion of statistical methods is necessitated by the ex- 
traordinary fluctuations of our sensibility from one moment 
to the next. It is found, namely, when the difference of 
two sensations approaches the limit of discernibility, that 
at one moment we discern it and at the next we do not. 
Our incessant accidental inner alterations make it im- 
possible to tell just what the least discernible increment of 
the sensation is without taking the average of a large num- 
ber of appreciations. These accidental errors are as likely 
to increase as to diminish our sensibility, and are elimi- 
nated in such an average, for those above and those below 

The increment of stimulus which produces dS (call it dR) mean- 
while varies. Fechner calls it the ' differential threshold ' ; and as 
its relative value to R is always the same, we have the equation 
-^r= const. 


the line then neutralize each other in the sum, and the nor- 
mal sensibility, if there be one (that is, the sensibility due 
to constant causes as distinguished from these accidental 
ones), stands revealed. The methods of getting the aver- 
age all have their difficulties and their snares, and contro- 
versy over them has become very subtle indeed. As an 
instance of how laborious some of the statistical methods 
are, and how patient German investigators can be, I may 
say that Fechner himself, in testing Weber's law for 
weights by the so-called ' method of true and false cases,' 
tabulated and computed no less than 24,576 separate judg- 

Sensations are not compounds. The fundamental objec- 
tion to Fechner 's whole attempt seems to be this, that 
although the outer causes of our sensations may have many 
parts, every distinguishable degree, as well as every dis- 
tinguishable quality, of the sensation itself appears to be 
a unique fact of consciousness. Each sensation is a com- 
plete integer. " A strong one," as Dr. Munsterberg says, 
" is not the multiple of a weak one, or a compound of 
many weak ones, but rather something entirely new, and as 
it were incomparable, so that to seek a measurable differ- 
ence between strong and weak sonorous, luminous, or ther- 
mic sensations would seem at first sight as senseless as to 
try to compute mathematically the difference between salt 
and sour, or between headache and toothache. It is clear 
that if in the stronger sensation of light the weaker sen- 
sation is not contained, it is unpsychological to say that the 
former differs from the latter by a certain increment."* 
Surely our feeling of scarlet is not a feeling of pink with a 
lot more pink added; it is something quite other than 
pink. Similarly with our sensation of an electric arc-light: 
it does not contain that of many smoky tallow candles in 
itself. Every sensation presents itself as an indivisible 
unit; and it is quite impossible to read any clear meaning 
into the notion that they are masses of units combined. 

* Beitrage zur exp. Psychol., Heft 3. p. 4. 


There is no inconsistency between this statement and the 
fact that, starting with a weak sensation and increas- 
ing it, we feel ' more/ ' more/ ' more,' as the increase goes 
on. It is not more of the same stuff added, so to speak; 
but it is more and more difference, more and more distance, 
from the starting-point, which we feel. In the chapter on 
Discrimination we shall see that Difference can be perceived 
between simple things. We shall see, too, that differences 
themselves differ — there are various directions of differ- 
ence; and along any one of them a series of things may be 
arranged so as to increase steadily in that direction. In 
any such series the end differs more from the beginning 
than the middle does. Differences of * intensity ' form one 
such direction of possible increase — so our judgments of 
more intensity can be expressed without the hypothesis 
that more units have been added to a growing sum. 

The so-called ' Law of Relativity.' — Weber's law seems 
only one case of the still wider law that the more we have 
to attend to the less capable we are of noticing any one 
detail. The law is obvious where the things differ in 
kind. How easily do we forget a bodily discomfort when 
conversation waxes hot; how little do we notice the noises 
in the room so long as our work absorbs us! Ad plura 
intentus minus est ad singula sensus, as the old proverb 
says. One might now add that the homogeneity of what 
we have to attend to does not alter the result; but that a 
mind with two strong sensations of the same sort already 
before it is incapacitated by their amount from noticing 
the detail of a difference between them which it would 
immediately be struck by, were the sensations themselves 
weaker and consequently endowed with less distracting 

This particular idea may be taken for what it is worth.* 
Meanwhile it is an undoubted general fact that the psychi- 

* I borrow it from Ziehen : Leitf aden d. Physiologischen Psycho- 
logie, 1891, p. 36, who quotes Hering's version of it. 


cal effect of incoming currents does depend on what other 
currents may be simultaneously pouring in. Not only the 
perceptibility of the object which the current brings before 
the mind, but the quality of it, is changed by the other 
currents. " Simultaneous* sensations modify each other " 
is a brief expression for this law. " We feel all things in 
relation to each other " is Wundt's vaguer formula for this 
general ' law of relativity/ which in one shape or other has 
had vogue since Hobbes's time in psychology. Much mys- 
tery has been made of it, but although we are of course 
ignorant of the more intimate processes involved, there 
seems no ground to doubt that they are physiological, and 
come from the interference of one current with another. 
A current interfered with might naturally give rise to a 
modified sensation. 

Examples of the modification in question are easy to 
find.f Notes make each other sweeter in a chord, and so 
do colors when harmoniously combined. A certain amount 
of skin dipped in hot water gives the perception of a cer- 
tain heat. More skin immersed makes the heat much more 
intense, although of course the water's heat is the same. 
Similarly there is a chromatic minimum of size in objects. 
The image they cast on the retina must needs excite a 
sufficient number of fibres, or it will give no sensation of 
color at all. Weber observed that a thaler laid on the skin 
of the forehead feels heavier when cold than when warm. 
Urbantschitsch has found that all our sense-organs influ- 
ence each other's sensations. The hue of patches of color 
so distant as not to be recognized was immediately, in his 
patients, perceived when a tuning-fork was sounded close 
to the ear. Letters too far off to be read could be read 

* Successive ones also ; but I consider simultaneous ones only, for 
simplicity's sake. 

t The extreme case is where green light and red, e.g. light falling 
simultaneously on the retina, give a sensation of yellow. But- 1 
abstract from this because it is not certain that the incoming cur- 
rents here affect different fibres of the optic nerve. 


when the tuning-fork was heard, etc., etc. The most famil- 
iar examples of this sort of thing seem to be the increase of 
pain by noise or light, and the increase of nausea by all 
concomitant sensations. 

Effects of Contrast. — The best-known examples of the 
way in which one nerve-current modifies another are the 
phenomena of what is known as ' simultaneous color-con- 
trast.' Take a number of sheets of brightly and differently 
colored papers, lay on each of them a bit of one and the same 
kind of gray paper, then cover each sheet with some trans- 
parent white paper, which softens the look of both the gray 
paper and the colored ground. The gray patch will appear 
in each case tinged by the color complementary to the 
ground; and so different will the several pieces appear 
that no observer, before raising the transparent paper, will 
believe them all cut out of the same gray. Helmholtz has 
interpreted these results as being due to a false application 
of an inveterate habit — that, namely, of making allowance 
for the color of the medium through which things are seen. 
The same thing, in the blue light of a clear sky, in the red- 
dish-yellow light of a candle, in the dark brown light of a 
polished mahogany table which may reflect its image, is 
always judged of its own proper color, which the mind adds 
out of its own knowledge to the appearance, thereby cor- 
recting the falsifying medium. In the cases of the papers, 
according to Helmholtz, the mind believes the color of the 
ground, subdued by the transparent paper, to be faintly 
spread over the gray patch. But a patch to look gray 
through such a colored film would have really to be of the 
complementary color to the film. Therefore it is of the 
complementary color, we think, and proceed to see it of 
that color. 

This theory has been shown to be untenable by Hering. 
The discussion of the facts is too minute for recapitulation 
here, but suffice it to say that it proves the phenomenon 
to be physiological — a case of the way in which, when sen- 
sory nerve-currents run in together, the effect of each on 


consciousness is different from that which it would be if 
they ran in separately. 

i Successive contrast ' differs from the simultaneous va- 
riety, and is supposed to be due to fatigue. The facts will 
be noticed under the head of ' after-images/ in the sec- 
tion on Vision. It must be borne in mind, however, that 
after-images from previous sensations may coexist with 
present sensations, and the two may modify each other just 
as coexisting sensational processes do. 

Other senses than sight show phenomena of contrast, 
but they are much less obvious, so I will not notice them 
here. We can now pass to a very brief survey of the vari- 
ous senses in detail. 



The Eye's Structure is described in all the books on an- 
atomy. I will only mention the few points which concern 
the psychologist* It is a flattish sphere formed by a tough 

* The student can easily verify the coarser features of the eye's 
anatomy upon a bullock's eye, which any butcher will furnish. 
Clean it first from fat and muscles and study its shape, etc., and 
then (following Golding Bird's method) make an incision with a 
pointed scalpel into the sclerotic half an inch from the edge of the 
cornea, so that the black choroid membrane comes into view. Next 
with one blade of a pair of scissors inserted into this aperture, cut 
through sclerotic, choroid, and retina (avoid wounding the mem- 
brane of the vitreous body!) all round the eyeball parallel to the 
cornea's edge. 

The eyeball is thus divided into two parts, the anterior one con- 
taining the iris, lens, vitreous body, etc., whilst the posterior one 
contains most of the retina. The two parts can be separated by 
immersing the eyeball in water, cornea downwards, and simply pull- 
ing off the portion to which the optic nerve is attached. Floating 
this detached posterior cap in water, the delicate retina will be seen 
spread out over the choroid (which is partly iridescent in the ox 
tribe) ; and by turning the cup inside out, and working under water 
with a camel's-hair brush, the vessels and nerves of the eyeball may 
be detected. 

The anterior part of the eyeball can then be attacked. Seize with 
forceps on each side the edge of the sclerotic and choroid (not 
including the retina), raise the eye with the forceps thus applied 
and shake it gently till the vitreous body, lens, capsule, ligament, 
etc., drop out by their weight, and separate from the iris, ciliary 
processes, cornea and selorotic, which remain in the forceps. Ex- 
amine these latter parts, and get a view of the ciliary muscle which 
appears as a white line, when with camel's-hair brush and scalpel 
the choroid membrane is detached from the sclerotic as far forward 
as it will go. Turning to the parts that clog to the vitreous body 
observe the clear ring around the lens, and radiating outside of it 
the marks made by the ciliary processes before they were torn away 




white membrane (the sclerotic), which encloses a nervois 
surface and certain refracting media (lens and ' humors ') 
which cast a picture of the outer world thereon. It is in 

from its suspensory ligament. A fine capillary tube may now be 
used to insufflate the clear ring, just below the letter p in Fig. 3, 
and thus to reveal the suspensory ligament itself. 

All these parts can be seen in section in a frozen eye or one hard- 
ened in alcohol. 



fact a little camera obscura, the essential part of which is 
the sensitive plate. 

The retina is what corresponds to 
this plate. The optic nerve pierces the 
sclerotic shell and spreads its fibres 
radially in every direction over its in- 
side, forming a thin translucent film 
(see Fig. 3, Ret.). The fibres pass 
into a complicated apparatus of cells, 
granules, and branches (Fig. 4), and 
finally end in the so-called rods and 
cones (Fig. 4, — 9), which are the spe- 
cific organs for taking up the influence 
of the waves of light. Strange to say, 
these end-organs are not pointed for- 
ward towards the light as it streams 
through the pupil, but backwards to- 
wards the sclerotic membrane itself, so 


Fig. 4' 

Fig. 5. — Scheme of retinal fibres, after Kuss. Nop. 
optic nerve; S, sclerotic; Ch, choroid; R, retina; 
P, papilla (blind spot) ; F, fovea. 

that the light-waves traverse the translucent nerve-fibres, 
and the cellular and granular layers of the retina, befo r ^ 
thev touch the rods and cones themselves. (See Fig. 5.) 


The Blind Spot. — The optic nerve-fibres must thus be 
unimpressible by light directly. The place where the 
nerve enters is in fact entirely blind, because nothing but 
fibres exist there, the other layers of the retina only be- 
ginning round about the entrance. Nothing is easier than 
to prove the existence of this blind spot. Close the right 
eye and look steadily with the left at the cross in Fig. 6, 

Fig. 6. 

holding the book vertically in front of the face, and mov- 
ing it to and fro. It will be found that at about a foot off 
the black disk disappears; but when the page is nearer or 
farther, it is seen. During the experiment the gaze must 
be kept fixed on the cross. It is easy to show by measure- 
ment that this blind spot lies where the optic nerve enters. 

The Fovea. — Outside of the blind spot the sensibility of 
the retina varies. It is greatest at the fovea, a little pit 
lying outwardly from the entrance of the optic nerve, and 
round which the radiating nerve-fibres bend without pass- 
ing over it. The other layers also disappear at the fovea, 
leaving the cones alone to represent the retina there. The 
sensibility of the retina grows progressively less towards its 
periphery, by means of which neither colors, shapes, nor 
number of impressions can be well discriminated. 

In the normal use of our two eyes, the eyeballs are ro- 
tated so as to cause the two images of any object which 
catches the attention to fall on the two foveae, as the spots 
of acutest vision. This happens involuntarily, as any one 
may observe. In fact, it is almost impossible not to ' turn 
the eyes/ the moment any peripherally lying object does 
catch our attention, the turning of the eyes being only 



another name for such rotation of the eyeballs as will 
bring the foveae under the object's image. 

Ciliary muscle 

Ciliary muscle 

Ciliary Fhocess, 

Fig. 7. 

Accommodation. — The focussing or sharpening of the 
image is performed by a special apparatus. In every cam- 
era, the farther the object is from the eye the farther for- 
ward, and the nearer the object is to the eye the farther 
backward is its image thrown. In photographers' cameras 
the back is made to slide, and can be drawn away from 
the lens when the object that casts the picture is near, 
and pushed forward when it is far. The picture is thus 
kept always sharp. But no such change of length is 
possible in the eyeball; and the same result is reached in 
another way. The lens, namely, grows more convex when 
a near object is looked at, and flatter when the object re- 
cedes. This change is due to the antagonism of the circular 
' ligament ' in which the lens is suspended, and the ' ciliary 
muscle.* The ligament, when the ciliary muscle is at rest, 
assumes such a spread-out shape as to keep the lens rather 
flat. But the lens is highly elastic; and it springs into 
the more convex form which is natural to it whenever the 
ciliary muscle, by contracting, causes the ligament to relax 
its pressure. The contraction of the muscle, by thus ren- 
dering the lens more refractive, adapts the eye for near 
objects (' accommodates ' it for them, as we say); and its 
relaxation, by rendering the lens less refractive, adapts the 
eye for distant vision. Accommodation for the near is thus 


the more active change, since it involves contraction of 
the ciliary muscle. When we look far off, we simply let 
our eyes go passive. We feel this difference in the effort 
when we compare the two sensations of change. 

Convergence accompanies accommodation. The two 
eyes act as one organ ; that is, when an object catches the at- 
tention, both eyeballs turn so that its images may fall on 
the foveae. When the object is near, this naturally requires 
them to turn inwards, or converge; and as accommodation 
then also occurs, the two movements of convergence and 
accommodation form a natural associated couple, of which 
it is difficult to execute either singly. Contraction of 
the pupil also accompanies the accommodative act. When 
we come to stereoscopic vision, it will appear that by much 
practice one can learn to converge with relaxed accommo- 
dation, and to accommodate with parallel axes of vision. 
These are accomplishments which the student of psycho- 
logical optics will find most useful. 

Single Vision by the two Retinae. — We hear single with 
two ears, and smell single with two nostrils, and we also see 
single with two eyes. The difference is that we also can 
see double under certain conditions, whereas under no con- 
ditions can we hear or smell double. The main conditions 
of single vision can be simply expressed. 

In the first place, impressions on the two foveae always 
appear in the same place. By no artifice can they be 
made to appear alongside of each other. The result 
is that one object, casting its images on the foveae of 
the two converging eyeballs will necessarily always ap- 
pear as what it is, namely, one object. Furthermore, if 
the eyeballs, instead of converging, are kept parallel, 
and two similar objects, one in front of each, cast their 
respective images on the foveae, the two will also appear 
as one, or (in common parlance) ' their images will fuse.' 
To verify this, let the reader stare fixedly before him 
as if through the paper at infinite distance, with the 
black spots in Fig. 8 in front of his respective eyes. He 


will then see the two black spots swim together, as it were, 
and combine into one, which appears situated between their 
original two positions and as if opposite the root of his 
nose. This combined spot is the result of the spots oppo- 
site both eyes being seen in the same place. But in addition 
to the combined spot, each eye sees also the spot opposite 
the other eye. To the right eye this appears to the left of 
the combined spot, to the left eye it appears to the right 
of it; so that what is seen is three spots, of which the 
middle one is seen by both eyes, and is flanked by two 

Fig. 8. 

others, each seen by one. That such are the facts can be 
tested by interposing some small opaque object so as to 
cut off the vision of either of the spots in the figure from 
the other eye. A vertical partition in the median plane, 
going from the paper to the nose, will effectually confine 
each eye's vision to the spot in front of it, and then the 
single combined spot will be all that appears* 

If, instead of two identical spots, we use two different 
figures, or two differently colored spots, as objects for the 
two foveae to look at, they still are seen in the same place; 
but since they cannot appear as a single object, they appear 
there alternately displacing each other from the view. This 
is the phenomenon called retinal rivalry. 

As regards the parts of the retinae round about the foveae, 
a similar correspondence obtains. Any impression on the 

* This vertical partition is introduced into stereoscopes, which 
otherwise would give us three pictures instead of one. 



upper half of either retina makes us see an object as below, 
on the lower half as above, the horizon; and on the right 
half of either retina, an impression makes us see an object 
to the left, on the left half one to the right, of the median 
line. Thus each quadrant of one retina corresponds as a 
whole to the geometrically similar quadrant of the other; 

Fig. 9. 

and within two similar quadrants, al and ar for example, 
there should, if the correspondence were carried out in de- 
tail, be geometrically similar points which, if impressed at 
the same time by light emitted from the same object, should 
cause that object to appear in the same direction to either 
eye. Experiment verifies this surmise. If we look at the 
starry vault with parallel eyes, the stars all seem single; 
and the laws of perspective show that under the circum- 
stances the parallel light-rays coming from each star must 
impinge on points within either retina which are geometri- 
cally similar to each other. Similarly, a pair of spectacles 
held an inch or so from the eyes seem like one large median 
glass. Or we may make an experiment like that with the 
spots. If we take two exactly similar pictures, no larger 
than those on an ordinary stereoscopic slide, and if we look 
at one with each eye (a median partition confining the 
view) we shall see but one flat picture, all of whose parts 
appear single. ' Identical retinal points ' being impressed, 
both eyes see their object in the same direction, and the 
two objects consequently coalesce into one. 

Here again retinal rivalry occurs if the pictures differ. 
And it must be noted that when the experiment is per- 



formed for the first time the combined picture is always 
far from sharp. This is due to the difficulty mentioned on 
p. 33, of accommodating for anything as near as the surface 
of the paper, whilst at the same time the convergence is 
relaxed so that each eye sees the picture in front of itself. 
Double Images. — Now it is an immediate consequence of 
the law of identical location of images falling on geometri- 
cally similar points that images which fall upon geometri- 
cally disparate points of the two retinae should be seen 
in disparate directions, and that their objects should 

8 S 


Fig. io. 

consequently appear in two places, or look double. 
Take the parallel rays from a star falling upon two eyes 
which converge upon a near object, O, instead of being 
parallel as in the previously instanced case. The two 
foveae will receive the images of O, which therefore will 
look single. If then S L and R S in Fig. io be the parallel 
rays, each of them will fall upon the nasal half of the retina 


which it strikes. But the two nasal halves are disparate, 
geometrically symmetrical, not geometrically similar. The 
star's image on the left eye will therefore appear as if lying 
to the left of O; its image on the right eye will appear to 
the right of this point. The star, will, in short, be seen 
double — ■ homonymously ' double. 

Conversely, if the star be looked at directly with parallel 
axes, any near object like O will be seen double, because 
its images will affect the outer or cheek halves of the two 
retinae, instead of one outer and one nasal half. The posi- 
tion of the images will here be reversed from that of the 
previous case. The right eye's image will now appear to 
the left, the left eye's to the right; the double images will 
be ' heteronymous.' 

The same reasoning and the same result ought to apply 
where the object's place with respect to the direction of the 
two optic axes is such as to make its images fall not on 
non-similar retinal halves, but on non-similar parts of sim- 
ilar halves. Here, of course, the positions seen will be less 
widely disparate than in the other case, and the double 
images will appear to lie less widely apart. 

Careful experiments made by many observers according 
to the so-called haploscopic method confirm this law, and 
show that corresponding points, of single visual direction, 
exist upon the two retinae. For the detail of these one 
must consult the special treatises. 

Vision of Solidity. — This description of binocular vision 
follows what is called the theory of identical points. On 
the whole it formulates the facts correctly. The only odd 
thing is that we should be so little troubled by the innu- 
merable double images which objects nearer and farther 
than the point looked at must be constantly producing. 
The answer to this is that we have trained ourselves to 
habits of inattention in regard to double images. So far 
as things interest us we turn our foveae upon them, and they 
are necessarily seen single; so that if an object impresses 
disparate points, that may be taken as proof that it is so 


unimportant for us that we needn't notice whether it 
appears in one place or in two. By long practice one 
may acquire great expertness in detecting double images, 
though, as some one says, it is an art which is not to be 
learned completely either in one year or in two. 

Where the disparity of the images is but slight it is 
almost impossible to see them as if double. They give 
rather the perception of a solid object being there. To fix 
our ideas, take Fig. n. Suppose we look at the dots in the 

Fig. ii. 

middle of the lines a and b just as we looked at the spots in 
Fig. 8. We shall get the same result — i.e., they will coalesce 
in the median line. But the entire lines will not 
coalesce, for, owing to their inclination, their tops 
fall on the temporal, and their bottoms on the 
nasal, retinal halves. What we see will be two 
lines crossed in the middle, thus (Fig. 12): 

The moment we attend to the tops of these lines, 
however, our foveae tend to abandon the dots and 
to move upwards, and in doing so, to converge fig. 12 

somewhat, following the lines, 
which then appear coalescing at 
the top as in Fig. 13. 

If we think of the bottom, 
the eyes descend and diverge, 
and what we see is Fig. 14. 
Running our eyes up and 
Fig. * 3 . Fig. i 4 . d own the lines makes them 

converge and diverge just as they would were they running 


up and down some single line whose top was nearer to us 
than its bottom. Now, if the inclination of the lines be 
moderate, we may not see them double at all, but single 
throughout their length, when we look at the dots. Under 
these conditions their top does look nearer than their bot- 
tom — in other words, we see them stereoscopically ; and we 
see them so even when our eyes are rigorously motionless. 
In other words, the slight disparity in the bottom-ends 
which would draw the foveae divergently apart makes us 
see those ends farther, the slight disparity in the top ends 
which would draw them convergently together makes us see 
these ends nearer, than the point at which we look. The 
disparities, in short, affect our perception as the actual 
movements would.* 

The Perception of Distance. — When we look about us 
at things, our eyes are incessantly moving, converging, 
diverging, accommodating, relaxing, and sweeping over the 
field. The field appears extended in three dimensions, with 
some of its parts more distant and some more near. 

"With one eye our perception of distance is very imperfect, as 
illustrated by the common trick of holding a ring suspended by a 
string in front of a person's face, and telling him to shut one eye 
and pass a rod from one side through the ring. If a penholder be 
held erect before one eye, while the other is closed, and an attempt 
be made to touch it with a finger moved across towards it, an error 
will nearly always be made. In such cases we get the only clue 
from the amount of effort needed to 'accommodate' the eye to see 
the object distinctly. When we use both eyes our perception of dis- 
tance is much better ; when we look at an object with two eyes the 
visual axes are converged on it, and the nearer the object the greater 
the convergence. We have a pretty accurate knowledge of the 
degree of muscular effort required to converge the eyes on all 

♦The simplest form of stereoscope is two tin tubes about one 
and one-half inches calibre, dead black inside and (for normal eyes) 
ten inches long. Close each end with paper not too opaque, on which 
an inch-long thick black line is drawn. The tubes can be looked 
through, one by each eye. and held either parallel or with their 
farther ends converging. When properly rotated, their images will 
show every variety of fusion and non-fusion, and stereoscopic effect. 


tolerably near points. When objects are farther off, their apparent 
size, and the modifications their retinal images experience by aerial 
perspective, come in to help. The relative distance of objects is 
easiest determined by moving the eyes; all stationary objects then 
appear displaced in the opposite direction (as for example when we 
look out of the window of a railway car) and those nearest most 
rapidly ; from the different apparent rates of movement we can tell 
which are farther and which nearer." * 

Subjectively considered, distance is an altogether peculiar 
content of consciousness. Convergence, accommodation, 
binocular disparity, size, degree of brightness, parallax, 
etc., all give us special feelings which are signs of the 
distance feeling, but not it. They simply suggest it to us. 
The best way to get it strongly is to go upon some hill-top 
and invert one's head. The horizon then looks very dis- 
tant, and draws near as the head erects itself again. 

The Perception of Size. — " The dimensions of the reti- 
nal image determine primarily the sensations on which con- 
clusions as to size are based ; and the larger the visual angle 
the larger the retinal image: since the visual angle depends 
on the distance of an object, the correct perception of size 
depends largely upon a correct perception of distance; 
having formed a judgment, conscious or unconscious, as 
to that, we conclude as to size from the extent of the reti- 
nal region affected. Most people have been surprised now 
and then to find that what appeared a large bird in the 
clouds was only a small insect close to the eye; the large 
apparent size being due to the previous incorrect judgment 
as to the distance of the object. The presence of an object 
of tolerably well-known height, as a man, also assists in 
forming conceptions (by comparison) as to size; artists 
for this purpose frequently introduce human figures to 
assist in giving an idea of the size of other objects repre- 
sented." f 

Sensations of Color. — The system of colors is a very 
complex thing. If one take any color, say green, one can 

* Martin : The Human Body,' p. 530. 
t Ibid. 


pass away from it in more than one direction, through a 
series of greens more and more yellowish, let us say, towards 
yellow, or through another series more and more bluish 
towards blue. The result would be that if we seek to 
plot out on paper the various distinguishable tints, the 
arrangement cannot be that of a line, but has to cover 
a surface. With the tints arranged on a surface we 
can pass from any one of them to any other by various 
lines of gradually changing intermediaries. Such an 
arrangement is represented in Fig. 15. It is a merely 
classificatory diagram based on 
degrees of difference simply felt, 
and has no physical signifi- 
cance. Black is a color, but 
does not figure on the plane of 
the diagram. We cannot place 
it anywhere alongside of the 
other colors because we need 
both to represent the straight 
gradation from untinted white 
to black, and that from each RoTTs. 

pure color towards black as well as towards white. The 
best way is to put black into the third dimension, beneath 
the paper, e.g., as is shown perspectively in Fig. 16, then 
all the transitions can be schematically shown. One can 
pass straight from black to white, or one can pass round by 
way of olive, green, and pale green; or one can change 
from dark blue to yellow through green, or by way of sky- 
blue, white and straw color; etc., etc. In any case the 
changes are continuous; and the color system thus forms 
what Wundt calls a tri-dimensional continuum. 

Color-mixture. — Physiologically considered, the colors 
have this peculiarity, that many pairs of them, when they 
impress the retina together, produce the sensation of white. 
The colors which do this are called complementaries . Such 
are spectral red and green-blue, spectral yellow and indigo- 
blue. Green and purple, again, are complementaries. All 



the spectral colors added together also make white light, 
such as we daily experience in the sunshine. Further- 
more, both homogeneous ether- 
waves and heterogeneous ones 
may make us feel the same 
color, when they fall on our 
retina. Thus yellow, which 
is a simple spectral color, is 
also felt when green light is 
added to red; blue is felt when 
violet and green lights are 
mixed. Purple, which is not 
a spectral color at all, results 
when the waves either of red 
and of violet or those of blue 
and of orange are superposed.* 
From all this it follows 
that there is no particular 
congruence between our sys- 
tem of color-sensations and 
the physical stimuli which ex- 
cite them. Each color-feeling 
is a ' specific energy' (p. n) 
which many different physical 
causes may arouse. Helm- 
holtz, Hering, and others have 
sought to simplify the tangle 
of the facts, by physiologi- 
cal hypotheses, which, differ- 
ing much in detail, agree in 
principle since they all postulate a limited number of 
elementary retinal processes to which, when excited singly, 

Fig. i 6 (after Ziehen). 

* The ordinary mixing of pigments is not an addition, but rather, 
as Helmboltz has shown, a subtraction, of lights. To add one color 
to another we must either by appropriate glasses throw differently 
colored beams upon the same reflecting surface ; or we must let the 
eye look at one color through an inclined plate of glass beneath 
which it lies, whilst the upper surface of the glass reflects into the 


certain ' fundamental ' colors severally correspond. When 
excited in combination, as they may be by the most various 
physical stimuli, other colors, called ' secondary/ are felt. 
The secondary color-sensations are often spoke of as if 
they were compounded of the primary sensations. This is 
a great mistake. The sensations as such are not com- 
pounded — yellow, for example, a secondary on Helmholtz's 
theory, is as unique a quality of feeling as the primaries 
red and green, which are said to ' compose ' it. What are 
compounded are merely the elementary retinal processes. 
These, according to their combination, produce diverse 
results on the brain, and thence the secondary colors result 
immediately in consciousness. The ' color-theories ' are 
thus physiological, not psychological, hypotheses, and for 
more information concerning them the reader must con- 
sult the physiological books. 

The Duration of Luminous Sensations. — " This is 
greater than that of the stimulus, a fact taken advantage of 
in making fireworks: an ascending rocket produces the sen- 
sation of a trail of light extending far behind the position 
of the bright part of the rocket itself at the moment, 
because the sensation aroused by it in a lower part of its 
course still persists. So, shooting stars appear to have 
luminous tails behind them. By rotating rapidly before 
the eye a disk with alternate white and black sectors we 
get for each point of the retina alternate stimulation (due 
to the passage of white sector) and rest (when a black 
sector is passing). If the rotation be rapid enough the 
sensation aroused is that of a uniform gray, such as would 
be produced if the white and black were mixed and spread 
evenly over the disk. In each revolution the eye gets as 

same eye another color placed alongside— the two lights then mix 
on the retina; or, finally, we must let the differently colored lights 
fall in succession upon the retina, so fast that the second is there 
before the impression made by the first has died away. This is best 
done by looking at a rapidly rotating disk whose sectors are of the 
several colors to be mixed. 


much light as if that were the case, and is unable to dis- 
tinguish that this light is made up of separate portions 
reaching it at intervals: the stimulation due to each lasts 
until the next begins, and so all are fused together. If 
one turns out suddenly the gas in a room containing no 
other light, the image of the flame persists a short time . 
after the flame itself is extinguished."* If we open our 
eyes instantaneously upon a scene, and then shroud them 
in complete darkness, it will be as if we saw the scene in 
ghostly light through the dark screen. We can read off 
details in it which were unnoticed whilst the eyes were 
open. This is the primary positive after-image, so-called. 
According to Helmholtz, one third of a second is the most 
favorable length of exposure to the light for producing it. 

Negative after-images are due to more complex condi- 
tions, in which fatigue of the retina is usually supposed to 
play the chief part. 

"The nervous visual apparatus is easily fatigued. Usually we do 
not observe this because its restoration is also rapid, and in ordinary 
life our eyes, when open, are never at rest ; we move them to and 
fro, so that parts of the retina receive light alternately from brighter 
and darker objects, and are alternately excited and rested. How 
constant and habitual the movement of the eyes is can be readily 
observed by trying to 'fix' for a short time a small spot without 
deviating the glance ; to do so for even a few seconds is impossible 
without practice. If any small object is steadily 'fixed' for twenty 
or thirty seconds, it will be found that the whole field of vision 
becomes grayish and obscure, because the parts of the retina receiv- 
ing most light get fatigued, and arouse no more sensation than those 
less fatigued and stimulated by light from less illuminated objects. 
Or look steadily at a black object, say a blot on a white page, for 
twenty seconds, and then turn the eye on a white wall ; the latter will 
seem dark gray, with a white patch on it ; an effect due to the greater 
excitability of the retinal parts previously rested by the black, when 
compared with the sensation aroused elsewhere by light from the 
white wall acting on the previously stimulated parts of the visual 
surface. All persons will recall many instances of such phenomena, 
which are especially noticeable soon after rising in the morning. 

* Martin : op. cit. 


Similar things may be noticed with colors; after looking at a red 
patch the eye turned on a white wall sees a blue-green patch; the 
elements causing red sensations having been fatigued, the white 
mixed light from the wall now excites on that region of the retina 
only the other primary color sensations. The blending of colors 
so as to secure their greatest effect depends on this fact; red and 
green go well together because each rests the parts of the visual 
apparatus most excited by the other, and so each appears bright and 
vivid as the eye wanders to and fro ; while red and orange together, 
each exciting and exhausting mainly the same visual elements, ren- 
der dull, or in popular phrase 'kill,' one another. 

"If we fix steadily for thirty seconds a point between two white 
squares about 4 mm. (1-6 inch) apart on a large black sheet, and 
then close and cover our eyes, we get a negative after-image in 
which are seen two dark squares on a brighter surface; this surface 
is brighter close around the negative after-image of each square, 
and brightest of all between them. This luminous boundary is called 
the corona, and is explained usually as an effect of simultaneous 
contrast; the dark after-image of the square it is said makes us 
mentally err in judgment, and think the clear surface close to it 
brighter than elsewhere; and it is brightest between the two dark 
squares, just as a middle-sized man between two tall ones looks 
shorter than if alongside one only. If, however, the after-image be 
watched, it will often be noticed not only that the light band between 
the squares is intensely white, much more so than the normal idio- 
retinal light [see below], but, as the image fades away, often the 
two dark after-images of the squares disappear entirely with all of 
the corona, except that part between them which is still seen as a 
bright band on a uniform grayish field. Here there is no contrast 
to produce the error of judgment ; and from this and other experi- 
ments Hering concludes that light acting on one part of the retina 
produces inverse changes in all the rest, and that this plays an 
important part in producing the phenomena of contrasts. Similar 
phenomena may be observed with colored objects; in their negative 
after-images each tint is represented by its complementary, as black 
is by white in colorless vision." * 

This is one of the facts referred to on p. 27 which have 
made Hering reject the psychological explanation of simul- 
taneous contrast. 

The Intensity of Luminous Objects. — Black is an op- 
tical sensation. We have no black except in the field of 

* Martin, pp. 525-8. 


view; we do not, for instance, see black out of our stomach 
or out of the palm of our hand. Pure black is, however, only 
an ' abstract idea/ for the retina itself (even in complete ob- 
jective darkness) seems to be always the seat of internal 
changes which give some luminous sensation. This is what 
is meant by the ' idio-retinal light/ spoken of a few lines 
back. It plays its part in the determination of all after- 
images with closed eyes. Any objective luminous stimulus, 
to be perceived, must be strong enough to give a sensible 
increment of sensation over the above the idio-retinal 
light. As the objective stimulus increases the perception 
is of an intenser luminosity; but the perception changes, 
as we saw on p. 18, more slowly than the stimulus. The 
latest numerical determinations, by Konig and Brodhun, 
were applied to six different colors and ran from an in- 
tensity arbitrarily called i to one which was 100,000 times 
as great. From intensity 2,000 to 20,000 Weber's law held 
good; below and above this range discriminative sensibility 
declined. The relative increment discriminated here was 
the same for all colors of light, and lay (according to the 
tables) between 1 and 2 per cent of the stimulus. Previous 
observers have got different results. 

A certain amount of luminous intensity must exist in an 
object for its color to be discriminated at all. " In the 
dark all cats are gray." But the colors rapidly become 
distincter as the light increases, first the blues and last the 
reds and yellows, up to a certain point of intensity, when 
they grow indistinct again through the fact that each takes 
a turn towards white. At the highest bearable intensity of 
the light all colors are lost in the blinding white dazzle. 
This again is usually spoken of as a * mixing ' of the sensa- 
tion white with the original color-sensation. It is no mix- 
ing of two sensations, but the replacement of one sensation 
by another, in consequence of a changed neural process. 



The Ear. — " The auditory organ in man consists of three 
portions, known respectively as the external ear, the 
middle ear or tympanum, and the internal ear or laby- 

FlG. 17. — Semidiagrammatic section through the right ear (Czermak). M, 
concha; G, external auditory meatus; T, tympanic membrane; P, tympanic 
cavity; o, oval foramen; r, round foramen; R, pharyngeal opening of Eusta- 
chian tube; V, vestibule; B, a semicircular canal; S, the cochlea; Vt, scala 
vestibuli; Pt, scala tympani; A, auditory nerve. 

rintk; the latter contains the end-organs of the auditory 
nerve. The external ear consists of the expansion seen on 
the exterior of the head, called the concha, M, Fig. 17, 

* In teaching the anatomy of the ear, great assistance will be 
yielded by the admirable model made by Dr. Auzoux, 56 Rue de 
Vaugirard, Paris, described in the catalogue of the firm as. "No 
21 — Oreille, temporal de 60 cm., nouvelle edition," etc. 




and a passage leading in from it, the external auditory 
meatus, G. This passage is closed at its inner end by the 
tympanic or drum membrane, T. It is lined by skin, 
through which numerous small glands, secreting the wax 
of the ear, open. 

" The Tympanum (P, Fig. 17) is an irregular cavity in 
the temporal bone, closed externally by the drum mem- 
brane. From its innner side the Eustachian tube (R) pro- 
ceeds and opens into the pharynx. The inner wall of the 
tympanum is bony except for two small apertures, the oval 
and round foramens, and r, which lead into the laby- 
rinth. During life the round aperture is closed by the 
lining mucous membrane, and the oval by the stirrup- 
bones. The tympanic membrane T, stretched across the 
outer side of the tympanum, forms a shallow funnel with 
its concavity outwards. It is pressed by the external air 
on its exterior, and by air entering the tympanic cavity 
through the Eustachian tube on its inner side. If the 
tympanum were closed these pressures would not be always 
equal when barometric pressure varied, and the membrane 
would be bulged in or out according as the external or in- 
ternal pressure on it were 
the greater. On the other 
hand, were the Eustachian 
tube always open the sounds 
of our own voices would 
be loud and disconcerting, 
so it is usually closed; bu: 
every time we swallow 
it is opened, and thus the 
air-pressure in the cavity 
is kept equal to that in the 
external auditory meatus. 
fig. i*;—Mcp, Mc, mi and Mm stand One making a balloon ascent 

for different parts of the malleus; Jc, . . 

jb, ji, jpi, for different parts of the or going rapidly down a 

incus. 5" is the stapes. . . , J . . . 

deep mine, the sudden and 
great change of aerial pressure outside frequently causes 


painful tension of the drum-membrane, which may be 
greatly alleviated by frequent swallowing. 

" The Auditory Ossicles. — Three small bones lie in the 
tympanum forming a chain from the drum-membrane to 
the oval foramen. The external bone is the malleus or 
hammer) the middle one, the incus or anvil; and the in- 
ternal one, the stapes or stirrup. They are represented in 
Fig. 18."* 

Accommodation is provided for in the ear as well as in 
the eye. One muscle an inch long, the tensor tympani, 
arises in the petrous portion of the temporal bone (running 
in a canal parallel to the Eustachian tube) and is inserted 
into the malleus below its head. When it contracts, it 
makes the membrane of the tympanum more tense. 
Another smaller muscle, the stapedius, goes to the head of 
the stirrup-bone. These muscles are by many persons felt 
distinctly contracting when certain notes are heard, and 
some can make them contract at will. In spite of this, 
uncertainty still reigns as to their exact use in hearing, 
though it is highly probable that they give to the mem- 
branes which they influence the degree of tension best 
suited to take up whatever rates of vibration may fall 
upon them at the time. In listening, the head and ears in 
lower animals, and the head alone in man, are turned so as 
best to receive the sound. This also is a part of the reac- 
tion called ' adaptation ' of the organ (see the chapter on 
Attention) . 

The Internal Ear. — " The labyrinth consists primarily 
of chambers and tubes hollowed out in the temporal bone 
and inclosed by it on all sides, except for the oval and round 
foramens on its exterior, and certain apertures for blood- 
vessels and the auditory nerve; during life all these are 
closed water-tight in one way or another. Lying in the 
bony labyrinth thus constituted are membranous parts, of 
the same general form but smaller, so that between the two 

* This description is abridged from Martin's ' Human Body.' 



a space is left; this is filled with a watery fluid, called the 
perilymph] and the membranous internal ear is filled by 
a similar liquid, the endolymph. 

Fig. 19. — Casts of the bony labyrinth. A, left labyrinth seen from the outer 
side; B, right labyrinth from the inner side; C, left labyrinth from above; 
Co, cochlea; V, vestibule; Fc, round foramen; Fv, oval foramen; h, hori- 
zontal semicircular canal; ha, its ampula; vaa, ampulla of anterior vertical 
semicircular canal; vpa, ampulla of posterior vertical semicircular canal; 
vc, conjoined portion of the two vertical canals. 

The Bony Labyrinth. — " The bony labyrinth is de- 
scribed in three portions, the vestibule, the semicircular 
canals , and the cochlea ; casts of its interior are represented 
from different aspects in Fig. 19. The vestibule is the cen- 
tral part and has on its exterior the oval foramen (Fv) into 
which the base of the stirrup-bone fits. Behind the vesti- 
bule are three bony semicircular canals, communicating 
with the back of the vestibule at each end, and dilated near 
one end to form an ampulla. The bony cochlea is a tube 
coiled on itself somewhat like a snail's shell, and lying in 
front of the vestibule. 

The Membranous Labyrinth. — " The membranous ves- 
tibule, lying in the bony, consists of two sacs communicat- 
ing by a narrow aperture. The posterior is called the utri- 
culuSy and into it the membranous semicircular canals 
open. The anterior, called the sacculus, communicates by 
a tube with the membranous cochlea. The membranous 
semicircular canals much resemble the bony, and each has 



an ampulla; in the ampulla one side of the membranous 
tube is closely adherent 
to its bony protector; at 
this point nerves enter 
the former. The rela- 
tions of the membranous 
to the bony cochlea are 
more complicated. A 
section through this part 
of the auditory appara- 
tus (Fig. 20) shows that 
its osseous portion con- 
sists of a tube wound two 
and a half times round a 

Fig. 20. 

-A section through the cochlea in 
the line of its axis. 

central bony axis, the modiolus. 
From the axis a shelf, the lamina spiralis, projects and 
partially subdivides the tube, extending farthest across in 
its lower coils. Attached to the outer edge of this bony 
plate is the membranous cochlea (scala media), a tube tri- 
angular in cross-section and attached by its base to the 
outer side of the bony cochlear spiral. The spiral lamina 
and the membranous cochlea thus subdivide the cavity of 
the bony tube (Fig. 21) into an upper portion, the scala 

Fig. 2i. — Section of one coil of the cochlea, magnified. SV, scala vesttbuh; 
R, membrane of Reissner; CC, membranous cochlea (scala media); Us, 
limbus lamina spiralis; t, tectorial membrane; ST, scala tympani; Iso, spiral 
lamina; Co, rods of Corti; b, basilar membrane. 

vestibuli, SV, and a lower, the scala tympani, ST. Be- 
tween these lie the lamina spiralis (Iso) and the mem- 


branous cochlea (CC)> the latter being bounded above by 
the membrane of Reissner (R) and below by the basilar 
membrane (b). n * 

The membranous cochlea does not extend to the tip of 
the bony cochlea; above its apex the scala vestibuli and 
scala tympani communicate. Both are rilled with peri- 
lymph, so that when the stapes is pushed into the oval 
foramen, o, in Fig. 17, by the impact of an air-wave on 
the tympanic membrane, a wave of perilymph runs up the 
scala vestibuli to the top, where it turns into the scala tym- 
pani, down whose whorls it runs and pushes out the round 
foramen r, ruffling probably the membrane of Reissner and 
the basilar membrane on its way up and down. 

The Terminal Organs. — "The membranous cochlea con 
tains certain solid structures seated on the basilar mem- 
brane and forming the organ of Corti. This contains the 
end-organs of the cochlear nerves. Lining the sulcus 




Fig. 22. — The rods of Corti. A, a pair of rods separated from the rest; B, a 
bit of the basilar membrane with several rods on it, showing how they cover 
in the tunnel of Corti; i, inner, and e, outer rods; b, basilar membrane; 
r, reticular membrane. 

spiralis, a groove in the edge of the bony lamina spiralis, 
are cuboidal cells; on the inner margin of the basilar mem- 
brane they become columnar, and then are succeeded by a 
row which bear on their upper ends a set of short stiff 
hairs, and constitute the inner hair-cells, which are fixed 
below by a narrow apex to the basilar membrane; nerve- 
fibres enter them. To the inner hair-cells succeed the 

* Martin : op. cit. 



rods of Corti (Co, Fig. 21), which are represented highly 
magnified in Fig. 22. These rods are stiff and arranged 
side by side in two rows, leaned against one another by 
their upper ends so as to cover in a tunnel ; they are known 
respectively as the inner and outer rods, the former being 
nearer the lamina spiralis. The inner rods are more 
numerous than the outer, the numbers being about 6000 
and 4500 respectively. Attached to the external sides of 
the heads of the outer rods is the reticular membrane (r, 
Fig. 22), which is stiff and perforated by holes. Exter- 
nal to the outer rods come four rows of outer hair-cells^ 

connected like the inner row with 

nerve-fibres; their bristles project 

into the holes of the reticular mem- 
brane. Beyond the outer hair-cells 

is ordinary columnar epithelium, 

which passes gradually into cu- 

boidal cells lining most of the mem- 
branous cochlea. From the upper 

lip of the sulcus spiralis projects 

the tectorial membrane (t, Fig. 21) 

which extends over the rods of 

Corti and the hair-cells."* 

The hair-cells would thus seem to 

be the terminal organs for ' picking F i G . 23 .— Sensory epithelium 

from ampulla or semicircu- 
lar canal, and saccule. At 
n a nerve-fibre pierces the 
wall, and after branching 
enters the two hair-cells, 
c. At h a ' columnar cell ' 
with a long hair is shown, 
the nerve-fibre being broken 
away from its base. The 
slender cells at / seem un- 
connected with nerves. 

up ' the vibrations which the air- 
waves communicate through all the 
intervening apparatus, solid and 

liquid, to the basilar membrane. 
Analogous hair-cells receive the 
terminal nerve-filaments in the 
walls of the saccule, utricle, and ampullae (see Fig. 23). 
The Various Qualities of Sound. — Physically, sounds 
consist of vibrations, and these are, generally speaking, 
aerial waves. When the waves are non-periodic the result is 

* Martin : op. cit. 


a noise ; when periodic it is what is nowadays called a tone, 
or note. The loudness of a sound depends on the force of 
the waves. When they recur periodically a peculiar quality 
called pitch is the effect of their frequency. In addition to 
loudness and pitch tones have each their voice or timbre, 
which may differ widely in different instruments giving 
equally loud tones of the same pitch. This voice depends 
on the form of the aerial wave. 

Pitch. — A single puff of air, set in motion by no matter 
what cause, will give a sensation of sound, but it takes at 
least four or five puffs, or more, to convey a sensation of 
pitch. The pitch of the note c, for instance, is due to 132 
vibrations a second, that of its octave c' is produced by twice 
as many, or 264 vibrations; but in neither case is it neces- 
sary for the vibrations to go on during a full second 
for the pitch to be discerned. " Sound vibrations may 
be too rapid or too slow in succession to produce sonorous 
sensations, just as the ultra-violet and ultra-red rays of 
the solar spectrum fail to excite the retina. The highest- 
pitched audible note answers to about 38,016 vibrations in 
a second, but it differs in individuals; many persons cannot 
hear the cry of a bat nor the chirp of a cricket, which lie 
near this upper audible limit. On the other hand, sounds 
of vibrational rate about 40 per second are not well heard, 
and a litle below this they produce rather a 'hum ' than a 
true tone-sensation, and are only used along with notes of 
higher octaves to which they give a character of greater 
depth." * 

The entire system of pitches forms a continuum of one 
dimension; that is to say, you can pass from one pitch to 
another only by one set of intermediaries, instead of by 
more than one, as in the case of colors. (See p. 41.) The 
whole series of pitches is embraced in and between the 
terms of what is called the musical scale. The adoption of 
certain arbitrary points in this scale as 'notes ■ has an ex- 

* Martin: op. cit. 


planation partly historic and partly aesthetic, but too com- 
plex for exposition here. 

The ' timbre ' of a note is due to its wave-jorm. Waves 
are either simple (' pendular ') or compound. Thus if a 
tuning-fork (which gives waves nearly simple) vibrate 132 
times a second, we shall hear the note c. If simultaneously 
a fork of 264 vibrations be struck, giving the next higher 
octave, c', the aerial movement at any time will be the alge- 
braic sum of the movements due to both forks; whenever 
both drive the air one way they reinforce one another; 
when on the contrary the recoil of one fork coincides with 
the forward stroke of another, they detract from each 
other's effect. The result is a movement which is still 
periodic, repeating itself at equal intervals of time, but no 
longer pendular, since it is not alike on the ascending and 
descending limbs of the curves. We thus get at the fact 
that non-pendular vibrations may be produced by the fusion 
of pendular, or, in technical phrase, by their composition. 

Suppose several musical instruments, as those of an or- 
chestra, to be sounded together. Each produces its own 
effect on the air-particles, whose movements, being an 
algebraical sum, must at any given instant be very com- 
plex; yet the ear can pick out at will and follow the tones 
of any one instrument. Now in most musical instruments 
it is susceptible of physical proof that with every single 
note that is sounded many upper octaves and other ' har- 
monics ' sound simultaneously in fainter form. On the 
relative strength of this or that one or more of these Helm- 
holtz has shown that the instrument's peculiar voice de- 
pends. The several vowel-sounds in the human voice also 
depend on the predominance of diverse upper harmonics 
accompanying the note on which the vowel is sung. When 
the two tuning-forks of the last paragraph are sounded to- 
gether the new form of vibration has the same period as 
the lower-pitched fork; yet the ear can clearly distinguish 
the resultant sound from that of the lower fork alone, as a 
note of the same pitch but of different timbre; and within 


the compound sound the two components can by a trained 
ear be severally heard. Now how can one resultant wave- 
form make us hear so many sounds at once ? 

The analysis of compound wave-forms is supposed 
(after Helmholtz) to be effected through the different rates 
of sympathetic resonance of the different parts of the mem- 
branous cochlea. The basilar membrane is some twelve 
times broader at the apex of the cochlea than at the base 
where it begins, and is largely composed of radiating fibres 
which may be likened to stretched strings. Now the phys- 
ical principle of sympathetic resonance says that when 
stretched strings are near a source of vibration those whose 
own rate agrees with that of the source also vibrate, the 
others remaining at rest. On this principle, waves of peri- 
lymph running down the scala tympani at a certain rate of 
frequency ought to set certain particular fibres of the basilar 
membrane vibrating, and ought to leave others unaffected. 
If then each vibrating fibre stimulated the hair-cell above 
it, and no others, and each such hair-cell, sending a current 
to the auditory brain-centre, awakened therein a specific 
process to which the sensation of one particular pitch was 
correlated, the physiological condition of our several pitch- 
sensations would be explained. Suppose now a chord to 
be struck in which perhaps twenty different physical rates 
of vibration are found: at least twenty different hair-cells 
or end-organs will receive the jar; and if the power of 
mental discrimination be at its maximum, twenty different 
1 objects ' of hearing, in the shape of as many distinct 
pitches of sound, may appear before the mind. 

The rods of Corti are supposed to be dampers of the 
fibres of the basilar membrane, just as the malleus, incus, 
and stapes are dampers of the tympanic membrane, as well 
as transmitters of its oscillations to the inner ear. There 
must be, in fact, an instantaneous damping of the physio- 
logical vibrations, for there are no such positive after-images, 
and no such blendings of rapidly successive tones, as the 
retina shows us in the case of light. Helmholtz's theory of 


the analysis of sounds is plausible and ingenious. One 
objection to it is that the keyboard of the cochlea does not 
seem extensive enough for the number of distinct reso- 
nances required. We can discriminate many more degrees 
of pitch than the 20,000 hair-cells, more or less, will allow 

The so-called Fusion of Sensations in Hearing. — A 
very common way of explaining the fact that waves which 
singly give no feeling of pitch give one when recurrent, is to 
say that their several sensations fuse into a compound sensa- 
tion. A preferable explanation is that which follows the 
analogy of muscular contraction. If electric shocks are sent 
into a frog's sciatic nerve at slow intervals, the muscle which 
the nerve supplies will give a series of distinct twitches, one 
for each shock. But if they follow each other at the rate of 
as many as thirty a second, no distinct twitches are observed, 
but a steady state of contraction instead. This steady con- 
traction is known as tetanus. The experiment proves that 
there is a physiological cumulation or overlapping of proc- 
esses in the muscular tissue. It takes a twentieth of a 
second or more for the latter to relax after the twitch due to 
the first shock. But the second shock comes in before the 
relaxation can occur, then the third again, and so on; so 
that continuous tetanus takes the place of discrete twitch- 
ing. Similarly in the auditory nerve. One shock of air 
starts in it a current to the auditory brain-centre, and 
affects the latter, so that a dry stroke of sound is heard. 
If other shocks follow slowly, the brain-centre recovers its 
equilibrium after each, to be again upset in the same way 
by the next, and the result is that for each shock of air a 
distinct sensation of sound occurs. But if the shock comes 
in too quick succession, the later ones reach the brain be- 
fore the effects of the earlier ones on that organ have died 
away. There is thus an overlapping of processes in the 
auditory centre, a physiological condition analogous to the 
muscle's tetanus, to which new condition a new quality 
of feeling, that of pitch, directly corresponds. This latter 


feeling is a new kind of sensation altogether, not a mere 
1 appearance ' due to many sensations of dry stroke being 
compounded into one. No sensations of dry stroke can 
exist under these circumstances, for their physiological 
conditions have been replaced by others. What ' com- 
pounding ' there is has already taken place in the brain- 
cells before the threshold of sensation was reached. Just 
so red light and green light beating on the retina in rapid 
enough alternation, arouse the central process to which 
the sensation yellow directly corresponds. The sensa- 
tions of red and of green get no chance, under such con- 
ditions, to be born. Just so if the muscle could feel, it 
would have a certain sort of feeling when it gave a single 
twitch, but it would undoubtedly have a distinct sort of 
feeling altogether, when it contracted tetanically; and this 
feeling of the tetanic contraction would by no means be 
identical with a multitude of the feelings of twitching. 

Harmony and Discord. — When several tones sound to- 
gether we may get peculiar feelings of pleasure or displeas- 
ure designated as consonance and dissonance respectively. 
A note sounds most consonant with its octave. When with 
the octave the 'third' and the 'fifth' of the note are sounded, 
for instance c — e — g — c', we get the 'full chord' or maximum 
of consonance. The ratios of vibration here are as 4: 5: 6: 8, 
so that one might think simple ratios were the ground of 
harmony. But the interval c — d is discordant, with the 
comparatively simple ratio 8:9. Helmholtz explains discord 
by the overtones making ' beats ' together. This gives a 
subtle grating which is unpleasant. Where the overtones 
make no * beats,' or beats too rapid for their effect to be 
perceptible, there is consonance, according to Helmholtz, 
which is thus a negative rather than a positive thing. 
Wundt explains consonance by the presence of strong iden- 
tical overtones in the notes which harmonize. No one of 
these explanations of musical harmony can be called quite 
satisfactory; and the subject is too intricate to be treated 
farther in this place. 


Discriminative Sensibility of the Ear. — Weber's law 

holds fairly well for the intensity of sounds. If ivory or 
metal balls are dropped on an ebony or iron plate, they make 
a sound which is the louder as they are heavier or dropped 
from a greater height. Experimenting in this way (after 
others) Merkel found that the just perceptible increment 
of loudness, required an increase of 3/10 of the original 
stimulus everywhere between the intensities marked 20 and 
5000 of his arbitrary scale. Below this the fractional in- 
crement of stimulus must be larger; above it, no measure- 
ments were made. 

Discrimination of differences of pitch varies in different 
parts of the scale. In the neighborhood of 1000 vibrations 
per second, one fifth of a vibration more or less can make 
the sound sharp or flat for a good ear. It takes a much 
greater relative alteration to sound sharp or flat elsewhere 
on the scale. The chromatic scale itself has been used as 
an illustration of Weber's law. The notes seem to differ 
equally from each other, yet their vibration-numbers form 
a series of which each is a certain multiple of the last. 
This, however, has nothing to do with intensities or just 
perceptible differences; so the peculiar parallelism between 
the sensation series and the outer-stimulus series forms 
here a case all by itself, rather than an instance under 
Weber's more general law. 



Nerve-endings in the Skin.— Many of the afferent 
skin-nerves end in connection with hair-bulbs; the fine 
hairs over most of the cutaneous surface, projecting from 
the skin, transmit any movement impressed on them, with 
increased force, to the nerve-fibres at 
their fixed ends. Fine branches of 
axis-cylinders have also been described 
as penetrating between epidermic cells 
and ending there without terminal or- 
gans. In or immediately beneath the 
skin several peculiar forms of nerve 
end-organs have also been described; 
Fl ?he^unSv U l bS of f T e they are known as (i) Touch-cells', 
human eye, magnified. ( 2 ) Pacinian corpuscles', (3) Tactile 
corpulscles; (4) End-bulbs"* 

These bodies all consist essentially of granules formed of 
connective tissue, in which or round about which one or 
more sensory nerve-fibres terminate. They probably mag- 
nify impressions just as a grain of sand does in a shoe, or a 
crumb does in a finger of a glove. 

Touch, or the Pressure Sense. — " Through the skin we 
get several kinds of sensation; touch proper, heat and cold, 
and pain; and we can with more or less accuracy localize 
them on the surface of the body. The interior of the 
mouth possesses also three sensibilities. Through touch 
proper we recognize pressure or traction exerted on the 
skin, and the force of the pressure; the softness or hard- 
ness, roughness or smoothness, of the body producing it; 

* Martin : op. cit. 

TOUCH 6 1 

and the form of this when not too large to be felt all over. 
When to learn the form of an object we move the hand 
over it, muscular sensations are combined with proper tac- 
tile, and such a combination of the two sensations is fre- 
quent; moreover, we rarely touch anything without at the 
same time getting temperature sensations; therefore pure 
tactile feelings are rare. From an evolution point of view, 
touch is probably the first distinctly differentiated sensa- 
tion, and this primary position it still largely holds in our 
mental life." * 

Objects are most important to us when in direct contact. 
The chief function of our eyes and ears is to enable us to 
prepare ourselves for contact with approaching bodies, or to 
ward such contact off. They have accordingly been char- 
acterized as organs of anticipatory touch. 

" The delicacy of the tactile sense varies on different 
parts of the skin; it is greatest on the forehead, temples, 
and back of the forearm, where a weight of 2 milligr. press- 
ing on an area of 9 sq. millim. can be felt. 

" In order that the sense of touch may be excited neigh- 
boring skin-areas must be differently pressed. When the 
hand is immersed in a liquid, as mercury, which fits into 
all its inequalities and presses with practically the same 
weight on all neighboring immersed areas, the sense of 
pressure is only felt at a line along the surface, where the 
immersed and non-immersed parts of the skin meet. 

The Localizing Power of the Skin. — " When the eyes 
are closed and a point of the skin is touched we can with 
some accuracy indicate the region stimulated; although 
tactile feelings are in general characters alike, they differ in 
something besides intensity by which we can distinguish 
them; some sub-sensation quality not rising definitely into 
prominence in consciousness must be present, comparable to 
the upper partials determining the timbre of a tone. The 
accuracy of the localizing power varies widely in different 

♦Martin: op. cit. 


skin regions and is measured by observing the least dis- 
tance which must separate two objects (as the blunted 
points of a pair of compasses) in order that they may be 
felt as two. The following table illustrates some of the 
differences observed: 

Tongue-tip I.I mm. (.04 inch) 

Palm side of last phalanx of finger . . 2.2 mm. ( .08 inch) 

Red part of lips 4.4 mm. (.16 inch) 

Tip of nose 6.6 mm. (.24 inch) 

Back of second phalanx of finger., n.omm. (.44 inch) 

Heel 22.0 mm. (.88 inch) 

Back of hand 30.8 mm. (1.23 inches) 

Forearm 39.6 mm. (1.58 inches) 

Sternum 44.0 mm. ( 1.76 inches) 

Back of neck 52.8 mm. (2.11 inches) 

Middle of back 66.0 mm. (2.64 inches) 

The localizing power is a little more acute across the long 

axis of a limb than in it; and is better when the pressure 

is only strong enough to just cause a distinct tactile sensa- 

tion than when it is more powerful; 

a — /fjWm^ ft * s also verv readily and rapidly 

JTrrnW^ improvable by practice." It seems to 

rrWminnm lU be natura ^y delicate in proportion 

Vn^rnr^^ as the skin which possesses it covers 

e '~~/' jrvnuiuuU/ a more m o va bl e part of the body. 

/ \UJlW " It: mi S ht be thou g ht that this 

• Wmnrn\$ localizing power depended directly 

» \ vUiYwfflx 1 on nerve-distribution ; that each 

; 1 touch-nerve had connection with 

{ / a special brain-centre at one end 

\ / (the excitation of which caused a 

» ' sensation with a characteristic local 

sign), and at the other end was dis- 
tributed over a certain skin-area, and that the larger this 
area the farther apart might two points be and still give 
rise to only one sensation. If this were so, however, the 
peripheral tactile areas (each being determined by the 


anatomical distribution of a nerve-fibre) must have definite 
unchangeable limits, which experiment shows that they do 
not possess. Suppose the small areas in Fig. 25 to each 
represent a peripheral area of nerve-distribution. If any 
two points in c were touched we should according to the 
theory get but a single sensation; but if, while the con> 
pass-points remained the same distance apart, or were even 
approximated, one were placed in c and the other on a con- 
tiguous area, two fibres would be stimulated and we % ought 
to get two sensations; but such is not the case; 01! the 
same skin-region the points must be always the same dis- 
tance apart, no matter how they be shifted, in order to give 
rise to two just distinguishable sensations. 

"It is probable that the nerve-areas are much smaller than 
the tactile; and that several unstimulated must intervene 
between the excited, in order to produce sensations which 
shall be distinct. If we suppose twelve unexcited nerve- 
areas must intervene, then, in Fig. 25, and b will be just 
on the limits of a single tactile area; and no matter how 
the points are moved, so long as eleven, or fewer, unexcited 
areas come between, we would get a single tactile sensation; 
in this way we can explain the fact that tactile areas have 
no fixed boundaries in the skin, although the nerve-distri- 
bution in any part must be constant. We also see why the 
back of a knife laid on the surface causes a continuous 
linear sensation, although it touches many distinct nerve- 
areas. If we could discriminate the excitations of each of 
these from that of its immediate neighbors we should get 
the sensation of a series of points touching us, one for each 
nerve-region excited; but in the absence of intervening 
unexcited nerve-areas the sensations are fused together. 

The Temperature-sense. Its Terminal Organs. — " By 
this we mean our faculty of perceiving cold and warmth; 
and, with the help of these sensations, of perceiving tempera- 
ture differences in external objects. Its organ is the whole 
skin, the mucous membrane of mouth and fauces, pharynx 

• • • « 

* a • • 


* * * !• 


* • .* • 

' • ••• 





and gullet, and the entry of the nares. Direct heating or 
cooling of a sensory nerve may stimulate it and cause pain, 
but not a true temperature-sensation; hence we assume the 
presence of temperature end-organs. [These have not yet 
been ascertained anatomically. Physiologically, however, 
the demonstration of special spots in the skin for feeling 
heat and cold is one of the most interesting discoveries of 
recent years. If one draw a pencil-point over the palm or 
cheek one will notice certain spots of sudden coolness. 
These are the cold-spots; the heat-spots are less easy to 
single out. Goldscheider, Blix, and Donaldson have made 
cp Hairg Hp minute exploration of determi- 

nate tracts of skin and found 
the heat- and cold-spots thick- 
set and permanently distinct. 

r lo^?c e oife,Ta^a^ Between them no temperature- 
h p the heat-spots, and the mid- sensation is excited bv contact 

die one the hairs on a certain , ' . * 

patch of skin on one of Gold- With a pointed Cold Or hot 

scheider's fingers. , . ,, , . . , . .. 

object. Mechanical and faradic 
irritation also excites in these points their specific feelings 

The feeling of temperature is relative to the state of 
the skin. " In a comfortable room we feel at no part of the 
body either heat or cold, although different parts of its 
surface are at different temperatures; the fingers and nose 
being cooler than the trunk which is covered by clothes, 
and this, in turn, cooler than the interior of the mouth. 
The temperature which a given region of the temperature- 
organ has (as measured by a thermometer) when it feels 
neither heat nor cold, is its temperature-sensation zero, and 
is not associated with any one objective temperature; for 
not only, as we have just seen, does it vary in different 
parts of the organ, but also on the same part from time to 
time. Whenever a skin-region has a temperature above its 
sensation-zero we feel warmth; and vice versa: the sensa- 
tion is more marked the greater the difference, and the more 
suddenly it is produced; touching a metallic body, which 


conducts heat rapidly to or from the skin, causes a more 
marked hot or cold sensation than touching a worse con- 
ductor, as a piece of wood, of the same temperature. 

" The change of temperature in the organ may be brought 
about by changes in the circulatory apparatus (more blood 
flowing through the skin warms it and less leads to its cool- 
ing), or by temperature-changes in gases, liquids, or solids 
in contact with it. Sometimes we fail to distinguish clearly 
whether the cause is external or internal; a person coming 
in from a windy walk often feels a room uncomfortably 
warm which is not really so; the exercise has accelerated 
his circulation and tended to warm his skin, but the moving 
outer air has rapidly conducted off the extra heat; on 
entering the house the stationary air there does this less 
quickly, the skin gets hot, and the cause is supposed to be 
oppressive heat of the room. Hence, frequently, opening 
windows and sitting in a draught, with its concomitant 
risks; whereas keeping quiet for five or ten minutes, until 
the circulation has returned to its normal rate, would attain 
the same end without danger. 

" The acuteness of the temperature-sense is greatest at 
temperatures within a few degrees of 30 C. (86° F.); at 
these differences of less than o.i° C. can be discriminated. 
As a means of measuring absolute temperatures, however, 
the skin is very unreliable, on account of the changeability 
of its sensation-zero. We can localize temperature-sensa- 
tions much as tactile, but not so accurately." * 

Muscular Sensation. — The sensation in the muscle itself 
cannot well be distinguished from that in the tendon or 
in its insertion. In muscular fatigue the insertions are the 
places most painfully felt. In muscular rheumatism, how- 
ever, the whole muscle grows painful; and violent con- 
traction such as that caused by the faradic current, or 
known as cramp, produces a severe and peculiar pain felt in 

* Martin : op. cit., with omissions. 


the whole mass of muscle affected. Sachs also thought 
that he had demonstrated, both experimentally and ana- 
tomically, the existence of special sensory nerve-fibres, dis- 
tinct from the motor fibres, in the frog's muscle. The 
latter end in the ' terminal plates/ the former in a network. 

Great importance has been attached to the muscular 
sense as a factor in our perceptions, not only of weight and 
pressure, but of the space-relations between things gener- 
ally. Our eyes and our hands, in their explorations of 
space, move over* it and through it. It is usually supposed 
that without this sense of an intervening motion performed 
we should not perceive two seen points or two touched 
points to be separated by an extended interval. I am far 
from denying the immense participation of experiences of 
motion in the construction of our space-perceptions. But 
it is still an open question how our muscles help us in these 
experiences, whether by their own sensations, or by awak- 
ening sensations of motion on our skin, retina, and articular 
surfaces. The latter seems to me the more probable view, 
and the reader may be of the same opinion after reading 
Chapter VI. 

Sensibility to Weight. — When we wish to estimate accu- 
rately the weight of an object we always, when possible, 
lift it, and so combine muscular and articular with tactile 
sensations. By this means we can form much better 

Weber found that whereas 1 / 3 must be added to a weight 
resting on the hand for the increase to be felt, the same 
hand actively ' hefting ' the weight could feel an addition 
of as little as 1 / 17 . Merkel's recent and very careful experi- 
ments, in which the finger pressed down the beam of a 
balance counterweighted by from 25 to 8020 grams, showed 
that between 200 and 2000 grams a constant fractional 
increase of about 1 / 13 was felt when there was no movement 
of the finger, and of about 1 / 19 when there was movement. 
Above and below these limits the discriminative power 
grew less. 



Pain. — The physiology of pain is still an enigma. One 
might suppose separate afferent fibres with their own end- 
organs to carry painful impressions to a specific pain-centre. 
Or one might suppose such a specific centre to be reached 
by currents of overflow from the other sensory centres 
when the violence of their inner excitement should have 
reached a certain pitch. Or again one might suppose a 
certain extreme degree of inner excitement to produce the 
feeling of pain in all the centres. It is certain that sensa- 
tions of every order, which in moderate degrees are rather 
pleasant than otherwise, become painful when their inten- 
sity grows strong. The rate at which the agreeableness 
and disagreeableness vary with the intensity of a sensation 
is roughly represented by the dotted curve in Fig. 27. The 



Fig. 27 (after Wundt). 

horizontal line represents the threshold both of sensational 
and of agreeable sensibility. Below the line is the disagree- 
able. The continuous curve is that of Weber's law which 
we learned to know in Fig. 2, p. 18. With the minimal 
sensation the agreeableness is nil, as the dotted curve shows. 
It rises at first more slowly than the sensational intensity, 
then faster; and reaches its maximum before the sensation 
is near its acme. After its maximum of agreeableness the 


dotted line rapidly sinks, and soon tumbles below the hori- 
zontal into the realm of the disagreeable or painful in 
which it declines. That all sensations are painful when 
too strong is a piece of familiar knowledge. Light, sound, 
odors, the taste of sweet even, cold, heat, and all the skin- 
sensations, must be moderate to be enjoyed. 

The quality of the sensation complicates the question, 
however, for in some sensations, as bitter, sour, salt, and 
certain smells, the turning point of the dotted curve must be 
drawn very near indeed to the beginning of the scale. In the 
skin the painful quality soon becomes so intense as entirely 
to overpower the specific quality of the sort of stimulus. 
Heat, cold, and pressure are indistinguishable when extreme 
— we only feel the pain. The hypothesis of separate end- 
organs in the skin receives some corroboration from recent 
experiments, for both Blix and Goldscheider have found, 
along with their special heat- and cold-spots, also special 
1 pain-spots ' on the skin. Mixed in with these are spots 
which are quite feelingless. However it may stand with 
the terminal pain-spots, separate paths of conduction to the 
brain, for painful and for merely tactile stimulations of 
the skin, are made probable by certain facts. In the con- 
dition termed analgesia, a touch is felt, but the most vio- 
lent pinch, burn, or electric spark destructive of the tissue 
will awaken no sensation. This may occur in disease of 
the cord, by suggestion in hypnotism, or in certain stages of 
ether and chloroform intoxication. " In rabbits a similar 
state of things was produced by Schiff, by dividing the 
gray matter of the cord, leaving the posterior white col- 
umns intact. If, on the contrary, the latter were divided 
and the gray substance left, there was increased sensitive- 
ness to pain, and possibly touch proper was lost. Such 
experiments make it pretty certain that when afferent 
impulses reach the spinal cord at any level and there enter 
its gray matter with the posterior root-fibres, they travel 
on in different tracts to conscious centres; the tactile ones 
coming soon out of the gray network and coursing on in a 

PAIN 69 

readily conducting white fibre, while the painful ones travel 
on farther in the gray substance. It is still uncertain if 
both impulses reach the cord in the same fibres. The gray 
network conducts nerve-impulses, but not easily; they tend 
soon to be blocked in it. A feeble (tactile) impulse reach- 
ing it by an afferent fibre might only spread a short way 
and then pass out into a single good conducting fibre in a 
white column, and proceed to the brain; while a stronger 
(painful) impulse would radiate farther in the gray matter, 
and perhaps break out of it by many fibres leading to the 
brain through the white columns, and so give rise to an 
incoordinate and ill-localized sensation. That pains are 
badly localized, and worse the more intense they are, is a 
well-known fact, which would thus receive an explana- 
tion." * 

Pain also gives rise to ill-coordinated movements of 
defence. The stronger the pain the more violent the start. 
Doubtless in low animals pain is almost the only stimulus; 
and we have preserved the peculiarity in so far that to-day 
it is the stimulus of our most energetic, though not of our 
most discriminating, reactions. 

Taste, smell, as well as hunger, thirst, nausea, and 
other so-called ' common ' sensations need not be touched 
on in this book, as almost nothing of psychological interest 
is known concerning them. 

* Martin : op. cit. 



I treat of these in a separate chapter in order to give 
them the emphasis which their importance deserves. They 
are of two orders : 

1) Sensations of objects moving over our sensory sur- 
faces; and 

2) Sensations of our whole person's translation through 

1 ) The Sensation of Motion over Surfaces. — This has 
generally been assumed by physiologists to be impossible 
until the positions of terminus a quo and terminus ad quern 
are severally cognized, and the successive occupancies of 
these positions by the moving body are perceived to be 
separated by a distinct interval of time. As a matter of 
fact, however, we cognize only the very slowest motions in 
this way. Seeing the hand of a clock at XII and after- 
wards at VI, I judge that it has moved through the 
interval. Seeing the sun now in the east and again in the 
west, I infer it to have passed over my head. But we can 
only infer that which we already generically know in 
some more direct fashion, and it is experimentally certain 
that we have the feeling of motion given us as a direct and 
simple sensation. Czermak long ago pointed out the dif- 
ference between seeing the motion of the second-hand of a 
watch, when we look directly at it, and noticing the fact 
that it has altered its position, whilst our gaze is fixed 
upon some other point of the dial-plate. In the first case we 
have a specific quality of sensation which is absent in the 
second. If the reader will find a portion of his skin — the 
arm, for example — where a pair of compass-points an inch 



apart are felt as one impression, and if he will then trace 
lines a tenth of an inch long on that spot with a pencil- 
point, he will be distinctly aware of the point's motion and 
vaguely aware of the direction of the motion. The per- 
ception of the motion here is certainly not derived from a 
preexisting knowledge that its starting and ending points 
are separate positions in space, because positions in space 
ten times wider apart fail to be discriminated as such when 
excited by the compass-points. It is the same with the 
retina. One's fingers when cast upon its peripheral por- 
tions cannot be counted — that is to say, the five retinal 
tracts which they occupy are not distinctly apprehended 
by the mind as five separate positions in space — and yet 
the slightest movement of the fingers is most vividly per- 
ceived as movement and nothing else. It is thus certain 
that our sense of movement, being so much more delicate 
than our sense of position, cannot possibly be derived 
from it. 

Vierordt, at almost the same time, called attention to 
certain persistent illusions, amongst which are these: If 
another person gently trace a line across our wrist or finger, 
the latter being stationary, it will feel to us as if the mem- 
ber were moving in the opposite direction to the tracing 
point. If, on the contrary, we move our limb across a 
fixed point, it will seem as if the point were moving as 
well. If the reader will touch his forehead with his fore- 
finger kept motionless, and then rotate the head so that 
the skin of the forehead passes beneath the finger's tip, he 
will have an irresistible sensation of the latter being itself 
in motion in the opposite direction to the head. So in 
abducting the fingers from each other; some may move 
and the rest be still, but the still ones will feel as if they 
were actively separating from the rest. These illusions, 
according to Vierordt, are survivals of a primitive form of 
perception, when motion was felt as such, but ascribed to 
the whole ' content ' of consciousness, and not yet distin- 
guished as belonging exclusively to one of its parts. When 


our perception is fully developed we go beyond the mere 
relative motion of thing and ground, and can ascribe abso- 
lute motion to one of these components of our total object, 
and absolute rest to another. When, in vision, for example, 
the whole field of view seems to move together, we think it 
is ourselves or our eyes which are moving; and any object 
in the foreground which may seem to move relatively to the 
background is judged by us to be really still. But primi- 
tively this discrimination is not perfectly made. The 
sensation of the motion spreads over all that we see and 
infects it. Any relative motion of object and retina both 
makes the object seem to move, and makes us feel our- 
selves in motion. Even now when our whole field of view 
really does move we get giddy, and feel as if we too were 
moving; and we still see an apparent motion of the entire 
field of view whenever we suddenly jerk our head and 
eyes or shake them quickly to and fro. Pushing our eye- 
balls gives the same illusion. We know in all these cases 
what really happens, but the conditions are unusual, so 
our primitive sensation persists unchecked. So it does 
when clouds float by the moon. We know the moon is 
still; but we see it move faster than the clouds. Even 
when we slowly move our eyes the primitive sensation per- 
sists under the victorious conception. If we notice closely 
the experience, we find that any object towards which we 
look appears moving to meet our eye. 

But the most valuable contribution to the subject is the 
paper of G. H. Schneider,* who takes up the matter zoo- 
logically, and shows by examples from every branch of 
the animal kingdom that movement is the quality by which 
animals most easily attract each other 's attention. The 
instinct of ' shamming death ' is no shamming of death at 
all, but rather a paralysis through fear, which saves the 
insect, crustacean, or other creature from being noticed at 
all by his enemy. It is paralleled in the human race by 

♦Vierteljahrsch. fur wiss. Philos., n. 377. 


the breath-holding stillness of the boy playing ' I spy,' to 
whom the seeker is near; and its obverse side is shown in 
our involuntary waving of arms, jumping up and down, 
and so forth, when we wish to attract someone's attention 
at a distance. Creatures ' stalking ' their prey and crea- 
tures hiding from their pursuers alike show how immobility 
diminishes conspicuity. In the woods, if we are quiet, the 
squirrels and birds will actually touch us. Flies will light 
on stuffed birds and stationary frogs. On the other hand, 
the tremendous shock of feeling the thing we are sitting 
on begin to move, the exaggerated start it gives us to have 
an insect unexpectedly pass over our skin, or a cat noise- 
lessly come and snuffle about our hand, the excessive reflex 
effects of tickling, etc., show how exciting the sensation of 
motion is per se. A kitten cannot help pursuing a moving 
ball. Impressions too faint to be cognized at all are imme- 
diately felt if they move. A fly sitting is unnoticed, — we 
feel it the moment it crawls. A shadow may be too faint 
to be perceived. If we hold a finger between our closed 
eyelid and the sunshine we do not notice its presence. 
The moment we move it to and fro, however, we discern it. 
Such visual perception as this reproduces the conditions of 
sight among the radiates. 

In ourselves, the main function of the peripheral parts of 
the retina is that of sentinels, which, when beams of light 
move over them, cry * Who goes there? ' and call the fovea 
to the spot. Most parts of the skin do but perform the 
same office for the finger-tips. Of course movement of sur- 
face under object is {for purposes of stimulation) equiva- 
lent to movement of object over surface. In exploring the 
shapes and sizes of things by either eye or skin the move- 
ments of these organs are incessant and unrestrainable. 
Every such movement draws the points and lines of the 
object across the surface, imprints them a hundred times 
more sharply, and drives them home to the attention. The 
immense part thus played by movements in our perceptive 
activity is held by many psychologists to prove that the 


muscles are themselves the space-perceiving organ. Not 
surface-sensibility, but ' the muscular sense/ is for these 
writers the original and only revealer of objective exten- 
sion. But they have all failed to notice with what peculiar 
intensity muscular movements call surface-sensibilities 
into play, and how largely the mere discernment of im- 
pressions depends on the mobility of the surfaces upon 
which they fall. 

Our articular surfaces are tactile organs which become 
intensely painful when inflamed. Besides pressure, the 
only stimulus they receive is their motion upon each other. 
To the sensation of this motion more than anything else 
seems due the perception of the position which our limbs 
may have assumed. Patients cutaneously and muscularly 
anaesthetic in one leg can often prove that their articular 
sensibility remains, by showing (by movements of their well 
leg) the positions in which the surgeon may place their 
insensible one. Goldscheider in Berlin caused fingers, 
arms, and legs to be passively rotated upon their various 
joints in a mechanical apparatus which registered both the 
velocity of movement impressed and the amount of angular 
rotation. The minimal felt amounts of rotation were much 
less than a single angular degree in all the joints except 
those of the fingers. Such displacements as these, Gold- 
scheider says, can hardly be detected by the eye. Anaes- 
thesia of the skin produced by induction-currents had 
no disturbing effect on the perception, nor did the vari- 
ous degrees of pressure of the moving force upon the skin 
affect it. It became, in fact, all the more distinct in pro- 
portion as the concomitant pressure-feelings were elimi- 
nated by artificial anaesthesia. When the joints themselves, 
however, were made artificially anaesthetic, the perception 
of the movement grew obtuse and the angular rotations 
had to be much increased before they were perceptible. 
All these facts prove, according to Herr Goldscheider, that 
the joint-surfaces and these alone are the seat of the impres- 


sions by which the movements of our members are immedi- 
ately perceived. 

2) Sensations of Movement through Space. — These 
may be divided into feelings of rotation and feelings of trans- 
lation. As was stated at the end of the chapter on the ear, 
the labyrinth (semicircular canals, utricle and saccule) 
seems to have nothing to do with hearing. It is conclu- 
sively established to-day that the semicircular canals are 
the organs of a sixth special sense, that namely of rotation. 
When subjectively excited, this sensation is known as diz- 
ziness or vertigo, and rapidly engenders the farther feeling 
of nausea. Irritative disease of the inner ear causes intense 
vertigo (Meniere's disease). Traumatic irritation of the 
canals in birds and mammals makes the animals tumble 
and throw themselves about in a way best explained by 
supposing them to suffer from false sensations of falling, 
etc., which they compensate by reflex muscular acts that 
throw them the other way. Galvanic irritation of the 
membranous canals in pigeons cause just the same compen- 
satory movements of head and eye which actual rotations 
impressed on the creatures produce. Deaf and dumb per- 
sons (amongst whom many must have had their auditory 
nerves or labyrinths destroyed by the same disease which 
took away their hearing) are in a very large percentage of 
cases found quite insusceptible of being made dizzy by 
rotation. Purkinje and Mach have shown that, whatever 
the organ of the sense of rotation may be, it must have its 
seat in the head. The body is excluded by Mach's elaborate 

The semicircular canals, being, as it were, six little spirit- 
levels in three rectangular planes, seem admirably adapted 
to be organs of a sense of rotation. We need only suppose 
that when the head turns in the plane of any one of them, 
the relative inertia of the endolymph momentarily in- 
creases its pressure on the nerve-termini in the appropri- 
ate ampulla, which pressure starts a current towards the 
central organ for feeling vertigo. This organ seems to be 


the cerebellum, and the teleology of the whole business 
would appear to be the maintenance of the upright posi- 
tion. If a man stand with shut eyes and attend to his 
body, he will find that he is hardly for a moment in 
equilibrium. Incipient fallings towards every side in suc- 
cession are incessantly repaired by muscular contractions 
which restore the balance; and although impressions on 
the tendons, ligaments, foot-soles, joints, etc., doubtless 
are among the causes of the compensatory contractions, 
yet the strongest and most special reflex arc would seem 
to be that which has the sensation of incipient vertigo for 
its afferent member. This is experimentally proved to 
be much more easily excited than the other sensations re- 
ferred to. When the cerebellum is disorganized the reflex 
response fails to occur properly and loss of equilibrium is 
the result. Irritation of the cerebellum produces vertigo, 
loss of balance, and nausea; and galvanic currents through 
the head produce various forms of vertigo correlated with 
their direction. It seems probable that direct excitement 
of the cerebellar centre is responsible for these feelings. 
In addition to these corporeal reflexes the sense of rota- 
tion causes compensatory rollings of the eyeballs in the 
opposite direction, to which some of the subjective phe- 
nomena of optical vertigo are due. Steady rotation gives 
no sensation; it is only starting or stopping, or, more 
generally speaking, acceleration (positive or negative), 
which impresses the end-organs in the ampullae. The sen- 
sation always has a little duration, however; and the 
feeling of reversed movement after whirling violently may 
last for nearly a minute, slowly fading out. 

The cause of the sense of translation (movement for- 
wards or backwards) is more open to dispute. The seat of 
this sensation has been assigned to the semicircular canals 
when compounding their currents to the brain; and also 
to the utricle. The latest experimenter, M. Delage, con- 
siders that it cannot possibly be in the head, and assigns 
it rather to the entire body, so far as its parts (blood-ves- 


sels, viscera, etc.) are movable against each other and 
suffer friction or pressure from their relative inertia when 
a movement of translation begins. M. Delage's exclusion 
of the labyrinth from this form of sensibility cannot, how- 
ever, yet be considered definitively established, so the 
matter may rest with this mention. 


the structure; of the brain * 

Embryological Sketch. — The brain is a sort of pons 
asinorum in anatomy until one gets a certain general con- 
ception of it as a clue. Then it becomes a comparatively 
simple affair. The clue is given by comparative anatomy 
and especially by embryology. At a certain moment in 
the development of all the higher vertebrates the cerebro- 


Fig. 28. 

Fig. 29. 
(All after Huguenin.) 

Fig. 30. 

spinal axis is formed by a hollow tube containing fluid and 
terminated in front by an enlargement separated by trans- 
verse constrictions into three ' cerebral vesicles/ so called 
(see Fig. 28). The walls of these vesicles thicken in most 

* This chapter will be understood as a mere sketch for beginners. 
Models will be found of assistance. The best is the 'Cerveau de 
Texture de Grande Dimension,' made by Auzoux, 56 Rue de Vau- 
girard, Paris. It is a wonderful work of art, and costs 300 francs. 
M. Jules Talrich of No. 07 Boulevard Saint Germain, Paris, makes 
a series of five large plaster models, which I have found very useful 
for class-room purposes. They cost 350 francs, and are far better 
than any German models which I have seen. 




places, change in others into a thin vascular tissue, and in 
others again send out processes which produce an appear- 
ance of farther subdivision. The middle vesicle or mid- 
brain {Mb in the figures) is the least affected by change. 
Its upper walls thicken into the optic lobes, or corpora 
quadrigemina as they are named in man; its lower walls 
become the so-called peduncles or crura of the brain; 
and its cavity dwindles into the aqueduct of Silvius. 
A section through the adult human 
mid-brain is shown in Fig. 31. 

The anterior and posterior vesi- 
cles undergo much more consider- 
able change. The walls of the 
posterior vesicle thicken enor- 
mously in their foremost portion 
and form the cerebellum on top 

Fig. 31. — The ' nates ' are the 
anterior corpora quadrige- 
mina, the spot above aq is a 
section of the sylvian aque- 
duct, and the tegmentum and 
two ' feet ' together make the 
Crura. These are marked 
C.G., and a cross ( + ) marks 
the aqueduct, in Fig. 32. 

(Cb in all the figures) and the pons Varolii below (P. V. in 
Fig. 33). In its hindmost portions the posterior vesicle 
thickens below into the medulla oblongata (Mo in all the 
figures), whilst on top its walls thin out and melt, so that 
one can pass a probe into the cavity without breaking 
through any truly nervous tissue. The cavity which one 
thus enters from without is named the fourth ventricle 
(4 in Figs. 32 and 33). One can run the probe for- 


ward through it, passing first under the cerebellum and 
then under a thin sheet of nervous tissue (the valve of 
Vieussens) just anterior thereto, as far as the aqueduct of 
Silvius. Passing through this, the probe emerges forward 
into what was once the cavity of the anterior vesicle. But 
the covering has melted away at this place, and the cavity 
now forms a deep compressed pit or groove between the 
two walls of the vesicle, and is called the third ventricle 
(3 in Figs. 32 and 33). The ' aqueduct of Sylvius ' is in 
consequence of this connection often called the iter a 
tertio ad quartum ventriculum. The walls of the vesicle 
form the optic thalami (Th in all the figures). 

Fig. 33 (after Huxley). 

From the anterior vesicle just in front of the thalami 
there buds out on either side an enlargement, into which 
the cavity of the vesicle continues, and which becomes the 
hemisphere of that side. In man its walls thicken enor- 
mously and form folds, the so-called convolutions, on their 
surface. At the same time they grow backwards rather 
than forwards of their starting-point just in front of the 
thalamus, arching over the latter; and growing fastest 
along their top circumference, they end by bending down- 
wards and forwards again when they have passed the rear 
end of the thalamus. When fully developed in man, they 
overlay and cover in all the other parts of the brain. Their 
cavities form the lateral ventricles, easier to understand by 
a dissection than by a description. A probe can be passed 
into either of them from the third ventricle at its anterior 


end; and like the third ventricle, their wall is melted 
down along a certain line, forming a long cleft through 
which they can be entered without rupturing the nervous 
tissue. This cleft, on account of the growth of the hemi- 
sphere outwards, backwards, and then downwards from its 
starting point, has got rolled in and tucked away beneath 
the apparent surface.* 

At first the two hemispheres are connected only with 
their respective thalami. But during the fourth and fifth 
months of embryonic life they become connected with each 
other above the thalami through the growth between them 
of a massive system of transverse fibres which crosses the 
median line like a great bridge and is called the corpus 
callosum. These fibres radiate in the walls of both hemi- 
spheres and form a direct connection between the convolu- 
tions of the right and of the left side. Beneath the 
corpus callosum another system of fibres called the fornix 
is formed, between which and the corpus callosum there 
is a peculiar connection. Just in front of the thalami, 
where the hemispheres begin their growth, a ganglionic 
mass called the corpus striatum (C.S., Figs. 32 and 33) 
is formed in their wall. It is complex in structure, con- 
sisting of two main parts, called nucleus lenticularis and 
nucleus candatus respectively. The figures, with their 
respective explanations, will give a better idea of the farther 
details of structure than any verbal description; so, after 
some practical directions for dissecting the organ, I will 
pass to a brief account of the physiological relations of 
its different parts to each other. 

Dissection of Sheep's Brain. — The way really to understand the 
brain is to dissect it. The brains of mammals differ only in their 
proportions, and from the sheep's one can learn all that is essential 
in man's. The student is therefore strongly urged to dissect a 
sheep's brain. Full directions of the order of procedure are given 

* All the places in the brain at which the cavities come through 
are filled in during life by prolongations of the membrane called 
pia mater, carrying rich plexuses of blood-vessels in their folds. 


in the human dissecting books, e.g. Holden's Practical Anatomy 
(Churchill), Morrell's Student's Manual of Comparative Anatomy 
and Guide to Dissection (Longmans), and Foster and Langley's 
Practical Physiology (Macmillan). For the use of classes who 
cannot procure these books I subjoin a few practical notes. The 
instruments needed are a small saw, a chisel with a shoulder, and 
a hammer with a hook on its handle, all three of which form part 
of the regular medical autopsy-kit and can be had of surgical 
instrument-makers. In addition a scalpel, a pair of scissors, a pair 
of dissecting- forceps, and a silver probe are required. The solitary 
student can find home-made substitutes for all these things but the 
forceps, which he ought to buy. 

The first thing is to get off the skull-cap. Make two saw-cuts, 
through the prominent portion of each condyle (or articular surface 
bounding the hole at the back of the skull, where the spinal cord 
enters) and passing forwards to the temples of the animal. Then 
make two cuts, one on each side, which cross these and meet in an 
angle on the frontal bone. By actual trial, one will find the best 
direction for the saw-cuts. It is hard to saw entirely through the 
skull-bone without in some places also sawing into the brain. Here 
is where the chisel comes in — one can break by a smart blow on it 
with the hammer any parts of the skull not quite sawn through. 
When the skull-cap is ready to come off one will feel it 'wobble.' 
Insert then the hook under its forward end and pull firmly. The 
bony skull-cap alone will come away, leaving the periosteum of the 
inner surface adhering to that of the base of the skull, enveloping 
the brain, and forming the so-called dura mater or outer one of its 
'meninges.' This dura mater should be slit open round the margins, 
when the brain will be exposed wrapped in its nearest membrane, 
the pia mater, full of blood-vessels whose branches penetrate the 

The brain in its pia mater should now be carefully 'shelled out.' 
Usually it is best to begin at the forward end, turning it up there 
and gradually working backwards. The olfactory lobes are liable 
to be torn ; they must be carefully scooped from the pits in the base 
of the skull to which they adhere by the branches which they send 
through the bone into the nose-cavity. It is well to have a little 
blunt curved instrument expressly for this purpose. Next the optic 
nerves tie the brain down, and must be cut through — close to the 
chiasma is easiest. After that comes the pituitary body, which has 
to be left behind. It is attached by a neck, the so-called infundi- 
bulum, into the upper part of which the cavity of the third entricle 
is prolonged downwards for a short distance. It has no known 
function and is probably a 'rudimentary organ.' Other nerves, 
into the detail of which I shall not go, must be cut successively. 
Their places in the human brain are shown in Fig. 34. When they 



are divided, and the portion of dura mater (tentorium) which pro- 
jects between the hemispheres and the cerebellum is cut through at 
its edges, the brain comes readily out. 

It is best examined fresh. If numbers of brains have to be pre- 
pared and kept, I have found it a good plan to put them first in a 
solution of chloride of zinc, just dense enough at first to float them, 

Fig. 34. — The human brain from below, with its nerves numbered, after 
Henle. I, olfactory; II, optic; III, oculomotor i us; IV, trochlearis; V, tri- 
facial; VI, abducens oculi; VII, facial; VIII, auditory; IX, glossopharyn- 
geal; X, pneumogastric; XI, spinal accessory; XII, hypoglossal; ncl, first 
cervical, etc. 

and to leave them for a fortnight or less. This softens the pia 
mater, which can then he removed in large shreds, after which it 
is enough to place them in quite weak alcohol to preserve them in- 
definitely, tough, elastic, and in their natural shape, though bleached 
to a uniform white color. Before immersion in the chloride all the 
more superficial adhesions of the parts must be broken through, to 


bring the fluid into contact with a maximum of surface. If the 
brain is used fresh, the pia mater had better be removed carefully 
in most places with the forceps, scalpel, and scissors. Over the 
grooves between the cerebellum and hemispheres, and between 
the cerebellum and medulla oblongata, thin cobwebby moist trans- 
parent vestiges of the arachnoid membrane will be found. 

The subdivisions may now be examined in due order. For the 
convolutions, blood-vessels, and nerves the more special books must 
be consulted. 

First, looked at from above, with the deep longitudinal fissure 
between them, the hemispheres are seen partly overlapping the 
intricately wrinkled cerebellum, which juts out behind, and covers 
in turn almost all the medulla oblongata. Drawing the hemispheres 
apart, the brilliant white corpus callosum is revealed, some half an 
inch below their surface. There is no median partition in the 
cerebellum, but a median elevation instead. 

Looking at the brain from below, one still sees the longitudinal 
fissure in the median line in front, and on either side of it the 
olfactory lobes, much larger than in man ; the optic tracts and com- 
missure or 'chiasma'; the infundibulum cut through just behind 
them; and behind that the single corpus albicans or mamillare, 
whose function is unknown and which is double in man. Next the 
crura appear, converging upon the pons as if carrying fibres back 
from either side. The pons itself succeeds, much less prominent 
than in man; and finally behind it comes the medulla oblongata, 
broad and flat and relatively large. The pons looks like a sort of 
collar uniting the two halves of the cerebellum, and surrounding the 
medulla, whose fibres by the time they have emerged anteriorly 
from beneath the collar have divided into the two crura. The inner 
relations are, however, somewhat less simple than what this descrip- 
tion may suggest. 

Now turn forward the cerebellum ; pull out the vascular choroid 
plexuses of the pia, which fill the fourth ventricle; and bring the 
upper surface of the medulla oblongata into view. The fourth ven- 
tricle is a triangular depression terminating in a posterior point 
called the calamus scriptorius. (Here a very fine probe may pass 
into the central canal of the spinal cord.) The lateral boundary of 
the ventricle on either side is formed by the restiform body or 
column, which runs into the cerebellum, forming its inferior or pos- 
terior peduncle on that side. Including the calamus scriptorius by 
their divergence, the posterior columns of the spinal cord continue 
into the medulla as the fasciculi graciles. These are at first sepa- 
rated from the broad restiform bodies by a slight groove. But this 
disappears anteriorly, and the 'slender' and 'ropelike' strands soon 
become outwardly indistinguishable. 



Turn next to the ventral surface of the medulla, and note the 
anterior pyramids, two roundish cords, one on either side of 
the slight median groove. The pyramids are crossed and closed 
over anteriorly by the pons Varolii, a broad transverse band which 
surrounds them like a collar, and runs up into the cerebellum on 
either side, forming its middle peduncles. The pons has a slight 

Fig. 35. — Fourth ventricle, etc. (Henle). Ill, third ventricle; IV, fourth 
ventricle; P, anterior, middle, and posterior peduncles of cerebellum cut 
through; Cr, restiform body; Fg, funiculus gracilis; Cq, corpora quadri- 

median depression and its posterior edge is formed by the trapezium 
on either side. The trapezium consists of fibres which, instead of 
surrounding the pyramid, seem to start from alongside of it. It is 
not visible in man. The olivary bodies are small eminences on 
the medulla lying just laterally of the pyramids and below the 

Now cut through the peduncles of the cerebellum, close to their 
entrance into that organ. They give one surface of section on each 


side, though they receive contributions from three directions. The 
posterior and middle portions we have seen: the anterior peduncles 
pass forward to the corpora quadrigemina. The thin white layer of 
nerve-tissue between them and continuous with them is called the 
valve of Vieussens. It covers part of the canal from the fourth 
ventricle to the third. The cerebellum being removed, examine it, 
and cut sections to show the peculiar distribution of white and gray 
matter, forming an appearance called the arbor vitce in the books. 

Now bend up the posterior edge of the hemispheres, exposing the 
corpora quadrigemina (of which the anterior pair are dubbed 
the nates and the posterior the testes) , and noticing the pineal gland, 
a small median organ situated just in front of them and probably, 
like the pituitary body, a vestige of something useful in premam- 
malian times. The rounded posterior edge of the corpus callosum 
is visible now passing from one hemisphere to the other. Turn it 
still farther up, letting the medulla, etc., hang down as much as 
possible and trace the under surface from this edge forward. It is 
broad behind but narrows forward, becoming continuous with the 
fornix. The anterior stem, so to speak, of this organ plunges down 
just in front of the optic thalami, which now appear with the fornix 
arching over them, and the median third ventricle between them. 
The margins of the fornix, as they pass backwards, diverge laterally 
farther than the margins of the corpus callosum, and under the 
name of corpora fimbriata are carried into the lateral ventricles, as 
will be seen again. 

It takes a good topographical mind to understand these ventricles 
clearly, even when they are followed with eye and hand. A verbal 
description is absolutely useless. The essential thing to remember 
is that they are offshoots from the original cavity (now the third 
ventricle) of the anterior vesicle, and that a great split has occurred 
in the walls of the hemispheres so that they (the lateral ventricles) 
now communicate with the exterior along a cleft which appears 
sickle-shaped, as it were, and folded in. 

The student will probably examine the relations of the parts in 
various ways. But he will do well to begin in any case by cutting 
horizontal slices off the hemispheres almost down to the level of the 
corpus callosum, and examining the distribution of gray and white 
matter on the surfaces of section, any one of which is the so-called 
centrum ovale. Then let him cut down in a fore-and-aft direction 
along the edge of the corpus callosum, till he comes ' through ' and 
draw the hemispherical margin of the cut outwards — he will see a 
space which is the ventricle, and which farther cutting along the 
side and removing of its hemisphere-roof will lay more bare. The 
most conspicuous object on its floor is the nucleus caudatus of the 
corpus striatum. 



Cut the corpus callosum transversely through near its posterior 
edge and bend the anterior portion of it forwards and sideways. 
The rear edge (splenium) left in situ bends round and downwards 

Fig. 36. — Horizontal section of human brain just above the thalami. — Ccl, 
corpus callosum in section; Cs, corpus striatum; SI, septum lucidum; Cf, 
columns of the fornix; Tho, optic thalami; Cn, pineal gland. (After Heme.) 

and becomes continuous with the fornix. The anterior part is also 
continuous with the fornix, but more along the median line, where 
a thinnish membrane, the septum lucidum, triangular in shape, 
reaching from the one body to the other, practically forms a sort 


of partition between the contiguous portion of the lateral ventricles 
on the two sides. Break through the septum if need be and expose 
the upper surface of the fornix, broad behind and narrow in front 
where its anterior pillars plunge down in front of the third ventricle 
(from a thickening in whose anterior walls they were originally 
formed), and finally penetrate the corpus albicans. Cut these pillars 
through and fold them back, exposing the thalamic portion of the 
brain, and noting the under surface of the fornix. Its diverging 
Posterior pillars run backwards, downwards, and then forwards 
again, forming with their sharp edges the corpora fimbriata, which 
bound the cleft by which the ventricle lies open. The semi- 
cylindrical welts behind the corpora fimbriata and parallel thereto 
in the wall of the ventricle are the hippocampi. Imagine the fornix 
and corpus callosum shortened in the fore-and-aft direction to a 
transverse cord; imagine the hemispheres not having grown back- 
wards and downwards round the thalamus; and the corpus fimbri- 
atum on either side would then be the upper or anterior margin of 
a split in the wall of the hemispheric ventricle of which the lower 
and posterior margin would be the posterior border of the corpus 
striatum where it grows out of the thalamus. 

The little notches just behind the anterior pillar of the fornix 
and between them and the thalami are the so-called foramina of 
Monro through which the plexus of vessels, etc., passes from the 
median to the lateral ventricles. 

See the thick middle commissure joining the two thalami, just as 
the corpus callosum and fornix join the hemispheres. These are all 
embryological aftergrowths. Seek also the anterior commissure 
crossing just in front of the anterior pillars of the fornix, as well 
as the posterior commissure with its lateral prolongations along the 
thalami, just below the pineal gland. 

On a median section, note the thinnish anterior wall of the third 
ventricle and its prolongation downwards into the infundibulum. 

Turn up or cut off the rear end of one hemisphere so as to see 
clearly the optic tracts turning upwards towards the rear corner of 
the thalamus. The corpora geniculata to which they also go, dis- 
tinct in man, are less so in the sheep. The lower ones are visible 
between the optic-tract band and the 'testes,' however. 

The brain's principal parts are thus passed in review. A longi- 
tudinal section of the whole organ through the median line will be 
found most instructive (Fig. 37). The student should also (on a 
fresh brain, or one hardened in bichromate of potash or ammonia 
to save the contrast of color between white and gray matter) make 
transverse sections through the nates and crura, and through the 



Fig. 37. — Median section of human brain below the hemispheres. Th, thalamus; 
Cg, corpora quadrigemina; F m , third ventricle; Com, middle commissure; 
F, columns of fornix; Inf, inf undibulum ; Op.n, optic nerve; Pit, pituitary 
body; Av, arbor vitae. (After Obersteiner.) 



hemispheres just in front of the corpus albicans. The latter section 
shows on each side the nucleus lenticularis of the corpus striatum, 
and also the inner capsule (see Fig. 38, Nl, and Ic). 

Fig. 38. — Transverse section through right hemisphere (after Gegenbaur). 
Cc, corpus callosum; Pf, pillars of fornix; Ic, internal capsule; V, third 
ventricle; Nl, nucleus lenticularis. 

When all is said and done, the fact remains that, for the 
beginner, the understanding of the brain's structure is not 
an easy thing. It must be gone over and forgotten and 
learned again many times before it is definitively assimi- 
lated by the mind. But patience and repetition, here as 
elsewhere, will bear their perfect fruit. 



General Idea of Nervous Function. — If I begin chop- 
ping the foot of a tree, its branches are unmoved by my act, 
and its leaves murmur as peacefully as ever in the wind. If, 
on the contrary, I do violence to the foot of a fellow-man, 
the rest of his body instantly responds to the aggression by 
movements of alarm or defence. The reason of this differ- 
ence is that the man has a nervous system, whilst the tree 
has none; and the function of the nervous system is to 
bring each part into harmonious cooperation with every 
other. The afferent nerves, when excited by some physical 
irritant, be this as gross in its mode of operation as a chop- 
ping axe or as subtle as the waves of light, conveys the 
excitement to the nervous centres. The commotion set up 
in the centres does not stop there, but discharges through 
the efferent nerves, exciting movements which vary with 
the animal and with the irritant applied. These acts of 
response have usually the common character of being of 
service. They ward off the noxious stimulus and support 
the beneficial one; whilst if, in itself indifferent, the stim- 
ulus be a sign of some distant circumstance of practical 
importance, the animal's acts are addressed to this circum- 
stance so as to avoid its perils or secure its benefits, as the 
case may be. To take a common example, if I hear the 
conductor calling ' All aboard ! ' as I enter the station, my 
heart first stops, then palpitates, and my legs respond to 
the air-waves falling on my tympanum by quickening 
their movements. If I stumble as I run, the sensation of 
falling provokes a movement of the hands towards the 
direction of the fall, the effect of which is to shield the 



body from too sudden a shock. If a cinder enter my eye, 
its lids close forcibly and a copious flow of tears tends to 
wash it out. 

These three responses to a sensational stimulus differ, 
however, in many respects. The closure of the eye and the 
lachrymation are quite involuntary, and so is the disturb- 
ance of the heart. Such involuntary responses we know 
a ' reflex ' acts. The motion of the arms to break the 
shock of falling may also be called reflex, since it occurs 
too quickly to be deliberately intended. It is, at any rate, 
less automatic than the previous acts, for a man might by 
conscious effort learn to perform it more skilfully, or even 
to suppress it altogether. Actions of this kind, into which 
instinct and volition enter upon equal terms, have been 
called ' semi-reflex.' The act of running towards the train, 
on the other hand, has no instinctive element about it. It 
is purely the result of education, and is preceded by a con- 
sciousness of the purpose to be attained and a distinct 
mandate of the will. It is a ' voluntary act. 7 Thus the 
animal's reflex and voluntary performances shade into 
each other gradually, being connected by acts which may 
often occur automatically, but may also be modified by 
conscious intelligence. 

The Frog's Nerve-centres. — Let us now look a little 
more closely at what goes on. 

The best way to enter the subject will be to take a lower 
creature, like a frog, and study by the vivisection method 
the functions of his different nerve-centres. The frog's 
nerve-centres are figured in the diagram over the page, 
which needs no further explanation. I shall first proceed 
to state what happens when various amounts of the ante- 
rior parts are removed, in different frogs, in the way in 
which an ordinary student removes them — that is, with 
no extreme precautions as to the purity of the operation. 

If, then, we reduce the frog's nervous system to the 
spinal cord alone, by making a section behind the base of 
the skull, between the spinal cord and the medulla ob- 



O Th 

Fig. 39. — C, H, cere- 
bral hemispheres ; 
Th, optic tha- 
lami; L, optic 
lobes; Cb, cerebel- 
lum; M O, medulla 
oblongata ; 5" C, spi- 
nal cord. 

longata, thereby cutting off the brain from all connection 
with the rest of the body, the frog will 
still continue to live, but with a very pe- 
culiarly modified activity. It ceases to 
breathe or swallow; it lies flat on its 
belly, and does not, like a normal frog, sit 
up on its fore-paws, though its hind-legs 
are kept, as usual, folded against its body 
and immediately resume this position if 
drawn out. If thrown on its back it lies 
there quietly, without turning over like 
a normal frog. Locomotion and voice 
seem entirely abolished. If we suspend it 
by the nose, and irritate different portions 
of its skin by acid, it performs a set of 
remarkable ' defensive ' movements calcu- 
lated to wipe away the irritant. Thus, if 
the breast be touched, both fore-paws will 
rub it vigorously; if we touch the outer 
side of the elbow, the hind-foot of the same side will rise 
directly to the spot and wipe it. The back of the foot will 
rub the knee if that be attacked, whilst if the foot be cut 
away, the stump will make ineffectual movements, and then, 
in many frogs, a pause will come, as if for deliberation, 
succeeded by a rapid passage of the opposite unmutilated 
foot to the acidulated spot. 

The most striking character of all these movements, 
after their teleological appropriateness, is their precision. 
They vary, in sensitive frogs and with a proper amount of 
irritation, so little as almost to resemble in their machine- 
like regularity the performances of a jumping-jack, whose 
legs must twitch whenever you pull the string. The spinal 
cord of the frog thus contains arrangements of cells and 
fibres fitted to convert skin-irritations into movements of 
defence. We may call it the centre for defensive movements 
in this animal. We may indeed go farther than this, and 
by cutting the spinal cord in various places find that its 


separate segments are independent mechanisms, for appro- 
priate activities of the head and of the arms and legs re- 
spectively. The segment governing the arms is especially 
active, in male frogs, in the breeding season; and these 
members alone, with the breast and back appertaining to 
them, and everything else cut away, will actively grasp a 
finger placed between them and remain hanging to it for 
a considerable time. 

Similarly of the medulla oblongata, optic lobes, and other 
centres between the spinal cord and the hemispheres of the 
frog. Each of them is proved by experiment to contain a 
mechanism for the accurate execution, in response to defi- 
nite stimuli, of certain special acts. Thus with the medulla 
the animal swallows; with the medulla and cerebellum to- 
gether he jumps, swims, and turns over from his back; 
with his optic lobes he croaks when pinched; etc. A jrog 
which has lost his cerebral hemispheres alone is by an un- 
practised observer indistinguishable from a normal animal. 

Not only is he capable, on proper instigation, of all the 
acts already mentioned, but he guides himself by sight, so 
that if an obstacle be set up between him and the light, 
and he be forced to move forward, he either jumps over it 
or swerves to one side. He manifests the sexual instinct 
at the proper seasons, and discriminates between male and 
female individuals of his own species. He is, in short, so 
similar in every respect to a normal frog that it would take 
a person very familiar with these animals to suspect any- 
thing wrong or wanting about him; but even then such a 
person would soon remark the almost entire absence of 
spontaneous motion — that is, motion unprovoked by any 
present incitation of sense. The continued movements of 
swimming, performed by the creature in the water, seem 
to be the fatal result of the contact of that fluid with its 
skin. They cease when a stick, for example, touches his 
hands. This is a sensible irritant towards which the feet 
are automatically drawn by reflex action, and on which 
the animal remains sitting. He manifests no hunger, and 


will suffer a fly to crawl over his nose unsnapped at. Fear, 
too, seems to have deserted him. In a word, he is an ex- 
tremely complex machine whose actions, so far as they go, 
tend to self-preservation ; but still a machine , in this sense — 
that it seems to contain no incalculable element. By apply- 
ing the right sensory stimulus to him we are almost as 
certain of getting a fixed response as an organist is of hear- 
ing a certain tone when he pulls out a certain stop. 

But now if to the lower centres we add the cerebral hemi- 
spheres, or if, in other words, we make an intact animal 
the subject of our observations, all this is changed. In 
addition to the previous responses to present incitements 
of sense, our frog now goes through long and complex acts 
of locomotion spontaneously, or as if moved by what in 
ourselves we should call an idea. His reactions to outward 
stimuli vary their form, too. Instead of making simple 
defensive movements with his hind-legs, like a headless 
frog, if touched; or of giving one or two leaps and then 
sitting still like a hemisphereless one, he makes persistent 
and varied efforts of escape, as if, not the mere contact of 
the physiologist's hand, but the notion of danger suggested 
by it were now his spur. Led by the feeling of hunger, 
too, he goes in search of insects, fish, or smaller frogs, and 
varies his procedure with each species of victim. The 
physiologist cannot by manipulating him elicit croaking, 
crawling up a board, swimming or stopping, at will. His 
conduct has become incalculable — we can no longer fore- 
tell it exactly. Effort to escape is his dominant reaction, 
but he may do anything else, even swell up and become 
perfectly passive in our hands. 

Such are the phenomena commonly observed, and such 
the impressions which one naturally receives. Certain 
general conclusions follow irresistibly. First of all the 

The acts of all the centres involve the use of the same 
muscles. When a brainless frog's hind-leg wipes the acid, 
he calls into play all the leg-muscles which a frog with his 


full medulla oblongata and cerebellum uses when he turns 
from his back to his belly. Their contractions are, how- 
ever, combined differently in the two cases, so that the 
results vary widely. We must consequently conclude that 
specific arrangements of cells and fibres exist in the cord 
for wiping, in the medulla for turning over, etc. Simi- 
larly they exist in the thalami for jumping over seen ob- 
stacles and for balancing the moved body; in the optic 
lobes for creeping backwards, or what not. But in the 
hemisphere, since the presence of these organs brings no 
new elementary form of movement with it, but only deter- 
mines differently the occasions on which the movements 
shall occur, making the usual stimuli less fatal and ma- 
chine-like, we need suppose no such machinery directly 
cobrdinative of muscular contractions to exist. We may 
rather assume, when the mandate for a wiping-movement 
is sent forth by the hemispheres, that a current goes straight 
to the wiping-arrangement in the spinal cord, exciting this 
arrangement as a whole. Similarly, if an intact frog wishes 
to jump, all he need do is to excite from the hemispheres 
the jumping-centre in the thalami or wherever it may be, 
and the latter will provide for the details of the execution. 
It is like a general ordering a colonel to make a certain 
movement, but not telling him how it shall be done. 

The same muscle, then, is repeatedly represented at dif- 
ferent heights] and at each it enters into a different com- 
bination with other muscles to cooperate in some special 
form of concerted movement. At each height the move- 
ment is discharged by some particular form of sensorial 
stimulus, whilst the stimuli which discharge the hemi- 
spheres would seem not so much to be elementary sorts 
of sensation, as groups of sensations forming determinate 
objects or things. 

The Pigeon's Lower Centres. — The results are just the 
same if, instead of a frog, we take a pigeon, cut out his 
hemispheres carefully and wait till he recovers from the 
operation. There is not a movement natural to him which 


this brainless bird cannot execute; he seems, too, after some 
days to execute movements from some inner irritation, for 
he moves spontaneously. But his emotions and instincts 
exist no longer. In Schrader's striking words: 

" The hemisphereless animal moves in a world of bodies 
which . . . are all of equal value for him. ... He is, to 
use Goltz's apt expression, impersonal. . . . Every object 
is for him only a space-occupying mass, he turns out of his 
path for an ordinary pigeon no otherwise than for a stone. 
He may try to climb over both. All authors agree that 
they never found any difference, whether it was an inani- 
mate body, a cat, a dog, or a bird of prey which came in 
their pigeon's way. The creature knows neither friends 
nor enemies, in the thickest company it lives like a hermit. 
The languishing cooing of the male awakens no more im- 
pression than the rattling of the peas, or the call-whistle 
which in the days before the injury used to make the birds 
hasten to be fed. Quite as little as the earlier observers 
have I seen hemisphereless she-birds answer the courting 
of the male. A hemisphereless male will coo all day 
long and show distinct signs of sexual excitement, but his 
activity is without any object, it is entirely indifferent to 
him whether the she-bird be there or not. If one is placed 
near him, he leaves her unnoticed. ... As the male pays 
no attention to the female, so she pays none to her young. 
The brood may follow the mother ceaselessly calling for 
food, but they might as well ask it from a stone. . . . The 
hemisphereless pigeon is in the highest degree tame, and 
fears man as little as cat or bird of prey." 

General Notion of Hemispheres. — All these facts lead 
us, when we try to formulate them broadly, to some such 
conception as this: The lower centres act from present sen- 
sational stimuli alone; the hemispheres act jrom considera- 
tions, the sensations which they may receive serving only 
as suggesters of these. But what are considerations but 
expectations, in the fancy, of sensations which will be felt 
one way or another according as action takes this course or 


that? If I step aside on seeing a rattlesnake, from consid- 
ering how dangerous an animal he is, the mental materials 
which constitute my prudential reflection are images more 
or less vivid of the movement of his head, of a sudden pain 
in my leg, of a state of terror, a swelling of the limb, a 
chill, delirium, death, etc., etc., and the ruin of my hopes. 
But all these images are constructed out of my past experi- 
ences. They are reproductions of what I have felt or wit- 
nessed. They are, in short, remote sensations; and the 
main difference between the hemisphereless animal and the 
whole one may be concisely expressed by saying that the 
one obeys absent, the other only present, objects. 

The hemispheres would then seem to be the chief seat of 
memory. Vestiges of past experience must in some way be 
stored up in them, and must, when aroused by present 
stimuli, first appear as representations of distant goods and 
evils; and then must discharge into the appropriate motor 
channels for warding off the evil and securing the benefits 
of the good. If we liken the nervous currents to electric 
currents, we can compare the nervous system, C, below the 
hemispheres to a direct circuit from sense-organ to muscle 
along the line 5 ... C ... Af of Fig. 40. The hemisphere, 
H, adds the long circuit or loop-line through which the cur- 
rent may pass when for any reason the direct line is not used. 
Thus, a tired wayfarer on a hot day throws himself on the 
damp earth beneath a maple-tree. The sensations of deli- 
cious rest and coolness pouring 
themselves through the direct 
line would naturally discharge 
into the muscles of complete ex- 
tension: he would abandon him- 
self to the dangerous repose. 
But the loop-line being open, 
part of the current is drafted 
along it, and awakens rheu- 
matic or catarrhal reminiscences, 
which prevail over the instiga- 


tions of sense, and make the man arise and pursue his way 
to where he may enjoy his rest more safely. Presently we 
shall examine the manner in which the hemispheric loop- 
line may be supposed to serve as a reservoir for such remi- 
niscences as these. Meanwhile I will ask the reader to 
notice some corollaries of its being such a reservoir. 

First, no animal without it can deliberate, pause, post- 
pone, nicely weigh one motive against another, or compare. 
Prudence, in a word, is for such a creature an impossible 
virtue. Accordingly we see that nature removes those func- 
tions in the exercise of which prudence is a virtue from the 
lower centres and hands them over to the cerebrum. Wher- 
ever a creature has to deal with complex features of the 
environment, prudence is a virtue. The higher animals 
have so to deal; and the more complex the features, the 
higher we call the animals. The fewer of his acts, then, 
can such an animal perform without the help of the organs 
in question. In the frog many acts devolve wholly on the 
lower centres; in the bird fewer; in the rodent fewer still; 
in the dog very few indeed; and in apes and men hardly 
any at all. 

The advantages of this are obvious. Take the prehen- 
sion of food as an example and suppose it to be a reflex 
performance of the lower centres. The animal will be con- 
demned fatally and irresistibly to snap at it whenever pre- 
sented, no matter what the circumstances may be; he can 
no more disobey this prompting than water can refuse to 
boil when a fire is kindled under the pot. His life will 
again and again pay the forfeit of his gluttony. Exposure 
to retaliation, to other enemies, to traps, to poisons, to the 
dangers of repletion, must be regular parts of his existence. 
His lack of all thought by which to weigh the danger against 
the attractiveness of the bait, and of all volition to remain 
hungry a little while longer, is the direct measure of his 
lowness in the mental scale. And those fishes which, like 
our cunners and sculpins, are no sooner thrown back from 
the hook into the water than they automatically seize the 


hook again, would soon expiate the degradation of their 
intelligence by the extinction of their type, did not their 
extraordinary fecundity atone for their imprudence. Ap- 
petite and the acts it prompts have consequently become 
in all higher vertebrates functions of the cerebrum. They 
disappear when the physiologist's knife has left the sub- 
ordinate centres alone in place. The brainless pigeon will 
starve though left on a corn-heap. 

Take again the sexual function. In birds this devolves 
exclusively upon the hemispheres. When these are shorn 
away the pigeon pays no attention to the billings and coo- 
ings of its mate. It is the same, according to Goltz, with 
male dogs who have suffered large losses of cerebral tissue. 
Those who have read Darwin's Descent of Man will recol- 
lect what an importance this author ascribes to the agency 
of sexual selection in the amelioration of the breeds of 
birds. The females are naturally coy, and their coyness 
must be overcome by the exhibition of the gorgeous plu- 
mage, and various accomplishments in the way of strutting 
and fighting, of the males. In frogs and toads, on the 
other hand, where (as we saw on page 94) the sexual in- 
stinct devolves upon the lower centres, we find a machine- 
like obedience to the present incitements of sense, and an 
almost total exclusion of the power of choice. The conse- 
quence is that every spring an immense waste of batrachian 
life, involving numbers of adult animals and innumerable 
eggs, takes place from no other cause than the blind char- 
acter of the sexual impulse in these creatures. 

No one need be told how dependent all human social 
elevation is upon the prevalence of chastity. Hardly any 
factor measures more than this the difference between 
civilization and barbarism. Physiologically interpreted, 
chastity means nothing more than the fact that present 
solicitations of sense are overpowered by suggestions of 
aesthetic and moral fitness which the circumstances awaken 
in the cerebrum; and that upon the inhibitory or permis- 
sive influence of these alone action directly depends. 


Within the psychic life due to the cerebrum itself the 
same general distinction obtains, between considerations of 
the more immediate and considerations of the more remote. 
In all ages the man whose determinations are swayed by 
reference to the most distant ends has been held to possess 
the highest intelligence. The tramp who lives from hour 
to hour; the bohemian whose engagements are from day 
to day; the bachelor who builds but for a single life; the 
father who acts for another generation; the patriot who 
thinks of a whole community and many generations; and, 
finally, the philosopher and saint whose cares are for hu- 
manity and for eternity, — these range themselves in an 
unbroken hierarchy, wherein each successive grade results 
from an increased manifestation of the special form of 
action by which the cerebral centres are distinguished 
from all below them. 

The Automaton-Theory. — In the ' loop-line ' along 
which the memories and ideas of the distant are supposed to 
lie, the action, so far as it is a physical process, must be inter- 
preted after the type of the action in the lower centres. 
If regarded here as a reflex process, it must be reflex there 
as well. The current in both places runs out into the 
muscles only after it has first run in; but whilst the path 
by which it runs out is determined in the lower centres by 
reflections few and fixed amongst the cell-arrangements, in 
the hemispheres the reflections are many and instable. 
This, it will be seen, is only a difference of degree and not 
of kind, and does not change the reflex type. The con- 
ception of all action as conforming to this type is the fun- 
damental conception of modern nerve-physiology. This 
conception, now, has led to two quite opposite theories 
about the relation to consciousness of the nervous func- 
tions. Some authors, finding that the higher voluntary 
functions seems to require the guidance of feeling, conclude 
that over the lowest reflexes some such feeling also pre- 
sides, though it may be a feeling connected with the spinal 
cord, of which the higher conscious self connected with 


the hemispheres remains unconscious. Others, finding that 
reflex and semi-automatic acts may, notwithstanding their 
appropriateness, take place with an unconsciousness ap- 
parently complete, fly to the opposite extreme and maintain 
that the appropriateness even of the higher voluntary 
actions connected with the hemispheres owes nothing to 
the fact that consciousness attends them. They are, 
according to these writers, results of physiological mechan- 
ism pure and simple. 

To comprehend completely this latter doctrine one 
should apply it to examples. The movements of our 
tongues and pens, the flashings of our eyes in conversa- 
tion, are of course events of a physiological order, and as 
such their causal antecedents may be exclusively mechan- 
ical. If we knew thoroughly the nervous system of Shake- 
speare, and as thoroughly all his environing conditions, we 
should be able, according to the theory of automatism, 
to show why at a given period of his life his hand came to 
trace on certain sheets of paper those crabbed little black 
marks which we for shortness 7 sake call the manuscript of 
Hamlet. We should understand the rationale of every 
erasure and alteration therein, and we should understand 
all this without in the slightest degree acknowledging the 
existence of the thoughts in Shakespeare's mind. The 
words and sentences would be taken, not as signs of any- 
thing beyond themselves, but as little outward facts, pure 
and simple. In like manner, the automaton-theory affirms, 
we might exhaustively write the biography of those two 
hundred pounds, more or less, of warmish albuminoid matter 
called Martin Luther, without ever implying that it felt. 

But, on the other hand, nothing in all this could pre- 
vent us from giving an equally complete account of either 
Luther's or Shakespeare's spiritual history, an account in 
which every gleam of thought and emotion should find its 
place. The mind-history would run alongside of the body- 
history of each man, and each point in the one would cor- 
respond to, but not react upon, a point in the other. So 


the melody floats from the harp-string, but neither checks 
nor quickens its vibrations; so the shadow runs alongside 
the pedestrian, but in no way influences his steps. 

As a mere conception, and so long as we confine our view 
to the nervous centres themselves, few things are more 
seductive than this radically mechanical theory of their 
action. And yet our consciousness is there, and has in all 
probability been evolved, like all other functions, for a 
use — it is to the highest degree improbable a priori that 
it should have no use. Its use seems to be that of selec- 
tion) but to select, it must be efficacious. States of con- 
sciousness which feel right are held fast to; those which 
feel wrong are checked. If the ' holding ' and the ' check- 
ing ' of the conscious states severally mean also the effica- 
cious reinforcing or inhibiting of the correlated neural 
processes, then it would seem as if the presence of the 
states of mind might help to steer the nervous system 
and keep it in the path which to the consciousness 
seemed best. Now on the average what seems best to con- 
sciousness is really best for the creature. It is a well- 
known fact that pleasures are generally associated with 
beneficial, pains with detrimental, experiences. All the 
fundamental vital processes illustrate this law. Starvation; 
suffocation; privation of food, drink, and sleep; work when 
exhausted; burns, wounds, inflammation; the effects of 
poison, are as disagreeable as filling the hungry stomach, 
enjoying rest and sleep after fatigue, exercise after rest, 
and a sound skin and unbroken bones at all times, are 
pleasant. Mr. Spencer and others have suggested that 
these coincidences are due, not to any preestablished har- 
mony, but to the mere action of natural selection, which 
would certainly kill off in the long-run any breed of crea- 
tures to whom the fundamentally noxious experience 
seemed enjoyable. An animal that should take pleasure 
in a feeling of suffocation would, if that pleasure were effi- 
cacious enough to make him keep his head under water, 
enjoy a longevity of four or five minutes. But if conscious 


pleasure does not reinforce, and conscious pain does not 
inhibit, anything, one does not see (without some such a 
priori rational harmony as would be scouted by the ' scien- 
tific ' champions of the automaton- theory) why the most 
noxious acts, such as burning, might not with perfect im- 
punity give thrills of delight, and the most necessary ones, 
such as breathing, cause agony. The only considerable 
attempt that has been made to explain the distribution of 
our feelings is that of Mr. Grant Allen in his suggestive 
little work, Physiological ^Esthetics; and his reasoning is 
based exclusively on that causal efficacy of pleasures and 
pains which the partisans of pure automatism so stren- 
uously deny. 

Probability and circumstantial evidence thus run dead 
against the theory that our actions are purely mechanical 
in their causation. From the point of view of descriptive 
Psychology (even though we be bound to assume, as on p. 6, 
that all our feelings have brain-processes for their condi- 
tion of existence, and can be remotely traced in every in- 
stance to currents coming from the outer world) we have 
no clear reason to doubt that the feelings may react so as 
to further or to dampen the processes to which they are 
due. I shall therefore not hesitate in the course of this 
book to use the language of common-sense. I shall talk as 
if consciousness kept actively pressing the nerve-centres in 
the direction of its own ends, and was no mere impotent 
and paralytic spectator of life's game. 

The Localization of Functions in the Hemispheres. — 
The hemispheres, we lately said, must be the organ of mem- 
ory, and in some way retain vestiges of former currents, by 
means of which mental considerations drawn from the past 
may be aroused before action takes place. The vivisec- 
tions of physiologists and the observations of physicians 
have of late years given a concrete confirmation to this 
notion which the first rough appearances suggest. The 
various convolutions have had special functions assigned to 
them in relation to this and that sense-organ, as well as to 


this or that portion of the muscular system. This book is 
no place for going over the evidence in detail, so I will 
simply indicate the conclusions which are most probable 
at the date of writing. 

Mental and Cerebral Elements. — In the first place, 
there is a very neat parallelism between the analysis of 
brain-functions by the physiologists and that of mental 
functions by the ' analytic ' psychologists. 

The phrenological brain-doctrine divided the brain into 
1 organs,' each of which stood for the man in a certain par- 
tial attitude. The organ of ' Philoprogenitiveness,' with its 
concomitant consciousness, is an entire man so far as he 
loves children, that of ' Reverence ' is an entire man wor- 
shipping, etc. The spiritualistic psychology, in turn, 
divided the Mind into ' faculties,' which were also entire 
mental men in certain limited attitudes. But ' faculties ' 
are not mental elements any more than ' organs ' are brain- 
elements. Analysis breaks both into more elementary 

Brain and mind alike consist of simple elements, sen- 
sory and motor. "All nervous centres," says Dr. Hugh- 
lings Jackson, "from the lowest to the very highest (the 
substrata of consciousness), are made up of nothing else 
than nervous arrangements, representing impressions and 
movements. . . . I do not see of what other materials the 
brain can be made." Meynert represents the matter simi- 
larly when he calls the cortex of the hemispheres the sur- 
face of projection for every muscle and every sensitive 
point of the body. The muscles and the sensitive points 
are represented each by a cortical point, and the Brain is 
little more than the sum of all these cortical points, to 
which, on the mental side, as many sensations and ideas 
correspond. The sensations and ideas of sensation and of 
motion are, in turn, the elements out of which the Mind is 
built according to the analytic school of psychology. The 
relations between objects are explained by ' associations ' 
between the ideas; and the emotional and instinctive ten- 



dencies, by associations between ideas and movements. 
The same diagram can symbolize both the inner and the 
outer world; dots or circles standing indifferently for cells 
or ideas, and lines joining them, for fibres or associations. 
The associationist doctrine of ' ideas ' may be doubted to 
be a literal expression of the truth, but it probably will 
always retain a didactic usefulness. At all events, it is 
interesting to see how well physiological analysis plays into 
its hands. To proceed to details. 

The Motor Region. — The one thing which is per- 
fectly well established is this, that the ' central ' con- 

Fig. 41. — Left hemisphere of monkey's brain. Outer surface. 

volutions, on either side of the fissure of Rolando, and (at 
least in the monkey) the calloso-marginal convolution 
(which is continuous with them on the mesial surface 
where one hemisphere is applied against the other), form 
the region by which all the motor incitations which leave 
the cortex pass out, on their way to those executive centres 
in the region of the pons, medulla, and spinal cord from 



which the muscular contractions are discharged in the last 
resort. The existence of this so-called ' motor zone ' is 
established by anatomical as well as vivisectional and 
pathological evidence. 

The accompanying figures (Figs. 41 and 42), from 
Schaefer and Horsley, show the topographical arrangement 
of the monkey's motor zone more clearly than any descrip- 

Fig. 42. — Left hemisphere of monkey's brain. Mesial surface. 

Fig. 43, after Starr, shows how the fibres run downwards. 
All sensory currents entering the hemispheres run out 
from the Rolandic region, which may thus be regarded as 
a sort of funnel of escape, which narrows still more as it 
plunges beneath the surface, traversing the inner capsule, 
pons, and parts below. The dark ellipses on the left half 
of the diagram stand for hemorrhages or tumors, and the 
reader can easily trace, by following the course of the 
fibres, what the effect of them in interrupting motor cur- 
rents may be. 



One of the most instructive proofs of motor localization 
in the cortex is that furnished by the disease now called 
aphemia, or motor aphasia. Motor aphasia is neither loss 
of voice nor paralysis of the tongue or lips. The patient's 
voice is as strong as ever, and all the innervations of his 

Fig. 43— Schematic transverse section of the human brain, through the rolan- 
dic region. S, fissure of Sylvius; N.C., nucleus candatus, and N.L., nucleus 
lenticularis, of the corpus striatum; O.T., thalamus; C, crus; M, medulla 
oblongata; VII, the facial nerves passing out from their nucleus in the 
region of the pons. The fibres passing between O.T. and N.L. constitute the 
so-called internal capsule. 

hypoglossal and facial nerves, except those necessary for 
speaking, may go on perfectly well. He can laugh and 
cry, and even sing; but he either is unable to utter any 
words at all; or a few meaningless stock phrases form his 
only speech; or else he speaks incoherently and confusedly, 



mispronouncing, misplacing, and misusing his words in 
various degrees. Sometimes his speech is a mere broth of 
unintelligible syllables. In cases of pure motor aphasia 
the patient recognizes his mistakes and suffers acutely 
from them. Now whenever a patient dies in such a con- 
dition as this, and an examination of his brain is per- 

Fig. 44- — Schematic profile of left hemisphere, with the parts shaded whose 
destruction causes motor (' Broca ') and sensory (' Wernicke ') aphasia. 

mitted, it is found that the lowest frontal gyrus (see Fig. 
44) is the seat of injury. Broca first noticed this fact 
in 1 86 1, and since then the gyrus has gone by the name of 
Broca's convolution. The injury in right-handed people is 
found on the left hemisphere, and in left-handed people on 
the right hemisphere. Most people, in fact, are left-brained, 
that is, all their delicate and specialized movements are 
handed over to the charge of the left hemisphere. The 
ordinary right-handedness for such movements is only a 
consequence of that fact, a consequence which shows out- 


wardly on account of that extensive crossing of the fibres 
from the left hemisphere to the right half of the body 
only, which is shown in Fig. 43, below the letter M. But 
the left-brainedness might exist and not show outwardly. 
This would happen wherever organs on both sides of the 
body could be governed by the left hemisphere; and just 
such a case seems offered by the vocal organs, in that 
highly delicate and special motor service which we call 
speech. Either hemisphere can innervate them bilater- 
ally, just as either seems able to innervate bilaterally 
the muscles of the trunk, ribs, and diaphragm. Of the 
special movements of speech, however, it would appear 
(from these very facts of aphasia) that the left hemisphere 
in most persons habitually takes exclusive charge. With 
that hemisphere thrown out of gear, speech is undone; 
even though the opposite hemisphere still be there for the 
performance of less specialized acts, such as the various 
movements required in eating. 

The visual centre is in the occipital lobes. This also 
is proved by all the three kinds of possible evidence. 
It seems that the fibres from the lejt halves of both retinae 
go to the lejt hemisphere, those from the right half to 
the right hemisphere. The consequence is that when the 
right occipital lobe, for example, is injured, ' hemianopsia ' 
results in both eyes, that is, both retinae grow blind as to 
their right halves, and the patient loses the leftward half 
of his field of view. The diagram on p. in will make this 
matter clear (see Fig. 45). 

Quite recently, both Schaefer and Munk, in studying 
the movements of the eyeball produced by galvanizing the 
visual cortex in monkeys and dogs, have found reason to 
plot out an analogous correspondence between the upper 
and lower portions of the retinae and certain parts of the 
visual cortex. If both occipital lobes were destroyed, 
we should have double hemiopia, or, in other words, 
total blindness. In human hemiopic blindness there is 
insensibility to light on one half of the field of view, but 



mental images of visible things remain. In double hemi- 
opia there is every reason to believe that not only the sen- 
sation of light must go, but that all memories and images 
l t. r. r.n. r 

1.0. s 

Fig. 45. — Scheme of the mechanism of vision, after Seguin. The cuneus con- 
volution (Cm) of the right occipital lobe is supposed to be injured, and all 
the parts which lead to it are darkly shaded to show that they fail to exert 
their function. F.O. are the intra -hemispheric optical fibres. P.O.C. is the 
region of the lower optic centres (corpora geniculata and quadrigemina). 
T.O.D. is the right optic tract; C, the chiasma; F.L.D. are the fibres going 
to the lateral or temporal half T of the right retina, and F.C.S. are those 
going to the central or nasal half of the left retina. O.D. is the right, and 
0.5". the left, eyeball. The rightward half of each is therefore blind; in 
other words, the right nasal field, R.N.F., and the left temporal field, L.T.F., 
have become invisible to the subject with the lesion at Cm. 



of a visual order must be annihilated also. The man loses 
his visual ' ideas.' Only ' cortical ' blindness can produce 
this effect on the ideas. Destruction of the retinae or of 
the visual tracts anywhere between the cortex and the eyes 
impairs the retinal sensibility to light, but not the power 
of visual imagination. 

Mental Blindness. — A most interesting effect of cortical 
disorder is mental blindness. This consists not so much 

Fig. 46. — Fibres associating the cortical centres together. 
(Schematic, after Starr.) 

in insensibility to optical impressions, as in inability to 
understand them. Psychologically it is interpretable as 
loss of associations between optical sensations and what 
they signify; and any interruption of the paths between 
the optic centres and the centres for other ideas ought to 
bring it about. Thus, printed letters of the alphabet, or 
words, signify both certain sounds and certain articulatory 
movements. But the connection between the articulating 
or auditory centres and those for sight being ruptured, we 
ought a priori to expect that the sight of words would 


fail to awaken the idea of their sound, or of the movement 
for pronouncing them. We ought, in short, to have alexia, 
or inability to read ; and this is just what we do have as a 
complication of aphasic disease in many cases of extensive 
injury about the fronto-temporal regions. 

Where an object fails to be recognized by sight, it often 
happens that the patient will recognize and name it as 
soon as he touches it with his hand. This shows in an 
interesting way how numerous are the incoming paths 
which all end by running out of the brain through the 
channel of speech. The hand-path is open, though the 
eye-path be closed. When mental blindness is most com- 
plete, neither sight, touch, nor sound avails to steer the 
patient, and a sort of dementia which has been called asym- 
bolia or apraxia is the result. The commonest articles 
are not understood. The patient will put his breeches on 
one shoulder and his hat upon the other, will bite into 
the soap and lay his shoes on the table, or take his food 
into his hand and throw it down again, not knowing what 
to do with it, etc. Such disorder can only come from 
extensive brain-injury. 

The centre for hearing is situated in man in the upper 
convolution of the temporal lobe (see the part marked 
'Wernicke' in Fig. 44). The phenomena of aphasia show 
this. We studied motor aphasia a few pages back; we 
must now consider sensory aphasia. Our knowledge of 
aphasia has had three stages: we may talk of the period 
of Broca, the period of Wernicke, and the period of Char- 
cot. What Broca's discovery was we have seen. Wer- 
nicke was the first to discriminate those cases in which 
the patient can not even understand speech from those in 
which he can understand, only not talk; and to ascribe 
the former condition to lesion of the temporal lobe. The 
condition in question is word-deafness, and the disease is 
auditory aphasia. The latest statistical survey of the 
subject is that by Dr. Allen Starr. In the seven cases 
of pure word-deafness which he has collected (cases in 


which the patient could read, talk, and write, out not 
understand what was said to him), the lesion was limited 
to the first and second temporal convolutions in their 
posterior two thirds. The lesion (in right-handed, i. e. left- 
brained, persons) is always on the left side, like the lesion 
in motor aphasia. Crude hearing would not be abolished 
even were the left centre for it utterly destroyed; the right 
centre would still provide for that. But the linguistic use 
of hearing appears bound up with the integrity of the left 
centre more or less exclusively. Here it must be that 
words heard enter into association with the things which 
they represent, on the one hand, and with the movements 
necessary for pronouncing them, on the other. In most 
of us (as Wernicke said) speech must go on from auditory 
cues; that is, our visual, tactile, and other ideas probably 
do not innervate our motor centres directly, but only after 
first arousing the mental sound of the words. This is the 
immediate stimulus to articulation; and where the possi- 
bility of this is abolished by the destruction of its usual 
channel in the left temporal lobe, the articulation must 
suffer. In the few cases in which the channel is abolished 
with no bad effect on speech we must suppose an idiosyn- 
crasy. The patient must innervate his speech-organs either 
from the corresponding portion of the other hemisphere 
or directly from the centres of vision, touch, etc., without 
leaning on the auditory region. It is the minuter analysis 
of such individual differences as these which constitutes 
Charcot's contribution towards clearing up the subject. 

Every namable thing has numerous properties, qualities, 
or aspects. In our minds the properties together with the 
name form an associated group. If different parts of the 
brain are severally concerned with the several properties, 
and a farther part with the hearing, and still another 
with the uttering, of the name, there must inevitably be 
brought about (through the law of association which we 
shall later study) such a connection amongst all these brain- 
parts that the activity of any one of them will be likely to 


awaken the activity of all the rest. When we are talking 
whilst we think, the ultimate process is utterance. If the 
brain-part for that be injured, speech is impossible or dis- 
orderly, even though all the other brain-parts be intact: 
and this is just the condition of things which, on p. 109, 
we found to be brought about by lesion of the convolution 
of Broca. But back of that last act various orders of suc- 
cession are possible in the associations of a talking man's 
ideas. The more usual order is, as aforesaid, from the tac- 
tile, visual, or other properties of the things thought-about 
to the sound of their names, and then to the latter 's utter- 
ance. But if in a certain individual's mind the look of an 
object or the look of its name be what habitually precedes 
articulation, then the loss of the hearing centre will pro 
tanto not affect that individual's speech or reading. He 
will be mentally deaf, i.e. his understanding of the human 
voice will suffer, but he will not be aphasic. In this way 
it is possible to explain the seven cases of word-deafness 
without motor aphasia which figure in Dr. Starr's table. 

If this order of association be ingrained and habitual in 
that individual, injury to his visual centres will make him 
not only word-blind, but aphasic as well. His speech will 
become confused in consequence of an occipital lesion. 
Naunyn, consequently, plotting out on a diagram of the 
hemisphere the 71 irreproachably reported cases of aphasia 
which he was able to collect, finds that the lesions concen- 
trate themselves in three places: first, on Broca 's centre; 
second, on Wernicke's; third, on the supra-marginal and 
angular convolutions under which those fibres pass which 
connect the visual centres with the rest of the brain (see 
Fig. 47, p. 116). With this result Dr. Starr's analysis of 
purely sensory cases agrees. 

In the chapter on Imagination we shall return to these 
differences in the sensory spheres of different individuals. 
Meanwhile few things show more beautifully than the his- 
tory of our knowledge of aphasia how the sagacity and 
patience of many banded workers are in time certain to 



analyze the darkest confusion into an orderly display. 
There is no 'organ' of Speech in the brain any more than 
there is a 'faculty* of Speech in the mind. The entire 
mind and the entire brain are more or less at work in a 

Fig. 47- 

man who uses language. The subjoined diagram, from 
Ross, shows the four parts most vitally concerned, and 
in the light of our text, needs no farther explanation (see 
Fig. 48, p. 117). 

Centres for Smell, Taste, and Touch. — The other sen- 
sory centres are less definitely made out. Of smell and taste 
I will say nothing; and of muscular and cutaneous feeling 
only this, that it seems most probably seated in the motor 
zone, and possibly in the convolutions immediately back- 
wards and mid wards thereof. The incoming tactile cur- 
rents must enter the cells of this region by one set of fibres, 
and the discharges leave them by another, but of these 
refinements of anatomy we at present know nothing. 



Conclusion. — We thus see the postulate of Meynert and 
Jackson, with which we started on p. 105, to be on the whole 
most satisfactorily corroborated by objective research. The 
highest centres do probably contain nothing but arrange- 

FlG. 48. 

-A is the auditory centre, V the visual, W the writing, and 
E that for speech. 

ments for representing impressions and movements, and 
other arrangements for coupling the activity of these ar- 
rangements together. Currents pouring in from the sense- 
organs first excite some arrangement, which in turn excite 
others, until at last a discharge downwards of some sort 
occurs. When this is once clearly grasped there remains 
little ground for asking whether the motor zone is exclusively 
motor, or sensitive as well. The whole cortex, inasmuch as 



currents run through it, is both. All the currents probably 
have feelings going with them, and sooner or later bring 
movements about. In one aspect, then, every centre is affer- 
ent, in another efferent, even the motor cells of the spinal cord 
having these two aspects inseparably conjoined. Marique, 
and Exner and Paneth have shown that by cutting round 
a 'motor' centre and so separating it from the influence of 
the rest of the cortex, the same disorders are produced as 
by cutting it out, so that it is really just what I called it, 
only the funnel through which the stream of innervation, 
starting from elsewhere, escapes; consciousness accompany- 
ing the stream, and being mainly of things seen if the 
stream is strongest occipitally, of things heard if it is 
strongest temporally, of things felt, etc., if the stream occu- 
pies most intensely the ( motor zone* It seems to me that 
some broad and vague formulation like this is as much as 
we can safely venture on in the present state of science — 
so much at least is not likely to be overturned. But it is 
obvious how little this tells us of the detail of what goes 
on in the brain when a certain thought is before the mind. 
The general forms of relation perceived between things, as 
their identities, likenesses, or contrasts; the forms of the 
consciousness itself, as effortless or perplexed, attentive or 
inattentive, pleasant or disagreeable; the phenomena of 
interest and selection, etc., etc., are all lumped together as 
effects correlated with the currents that connect one centre 
with another. Nothing can be more vague than such a 
formula. Moreover certain portions of the brain, as the 
lower frontal lobes, escape formulation altogether. Their 
destruction gives rise to no local trouble of either motion 
or sensibility in dogs, and in monkeys neither stimulation 
nor excision of these lobes produces any symptoms what- 
ever. One monkey of Horsley and Schaefer's was as tame, 
and did certain tricks as well, after as before the operation. 
It is in short obvious that our knowledge of our mental 
states infinitely exceeds our knowledge of their concomi- 
tant cerebral conditions. Without introspective analysis of 


the mental elements of speech, the doctrine of Aphasia, for 
instance, which is the most brilliant jewel in Physiology, 
would have been utterly impossible. Our assumption, 
therefore (p. 5), that mind-states are absolutely dependent 
on brain-conditions, must still be understood as a mere 
postulate. We may have a general faith that it must be 
true, but any exact insight as to how it is true lags wofully 

Before taking up the study of conscious states properly 
so called, I will in a separate chapter speak of two or 
three aspects of brain-function which have a general im- 
portance and which cooperate in the production of all our 
mental states. 



The Nervous Discharge. — The word discharge is con- 
stantly used, and must be used in this book, to designate 
the escape of a current downwards into muscles or other 
internal organs. The reader must not understand the 
word figuratively. From the point of view of dynamics 
the passage of a current out of a motor cell is probably 
altogether analogous to the explosion of a gun. The mat- 
ter of the cell is in a state of internal tension, which the 
incoming current resolves, tumbling the molecules into a 
more stable equilibrium and liberating an amount of 
energy which starts the current of the outgoing fibre. 
This current is stronger than that of the incoming fibre. 
When it reaches the muscle it produces an analogous dis- 
integration of pent-up molecules and the result is a stronger 
effect still. Matteuci found that the work done by a mus- 
cle's contraction was 27,000 times greater than that done 
by the galvanic current which stimulated its motor nerve. 
When a frog's leg-muscle is made to contract, first directly, 
by stimulation of its motor nerve, and second reflexly, by 
stimulation of a sensory nerve, it is found that the reflex 
way requires a stronger current and is more tardy, but 
that the contraction is stronger when it does occur. These 
facts prove that the cells in the spinal cord through which 
the reflex takes place offer a resistance which has first to 
be overcome, but that a relatively violent outward current 
outwards then escapes from them. What is this but an 
explosive discharge on a minute scale? 

Reaction-time. — The measurement of the time required 
for the discharge is one of the lines of experimental inves- 



tigation most diligently followed of late years. Helmholtz 
led the way by discovering the rapidity of the outgoing 
current in the sciatic nerve of the frog. The methods 
he used were soon applied to sensory reactions, and the 
results caused much popular admiration when described as 
measurements of the 'velocity of thought.' The phrase 
'quick as thought' had from time immemorial signified all 
that was wonderful and elusive of determination in the line 
of speed; and the way in which Science laid her doomful 
hand upon this mystery reminded people of the day when 
Franklin first ' eripuit coelo fulmen,' foreshadowing the 
reign of a newer and colder race of gods. I may say, how- 
ever, immediately, that the phrase 'velocity of thought' is 
misleading, for it is by no means clear in any of the cases 
what particular act of thought occurs during the time 
which is measured. What the times in question really 
represent is the total duration of certain reactions upon 
stimuli. Certain of the conditions of the reaction are 
prepared beforehand; they consist in the assumption of 
those motor and sensory tensions which we name the ex- 
pectant state. Just what happens during the actual time 
occupied by the reaction (in other words, just what is 
added to the preexistent tensions to produce the actual 
discharge) is not made out at present, either from the 
neural or from the mental point of view. 

The method is essentially the same in all these investiga- 
tions. A signal of some sort is communicated to the sub- 
ject, and at the same instant records itself on a time-regis- 
tering apparatus. The subject then makes a muscular 
movement of some sort, which is the 'reaction,' and which 
also records itself automatically. The time found to have 
elapsed between the two records is the total time of that 
reaction. The time-registering instruments are of various 
types. One type is that of the revolving drum covered 
with smoked paper, on which one electric pen traces a line 
which the signal breaks and the 'reaction' draws again; 
whilst another electric pen (connected with a rod of metal 


1 ! 




vibrating at a known rate) traces alongside of the former 
line a 'time-line' of which each undulation or link stands 
for a certain fraction of a second, and against which the 
break in the reaction-line can be measured. Compare Fig. 
49, where the line is broken by the signal at the first 

Signal. Reaction. 


Fig. 49. 

arrow, and continued again by the reaction at the second. 
The machine most often used is Hipp's chronoscopic clock. 
The hands are placed at zero, the signal starts them (by 
an electric connection), and the reaction stops them. The 
duration of their movement, down to ioooths of a second, 
is then read off from the dial-plates. 

Simple Reactions. — It is found that the reaction-time 
differs in the same person according to the direction of his 
expectant attention. If he thinks as little as possible of 
the movement which he is to make, and concentrates his 
mind upon the signal to be received, it is longer; if, on the 
contrary, he bends his mind exclusively upon the muscu- 
lar response, it is shorter. Lange, who first noticed this 
fact when working in Wundt's laboratory, found his own 
'muscular* reaction-time to average o".i23, whilst his 
'sensorial' reaction- time averaged as much as o".23o. It is 
obvious that experiments, to have any comparative value, 
must always be made according to the 'muscular* method, 
which reduces the figure to its minimum and makes it 
more constant. In general it lies between one and two 
tenths of a second. It seems to me that under these cir- 
cumstances the reaction is essentially a reflex act. The 
preliminary making-ready of the muscles for the move- 


ment means the excitement of the paths of discharge to 
a point just short of actual discharge before the signal 
comes in. In other words, it means the temporary forma- 
tion of a real 'reflex-arc' in the centres, through which 
the incoming current instantly can pour out again. But 
when, on the other hand, the expectant attention is exclu- 
sively addressed to the signal, the excitement of the motor 
tracts can only begin after this latter has come in, and 
under this condition the reaction takes more time. In 
the hair-trigger condition in which we stand when making 
reactions by the 'muscular' method, we sometimes respond 
to a wrong signal, especially if it be of the same kind with 
the one we expect. The signal is but the spark which 
touches off a train already laid. There is no thought in 
the matter; the hand jerks by an involuntary start. 

These experiments are thus in no sense measurements of 
the swiftness of thought. Only when we complicate them 
is there a chance for anything like an intellectual operation 
to occur. They may be complicated in various ways. The 
reaction may be withheld until the signal has consciously 
awakened a distinct idea (Wundt's discrimination-time, asso- 
ciation-time), and may then be performed. Or there may be 
a variety of possible signals, each with a different reaction 
assigned to it, and the reacter may be uncertain which one 
he is about to receive. The reaction would then hardly 
seem to occur without a preliminary recognition and choice. 
Even here, however, the discrimination and choice are 
widely different from the intellectual operations of which 
we are ordinarily conscious under those names. Mean- 
while the simple reaction-time remains as the starting 
point of all these superinduced complications, and its own 
variations must be briefly passed in review. 

The reaction-time varies with the individual and his 
age. Old and uncultivated people have it long (nearly a 
second, in an old pauper observed by Exner). Children 
have it long (half a second, according to Herzen). 

Practice shortens it to a quantity which is for each indi- 


vidual a minimum beyond which no farther reduction can 
be made. The aforesaid old pauper's time was, after much 
practice, reduced to 0.1866 sec. 

Fatigue lengthens it, and concentration of attention 
shortens it. The nature of the signal makes it vary. I 
here bring together the averages which have been obtained 
by some observers: 

Hirsch. Hankel. Exner. Wundt. 

Sound 0.149 0.1505 0.1360 0.167 

Light 0.200 0.2246 0.1506 0.222 

Touch 0.182 0.1546 0.1337 0.213 

It will be observed that sound is more promptly reacted 
on than either sight or touch. Taste and smell are slower 
than either. The intensity of the signal makes a differ- 
ence. The intenser the stimulus the shorter the time. 
Herzen compared the reaction from a corn on the toe with 
that from the skin of the hand of the same subject. The 
two places were stimulated simultaneously, and the subject 
tried to react simultaneously with both hand and foot, but 
the foot always went quickest. When the sound skin of 
the foot was touched instead of the corn, it was the hand 
which always reacted first. Intoxicants on the whole 
lengthen the time, but much depends on the dose. 

Complicated Reactions. — These occur when some kind 
of intellectual operation accompanies the reaction. The 
rational place in which to report of them would be under 
the head of the various intellectual operations concerned. 
But certain persons prefer to see all these measurements 
bunched together regardless of context; so, to meet their 
views, I give the complicated reactions here. 

When we have to think before reacting it is obvious that 
there is no definite reaction-time of which we can talk — it 
all depends on how long we think. The only times we 
can measure are the minimum times of certain determinate 
and very simple intellectual operations. The time required 
for discrimination has thus been made a subject of experi- 
mental measurement. Wundt calls it Unterscheidungszeit. 


His subjects (whose simple reaction- time had previously 
been determined) were required to make a movement, 
always the same, the instant they discerned which of two 
or more signals they received. The excess of time occupied 
by these reactions over the simple reaction-time, in which 
only one signal was used and known in advance, measured, 
according to Wundt, the time required for the act of dis- 
crimination. It was found longer when four different 
signals were irregularly used than when only two were 
used. When two were used (the signals being the sudden 
appearance of a black or of a white object), the average 
times of three observers were respectively (in seconds) 

0.050 0.047 0.079 
When four signals were used, a red and a green light 
being added to the others, it became, for the same observers, 

0.157 0.073 0-132 
Prof. Cattell found he could get no results by this 
method, and reverted to one used by observers previous to 
Wundt and which Wundt had rejected. This is the 
einjache Wahlmethode, as Wundt calls it. The reacter 
awaits the signal and reacts if it is of one sort, but omits 
to act if it is of another sort. The reaction thus occurs 
after discrimination; the motor impulse cannot be sent 
to the hand until the subject knows what the signal is. 
Reacting in this way, Prof. Cattell found the increment of 
time required for distinguishing a white signal from no 
signal to be, in two observers, 

0.030 and 0.050; 
that for distinguishing one color from another was simi- 

o.ico and; 
that for distinguishing a certain color from ten other 

0.105 and 0.1 17; 
that for distinguishing the letter A in ordinary print from 
the letter Z, 

0.142 and 0.137; 


that for distinguishing a given letter from all the rest of 
the alphabet (not reacting until that letter appeared), 

o.iiq and 0.116; 
that for distinguishing a word from any of twenty-five 
other words, from 

0.1 18 to 0.158 sec. 

— the difference depending on the length of the words and 
the familiarity of the language to which they belonged. 

Prof. Cattell calls attention to the fact that the time for 
distinguishing a word is often but little more than that for 
distinguishing a letter. " We do not, therefore," he says, 
" distinguish separately the letters of which a word is com- 
posed, but the word as a whole. The application of this in 
teaching children to read is evident." 

He also finds a great difference in the time with which 
various letters are distinguished, E being particularly bad. 

The time required for association of one idea with 
another has been measured. Galton, using a very simple 
apparatus, found that the sight of an unforeseen word 
would awaken an associated ' idea ' in about 5 / 6 of a second. 
Wundt next made determinations in which the ' cue ' was 
given by single-syllabled words called out by an assistant. 
The person experimented on had to press a key as soon as 
the sound of the word awakened an associated idea. Both 
word and reaction were chronographically registered, and 
the total time-interval between the two amounted, in four 
observers, to 1.009, 0.896, 1.037, an( ^ I - I 54 seconds respec- 
tively. From this the simple reaction-time and the time 
of merely identifying the word's sound (the ' appreception- 
time/ as Wundt calls it) must be subtracted, to get the 
exact time required for the associated idea to arise. These 
times were separately determined and subtracted. The 
difference, called by Wundt association- time, amounted, in 
the same four persons, to 706, 723, 752, and 874 thousandths 
of a second respectively. The length of the last figure is 
due to the fact that the person reacting was an American, 
whose associations with German words would naturally be 


slower than those of natives. The shortest association-time 
noted was when the word ' Sturm ' suggested to Wundt the 
word ' Wind ' in 0.341 second. Prof. Cattel made some 
interesting observations upon the association-time between 
the look of letters and their names. " I pasted letters," he 
says, "ona revolving drum, and determined at what rate 
they could be read aloud as they passed by a slit in a 
screen." He found it to vary according as one, or more 
than one, letter was visible at a time through the slit, and 
gives half a second as about the time which it takes to see 
and name a single letter seen alone. The rapidity of a man's 
reading is of course a measure of that of his associations, 
since each seen word must call up its name, at least, ere it 
is read. " I find," says Prof. Cattell, " that it takes about 
twice as long to read (aloud, as fast as possible) words 
which have no connection, as words which make sentences, 
and letters which have no connection, as letters which make 
words. When the words make sentences and the letters 
words, not only do the processes of seeing and naming 
overlap, but by one mental effort the subject can recognize 
a whole group of words or letters, and by one will-act 
choose the motions to be made in naming, so that the rate 
at which the words and letters are read is really only lim- 
ited by the maximum rapidity at which the speech-organs 
can be moved. . . . For example, when reading as fast as 
possible the writer's rate was, English 138, French 167, 
German 250, Italian 327, Latin 434, and Greek 484; the 
figures giving the thousandths of a second taken to read 
each word. Experiments made on others strikingly con- 
firm these results. The subject does not know that he is 
reading the foreign language more slowly than his own; 
this explains why foreigners seem to talk so fast. . . . 

" The time required to see and name colors and pictures 
of objects was determined in the same way. The time was 

found to be about the same (over J^ sec.) for colors as for 
pictures, and about twice as long as for words and letters. 
Other experiments I have made show that we can recognize 


a single color or picture in a slightly shorter time than a 
word or letter, but take longer to name it. This is 
because, in the case of words and letters, the association 
between the idea and the name has taken place so often that 
the process has become automatic, whereas in the case of 
colors and pictures we must by a voluntary effort choose 
the name." 

Dr. Romanes has found " astonishing differences in the 
maximum rate of reading which is possible to different 
individuals, all of whom have been accustomed to extensive 
reading. That is to say, the difference may amount to 
4 to i ; or, otherwise stated, in a given time one individual 
may be able to read four times as much as another. More- 
over, it appeared that there was no relationship between 
slowness of reading and power of assimilation; on the con- 
trary, when all the efforts are directed to assimilating aa 
much as possible in a given time, the rapid readers (as 
shown by their written notes) usually give a better account 
of the portions of the paragraph which have been com- 
passed by the slow readers than the latter are able to give; 
and the most rapid reader I have found is also the best at 
assimilating. I should further say," Dr. R. continues, 
" that there is no relationship between rapidity of precep- 
tion as thus tested and intellectual activity as tested by the 
general results of intellectual work; for I have tried the 
experiment with several highly distinguished men in 
science and literature, most of whom I found to be slow 

The degree of concentration of the attention has much to 
do with determining the reaction-time. Anything which 
baffles or distracts us beforehand, or startles us in the 
signal, makes the time proportionally long. 

The Summation of Stimuli. — Throughout the nerve- 
centres it is a law that a stimulus which would be inadequate 
i by itself to excite a nerve-centre to effective discharge may, 
by acting with one or more other stimuli {equally inef- 
fectual by themselves alone) bring the discharge about. 


The natural way to consider this is as a summation of 
tensions which at last overcome a resistance. The first 
of them produce a ' latent excitement ' or a ' heightened 
irritability • — the phrase is immaterial so far as practical 
consequences go; — the last is the straw which breaks the 
camel's back. 

This is proved by many physiological experiments which 
cannot here be detailed; but outside of the laboratory we 
constantly apply the law of summation in our practical 
appeals. If a car-horse balks, the final way of starting 
him is by applying a number of customary incitements at 
once. If the driver uses reins and voice, if one bystander 
pulls at his head, another lashes his hind-quarters, the 
conductor rings the bell, and the dismounted passengers 
shove the car, all at the same moment, his obstinacy gen- 
erally yields, and he goes on his way rejoicing. If we 
are striving to remember a lost name or fact, we think 
of as many ' cues ' as possible, so that by their joint action 
they may recall what no one of them can recall alone. 
The sight of a dead prey will often not stimuate a beast 
to pursuit, but if the sight of movement be added to 
that of form, pursuit occurs. " Brucke noted that his 
brainless hen which made no attempt to peck at the grain 
under her very eyes, began pecking if the grain were thrown 
on the ground with force, so as to produce a rattling 
sound. " Dr. Allen Thomson hatched out some chickens 
on a carpet, where he kept them for several days. They 
showed no inclination to scrape, . . . but when Dr. Thom- 
son sprinkled a little gravel on the carpet, ... the chick- 
ens immediately began their scraping movements." A 
strange person, and darkness, are both of them stimuli to 
fear and mistrust in dogs (and for the matter of that, in 
men). Neither circumstance alone may awaken outward 
manifestations, but together, i.e. when the strange man 
is met in the dark, the dog will be excited to violent defi- 
ance. Street hawkers well know the efficacy of summation, 
for they arrange themselves in a line on the sidewalk, and 


the passer often buys from the last one of them, through the 
effect of the reiterated solicitation, what he refused to buy 
from the first in the row. 

Cerebral Blood-supply. — All parts of the cortex, when 
electrically excited, produce alterations both of respiration 
and circulation. The blood-pressure somewhat rises, as a 
rule, all over the body, no matter where the cortical irrita- 
tion is applied, though the motor zone is the most sensi- 
tive region for the purpose. Slowing and quickening of the 
heart are also observed. Mosso, using his 'plethysmograph' 
as an indicator, discovered that the blood-supply to the arms 
diminished during intellectual activity, and found further- 
more that the arterial tension (as shown by the sphygmo- 
graph) was increased in these members (see Fig. 50). So 

Fig. 50. — Sphygmographic pulse-tracing. A, during intellectual repose; 
B, during intellectual activity. (Mosso.) 

slight an emotion as that produced by the entrance of 
Professor Ludwig into the laboratory was instantly followed 
by a shrinkage of the arms. The brain itself is an exces- 
sively vascular organ, a sponge full of blood, in fact; and 
another of Mosso 's inventions showed that when less blood 
went to the legs, more went to the head. The subject to 
be observed lay on a delicately balanced table which could 
tip downward either at the head or at the foot if the 
weight of either end were increased. The moment emo- 
tional or intellectual activity began in the subject, down 
went the head-end, in consequence of the redistribution 
of blood in his system. But the best proof of the im- 
mediate afflux of blood to the brain during mental ac- 
tivity is due to Mosso's observations on three persons 
whose brain had been laid bare by lesion of the skull. 


By means of apparatus described in his book, this phys- 
iologist was enabled to let the brain-pulse record itself 
directly by a tracing. The intra-cranial blood-pressure rose 
immediately whenever the subject was spoken to, or when 
he began to think actively, as in solving a problem in 
mental arithmetic. Mosso gives in his work a large num- 
ber of reproductions of tracings which show the instanta- 
neity of the change of blood-supply, whenever the mental 
activity was quickened by any cause whatever, intellectual 
or emotional. He relates of his female subject that one 
day whilst tracing her brain-pulse he observed a sudden 
rise with no apparent outer or inner cause. She however 
confessed to him afterwards that at that moment she had 
caught sight of a skull on top of a piece of furniture in 
the room, and that this had given her a slight emotion. 

Cerebral Thermometry. — Brain-activity seems accom- 
panied by a local disengagement of heat. The earliest 
careful work in this direction was by Dr. J. S. Lombard in 
1867. He noted the changes in delicate thermometers and 
electric piles placed against the scalp in human beings, 
and found that any intellectual effort such as computing, 
composing, reciting poetry silently or aloud, and especially 
that emotional excitement such as an angry fit, caused a 
general rise of temperature, which rarely exceeded a degree 
Fahrenheit. In 1870 the indefatigable Schiff took up the 
subject, experimenting on live dogs and chickens by plung- 
ing thermo-electric needles into the substance of their 
brain. After habituation was established, he tested the 
animals with various sensations, tactile, optic, olfactory, 
and auditory. He found very regularly an abrupt alter- 
ation of the intra-cerebral temperature. When, for instance, 
he presented an empty roll of paper to the nose of his dog 
as it lay motionless, there was a small deflection, but when 
a piece of meat was in the paper the deflection was much 
greater. Schiff concluded from these and other experi- 
ments that sensorial activity heats the brain-tissue, but he 
did not try to localize the increment of heat beyond finding 


that it was in both hemispheres, whatever might be the 
sensation applied. Dr. Amidon in 1880 made a farther 
step forward, in localizing the heat produced by voluntary 
muscular contractions. Applying a number of delicate 
surface-thermometers simultaneously against the scalp, he 
found that when different muscles of the body were made 
to contract vigorously for ten minutes or more, different 
regions of the scalp rose in temperature, that the regions 
were well focalized, and that the rise of temperature was 
often considerably over a Fahrenheit degree. To a large 
extent these regions correspond to the centres for the same 
movements assigned by Ferrier and others on other grounds ; 
only they cover more of the skull. 

Phosphorus and Thought. — Considering the large 
amount of popular nonsense which passes current on this 
subject I may be pardoned for a brief mention of it here. 
' Ohne Phosphor, kem Gedanke,' was a noted war-cry of the 
' materialists ' during the excitement on that subject which 
filled Germany in the '6os. The brain, like every other 
organ of the body, contains phosphorus, and a score of 
other chemicals besides. Why the phosphorus should be 
picked out as its essence, no one knows. It would be 
equally true to say, ' Ohne Wasser, kein Gedanke,' or ' Ohne 
Kochsalz, kein Gedanke '; for thought would stop as quickly 
if the brain should dry up or lose its NaCl as if it 
lost its phosporus. In America the phosporus-delusion 
has twined itself round a saying quoted (rightly or wrongly) 
from Professor L. Agassiz, to the effect that fishermen are 
more intelligent than farmers because they eat so much 
fish, which contains so much phosphorus. All the alleged 
facts may be doubted. 

The only straight way to ascertain the importance of 
phosphorus to thought would be to find whether more is 
excreted by the brain during mental activity than during 
rest. Unfortunately we cannot do this directly, but can 
only gauge the amount of P0 5 in the urine, and this pro- 
cedure has been adopted by a variety of observers, some of 


whom found the phosphates in the urine diminished, whilst 
others found them increased, by intellectual work. On 
the whole, it is impossible to trace any constant relation. 
In maniacal excitement less phosphorus than usual seems 
to be excreted. More is excreted during sleep. The fact 
that phosphorus-preparations may do good in nervous 
exhaustion proves nothing as to the part played by phos- 
phorus in mental activity. Like iron, arsenic, and other 
remedies it is a stimulant or tonic, of whose intimate work- 
ings in the system we know absolutely nothing, and which 
moreover does good in an extremely small number of the 
cases in which it is prescribed. 

The phosphorus-philosophers have often compared 
thought to a secretion. " The brain secretes thought, as 
the kidneys secrete urine, or as the liver secretes bile," are 
phrases which one sometimes hears. The lame analogy 
need hardly be pointed out. The materials which the brain 
pours into the blood (cholesterin, creatin, xanthin, or what- 
ever they may be) are the analogues of the urine and the 
bile, being in fact real material excreta. As far as these 
matters go, the brain is a ductless gland. But we know of 
nothing connected with liver- and kidney-activity which 
can be in the remotest degree compared with the stream of 
thought that accompanies the brain's material secretions. 




Its Importance for Psychology. — There remains a 
condition of general neural activity so important as to de- 
serve a chapter by itself — I refer to the aptitude of the nerve- 
centres, especially of the hemispheres, for acquiring habits. 
An acquired habit, from the physiological point of view, is 
nothing but a new pathway of discharge formed in the 
brain, by which certain incoming currents ever after tend 
to escape. That is the thesis of this chapter; and we shall 
see in the later and more psychological chapters that such 
functions as the association of ideas, perception, memory, 
reasoning, the education of the will, etc. etc., can best be 
understood as results of the formation de novo of just such 
pathways of discharge. 

Habit has a physical basis. The moment one tries to 
define what habit is, one is led to the fundamental proper- 
ties of matter. The laws of Nature are nothing but the 
immutable habits which the different elementary sorts of 
matter follow in their actions and reactions upon each 
other. In the organic world, however, the habits are more 
variable than this. Even instincts vary from one individual 
to another of a kind; and are modified in the same in- 
dividual, as we shall later see, to suit the exigencies of the 
case. On the principles of the atomistic philosophy the 
habits of an elementary particle of matter cannot change, 
because the particle is itself an unchangeable thing; but 
those of a compound mass of matter can change, because 
they are in the last instance due to the structure of 
the compound, and either outward forces or inward ten- 
sions can, from one hour to another, turn that structure 


HABIT 135 

into something different from what it was. That is, they 
can do so if the body be plastic enough to maintain its 
integrity, and be not disrupted when its structure yields. 
The change of structure here spoken of need not involve 
the outward shape; it may be invisible and molecular, as 
when a bar of iron becomes magnetic or crystalline through 
the action of certain outward causes, or india-rubber 
becomes friable, or plaster ■ sets.' All these changes are 
rather slow; the material in question opposes a certain 
resistance to the modifying cause, which it takes time to 
overcome, but the gradual yielding whereof often saves the 
material from being disintegrated altogether. When the 
structure has yielded, the same inertia becomes a condition 
of its comparative permanence in the new form, and of the 
new habits the body then manifests. Plasticity, then, in 
the wide sense of the word, means the possession of a 
structure weak enough to yield to an influence, but strong 
enough not to yield all at once. Each relatively stable 
•phase of equilibrium in such a structure is marked by 
what we may call a new set of habits. Organic matter, 
especially nervous tissue, seems endowed with a very ex- 
traordinary degree of plasticity of this sort; so that we 
may without hesitation lay down as our first proposition 
the following: that the phenomena of habit in living beings 
are due to the plasticity of the organic materials of which 
their bodies are composed. 

The philosophy of habit is thus, in the first instance, 
a chapter in physics rather than in physiology or psychol- 
ogy. That it is at bottom a physical principle, is admitted 
by all good recent writers on the subject. They call atten- 
tion to analogues of acquired habits exhibited by dead 
matter. Thus, M. Leon Dumont writes: 

" Every one knows how a garment, after having been 
worn a certain time, clings to the shape of the body better 
than when it was new; there has been a change in the 
tissue, and this change is a new habit of cohesion. A lock 
works better after being used some time; at the outset more 


force was required to overcome certain roughness in the 
mechanism. The overcoming of their resistance is a phe- 
nomenon of habituation. It costs less trouble to fold a 
paper when it has been folded already; . . . and just so in 
the nervous system the impressions of outer objects fashion 
for themselves more and more appropriate paths, and these 
vital phenomena recur under similar excitements from 
without, when they have been interrupted a certain time." 

Not in the nervous system alone. A scar anywhere is 
a locus minoris resistentice, more liable to be abraded, 
inflamed, to suffer pain and cold, than are the neighboring 
parts. A sprained ankle, a dislocated arm, are in danger 
of being sprained or dislocated again ; joints that have once 
been attacked by rheumatism or gout, mucous membranes 
that have been the seat of catarrh, are with each fresh 
recurrence more prone to a relapse, until often the morbid 
state chronically substitutes itself for the sound one. And 
in the nervous system itself it is well known how many so- 
called functional diseases seem to keep themselves going 
simply because they happen to have once begun; and how 
the forcible cutting short by medicine of a few attacks is 
often sufficient to enable the physiological forces to get 
possession of the field again, and to bring the organs back 
to functions of health. Epilepsies, neuralgias, convulsive 
affections of various sorts, insomnias, are so many cases in 
point. And, to take what are more obviously habits, the 
success with which a ' weaning ' treatment can often be 
applied to the victims of unhealthy indulgence of passion, 
or of mere complaining or irascible disposition, shows us 
how much the morbid manifestations themselves were due 
to the mere inertia of the nervous organs, when once 
launched on a false career. 

Habits are due to pathways through the nerve- 
centres. If habits are due to the plasticity of materials to 
outward agents, we can immediately see, to what outward 
influences, if to any, the brain-matter is plastic. Not to 
mechanical pressures, not to thermal changes, not to any of 

HABIT 137 

the forces to which all the other organs of our body are 
exposed; for, as we saw on pp. 9-10, Nature has so blanketed 
and wrapped the brain about that the only impressions that 
can be made upon it are through the blood, on the one hand, 
and the sensory nerve-roots, on the other; and it is to the 
infinitely attenuated currents that pour in through these 
latter channels that the hemispherical cortex shows itself to 
be so peculiarly susceptible. The currents, once in, must find 
a way out. In getting out they leave their traces in the 
paths which they take. The only thing they can do, in 
short, is to deepen old paths or to make new ones; and the 
whole plasticity of the brain sums itself up in two words 
when we call it an organ in which currents pouring in from 
the sense-organs make with extreme facility paths which 
do not easily disappear. For, of course, a simple habit, 
like every other nervous event — the habit of snuffling, for 
example, or of putting one's hands into one's pockets, or of 
biting one's nails — is, mechanically, nothing but a reflex 
discharge; and its anatomical substratum must be a path 
in the system. The most complex habits, as we shall pres- 
ently see more fully, are, from the same point of view, 
nothing but concatenated discharges in the nerve-centres, 
due to the presence there of systems of reflex paths, so 
organized as to wake each other up successively — the im- 
pression produced by one muscular contraction serving as 
a stimulus to provoke the next, until a final impression 
inhibits the process and closes the chain. 

It must be noticed that the growth of structural modi- 
fication in living matter may be more rapid than in any 
lifeless mass, because the incessant nutritive renovation of 
which the living matter is the seat tends often to corrob- 
orate and fix the impressed modification, rather than to 
counteract it by renewing the original constitution of the 
tissue that has been impressed. Thus, we notice after 
exercising our muscles or our brain in a new way, that we 
can do so no longer at that time; but after a day or two 
of rest, when we resume the discipline, our increase in skill 


not seldom surprises us. I have often noticed this in 
learning a tune; and it has led a German author to say that 
we learn to swim during the winter, and to skate during 
the summer. 

Practical Effects of Habit. — First, habit simplifies our 
movements, makes them accurate, and diminishes fatigue. 

Man is born with a tendency to do more things than he 
has ready-made arrangements for in his nerve-centres. 
Most of the performances of other animals are automatic. 
But in him the number of them is so enormous that most 
of them must be the fruit of painful study. If practice 
did not make perfect, nor habit economize the expense of 
nervous and muscular energy, he would be in a sorry plight. 
As Dr. Maudsley says: * 

" If an act became no easier after being done several 
times, if the careful direction of consciousness were neces- 
sary to its accomplishment on each occasion, it is evident 
that the whole activity of a lifetime might be confined to 
one or two deeds — that no progress could take place in 
development. A man might be occupied all day in dress- 
ing and undressing himself; the attitude of his body would 
absorb all his attention and energy; the washing of his 
hands or the fastening of a button would be as difficult to 
him on each occasion as to the child on its first trial ; and he 
would furthermore, be completely exhausted by his exer- 
tions. Think of the pains necessary to teach a child to 
stand, of the many efforts which it must make, and of the 
ease with which it at last stands, unconscious of any effort. 
For while secondarily-automatic acts are accomplished with 
comparatively little weariness — in this regard approaching 
the organic movements, or the original reflex movements — 
the conscious effort of the will soon produces exhaustion. 
A spinal cord without . . . memory would simply be an 
idiotic spinal cord. ... It is impossible for an individual 

* The Physiology of Mind, p. 155. 

HABIT 139 

to realize how much he owes to its automatic agency until 
disease has impaired its functions." 

Secondly, habit diminishes the conscious attention with 
which our acts are performed. 

One may state this abstractly thus: If an act require for 
its execution a chain, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc., of successive 
nervous events, then in the first performances of the action 
the conscious will must choose each of these events from 
a number of wrong alternatives that tend to present them- 
selves; but habit soon brings it about that each event calls 
up its own appropriate successor without any alternative 
offering itself, and without any reference to the conscious 
will, until at last the whole chain, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, 
rattles itself off as soon as A occurs, just as if A and the 
rest of the chain were fused into a continuous stream. 
Whilst we are learning to walk, to ride, to swim, skate, 
fence, write, play, or sing, we interrupt ourselves at every 
step by unnecessary movements and false notes. When 
we are proficients, on the contrary, the results follow not 
only with the very minimum of muscular action requisite 
to bring them forth, but they follow from a single instan- 
taneous ' cue.' The marksman sees the bird, and, before 
he knows it, he has aimed and shot. A gleam in his 
adversary's eye, a momentary pressure from his rapier, and 
the fencer finds that he has instantly made the right parry 
and return. A glance at the musical hieroglyphics, and 
the pianist's fingers have rippled through a shower of 
notes. And not only is it the right thing at the right 
time that we thus involuntarily do, but the wrong thing 
also, if it be an habitual thing. Who is there that has 1 
never wound up his watch on taking off his waistcoat in 
the daytime, or taken his latch-key out on arriving at the 
door-step of a friend? Persons in going to their bed- 
room to dress for dinner have been known to take off one 
. garment after another and finally to get into bed, merely [^ 
' because that was the habitual issue of the first few move- 
ments when performed at a later hour. We all have a 


definite routine manner of performing certain daily offices 
connected with the toilet, with the opening and shutting of 
familiar cupboards, and the like. But our higher thought- 
centres know hardly anything about the matter. Few men 
can tell off-hand which sock, shoe, or trousers-leg they put 
on first. They must first mentally rehearse the act; and 
even that is often insufficient — the act must be performed. 
So of the questions, Which valve of the shutters opens 
first? Which way does my door swing? etc. I cannot 
tell the answer; yet my hand never makes a mistake. No 
one can describe the order in which he brushes his hair or 
teeth; yet it is likely that the order is a pretty fixed one 
in all of us. 

These results may be expressed as follows: 

In action grown habitual, what instigates each new mus- 
cular contraction to take place in its appointed order is 
not a thought or a perception, but the sensation occasioned 
by the muscular contraction just finished. A strictly vol- 
untary act has to be guided by idea, perception, and voli- 
tion, throughout its whole course. In habitual action, 
mere sensation is a sufficient guide, and the upper regions 
of brain and mind are set comparatively free. A diagram 
will make the matter clear: 

Let A, B, C, D, E, F, G represent an habitual chain of 
muscular contractions, and let a, b, c, d, e, j stand for the 
several sensations which these contractions excite in us 
when they are successively performed. Such sensations 

HABIT 141 

will usually be in the parts moved, but they may also be 
effects of the movement upon the eye or the ear. Through 
them, and through them alone, we are made aware whether 
or not the contraction has occurred. When the series, 
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, is being learned, each of these sensa- 
tions becomes the object of a separate act of attention by the 
mind. We test each movement intellectually, to see if it 
have been rightly performed, before advancing to the next. 
We hesitate, compare, choose, revoke, reject, etc.; and the 
order by which the next movement is discharged is an 
express order from the ideational centres after this delib- 
eration has been gone through. 

In habitual action, on the contrary, the only impulse 
which the intellectual centres need send down is that which 
carries the command to start. This is represented in the 
diagram by V; it may be a thought of the first movement 
or of the last result, or a mere perception of some of the 
habitual conditions of the chain, the presence, e.g., of the 
keyboard near the hand. In the present example, no 
sooner has this conscious thought or volition instigated 
movement A, than A, through the sensation a of its own 
occurrence, awakens B reflexly; B then excites C through 
b, and so on till the chain is ended, when the intellect 
generally takes cognizance of the final result. The intel- 
lectual perception at the end is indicated in the diagram 
by the sensible effect of the movement G being represented 
at G'j in the ideational centres above the merely sensational 
line. The sensational impressions, a, b, c, d, e, /, are all 
supposed to have their seat below the ideational level. 

Habits depend on sensations not attended to. We 
have called a, b, c, d, e, f, by the name of 'sensations.' If 
sensations, they are sensations to which we are usually 
inattentive; but that they are more than unconscious 
nerve-currents seems certain, for they catch our attention 
if they go wrong. Schneider's account of these sensations 
deserves to be quoted. " In the act of walking," he says, 
" even when our attention is entirely absorbed elsewhere, 


it is doubtful whether we could preserve equilibrium if 
no sensation of our body's attitude were there, and doubt- 
ful whether we should advance our leg if we had no 
sensation of its movement as executed, and not even a 
minimal feeling of impulse to set it down. Knitting 
appears altogether mechanical, and the knitter keeps up 
her knitting even while she reads or is engaged in lively 
talk. But if we ask her how this is possible, she will 
hardly reply that the knitting goes on of itself. She will 
rather say that she has a feeling of it, that she feels in her 
hands that she knits and how she must knit, and that 
therefore the movements of knitting are called forth and 
regulated by the sensations associated therewithal, even 
when the attention is called away. ..." Again: " When a 
pupil begins to play on the violin, to keep him from raising 
his right elbow in playing a book is placed under his 
right armpit, which he is ordered to hold fast by keeping 
the upper arm tight against his body. The muscular feelings, 
and feelings of contact connected with the book, provoke 
an impulse to press it tight. But often it happens that 
the beginner, whose attention gets absorbed in the pro- 
duction of the notes, lets drop the book. Later, however, 
this never happens ; the faintest sensations of contact suffice 
to awaken the impulse to keep it in its place, and the 
attention may be wholly absorbed by the notes and the 
fingering with the left hand. The simultaneous combina- 
tion of movements is thus in the first instance conditioned 
by the facility with which in us, alongside of intellectual 
processes, processes of inattentive feeling may still go on" 
Ethical and Pedagogical Importance of the Principle 
of Habit. — " Habit a second nature! Habit is ten times 
nature," the Duke of Wellington is said to have exclaimed; 
and the degree to which this is true no one probably can 
appreciate as well as one who is a veteran soldier himself. 
The daily drill and the years of discipline end by fashioning 
a man completely over again, as to most of the possibilities 
of his conduct. 

HABIT 143 

" There is a story," says Prof. Huxley, " which is credible 
enough, though it may not be true, of a practical joker 
who, seeing a discharged veteran carrying home his dinner, 
suddenly called out, 'Attention!' whereupon the man in- 
stantly brought his hands down, and lost his mutton and 
potatoes in the gutter. The drill had been thorough, and 
its effects had become embodied in the man's nervous 

Riderless cavalry-horses, at many a battle, have been seen 
to come together and go through their customary evolu- 
tions at the sound of the bugle-call. Most domestic beasts 
seem machines almost pure and simple, undoubtingly, un- 
hesitatingly doing from minute to minute the duties they 
have been taught, and giving no sign that the possibility 
of an alternative ever suggests itself to their mind. Men 
grown old in prison have asked to be readmitted after being 
once set free. In a railroad accident a menagerie- tiger, 
whose cage had broken open, is said to have emerged, but 
presently crept back again, as if too much bewildered by 
his new responsibilities, so that he was without difficulty 

Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most 
precious conservative agent. It alone is what keeps us all 
within the bounds of ordinance, and saves the children of 
fortune from the envious uprisings of the poor. It alone 
prevents the hardest and most repulsive walks of life from 
being deserted by those brought up to tread therein. It 
keeps the fisherman and the deck-hand at sea through the 
winter; it holds the miner in his darkness, and nails the 
countryman to his log-cabin and his lonely farm through 
all the months of snow; it protects us from invasion by the 
natives of the desert and the frozen zone. It dooms us all 
to fight out the battle of life upon the lines of our nurture 
or our early choice, and to make the best of a pursuit that 
disagrees, because there is no other for which we are fitted, 
and it is too late to begin again. It keeps different social 
strata from mixing. Already at the age of twenty-five you 


see the professional mannerism settling down on the young 
commercial traveller, on the young doctor, on the young 
minister, on the young counsellor-at-law. You see the little 
lines of cleavage running through the character, the tricks 
of thought, the prejudices, the ways of the ' shop/ in a 
word, from which the man can by-and-by no more escape 
than his coat-sleeve can suddenly fall into a new set of 
folds. On the whole, it is best he should not escape. It 
is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, 
the character has set like plaster, and will never soften 

If the period between twenty and thirty is the critical 
one in the formation of intellectual and professional habits, 
the period below twenty is more important still for the fixing 
of personal habits, properly so called, such as vocaliza- 
tion and pronunciation, gesture, motion, and address. 
Hardly ever is a language learned after twenty spoken 
without a foreign accent; hardly ever can a youth trans- 
ferred to the society of his betters unlearn the nasality and 
other vices of speech bred in him by the associations of 
his growing years. Hardly ever, indeed, no matter how 
much money there be in his pocket, can he even learn to 
dress like a gentleman-born. The merchants offer their 
wares as eagerly to him as to the veriest ' swell/ but he 
simply cannot buy the right things. An invisible law, as 
strong as gravitation, keeps him within his orbit, arrayed 
this year as he was the last; and how his better-clad 
acquaintances contrive to get the things they wear will be 
for him a mystery till his dying day. 

The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our 
nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund 
and capitalize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon the 
interest of the fund. For this we must make automatic and 
habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we 
can, and guard against the growing into ways that are likely 
to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against 
the plague. The more of the details of our daily life we 

HABIT 145 

can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the 
more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their 
own proper work. There is no more miserable human being 
than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and 
for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every 
cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and 
the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express 
volitional deliberation. Full half the time of such a 
man goes to the deciding, or regretting, of matters which 
ought to be so ingrained in him as practically not to exist 
for his consciousness at all. If there be such daily duties 
not yet ingrained in any one of my readers, let him begin 
this very hour to set the matter right. 

In Professor Bain's chapter on ' The Moral Habits ' there 
are some admirable practical remarks laid down. Two 
great maxims emerge from his treatment. The first is 
that in the acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off 
of an old one, we must take care to launch ourselves with as 
strong and decided an initiative as possible. Accumulate 
all the possible circumstances which shall re-enforce the 
right motives; put yourself assiduously in conditions that 
encourage the new way; make engagements incompatible 
with the old; take a public pledge, if the case allows; in 
short, envelop your resolution with every aid you know. 
This will give your new beginning such a momentum that 
the temptation to break down will not occur as soon as it 
otherwise might; and every day during which a break- 
down is postponed adds to the chances of its not occurring 
at all. 

The second maxim is: Never suffer an exception to occur 
till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each 
lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is 
carefully winding up; a single slip undoes more than a 
great many turns will wind again. Continuity of training 
is the great means of making the nervous system act infal- 
libly right. As Professor Bain says: 

" The peculiarity of the moral habits, contradistinguishing 


them from the intellectual acquisitions, is the presence 
of two hostile powers, one to be gradually raised into the 
ascendant over the other. It is necessary, above all things, 
in such a situation, never to lose a battle. Every gain on 
the wrong side undoes the effect of many conquests on the 
right. The essential precaution, therefore, is so to regulate 
the two opposing powers that the one may have a series of 
uninterrupted successes,' until repetition has fortified it to 
such a degree as to enable it to cope with the opposition, 
under any circumstances. This is the theoretically best 
career of mental progress." 

The need of securing success at the outset is imperative. 
Failure at first is apt to damp the energy of all future 
attempts, whereas past experiences of success nerve one to 
future vigor. Goethe says to a man who consulted him 
about an enterprise but mistrusted his own powers: " Ach! 
you need only blow on your hands!" And the remark 
illustrates the effect on Goethe's spirits of his own habitually 
successful career. 

The question of ' tapering off,' in abandoning such habits 
as drink and opium-indulgence comes in here, and is a 
question about which experts differ within certain limits, 
and in regard to what may be best for an individual case. 
In the main, however, all expert opinion would agree that 
abrupt acquisition of the new habit is the best way, if there 
be a real possibility of carrying it out. We must be care- 
ful not to give the will so stiff a task as to insure its defeat 
at the very outset; but, provided one can stand it, a sharp 
period of suffering, and then a free time, is the best thing 
to aim at, whether in giving up a habit like that of opium, 
or in simply changing one's hours of rising or of work. It 
is surprising how soon a desire will die of inanition if it be 
never fed. 

" One must first learn, unmoved, looking neither to the 
right nor left, to walk firmly on the strait and narrow 
path, before one can begin l to make one's self over again.' 
He who every day makes a fresh resolve is like one who, 

HABIT 147 

arriving at the edge of the ditch he is to leap, forever stops 
and returns for a fresh run. Without unbroken advance 
there is no such thing as accumulation of the ethical forces 
possible, and to make this possible, and to exercise us and 
habituate us in it, is the sovereign blessing of regular 
work." * 

A third maxim may be added to the preceding pair: ^ 
Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every 
resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting 
you may, experience in the direction of the habits you aspire 
to gain. It is not in the moment of their forming, but in 
the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves 
and aspirations communicate the new ' set ' to the brain. 
As the author last quoted remarks: 

" The actual presence of the practical opportunity alone 
furnishes the fulcrum .upon which the lever can rest, by 
means of which the moral will may multiply its strength, 
and raise itself aloft. He who has no solid ground to 
press against will never get beyond the stage of empty 

No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may pos- 
sess, and no matter how good one's sentiments may be, if 
one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity 
to act, one's character may remain entirely unaffected 
for the better. With mere good intentions, hell is pro- 
verbially paved. And this is an obvious consqeuence of 
the principles we have laid down. A ' character/ as J. S. 
Mill says, ' is a completely fashioned will '; and a will, in 
the sense in which he means it, is an aggregate of tenden- 
cies to act in a firm and prompt and definite way upon all 
the principal emergencies of life. A tendency to act only 
becomes effectively ingrained in us in proportion to the 
uninterrupted frequency with which the actions actually 
occur, and the brain ' grows ' to their use. When a resolve 
or a fine glow of feeling is allowed to evaporate without 

*J. Bahnsen: 'Beitrage zu Charakterologie' (1867), vol. 1, p. 209. 


bearing practical fruit it is worse than a chance lost; it 
works so as positively to hinder future resolutions and emo- 
tions from taking the normal path of discharge. There is 
no more contemptible type of human character than that 
of the nerveless sentimentalist and dreamer, who spends his 
life in a weltering sea of sensibility and emotion, but who 
never does a manly concrete deed. Rousseau, inflaming 
all the mothers of France, by his eloquence, to follow 
Nature and nurse their babies themselves, while he sends 
his own children to the foundling hospital, is the classical 
example of what I mean. But every one of us in his 
measure, whenever, after glowing for an abstractly formu- 
lated Good, he practically ignores some actual case, among 
the squalid ' other particulars ' of which that same Good 
lurks disguised, treads straight on Rousseau's path. All 
Goods are diguised by the vulgarity of their concomitants, 
in this work-a-day world; but woe to him who can only 
recognize them when he thinks them in their pure and 
abstract form! The habit of excessive novel-reading and 
theatre-going will produce true monsters in this line. The 
weeping of the Russian lady over the fictitious personages 
in the play, while her coachman is freezing to death 
on his seat outside, is the sort of thing that everywhere 
happens on a less glaring scale. Even the habit of exces- 
sive indulgence in music, for those who are neither per- 
formers themselves nor musically gifted enough to take it 
in a purely intellectual way, has probably a relaxing effect 
upon the character. One becomes filled with emotions 
which habitually pass without prompting to any deed, and 
so the inertly sentimental condition is kept up. The 
remedy would be, never to suffer one's self to have an 
emotion at a concert, without expressing it afterward in some 
active way. Let the expression be the least thing in the 
world — speaking genially to one's grandmother, or giving 
up one's seat in a horse-car, if nothing more heroic offers — 
but let it not fail to take place. 

These latter cases make us aware that it is not simply 

HABIT 149 

particular lines of discharge, but also general forms of 
discharge, that seem to be grooved out by habit in the 
brain. Just as, if we let our emotions evaporate, they get 
into a way of evaporating; so there is reason to suppose 
that if we often flinch from making an effort, before we 
know it the effort-making capacity will be gone; and that, 
if we suffer the wandering of our attention, presently it 
will wander all the time. Attention and effort are, as we 
shall see later, but two names for the same psychic fact. 
To what brain-processes they correspond we do not know. 
The strongest reason for believing that they do depend on 
brain-processes at all, and are not pure acts of the spirit, is 
just this fact, that they seem in some degree subject to the 
law of habit, which is a material law. As a final practical 
maxim, relative to these habits of the will, we may, then, 
offer something like this: Keep the faculty of effort alive Ly 
>/\ in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, 
be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary 
points, do every day or two something for no other reason 
than that you would rather not do it, so that when the 
hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved 
and untrained to stand the test. Ascetism of this sort is 
like the insurance which a man pays on his house and 
goods. The tax does him no good at the time, and possibly 
may never bring him a return. But if the fire does come, 
his having paid it will be his salvation from ruin. So with 
the man who has daily inured himself to habits of concen- 
trated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in un- 
necessary things. He will stand like a tower when every- 
thing rocks around him, and when his softer fellow-mortals 
are winnowed like chaff in the blast. 

The physiological study of mental conditions is thus the 
most powerful ally of hortatory ethics. The hell to be 
endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than 
the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually 
fashioning our characters in the wrong way. Could the 
young but realize how soon they will become mere walking 


bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their con- 
duct while in the plastic state. We are spinning our own 
fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest 
stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar. 
The drunken Rip Van Winkle, in Jefferson's play, excuses 
himself for every fresh dereliction by saying, ' I won't count 
this time! ' Well! he may not count it, and a kind Heaven 
may not count it; but it is being counted none the less. 
Down among his nerve cells and fibres the molecules are 
counting it, registering and storing it up to be used against 
him when the next temptation comes. Nothing we ever 
do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out. Of course 
this has its good side as well as its bad one. As we become 
permanent drunkards by so many separate drinks, so we 
become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in 
the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate 
acts and hours of work. Let no youth have any anxiety 
about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it 
may be. If he keep faithfully busy each hour of the working 
day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He 
can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine 
morning, to find himself one of the competent ones of his 
generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. 
Silently, between all the details of his business, the power 
of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself 
up within him as a possession that will never pass away. 
Young people should know this truth in advance. The 
ignorance of it has probably engendered more discourage- 
ment and faint-heartedness in youths embarking on arduous 
careers than all other causes put together. 



The order of our study must be analytic. We are now 
prepared to begin the introspective study of the adult con- 
sciousness itself. Most books adopt the so-called synthetic 
method. Starting with ' simple ideas of sensation,' and re- 
garding these as so many atoms, they proceed to build up 
the higher states of mind out of their ' association/ ' inte- 
gration/ or ' fusion/ as houses are built by the agglutina- 
tion of bricks. This has the didactic advantages which the 
synthetic method usually has. But it commits one before- 
hand to the very questionable theory that our higher states 
of consciousness are compounds of units; and instead of 
starting with what the reader directly knows, namely his 
total concrete states of mind, it starts with a set of supposed 
1 simple ideas ' with which he has no immediate acquaint- 
ance at all, and concerning whose alleged interactions he is 
much at the mercy of any plausible phrase. On every 
ground, then, the method of advancing from the simple to 
the compound exposes us to illusion. All pedants and 
abstractionists will naturally hate to abandon it. But a 
student who loves the fulness of human nature will prefer 
to follow the c analytic ' method, and to begin with the 
most concrete facts, those with which he has a daily ac- 
quaintance in his own inner life. The analytic method 
will discover in due time the elementary parts, if such 
exist, without danger of precipitate assumption. The 
reader will bear in mind that our own chapters on sensation 
have dealt mainly with the physiological conditions there- 
of. They were put first as a mere matter of convenience, 
because incoming currents come first. Psychologically 
they might better have come last. Pure sensations were 



described on page 12 as processes which in adult life are 
well-nigh unknown, and nothing was said which could for 
a moment lead the reader to suppose that they were the 
elements of composition of the higher states of mind. 

The Fundamental Fact. — The first and foremost con- 
crete fact which every one will affirm to belong to his inner 
experience is the fact that consciousness of some sort goes 
on. ' States of mind * succeed each other in him. If we 
could say in English ' it thinks/ as we say ' it rains ' or * it 
blows/ we should be stating the fact most simply and with 
the minimum of assumption. As we cannot, we must simply 
say that thought goes on. 

Four Characters in Consciousness. — How does it go 
on? We notice immediately four important characters in 
the process, of which it shall be the duty of the present 
chapter to treat in a general way : 

1 ) Every ' state ' tends to be part of a personal con- 

2) Within each personal consciousness states are always 

3) Each personal consciousness is sensibly continuous. 

4) It is interested in some parts of its object to the ex- 
clusion of others, and welcomes or rejects — chooses from 
among them, in a word — all the while. 

In considering these four points successively, we shall 
have to plunge in medics res as regards our nomencla- 
ture and use psychological terms which can only be ade- 
quately defined in later chapters of the book. But every 
one knows what the terms mean in a rough way; and it is 
only in a rough way that we are now to take them. This 
chapter is like a painter's first charcoal sketch upon his 
canvas, in which no niceties appear. 

When I say every ' state ' or ' thought ' is part of a per- 
sonal consciousness, l personal consciousness ' is one of the 
terms in question. Its meaning we know so long as no one 
asks us to define it, but to give an accurate account of it is 
the most difficult of philosophic tasks. This task we must 


confront in the next chapter; here a preliminary word will 

In this room — this lecture-room, say — there are a multi- 
tude of thoughts, yours and mine, some of which cohere 
mutually, and some not. They are as little each-for-itself 
and reciprocally independent as they are all-belonging- 
together. They are neither: no one of them is separate, 
but each belongs with certain others and with none beside. 
My thought belongs with my other thoughts, and your 
thought with your other thoughts. Whether anywhere in 
the room there be a mere thought, which is nobody's 
thought, we have no means of ascertaining, for we have no 
experience of its like. The only states of consciousness 
that we naturally deal with are found in personal con- 
sciousnesses, minds, selves, concrete particular Fs and 

Each of these minds keeps its own thoughts to itself. 
There is no giving or bartering between them. No thought 
even comes into direct sight of a thought in another per- 
sonal consciousness than its own. Absolute insulation, 
irreducible pluralism, is the law. It seems as if the ele- 
mentary psychic fact were not thought or this thought or 
that thought, but my thought, every thought being owned. 
Neither contemporaneity, nor proximity in space, nor simi- 
larity of quality and content are able to fuse thoughts 
together which are sundered by this barrier of belonging 
to different personal minds. The breaches between such 
thoughts are the most absolute breaches in nature. Every 
one will recognize this to be true, so long as the existence 
of .something corresponding to the term ' personal mind ' is 
all that is insisted on, without any particular view of its 
nature being implied. On these terms the personal self 
rather than the thought might be treated as the immediate 
datum in psychology. The universal conscious fact is not 
1 feelings and thoughts exist/ but ' I think ' and ' I feel.' 
No psychology, at any rate, can question the existence of 
personal selves. Thoughts connected as we feel them to 


be connected are what we mean by personal selves. The 
worst a psychology can do is so to interpret the nature of 
these selves as to rob them of their worth. 

Consciousness is in constant change. I do not mean 
by this to say that no one state of mind has any duration — 
even if true, that would be hard to establish. What I wish 
to lay stress on is this, that no state once gone can recur and 
be identical with what it was before. Now we are seeing, 
now hearing; now reasoning, now willing; now recollect- 
ing, now expecting; now loving, now hating; and in a 
hundred other ways we know our minds to be alternately 
engaged. But all these are complex states, it may be said, 
produced by combination of simpler ones; — do not the 
simpler ones follow a different law? Are not the sensa- 
tions which we get from the same object, for example, 
always the same? Does not the same piano-key, struck 
with the same force, make us hear in the same way? Does 
not the same grass give us the same feeling of green, the 
same sky the same feeling of blue, and do we not get the 
same olfactory sensation no matter how many times we put 
our nose to the same flask of cologne? It seems a piece of 
metaphysical sophistry to suggest that we do not; and yet 
a close attention to the matter shows that there is no proof 
that an incoming current ever gives us just the same bodily 
sensation twice. 

What is got twice is the same object. We hear the same 
note over and over again; we see the same quality of green, 
or smell the same objective perfume, or experience the 
same species of pain. The realities, concrete and abstract, 
physical and ideal, whose permanent existence we believe 
in, seem to be constantly coming up again before our 
thought, and lead us, in our carelessness, to suppose that 
our ' ideas ' of them are the same ideas. When we come, 
some time later, to the chapter on Perception, we shall see 
how inveterate is our habit of simply using our sensible 
impressions as stepping-stones to pass over to the recogni- 
tion of the realities whose presence they reveal. The grass 


out of the window now looks to me of the same green in 
the sun as in the shade, and yet a painter would have to 
paint one part of it dark brown, another part bright yel- 
low, to give its real sensational effect. We take no heed, 
.as a rule, of the different way in which the same things 
look and sound and smell at different distances and under 
different circumstances. The sameness of the things is 
what we are concerned to ascertain; and any sensations 
that assure us of that will probably be considered in a 
rough way to be the same with each other. This is what 
makes off-hand testimony about the subjective identity of 
different sensations well-nigh worthless as a proof of the 
fact. The entire history of what is called Sensation is a 
commentary on our inability to tell whether two sensible 
qualities received apart are exactly alike. What appeals to 
our attention far more than the absolute quality of an im- 
pression is its ratio to whatever other impressions we may 
have at the same time. When everything is dark a some- 
what less dark sensation makes us see an object white. 
Helmholtz calculates that the white marble painted in a 
picture representing an architectural view by moonlight is, 
when seen by daylight, from ten to twenty thousand times 
brighter than the real moonlit marble would be. 

Such a difference as this could never have been sensibly 
learned ; it had to be inferred from a series of indirect con- 
siderations. These make us believe that our sensibility is 
altering all the time, so that the same object cannot easily 
give us the same sensation over again. We feel things 
differently accordingly as we are sleepy or awake, hungry 
or full, fresh or tired; differently at night and in the morn- 
ing, differently in summer and in winter; and above all, 
differently in childhood, manhood, and old age. And yet 
we never doubt that our feelings reveal the same world, 
with the same sensible qualities and the same sensible 
things occupying it. The difference of the sensibility is 
shown best by the difference of our emotion about the 
things from one age to another, or when we are in dif- 


ferent organic moods. What was bright and exciting 
becomes weary, flat, and unprofitable. The bird's song is 
tedious, the breeze is mournful, the sky is sad. 

To these indirect presumptions that our sensations, fol- 
lowing the mutations of our capacity for feeling, are always 
undergoing an essential change, must be added another 
presumption, based on what must happen in the brain. 
Every sensation corresponds to some cerebral action. For 
an identical sensation to recur it would have to occur the 
second time in an unmodified brain. But as this, strictly 
speaking, is a physiological impossibility, so is an unmodi- 
fied feeling an impossibility; for to every brain-modifica- 
tion, however small, we suppose that there must corre- 
spond a change of equal amount in the consciousness 
which the brain subserves. 

But if the assumption of ' simple sensations ' recurring 
in immutable shape is so easily shown to be baseless, how 
much more baseless is the assumption of immutability in 
the larger masses of our thought! 

For there it is obvious and palpable that our state of 
mind is never precisely the same. Every thought we have 
of a given fact is, strictly speaking, unique, and only bears 
a resemblance of kind with our other thoughts of the same 
fact. When the identical fact recurs, we must think of 
it in a fresh manner, see it under a somewhat different 
angle, apprehend it in different relations from those in 
which it last appeared. And the thought by which we 
cognize it is the thought of it-in-those-relations, a thought 
suffused with the consciousness of all that dim context. 
Often we are ourselves struck at the strange differences in 
our successive views of the same thing. We wonder how 
we ever could have opined as we did last month about a 
certain matter. We have outgrown the possibility of that 
state of mind, we know not how. From one year to an- 
other we see things in new lights. What was unreal has 
grown real, and what was exciting is insipid. The friends 
we used to care the world for are shrunken to shadows; 


the women once so divine, the stars, the woods, and the 
waters, how now so dull and common ! — the young girls 
that brought an aura of infinity, at present hardly distin- 
guishable existences; the pictures so empty; and as for 
the books, what was there to find so mysteriously signifi- 
cant in Goethe, or in John Mill so full of weight? Instead 
of all this, more zestful than ever is the work, the work; 
and fuller and deeper the import of common duties and of 
common goods. 

I am sure that this concrete and total manner of regard- 
ing the mind's changes is the only true manner, difficult 
as it may be to carry it out in detail. If anything seems 
obscure about it, it will grow clearer as we advance. 
Meanwhile, if it be true, it is certainly also true that no 
two ' ideas ' are ever exactly the same, which is the propo- 
sition we started to prove. The proposition is more 
important theoretically than it at first sight seems. For it 
makes it already impossible for us to follow obediently 
in the footprints of either the Lockian or the Herbartian 
school, schools which have had almost unlimited influence 
in Germany among ourselves. No doubt it is often 
convenient to formulate the mental facts in an atomistic 
sort of way, and to treat the higher states of consciousness 
as if they were all built out of unchanging simple ideas 
which ' pass and turn again.' It is convenient often to 
treat curves as if they were composed of small straight 
lines, and electricity and nerve-force as if they were fluids. 
But in the one case as in the other we must never forget, 
that we are talking symbolically, and that there is noth- 
ing in nature to answer to our words. A permanently 
existing ' Idea * which makes its appearance before the 
footlights of consciousness at periodical intervals is as 
mythological an entity as the Jack of Spades. 

Within each personal consciousness, thought is sen- 
sibly continuous. I can only define c continuous ' as that 
which is without breach, crack, or division. The only 
breaches that can well be conceived to occur within the 


limits of a single mind would either be interruptions, time- 
gaps during which the consciousness went out; or they would 
be breaks in the content of the thought, so abrupt that what 
followed had no connection whatever with what went 
before. The proposition that consciousness feels continu- 
ous, means two things: 

a. That even where there is a time-gap the conscious- 
ness after it feels as if it belonged together with the con- 
sciousness before it, as another part of the same self; 

b. That the changes from one moment to another in the 
quality of the consciousness are never absolutely abrupt. 

The case of the time-gaps, as the simplest, shall be taken 

a. When Paul and Peter wake up in the same bed, and 
recognize that they have been asleep, each one of them 
mentally reaches back and makes connection with but one 
of the two streams of thought which were broken by the 
sleeping hours. As the current of an electrode buried in 
the ground unerringly finds its way to its own similarly 
buried mate, across no matter how much intervening earth; 
so Peter's present instantly finds out Peters past, and 
never by mistake knits itself on to that of Paul. Paul's 
thought in turn is as little liable to go astray. The past 
thought of Peter is appropriated by the present Peter 
alone. He may have a knowledge, and a correct one too, 
of what Paul's last drowsy states of mind were as he sank 
into sleep, but it is an entirely different sort of knowledge 
from that which he has of his own last states. He remem- 
bers his own states, whilst he only conceives Paul's. Re- 
membrance is like direct feeling; its object is suffused 
with a warmth and intimacy to which no object of mere 
conception ever attains. This quality of warmth and 
intimacy and immediacy is what Peter's present thought 
also possesses for itself. So sure as this present is me, is 
mine, it says, so sure is anything else that comes with the 
same warmth and intimacy and immediacy, me and mine. 
What the qualities called warmth and intimacy may in 


themselves be will have to be matter for future consider- 
ation. But whatever past states appear with those quali- 
ties must be admitted to receive the greeting of the pres- 
ent mental state, to be owned by it, and accepted as 
belonging together with it in a common self. This com- 
munity of self is what the time-gap cannot break in twain, 
and is why a present thought, although not ignorant of 
the time-gap, can still regard itself as continuous with cer- 
tain chosen portions of the past. 

Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped 
up in bits. Such words as ' chain ' or ' train ' do not de- 
scribe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It 
is nothing jointed ; it flows. A ' river ' or a ' stream ' are 
the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In 
talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, 
of consciousness, or of subjective life. 

b. But now there appears, even within the limits of the 
same self, and between thoughts all of which alike have 
this same sense of belonging together, a kind of jointing 
and separateness among the parts, of which this statement 
seems to take no account. I refer to the breaks that are 
produced by sudden contrasts in the quality of the suc- 
cessive segments of the stream of thought. If the words 
■ chain ' and ' train ' had no natural fitness in them, how 
came such words to be used at all? Does not a loud 
explosion rend the consciousness upon which it abruptly 
breaks, in twain? No; for even into our awareness of the 
thunder the awareness of the previous silence creeps and 
continues; for what we hear when the thunder crashes is 
not thunder pure, but thunder-breaking-upon-silence-and- 
contrasting-with-it. Our feeling of the same objective 
thunder, coming in this way, is quite different from what 
it would be were the thunder a continuation of previous 
thunder. The thunder itself we believe to abolish and 
exclude the silence; but the feeling of the thunder is also 
a feeling of the silence as just gone; and it would be diffi- 
cult to find in the actual concrete consciousness or man a 


feeling so limited to the present as not to have an inkling 
of anything that went before. 

1 Substantive ' and * Transitive ' States of Mind. — 
When we take a general view of the wonderful stream of our 
consciousness, what strikes us first is the different pace of 
its parts. Like a bird's life, it seems to be an alternation of 
flights and perchings. The rhythm of language expresses 
this, where every thought is expressed in a sentence, and 
every sentence closed by a period. The resting-places are 
usually occupied by sensorial imaginations of some sort, 
whose peculiarity is that they can be held before the mind 
for an indefinite time, and contemplated without chang- 
ing; the places of flight are filled with thoughts of relations, 
static or dynamic, that for the most part obtain between 
the matters contemplated in the periods of comparative 

Let us call the resting-places the l substantive parts* and I 
the places of flight the ' transitive parts/ of the stream of ! 
thought. It then appears that our thinking tends at all 
times towards some other substantive part than the one 
from which it has just been dislodged. And we may say 
that the main use of the transitive parts is to lead us from 
one substantive conclusion to another. 

Now it is very difficult, introspectively, to see the tran- 
sitive parts for what they really are. If they are but 
flights to a conclusion, stopping them to look at them 
before the conclusion is reached is really annihilating 
them. Whilst if we wait till the conclusion be reached, it 
so exceeds them in vigor and stability that it quite eclipses 
and swallows them up in its glare. Let anyone try to cut 
a thought across in the middle and get a look at its sec- 
tion, and he will see how difficult the introspective obser- 
vation of the transitive tracts is. The rush of the thought 
is so headlong that it almost always brings us up at the 
conclusion before we can rest it. Or if our purpose is 
nimble enough and we do arrest it, it ceases forthwith to 
be itself. As a snowflake crystal caught in the warm hand 


is no longer a crystal but a drop, so, instead of catching 
the feeling of relation moving to its term, we find we have 
caught some substantive thing, usually the last word we 
were pronouncing, statically taken, and with its function, 
tendency, and particular meaning in the sentence quite 
evaporated. The attempt at introspective analysis in 
these cases is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch 
its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to 
see how the darkness looks. And the challenge to pro- 
duce these transitive states of consciousness, which is sure 
to be thrown by doubting psychologists at anyone who 
contends for their existence, is as unfair as Zeno's treat- 
ment of the advocates of motion, when, asking them to 
point out in what place an arrow is when it moves, he 
argues the falsity of their thesis from their inability to 
make to so preposterous a question an immediate reply. 

The results of this introspective difficulty are baleful. 
If to hold fast and observe the transitive parts of thought's 
stream be so hard, then the great blunder to which all 
schools are liable must be the failure to register them, and 
the undue emphasizing of the more substantive parts of the 
stream. Now the blunder has historically worked in two 
ways. One set of thinkers have been led by it to Sensa- 
tionalism. Unable to lay their hands on any substantive 
feelings corresponding to the innumerable relations and 
forms of connection between the sensible things of the 
world, finding no named mental states mirroring such re- 
lations, they have for the most part denied that any such 
states exist; and many of them, like Hume, have gone on 
to deny the reality of most relations out of the mind as 
well as in it. Simple substantive ' ideas/ sensations and 
their copies, juxtaposed like dominoes in a game, but really 
separate, everything else verbal illusion, — such is the up- 
shot of this view. The Intellectualists, on the other hand, 
unable to give up the reality of relations extra mentem, but 
equally unable to point to any distinct substantive feelings 
in which they were known, have made the same admission 


that such feelings do not exist. But they have drawn an 
opposite conclusion. The relations must be known, they 
say, in something that is no feeling, no mental ' state/ 
continuous and consubstantial with the subjective tissue 
out of which sensations and other substantive conditions 
of consciousness are made. They must be known by 
something that lies on an entirely different plane, by an 
actus purus of Thought, Intellect, or Reason, all written 
with capitals and considered to mean something unutter- 
ably superior to any passing perishing fact of sensibility 

But from our point of view both Intellectualists and 
Sensationalists are wrong. If there be such things as 
feelings at all, then so surely as relations between objects 
exist in rerum natura, so surely, and more surely, do feel- 
ings exist to which these relations are known. There is 
not a conjunction or a preposition, and hardly an adver- 
bial phrase, syntactic form, or inflection of voice, in 
human speech, that does not express some shading or 
other of relation which we at some moment actually feel 
to exist between the larger objects of our thought. If 
we speak objectively, it is the real relations that appear 
revealed; if we speak subjectively, it is the stream of 
consciousness that matches each of them by an inward 
coloring of its own. In either case the relations are num- 
berless, and no existing language is capable of doing jus- 
tice to all their shades. 

We ought to say a feeling of and, a feeling of if, a feel- 
ing of but, and a feeling of by, quite as readily as we say 
a feeling of blue or a feeling of cold. Yet we do not: so 
inveterate has our habit become of recognizing the exist- 
ence of the substantive parts alone, that language almost 
refuses to lend itself to any other use. Consider once 
again the analogy of the brain. We believe the brain to 
be an organ whose internal equilibrium is always in a state 
of change — the change affecting every part. The pulses 
of change are doubtless more violent in one place than in 


another, their rhythm more rapid at this time than at 
that. As in a kaleidoscope revolving at a uniform rate, 
although the figures are always rearranging themselves, 
there are instants during which the transformation seems 
minute and interstitial and almost absent, followed by 
others when it shoots with magical rapidity, relatively 
stable forms thus alternating with forms we should not 
distinguish if seen again; so in the brain the perpetual 
rearrangement must result in some forms of tension lin- 
gering relatively long, whilst others simply come and pass. 
But if consciousness corresponds to the fact of rearrange- 
ment itself, why, if the rearrangement stop not, should the 
consciousness ever cease? And if a lingering rearrange- 
ment brings with it one kind of consciousness, why should 
not a swift rearrangement bring another kind of conscious- 
ness as peculiar as the rearrangement itself? 

The object before the mind always has a ' Fringe.' 
There are other unnamed modifications of consciousness 
just as important as the transitive states, and just as cog- 
nitive as they. Examples will show what I mean. 

Suppose three successive persons say to us: 'Wait! ' 
' Hark ! ' ' Look ! ' Our consciousness is thrown into 
three quite different attitudes of expectancy, although no 
definite object is before it in any one of the three cases. 
Probably no one will deny here the existence of a real con- 
scious affection, a sense of the direction from which an 
impression is about to come, although no positive impres- 
sion is yet there. Meanwhile we have no names for the 
psychoses in question but the names hark, look, and wait. 

Suppose we try to recall a forgotten name. The state 
of our consciousness is peculiar. There is a gap therein; 
but no mere gap. It is a gap that is intensely active. A 
sort of wraith of the name is in it, beckoning us in a given 
direction, making us at moments tingle with the sense of 
our closeness, and then letting us sink back without the 
longed-for term. If wrong names are proposed to us, this 
singularly definite gap acts immediately so as to negate 


them. They do not fit into its mould. And the gap of 
one word does not feel like the gap of another, all empty 
of content as both might seem necessarily to be when de- 
scribed rs gaps. When I vainly try to recall the name of 
Spalding, my consciousness is far removed from what it is 
when 1 vainly try to recall the name of Bowles. There 
are innumerable consciousnesses of want, no one of which 
taken in itself has a name, but all different from each 
other. Such feeling of want is tota coelo other than a 
want of feeling: it is an intense feeling. The rhythm of 
a lost word may be there without a sound to clothe it; or 
the evanescent sense of something which is the initial 
vowel or consonant may mock us fitfully, without grow- 
ing more distinct. Every one must know the tantalizing 
effect of the blank rhythm of some forgotten verse, rest- 
lessly dancing in one's mind, striving to be filled out with 

What is that first instantaneous glimpse of some one's 
meaning which we have, when in vulgar phrase we say we 
* twig ' it? Surely an altogether specific affection of our 
mind. And has the reader never asked himself what kind 
of a mental fact is his intention of saying a thing before 
he has said it? It is an entirely definite intention, dis- 
tinct from all other intentions, an absolutely distinct state 
of consciousness, therefore; and yet how much of it con- 
. sists of definite sensorial images, either of words or of 
things? Hardly anything! Linger, and the words and 
things come into the mind; the anticipatory intention, the 
divination is there no more. But as the words that re- 
place it arrive, it welcomes them successively and calls 
them right if they agree with it, it rejects them and calls 
them wrong if they do not. The intention to-say-so- 
and-so is the only name it can receive. One may admit 
that a good third of our psychic life consists in these rapid 

(premonitory perspective views of schemes of thought not 
yet articulate. How comes it about that a man reading 
something aloud for the first time is able immediately to 


emphasize all his words aright, unless from the very first 
he have a sense of at least the form of the sentence yet 
to come, which sense is fused with his consciousness of 
the present word, and modifies its emphasis in his mind 
so as to make him give it the proper accent as he utters 
it? Emphasis of this kind almost altogether depends on 
grammatical construction. If we read ' no more/ we ex- 
pect presently a ' than '; if we read ' however/ it is a ' yet, 
a • still,' or a ' nevertheless/ that we expect. And this 
foreboding of the coming verbal and grammatical scheme 
is so practically accurate that a reader incapable of under- 
standing four ideas of the book he is reading aloud can 
nevertheless read it with the most delicately modulated 
expression of intelligence. 

It is, the reader will see, the reinstatement of the vague 
and inarticulate to its proper place in our mental life which 
I am so anxious to press on the attention. Mr. Galton 
and Prof. Huxley have, as we shall see in the chapter on 
Imagination, made one step in advance in exploding the 
ridiculous theory of Hume and Berkeley that we can have 
no images but of perfectly definite things. Another is 
made if we overthrow the equally ridiculous notion that, 
whilst simple objective qualities are revealed to our knowl- 
edge in ' states of consciousness/ relations are not. But 
these reforms are not half sweeping and radical enough. 
What must be admitted is that the definite images of tra- 
ditional psychology form but the very smallest part of our 
minds as they actually live. The traditional psychology 
talks like one who should say a river consists of nothing 
but pailsful, spoonsful, quartpotsful, barrelsful, and other 
moulded forms of water. Even were the pails and the pots 
all actually standing in the stream, still between them the 
free water would continue to flow. It is just this free 
water of consciousness that psychologists resolutely over- 
look. Every definite image in the mind is steeped and 
dyed in the free water that flows round it. With it goes 
the sense of its relations, near and remote, the dying echo 



of whence it came to us, the dawning sense of whither it is 
to lead. The significance, the value, of the image is all in 
this halo or penumbra that surrounds and escorts it, — or 
rather that is fused into one with it and has become bone 
of its bone and flesh of its flesh; leaving it, it is true, an 
image of the same thing it was before, but making it an 
image of that thing newly taken and freshly understood. 

Let us call the consciousness of this halo of relations 
around the image by the name of l psychic overtone y or 
' fringe: 

Cerebral Conditions of the ' Fringe.' — Nothing is 
easier than to symbolize these facts in terms of brain-action. 
Just as the echo of the whence, the sense of the starting 
point of our thought, is probably due to the dying excite- 
ment of processes but a moment since vividly aroused; so 
the sense of the whither, the foretaste of the terminus, 
must be due to the waxing excitement of tracts or processes 
whose psychical correlative will a moment hence be the 
vividly present feature of our thought. Represented by a 
curve, the neurosis underlying consciousness must at any 
moment be like this: 

Let the horizontal in Fig. 52 be the line of time, and 

Fie. 52. 

let the three curves beginning at a, b, and c respectively 
stand for the neural processes correlated with the thoughts 
, of those three letters. Each process occupies a certain 
time during which its intensity waxes, culminates, and 
wanes. The process for a has not yet died out, the process 


for c has already begun, when that for b is culminat- 
ing. At the time-instant represented by the vertical line 
all three processes are present, in the intensities shown by 
the curve. Those before c's apex were more intense a 
moment ago; those after it will be more intense a moment 
hence. If I recite a, b, c, then, at the moment of uttering 
b, neither a nor c is out of my consciousness altogether, 
but both, after their respective fashions, ' mix their dim 
lights ' with the stronger b, because their processes are 
both awake in some degree. 

It is just like ' overtones ' in music: they are not sepa- 
rately heard by the ear; they blend with the fundamental 
note, and suffuse it, and alter it; and even so do the waxing 
and waning brain-processes at every moment blend with 
and suffuse and alter the psychic effect of the processes 
which are at their culminating point. 

The ' Topic ' of the Thought. — If we then consider the 
cognitive function of different states of mind, we may feel 
assured that the difference between those that are mere 
* acquaintance ' and those that are ' know\eges-a bout ' - 
is reducible almost entirely to the absence or presence 
of psychic fringes or overtones. Knowledge about a 
thing is knowledge of its relations. Acquaintance with 
it is limitation to the bare impression which it makes. 
Of most of its relations we are only aware in the penum- 
bral nascent way of a ' fringe ' of unarticulated affinities 
about it. And, before passing to the next topic in order, I 
must say a little of this sense of affinity, as itself one of the 
most interesting features of the subjective stream. 

Thought may be equally rational in any sort of terms. 
In all • our voluntary thinking there is some topic or 
subject about which all the members of the thought re- 
volve. Relation to this topic or interest is constantly felt 
in the fringe, and particularly the relation of harmony and 
discord, of furtherance or hindrance of the topic. Any 
thought the quality of whose fringe lets us feel ourselves 
1 all right/ may be considered a thought that furthers the 


topic. Provided we only feel its object to have a place in 
the scheme of relations in which the topic also lies, that is 
sufficient to make of it a relevant and appropriate portion 
of our train of ideas. 

Now we may think about our topic mainly in words, or 
we may think about it mainly in visual or other images, but 
this need make no difference as regards the furtherance of 
our knowledge of the topic. If we only feel in the terms, 
whatever they be, a fringe of affinity with each other and 
with the topic, and if we are conscious of approaching a 
conclusion, we feel that our thought is rational and right. 
The words in every language have contracted by long asso- 
ciation fringes of mutual repugnance or affinity with each 
other and with the conclusion, which run exactly parallel 
with like fringes in the visual, tactile, and other ideas. 
The most important element of these fringes is, I repeat, 
the mere feeling of harmony or discord, of a right or 
wrong direction in the thought. 

If we know English and French and begin a sentence 
in French, all the later words that come are French; we 
hardly ever drop into English. And this affinity of the 
French words for each other is not something merely 
operating mechanically as a brain-law, it is something 
we feel at the time. Our understanding of a French sen- 
tence heard never falls to so low an ebb that we are not 
aware that the words linguistically belong together. Our 
attention can hardly so wander that if an English word 
be suddenly introduced we shall not start at the change. 
Such a vague sense as this of the words belonging together 
is the very minimum of fringe that can accompany them, 
if ' thought ' at all. Usually the vague perception that all 
the words we hear belong to the same language and to the 
same special vocabulary in that language, and that the 
grammatical sequence is familiar, is practically equivalent 
to an admission that what we hear is sense. But if an un- 
usual foreign word be introduced, if the grammar trip, or 
if a term from an incongruous vocabulary suddenly appear, 



such as ' rat-trap ' or ' plumber's bill ' in a philosophical 
discourse, the sentence detonates as it were, we receive a 
shock from the incongruity, and the drowsy assent is gone. 
The feeling of rationality in these cases seems rather a 
negative than a positive thing, being the mere absence of 
shock, or sense of discord, between the terms of thought. 

Conversely, if words do belong to the same vocabulary, 
and if the grammatical structure is correct, sentences with 
absolutely no meaning may be uttered in good faith and 
pass unchallenged. Discourses at prayer-meetings, re- 
shuffling the same collection *of cant phrases, and the 
whole genus of penny-a-line-isms and newspaper-reporter's 
flourishes give illustrations of this. " The birds filled the 
tree-tops with their morning song, making the air moist, 
cool, and pleasant," is a sentence I remember reading once 
in a report of some athletic exercises in Jerome Park. It 
was probably written unconsciously by the hurried re- 
porter, and read uncritically by many readers. 

We see, then, that it makes little or no difference in what 
sort of mind-stuff, in what quality of imagery, our thinking 
goes on. The only images intrinsically important are the 
halting-places, the substantive conclusions, provisional or 
final, of the thought. Throughout all the rest of the 
stream, the feelings of relation are everything, and the 
terms related almost naught. These feelings of relation, 
these psychic overtones, halos, suffusions, or fringes about 
the terms, may be the same in very different systems of 
imagery. A diagram may 
help to accentuate this in- 
difference of the mental 
means where the end is the 
same. Let A be some ex- 
experience from which a 
number of thinkers start. 
Let Z be the practical con- 
clusion rationally inferrible FlG# 53 * 
from it. One gets to this conclusion by one line, another 


by another; one follows a course of English, another of 
German, verbal imagery. With one, visual images pre- 
dominate; with another, tactile. Some trains are tinged 
with emotions, others not; some are very abridged, synthetic 
and rapid; others, hesitating and broken into many steps. 
But when the penultimate terms of all the trains, however 
differing inter se, finally shoot into the same conclusion, 
we say, and rightly say, that all the thinkers have had sub- 
stantially the same thought. It would probably astound 
each of them beyond measure to be let into his neighbor's 
mind and to find how different the scenery there was from 
that in his own. 

The last peculiarity to which attention is to be drawn in 
this first rough description of thought's stream is that — 

Consciousness is always interested more in one part 
of its object than in another, and welcomes and rejects, 
or chooses, all the while it thinks. 

The phenomena of selective attention and of delibera- 
tive will are of course patent examples of this choosing 
activity. But few of us are aware how incessantly it is at 
work in operations not ordinarily called by these names. 
Accentuation and Emphasis are present in every perception 
we have. We find it quite impossible to disperse our 
attention impartially over a number of impressions. A 
monotonous succession of sonorous strokes is broken up 
into rhythms, now of one sort, now of another, by the dif- 
ferent accent which we place on different strokes. The 
simplest of these rhythms is the double one, tick-tock, tick- 
tock, tick-tock. Dots dispersed on a surface are perceived 
in rows and groups. Lines separate into diverse figures. 
The ubiquity of the distinctions, this and that, here and 
there, now and then, in our minds is the result of our lay- 
ing the same selective emphasis on parts of place and time. 

But we do far more than emphasize things, and unite 
some, and keep others apart. We actually ignore most of 
the things before us. Let me briefly show how this goer 


To begin at the bottom, what are our very senses them- 
selves, as we saw on pp. 10-12, but organs of selection? Out 
of the infinite chaos of movements, of which physics teaches 
us that the outer world consists, each sense-organ picks 
out those which fall within certain limits of velocity. To 
these it responds, but ignores the rest as completely as if 
they did not exist. Out of what is in itself an undistin- 
guishable, swarming continuum, devoid of distinction or 
emphasis, our senses make for us, by attending to this 
motion and ignoring that, a world full of contrasts, of 
sharp accents, of abrupt changes, of picturesque light and 

Ii the sensations we receive from a given organ have 
their causes thus picked out for us by the conformation of 
the organ's termination, Attention, on the other hand, out 
of all the sensations yielded, picks out certain ones as 
worthy of notice and suppresses all the rest. We notice 
only those sensations which are signs to us of things which 
happen practically or aesthetically to interest us, to which 
we therefore give substantive names, and which we exalt to 
this exclusive status of independence and dignity. But in 
itself, apart from my interest, a particular dust-wreath on 
a windy day is just as much of an individual thing, and 
just as much or as little deserves an individual name, as 
my own body does. 

And then, among the sensations we get from each sepa- 
rate thing, what happens? The mind selects again. It 
chooses certain of the sensations to represent the thing 
most truly, and considers the rest as its appearances, modi- 
fied by the conditions of the moment. Thus my table-top 
is named square, after but one of an infinite number of 
retinal sensations which it yields, the rest of them being 
sensations of two acute and two obtuse angles; but I call 
the latter perspective views, and the four right angles the 
true form of the table, and erect the attribute squareness 
into the table's essence, for aesthetic reasons of my own. 
In like manner, the real form of the circle is deemed to be 


the sensation it gives when the line of vision is perpendicu- 
lar to its centre — all its other sensations are signs of this 
sensation. The real sound of the cannon is the sensation 
it makes when the ear is close by. The real color of the 
brick is the sensation it gives when the eye looks squarely 
at it from a near point, out of the sunshine and yet not in 
the gloom; under other circumstances it gives us other 
color-sensations which are but signs of this — we then see 
it looks pinker or bluer than it really is. The reader 
knows no object which he does not represent to himself by 
preference as in some typical attitude, of some normal size, 
at some characteristic distance, of some standard tint, etc., 
etc. But all these essential characteristics, which together 
form for us the genuine objectivity of the thing and are 
contrasted with what we call the subjective sensations it 
may yield us at a given moment, are mere sensations like 
the latter. The mind chooses to suit itself, and decides 
what particular sensation shall be held more real and valid 
than all the rest. 

Next, in a world of objects thus individualized by our 
mind's selective industry, what is called our ' experience ' 
is almost entirely determined by our habits of attention. A 
thing may be present to a man a hundred times, but if he 
persistently fails to notice it, it cannot be said to enter into 
his experience. We are all seeing flies, moths, and beetles by 
the thousand, but to whom, save an entomologist, do they 
say anything distinct? On the other hand, a thing met only 
once in a lifetime may leave an indelible experience in the 
memory. Let four men make a tour in Europe. One will 
bring home only picturesque impressions — costumes and 
colors, parks and views and works of architecture, pictures 
and statues. To another all this will be non-existent; and 
distances and prices, populations and drainage-arrange- 
ments, door- and window-fastenings, and other useful 
statistics will take 'their place. A third will give a rich 
account of the theatres, restaurants, and public halls, and 
naught besides; whilst the fourth will perhaps have been so 


wrapped in his own subjective broodings as to be able to 
tell little more than a few names of places through which 
he passed. Each has selected, out of the same mass of 
presented objects, those which suited his private interest 
and has made his experience thereby. 

If now, leaving the empirical combination of objects, we 
ask how the mind proceeds rationally to connect them, we 
find selection again to be omnipotent. In a future chapter 
we shall see that all Reasoning depends on the ability of 
the mind to break up the totality of the phenomenon 
reasoned about, into parts, and to pick out from among 
these the particular one which, in the given emergency, 
may lead to the proper conclusion. The man of genius is 
he who will always stick in his bill at the right point, and 
bring it out with the right element — ' reason ' if the emer- 
gency be theoretical, ' means ' if it be practical — transfixed 
upon it. 

If now we pass to the aesthetic department, our law is 
still more obvious. The artist notoriously selects his items, 
rejecting all tones, colors, shapes, which do not harmonize 
with each other and with the main purpose of his work. 
That unity, harmony, ' convergence of characters/ as M. 
Taine calls it, which gives to works of art their superiority 
over works of nature, is wholly due to elimination. Any 
natural subject will do, if the artist has wit enough to 
pounce upon some one feature of it as characteristic, and 
suppress all merely accidental items which do not harmo- 
■ize with this. 

Ascending still higher, we reach the plane of Ethics, 
where choice reigns notoriously supreme. An act has no 
ethical quality whatever unless it be chosen out of several 
all equally possible. To sustain the arguments for the 
good course and keep them ever before us, to stifle our 
longing for more flowery ways, to keep the foot unflinch- 
ingly on the arduous path, these are characteristic ethical 
energies. But more than these; for these but deal with 
the means of compassing interests already felt by the man 


to be supreme. The ethical energy par excellence has to go 
farther and choose which interest out of several, equally 
coercive, shall become supreme. The issue here is of the 
utmost pregnancy, for it decides a man's entire career. 
When he debates, Shall I commit this crime? choose that 
profession? accept that office, or marry this fortune? — his 
choice really lies between one of several equally possible 
future Characters. What he shall become is fixed by the 
conduct of this moment. Schopenhauer, who enforces his 
determinism by the argument that with a given fixed char- 
acter only one reaction is possible under given circum- 
stances, forgets that, in these critical ethical moments, 
what consciously seems to be in question is the complexion 
of the character itself. The problem with the man is less 
what act he shall now resolve to do than what being he 
shall now choose to become. 

Taking human experience in a general way, the choosings 
of different men are to a great extent the same. The race 
as a whole largely agrees as to what it shall notice and 
name; and among the noticed parts we select in much 
the same way for accentuation and preference, or subordi- 
nation and dislike. There is, however, one entirely extraor- 
dinary case in which no two men ever are known to 
choose alike. One great splitting of the whole universe 
into two halves is made by each of us; and for each of us 
almost all of the interest attaches to one of the halves; but 
we all draw the line of division between them in a different 
place. When I say that we all call the two halves by the 
same names, and that those names are ' me ' and ' not-me ' 
respectively, it will at once be seen what I mean. The 
altogether unique kind of interest which each human 
mind feels in those parts of creation which it can call me 
or mine may be a moral riddle, but it is a fundamental 
psychological fact. No mind can take the same interest in 
his neighbor's me as in his own. The neighbor's me falls 
together with all the rest of things in one foreign mass 
against which his own me stands out in startling relief. 


Even the trodden worm, as J*oJae somewhere says, con- 
trasts his own suffering self with the whole remaining uni- 
verse, though he have no clear conception either of himself 
or of what the universe may be. He is for me a mere part 
of the world; for him it is I who am the mere part. Each 
of us dichotomizes the Kosmos in a different place. 

Descending now to finer work than this first general 
sketch, let us in the next chapter try to trace the psychol- 
ogy of this fact of self -consciousness to which we have thus 
once more been led. 



The Me and the I. — Whatever I may be thinking of, I 
am always at the same time more or less aware of myself, 
of my personal existence. At the same time it is / who 
am aware; so that the total self of me, being as it were 
duplex, partly known and partly knower, partly object and 
partly subject, must have two aspects discriminated in it, 
of which for shortness we may call one the Me and the 
other the /. I call these \ discriminated aspects,' and not 
separate things, because the identity of / with me, even in 
the very act of their discrimination, is perhaps the most 
ineradicable dictum of common-sense, and must not be 
undermined by our terminology here at the outset, what- 
ever we may come to think of its validity at our inquiry's 

I shall therefore treat successively of A) the self as 
known, or the me, the ' empirical ego' as it is sometimes 
called ; and of B ) the self as knower, or the /, the ' pure 
ego ' of certain authors. 

A) The Self as Known 

The Empirical Self or Me. — Between what a man calls 
me and wnat he simply calls mine the line is difficult to 
draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours 
very much as we feel and act about ourselves. Our fame, 
our children, the work of our hands, may be as dear to us 
as our bodies are, and arouse the same feelings and the 
same acts of reprisal if attacked. And our bodies them- 
selves are they simply ours, or are they us? Certainly 



men have been ready to disown their very bodies and to 
regard them as mere vestures, or even as prisons of clay 
from which they should some day be glad to escape. 

We see then that we are dealing with a fluctuating 
material; the same object being sometimes treated as a 
part of me, at other times as simply mine, and then again 
as if I had nothing to do with it at all. In its widest Jy 
possible sense, however, a man's Me is the sum total of all I 
that he can call his, not only his body and his psychic 
powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and chil- 
dren, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, 
his lands and horses, and yacht and bank-account. All 
these things give him the same emotions. If they wax 
and prosper, he feels triumphant; is they dwindle and die 
away and die away, he feels cast down — not necessarily in 
the same degree for each thing, but in much the same way for 
all. Understanding the Me in this widest sense, we may 
begin by dividing the history of it into three parts, relating 
respectively to — 

a. Its constituents; 

b. The feelings and emotions they arouse, — self-appre- 

c. The acts to which they prompt, — self-seeking and self- 


a. The constituents of the Me may be divided into two 
classes, those which make up respectively — 

The material me; 
The social me; and 
The spiritual me. 

The Material Me. — The body is the innermost part of 
the material me in each of us; and certain parts of the body 
seem more intimately ours than the rest. The clothes 
come next. The old saying that human person is com- 
posed of three parts — soul, body and clothes — is more than 
a joke. We so appropriate our clothes and identify our- 


selves with them that there are few of us who, if asked to 
choose between having a beautiful body clad in raiment 
perpetually shabby and unclean, and having an ugly and 
blemished form always spotlessly attired, would not hesi- 
tate a moment before making a decisive reply. Next, our 
immediate family is a part of ourselves. Our father and 
mother, our wife and babes, are bone of our bone and flesh 
of our flesh. When they die, a part of our very selves is 
gone. If they do anything wrong, it is our shame. If 
they are insulted, our anger flashes forth as readily as if we 
stood in their place. Our home comes next. Its scenes 
are part of our life; its aspects awaken the tenderest 
feelings of affection; and we do not easily forgive the 
stranger who, in visiting it, finds fault with its arrange- 
ments or treats it with contempt. All these different 
things are the objects of instinctive preferences coupled 
with the most important practical interests of life. We 
all have a blind impulse to watch over our body, to deck it 
with clothing of an ornamental sort, to cherish parents, 
wife, and babes, and to find for ourselves a house of our 
own which we may live in and ' improve.' 

An equally instinctive impulse drives us to collect prop- 
erty; and the collections thus made become, with different 
degrees of intimacy, parts of our empirical selves. The 
T>arts of our wealth most intimately ours are those which 
are saturated with our labor. There are few men who 
would not feel personally annihilated if a life-long con- 
struction of their hands or brains — say an entomological 
collection or an extensive work in manuscript — were sud- 
denly swept away. The miser feels similarly towards his 
gold; and although it is true that a part of our depression 
at the loss of possessions is due to our feeling that we 
must now go without certain goods that we expected the 
possessions to bring in their train, yet in every case there 
remains, over and above this, a sense of the shrinkage of 
our personality, a partial conversion of ourselves to nothing- 
ness, which is a psychological phenomenon by itself. We 


are all at once assimilated to the tramps and poor devils 
whom we so despise, and at the same time removed far- 
ther than ever away from the happy sons of earth who lord 
it over land and sea and men in the full-blown lustihood 
that wealth and power can give, and before whom, stiffen 
ourselves as we will by appealing to anti-snobbish first 
principles, we cannot escape an emotion, open or sneaking, 
of respect and dread. 

The Social Me. — A man's social me is the recognition 
which he gets from his mates. We are not only gregari- 
ous animals, liking to be in sight of our fellows, but we 
have an innate propensity to get ourselves noticed, and 
noticed favorably, by our kind. No more fiendish pun- 
ishment could be devised, were such a thing physically 
possible, than that one should be turned loose in society 
and remain absolutely unnoticed by all the members 
thereof. If no one turned round when we entered, 
answered when we spoke, or minded what we did, but if 
every person we met ' cut us dead,' and acted as if W2 were 
non-existing things, a kind of rage and impotent despair 
would ere long well up in us, from which the crudest 
bodily tortures would be a relief; for these would make us 
feel that, however bad might be our plight, we had not 
sunk to such a depth as to be unworthy of attention at all. 

Properly speaking, a man has as many social selves as' 
there are individuals who recognize him and carry an 
image of him in their mind. To wound any one of these 
his images is to wound him. But as the individuals who 
carry the images fall naturally into classes, we may practi- 
cally say that he has as many different social selves as 
there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion 
he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself 
to each of these different groups. Many a youth who is 
demure enough before his parents and teachers, swears and 
swaggers like a pirate among his ' tough ' young friends. 
We do not show ourselves to our children as to our club- 
companions, to our customers as to the laborers we em- 


ploy, to our own masters and employers as to our intimate 
friends. From this there results what practically is a 
division of the man into several selves; and this may be a 
discordant splitting, as where one is afraid to let one set of 
his acquaintances know him as he is elsewhere; or it may 
be a perfectly harmonious division of labor, as where one 
tender to his children is stern to the soldiers or prisoners 
under his command. 

The most peculiar social self which one is apt to have 
is in the mind of the person one is in love with. The 
good or bad fortunes of this self cause the most intense 
elation and dejection — unreasonable enough as measured 
by every other standard than that of the organic feeling of 
the individual. To his own consciousness he is not, so long 
as this particular social self fails to get recognition, and 
when it is recognized his contentment passes all bounds. 

A man's fame, good or bad, and his honor or dishonor, 
are names for one of his social selves. The particular 
social self of a man called his honor is usually the result 
of one of those splittings of which we have spoken. It is 
his image in the eyes of his own ' set,' which exalts or con- 
demns him as he conforms or not to certain requirements 
that may not be made of one in another walk of life. Thus 
a layman may abandon a city infected with cholera; but a 
priest or a doctor would think such an act incompatible 
with his honor. A soldier's honor requires him to fight or 
to die under circumstances where another man can apolo- 
gize or run away with no stain upon his social self. A 
judge, a statesman, are in like manner debarred by the 
honor of their cloth from entering into pecuniary relations 
perfectly honorable to persons in private life. Nothing is 
commoner than to hear people discriminate between their 
different selves of this sort: " As a man I pity you, but as 
an official I must show you no mercy "; " As a politician I 
regard him as an ally, but as a moralist I loathe him "; etc., 
etc. What may be called ' club-opinion ' is one of the very 
strongest forces in life. The thief must not steal from 


other thieves; the gambler must pay his gambling-debts, 
though he pay no other debts in the world. The code of 
honor of fashionable society has throughout history been 
full of permissions as well as of vetoes, the only reason for 
following either of which is that so we best serve one of 
ous social selves. You must not lie in general, but you 
may lie as much as you please if asked about your relations 
with a lady; you must accept a challenge from an equal, 
but if challenged by an inferior you may laugh him to 
scorn: these are examples of what is meant. 

The Spiritual Me. — By the ' spiritual me,' so far as it 
belongs to the empirical self, I mean no one of my passing 
states of consciousness. I mean rather the entire collection 
of my states of consciousness^ my psychic faculties and dis- 
positions taken concretely. This collection can at any mo- 
ment become an object to my thought at that moment and 
awaken emotions like those awakened by any of the other 
portions of the Me. When we think of ourselves as think- 
ers, all the other ingredients of our Me seem relatively ex- 
ternal possessions. Even within the spiritual Me some 
ingredients seem more external than others. Our capaci- 
ties for sensation, for example, are less intimate possessions, 
so to speak, than our emotions and desires; our intellectual 
processes are less intimate than our volitional decisions. 
The more active-feeling states of consciousness are thus 
the more central portions of the spiritual Me. The very 
core and nucleus of our self, as we know it, the very sanc- 
tuary of our life, is the sense of activity which certain inner 
states possess. This sense of activity is often held to be 
a direct revelation of the living substance of our Soul. 
Whether this be so or not is an ulterior question. I wish 
now only to lay down the peculiar internality of whatever 
states possess this quality of seeming to be active. It is 
as if they went out to meet all the other elements of our 
experience. In thus feeling about them probably all men 


b. The feelings and emotions of self come after the con- 

Self-appreciation. — This is of two sorts, self-complac- 
ency and self -dissatisfaction. i Self-love ' more properly 
belongs under the division C, of acts, since what men mean 
by that name is rather a set of motor tendencies than a 
kind of feeling properly so called. 

Language has synonyms enough for both kinds of self- 
appreciation. Thus pride, conceit, vanity, self-esteem, 
arrogance, vainglory, on the one hand; and on the other 
modesty, humility, confusion, diffidence, shame, mortifica- 
tion, contrition, the sense of obloquy, and personal despair. 
These two opposite classes of affection seem to be direct 
and elementary endowments of our nature. Associationists 
would have it that they are, on the other hand, secondary 
phenomena arising from a rapid computation of the sensi- 
ble pleasures or pains to which our prosperous or debased 
personal predicament is likely to lead, the sum of the repre- 
sented pleasures forming the self-satisfaction, and the sum 
of the represented pains forming the opposite feeling of 
shame. No doubt, when we are self-satisfied, we do fondly 
rehearse all possible rewards for our desert, and when in a 
fit of self-despair we forebode evil. But the mere expecta- 
tion of reward is not the self-satisfaction, and the mere 
apprehension of the evil is not the self-despair; for there is 
a certain average tone of self-feeling which each one of us 
carries about with him, and which is independent of the 
objective reasons we may have for satisfaction or discon- 
tent. That is, a very meanly-conditioned man may abound 
in unfaltering conceit, and one whose success in life is 
secure, and who is esteemed by all, may remain diffident 
of his powers to the end. 

One may say, however, that the normal provocative of 
self-feeling is one's actual success or failure, and the good 
or bad actual position one holds in the world. " He put in 
his thumb and pulled out a plum, and said, ' What a good 

THE SELF • 183 

boy am I! ' " A man with a broadly extended empirical Ego, 
with powers that have uniformly brought him success, with 
place and wealth and friends and fame, is not likely to be 
visited by the morbid diffidences and doubts about himself 
which he had when he was a boy. " Is not this great 
Babylon, which I have planted? " Whereas he who has 
made one blunder after another, and stiill lies in middle life 
among the failures at the foot of the hill, is liable to grow 
all sicklied o'er with self-distrust, and to shrink from trials 
with which his powers can really cope. 

The emotions themselves of self-satisfaction and abase- 
ment are of a unique sort, each as worthy to be classed as 
a primitive emotional species as are, for example, rage or 
pain. Each has its own peculiar physiognomical expres- 
sion. In self-satisfaction the extensor muscles are inner- 
vated, the eye is strong and glorious, the gait rolling and 
elastic, the nostril dilated, and a peculiar smile plays upon 
the lips. This whole complex of symptoms is seen in an 
exquisite way in lunatic asylums, which always contain 
some patients who are literally mad with conceit, and 
whose fatuous expression and absurdly strutting or swag- 
gering gait is in tragic contrast with their lack of any 
valuable personal quality. It j^3 these same castles of 
despair that we find the strongeBBamples of the opposite 
physiognomy, in good' people who think they have com- 
mitted ' the unpardonable sin ' and are lost forever, who 
crouch and cringe and slink from notice, and are unable 
to speak aloud or look us in the eye. Like fear and like 
anger, in similar morbid conditions, these opposite feelings 
of Self may be aroused with ^fcadequate exciting cause. 
And in fact we ourselves know^ow the barometer of our 
self-esteeem and confidence rises and falls from one day to 
another through causes that seem to be visceral and organic 
rather than rational, and ^rich certainly answer to no cor- 
responding variations in tne esteem in which we are held 
by our friends. 


c. Self-seeking and self-perservation come next. 

These words cover a large number of our fundamental 
instinctive impulses. We have those of bodily self-seeking, 
those of social self-seeking, and those of spiritual self-seek- 

Bodily Self-seeking. — All the ordinary useful reflex 
actions and movements of alimentation and defence are 
acts of bodily self-preservation. Fear and anger prompt to 
acts that are useful in the same way. Whilst if by self-seeking 
we mean the providing for the future as distinguished 
from maintaining the present, we must class both anger 
and fear, together with the hunting, the acquisitive, the 
home-constructing and the tool-constructing instincts, as 
impulses to self-seeking of the bodily kind. Really, how- 
ever, these latter instincts, with amativeness, parental 
fondness, curiosity and emulation, seek not only the de- 
velopment of the bodily Me, but that of the material Me 
in the widest possible sense of the word. 

Our social self-seeking, in turn, is carried on directly 
through our amativeness and friendliness, our desire to 
please and attract notice and admiration, our emulation 
and jealousy, our love of glory, influence, and power, 
and indirectly through whichever of the material self- 
seeking impulses prove serviceable as means to social 
ends. That the direct social self-seeking impulses are 
probably pure instincts is easily seen. The noteworthy 
thing about the desire to be ' recognized ' by others is that 
its strength has so little to do with the worth of the recog- 
nition computed in sensational or rational terms. We are 
crazy to get a visiting-list which shall be large, to be able 
to say when any one is mentioned, " Oh ! I know him 
well," and to be bowed to in the street by half the people 
we meet. Of course distinguished friends and admiring 
recognition are the most desirable — Thackeray somewhere 
asks his readers to confess whether it would not give each 
of them an exquisite pleasure to be met walking down Pall 
Mall with a duke on either arm. But in default of dukes 


and envious salutations almost anything will do for some of 
us; and there is a whole race of beings to-day whose pas- 
sion is to keep their names in the newspapers, no matter 
under what heading, ' arrivals and departures/ ' personal 
paragraphs,' ' interviews/ — gossip, even scandal, will suit 
them if nothing better is to be had. Guiteau, Garfield's 
assassin, is an example of the extremity to which this sort 
of craving for the notoriety of print may go in a patholo- 
gical case. The newspapers bounded his mental horizon; 
and in the poor wretch's prayer on the scaffold, one of the 
most heart-felt expressions was: " The newspaper press of 
this land has a big bill to settle with thee, O Lord ! " 

Not only the people but the places and things I know 
enlarge my Self in a sort of metaphor ic social way. ' Ca 
me connait,' as the French workman says of the implement 
he can use well. So that it comes about that persons for 
whose opinion we care nothing are nevertheless persons 
whose notice we woo; and that many a man truly great, 
many a woman truly fastidious in most respects, will take 
a deal of trouble to dazzle some insignificant cad whose 
whole personality they heartily despise. 

Under the head of spiritual self-seeking ought to be 
included every impulse towards psychic progress, whether 
intellectual, moral, or spiritual in the narrow sense of the 
term. It must be admitted, however, that much that com- 
monly passes for spiritual self-seeking in this narrow sense 
is only material and social self-seeking beyond the grave. 
In the Mohammedan desire for paradise and the Christian 
aspiration not to be damned in hell, the materiality oTthe 
goods sought is undisguised. In the more positive and 
refined view of heaven, many of its goods, the fellowship of 
the saints and of our dead ones, and the presence of God, 
are but_social goods of the most exalted kind. It is only 
the searcn 01 the redeemed inward nature, the spotlessness 
from sin, whether here or hereafter, that can count as 
spiritual self-seeking pure and undefiled. 


But this broad external review of the facts of the life of 
the Me will be incomplete without some account of the 

Rivalry and Conflict of the Different Mes. — With 
most objects of desire, physical nature restricts our choice to 
but one of many represented goods, and even so it is here. 
I am often confronted by the necessity of standing by one 
of my empirical selves and relinquishing the rest. Not 
that I would not, if I could, be both handsome and fat 
and well dressed, and a great athlete, and make a million 
a year, be a wit, a bon-vivant, and a lady-killer, as well as 
a philosopher; a philanthropist, statesman, warrior, and 
African explorer, as well as a ' tone-poet ' and saint. But 
the thing is simply impossible. The millionaire's work 
would run counter to the saint's; the bon-vivant and the 
philanthropist would trip each other up; the philosopher 
and the lady-killer could not well keep house in the same 
tenement of clay. Such different characters may conceiv- 
ably at the outset of life be alike possible to a man. But 
to make any one of them actual, the rest must more or less 
be suppressed. So the seeker of his truest, strongest, 
deepest self must review the list carefully, and pick out 
the one on which to stake his salvation. All other selves 
thereupon become unreal, but the fortunes of this self are 
real. Its failures are real failures, its triumphs real tri- 
umphs, carrying shame and gladness with them. This is 
as strong an example as there is of that selective industry 
of the mind on which I insisted some pages back (p. 173 ff.). 
Our thought, incessantly deciding, among many things of 
a kind, which ones for it shall be realities, here chooses 
one of many possible selves or characters, and forthwith 
reckons it no shame to fail in any of those not adopted 
expressly as its own. 

So we have the paradox of a man shamed to death 
because he is only the second pugilist or the second oars- 
man in the world. That he is able to beat the whole 
population of the globe minus one is nothing; he has 
1 pitted ' himself to beat that one; and as long as he doesn't 


do that nothing else counts. He is to his own regard as if 
he were not, indeed he is not. Yonder puny fellow, how- 
ever, whom every one can beat, suffers no chagrin about it, 
for he has long ago abandoned the attempt to ' carry that 
line/ as the merchants say, of self at all. With no attempt 
there can be no failure; with no failure, no humiliation. 
So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what 
we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined by the 
ratio of our actualities to our supposed potentialities; a 
fraction of which our pretensions are the denominator and 
the numerator our success: thus, 

lf Success 

Self-esteem = 


Such a fraction may be increased as well by diminishing 
the denominator as by increasing the numerator. To 
I f give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them 
(I gratified; and where disappointment is incessant and the 
struggle unending, this is what men will always do. The 
history of evangelical theology, with its conviction of sin, 
its self-despair, and its abandonment of salvation by 
works, is the deepest of possible examples, but we meet 
others in every walk of life. There is the strangest light- 
ness about the heart when one's nothingness in a particular 
line is once accepted in good faith. All is not bitterness in 
the lot of the lover sent away by the final inexorable ' No.' 
Many Bostonians, crede expert o (and inhabitants of other 
cities, too, I fear), would be happier women and men to-day, 
if they could once for all abandon the notion of keeping up 
a Musical Self, and without shame let people hear them 
call a symphony a nuisance. How pleasant is the day when 
we give up striving to be young, — or slender! Thank God! 
we say, those illusions are gone. Everything added to the 
Self is a burden as well as a pride. A certain man who 
lost every penny during our civil war went and actually 
rolled in the dust, saying he had not felt so free and happy 
since he was born. 


Once more, then, our self-feeling is in our power. As 
Carlyle says: " Make thy claim of wages a zero, then hast 
thou the world under thy feet. Well did the wisest of our 
time write, it is only with renunciation that life, properly 
speaking, can be said to begin." 

Neither threats nor pleading can move a man unless 
they touch some one of his potential or actual selves. Only 
thus can we, as a rule, get a ' purchase ' on another's will. 
The first care of diplomatists and monarchs and all who 
wish to rule or influence is, accordingly, to find out their 
victim's strongest principle of self-regard, so as to make 
that the fulcrum of all appeals. But if a man has given up 
those things which are subject to foreign fate, and ceased 
to regard them as parts of himself at all, we are well-nigh 
powerless over him. The Stoic receipt for contentment 
was to dispossess yourself in advance of all that was out oi 
your own power, — then fortune's shocks might rain down 
unfelt. Epictetus exhorts us, by thus narrowing and at the 
same time solidifying our Self to make it invulnerable: " I 
must die; well, but must I die groaning too? I will speak 
what appears to be right, and if the despot says, ' Then I 
will put you to death/ I will reply, ' When did I ever tell 
you that I was immortal? You will do your part, and I 
mine; it is yours to kill, and mine to die intrepid; yours 
to banish, mine to depart untroubled. ' How do we act in a 
voyage? We choose the pilot, the sailors, the hour. After- 
wards comes a storm. What have I to care for? My part 
is performed. This matter belongs to the pilot. But the 
ship is sinking; what then have I to do? That which alone 
I can do — submit to being drowned without fear, without 
clamor or accusing of God, but as one who knows that 
what is born must likewise die." 

This Stoic fashion, though efficacious and heroic enough 
in its place and time, is, it must be confessed, only possible 
as an habitual mood of the soul to narrow and unsympa- 
thetic characters. It proceeds altogether by exclusion. If 
I am Stoic, the goods I cannot appropriate cease to be my 


goods, and the temptation lies very near to deny that they 
are goods at all. We find this mode of protecting the Self 
by exclusion and denial very common among people who 
are in other respects not Stoics. All narrow people intrench 
their Me, they retract it, — from the region of what they 
cannot securely possess. People who don't resemble them, 
or who treat them with indifference, people over whom they 
gain no influence, are people on whose existence, however 
meritorious it may intrinsically be, they look with chill 
negation, if not with positive hate. Who will not be mine 
I will exclude from existence altogether; that is, as far as 
I can make it so, such people shall be as if they were not. 
Thus may a certain absoluteness and definiteness in the out- 
line of my Me console me for the smallness of its content. 
Sympathetic people, on the contrary, proceed by the 
entirely opposite way of expansion and inclusion. The 
outline of their self often gets uncertain enough, but for 
this the spread of its content more than atones. Nil 
humani a me alienum. Let them despise this little per- 
son of mine, and treat me like a dog, / shall not negate 
them so long as I have a soul in my body. They are reali- 
ties as much as I am. What positive good is in them shall 
be mine too, etc., etc. The magnanimity of these expansive 
natures is often touching indeed. Such persons can feel 
a sort of delicate rapture in thinking that, however sick, 
ill-favored, mean-conditioned, and generally forsaken they 
may be, they yet are integral parts of the whole of this 
brave world, have a fellow's share in the strength of the 
dray-horses, the happiness of the young people, the wisdom 
of the wise ones, and are not altogether without part or lot 
in the good fortunes of the Vanderbilts and the Hohen- 
zollerns themselves. Thus either by negating or by em- 
bracing, the Ego may seek to establish itself in reality. 
He who, with Marcus Aurelius, can truly say, a O Universe, 
I wish all that thou wishest," has a self from which every 
trace of negativeness and obstructiveness has been re- 
moved — no wind can blow except to fill its sails. 


The Hierarchy of the Mes. — A tolerably unanimous 
opinion ranges the different selves of which a man may be 
1 seized and possessed/ and the consequent different orders 
of his self-regard, in an hierarchical scale, with the bodily 
me at the bottom, the spiritual me at top, and the extra-cor- 
poreal material selves and the various social selves between. 
Our merely natural self-seeking would lead us to aggran- 
dize all these selves; we give up deliberately only those 
among them which we find we cannot keep. Our unself- 
ishness is thus apt to be a 'virtue of necessity ' ; and it is 
not without all show of reason that cynics quote the fable 
of the fox and the grapes in describing our progress 
therein. But this is the moral education of the race; and 
if we agree in the result that on the whole the selves we 
can keep are the intrinsically best, we need not complain 
of being led to the knowledge of their superior worth in 
such a tortuous way. 

Of course this is not the only way in which we learn 
to subordinate our lower selves to our higher. A direct 
ethical judgment unquestionably also plays its part, and 
last, not least, we apply to our own persons judgments 
originally called forth by the acts of others. It is one of 
the strangest laws of our nature that many things which 
we are well satisfied with in ourselves disgust us when seen 
in others. With another man's bodily ' hoggishness ' 
hardly anyone has any sympathy; almost as little with 
his cupidity, his social vanity and eagerness, his jealousy, 
and his despotism, and his pride. Left absolutely to myself I 
should probably allow all these spontaneous tendencies to 
luxuriate in me unchecked, and it would be long before I 
formed a distinct notion of the order of their subordina- 
tion. But having constantly to pass judgment on my 
associates, I come ere long to see, as Herr Horwicz says, 
my own lusts in the mirror of the lusts of others, and to 
think about them in a very different way from that in 
which I simply feel. Of course, the moral generalities 
which from childhood have been instilled into me acceler- 


ate enormously the advent of this reflective judgment on 

So it comes to pass that, as aforesaid, men have arranged 
the various selves which they may seek in an hierarchical 
scale accordingly to their worth. A certain amount of 
bodily selfishness is required as a basis for all the other 
selves. But too much sensuality is despised, or at best 
condoned on account of the other qualities of the indi- 
vidual. The wider material selves are regarded as higher 
than the immediate body. He is esteemed a poor creature 
who is unable to forego a little meat and drink and warmth 
and sleep for the sake of getting on in the world. The 
social self as a whole, again, ranks higher than the material 
self as a whole. We must care more for our honor, our 
friends, our humanities, than for a sound skin or wealth, 
And the spiritual self is so supremely precious that, rather 
than lose it, a man ought to be willing to give up friends 
and good fame, and property, and life itself. 

In each kind of Me, material, social, and spiritual, men 
distinguish between the immediate and actual, and the re- 
mote and potential, between the narrower and the wider 
view, to the detriment of the former and the advantage of 
the latter. One must forego a present bodily enjoyment 
for the sake of one's general health; one must abandon the 
dollar in the hand for the sake of the hundred dollars to 
come; one must make an enemy of his present interlocutor 
if thereby one makes friends of a more valued circle; one 
must go without learning and grace and wit, the better to 
compass one's soul's salvation. 

Of all these wider, more potential selves, the potential 
social Me is the most interesting, by reason of certain 
apparent paradoxes to which it leads in conduct, and by 
reason of its connection with our moral and religious life. 
When for motives of honor and conscience I brave the 
condemnation of my own family, club, and ' set '; when, as 
a Protestant, I turn Catholic; as a Catholic, freethinker; 
as a ' regular practitioner,' homoeopath, or what not, I am 



always inwardly strengthened in my course and steeled 
against the loss of my actual social self by the thought of 
other and better possible social judges than those whose 
verdict goes against me now. The ideal social self which 
I thus seek in appealing to their decision may be very 
remote: it may be represented as barely possible. I may 
not hope for its realization during my lifetime; I may even 
expect the future generations, which would approve me if 
they knew me, to know nothing about me when I am dead 
and gone. Yet still the emotion that beckons me on is 
indubitably the pursuit of an ideal social self, of a self that 
is at least worthy of approving recognition by the highest 
possible judging companion, if such companion there be. 
This self is the true, the intimate, the ultimate, the per- 
manent me which I seek. This judge is God, the Absolute 
Mind, the ' Great Companion/ We hear, in these days of 
scientific enlightenment, a great deal of discussion about 
the efficacy of prayer; and many reasons are given us why 
we should not pray, whilst others are given us why we 
should. But in all this very little is said of the reason 
why we do pray, which is simply that we cannot help pray- 
ing. It seems probable that, in spite of all that ' science ' 
may do to the contrary, men will continue to pray to the 
end of time, unless their mental nature changes in a man- 
ner which nothing we know should lead us to expect. 
The impulse to pray is a necessary consequence of the fact 
that whilst the innermost of the empirical selves of a man 
is a Self of the social sort, it yet can find its only adequate 
Socius in an ideal world. 

All progress in the social Self is the substitution of 
higher tribunals for lower; this ideal tribunal is the high- 
est; and most men, either continually or occasionally, 
carry a reference to it in their breast. The humblest out- 
cast on this earth can feel himself to be real and valid by 
means of this higher recognition. And, on the other hand, 
for most of us, a world with no such inner refuge when 
the outer social self failed and dropped from us would be 


the abyss of horror. I say ' for most of us,' because it is 
probable that individuals differ a good deal in the degree 
in which they are haunted by this sense of an ideal specta- 
tor. It is a much more essential part of the consciousness 
of some men than of others. Those who have the most of 
it are possibly the most religious men. But I am sure that 
even those who say they are altogether without it deceive 
themselves, and really have it in some degree. Only a 
non-gregarious animal could be completely without it. 
Probably no one can make sacrifices for ' right,' without 
to some degree personifying the principle of right for 
which the sacrifice is made, and expecting thanks from it. 
Complete social unselfishness, in other words, can hardly 
exist; complete social suicide hardly occur to a man's 
mind. Even such texts as Job's, " Though He slay me, 
yet will I trust Him," or Marcus Aurelius's, " If gods hate 
me and my children, there is a reason for it," can least of all 
be cited to prove the contrary. For beyond all doubt Job 
revelled in the thought of Jehovah's recognition of the 
worship after the slaying should have been done; and the 
Roman emperor felt sure the Absolute Reason would not 
be all indifferent to his acquiescence in the gods' dislike. 
The old test of piety, " Are you willing to be damned for 
the glory of God? " was probably never answered in the 
affirmative except by those who felt sure in their heart of 
hearts that God Would ' credit ' them with their willing- 
ness, and set more store by them thus than if in His un- 
fathomable scheme He had not damned them at all. 

Teleologic^Usesof SelMnter est. — On zoological prin- 
ciples it is easy to see~why we have been endowed with 
impulses of self-seeking and with emotions of self-satis- 
faction and the reverse. Unless our consciousness were 
something more than cognitive, unless it experienced a 
partiality for certain of the objects, which, in succession, 
occupy its ken, it could not long maintain itself in exist- 
ence; for, by an inscrutable necessity, each human mind's 
appearance on this earth is conditioned upon the integrity 


of the body with which it belongs, upon the treatment 
which that body gets from others, and upon the spiritual 
dispostions which use it as their tool, and lead it either 
towards longevity or to destruction. Its own body, then, 
first of all, its friends next, and finally its spiritual dis- 
postions, must be the supremely interesting objects for each 
human mind. Each mind, to begin with, must have a 
certain minimum of selfishness in the shape of instincts of 
bodily self-seeking in order to exist. The minimum must 
be there as a basis for all farther conscious acts, whether 
of self-negation or of a selfishness more subtle still. All 
minds must have come, by the way of the survival of the 
fittest, if by no directer path, to take an intense interest in 
the bodies to which they are yoked, altogether apart from 
any interest in the pure Ego which they also possess. 

And similarly with the images of their person in the 
minds of others. I should not be extant now had I not 
become sensitive to looks of approval or disapproval on the 
faces among which my life is cast. Looks of contempt 
cast on other persons need affect me in no such peculiar 
way. My spiritual powers, again, must interest me more 
than those of other people, and for the same reason. I 
should not be here at all unless I had cultivated them and 
kept them from decay. And the same law which made 
me once care for them makes me care for them still. 

All these three things form the natural Me. But all 
these things are objects, properly so called, to the thought 
which at any time may be doing the thinking; and if the 
zoological and evolutionary point of view is the true one, 
there is no reason why one object might not arouse passion 
and interest as primitively and instinctively as any other. 
I The phenomenon of passion is in origin and essence the 
same, whatever be the target upon which it is discharged ; 
and what the target actually happens to be is solely a 
question of fact. I might conceivably be as much fas- 
cinated, and as primitively so, by the care of my neigh- 
bor's body as by the care of my own. I am thus fascinated 



by the care of my child's body. The only check to such 
exuberant non-egoistic interests is natural selection, which 
would weed out such as were very harmful to the individ- 
ual or to his tribe. Many such interests, however, remain 
unweeded out — the interest in the opposite sex, for ex- 
ample, which seems in mankind stronger than is called for 
by its utilitarian need; and alongside of them remain 
interests, like that in alcoholic intoxication, or in musical 
sounds, which, for aught we can see, are without any 
utility whatever. The sympathetic instincts and the egoistic 
ones are thus coordinate. They arise, so far as we can 
tell, on the same psychologic level. The only difference 
between them is that the instincts called egoistic form much 
the larger mass. 

Summary. — The following table may serve for a sum- 
mary of what has been said thus far. The empirical life 
of Self is divided, as below, into 





Bodily Appetites and 

Love of Adornment, 
Foppery, Acquisi- 
tiveness, Construc- 

Love of Home, etc. 

Desire to Please, be 
Noticed, Admired, 

Sociability, Emula- 
tion, Envy, Love, 
Pursuit of Honor, 
Ambition, etc. 

Intellectual, Moral 
and Religious 
Aspirations, Con- 


Personal Vanity, 
Modesty, etc. 

Pride of Wealth, 
Fear of Poverty. 

Social and Family 
Pride, Vainglory, 
Snobbery, Humil- 
ity, Shame, etc. 

Sense of Moral or 
Mental Superior- 
ity, Purity, etc. 

Sense of Inferiority 
or of Guilt. 

B) The Self as Knower. 

The I, or ' pure ego,' is a very much v more difficult sub- 
ject of inquiry than the Me. It is that which at any 
given moment is conscious, whereas the Me is only one of 
the things which it is conscious of. In other words, it is 


the Thinker; and the question immediately comes up 
what is the thinker? Is it the passing state of conscious- 
ness itself, or is it something deeper and less mutable? 
The passing state we have seen to be the very embodiment 
of change (see p. 155 ff.). Yet each of us spontaneously 
considers that by ' 1/ he means something always the same. 
This has led most philosophers to postulate behind the 
passing state of consciousness a permanent Substance or 
Agent whose modification or act it is. This Agent is the 
thinker; the l state ' is only its instrument or means. ' Soul' 
' transcendental Ego/ ' Spirit/ are so many names for 
this more permanent sort of Thinker. Not discriminating 
them just yet, let us proceed to define our idea of the 
passing state of consciousness more clearly. 

The Unity of the Passing Thought. — Already, in 
speaking of ' sensations/ from the point of view of Fech- 
ner's idea of measuring them, we saw that there was no 
ground for calling them compounds. But what is true of 
sensations cognizing simple qualities is also true of thoughts 
with complex objects composed of many parts. This 
proposition unfortunately runs counter to a wide-spread 
prejudice, and will have to be defended at some length. 
Common-sense, and psychologists of almost every school, 
have agreed that whenever an object of thought contains 
many elements, the thought itself must be made up of just 
as many ideas, one idea for each element, all fused together 
in appearance, but really separate. 

" There can be no difficulty in admitting that association 
does form the ideas of an indefinite number of individuals 
into one complex idea," says James Mill, " because it is an 
acknowledged fact. Have we not the idea of an army? 
And is not that precisely the ideas of an indefinite number 
of men formed into one idea? " 

Similar quotations might be multiplied, and the reader's 
own first impressions probably would rally to their sup- 
port. Suppose, for example, he thinks that " the pack of 
cards is on the table." If he begins to reflect, he is as 


likely as not to say: " Well, isn't that a thought of the 
pack of cards? Isn't it of the cards as included in the 
pack? Isn't it of the table? And of the legs of the table 
as well? Hasn't my thought, then, all these parts — one 
part for the pack and another for the table? And within 
the pack-part a part for each card, as within the table-part 
a part for each leg? And isn't each of these parts an 
idea? And can thought, then, be anything but an assem- 
blage or pack of ideas, each answering to some element of 
what it knows?" 

Plausible as such considerations may seem, it is aston- 
ishing how little force they have. In assuming a pack of 
ideas, each cognizant of some one element of the fact one 
has assumed, nothing has been assumed which knows the 
whole fact at once. The idea which, on the hypothesis 
of the pack of ideas, knows, e.g., the ace of spades must be 
ignorant of the leg of the table, since to account for that 
knowledge another special idea is by the same hypothesis 
invoked; and so on with the rest of the ideas, all equally 
ignorant of each other's objects. And yet in the actual 
living human mind what knows the cards also knows the 
table, its legs, etc., for all these things are known in rela- 
tion to each other and at once. Our notion of the abstract 
numbers eight, four, two is as truly one feeling of the 
mind as our notion of simple unity. Our idea of a couple 
is not a couple of ideas. " But," the reader may say, " is 
not the taste of lemonade composed of that of lemon plus 
that of sugar?" No! I reply, this is taking the combining 
of objects for that of feelings. The physical lemonade 
contains both the lemon and the sugar, but its taste does 
not contain their tastes; for if there are any two things 
which are certainly not present in the taste of lemonade, 
those are the pure lemon-sour on the one hand and the 
pure sugar-sweet on the other. These tastes are absent 
utterly. A taste somewhat like both of them is there, but 
that is a distinct state of mind altogether. 

Distinct mental states cannot * fuse.' — But not only is 


the notion that our ideas are combinations of smaller ideas 
improbable, it is logically unintelligible; it leaves out the 
essential features of all the ' combinations ' which we 
actually know. 

All the ' combinations ' which we actually know are 
effects, wrought by the units said to be ' combined,' upon 


feature of a medium or vehicle, the notion of combination 
has no sense. 

In other words, no possible number of entities (call 
them as you like, whether forces, material particles, or 
mental elements) can sum themselves together. Each 
remains, in the sum, what it always was; and the sum 
itself exists only for a bystander who happens to overlook 
the units and to apprehend the sum as such; or else it 
exists in the shape of some other effect on an entity exter- 
nal to the sum itself. When H and O are said to 
combine into ' water/ and thenceforward to exhibit new 
properties, the ' water ' is just the old atoms in the new 
position, H-O-H; the ' new properties ' are just their com- 
bined effects, when in this position, upon external media, 
such as our sense-organs and the various reagents on which 
water may exert its properties and be known. Just so, the 
strength of many men may combine when they pull upon 
one rope, of many muscular fibres when they pull upon one 

In the parallelogram of forces, the c forces ' do not com- 
bine themeselves into the diagonal resultant; a body is 
needed on which they may impinge, to exhibit their 
resultant effect. No more do musical sounds combine per se 
into concords or discords. Concord and discord are names 
for their combined effects on that external medium, the 

Where the elemental units are supposed to be feelings, 
the case is in no wise altered. Take a hundred of them, 
shuffle them and pack them as close together as you can 
(whatever that may mean); still each remains the same 


feeling it always was, shut in its own skin, windowless, 
ignorant of what the other feelings are and mean. There 
would be a hundred-and-first feeling there, if, when a group 
or series of such feelings were set up, a consciousness be- 
longing to the group as such should emerge, and this one 
hundred and first feeling would be a totally new fact. The 
one hundred original feelings might, by a curious physical 
law, be a signal for its creation, when they came together — 
we often have to learn things separately before we know 
them as a sum— but they would have no substantial iden- 
tity with the new feeling, nor it with them; and one could 
never deduce the one from the others, or (in any intelli- 
gible sense) say that they evolved it out of themselves. 

Take a sentence of a dozen words, and take twelve men 
and tell to each one word. Then stand the men in a row 
or jam them in a bunch, and let each think of his word as 
intently as he will; nowhere will there be a consciousness 
of the whole sentence. We talk, it is true, of the ' spirit of 
the age,' and the ' sentiment of the people/ and in various 
ways we hypostatize ' public opinion/ But we know this 
to be symbolic speech, and never dream that the spirit, 
opinion, or sentiment constitutes a consciousness other 
than, and additional to, that of the several individuals 
whom the words ' age/ ' people/ or ' public ' denote. The 
private minds do not agglomerate into a higher compound 
mind. This has always been the invincible contention of 
the spiritualists against the associationists in psychology. 
The assocTationists say the mind is constituted by a multi- 
plicity of distinct l ideas ' associated into a unity. There 
is, they say, an idea of a, and also an idea of b. Therefore, 
they say, there is an idea of a +' b, or of a and b together. 
Which is like saying that the mathematical square of 
a plus that of b is equal to the square of a + b, a. palpable 
untruth. Idea of a -f- ! idea of b is not indentical with idea 
of (a+'b). It is one, they are two; in it, what knows a 
also knows b; in them, what knows a is expressly posited 
as not knowing b; etc. In short, the two separate ideas 


can never by any logic be made to figure as one idea. If 
one idea (of a +' b, for example) come as a mattter of fact 
after the two separate ideas (of a and of b), then we must 
hold it to be as direct a product of the later conditions as 
the two separate ideas were of the earlier conditions. 

The simplest tking, therefore, if we are to assume the ex- 
istence of a stream of consciousness at all, would be to sup- 
pose that things that are known together are known in 
I single pulses of that stream. The things may be many, 
and may occasion many currents in the brain. But the 
psychic phenomenon correlative to these many currents is 
one integral ' state,' transitive or substantive (see p. 161), to 
which the many things appear. 

The Soul as a Combining Medium. — The spiritualists 
in philosophy have been prompt to see that things which are 
known together are known by one something, but that some- 
thing, they say, is no mere passing thought, but a simple 
and permanent spiritual being on which many ideas com- 
bine their effects. It makes no difference in this connec- 
tion whether this being be called Soul, Ego, or Spirit, in 
either case its chief function is that of a combining 
medium. This is a different vehicle of knowledge from 
that in which we just said that the mystery of knowing 
things together might be most simply lodged. Which is 
the real knower, this permanent being, or our passing 
state? If we had other grounds, not yet considered, for 
admitting the Soul into our psychology, then getting 
there on those grounds, she might turn out to be the 
knower too. But if there be no other grounds for admit- 
ting the Soul, we had better cling to our passing ' states ' 
as the exclusive agents of knowledge ; for we have to assume 
their existence anyhow in psychology, and the know- 
ing of many things together is just as well accounted for 
when we call it one of their functions as when we call it 
a reaction of the Soul. Explained it is not by either con- 
ception, and has to figure in psychology as a datum that is 


But there are other alleged grounds for admitting the 
Soul into psychology, and the chief of them is 

The Sense of Personal Identity. — In the last chapter it 
was stated (see p. 154) that the thoughts which we actually 
know to exist do not fly about loose, but seem each to 
belong to some one thinker and not to another. Each 
thought, out of a multitude of other thoughts of which 
it may think, is able to distinguish those which belong to 
it from those which do not. The former have a warmth 
and intimacy about them of which the latter are com- 
pletely devoid, and the result is a Me of yesterday, judged 
to be in some peculiarly subtle sense the same with the 
I who now make the judgment. As a mere subjective 
phenomenon the judgment presents no special mystery. 
It belongs to the great class of judgments of sameness; 
and there is nothing more remarkable in making a judg- 
ment of sameness in the first person than in the second or 
the third. The intellectual operations seem essentially 
alike, whether I say ' I am the same as I was,' or whether 
I say ' the pen is the same as it was, yesterday.' It is as 
easy to think this as to think the opposite and say ' neither 
of us is the same.' The only question which we have to 
consider is whether it be a right judgment. Is the same- 
ness predicated really there? 

Sameness in the Self as Known. — If in the sentence ' I 
am the same that I was yesterday/ we take the ' I ' broadly, 
it is evident that in many ways I am not the same. As a 
concrete Me, I am somewhat different from what I was: 
then hungry, now full; then walking, now at rest; then 
poorer, now richer; then younger, now older; etc. And 
yet in other ways I am the same, and we may call these 
the essential ways. My name and profession and rela- 
tions to the world are identical, my face, my faculties and 
store of memories, are practically indistinguishable, now and 
then. Moreover the Me of now and the Me of then are con- 
tinuous : the alterations were gradual and never affected the 
whole of me at once. So far, then, my personal identity is 


just like the sameness predicated of any other aggregate 
thing. It is a conclusion grounded either on the resem- 
blance in essential respects, or on the continuity of the 
phenomena compared. And it must not be taken to mean 
more than these grounds warrant or treated as a sort of 
metaphysical or absolute Unity in which all differences are 
overwhelmed. The past and present selves compared are 
the same just so far as they are the same, and no farther. 
They are the same in kind. But this generic sameness 
coexists with generic differences just as real; and if from 
the one point of view I am one self, from another I am 
quite as truly many. Similarly of the attribute of con- 
tinuity: it gives to the self the unity of mere connected- 
ness, or unbrokenness, a perfectly definite phenomenal 
thing — but it gives not a jot or tittle more. 

Sameness in the Self as Knower. — But all this is said 
only of the Me, or Self as known. In the judgment ' I 
am the same/ etc., the ' I ' was taken broadly as the con- 
crete person. Suppose, however, that we take it narrowly 
as the Thinker, as * that to which ' all the concrete deter- 
minations of the Me belong and are known: does there not 
then appear an absolute identity at different times? That 
something which at every moment goes out and knowingly 
appropriates the Me of the past, and discards the non-me 
as foreign, is it not a permanent abiding principle of spir- 
itual activity identical with itself wherever found? 

That it is such a principle is the reigning doctrine both 
of philosophy and common-sense, and yet reflection finds 
it difficult to justify the idea. If there were no passing 
states of consciousness, then indeed we might suppose an 
abiding principle, absolutely one with itself, to be the 
ceaseless thinker in each one of us. But if the states of 
consciousness be accorded as realities, no such ' substantial ' 
identity in the thinker need be supposed. Yesterday's and 
to-day's states of consciousness have no substantial identity, 
for when one is here the othef^fe^ irrevocably dead 
and gone. But they have a functional identity, for both 


know the same objects, and so far as the by-gone me is one 
of those objects, they react upon it in an identical way, 
greeting it and calling it mine, and opposing it to all the 
other things they know. This functional identity seems 
really the only sort of identity in the thinker which the 
facts require us to suppose. Successive thinkers, numeri- 
cally distinct, but all aware of the same past in the same 
way, form an adequate vehicle for all the experience of 
personal unity and sameness which we actually have. And 
just such a train of successive thinkers is the stream of 
mental states (each with its complex object cognized and 
emotional and selective reaction thereupon) which psychol- 
ogy treated as a natural science has to assume (see p. 2). 

The logical conclusion seems then to be that the states 
of consciousness are all that psychology needs to do her 
work with. Metaphysics or theology may prove the Soul to 
exist; but for psychology the hypothesis of such a substan- 
tial principle of unity is superfluous. 

How the I appropriates the Me. — But why should each 
successive mental state appropriate the same past Me? I 
spoke a while ago of my own past experiences appearing to 
me with a ' warmth and intimacy ' which the experiences 
thought of by me as having occurred to other people lack. 
This leads us to the answer sought. My present Me is felt 
with warmth and intimacy. The heavy warm mass of my 
body is there, and the nucleus of the ' spiritual me,' the sense 
of intimate activity (p. 184), is there. We cannot realize our 
present self without simultaneously feeling one or other of 
these two things. Any other object of thought which 
brings these two things with it into consciousness will be 
thought with a warmth and an intimacy like those which 
cling to the present me. 

Any distant object which fulfills this condition will be 
thought with such warmth and intimacy. But which dis- 
tant objects do fulfil the condition, when represented? 

Obviously those, and only those, which fulfilled it when 
they were alive. Them we shall still represent with the 


animal warmth upon them; to them may possibly still cling 
the flavor of the inner activity taken in the act. And by a 
natural consequence, we shall assimilate them to each other 
and to the warm and intimate self we now feel within us 
as we think, and separate them as a collection from what- 
ever objects have not this mark, much as out of a herd 
of cattle let loose for the winter on some wide Western 
prairie the owner picks out and sorts together, when the 
round-up comes in the spring, all the beasts on which he 
finds his own particular brand. Well, just such objects are 
the past experiences which I now call mine. Other men's 
experiences, no matter how much I may know about them, 
never bear this vivid, this peculiar brand. This is why Peter, 
awakening in the same bed with Paul, and recalling what 
both had in mind before they went to sleep, reidentifies 
and appropriates the ' warm ' ideas as his, and is never 
tempted to confuse them with those cold and pale-appear- 
ing ones which he ascribes to Paul. As well might he 
confound Paul's body, which he only sees, with his own 
body, which he sees but also feels. Each of us when he 
awakens says, Here's the same old Me again, just as he 
says, Here's the same old bed, the same old room, the same 
old world. 

And similarly in our waking hours, though each pulse of 
consciousness dies away and is replaced by another, yet that 
other, among the things it knows, knows its own prede- 
cessor, and finding it ' warm,' in the way we have de- 
scribed, greets it, saying: " Thou art mine, and part of the 
same self with me." Each later thought, knowing and 
including thus the thoughts that went before, is the final 
receptacle — and appropriating them is the final owner — of 
all that they contain and own. As Kant says, it is as if 
elastic balls were to have not only motion but knowledge 
of it, and a first ball were to transmit both its motion and 
its consciousness to a second, which took both up into its 
consciousness and passed them to a third, until the last 
ball held all that the other balls had held, and realized it 


as its own. It is this trick which the nascent thought 
has of immediately taking up the expiring thought and 
■ adopting ' it, which leads to the appropriation of most of 
the remoter constituents of the self. Who owns the last 
self owns the self before the last, for what possesses the pos- 
sessor possesses the possessed. It is impossible to discover 
any verifiable features in personal identity which this 
sketch does not contain, impossible to imagine how any 
transcendent principle of Unity (were such a principle 
there) could shape matters to any other result, or be 
known by any other fruit, than just this production of a 
stream of consciousness each successive part of which 
should know, and knowing, hug to itself and adopt, all 
those that went before, — thus standing as the representa- 
tive of an entire past stream with which it is in no wise 
to be identified. 

Mutations and Multiplications of the Self. — The Me, 
like every other aggregate, changes as it grows. The passing 
states of consciousness, which should preserve in their suc- 
cession and identical knowledge of its past, wander from 
their duty, letting large portions drop from out of their 
ken, and representing other portions wrong. The identity 
which we recognize as we survey the long procession can 
only be the relative identity of a slow shifting in which 
there is always some common ingredient retained. The 
commonest element of all, the most uniform, is the posses- 
sion of some common memories. However different the 
man may be from the youth, both look back on the same 
childhood and call it their own. 

Thus the identity found by the / in its Me is only a 
loosely construed thing, an identity ' on the whole,' just 
like that which any outside observer might find in the 
same assemblage of facts. We often say of a man ' he is so 
changed one would not know him '; and so does a man, 
less often, speak of himself. These changes in the Me, 
recognized by the I, or by outside observers, may be grave 
or slight. They deserve some notice here. 


The mutations of the Self may be divided into two main 

a. Alterations of memory; and 

b. Alterations in the present bodily and spiritual selves. 

a. Of the alterations of memory little need be said — 
they are so familiar. Losses of memory are a normal inci- 
dent in life, especially in advancing years, and the person's 
me, as ' realized,' shrinks pari passu with the facts that 
disappear. The memory of dreams and of experiences in 
the hypnotic trance rarely survives. 

False memories, also, are by no means rare occurrences, 
and whenever they occur they distort our consciousness of 
our Me. Most people, probably, are in doubt about certain 
matters ascribed to their past. They may have seen them, 
may have said them, done them, or they may only have 
dreamed or imagined they did so. The content of a dream 
will oftentimes insert itself into the stream of real life in a 
most perplexing way. The most frequent source of a false 
memory is the accounts we give to others of our experi- 
ences. Such accounts we almost always make both more 
simple and more interesting than the truth. We quote 
what we should have said or done, rather than what we 
really said or did; and in the first telling we may be fully 
aware of the distinction. But ere long the fiction expels 
the reality from memory and reigns in its stead alone. 
This is one great source of the fallibility of testimony 
meant to be quite honest. Especially where the marvellous 
is concerned, the story takes a tilt that way, and the mem- 
ory follows the story. 

b. When we pass beyond alterations of memory to ab- 
normal alterations in the present self we have graver dis- 
turbances. These alterations are of three main types, but 
our knowledge of the elements and causes of these changes 
of personality is so slight that the division into types must 
not be regarded as having any profound significance. The 
types are: 


a. Insane delusions; 
(3. Alternating selves; 
y. Mediumships or possessions. 

a. In insanity we often have delusions projected into 
the past, which are melancholic or sanguine according to 
the character of the disease. But the worst alterations of 
the self come from present perversions of sensibility and 
impulse which leave the past undisturbed, but induce the 
patient to think that the present Me is an altogether new 
personage. Something of this sort happens normally in 
the rapid expansion of the whole character, intellectual 
as well as volitional, which takes place after the time of 
puberty. The pathological cases are curious enough to 
merit longer notice. 

The basis of our personality, as M. Ribot says, is that 
feeling of our vitality which, because it is so perpetually 
present, remains in the background of our consciousness. 

" It is the basis because, always present, always acting, 
without peace or rest, it knows neither sleep nor fainting, 
and lasts as long as life itself, of which it is one form. It 
serves as a support to that self-conscious me which memory 
constitutes, it is the medium of association among its other 
parts .... Suppose now that it were possible at once to 
change our body and put another into its place: skeleton, 
vessels, viscera, muscles, skin, everything made new, except 
the nervous system with its stored-up memory of the past. 
There can be no doubt that in such a case the afflux of 
unaccustomed vital sensations would produce the gravest 
disorders. Between the old sense of existence engraved on 
the nervous system, and the new one acting with all the 
intensity of its reality and novelty, there would be irrecon- 
cilable contradiction." 

What the particular perversions of the bodily sensibility 
may be which give rise to these contradictions is, for the 
most part, impossible for a sound-minded person to con- 


ceive. One patient has another self that repeats all his 
thoughts for him. Others, amongst whom are some of the 
first characters in history, have internal daemons who speak 
with them and are replied to. Another feels that someone 
1 makes ' his thoughts for him. Another has two bodies, 
lying in different beds. Some patients feel as if they had 
lost parts of their bodies, teeth, brains, stomach, etc. In 
some it is made of wood, glass, butter, etc. In some it 
does not exist any longer, or is dead, or is a foreign object 
quite separate from the speaker's self. Occasionally, parts 
of the body lose their connection for consciousness with 
the rest, and are treated as belonging to another person 
and moved by a hostile will. Thus the right hand may 
fight with the left as with an enemy. Or the cries of the 
patient himself are assigned to another person with whom 
the patient expresses sympathy. The literature of insan- 
ity is filled with narratives of such illusions as these. M. 
Taine quotes from a patient of Dr. Krishaber an account 
of sufferings, from which it will be seen how completely 
aloof from what is normal a man's experience may sud- 
denly become: 

" After the first or second day it was for some weeks 
impossible to observe or analyze myself. The suffering — 
angina pectoris — was too overwhelming. It was not till 
the first days of January that I could give an account to 
myself of what I experienced .... Here is the first thing 
of which I retain a clear remembrance. I was alone, and 
already a prey to permanent visual trouble, when I was 
suddenly seized with a visual trouble infinitely more pro- 
nounced. Objects grew small and receded to infinite dis- 
tances — men and things together. I was myself immeas- 
urably far away. I looked about me with terror and 
astonishment ; the world was escaping from me. . . .1 
remarked at the same time that my voice was extremely 
far away from me, that it sounded no longer as if mine. I 
struck the ground with my foot, and perceived its resist- 
ance ; but this resistance seemed illusory — not that the 


soil was soft, but that the weight of my body was reduced 
to almost nothing. ... I had the feeling of being without 
weight. ..." In addition to being so distant " objects 
appeared to me flat. When I spoke with anyone, I saw 
him like an image cut out of paper with no relief. . . . 
This sensation lasted intermittently for two years. . . . 
Constantly it seemed as if my legs did not belong to me. 
It was almost as bad with my arms. As for my head, it 
seemed no longer to exist. ... I appeared to myself to 
act automatically, by an impulsion foreign to myself. . . . 
There was inside of me a new being, and another part of 
myself, the old being, which took no interest in the new- 
comer. I distinctly remember saying to myself that the 
sufferings of this new being were to me indifferent. I was 
never really dupe of these illusions, but my mind grew 
often tired of incessantly correcting the new impressions, 
and I let myself go and live the unhappy life of this new 
entity. I had an ardent desire to see my old world again, 
to get back to my old self. This desire kept me from 
killing myself. ... I was another, and I hated, I despised 
this other; he was perfectly odious to me; it was certainly 
another who had taken my form and assumed my func- 
tions.' * 

In cases like this, it is as certain that the / is unaltered 
as that the Me is changed. That is to say, the present 
Thought of the patient is cognitive of both the old Me and 
the new, so long as its memory holds good. Only, within 
that objective sphere which formerly lent itself so simply 
to the judgment of recognition and of egotistic appropria- 
tion, strange perplexities have arisen. The present and 
the past, both seen therein, will not unite. Where is my 
old Me ? What is this new one ? Are they the same ? 
Or have I two ? Such questions, answered by whatever 
theory the patient is able to conjure up as plausible, form 
the beginning of his insane life. 

*De l'lntelligence, 3me edition (1878), vol. 11., p. 461, note. 


p. The phenomenon of alternating personality in its 
simplest phases seems based on lapses of memory. Any 
man becomes, as we say, inconsistent with himself if he 
forgets his engagements, pledges, knowledges, and habits; 
and it is merely a question of degree at what point we shall 
say that his personality is changed. But in the pathological 
cases known as those of double or alternate personality the 
loss of memory is abrupt, and is usually preceded by a 
period of unconsciousness or syncope lasting a variable 
length of time. In the hypnotic trance we can easily pro- 
duce an alteration of the personality, either by telling the 
subject to forget all that has happened to him since such 
or such a date, in which case he becomes (it may be) a 
child again, or by telling him he is another altogether 
imaginary personage, in which case all facts about himself 
seem for the time being to lapse from out his mind, and 
he throws himself into the new character with a vivacity 
proportionate to the amount of histrionic imagination 
which he possesses. But in the pathological cases the 
transformation is spontaneous. The most famous case, 
perhaps, on record is that of Felida X., reported by Dr. 
Azam of Bordeaux. At the age of fourteen this woman 
began to pass into a l secondary ' state characterized by a 
change in her general disposition and character, as if cer- 
tain ' inhibitions,' previously existing, were suddenly re- 
moved. During the secondary state she remembered the 
first state, but on emerging from it into the first state she 
remembered nothing of the second. At the age of forty- 
four the duration of the secondary state (which was on the 
whole superior in quality to the original state) had gained 
upon the latter so much as to occupy most of her time. 
During it she remembers the events belonging to the 
original state, but her complete oblivion of the secondary 
state when the original state recurs is often very distressing 
to her, as, for example, when the transition takes place in 
a carriage on her way to a funeral, and she has no idea 
which one of her friends may be dead. She actually be- 


came pregnant during one of her early secondary states, 
and during her first state had no knowledge of how it had 
come to pass. Her distress at these blanks of memory is 
sometimes intense and once drove her to attempt suicide. 
M. Pierre Janet describes a still more remarkable case 
as follows: " Leonie B., whose life sounds more like an im- 
probable romance than a genuine history, has had attacks 
of natural somnambulism since the age of three years. 
She has been hypnotized constantly by all sorts of persons 
from the age of sixteen upwards, and she is now forty- 
five. Whilst her normal life developed in one way in 
the midst of her poor country surroundings, her second 
life was passed in drawing-rooms and doctors' offices, and 
naturally took an entirely different direction. Today, 
when in her normal state, this poor peasant woman is a 
serious and rather sad person, calm and slow, very mild 
with everyone, and extremely timid: to look at her one 
would never suspect the personage which she contains. 
But hardly is she put to sleep hypnotically when a meta- 
morphosis occurs. Her face is no longer the same. She 
keeps her eyes closed, it is true, but the acuteness of her 
other senses supplies their place. She is gay, noisy, rest- 
less, sometimes insupportably so. She remains good- 
natured, but has acquired a singular tendency to irony and 
sharp jesting. Nothing is more curious than to hear her 
after a sitting when she has received a visit from strangers 
who wished to see her asleep. She gives a word-portrait 
of them, apes their manners, claims to know their little 
ridiculous aspects and passions, and for each invents a 
romance. To this character must be added the possession 
of an enormous number of recollections, whose existence 
she does not even suspect when awake, for her amnesia is 
then complete. . . . She refuses the name of Leonie and 
takes that of Leontine (Leonie 2) to which her first mag- 
netizers had accustomed her. c That good woman is not 
myself,' she says, ' she is too stupid! ' To herself, Leontine, 
or Leonie 2, she attributes all the sensations and all the 


actions, in a word all the conscious experiences, which she 
has undergone in somnambulism, and knits them together 
to make the history of her already long life. To Leonie i 
[as M. Janet calls the waking woman] , on the other hand, 
she exclusively ascribes the events lived through in waking 
hours. I was at first struck by an important exception to 
the rule, and was disposed to think that there might be 
something arbitrary in this partition of her recollections. 
In the normal state Leonie has a husband and children; 
but Leonie 2, the somnambulist, whilst acknowledging the 
children as her own, attributes the husband to ' the other. ' 
This choice was perhaps explicable, but it followed no 
rule. It was not till later that I learned that her mag- 
netizers in early days, as audacious as certain hypnotizers 
of recent date, had somnambulized her for her first 
accouchements, and that she had lapsed into that state 
spontaneously in the later ones. Leonie 2 was thus quite 
right in ascribing to herself the children — it was she who 
had had them, and the rule that her first trance — state forms 
a different personality was not broken. But it is the same 
with her second or deepest state of trance. When after 
the renewed passes, syncope, etc., she reaches the condition 
which I have called Leonie 3, she is another person still. 
Serious and grave, instead of being a restless child, she 
speaks slowly and moves but little. Again she separates 
herself from the waking Leonie 1 . c A good but rather 
stupid woman/ she says, * and not me.' And she also 
separates herself from Leonie 2 : ' How can you see any- 
thing of me in that crazy creature? ' she says. ' Fortu- 
nately I am nothing for her.' " 

y. In ' mediums kips ' or ' possessions ' the invasion and 
the passing away of the secondary state are both relatively 
abrupt, and the duration of the state is usually short — i. e., 
from a few minutes to a few hours. Whenever the second- 
ary state is well developed, no memory for aught that hap- 
pened during it remains after the primary consciousness 


comes back. The subject during the secondary conscious- 
ness speaks, writes, or acts as if animated by a foreign 
person, and often names this foreign person and gives his 
history. In old times the foreign ' control ' was usually a 
demon, and is so now in communities which favor that 
belief. With us he gives himself out at the worst for an 
Indian or other grotesquely speaking but harmless person- 
age. Usually he purports to be the spirit of a dead per- 
son known or unknown to those present, and the subject 
is then what we call a ' medium.' Mediumistic possession 
in all its grades seems to form a perfectly natural special 
type of alternate personality, and the susceptibility to it 
in some form is by no means an uncommon gift, in per- 
sons who have no other obvious nervous anomaly. The 
phenomena are very intricate, and are only just begin- 
ning to be studied in a proper scientific way. The lowest 
phase of mediumship is automatic writing, and the lowest 
grade of that is where the Subject knows what words 
are coming, but feels impelled to write them as if from 
without. Then comes writing unconsciously, even whilst 
engaged in reading or talk. Inspirational speaking, play- 
ing on musical instruments, etc., also belong to the rela- 
tively lower phases of possession, in which the normal self 
is not excluded from conscious participation in the per- 
formance, though their initiative seems to come from else- 
where. In the highest phase the trance is complete, the 
voice, language, and everything are changed, and there is 
no after-memory whatever until the next trance comes. 
One curious thing about trance-utterances is their generic 
similarity in different individuals. The ' control ' here in 
America is either a grotesque, slangy, and flippant person- 
age (' Indian ' controls, calling the ladies ' squaws/ the men 
* braves,' the house a ' wigwam,' etc., etc., are excessively 
common) ; or, if he ventures on higher intellectual flights, 
he abounds in a curiously vague optimistic philosophy-and- 
water, in which phrases about spirit, harmony, beauty, law, 
progression, development, etc., keep recurring. It seems 


exactly as if one author composed more than half of the 
trance-messages, no matter by whom they are uttered. 
Whether all sub-conscious selves are peculiarly susceptible 
to a certain stratum of the Zeitgeist, and get their inspira- 
tion from it, I know not; but this is obviously the case 
with the secondary selves which become ' developed ' in 
spiritualist circles. There the beginnings of the medium 
trance are indistinguishable from effects of hypnotic sug- 
gestion. The subject assumes the role of a medium 
simply because opinion expects it of him under the condi- 
tions which are present; and carries it out with a feeble- 
ness or a vivacity proportionate to his histrionic gifts. 
But the odd thing is that persons unexposed to spiritual- 
ist traditions will so often act in the same way when they 
become entranced, speak in the name of the departed, go 
through the motions of their several death-agonies, send 
messages about their happy home in the summer-land, 
and describe the ailments of those present. 

I have no theory to publish of these cases, the actual 
beginning of several of which I have personally seen. I 
am, however, persuaded by abundant acquaintance with the 
trances of one medium that the l control ' may be altog'ether 
different from any possible waking self of the person. In 
the case I have in mind, it professes to be a certain departed 
French doctor; and is, I am convinced, acquainted with 
facts about the circumstances, and the living and dead 
relatives and acquaintances, of numberless sitters whom the 
medium never met before, and of whom she has never heard 
the names. I record my bare opinion here unsupported by 
the evidence, not, of course, in order to convert anyone to 
my view, but because I am persuaded that a serious study 
of these trance-phenomena is one of the greatest needs of 
psychology, and think that my personal confession may 
possibly draw a reader or two into a field which the soi- 
disant ' scientist ' usually refuses to explore* 

* Some of the evidence for this medium's supernormal powers is 


Review, and Psychological Conclusion. — To sum up 
this long chapter: — The consciousness of Self involves a 
stream of thought, each part of which as ' I ' can remember 
those which went before, know the things they knew, and 
care paramountly for certain ones among them as ' Me/ and 
appropriate to these the rest. This Me is an empirical 
aggregate of things objectively known. The / which 
knows them cannot itself be an aggregate; neither for 
psychological purposes need it be an unchanging meta- 
physical entity like the Soul, or a principle like the tran- 
scendental Ego, viewed as ' out of time/ It is a thought, 
at each moment different from that of the last moment, 
but appropriative of the latter, together with all that the 
latter called its own. All the experiential facts find their 
place in this description, unencumbered with any hypoth- 
esis save that of the existence of passing thoughts or states 
of mind. 

If passing thoughts be the directly verifiable existents 
which no school has hitherto doubted them to be, then they 
are the only ' Knower ' of which Psychology, treated as a 
natural science, need take any account. The only pathway 
that I can discover for bringing in a more transcendental 
Thinker would be to deny that we have any such direct 
knowledge of the existence of our ' states of consciousness ' 
as common-sense supposes us to possess. The existence of 
the ' states ' in question would then be a mere hypothesis, 
or one way of asserting that there must be a knower correl- 
ative to all this known; but the problem who that knower 
is would have become a metaphysical problem. With the 
question once stated in these terms, the notion either of a 
Spirit of the world which thinks through us, or that of a 
set of individual substantial souls, must be considered as 
prima facie on a par with our own l psychological ' solu- 
tion and discussed impartially. I myself believe that 

piven in The Proceedings of the Societv for Psychical Research, 
vol. vi., p. 436, and in the last part of vol. vn (1802). 


room for much future inquiry lies in this direction. The 
* states of mind ' which every psychologist believes in are by 
no means clearly apprehensible, if distinguished from their 
objects. But to doubt them lies beyond the scope of our 
natural-science (see p. i) point of view. And in this book 
the provisional solution which we have reached must be 
the final word: the thoughts themselves are the thinkers. 



The Narrowness of Consciousness. — One of the most 
extraordinary facts of our life is that, although we are be- 
sieged at every moment by impressions from our whole 
sensory surface, we notice so very small a part of them. 
The sum total of our impressions never enters into our 
experience, consciously so called, which runs through this 
sum total like a tiny rill through a broad flowery mead. 
Yet the physical impressions which do not count are there 
as much as those which do, and affect our sense-organs just 
as energetically. Why they fail to pierce the mind is a 
mystery, which is only named and not explained when we 
invoke die Enge des Bewusstseins, • the narrowness of con- 
sciousness,' as its ground. 

Its Physiological Ground. — Our consciousness certainly 
is narrow, when contrasted with the breadth of our sensory 
surface and the mass of incoming currents which are at all 
times pouring in. Evidently no current can be recorded 
in conscious experience unless it succeed in penetrating to 
the hemispheres and filling their pathways by the proc- 
esses set up. When an incoming current thus occupies 
the hemispheres with its consequences, other currents are 
for the time kept out. They may show their faces at the 
door, but are turned back until the actual possessors of 
the place are tired. Physiologically, then, the narrowness 
of consciousness seems to depend on the fact that the 
activity of the hemispheres tends at all times to be a con- 
solidated and unified affair, determinable now by this cur- 
rent and now by that, but determinable only as a whole. 
The ideas correlative to the reigning system of processes 



are those which are said to ' interest ' us at the time; and 
thus that selective character of our attention on which so 
much stress was laid on pp. 173 ff. appears to find a 
physiological ground. At all times, however, there is a 
liability to disintegration of the reigning system. The con- 
solidation is seldom quite complete, the excluded currents 
are not wholly abortive, their presence affects the ' fringe ' 
and margin of our thought. 

Dispersed Attention. — Sometimes, indeed, the normal 
consolidation seems hardly to exist. At such moments it 
is possible that cerebral activity sinks to a minimum. 
Most of us probably fall several times a day into a fit 
somewhat like this: The eyes are fixed on vacancy, the 
sounds of the world melt into confused unity, the attention 
is dispersed so that the whole body is felt, as it were, at 
once, and the foreground of consciousness is filled, if by 
anything, by a sort of solemn sense of surrender to the 
empty passing of time. In the dim background of our 
mind we know meanwhile what we ought to be doing: get- 
ting up, dressing ourselves, answering the person who has 
spoken to us, trying to make the next step in our reason- 
ing. But somehow we cannot start; the pensee de derriere 
la tete fails to pierce the shell of lethargy that wraps our 
state about. Every moment we expect the spell to break, 
for we know no reason why it should continue. But it 
does continue, pulse after pulse, and we float with it, until 
— also without reason that we can discover — an energy is 
given, something — we know not what — enables us to gather 
ourselves together, we wink our eyes, we shake our heads, 
the background-ideas become effective, and the wheels of 
life go round again. 

This is the extreme of what is called dispersed atten- 
tion. Between this extreme and the extreme of concen- 
trated attention, in which absorption in the interest of the 
moment is so complete that grave bodily injuries may be 
unfelt, there are intermediate degrees, and these have been 
studied experimentally. The problem is known as that of 


The Span of Consciousness. — How many objects can 
we attend to at once when they are not embraced in one con- 
ceptual system? Prof. Cattell experimented with combi- 
nations of letters exposed to the eye for so short a fraction 
of a second that attention to them in succession seemed to 
be ruled out. When the letters formed familiar words, 
three times as many of them could be named as when 
their combination was meaningless. If the words formed 
a sentence, twice as many could be caught as when they 
had no connection. " The sentence was then apprehended 
as a whole. If not apprehended thus, almost nothing is 
apprehended of the several words; but if the sentence as 
a whole is apprehended, then the words appear very dis- 

A word is a conceptual system in which the letters do 
not enter consciousness separately, as they do when appre- 
hended alone. A sentence flashed at once upon the eye is 
such a system relatively to its words. A conceptual system 
may mean many sensible objects, may be translated later 
into them, but as an actual existent mental state, it does 
not consist of the consciousness of these objects. When I 
think of the word man as a whole, for instance, what is in 
my mind is something different from what is there when I 
think of the letters m, a, and n, as so many disconnected 

When data are so disconnected that we have no concep- 
tion which embraces them together it is much harder to ap- 
prehend several of them at once, and the mind tends to let 
go of one whilst it attends to another. Still, within limits 
this can be avoided. M. Paulhan has experimented on the 
matter by declaiming one poem aloud whilst he repeated a 
different one mentally, or by writing one sentence whilst 
speaking another, or by performing calculations on paper 
whilst reciting poetry. He found that " the most favorable 
condition for the doubling of the mind was its simultaneous 
application to two heterogeneous operations. Two opera- 
tions of the same sort, two multiplications, two recitations, 


or the reciting of one poem and writing of another, render 
the process more uncertain and difficult." 

M. Paulhan compared the time occupied by the same two 
operations done simultaneously or in succession, and found 
that there was often a considerable gain of time from doing 
them simultaneously. For instance: 

"I multiply 421 312 212 by 2; the operation takes 6 
seconds; the recitation of four verses also takes 6 seconds. 
But the two operations done at once only take 6 seconds, 
so that there is no loss of time from combining them." 

If, then, by the original question, how many objects can 
we attend to at once, be meant how many entirely discon- 
nected systems or processes can go on simultaneously, the 
answer is, not easily more than one, unless the processes arel 
very habitual; but then two, or even three, without very 
much oscillation of the attention. Where, however, the 
processes are less automatic, as in the story of Julius 
Caesar dictating four letters whilst he writes a fifth, there 
must be a rapid oscillation of the mind from one to the 
next, and no consequent gain of time. 

When the things to be attended to are minute sensations, 
and when the effort is to be exact in noting them, it is 
found that attention to one interferes a good deal with the 
perception of the other. A good deal of fine work has 
been done in this field by Professor Wundt. He tried to 
note the exact position on a dial of a rapidly revolving 
hand, at the moment when a bell struck. Here were two 
disparate sensations, one of vision, the other of sound, to be 
noted together. But it was found that in a long and 
patient research, the eye-impression could seldom or never 
be noted at the exact moment when the bell actually 
struck. An earlier or a later point were all that could be 

The Varieties of Attention. — Attention may be divided 
into kinds in various ways. It is either to 

a) Objects of sense (sensorial attention); or to 


b) Ideal or represented objects (intellectual attention). 
It is either 

c) Immediate; or 

d) Derived: immediate, when the topic or stimulus is 
interesting in itself, without relation to anything else; de- 
rived, when it owes its interest to association with some 
other immediately interesting thing. What I call derived 
attention has been named ' apperceptive ' attention. Fur- 
thermore, Attention may be either 

e) Passive, reflex, involuntary, effortless; or 
/) Active and voluntary. 

Voluntary attention is always derived; we never make 
an effort to attend to an object except for the sake of some 
remote interest which the effort will serve. But both sen- 
sorial and intellectual attention may be either passive or 

In involuntary attention of the immediate sensorial sort 
the stimulus is either a sense-impression, very intense, 
voluminous, or sudden; or it is an instinctive stimulus, a 
perception which, by reason of its nature rather than its 
mere force, appeals to some one of our congenital impulses 
and has a directly exciting quality. In the chapter on 
Instinct we shall see how these stimuli differ from one 
animal to another, and what most of them are in man: 
Strange things, moving things, wild animals, bright things, 
pretty things, metallic things, words, blows, blood, etc., 
etc., etc. 

Sensitiveness to immediately exciting sensorial stimuli 
characterizes the attention of childhood and youth. In 
mature age we have generally selected those stimuli which 
are connected with one or more so-called permanent inter- 
ests, and our attention has grown irresponsive to the rest. 
But childhood is characterized by great active energy, and 
has few organized interests by which to meet new impres- 
sions and decide whether they are worthy of notice or not, 
and the consequence is that extreme mobility of the atten- 
tion with which we are all familiar in children, and which 


makes of their first lessons such chaotic affairs. Any 
strong sensation whatever produces accommodation of the 
organs which perceive it, and absolute oblivion, for the time 
being, of the task in hand. This reflex and passive charac- 
ter of the attention which, as a French writer says, makes 
the child seem to belong less to himself than to every ob- 
ject which happens to catch his notice, is the first thing 
which the teacher must overcome. It never is overcome in 
some people, whose work, to the end of life, gets done in 
the interstices of their mind-wandering. 

The passive sensorial attention is derived when the 
impression, without being either strong or of an instinc- 
tively exciting nature, is connected by previous experience 
and education with things that are so. These things may 
be called the motives of the attention. The impression 
draws an interest from them, or perhaps it even fuses into 
a single complex object with them; the result is that it is 
brought into the focus of the mind. A faint tap per se is 
not an interesting sound; it may well escape being dis- 
criminated from the general rumor of the world. But 
when it is a signal, as that of a lover on the window-pane, 
hardly will it go unperceived. Herbart writes: 

" How a bit of bad grammar wounds the ear of the 
purist! How a false note hurts the musician! or an 
offense against good manners the man of the world! How 
rapid is progress in a science when its first principles have 
been so well impressed upon us that we reproduce them 
mentally with perfect distinctness and ease! How slow 
and uncertain, on the other hand, is our learning of the 
principles themselves, when familiarity with the still more 
elementary percepts connected with the subject has not 
given us an adequate predisposition! — Apperceptive atten- 
tion may be plainly observed in very small children when, 
hearing the speech of their elders, as yet unintelligible to 
them, they suddenly catch a single known word here and 
there, and repeat it to themselves; yes! even in the dog 
who looks round at us when we speak of him and pro- 



nounce his name. Not far removed is the talent which 
mind-wandering school-boys display during the hours of 
instruction, of noticing every moment in which the 
teacher tells a story. I remember classes in which, in- 
struction being uninteresting, and discipline relaxed, a 
buzzing murmur was always to be heard, which invariably 
stopped for as long a time as an anecdote lasted. How 
could the boys, since they seemed to hear nothing, notice 
when the anecdote began ? Doubtless most of them 
always heard something of the teacher's talk; but most of 
it had no connection with their previous knowledge and 
occupations, and therefore the separate words no sooner 
entered their consciousness then they fell out of it again; 
but, on the other hand, no sooner did the words awaken 
old thoughts, forming strongly-connected series with which 
the new impression easily combined, than out of new and 
old together a total interest resulted which drove the 
vagrant ideas below the threshold of consciousness, and 
brought for a while settled attention into their place." 

Involuntary intellectual attention is immediate when we 
follow in thought a train of images exciting or interesting 
per se; derived, when the images are interesting only as 
means to a remote end, or merely because they are asso- 
ciated with something which makes them dear. The 
brain-currents may then form so solidly unified a sys- 
tem, and the absorption in their object be so deep, as to 
banish not only ordinary sensations, but even the severest 
pain. Pascal, Wesley, Robert Hall, are said to have had 
this capacity. Dr. Carpenter says of himself that " he has 
frequently begun a lecture whilst suffering neuralgic pain 
so severe as to make him apprehend that he would find it 
impossible to proceed; yet no sooner has he by a deter- 
mined effort fairly launched himself into the stream of 
thought, than he has found himself continuously borne 
along without the least distraction, until the end has come, 
and the attention has been released; when the pain has 
recurred with a force that has overmastered all resistance, 


making him wonder how he could have ever ceased to feel 
it" * 

Voluntary Attention. — Dr. Carpenter speaks of launch- 
ing himself by a determined effort. This effort character- 
izes what we called active or voluntary attention. It is a 
feeling which everyone knows, but which most people 
would call quite indescribable. We get it in the sensorial 
sphere whenever we seek to catch an impression of extreme 
faintness, be it of sight, hearing, taste, smell, or touch; 
we get it whenever we seek to discriminate a sensation 
merged in a mass of others that are similar; we get it 
whenever we resist the attractions of more potent stimuli 
and keep our mind occupied with some object that is 
naturally unimpressive. We get it in the intellectual 
sphere under exactly similar conditions: as when we 
strive to sharpen and make distinct an idea which we but 
vaguely seem to have; or painfully discriminate a shade 
of meaning from its similars; or resolutely hold fast to 
a thought so discordant with our impulses that, if left 
unaided, it would quickly yield place to images of an ex- 
citing and impassioned kind. All forms of attentive effort 
would be exercised at once by one whom we might suppose 
at a dinner-party resolutely to listen to a neighbor giving 
him insipid and unwelcome advice in a low voice, whilst all 
around the guests were loudly laughing and talking about 
exciting and interesting things. 

There is no such thing as voluntary attention sustained 
for more than a jew seconds at a time. What is called 
sustained voluntary attention is a repetition of successive 
efforts which bring back the topic to the mind. The topic 
once brought back, if a congenial one, develops; and if its 
development is interesting it engages the attention pas- 
sively for a time. Dr. Carpenter, a moment back, described 
the stream of thought, once entered, as ' bearing him along. ' 

* Mental Physiol., § 124. The oft-cited case of soldiers in battle 
not perceiving that they are wounded is of an analogous sort. 


This passive interest may be short or long. As soon as it 
flags, the attention is diverted by some irrelevant thing, 
and then a voluntary effort may bring it back to the topic 
again; and so on, under favorable conditions, for hours 
together. During all this time, however, note that it is 
not an identical object in the psychological sense, but a 
succession of mutually related objects forming an identical 
topic only, upon which the attention is fixed. No one can 
possibly attend continuously to an object that does not 

Now there are always some objects that for the time 
being will not develop. They simply go out; and to keep 
the mind upon anything related to them requires such in- 
cessantly renewed effort that the most resolute Will ere 
long gives out and lets its thoughts follow the more stimu- 
lating solicitations after it has withstood them for what 
length of time it can. There are topics known to every 
man from which he shies like a frightened horse, and 
which to get a glimpse of is to shun. Such are his ebbing 
assets to the spendthrift in full career. But why single 
out the spendthrift, when to every man actuated by pas- 
sion the thought of interests which negate the passion can 
hardly for more than a fleeting instant stay before the 
mind? It is like ' memento mori ' in the heyday of the 
pride of life. Nature rises at such suggestions, and ex- 
cludes them from the view: — How long, O healthy reader, 
can you now continue thinking of your tomb ? — In milder 
instances the difficulty is as great, especially when the 
brain is fagged. One snatches at any and every passing 
pretext, no matter how trivial or external, to escape from 
the odiousness of the matter in hand. I know a person, 
for example, who will poke the fire, set chairs straight, 
pick dust-specks from the floor, arrange his table, snatch 
up the newspaper, take down any book which catches his 
eye, trim his nails, waste the morning anyhow, in short, 
and all without premeditation, — simply because the only 
thing he ought to attend to is the preparation of a noon- 



day lesson in formal logic which he detests. Anything 
but that! 

Once more, the object must change. When it is one of 
sight, it will actually become invisible; when of bearing, 
inaudible, — if we attend to it unmovingly. Helmholtz, 
who has put his sensorial attention to the severest tests, by 
using his eyes on objects which in common life are ex- 
pressly overlooked, makes some interesting remarks on this 
point in his section on retinal rivalry. The phenomenon 
called by that name is this, that if we look with each eye 
upon a different picture (as in the annexed stereoscopic 
slide), sometimes one picture, sometimes the other, or 

Fig. 54- 

parts of both, will come to consciousness, but hardly ever 
both combined. Helmholtz now says: 

" I find that I am able to attend voluntarily, now to one 
and now to the other system of lines; and that then this 
system remains visible alone for a certain time, whilst the 
other completely vanishes. This happens, for example, 
whenever I try to count the lines first of one and then of 
the other system. . . . But it is extremely hard to chain 
the attention down to one of the systems for long, unless 
we associate with our looking some distinct purpose which 
keeps the activity of the attention perpetually renewed. 


Such a one is counting the lines, comparing their intervals, 
or the like. An equilibrium of the attention, persistent 
for any length of time, is under no circumstances attain- 
able. The natural tendency of attention when left to 
itself is to wander to ever new things ; and so soon as 
the interest of its object is over, so soon as nothing new 
is to be noticed there, it passes, in spite of our will, to 
something else. // we wish to keep it upon one and the 
same object, we must seek constantly to find out something 
new about the latter, especially if other powerful impres- 
sions are attracting us away." 

These words of Helmholtz are of fundamental impor- 
tance. And if true of sensorial attention, how much more 
true are they of the intellectual variety! The conditio 
sine qua non of sustained attention to a given topic of 
thought is that we should roll it over and over incessantly 
and consider different aspects and relations of it in turn. 
Only in pathological states will a fixed and ever monoto- 
nously recurring idea possess the mind. 

Genius and Attention. — And now we can see why it is 
that what is called sustained attention is the easier, the richer 
in acquisitions and the fresher and more original the mind. 
In such minds, subjects bud and sprout and grow. At 
every moment, they please by a new consequence and rivet 
the attention afresh. But an intellect unfurnished with 
materials, stagnant, unoriginal, will hardly be likely to 
consider any subject long. A glance exhausts its possibili- 
ties of interest. Geniuses are commonly believed to excel 
other men in their power of sustained attention. In most 
of them, it is to be feared, the so-called ' power ' is of the 
passive sort. Their ideas coruscate, every subject branches 
infinitely before their fertile minds, and so for hours they 
may be rapt. But it is their genius making them atten- 
tive, not their attention making geniuses of them. And, 
when we come down to the root of the matter, we see that 
they differ from ordinary men less in the character of 
their attention than in the nature of the objects upon 


which it is successfully bestowed. In the genius, these 
form a concatenated series, suggesting each other mutually 
by some rational law. Therefore we call the attention 
' sustained ' and the topic of meditation for hours ' the 
same.' In the common man the series is for the most part 
incoherent, the objects have no rational bond, and we call 
the attention wandering and unfixed. 

It is probable that genius tends actually to prevent a 
man from acquiring habits of voluntary attention, and that 
moderate intellectual endowments are the soil in which we 
may best expect, here as elsewhere, the virtues of the will, 
strictly so called, to thrive. But, whether the attention 
come by grace of genius or by dint of will, the longer one 
does attend to a topic the more mastery of it one has. And 
the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering atten- 
tion over and over again is the very root of judgment, 
character, and will. No one is compos sui if he have it not. 
An education which should improve this faculty would be 
the education par excellence. But it is easier to define this 
ideal than to give practical directions for bringing it 
about. The only general pedagogic maxim bearing on 
attention is that the more interests the child has in advance 
in the subject, the better he will attend. Induct him 
therefore in such a way as to knit each new thing on to some 
acquisition already there; and if possible awaken curiosity, 
so that the new thing shall seem to come as an answer, or 
part of an answer, to a question preexisting in his mind. 

The Physiological Conditions of Attention. — These 
seem to be the following: 

i) The appropriate cortical centre must be excited idea- 
tionally as well as sensorially, before attention to an object 
can take place. 

2) The sense-organ must then adapt itself to clearest 
reception of the object, by the adjustment of its muscular 

3 ) In all probability a certain afflux of blood to the cor- 
tical centre must ensue. 


Of this third condition I will say no more, since we 
have no proof of it in detail, and I state it on the faith of 
general analogies. Conditions 1 ) and 2 ) , however, are veri- 
fiable; and the best order will be to take the latter first. 

The Adaptation of the Sense-organ . — This occurs not 
only in sensorial but also in intellectual attention to an 

That it is present when we attend to sensible things is 
obvious. When we look or listen we accommodate our 
eyes and ears involuntarily, and we turn our head and body 
as well; when we taste or smell we adjust the tongue, lips, 
and respiration to the object; in feeling a surface we move 
the palpatory organ in a suitable way; in all these acts, 
besides making involuntary muscular contractions of a 
positive sort, we inhibit others which might interefere with 
the result — we close the eyes in tasting, suspend the res- 
piration in listening, etc. The result is a more or less 
massive organic feeling that attention is going on. This 
organic feeling we usually treat as part of the sense of our 
own activity, although it comes in to us from our organs 
after they are accommodated. Any object, then, if imme- 
diately exciting, causes a reflex accommodation of the 
sense-organ, which has two results — first, the feeling of 
activity in question; and second, the object's increase in 

But in intellectual attention similar feelings of activity 
occur. Fechner was the first, I believe, to analyze these 
feelings, and discriminate them from the stronger ones 
just named. He writes: 

" When we transfer the attention from objects of one 
sense to those of another, we have an indescribable feeling 
(though at the same time one perfectly determinate, and 
reproducible at pleasure), of altered direction or differently 
localized tension (Spannung). We feel a strain forward 
in the eyes, one directed sidewise in the ears, increasing 
with the degree of our attention, and changing according 
as we look at an object carefully, or listen to something 


attentively; and we speak accordingly of straining the 
attention. The difference is most plainly felt when the 
attention oscillates rapidly between eye and ear; and the 
feeling localizes itself with most decided difference in 
regard to the various sense-organs, according as we wish to 
discriminate a thing delicately by touch, taste, or smell. 

" But now I have, when I try to vividly recall a picture 
of memory or fancy, a feeling perfectly analogous to that 
which I experience when I seek to apprehend a thing 
keenly by eye or ear; and this analogous feeling is very 
differently localized. While in sharpest possible attention 
to real objects (as well as to after-images) the strain is 
plainly forwards, and (when the attention changes from 
one sense to another) only alters its direction between the 
several external sense-organs, leaving the rest of the head 
free from strain, the case is different in memory or fancy, 
for here the feeling withdraws entirely from the external 
sense-organs, and seems rather to take refuge in that part 
of the head which the brain fills. If I wish, for example, 
to recall a place or person, it will arise before me with 
vividness, not according as I strain my attention forwards, 
but rather in proportion as I, so to speak, retract it back- 

In myself the ' backward retraction ' which is felt during 
attention to ideas of memory, etc., seems to be principally 
constituted by the feeling of an actual rolling outwards 
and upwards of the eyeballs, such as occurs in sleep, and 
is the exact opposite of their behavior when we look at a 
physical thing. 

This accommodation of the sense-organ is not, however, 
the essential process, even in sensorial attention. It is a 
secondary result which may be prevented from occurring, 
as certain observations show. Usually, it is true that no 
object lying in the marginal portions of the field of vision 
can catch our attention without at the same time ' catch- 
ing our eye ' — that is, fatally provoking such movements 
of rotation and accommodation as will focus its image 


on the fovea, or point of greatest sensibility. Practice, 
however, enables us, with effort, to attend to a marginal 
object whilst keeping the eyes immovable. The object 
under these circumstances never becomes perfectly distinct 
—the place of its image on the retina makes distinctness 
impossible — but (as anyone can satisfy himself by trying) 
we become more vividly conscious of it than we were be- 
fore the effort was made. Teachers thus notice the acts 
of children in the school-room at whom they appear not 
to be looking. Women in general train their peripheral 
visual attention more than men. Helmholtz states the 
fact so strikingly that I will quote his observation in full. 
He was trying to combine in a single solid percept pairs 
of stereoscopic pictures illuminated instantaneously by 
the electric spark. The pictures were in a dark box 
which the spark from time to time lighted up; and, to 
keep the eyes from wandering betweenwhiles, a pin-hole 
was pricked through the middle of each picture, through 
which the light of the room came, so that each eye had 
presented to it during the dark intervals a single bright 
point. With parallel optical axes these points combined 
into a single image; and the slightest movement of the 
eyeballs was betrayed by this image at once becoming 
double. Helmholtz now found that simple linear figures 
could, when the eyes were thus* kept immovable, be per- 
ceived as solids at a single flash of the spark. But when 
the figures were complicated photographs, many successive 
flashes were required to grasp their totality. 

" Now it is interesting," he says, " to find that, although 
we keep steadily fixating the pin-holes and never allow 
their combined image to break into two, we can neverthe- 
less, before the spark comes, keep our attention voluntarily 
turned to any particular portion we please of the dark 
field, so as then, when the spark comes, to receive an im- 
pression only from such parts of the picture as lie in this 
region. In this respect, then, our attention is quite inde- 
pendent of the position and accommodation of the eyes, 


and of any known alteration in these organs, and free to 
direct itself by a conscious and voluntary effort upon any 
selected portion of a dark and undifferenced field of view. 
This is one of the most important observations for a future 
theory of attention.' ' * 

The Ideational Excitement of the Centre. — But if the 
peripheral part of the picture in this experiment be not 
physically accommodated for, what is meant by its sharing 
our attention? What happens when we ' distribute y or 
1 disperse ' the latter upon a thing for which we remain 
unwilling to ' adjust ' ? This leads us to that second fea- 
ture in process, the ' ideational excitement ' of which we 
spoke. The effort to attend to the marginal region of the 
picture consists in nothing more nor less than the effort to 
form as clear an idea as is possible of what is there por- 
trayed. The idea is to come to the help of the sensation 
and make it more distinct. It may come with effort, and 
such a mode of coming is the remaining part of what we 
know as our attention's * strain ' under the circumstances. 
Let us show how universally present in our acts of atten- 
tion is this anticipatory thinking of the thing to which we 
attend. Mr. Lewes's name of preperception seems the best 
possible designation for this imagining of an experience 
before it occurs. 

It must as a matter of course be present when the atten- 
tion is of the intellectual variety, for the thing attended to 
then is nothing but an idea, an inward reproduction or 
conception. If then we prove ideal construction of the 
object to be present in sensorial attention, it will be 
present everywhere. When, however, sensorial attention 
is at its height, it is impossible to tell how much of the 
percept comes from without and how much from within; 
but if we find that the preparation we make for it always 
partly consists of the creation of an imaginary duplicate 
of the object in the mind, that will be enough to establish 
the point in dispute. 

* Physiol. Optik, p. 741. 


In reaction-time experiments, keeping our mind intent 
upon the motion about to be made shortens the time. 
This shortening we ascribed in Chapter VIII to the fact 
that the signal when it comes finds the motor-centre already 
charged almost to the explosion-point in advance. Ex- 
pectant attention to a reaction thus goes with sub-excite- 
ment of the centre concerned. 

* Where the impression to be caught is very weak, the way 
not to miss it is to sharpen our attention for it by prelimi- 
nary contact with it in a stronger form. Helmholtz says: 
" If we wish to begin to observe overtones, it is advisable, 
just before the sound which is to be analyzed, to sound 
very softly the note of which we are in search. ... If you 
place the resonator which corresponds to a certain over- 
tone, for example g f of the sound c, against your ear, and 
then make the note c sound, you will hear g' much strength- 
ened by the resonator. . . . This strengthening by the reso- 
nator can be used to make the naked ear attentive to the 
sound which it is to catch. For when the resonator is 
gradually removed, the g' grows weaker; but the atten- 
tion, once directed to it, holds it now more easily fast, and 
the observer hears the tone g' now in the natural unaltered 
sound of the note with his unaided ear." 

Wundt, commenting on experiences of this sort, says 
that " The same thing is to be noticed in weak or fugi- 
tive visual impressions. Illuminate a drawing by electric 
sparks separated by considerable intervals, and after the 
first, and often after the second and third spark, hardly 
anything will be recognized. But the confused image is 
held fast in memory; each successive illumination com- 
pletes it; and so at last we attain to a clearer perception. 
The primary motive to this inward activity proceeds usu- 
ally from the outer impression itself. We hear a sound in 
which, from certain associations, we suspect a certain over- 
tone; the next thing is to recall the overtone in memory; 
and finally we catch it in the sound we hear. Or perhaps 
we see some mineral substance we have met before: the 


impression awakens the memory-image, which again more 
or less completely melts with the impression itself. . . . 
Different qualities of impression require disparate adapta- 
tions. And we remark that our feeling of the strain of 
our inward attentiveness increases with every increase in 
the strength of the impressions on whose perception we 
are intent." 

The natural way of conceiving all this is under the sym- 
bolic form of a brain-cell played upon from two directions. 
Whilst the object excites it from without, other brain-cells 
arouse it from within. The plenary energy of the brain- 
cell demands the co-operation of both factors: not when 
merely present, but when both present and inwardly imag- 
ined, is the object fully attended to and perceived. 

A few additional experiences will now be perfectly clear. 
Helmholtz, for instance, adds this observation concerning 
the stereoscopic pictures lit by the electric spark. " In 
pictures," he says, " so simple that it is relatively difficult 
for me to see them double, I can succeed in seeing them 
double, even when the illustration is only instantaneous, 
the moment I strive to imagine in a lively way how they 
ought then to look. The influence of attention is here 
pure; for all eye-movements are shut out." 

Again, writing of retinal rivalry, Helmholtz says: 

" It is not a trial of strength between two sensations, 
but depends on our fixing or failing to fix the attention. 
Indeed, there is scarcely any phenomenon so well fitted for 
the study of the causes which are capable of determining 
the attention. It is not enough to form the conscious 
intention of seeing first with one eye and then with the 
other; we must form as clear a notion as possible of what 
we expect to see. Then it will actually appear." 

In Figs. 55 and 56, where the result is ambiguous, we can 
make the change from one apparent form to the other by 
imagining strongly in advance the form we wish to see. 
Similarly in those puzzles where certain lines in a picture 
form by their combination an object that has no connec- 



tion with what the picture obviously represents; or indeed 
in every case where an object is inconspicuous and hard to 
discern from the background; we may not be able to see it 
for a long time; but, having once seen it, we can attend to 
it again whenever we like, on account of the mental dupli- 

Fig. 5S- 

Fig. 56. 

cate of it which our imagination now bears. In the mean- 
ingless French words 'pas de lieu Rhone que nous* who 
can recognize immediately the English ' paddle your own 
canoe '? But who that has once noticed the identity can 
fail to have it arrest his attention again? When watching 
for the distant clock to strike, our mind is so filled with its 
image that at every moment we think we hear the longed- 
for or dreaded sound. So of an awaited footstep. Every 
stir in the wood is for the hunter his game; for the fugi- 
tive his pursuers. Every bonnet in the street is momen- 
tarily taken by the lover to enshroud the head of his idol. 
The image in the mind is the attention; the preperception 
is half of the perception of the looked-for thing. 

It is for this reason that men have no eyes but for those 
aspects of things which they have already been taught to 
discern. Any one of us can notice a phenomenon after it 
has once been pointed out, which not one in ten thousand 
could ever have discovered for himself. Even in poetry 
and the arts, some one has to come and tell us what 


aspects to single out, and what effects to admire, before 
our aesthetic nature can ! dilate ' to its full extent and never 
1 with the wrong emotion. ' In kindergarten-instruction 
one of the exercises is to make the children see how many 
features they can point out in such an object as a flower 
or a stuffed bird. They readily name the features they 
know already, such as leaves, tail, bill, feet. But they may 
look for hours without distinguishing nostrils, claws, scales, 
etc., until their attention is called to these details; there- 
after, however, they see them every time. In short, the 
only things which we commonly see are those which we 
preperceive, and the only things which we preperceive are 
those which have been labelled for us, and the labels 
stamped into our mind. If we lost our stock of labels 
we should be intellectually lost in the midst of the world. 

Educational Corollaries. — First, to strengthen attention 
in children who are nothing for the subject they are 
studying and let their wits go wool-gathering. The interest 
here must be ' derived ' from something that the teacher 
associates with the task, a reward or a punishment if noth- 
ing less internal comes to mind. If a topic awakens no 
spontaneous attention it must borrow an interest from 
elsewhere. But the best interest is internal, and we must 
always try, in teaching a class, to knit our novelties by 
rational links on to things of which they already have pre- 
perceptions. The old and familiar is readily attended to 
by the mind and helps to hold in turn the new, forming, in 
Herbartian phraseology, an ' Apperceptionsmasse ' for it. 
Of course the teacher *s talent is best shown by knowing 
what ' Apperceptionsmasse ' to use. Psychology can only 
lay down the general rule. 

Second, take that mind-wandering which at a later age 
may trouble us whilst reading or listening to a discourse. 
If attention be the reproduction of the sensation from 
within, the habit of reading not merely with the eye, and 
of listening not merely with the ear, but of articulating to 
one's self the words seen or heard, ought to deepen one's 


attention to the latter. Experience shows that this is the 
case. I can keep my wandering mind a great deal more 
closely upon a conversation or a lecture if I actively re-echo 
to myself the words than if I simply hear them; and I find 
a number of my students who report benefit from volun- 
tarily adopting a similar course. 

Attention and Free Will. — I have spoken as if our at- 
tention were wholly determined by neural conditions. I 
believe that the array of things we can attend to is so de- 
termined. No object can catch our attention except by 
the neural machinery. But the amount of the attention 
which an object receives after it has caught our mental 
eye is another question. It often takes effort to keep 
the mind upon it. We feel that we can make more or 
less of the effort as we choose. If this feeling be not 
deceptive, if our effort be a spiritual force, and an in- 
determinate one, then of course it contributes coequally 
with the cerebral conditions to the result. Though it 
introduce no new idea, it will deepen and prolong the stay 
in consciousness of innumerable ideas which else would 
fade more quickly away. The delay thus gained might not 
be more than a second in duration — but that second may 
be critical; for in the constant rising and falling of con- 
siderations in the mind, where two associated systems of 
them are nearly in equilibrium it is often a matter of but a 
second more or less of attention at the outset, whether one 
system shall gain force to occupy the field and develop 
itself, and exclude the other, or be excluded itself by the 
other. When developed, it may make us act; and that act 
may seal our doom. When we come to the chapter on the 
Will, we shall see that the whole drama of the voluntary 
life hinges on the amount of attention, slightly more or 
slightly less, which rival motor ideas may receive. But 
the whole feeling of reality, the whole sting and excitement 
of our voluntary life, depends on our sense that in it things 
are really being decided from one moment to another, and 
that it is not the dull rattling off of a chain that was 



forged innumerable ages ago. This appearance, which 
makes life and history tingle with such a tragic zest, may 
not be an illusion. Effort may be an original force and not 
a mere effect, and it may be indeterminate in amount. 
The last word of sober insight here is ignorance, for the 
forces engaged are too delicate ever to be measured in 
detail. Psychology, however, as a would-be l Science,' must, 
like every other Science, postulate complete determinism 
in its facts, and abstract consequently from the effects of 
free will, even if such a force exist. I shall do so in this 
book like other psychologists; well knowing, however, that 
such a procedure, although a methodical device justified by 
the subjective need of arranging the facts in a simple and 
: scientific ' form, does not settle the ultimate truth of the 
free-will question one way or the other. 



Different states of mind can mean the same. The 
function by which we mark off, discriminate, draw a line 
round, and identify a numerically distinct subject of dis- 
course is called conception. It is plain that whenever one 
and the same mental state thinks of many things, it must 
be the vehicle of many conceptions. If it has such a 
multiple conceptual function, it may be called a state of 
compound conception. 

We may conceive realities supposed to be extra-mental, 
as steam-engine; fictions, as mermaid; or mere entia ra- 
tionis, like difference or nonentity. But whatever we do 
conceive, our conception is of that and nothing else — noth- 
ing else, that is, instead of that, though it may be of much 
else in addition to that. Each act of conception results 
from our attention's having singled out some one part of 
the mass of matter-for-thought which the world presents, 
and from our holding fast to it, without confusion. Con- 
fusion occurs when we do not know whether a certain 
object proposed to us is the same with one of our meanings 
or not; so that the conceptual function requires, to be 
complete, that the thought should not only say ' I mean 
this,' but also say ' I don't mean that.' 

Each conception thus eternally remains what it is, and 
never can become another. The mind may change its 
states, and its meanings, at different times, may drop one 
conception and take up another; but the dropped concep- 
tion itself can in no intelligible sense be said to change 
into its successor. The paper, a moment ago white, I may 
now see to be scorched black. But my conception ' white ' 



does not change into my conception ' black.' On the con- 
trary, it stays alongside of the objective blackness, as a 
different meaning in my mind, and by so doing lets me 
judge the blackness as the paper's change. Unless it 
stayed, I should simply say ' blackness ' and know no more. 
Thus, amid the flux of opinions and of physical things, the 
world of conceptions, or things intended to be thought 
about, stands stiff and immutable, like Plato's Realm of 

Some conceptions are of things, some of events, some of 
qualities. Any fact, be it thing, event, or quality may be 
conceived sufficiently for purposes of identification, if only 
it be singled out and marked so as to separate it from 
other things. Simply calling it ' this ' or l that ' will suffice. 
To speak in technical language, a subject may be conceived 
by its denotation, with no connotation, or a very minimum 
of connotation, attached. The essential point is that it 
should be re-identified by us as that which the talk is 
about; and no full representation of it is necessary for this, 
even when it is a fully representable thing. 

In this sense, creatures extremely low in the intellectual 
scale may have conception. All that is required is that 
they should recognize the same experience again. A polyp 
would be a conceptual thinker if a feeling of 'Hollo! 
thingumbob again! ' ever flitted through its mind. This 
sense of sameness is the very keel and backbone of our 
consciousness. The same matters can be thought of in 
different states of mind, and some of these states can know 
that they mean the same matters which the other states 
meant. In other words, the mind can always intend, and 
know when it intends, to think the Same. 

Conceptions of Abstract, of Universal, and of Prob- 
lematic Objects. — The sense of our "meaning is an entirely 
peculiar element of the thought. It is one of those evanes- 
cent and ' transitive ' facts of mind which introspection 
cannot turn round upon, and isolate and hold up for exam- 
ination, as an entomologist passes round an insect on a pin. 


In the (somewhat clumsy) terminology I have used, it has 
to do with the ' fringe ' of the object, and is a ' feeling of 
tendency/ whose neural counterpart is undoubtedly a lot of 
dawning and dying processes too faint and complex to be 
traced. (See p. 169.) The geometer, with his one definite 
figure before him, knows perfectly that his thoughts apply 
to countless other figures as well, and that although he 
sees lines of a certain special bigness, direction, color, etc., 
he means not one of these details. When I use the word 
man in two different sentences, I may have both times 
exactly the same sound upon my lips and the same picture 
in my mental eye, but I may mean, and at the very 
moment of uttering the word and imagining the picture 
know that I mean, two entirely different things. Thus 
when I say: " What a wonderful man Jones is! "I am per- 
fectly aware that I mean by man to exclude Napoleon 
Bonaparte or Smith. But when I say: " What a wonder- 
ful thing Man is! " I am equally well aware that I mean 
no such exclusion. This added consciousness is an ab- 
solutely positive sort of feeling, transforming what would 
otherwise be mere noise or vision into something under- 
stood', and determining the sequel of my thinking, the 
later words and images, in a perfectly definite way. 

No matter how definite and concrete the habitual 
imagery of a given mind may be, the things represented 
appear always surrounded by their fringe of relations, and 
this is as integral a part of the mind's object as the things 
themselves are. We come, by steps with which everyone 
is sufficiently familiar, to think of whole classes of things 
as well as of single specimens; and to think of the special 
qualities or attributes of things as well as of the complete 
things-^in other words, we come to have universals and 
abstracts, as the logicians call them, for our objects. We 
also come to think of objects which are only problematic, 
or not yet definitely representable, as well as of objects 
imagined in all their details. An object which is problem- 
atic is defined by its relations only. We think of a thing 


about which certain facts must obtain. But we do not yet 
know how the thing will look when realized — that is, 
although conceiving it we can imagine it. We have in 
the relations, however, enough to individualize our topic 
and distinguish it from all the other meanings of our mind. 
Thus, for example, we may conceive of a perpetual-motion 
machine. Such a machine is a quocsitum of a perfectly 
definite kind, — we can always tell whether the actual 
machines offered us do or do not agree with what we mean 
by it. The natural possibility or impossibility of the thing 
never touches the question of its conceivability in this 
problematic way. l Round-square,' again, or ' black-white- 
thing, ' are absolutely definite conceptions; it is a mere 
accident, as far as conception goes, that they happen to 
stand for things which nature never shows us, and of 
which we consequently can make no picture. 

The nominalists and conceptualists carry on a great 
quarrel over the question whether " the mind can frame 
abstract or universal ideas." Ideas, it should be said, of 
abstract or universal objects. But truly in comparison 
with the wonderful fact that our thoughts, however dif- 
ferent otherwise, can still be of the same, the question 
whether that same be a single thing, a whole class of 
things, an abstract quality or something unimaginable, is 
an insignificant matter of detail. Our meanings are of 
singulars, particulars, indefinites, problematics, and univer- 
sal^ mixed together in every way. A singular individual 
is as much conceived when he is isolated and identified 
away from the rest of the world in my mind, as is the most 
rarefied and universally applicable quality he may possess 
— being, for example, when treated in the same way. From 
every point of view, the overwhelming and portentous char- 
acter ascribed to universal conceptions is surprising. Why, 
from Socrates downwards, philosophers should have vied 
with each other in scorn of the knowledge of the particular, 
and in adoration of that of the general, is hard to under- 
stand, seeing that the more adorable knowledge ought to be 


that of the more adorable things, and that the tkings of 
worth are all concretes and singulars. The only value of 
universal characters is that they help us, by reasoning, to 
know new truths about individual things. The restriction 
of one's meaning, moreover, to an individual thing, proba- 
bly requires even more complicated brain-processes than 
its extension to all the instances of a kind; and the mere 
mystery, as such, of the knowledge, is equally great, 
whether generals or singulars be the things known. In 
sum, therefore, the traditional Universal-worship can only 
be called a bit of perverse sentimentalism, a philosophic 
' idol of the cave.' 

Nothing can be conceived as the same without being 
conceived in a novel state of mind. It seems hardly nec- 
essary to add this, after what was said on p. 156. Thus, 
my arm-chair is one of the things of which I have a concep- 
tion ; I knew it yesterday and recognized it when I looked at 
it. But if I think of it to-day as the same arm-chair which I 
looked at yesterday, it is obvious that the very conception 
of it as the same is an additional complication to the 
thought, whose inward constitution must alter in conse- 
quence. In short, it is logically impossible that the same 
thing should be known as the same by two successive copies 
of the same thought. As a matter of fact, the thoughts by 
which we know that we mean the same thing are apt to be 
very different indeed from each other. We think the thing 
now substantively, now transitively; now in a direct image, 
now in one symbol, and now in another symbol ; but never- 
theless we somehow always do know which of all possible 
subjects we have in mind. Introspective psychology must 
here throw up the sponge; the fluctuations of subjective 
life are too exquisite to be described by its coarse terms. 
It must confine itself to bearing witness to the fact that 
all sorts of different subjective states do form the vehicle 
by which the same is known; and it must contradict the 
opposite view. 



Discrimination versus Association. — On p. 15 I spoke 
of the baby's first object being the germ out of which his 
whole later universe develops by the addition of new parts 
from without and the discrimination of others within. 
Experience, in other words, is trained both by association 
and dissociation, and psychology must be writ both in syn- 
thetic and in analytic terms. Our original sensible totals 
are, on the one hand, subdivided by discriminative atten- 
tion, and, on the other, united with other totals, — either 
through the agency of our own movements, carrying our 
senses from one part of space to another, or because new 
objects come successively and replace those by which we 
were at first impressed. The i simple impression ' of 
Hume, the ' simple idea ' of Locke are abstractions, never 
realized in experience. Life, from the very first, presents 
us with concreted objects, vaguely continuous with the 
rest of the world which envelops them in space and time, 
and potentially divisible into inward elements and parts. 
These objects we break asunder and reunite. We must 
do both for our knowledge of them to grow; and it is hard 
to say, on the whole, which we do most. But since the 
elements with which the traditional associationism performs 
its constructions — ' simple sensations/ namely — are all prod- 
ucts of discrimination carried to a high pitch, it seems as 
if we ought to discuss the subject of analytic attention and 
discrimination first. 

Discrimination defined. — The noticing of any part 
whatever of our object is an act of discrimination. Already 
on p. 218 I have described the manner in which we often 



spontaneously lapse into the undiscriminating state, even 
with regard to objects which we have already learned to 
distinguish. Such anaesthetics as chloroform, nitrous oxide, 
etc., sometimes bring about transient lapses even more total, 
in which numerical discrimination especially seems gone; for 
one sees light and hears sound, but whether one or many 
lights and sounds is quite impossible to tell. Where the 
parts of an object have already been discerned, and each 
made the object of a special discriminative act, we can 
with difficulty feel the object again in its pristine unity; 
and so prominent may our consciousness of its composition 
be, that we may hardly believe that it ever could have 
appeared undivided. But this is an erroneous view, the 
undeniable fact being that any number of impressions, 
from any number of sensory sources, falling simulta- 
neously on a mind which has not yet experienced 
them separately, will yield a single undivided object to 
that mind. The law is that all things fuse that can fuse, 
and that nothing separates except what must. What 
makes impressions separate is what we have to study in 
this chapter. 

Conditions which favor Discrimination. — I will treat 
successively of differences: 

(1) So far as they are directly felt; 

(2) So far as they are inferred; 

(3) So far as they are singled out in compounds. 
Differences directly felt. — The first condition is that the 

things to be discriminated must be different, either in time, 
place, or quality. In other wofdsp and physiologically 
speaking, they must awaken neural processes which are 
distinct. But this, as we have just seen, though an indis- 
pensable condition, is not a sufficient condition. To begin 
with, the several neural processes must be distinct enough. 
No one can help singling out a black stripe on a white 
ground, or feeling the contrast between a bass note and a 
high one sounded immediately after it. Discrimination is 
here involuntary. But where the objective difference is 


less, discrimination may require considerable effort of at- 
tention to be performed at all. 

Secondly, the sensations excited by the differing objects 
must not jail simultaneously, but must jail in immediate 
succession upon the same organ. It is easier to compare 
successive than simultaneous sounds, easier to compare two 
weights or two temperatures by testing one after the other 
with the same hand, than by using both hands and com- 
paring both at once. Similarly it is easier to discriminate 
shades of light or color by moving the eye from one to the 
other, so that they successively stimulate the same retinal 
tract. In testing the local discrimination of the skin, by 
applying compass-points, it is found that they are felt to 
touch different spots much more readily when set down 
one after the other than when both are applied at once. 
In the latter case they may be two or three inches apart on 
the back, thighs, etc., and still feel as if they were set down 
in one spot. Finally, in the case of smell and taste it is 
well-nigh impossible to compare simultaneous impressions 
at all. The reason why successive impression so much 
favors the result seems to be that there is a real sensation 
of difference, aroused by the shock of transition from one 
perception to another which is unlike the first. This sen- 
sation of difference has its own peculiar quality, no matter 
what the terms may be, between which it obtains. It is, 
in short, one of those transitive feelings, or feelings of re- 
lation, of which I treated in a former place (p. 161); and, 
when once aroused, its object lingers in the memory along 
with the substantive terms which precede and follow, and 
enables our judgments of comparison to be made. 

Where the difference between the successive sensations 
is but slight, the transition between them must be made as 
immediate as possible, and both must be compared in mem- 
ory, in order to get the best results. One cannot judge 
accurately of the difference between two similar wines 
whilst the second is still in one's mouth. So of sounds, 
warmths, etc. — we must get the dying phases of both sen- 


sations of the pair we are comparing. Where, however, 
the difference is strong, this condition is immaterial, and 
we can then compare a sensation actually felt with another 
carried in memory only. The longer the interval of time 
between the sensations, the more uncertain is their dis- 

The difference, thus immediately felt between two terms, 
is independent of our ability to say anything about either 
of the terms by itself. I can feel two distinct spots to be 
touched by my skin, yet not know which is above and 
which below. I can observe two neighboring musical 
tones to differ, and still not know which of the two is the 
higher in pitch. Similarly I may discriminate two neigh- 
boring tints, whilst remaining uncertain which is the bluer 
or the yellower, or how either differs from its mate. 

I said that in the immediate succession of m upon n the 
shock of their difference is felt. It is felt repeatedly when 
we go back and forth from m to n ; and we make a point of 
getting it thus repeatedly (by alternating our attention at 
least) whenever the shock is so slight as to be with diffi- 
culty perceived. But in addition to being felt at the brief 
instant of transition, the difference also feels as if incor- 
porated and taken up into the second term, which feels 
' different-from-the-first ' even while it lasts. It is obvious 
that the ' second term ' of the mind in this case is not bald 
n y but a very complex object; and that the sequence is not 
simply first ' m/ then ' difference,' then ' n '; but first ' m,' 
then ' difference * then ' n-different-jrom-m.' The first and 
third states of mind are substantive, the second transitive. 
As our brains and minds are actually made, it is impos- 
sible to get certain m's and n's in immediate sequence and 
to keep them pure. If kept pure, it would mean that they 
remained uncompared. With us, inevitably, by a mecha- 
nism which we as yet fail to understand, the shock of differ- 
ence is felt between them, and the second object is not n 
pure, but n-as-different-jrom-m. The pure idea of n is 
never in the mind at all when m has gone before. 


Differences inferred. — With such direct perceptions of 
difference as this, we must not confound those entirely un- 
like cases in which we infer that two things must differ 
because we know enough about each of them taken by 
itself to warrant our classing them under distinct heads. 
It often happens, when the interval is long between two 
experiences, that our judgments are guided, not so much 
by a positive image or copy of the earlier one, as by our 
recollection of certain facts about it. Thus I know that 
the sunshine to-day is less bright than on a certain day 
last week, because I then said it was quite dazzling, a 
remark I should not now care to make. Or I know myself 
to feel livelier now than I did last summer, because I can 
now psychologize, and then I could not. We are constantly 
comparing feelings with whose quality our imagination 
has no sort of acquaintance at the time — pleasures, or 
pains, for example. It is notoriously hard to conjure up 
in imagination a lively image of either of these classes 
of feeling. The associationists may prate of an idea of 
pleasure being a pleasant idea, of an idea of pain being a 
painful one, but the unsophisticated sense of mankind is 
against them, agreeing with Homer that the memory of 
griefs when past may be a joy, and with Dante that there 
is no greater sorrow than, in misery, to recollect one's 
happier time. 

The ' Singling out ' of Elements in a Compound. — It 
is safe to lay it down as a fundamental principle that any 
total impression made on the mind must be unanalyzable 
so long as its elements have never been experienced apart 
or in other combinations elsewhere. The components of 
an absolutely changeless group of not-elsewhere-occur- 
ring attributes could never be discriminated. If all cold 
things were wet, and all wet things cold; if all hard 
things pricked our skin, and no other things did so: is 
it likely that we should discriminate between coldness 
and wetness, and hardness and pungency, respectively? 
If all liquids were transparent and no non-liquid were 


transparent, it would be long before we had separate names 
for liquidity and transparency. If heat were a function of 
position above the earth's surface, so that the higher a 
thing was the hotter it became, one word would serve for 
hot and high. We have, in fact, a number of sensations 
whose concomitants are invariably the same, and we find 
it, accordingly, impossible to analyze them out from the 
totals in which they are found. The contraction of the 
diaphragm and the expansion of the lungs, the shortening 
of certain muscles and the rotation of certain joints, are 
examples. We learn that the causes of such groups of feel- 
ings are multiple, and therefore we frame theories about 
the composition of the feelings themselves, by ' fusion,' 
1 integration/ ' synthesis/ or what not. But by direct in- 
trospection no analysis of the feelings is ever made. A 
conspicuous case will come to view when we treat of the 
emotions. Every emotion has its * expression,' of quick 
breathing, palpitating heart, flushed face, or the like. The 
expression gives rise to bodily feelings; and the emotion 
is thus necessarily and invariably accompanied by these 
bodily feelings. The consequence is that it is impossible 
to apprehend it as a spiritual state by itself, or to analyze 
it away from the lower feelings in question. It is in fact 
impossible to prove that it exists as a distinct psychic 
fact. The present writer strongly doubts that it does so 

In general, then, if an object affects us simultaneously 
in a number of ways, abed, we get a peculiar integral im- 
pression, which thereafter characterizes to our mind the 
individuality of that object, and becomes the sign of its 
presence; and which is only resolved into a, b, c, and d, 
respectively, by the aid of farther experiences. These we 
now may turn to consider. 

// any single quality or constituent, a, of such an object 
have previously been known by us isolatedly, or have in 
any other manner already become an object of separate 
acquaintance on our part, so that we have an image of it, 


distinct or vague, in our mind, disconnected with bed, 
then that constituent a may be analyzed out from the total 
impression. Analysis of a thing means separate attention 
to each of its parts. In Chapter XIII we saw that one 
condition of attending to a thing was the formation from 
within of a separate image of that thing, which should, as 
it were, go out to meet the impression received. Attention 
being the condition of analysis, and separate imagination 
being the condition of attention, it follows also that sepa- 
rate imagination is the condition of analysis. Only such 
elements as we are acquainted with, and can imagine 
separately, can be discriminated within a total sense-im- 
pression. The image seems to welcome its own mate 
from out of the compound, and to separate it from the 
other constituents; and thus the compound becomes broken 
for our consciousness into parts. 

All the facts cited in Chapter XIII to prove that attention 
involves inward reproduction prove that discrimination 
involves it as well. In looking for any object in a room, 
for a book in a library, for example, we detect it the more 
readily if, in addition to merely knowing its name, etc., we 
carry in our mind a distinct image of its appearance. The 
assafoetida in ' Worcestershire sauce ' is not obvious to any- 
one who has not tasted assafoetida per se. In a ' cold ' 
color an artist would never be able to analyze out the per- 
vasive presence of blue, unless he had previously made 
acquaintance with the color blue by itself. All the colors 
we actually experience are mixtures. Even the purest 
primaries always come to us with some white. Absolutely 
pure red or green or violet is never experienced, and so can 
never be discerned in the so-called primaries with which 
we have to deal: the latter consequently pass for pure. — 
The reader will remember how an overtone can only be 
attended to in the midst of its consorts in the voice of a 
musical instrument, by sounding it previously alone. The 
imagination, being then full of it, hears the like of it in 
the compound tone. 

Non-isolable elements may be discriminated, pro- 


vided their concomitants change. Very few elements of 
reality are experienced by us in absolute isolation. The most 
that usually happens to a constituent a of a compound phe- 
nomenon abed is that its strength relatively to bed varies 
from a maximum to a minimum; or that it appears 
linked with other qualities, in other compounds, as aefg or 
ahik. Either of these vicissitudes in the mode of our 
experiencing a may, under favorable circumstances, lead us 
to feel the difference between it and its concomitants, and 
to single it out — not absolutely, it is true, but approxi- 
mately — and so to analyze the compound of which it is a 
part. The act of singling out is then called abstraction, 
and the element disengaged is an abstract. 

Fluctuation in a quality's intensity is a less efficient aid 
to our abstracting of it than variety in the combinations 
in which it appears. What is associated now with one 
thing and now with another tends to become dissociated 
jrom either, and to grow into an object of abstract con- 
templation by the mind. One might call this the law of 
dissociation by varying concomitants. The practical result 
of this law is that a mind which has once dissociated and 
abstracted a character by its means can analyze it out of a 
total whenever it meets with it again. 

Dr. Martineau gives a good example of the law: " When 
a red ivory ball, seen for the first time, has been withdrawn, 
it will leave a mental representation of itself, in which all 
that it simultaneously gave us will indistinguishably co- 
exist. Let a white ball succeed to it ; now, and not before, 
will an attribute detach itself, and the color, by force of 
contrast, be shaken out into the foreground. Let the 
white ball be replaced by an egg, and this new difference 
will bring the form into notice from its previous slumber, 
and thus that which began by being simply an object cut 
out from the surrounding scene becomes for us first a red 
object, then a red round object, and so on." 

Why the repetition of the character in combination with 
different wholes will cause it thus to break up its adhesion 
with any one of them, and roll out, as it were, alone upon 


the table of consciousness, is a little of a mystery, but one 
which need not be considered here. 

Practice improves Discrimination. — Any personal or 
practical interest in the results to be obtained by distin- 
guishing, makes one's wits amazingly sharp to detect dif- 
ferences. And long training and practice in distinguish- 
ing has the same effect as personal interest. Both of these 
agencies give to small amounts of objective difference the 
same effectiveness upon the mind that, under other cir- 
cumstances, only large ones would have. 

That ' practice makes perfect ' is notorious in the field 
of motor accomplishments. But motor accomplishments 
depend in part on sensory discrimination. Billiard-play- 
ing, rifle-shooting, tight-rope-dancing demand the most 
delicate appreciation of minute disparities of sensation, as 
well as the power to make accurately graduated muscular 
response thereto. In the purely sensorial field we have 
the well-known virtuosity displayed by the professional 
buyers and testers of various kinds of goods. One man 
will distinguish by taste between the upper and the lower 
half of a bottle of old Madeira. Another will recognize, 
by feeling the flour in a barrel, whether the wheat was 
grown in Iowa or Tennessee. The blind deaf-mute, Laura 
Bridgman, so improved her touch as to recognize, after a 
year's interval, the hand of a person who once had shaken 
hers; and her sister in misfortune, Julia Brace, is said to 
have been employed in the Hartford Asylum to sort the 
linen of its multitudinous inmates, after it came from the 
wash, by her wonderfully educated sense of smell. 

The fact is so familiar that few, if any, psychologists 
have ever recognized it as needing explanation. They 
have seemed to think that practice must, in the nature 
of things, improve the delicacy of discernment, and have 
let the matter rest. At most they have said, " Attention 
accounts for it; we attend more to habitual things, and 
what we attend to we perceive more minutely." This 
answer, though true, is too general; but we can say noth- 
ing more about the matter here. 


The Order of our Ideas. — After discrimination, associa- v 
tion ! It is obvious that all advance in knowledge must 
consist of both operations ; for in the course of our edu- 
cation, objects at first appearing as wholes are analyzed 
into parts, and objects appearing separately are brought 
together and appear as new compound wholes to the mind. 
Analysis and synthesis are thus the incessantly alternat- 
ing mental activities, a stroke of the one preparing the 
way for a stroke of the other, much as, in walking, a man's 
two legs are alternately brought into use, both being indis- 
pensable for any orderly advance. 

The manner in which trains of imagery and considera- 
tion follow each other through our thinking, the restless 
flight of one idea before the next, the transitions our minds 
make between things wide as the poles asunder, transitions 
which at first sight startle us by their abruptness, but 
which, when scrutinized closely, often reveal intermediating 
links of perfect naturalness and propriety — all this magical, 
imponderable streaming has from time immemorial excited 
the admiration of all whose attention happened to be 
caught by its omnipresent mystery. And it has further- 
more challenged the race of philosophers to banish some- 
thing of the mystery by formulating the process in simpler 
terms. The problem which the philosophers have set 
themselves is that of ascertaining, between the thoughts 
which thus appear to sprout one out of the other, princi- 
ples of connection whereby their peculiar succession or 
coexistence may be explained. 

But immediately an ambiguity arises: Which sort of 



connection is meant? connection thought-oj, or connection 
between thoughts? These are two entirely different things, 
and only in the case of one of them is there any hope of 
finding ' principles/ The jungle of connections thought of 
can never be formulated simply. Every conceivable con- 
nection may be thought of — of coexistence, succession, re- 
semblance, contrast, contradiction, cause and effect, means 
and end, genus and species, part and whole, substance and 
property, early and late, large and small, landlord and 
tenant, master and servant, — Heaven knows what, for the 
list is literally inexhaustible. The only simplification 
which could possibly be aimed at would be the reduction 
of the relations to a small number of types, like those 
which some authors call the ' categories ' of the under- 
standing. According as we followed one category or an- 
other we should sweep, from any object with our thought, 
in this way or in that, to others. Were this the sort of con- 
nection sought between one moment of our thinking and 
another, our chapter might end here. For the only sum- 
mary description of these categories is that they are all 
thinkable relations, and that the mind proceeds from one 
object to another by some intelligible path. 

Is it determined by any laws? But as a matter of fact, 
What determines the particular path ? Why do we at a 
given time and place proceed to think of b if we have just 
thought of a, and at another time and place why do we 
think, not of b, but of c? Why do we spend years strain- 
ing after a certain scientific or practical problem, but all in 
vain — our thought unable to evoke the solution we desire? 
and why, some day, walking in the street with our atten- 
tion miles away- from that quest, does the answer saunter 
into our minds as carelessly as if it had never been called 
for — suggested, possibly, by the flowers on the bonnet of 
the lady in front of us, or possibly by nothing that we 
can discover? 

The truth must be admitted that thought works under 
strange conditions. Pure ' reason ' is only one out of a 


thousand possibilities in the thinking of each of us. Who 
can count all the silly fancies, the grotesque suppositions, 
the utterly irrelevant reflections he makes in the course of 
a day? Who can swear that his prejudices and irrational 
opinions constitute a less bulky part of his mental furni- 
ture than his clarified beliefs? And yet, the mode of 
genesis of the worthy and the worthless in our thinking 
seems the same. 

The laws are cerebral laws. There seem to be mechani- • v 
cal conditions on which thought depends, and which, to say j 
the least, determine the order in which the objects for her j 
comparisons and selections are presented. It is a sug- 
gestive fact that Locke, and many more recent Continental 
psychologists, have found themselves obliged to invoke a 
mechanical process to account for the aberrations of 
thought, the obstructive prepossessions, the frustrations of 
reason. This they found in the law of habit, or what we 
now call association by contiguity. But it never occurred 
to these writers that a process which could go the length of 
actually producing some ideas and sequences in the mind 
might safely be trusted to produce others too; and that 
those habitual associations which further thought may also 
come from the same mechanical source as those which 
hinder it. Hartley accordingly suggested habit as a suffi- 
cient explanation of the sequence of our thoughts, and in 
so doing planted himself squarely upon the properly causal 
aspect of the problem, and sought to treat both rational 
and irrational associations from a single point of view. 
How does a man come, after having the thought of A, 
to have the thought of B the next moment? or how does 
he come to think A and B always together? These were 
the phenomena which Hartley undertook to explain by 
cerebral physiology. I believe that he was, in essential 
respects, on the right track, and I propose simply to revise 
his conclusions by the aid of distinctions which he did not 

Objects are associated, not ideas. We shall avoid con- 


fusion if we consistently speak as if association, so far as 
the word stands for an effect, were between things thought 
of — as if it were things, not ideas, which are associated 
in the mind. We shall talk of the association of objects, 
not of the association of ideas. And so far as association 
stands for a cause, it is between processes in the brain — 
it is these which, by being associated in certain ways, de- 
termine what successive objects shall be thought. 

The Elementary Principle. — I shall now try to show 
that there is no other elementary causal law of association 
than the law of neural habit„ All the materials of our 
thought are due to the way in which one elementary process 
of the cerebral hemispheres tends to excite whatever other 
elementary process it may have excited at any former time. 
The number of elementary processes at work, however, and 
the nature of those which at any time are fully effective in 
rousing the others, determine the character of the total 
brain-action, and, as a consequence of this, they determine 
the object thought of at the time. According as this 
resultant object is one thing or another, we call it a prod- 
uct of association by contiguity or of association by simi- 
larity, or contrast, or whatever other sorts we may have 
recognized as ultimate. Its production, however, is, in 
each one of these cases, to be explained by a merely quan- 
titative variation in the elementary brain-processes mo- 
mentarily at work under the law of habit. 

My thesis, stated thus briefly, will soon become more 
clear; and at the same time certain disturbing factors, 
which cooperate with the law of neural habit, will come 
to view. 

Let us then assume as the basis of all our subsequent 
reasoning this law: When two elementary brain-processes 
have been active together or in immediate succession, one of 
them, on re-occurring, tends to propagate its excitement 
into the other. 

But, as a matter of fact, every elementary process has 
unavoidably found itself at different times excited in con- 


junction with many other processes. Which of these 
others it shall awaken now becomes a problem. Shall b or 
c be aroused next by the present a? To answer this, we 
must make a further postulate, based on the fact of ten- 
sion in nerve-tissue, and on the fact of summation of ex- 
citements, each incomplete or latent in itself, into an 
open resultant (see p. 128). The process b, rather than c, 
will awake, if in addition to the vibrating tract a some 
other tract d is in a state of sub-excitement, and formerly 
was excited with b alone and not with a. In short, we 
may say: 

The amount of activity at any given point in the brain-, 
cortex is the sum of the tendencies of all other points to 
discharge into it, such tendencies being proportionate (1) 
to the number of times the excitement of each other point 
may have accompanied that of the point in question; (2) to 
the intensity of such excitements; and (3) to the absence of 
any rival point functionally disconnected with the first 
point, into which the discharges might be diverted. 

Expressing the fundamental law in this most compli- 
cated way leads to the greatest ultimate simplification. 
Let us, for the present, only treat of spontaneous trains of 
thought and ideation, such as occur in revery or musing. 
The case of voluntary thinking toward a certain end shall 
come up later. 

Spontaneous Trains of Thought. — Take, to fix our 
ideas, the two verses from ' Locksley Hall ': 

" I, the heir of all the ages in the foremost files of time," 
and — 
"For I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs." 

Why is it that when we recite from memory one of these 
lines, and get as far as the ages, that portion of the other 
line which follows and, so to speak, sprouts out of the ages 
does not also sprout out of our memory and confuse the 
sense of our words ? Simply because the word that fol- 
lows the ages has its brain-process awakened not simply by 


the brain-process of the ages alone, but by it plus the brain- 
processes of all the words preceding the ages. The word 
ages at its moment of strongest activity would, per se, in- 
differently discharge into either ' in ' or ' one.' So would 
the previous words (whose tension is momentarily much 
less strong than that of ages) each of them indifferently 
discharge into either of a large number of other words 
with which they have been at different times combined. 
But when the processes of ' /, t)te heir of all the ages' si- 
multaneously vibrate in the brain, the last one of them in a 
maximal, the others in a fading, phase of excitement, then 
the strongest line of discharge will be that which they all 
alike tend to make. ' In ' and not ' one ' or any other word 
will be the next to awaken, for its brain-process has previ- 
ously vibrated in unison not only with that of ages, but with 
that of all those other words whose activity is dying away. 
It is a good case of the effectiveness over thought of what 
we called on p. 168 a ' fringe/ 

But if some one of these preceding words — ' heir/ for 
example — had an intensely strong association with some 
brain-tracts entirely disjointed in experience from the poem 
of ' Locksley Hall • — if the reciter, for instance, were tremu- 
lously awaiting the opening of a will which might make 
him a millionaire — it is probable that the path of discharge 
through the words of the poem would be suddenly inter- 
rupted at the word ' heir.' His emotional interest in that 
word would be such that its own special associations would 
prevail over the combined ones of the other words. He 
would, as we say, be abruptly reminded of his personal 
situation, and the poem would lapse altogether from his 

The writer of these pages has every year to learn the 
names of a large number of students who sit in alphabeti- 
cal order in a lecture-room. He finally learns to call them 
by name, as they sit in their accustomed places. On meet- 
ing one in the street, however, early in the year, the face 
hardly ever recalls the name, but it may recall the place of 


its owner in the lecture-room, his neighbors ' faces, and 
consequently his general alphabetical position: and then, 
usually as the common associate of all these combined data, 
the student's name surges up in his mind. 

A father wishes to show to some guests the progress of 
his rather dull child in kindergarten-instruction. Hold- 
ing the knife upright on the table, he says, " What do you 
call that, my boy ?" "I calls it a knife, I does," is the 
sturdy reply, from which the child cannot be induced to 
swerve by any alteration in the form of question, until the 
father, recollecting that in the kindergarten a pencil was 
used and not a knife, draws a long one from his pocket, 
holds it in the same way, and then gets the wished-for 
answer, " I calls it vertical." All the concomitants of the 
kindergarten experience had to recombine their effect be- 
fore the word ' vertical ' could be reawakened. 

Total Recall. — The ideal working of the law of com- 
pound association, as Prof. Bain calls it, were it unmodi- 
fied by any extraneous influence, would be such as to keep 
the mind in a perpetual treadmill of concrete reminiscences 
from which no detail could be omitted. Suppose, for 
example, we begin by thinking of a certain dinner-party. 
The only thing which all the components of the dinner- 
party could combine to recall would be the first concrete 
occurrence which ensued upon it. All the details of this 
occurrence could in turn only combine to awaken the next 
following occurrence, and so on. If a, b, c, d, e, for in- 
stance, be the elementary nerve-tracts excited by the last 
act of the dinner-party, call this act A, and /, m, n, o, p be 
those of walking home through the frosty night, which we 
may call B, then the thought of A must awaken that of B, 
because a, b, c, d, e will each and all discharge into / 
through the paths by which their original discharge took 
place. Similarly they will discharge into tn, n, o, and p\ 
and these latter tracts will also each reinforce the other's 
action because, in the experience B, they have already 
vibrated in unison The lines in Fig. 57 symbolize the 



summation of discharges into each of the components of 
B y and the consequent strength of the combination of 
influences by which B in its totality is awakened. 

Hamilton first used the word ' redintegration ' to desig- 
nate all association. Such processes as we have just de- 
scribed might in an emphatic sense be termed redintegra- 
tions, for they would necessarily lead, if unobstructed, to 
the reinstatement in thought of the entire content of large 
trains of past experience. From this complete redintegra- 
tion there could be no escape save through the irruption of 
some new and strong present impression of the senses, or 
through the excessive tendency of some one of the elemen- 
tary brain-tracts to discharge independently into an aber- 
rant quarter of the brain. Such was the tendency of the 

Fig. 57- 

word ' heir ' in the verse from ' Locksley Hall/ which was 
our first example. How such tendencies are constituted 
we shall have soon to inquire with some care. Unless they 
are present, the panorama of the past, once opened, must 
unroll itself with fatal literality to the end, unless some 
outward sound, sight, or touch divert the current of 


Let us call this process impartial redintegration, or, still 
better, total recall. Whether it ever occurs in an abso- 
lutely complete form is doubtful. We all immediately 
recognize, however, that in some minds there is a much 
greater tendency than in others for the flow of thought to 
take this form. Those insufferably garrulous old women, 
those dry and fanciless beings who spare you no detail, 
however petty, of the facts they are recounting, and upon 
the thread of whose narrative all the irrelevant items 
cluster as pertinaciously as the essential ones, the slaves of 
literal fact, the stumblers over the smallest abrupt step in 
thought, are figures known to all of us. Comic literature 
has made her profit out of them. Juliet's nurse is a 
classical example. George Eliot's village characters and 
some of Dickens's minor personages supply excellent in- 

Perhaps as successful rendering as any of this men- 
tal type is the character of Miss Bates in Miss Austen's 
1 Emma.' Hear how she redintegrates: 

" ' But where could you hear it? ' cried Miss Bates. 
1 Where could you possibly hear it, Mr. Knightley? For 
it is not five minutes since I received Mrs. Cole's note — no, 
it cannot be more than five — or at least ten — for I had got 
my bonnet and spencer on, just ready to come out — I was 
only gone down to speak to Patty again about the pork — 
Jane was standing in the passage — were not you, Jane? — 
for my mother was so afraid that we had not any salting- 
pan large enough. So I said I would go down and see, 
and Jane said: " Shall I go down instead? for I think you 
have a little cold, and Patty has been washing the kitchen." 
" Oh, my dear," said I — well, and just then came the note. 
A Miss Hawkins — that's all I know — a Miss Hawkins, of 
Bath. But, Mr. Knightley, how could you possibly have 
heard it? for the very moment Mr. Cole told Mrs. Cole of 
it, she sat down and wrote to me. A Miss Hawkins — ' " 

Partial Recall. — This case helps us to understand why it 
is that the ordinary spontaneous flow of our ideas does not 


follow the law of total recall. In no revival of a past ex- 
perience are all the items of our thought equally operative 
in determining what the next thought shall be. Always 
some ingredient is prepotent over the rest. Its special sug- 
gestions or associations in this case will often be different 
from those which it has in common with the whole group 
of items; and its tendency to awaken these outlying associ- 
ates will deflect the path of our revery. Just as in the 
original sensible experience our attention focalized itself 
upon a few of the impressions of the scene before us, so 
here in the reproduction of those impressions an equal par- 
tiality is shown, and some items are emphasized above 
the rest. What these items shall be is, in most cases of 
spontaneous revery, hard to determine beforehand. In 
subjective terms we say that the prepotent items are those 
which appeal most to our interest. 

Expressed in brain-terms, the law of interest will be: 
some one brain-process is always prepotent above its con- 
comitants in arousing action elsewhere. 

" Two processes," says Mr. Hodgson, " are constantly 
going on in redintegration. The one a process of corro- 
sion, melting, decay; the other a process of renewing, 
arising, becoming. . . . No object of representation re- 
mains long before consciousness in the same state, but 
fades, decays, and becomes indistinct. Those parts of the 
object, however, which possess an interest resist this ten- 
dency to gradual decay of the whole object. . . . This 
inequality in the object — some parts, the uninteresting, 
submitting to decay; others, the interesting parts, resisting 
it — when it has continued for a certain time, ends in 
becoming a new object." 

Only where the interest is diffused equally over all the 
parts is this law departed from. It will be least obeyed 
by those minds which have the smallest variety and intensity 
of interests — those who, by the general flatness and poverty 
of their aesthetic nature, are kept for ever rotating among 
the literal sequences of their local and personal history. 


Most of us, however, are better organized than this, and 
our musings pursue an erratic course, swerving continu- 
ally into some new direction traced by the shifting play 
of interest as it ever falls on some partial item in each 
complex representation that is evoked. Thus it so often 
comes about that we find ourselves thinking at two nearly 
adjacent moments of things separated by the whole diam- 
eter of space and time. Not till we carefully recall each 
step of our cogitation do we see how naturally we came by 
Hodgson's law to pass from one to the other. Thus, for 
instance, after looking at my clock just now (1879), I found 
myself thinking of a recent resolution in the Senate about 
our legal-tender notes. The clock called up the image of 
the man who had repaired its gong. He suggested the 
jeweller's shop where I had last seen him ; that shop, some 
shirt-studs which I had bought there ; they, the value of 
gold and its recent decline ; the latter, the equal value of 
greenbacks, and this, naturally, the question of how long 
they were to last, and of the Bayard proposition. Each of 
these images offered various points of interest. Those 
which formed the turning-points of my thought are easily 
assigned. The gong was momentarily the most interesting 
part of the clock, because, from having begun with a beau- 
tiful tone, it had become discordant and aroused disap- 
pointment. But for this the clock might have suggested 
the friend who gave it to me, or any one of a thousand 
circumstances connected with clocks. The jeweller's shop 
suggested the studs, because they alone of all its contents 
were tinged with the egoistic interest of possession. This 
interest in the studs, their value, made me single out the 
material as its chief source, etc., to the end. Every reader 
who will arrest himself at any moment and say, " How 
came I to be thinking of just this?" will be sure to trace a 
train of representations linked together by lines of conti- 
guity and points of interest inextricably combined. This 
is the ordinary process of the association of ideas as it 
spontaneously goes on in average minds. We may call it 


ordinary, or mixed, association, or, if we like better, par- 
tial recall. 

Which Associates come up, in Partial Recall? — Can 
we determine, now, when a certain portion of the going 
thought has, by dint of its interest, become so prepotent 
as to make its own exclusive associates the dominant fea- 
tures of the coming thought — can we, I say, determine 
which of its own associates shall be evoked? For they 
are many. As Hodgson says: 

" The interesting parts of the decaying object are free 
to combine again with any objects or parts of objects with 
which at any time they have been combined before. All 
the former conbinations of these parts may come back 
into consciousness; one must, but which will?" 

Mr. Hodgson replies: 

" There can be but one answer: that which has been 
most habitually combined with them before. This new 
object begins at once to form itself in consciousness, and 
to group its parts round the part still remaining from the 
former object; part after part comes out and arranges 
itself in its old position ; but scarcely has the process 
begun, when the original law of interest begins to operate 
on this new formation, seizes on the interesting parts and 
impresses them on the attention to the exclusion of the 
rest, and the whole process is repeated again with endless 
variety. I venture to propose this as a complete and true 
account of the whole process of redintegration." 

In restricting the discharge from the interesting item 
into that channel which is simply most habitual in the 
sense of most frequent, Hodgson's account is assuredly 
imperfect. An image by no means always revives its most 
frequent associate, although frequency is certainly one of 
the most potent determinants of revival. If I abruptly 
utter the word swallow, the reader, if by habit an orni- 
thologist, will think of a bird; if a physiologist or a 
medical specialist in throat-diseases, he will think of deg- 
lutition. If I say date, he will, if a fruit-merchant or an 


Arabian traveller, think of the produce of the palm; if an 
habitual student of history, figures with a. d. or b. c. before 
them will rise in his mind. If I say bed, bath, morning, 
his own daily toilet will be invincibly suggested by the 
combined names of three of its habitual associates. But 
frequent lines of transition are often set at naught. The 
sight of a certain book has most frequently awakened in 
me thoughts of the opinions therein propounded. The 
idea of suicide has never been connected with the volume. 
But a moment since, as my eye fell upon it, suicide was 
the thought that flashed into my mind. Why? Because 
but yesterday I received a letter informing me that the 
author's recent death was an act of self-destruction. 
Thoughts tend, then, to awaken their most recent as 
well as their most habitual associates. This is a matter 
of notorious experience, too notorious, in fact, to need 
illustration. If we have seen our friend this morning, 
the mention of his name now recalls the circumstances of 
that interview, rather than any more remote details con- 
cerning him. If Shakespeare's plays are mentioned, and 
we were last night reading ' Richard 11./ vestiges of that 
play rather than of ' Hamlet ' or ' Othello ' float through 
our mind. Excitement or peculiar tracts, or peculiar 
modes of general excitement ir the brain, leave a sort of 
tenderness or exalted sensibility behind them which takes 
days to die away. As long as it lasts, those tracts or 
those modes are liable to have their activities awakened 
by causes which at other times might leave them in re- 
pose. Hence, recency in experience is a prime factor in 
determining revival in thought* 

Vividness in an original experience may also have the 
same effect as habit or recency in bringing about likeli- 

* I refer to a recency of a few hours. Mr. Galton found that ex- 
periences from boyhood and youth were more likely to be suggested 
by words seen at random than experiences of later years. See his 
highly interesting account of experiments in his Inquiries into 
Human Faculty, pp. 191-203. 


hood of revival. If we have once witnessed an execution, 
any subsequent conversation or reading about capital pun- 
ishment will almost certainly suggest images of that par- 
ticular scene. Thus it is that events lived through only 
once, and in youth, may come in after-years, by reason of 
their exciting quality or emotional intensity, to serve as 
types or instances used by our mind to illustrate any and 
every occurring topic whose interest is most remotely 
pertinent to theirs. If a man in his boyhood once talked 
with Napoleon, any mention of great men or historical 
events, battles or thrones, or the whirligig of fortune, or 
islands in the ocean, will be apt to draw to his lips the 
incidents of that one memorable interview. If the word 
tooth now suddenly appears on the page before the reader's 
eye, there are fifty chances out of a hundred that, if he 
gives it time to awaken any image, it will be an image of 
some operation of dentistry in which he has been the 
sufferer. Daily he has touched his teeth and masticated 
with them; this very morning he brushed, used, and picked 
them; but the rarer and remoter associations arise more 
promptly because they were so much more intense. 

A fourth factor in tracing the course of reproduction is 
congruity in emotional tone between the reproduced idea 
and our mood. The same objects do not recall the same 
associates when we are cheerful as when we are melan- 
choly. Nothing, in fact, is more striking than our inability 
to keep up trains of joyous imagery when we are depressed 
in spirits. Storm, darkness, war, images of disease, pov- 
erty, perishing, and dread afflict unremittingly the imagi- 
nations of melancholiacs. And those of sanguine tem- 
perament, when their spirits are high, find it impossible 
to give any permanence to evil forebodings or to gloomy 
thoughts. In an instant the train of association dances 
off to flowers and sunshine, and images of spring and hope. 
The records of Arctic or African travel perused in one 
mood awaken no thoughts but those of horror at the 
malignity of Nature ; read at another time they suggest 


only enthusiastic reflections on the indomitable power and 
pluck of man. Few novels so overflow with joyous animal 
spirits as ' The Three Guardsmen ' of Dumas. Yet it may 
awaken in the mind of a reader depressed with sea-sickness 
(as the writer can personally testify) a most woful con- 
sciousness of the cruelty and carnage of which heroes like 
Athos, Porthos, and Aramis make themselves guilty. 

Habit, recency, vividness, and emotional congruity are, 
then, all reasons why one representation rather than an- 
other should be awakened by the interesting portion of a 
departing thought. We may say with truth that in the 
majority of cases the coming representation will have been 
either habitual, recent, or vivid, and will be congruous. If 
all these qualities unite in any one absent associate, we may 
predict almost infallibly that that associate of the going 
object will form an important ingredient in the object 
which comes next. In spite of the fact, however, that the 
succession of representations is thus redeemed from per- 
fect indeterminism and limited to a few classes whose 
characteristic quality is fixed by the nature of our past 
experience, it must still be confessed that an immense 
number of terms in the linked chain of our representations 
fall outside of all assignable rule. To take the instance of 
the clock given on page 263. Why did the jeweller's shop 
suggest the shirt-studs rather than a chain which I had 
bought there more recently, which had cost more, and 
whose sentimental associations were much more interest- 
ing? Any reader's experience will easily furnish similar 
instances. So we must admit that to a certain extent, even 
in those forms of ordinary mixed association which lie 
nearest to impartial redintegration, which associate of the 
interesting item shall emerge must be called largely a 
matter of accident — accident, that is, for our intelligence. 
No doubt it is determined by cerebral causes, but they are 
too subtile and shifting for our analysis. 

Focalized Recall, or Association by Similarity. — In 
partial or mixed association we have all along supposed 


the interesting portion of the disappearing thought to be of 
considerable extent, and to be sufficiently complex to con- 
stitute by itself a concrete object. Sir William Hamilton 
relates, for instance, that after thinking of Ben Lomond 
he found himself thinking of the Prussian system of 
education, and discovered that the links of association were 
a German gentleman whom he had met on Ben Lomond, 
Germany, etc. The interesting part of Ben Lomond as he 
had experienced it, the part operative in determining the 
train of his ideas, was the complex image of a particular 
man. But now let us suppose that the interested attention 
refines itself still further and accentuates a portion of the 
passing object, so small as to be no longer the image of a 
concrete thing, but only of an abstract quality or property. 
Let us morever suppose that the part thus accentuated 
persists in consciousness (or, in cerebral terms, has its 
brain-process continue) after the other portions of the 
object have faded. This small surviving portion will 
then surround itself with its own associates after the fash- 
ion we have already seen, and the relation between the new 
thought's object and the object of the faded thought will 
be a relation of similarity. The pair of thoughts will 
form an instance of what is called ' association by simi- 

The similars which are here associated, or of which the 
first is followed by the second in the mind, are seen to be 
compounds. Experience proves that this is always the case. 
There is no tendency on the part of simple ' ideas' attri- 
butes, or qualities to remind us of their like. The thought 
of one shade of blue does not summon up that of another 
shade of blue, etc., unless indeed we have in mind some 
general purpose of nomenclature or comparison which re- 
quires a review of several blue tints. 

Now two compound things are similar when some one 
quality or group of qualities is shared alike by both, 
although as regards their other qualities they may have 
nothing in common. The moon is similar to a gas-jet, it is 


also similar to a foot-ball; but a gas-jet and a foot-ball are 
not similar to each other. When we affirm the similarity 
of two compound things, we should always say in what 
respect it obtains. Moon and gas-jet are similar in respect 
of luminosity, and nothing else; moon and foot-ball in re- 
spect of rotundity, and nothing else. Foot-ball and gas-jet 
are in no respect similar — that is, they possess no common 
point, no identical attribute. Similarity, in compounds, 
is partial identity. When the same attribute appears 
in two phenomena, though it be their only common prop- 
erty, the two phenomena are similar in so far forth. To 
return now to our associated representations. If the 
thought of the moon is succeeded by the thought of a 
foot-ball, and that by the thought of one of Mr. X's rail- 
roads, it is because the attribute rotundity in the moon 
broke away from all the rest and surrounded itself with an 
entirely new set of companions — elasticity, leathery integ- 
ument, swift mobility in obedience to human caprice, etc.; 
and because the last-named attribute in the foot-ball in 
turn broke away from its companions, and, itself persist- 
ing, surrounded itself with such new attributes as make 
up the notions of a ' railroad king/ of a rising and falling 
stock-market, and the like. # 

The gradual passage from total to focalized, through 
what we have called ordinary partial, recall may be sym- 

Ftc. 58. 

bolized by diagrams. Fig. 58 is total, Fig. 59 is partial, 
and Fig. 60 focalized, recall. A in each is the passing, 



B the coming, thought. In ' total recall/ all parts of A are 
equally operative in calling up J?. In * partial recall,' 
most parts of A are inert. The part M alone breaks out 
and awakens B. In similar association or ' focalized re- 
call/ the part M is much smaller than in the previous case, 

Fie. 59. 

and after awakening its new set of associates, instead of 
fading out itself, it continues persistently active along with 
them, forming an identical part in the two ideas, and mak- 
ing these, pro tanto, resemble each other.* 

Fig. 60. 

Why a single portion of the passing thought should 
break out from its concert with the rest and act, as we say, 
on its own hook, why the other parts should become inert, 
are mysteries which we can ascertain but not explain. 

♦Miss M. W. Calkins (Philosophical Review, I. 389, 1802) 
points out that the persistent feature of the going thought, on which 
the association in cases of similarity hinges, is by no means always 
so slight as to warrant the term ' focalized.' " If the sight of the 
whole breakfast-room be followed by the visual image of yester- 


Possibly a minuter insight into the laws of neural action 
will some day clear the matter up; possibly neural laws 
will not suffice, and we shall need to invoke a dynamic 
reaction of the consciousness itself. But into this we 
cannot enter now. 

Voluntary Trains of Thought. — Hitherto we have as- 
sumed the process of suggestion of one object by another 
to be spontaneous. The train of imagery wanders at its 
own sweet will, now trudging in sober grooves of habit, now 
with a hop, skip, and jump, darting across the whole field 
of time and space. This is revery, or musing; but great 
segments of the flux of our ideas consist of something very 
different from this. They are guided by a distinct pur- 
pose or conscious interest; and the course of our ideas is 
then called voluntary. 

Physiologically considered, we must suppose that a pur- 
pose means the persistent activity of certain rather definite 
brain-processes throughout the whole course of thought. 
Our most usual cogitations are not pure reveries, absolute 
driftings, but revolve about some central interest or topic 
to which most of the images are relevant, and towards 
which we return promptly after occasional digressions. 

day's breakfast-table, with the same setting and in the same sur- 
roundings, the association is practically total," and yet the case is 
one of similarity. For Miss Calkins, accordingly, the more impor- 
tant distinction is that between what she calls desistent and persist- 
ent association. In ' desistent ' association all parts of the going 
thought fade out and are replaced. In ' persistent ' association some 
of them remain, and form a bond of similarity between the mind's 
successive objects; but only where this bond is extremely delicate 
(as in the case of an abstract relation or quality) is there need to 
call the persistent process ' focalized.' I must concede the justice 
of Miss Calkins's criticism, and think her new pair of terms a use- 
ful contribution. Wundt's division of associations into the two 
classes of external and internal is congruent with Miss Calkins's 
division. Things associated internally must have some element in 
common; and Miss Calkins's word 'persistent' suggests how this 
may cerebrally come to pass. ' Desistent,' on the other hand, sug- 
gests the process by which the successive ideas become external to 
each other or preserve no inner tie. 


This interest is subserved by the persistently active brain- 
tracts we have supposed. In the mixed associations which 
we have hitherto studied, the parts of each object which 
form the pivots on which our thoughts successively turn 
have their interest largely determined by their connection 
with some general interest which for the time has seized 
upon the mind. If we call Z the brain- tract of general 
interest, then, if the object abc turns up, and b has more 
associations with Z than have either a or c, b will become 
the object's interesting, pivotal portion, and will call up 
its own associates exclusively. For the energy of his brain- 
tract will be augmented by Z's activity, — an activity 
which, from lack of previous connection between Z and a 
and Z and c, does not influence a or c. If, for instance, I 
think of Paris whilst I am hungry, I shall not improbably 
find that its restaurants have become the pivot of my 
thought, etc., etc. 

Problems. — But in the theoric as well as in the practi- 
cal life there are interests of a more acute sort, taking the 
form of definite images of some achievement which we de- 
sire to effect. The train of ideas arising under the influ- 
ence of such an interest constitutes usually the thought of 
the means by which the end shall be attained. If the end 
by its simple presence does not instantaneously suggest the 
means, the search for the latter becomes a problem; and 
the discovery of the means forms a new sort of end, of an 
entirely peculiar nature — an end, namely, which we intensely 
desire before we have attained it, but of the nature of 
which, even whilst most strongly craving it, we have no 
distinct imagination whatever (compare pp. 241-2). 

The same thing occurs whenever we seek to recall some- 
thing forgotten, or to state the reason for a judgment 
which we have made intuitively. The desire strains and 
presses in a direction which it feels to be right, but towards 
a point which it is unable to see. In short, the absence of 
an item is a determinant of our representations quite as 
positive as its presence can ever be. The gap becomes no 


mere void, but what is called an aching void. If we try to 
explain in terms of brain-action how a thought which only 
potentially exists can yet be effective, we seem driven to 
believe that the brain-tract thereof must actually be excited, 
but only in a minimal and sub-conscious way. Try, for 
instance, to symbolize what goes on in a man who is rack- 
ing his brains to remember a thought which occurred to 
him last week. The associates of the thought are there, 
many of them at least, but they refuse to awaken the 
thought itself. We cannot suppose that they do not irra- 
diate at all into its brain-tract, because his mind quivers 
on the very edge of its recovery. Its actual rhythm sounds 
in his ears; the words seem on the imminent point of fol- 
lowing, but fail (see p. 165). Now the only difference 
between the effort to recall things forgotten and the search 
after the means to a given end is that the latter have not, 
whilst the former have, already formed a part of our ex- 
perience. If we first study the mode of recalling a thing 
forgotten, we can take up with better understanding the 
voluntary quest of the unknown. 

Their Solution. — The forgotten thing is felt by us as a 
gap in the midst of certain other things. We possess a dim 
idea of where we were and what we were about when it last 
occurred to us. We recollect the general subject to which 
it pertains. But all these details refuse to shoot together 
into a solid whole, for the lack of the missing thing, so we 
keep running over them in our mind, dissatisfied, craving 
something more. From each detail there radiate lines of 
association forming so many tentative guesses. Many of 
these are immediately seen to be irrelevant, are therefore 
void of interest, and lapse immediately from consciousness. 
Others are associated with the other details present, and 
with the missing thought as well. When these surge up, we 
have a peculiar feeling that we are ' warm,' as the children 
say when they play hide and seek; and such associates as 
these we clutch at and keep before the attention. Thus we 
recollect successively that when we last were considering the 



matter in question we were at the dinner-table; then that 
our friend J. D. was there; then that the subject talked 
about was so and so; finally, that the thought came a pro- 
pos of a certain anecdote, and then that it had something 
to do with a French quotation. Now all these added as- 
sociates arise independently of the will, by the spontaneous 
processes we know so well. All that the will does is to em- 
phasize and linger over those which seem pertinent, and ig- 
nore the rest. Through this hovering of the attention in 
the neighborhood of the desired object, the accumulation 
of associates becomes so great that the combined tensions 
of their neural processes break through the bar, and the 
nervous wave pours into the tract which has so long been 
awaiting its advent. And as the expectant, sub-conscious 

Fig. 6 

itching, so to speak, bursts into the fulness of vivid feeling, 
the mind finds an inexpressible relief. 

The whole process can be rudely symbolized in a dia- 
gram. Call the forgotten thing Z, the first facts with 
which we felt it was related a, b, and c, and the details 
finally operative in calling it up I, m, and n. Each circle 
will then stand for the brain-process principally concerned 
in the thought of the fact lettered within it. The activity 
in Z will at first be a mere tension; but as the activities in 
a, b, and c little by little irradiate into /, m, and n, and as 


all these processes are somehow connected with Z, their 
combined irradiations upon Z, represented by the centripe- 
tal arrows, succeed in rousing Z also to full activity. 

Turn now to the case of finding the unknown means to 
a distinctly conceived end. The end here stands in the 
place of a, b, c, in the diagram. It is the starting-point of 
the irradiations of suggestion; and here, as in that case, 
what the voluntary attention does is only to dismiss some 
of the suggestions as irrelevant, and hold fast to others 
which are felt to be more pertinent — let these be symbol- 
ized by /, m, n. These latter at last accumulate sufficiently 
to discharge altogether into Z, the excitement of which 
process is, in the mental sphere, equivalent to the solution 
of our problem. The only difference between this and 
the previous case is that in this one there need be no orig- 
inal sub-excitement in Z, cooperating from the very first. 
In the solving of a problem, all that we are aware of in 
advance seems to be its relations. It must be a cause, or 
it must be an effect, or it must contain an attribute, or 
it must be a means, or what not. We know, in short, a 
lot about it, whilst as yet we have no acquaintance with it. 
Our perception that one of the objects which turn up is, 
as last, our quoesitum, is due to our recognition that its re- 
lations are identical with those we had in mind, and this 
may be a rather slow act of judgment. Every one knows 
that an object may be for some time present to his mind 
before its relations to other matters are perceived. Just so 
the relations may be there before the object is. 

From the guessing of newspaper enigmas to the plotting 
of the policy of an empire there is no other process than 
this. We must trust to the laws of cerebral nature to 
present us spontaneously with the appropriate idea, but we 
must know it for the right one when it comes. 

It is foreign to my purpose here to enter into any 
detailed analysis of the different classes of mental pursuit. 
In a scientific research we get perhaps as rich an example 
as can be found. The inquirer starts with a fact of which 


he seeks the reason, or with an hypothesis of which he 
seeks the proof. In either case he keeps turning the 
matter incessantly in his mind until, by the arousal of asso- 
ciate upon associate, some habitual, some similar, one arises 
which he recognizes to suit his need. This however, may 
take years. No rules can be given by which the investi- 
gator may proceed straight to his result; but both here 
and in the case of reminiscence the accumulation of helps 
in the way of associations may advance more rapidly by 
the use of certain routine methods. In striving to recall a 
thought, for example, we may of set purpose run through 
the successive classes of circumstance with which it may 
possibly have been connected, trusting that when the right 
member of the class has turned up it will help the thought's 
revival. Thus we may run through all the places in which 
we may have had it. We may run through the persons 
whom we remember to have conversed with, or we may call 
up successively all the books we have lately been reading. 
If we are trying to remember a person we may run through 
a list of streets or of professions. Some item out of the 
lists thus methodically gone over will very likely be asso- 
ciated with the fact we are in need of, and may suggest it 
or help to do so. And yet the item might never have arisen 
without such systematic procedure. In scientific research 
this accumulation of associates has been methodized by 
Mill under the title of ' The Four Methods of Experi- 
mental Inquiry.' By the ' method of agreement,' by that 
of * difference,' by those of ' residues ' and ' concomitant 
variations ' (which cannot here be more nearly defined), we 
make certain lists of cases; and by ruminating these lists 
in our minds the cause we seek will be more likely to 
emerge. But the final stroke of discovery is only prepared, 
not effected by them. The brain-tracts must, of their own 
accord, shoot the right way at last, or we shall still grope 
in darkness. That in some brains the tracts do shoot the 
right way much oftener than in others, and that we cannot 
tell why, — these are ultimate facts to which we must never 


close our eyes. Even in forming our lists of instances 
according to Mill's methods, we are at the mercy of the 
spontaneous workings of Similarity in our brain. How 
are a number of facts, resembling the one whose cause we 
seek, to be brought together in a list unless one will rapidly 
suggest another through association by similarity? 

Similarity no Elementary Law. — Such is the analysis I 
propose, first of the three main types of spontaneous, and 
then of voluntary, trains of thought. It will be observed 
that the object called up may bear any logical relation 
whatever to the one which suggested it. The law requires 
only that one condition should be fulfilled. The fading 
object must be due to a brain-process some of whose ele- 
ments awaken through habit some of the elements of the 
brain-process of the object which comes to view. This 
awakening is the causal agency in the kind of association 
called Similarity, as in any other sort. The similarity 
itself between the objects has no causal agency in carry- 
ing us from one to the other. It is but a result — the effect 
of the usual causal agent when this happens to work in a 
certain way. Ordinary writers talk as if the similarity of 
the objects were itself an agent, coordinate with habit, and 
independent of it, and like it able to push objects before 
the mind. This is quite unintelligible. The similarity of 
two things does not exist till both things are there — it is 
meaningless to talk of it as an agent of production of any- 
thing, whether in the physical or the psychical realms. It 
is a relation which the mind perceives after the fact, just 
as it may perceive the relations of superiority, of distance, 
of causality, of container and content, of substance and 
accident, or of contrast, between an object and some second 
object which the associative machinery calls up. 

Conclusion. — To sum up, then, we see that the difference 
between the three kinds of association reduces itself to a 
simple difference in the amount of that portion of the 
nerve-tract supporting the going thought which i: oper- 
ative in calling up the thought which comes. But the 


modus operandi of this active part is the same, be it large 
or be it small. The items constituting the coming object 
waken in every instance because their nerve-tracts once 
were excited continuously with those of the going object 
or its operative part. This ultimate physiological law of 
habit among the neural elements is what runs the train. 
The direction of its course and the form of its transitions 
are due to the unknown conditions by which in some 
brains action tends to focalize itself in small spots, while 
in others it fills patiently its broad bed. What these dif- 
fering conditions are, it seems impossible to guess. What- 
ever they are, they are what separate the man of genius 
from the prosaic creature of habit and routine thinking. 
In the chapter on Reasoning we shall need to recur again 
to this point. I trust that the student will now feel 
that the way to a deeper understanding of the order of our 
ideas lies in the direction of cerebral physiology. The 
elementary process of revival can be nothing but the law 
of habit. Truly the day is distant when physiologists 
shall actually trace from cell-group to cell-group the 
irradiations which we have hypothetically invoked. Prob- 
ably it will never arrive. The schematism we have used 
is, moreover, taken immediately from the analysis of 
objects into their elementary parts, and only extended by 
analogy to the brain. And yet it is only as incorporated 
in the brain that such a schematism can represent any- 
thing causal. This is, to my mind, the conclusive reason 
for saying that the order of presentation of the mind's 
materials is due to cerebral physiology alone. 

The law of accidental prepotency of certain processes 
over others falls also within the sphere of cerebral proba- 
bilities. Granting such instability as the brain-tissue re- 
quires, certain points must always discharge more quickly 
and strongly than others; and this prepotency would shift 
its place from moment to moment by accidental causes, 
giving us a perfect mechanical diagram of the capricious 


play of similar association in the most gifted mind. A 
study of dreams confirms this view. The usual abundance 
of paths of irradiation seems, in the dormant brain, reduced. 
A few only are pervious, and the most fantastic sequences 
occur because the currents run — ' like sparks in burnt-up 
paper ' — wherever the nutrition of the moment creates an 
opening, but nowhere else. 

The ejects of interested attention and volition remain. 
These activities seem to hold fast to certain elements and, 
by emphasizing them and dwelling on them, to make their 
associates the only ones which are evoked. This is the 
point at which an anti-mechanical psychology must, if any- 
where, make its stand in dealing with association. Every- 
thing else is pretty certainly due to cerebral laws. My 
own opinion on the question of active attention and spirit- 
ual spontaneity is expressed elsewhere (see p. 237). But 
even though there be a mental spontaneity, it can certainly 
not create ideas or summon them ex abrupto. Its power is 
limited to selecting amongst those which the associative 
machinery introduces. If it can emphasize, reinforce, or 
protract for half a second either one of these, it can do all 
that the most eager advocate of free will need demand; for 
it then decides the direction of the next associations by 
making them hinge upon the emphasized term; and deter- 
mining in this wise the course of the man's thinking, it 
also determines his acts. 



The sensible present has duration. Let any one try, I 
will not say to arrest, but to notice or attend to, the present 
moment of time. One of the most baffling experiences 
occurs. Where is it, this present? It has melted in our 
grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of 
becoming. As a poet, quoted by Mr. Hodgson, says, 

" Le moment ou je parle est deja loin de moi," 

and it is only as entering into the living and moving organi- 
zation of a much wider tract of time that the strict present 
is apprehended at all. It is, in fact, an altogether ideal 
abstraction, not only never realized in sense, but probably 
never even conceived of by those unaccustomed to philo- 
sophic meditation. Reflection leads us to the conclusion 
that it must exist, but that it does exist can never be a fact 
of our immediate experience. The only fact of our imme- 
diate experience is what has been well called ' the specious ' 
present, a sort of saddle-back of time with a certain length 
of its own, on which we sit perched, and from which we 
look in two directions into time. The unit of composi- 
tion of our perception of time is a duration, with a bow 
and a stern, as it were — a rearward- and a forward-looking 
end. It is only as parts of this duration-block that the 
relation of succession of one end to the other is perceived. 
We do not first feel one end and then feel the other after 
it, and from the perception of the succession infer an 
interval of time between, but we seem to feel the interval 
of time as a whole, with its two ends embedded in it. The 
experience is from the outset a synthetic datum, not a 



simple one; and to sensible perception its elements are 
inseparable, although attention looking back may easily 
decompose the experience, and distinguish its beginning 
from its end. . 

The moment we pass beyond a very few seconds our 
consciousness of duration ceases to be an immediate 
perception and becomes a construction more or less sym- 
bolic. To realize even an hour, we must count ' now! 
now! now! now! ' indefinitely. Each ' now ' is the feel- 
ing of a separate bit of time, and the exact sum of the 
bits never makes a clear impression on our .mind. The 
longest bit of duration which we can apprehend at once so 
as to discriminate it from longer and shorter bits of time 
would seem (from experiments made for another purpose 
in Wundt's laboratory) to be about 12 seconds. The 
shortest interval which we can feel as time at all would 
seem to be 1 / 500 of a second. That is, Exner recognized 
two electric sparks to be successive when the second fol- 
lowed the first at that interval. 

We have no sense for empty time. Let one sit with 
closed eyes and, abstracting entirely from the outer world, 
attend exclusively to the passage of time, like one who 
wakes, as the poet says, " to hear time flowing in the 
middle of the night, and all things moving to a day of 
doom." There seems under such circumstances as these 
no variety in the material content of our thought, and 
what we notice appears, if anything, to be the pure series 
of durations budding, as it were, and growing beneath our 
indrawn gaze. Is this really so or not? The question is 
important; for, if the experience be what it roughly seems, 
we have a sort of special sense for pure time — a sense to 
which empty duration is an adequate stimulus; while if it 
be an illusion, it must be that our perception of time's 
flight, in the experiences quoted, is due to the filling of 
the time, and to our memory of a content which it had a 
moment previous, and which we feel to agree or disagree 
with its content now. 


It takes but a small exertion of introspection to show 
that the latter alternative is the true one, and that we can 
no more perceive a duration than we can perceive an exten- 
sion, devoid of all sensible content. Just as with closed 
eyes we see a dark visual field in which a curdling play of 
obscurest luminosity is always going on; so, be we never 
so abstracted from distinct outward impressions, we are 
always inwardly immersed in what Wundt has somewhere 
called the twilight of our general consciousness. Our 
heart-beats, our breathing, the pulses of our attention, 
fragments of words or sentences that pass through our 
imagination,' are what people this dim habitat. Now, all 
these processes are rhythmical, and are apprehended by 
us, as they occur, in their totality; the breathing and 
pulses of attention, as coherent successions, each with its 
rise and fall; the heart-beats similarly, only relatively far 
more brief; the words not separately, but in connected 
groups. In short, empty our minds as we may, some form 
of changing process remains for us to feel, and cannot be 
expelled. And along with the sense of the process and 
its rhythm goes the sense of the length of time it lasts. 
Awareness of change is thus the condition on which our 
perception of time's flow depends; but there exists no 
reason to suppose that empty time's own changes are suffi- 
cient for the awareness of change to be aroused. The change 
must be of some concrete sort. 

Appreciation of Longer Durations. — In the experience 
of watching empty time flow — ' empty ' to be taken hereafter 
in the relative sense just set forth — we tell it off in pulses. 
We say l now! now! now! ' or we count ' more! more! 
more! ' as we feel it bud. This composition out of units 
of duration is called the law of time's discrete flow. The 
discreteness is, however, merely due to fact that our 
successive acts of recognition or apperception of what it is 
are discrete. The sensation is as continuous as any sen- 
sation can be. All continuous sensations are named in 
beats. We notice that a certain finite ' more ' of them is 


passing or already past. To adopt Hodgson's image, the 
sensation is the measuring-tape, the perception the divid- 
ing-engine which stamps its length. As we listen to a 
steady sound, we take it in in discrete pulses of recog- 
nition, calling it successively ' the same! the same! the 
same! ' The case stands no otherwise with time. 

After a small number of beats our impression of the 
amount we have told off becomes quite vague. Our only 
way of knowing it accurately is by counting, or noticing 
the clock, or through some other symbolic conception. 
When the times exceed hours or days, the conception is 
absolutely symbolic. We think of the amount we mean 
either solely as a name, or by running over a few salient 
dates herein, with no pretence of imagining the full 
durations that lie between them. No one has anything 
like a perception of the greater length of the time between 
now and the first century than of that between now and 
the tenth. To an historian, it is true, the longer interval 
will suggest a host of additional dates and events, and so 
appear a more multitudinous thing. And for the same 
reason most people will think they directly perceive the 
length of the past fortnight to exceed that of the past 
week. But there is properly no comparative time-intui- 
tion in these cases at all. It is but dates and events rep- 
resenting time, their abundance symbolizing its length. 
I am sure that this is so, even where the times compared 
are of more than an hour or so in length. It is the same 
with spaces of many miles, which we always compare with 
each other by the numbers that measure them. 

From this we pass naturally to speak of certain familiar 
variations in our estimation of lengths of time. In general, 
a time filled with varied and interesting experiences seems 
short in passing, but long as we look back. On the other 
hand, a tract of time empty of experiences seems long in 
passing, but in retrospect short. A week of travel and 
sight-seeing may subtend an angle more like three weeks 
in the memory; and a month of sickness yields hardly 


more memories than a day. The length in retrospect de- 
pends obviously on the multitudinousness of the memories 
which the time affords. Many objects, events, changes, 
many subdivisions, immediately widen the view as we look 
back. Emptiness, monotony, familiarity, make it shrivel 

The same space of time seems shorter as we grow older — 
that is, the days, the months, and the years do so; whether 
the hours do so is doubtful, and the minutes and seconds 
to all appearance remain about the same. An old man 
probably does not feel his past life to be any longer than 
he did when he was a boy, though it may be a dozen times 
as long. In most men all the events of manhood's years 
are of such familiar sorts that the individual impressions 
do not last. At the same time more and more of the earlier 
events get forgotten, the result being that no greater mul- 
titude of distinct objects remains in the memory. 

So much for the apparent shortening of tracts of time in 
retrospect. They shorten in passing whenever we are so 
fully occupied with their content as not to note the actual 
time itself. A day full of excitement, with no pause, is 
said to pass ' ere we know it.' On the contrary, a day full 
of waiting, of unsatisfied desire for change, will seem a 
small eternity. Tcedium, ennui, Langweile, boredom, are 
words for which, probably, every language known to man 
has its equivalent. It comes about whenever, from the 
relative emptiness of content of a tract of time, we grow 
attentive to the passage of the time itself. Expecting, and 
being ready for, a new impression to succeed; when it faib 
to come, we get an empty time instead of it; and such ex- 
periences, ceaselessly renewed, make us most formidably 
aware of the extent of the mere time itself. Close your 
eyes and simply wait to hear somebody tell you that a 
minute has elapsed, and the full length of your leisure with 
it seems incredible. You engulf yourself into its bowels 
as into those of that interminable first week of an ocean 
voyage, and find yourself wondering that history can have 


overcome many such periods in its course. All because 
you attend so closely to the mere feeling of the time per se, 
and because your attention to that is susceptible of such 
fine-grained successive subdivision. The odiousness of the 
whole experience comes from its insipidity; for stimula- 
tion is the indispensable requisite for pleasure in an expe- 
rience, and the feeling of bare time is the least stimulating 
experience we can have. The sensation of tedium is a 
protest, says Volkmann, against the entire present. 

The feeling of past time is a present feeling. In re- 
flecting on the modus operandi of our consciousness of time, 
we are at first tempted to suppose it the easiest thing in 
the world to understand. Our inner states succeed each 
other. They know themselves as they are; then of course, 
we say, they must know their own succession. But this 
philosophy is too crude; for between the mind's own 
changes being successive, and knowing their own succes- 
sion, lies as broad a chasm as between the object and sub- 
ject of any case of cognition in the world. A succession 
of feelings, in and of itself, is not a feeling of succession. 
And since, to our successive feelings, a feeling of their 
succession is added, that must be treated as an additional 
fact requiring its own special elucidation, which this talk 
about the feelings knowing their time-relations as a matter 
of course leaves all untouched. 

If we represent the actual time-stream of our thinking 
by an horizontal line, the thought of the stream or of any 
segment of its length, past, present, or to come, might be 
figured in a perpendicular raised upon the horizontal at a 
certain point. The length of this perpendicular stands for 
a certain object or content, which in this case is the time 
thought of at the actual moment of the stream upon which 
the perpendicular is raised. 

There is thus a sort of perspective projection of past 
objects upon present consciousness, similar to that of wide 
landscapes upon a camera-screen. 

And since we saw a while ago that our maximum dis- 


tinct perception of duration hardly covers more than a dozen 
seconds (while our maximum vague perception is probably 
not more than that of a minute or so), we must suppose that 
this amount of duration is pictured fairly steadily in each 
passing instant of consciousness by virtue of some fairly 
constant feature in the brain-process to which the con- 
sciousness is tied. This feature of the brain-process, what- 
ever it be, must be the cause of our perceiving the fact of 
time at all. The duration thus steadily perceived is hardly 
more than the ' specious present/ as it was called a few 
pages back. Its content is in a constant flux, events dawn- 
ing into its forward end as fast as they fade out of its rear- 
ward one, and each of them changing its time-coefficient 
from ' not yet/ or ' not quite yet/ to ' just gone/ or ' gone/ as 
it passes by. Meanwhile, the specious present, the intuited 
duration, stands permanent, like the rainbow on the water- 
fall, with its own quality unchanged by the events that 
stream through it. Each of these, as it slips out, retains 
the power of being reproduced; and when reproduced, is 
reproduced with the duration and neighbors which it 
originally had. Please observe, however, that the repro- 
duction of an event, after it has once completely dropped 
out of the rearward end of the specious present, is an 
entirely different psychic fact from its direct perception in 
the spacious present as a thing immediately past. A crea- 
ture might be entirely devoid of reproductive memory, and 
yet have the time-sense; but the latter would be limited, 
in his case, to the few seconds immediately passing by. In 
the next chapter, assuming the sense of time as given, we 
will turn to the analysis of what happens in reproductive 
memory, the recall of dated things. 



Analysis of the Phenomenon of Memory. — Memory 
proper, or secondary memory as it might be styled, is the 
knowledge of a former state of mind after it has already 
once dropped from consciousness; or rather it is the knowl- 
edge of an event, or fact, of which meantime we have not 
been thinking, with the additional consciousness that we 
have thought or experienced it before. 

The first element which such a knowledge involves would 
seem to be the revival in the mind of an image or copy 
of the original event. And it is an assumption made by 
many writers that such revival of an image is all that is 
needed to constitute the memory of the original occurrence. 
But such a revival is obviously not a memory, whatever else 
it may be; it is simply a duplicate, a second event, having 
absolutely no connection with the first event except that it 
happens to resemble it. The clock strikes to-day; it struck 
yesterday; and may strike a million times ere it wears out. 
The rain pours through the gutter this week; it did so last 
week and will do in scecula sceculorum. But does the 
present clock-stroke become aware of the past ones, or the 
present stream recollect the past stream, because they re- 
peat and resemble them? Assuredly not. And let it not 
be said that this is because clock-strokes and gutters are 
physical and not psychical objects; for psychical objects 
(sensations, for example) simply recurring in successive 
editions will remember each other on that account no more 
than clock-strokes do. No memory is involved in the 
mere fact of recurrence. The successive editions of a 
feeling are so many independent events, each snug in its 


own skin. Yesterday's feeling is dead and buried; and 
the presence of to-day's is no reason why it should resusci- 
tate along with to-day's. A farther condition is required 
before the present image can be held to stand for a past 

That condition is that the fact imaged be expressly 
referred to the past, thought as in the past. But how can 
we think a thing as in the past, except by thinking of the 
past together with the thing, and of the relation of the 
two? And how can we think of the past? In the chap- 
ter on Time-perception we have seen that our intuitive or 
immediate consciousness of pastness hardly carries us more 
than a few seconds backward of the present instant of 
time. Remoter dates are conceived, not perceived; known 
symbolically by names, such as 'last week/ '1850'; or 
thought of by events which happened in them, as the year 
in which we attended such a school, or met with such a 
loss. So that if we wish to think of a particular past 
epoch, we must think of a name or other symbol, or else 
of certain concrete events, associated therewithal. Both 
must be thought of, to think the past epoch adequately. 
And to ' refer ' any special fact to the past epoch is to 
think that fact with the names and events which charac- 
terize its date, to think it, in short, with a lot of contigu- 
ous associates. 

But even this would not be memory. Memory requires 
more than mere dating of a fact in the past. It must be 
dated in my past. In other words, I must think that I 
directly experienced its occurrence. It must have that 
' warmth and intimacy y which were so often spoken of in 
the chapter on the Self, as characterizing all experiences 
' appropriated ' by the thinker as his own. 

A general feeling of the past direction in time, then, a 
particular date conceived as lying along that direction, and 
denned by its name or phenomenal contents, an event im- 
agined as located therein, and owned as part of my experi- 
ence, — such are the elements of every object of memory. 


Retention and Recall. — Such being the phenomenon of 
memory, or the analysis of its object, can we see how it 
comes to pass? can we lay bare its causes? 

Its complete exercise presupposes two things: 

1) The retention of the remembered fact; and 

2 ) Its reminiscence } recollection, reproduction, or recall. 
Now the cause both of retention and of recollection is the 

law of habit in the nervous system, working as it does in 
the ' association of ideas.* 

Association explains Recall. — Associationists have long 
explained recollection by association. James Mill gives an 
account of it which I am unable to improve upon, unless 
it might be by transplanting his word ' idea ' into ' thing 
thought of/ or ' object.' 

" There is," he says, " a state of mind familiar to ail men, 
in which we are said to remember. In this state it is cer- 
tain we have not in the mind the idea which we are trying 
to have in it. How is it, then, that we proceed, in the 
course of our endeavor, to procure its introduction into 
the mind? If we have not the idea itself, we have certain 
ideas connected with it. We run over those ideas, one 
after another, in hopes that some one of them will suggest 
the idea we are in quest of; and if any one of them does, 
it is always one so connected with it as to call it up in the 
way of association. I meet an old acquaintance, whose 
name I do not remember, and wish to recollect. I run 
over a number of names, in hopes that some of them may 
be associated with the idea of the individual. I think of 
all the circumstances in which I have seen him engaged; 
the time when I knew him, the persons along with whom 
I knew him, the things he did, or the things he suffered; 
and if I chance upon any idea with which the name is 
associated, then immediately I have the recollection; if 
not, my pursuit of it is vain. There is another set of 
cases, very familiar, but affording very important evidence 
on the subject. It frequently happens that there are mat- 
ters which we desire not to forget. What is the contri- 


vance to which we have recourse for preserving the memory 
— that it, for making sure that it will be called into exist- 
ence when it is our wish that it should? All men invari- 
ably employ the same expedient. They endeavor to form 
an association between the idea of the thing to be remem- 
bered and some sensation, or some idea, which they know 
beforehand will occur at or near the time when they wish 
the remembrance to be in their minds. If this association 
is formed and the association or idea with which it has 
been formed occurs, the sensation, or idea, calls up the 
remembrance, and the object of him who formed the 
association is attained. To use a vulgar instance: a man 
receives a commission from his friend, and, that he may 
not forget it, ties a knot in his handkerchief. How is this 
fact to be explained? First of all, the idea of the commis- 
sion is associated with the making of the knot. Next, the 
handkerchief is a thing which it is known beforehand will 
be frequently seen and of course at no great distance of 
time from the occasion on which the memory is desired. 
The handkerchief being seen, the knot is seen, and this 
sensation recalls the idea of the commission, between which 
and itself the association had been purposely formed." 

In short, we make search in our memory for a forgotten 
idea, just as we rummage our house for a lost object. In 
both cases we visit what seems to us the probable neigh- 
borhood of that which me miss. We turn over the things 
under which, or within which, or alongside of which, it 
may possibly be; and if it lies near them, it soon comes to 
view. But these matters, in the case of a mental object 
sought, are nothing but its associates. The machinery of 
recall is thus the same as the machinery of association, and 
the machinery of association, as we know, is nothing but the 
elementary law of habit in the nerve-centres. 

It also explains retention. And this same law of habit 
is the machinery of retention also. Retention means lia- 
bility to recall, and it means nothing more than such 
liability. The only proof of there being retention is that 


recall actually takes place. The retention of an experience 
is, in short, but another name for the possibility of think- 
ing it again, or the tendency to think it again, with its past 
surroundings. Whatever accidental cue may turn this 
tendency into an actuality, the permanent ground of the 
tendency itself lies in the organized neural paths by which 
the cue calls up the memorable experience, the past asso- 
ciates, the sense that the self was there, the belief that it 
all really happened, etc., as previously described. When 
the recollection is ol the ' ready ' sort, the resuscitation 
takes place the instant the cue arises; when it is slow, re- 
suscitation comes after delay. But be the recall prompt or 
slow, the condition which makes it possible at all (or, in 
other words, the ' retention ' of the experience) is neither 
more nor less than the brain-paths which associate the ex- 
perience with the occasion and cue of the recall. When 
slumbering, these paths are the condition of retention; 
when active, they are the condition of recall. 

Brain-scheme. — A simple scheme will now make the 
whole cause of memory plain. Let n be a past event, o 
its * setting ' (concomitants, date, 
self present, warmth and inti- 
macy, etc., etc., as already set 
forth), and m some present 
thought or fact which may appro- 
priately become the occasion of 
its recall. Let the nerve-centres, 
active in the thought of m, n, and 
o, be represented by M, N, and O, 
respectively; then the existence FlG - 62 - 

of the paths symbolized by the lines between M and N and 
N and O will be the fact indicated by the phrase ' retention 
of the event n in the memory,' and the excitement of the 
brain along these paths will be the condition of the event 
n's actual recall. The retention of n, it will be observed, is 
no mysterious storing up of an ' idea ' in an unconscious 
state. It is not a fact of the mental order at all. It is a. 


purely physical phenomenon, a morphological feature, the 
presence of these ' paths,' namely, in the finest recesses 
of the brain's tissue. The recall or recollection, on the 
other hand, is a psycho-physical phenomenon, with both a 
bodily and a mental side. The bodily side is the excite- 
ment of the paths in question; the mental side is the con- 
scious representation of the past occurrence, and the belief 
that we experienced it before. 

The only hypothesis, in short, to which the facts of in- 
ward experience give countenance is that the brain-tracts 
excited by the event proper, and those excited in its recall, 
are in part different from each other. If we could 
revive the past event without any associates we should 
exclude the possibility of memory, and simply dream that 
we were undergoing the experience as if for the first time. 
Wherever, in fact, the recalled event does appear without 
a definite setting, it is hard to distinguish it from a mere 
creation of fancy. But in proportion as its image lingers 
and recalls associates which gradually become more defi- 
nite, it grows more and more distinctly into a remembered 
thing. For example, I enter a friend's room and see on 
the wall a painting. At first I have the strange, wonder- 
ing consciousness, ' Surely I have seen that before,' but 
when or how does not become clear. There only clings to 
the picture a sort of penumbra of familiarity, — when sud- 
denly I exclaim: " I have it! It is a copy of part of one of 
the Fra Angelicos in the Florentine Academy — I recollect 
it there." Only when the image of the Academy arises 
does the picture become remembered, as well as seen. 

The Conditions of Goodness in Memory. — The re- 
membered fact being n, then, the path N — is what arouses 
for n its setting when it is recalled, and makes it other than 
a mere imagination. The path M — N, on the other hand, 
gives the cue or occasion of its being recalled at all. 
Memory being thus altogether conditioned on brain-paths, 
its excellence in a given individual will depend partly on 
the number and partly on the persistence of these paths. 


The persistence or permanence of the paths is a physio- 
logical property of the brain-tissue of the individual, 
whilst their number is altogether due to the facts of his 
mental experience. Let the quality of permanence in the 
paths be called the native tenacity, or physiological reten- 
tiveness. This tenacity differs enormously from infancy 
to old age, and from one person to another. Some minds 
are like wax under a seal — no impression, however dis- 
connected with others, is wiped out. Others, like a jelly, 
vibrate to every touch, but under usual conditions retain 
no permanent mark. These latter minds, before they can 
recollect a fact, must weave it into their permanent stores 
of knowledge. They have no desultory memory. Those 
persons, on the contrary, who retain names, dates and 
addresses, anecdotes, gossip, poetry, quotations, and all sorts 
of miscellaneous facts, without an effort, have desultory 
memory in a high degree, and certainly owe it to the un- 
usual tenacity of their brain-substance for any path once 
formed therein. No one probably was ever effective on a 
voluminous scale without a high degree of this physiolog- 
ical retentiveness. In the practical as in the theoretic life, 
the man whose acquisitions stick is the man who is always 
achieving and advancing, whilst his neighbors, spending 
most of their time in relearning what they once knew but 
have forgotten, simply hold their own. A Charlemagne, a 
Luther, a Leibnitz, a Walter Scott, any example, in short, 
of your quarto or folio editions of mankind, must needs 
have amazing retentiveness of the purely physiological sort. 
Men without this retentiveness may excel in the quality 
of their work at this point or at that, but will never do 
such mighty sums of it, or be influential contemporaneously 
on such a scale. 

But there comes a time of life for all of us when we can 
do no more than hold our own in the way of acquisitions, 
when the old paths fade as fast as the new ones form in our 
brain, and when we forget in a week quite as much as we 
can learn in the same space of time. This equilibrium may 


last many, many years. In extreme old age it is upset in 
the reverse direction, and forgetting prevails over acquisi- 
tion, or rather there is no acquisition. Brain-paths are so 
transient that in the course of a few minutes of conversa- 
tion the same question is asked and its answer forgotten 
half a dozen times. Then the superior tenacity of the 
paths formed in childhood becomes manifest/ the dotard 
will retrace the facts of his earlier years after he has lost 
all those of later date. 

So much for the permanence of the paths. Now for 
their number. 

It is obvious that the more there are of such paths as 
M — N in the brain, and the more of such possible cues or 
occasions for the recall of n in the mind, the prompter and 
surer, on the whole, the memory of n will be, the more 
frequently one will be reminded of it, the more avenues of 
approach to it one will possess. In mental terms, the more 
other facts a fact is associated with in the mind, the better 
possession of it our memory retains. Each of its associates 
becomes a hook to which it hangs, a means to fish it up 
by when sunk beneath the surface. Together, they form a 
network of attachments by which it is woven into the 
entire tissue of our thought. The ' secret of a good mem- 
ory ' is thus the secret of forming diverse and multiple 
associations with every fact we care to retain. But this 
forming of associations with a fact, what is it but thinking 
about the fact as much as possible? Briefly, then, of two 
men with the same outward experiences and the same 
amount of mere native tenacity, the one who thinks over 
his experiences most, and weaves them into systematic rela- 
tions with each other, will be the one with the best memory. 
We see examples of this on every hand. Most men have a 
good memory for facts connected with their own pursuits. 
The college athlete who remains a dunce at his books 
will astonish you by his knowledge of men's ' records ' in 
various feats and games, and will be a walking dictionary 
of sporting statistics. The reason is that he is constantly 


going over these things in his mind, and comparing and 
making series of them. They form for him not so many 
odd facts, but a concept-system — so they stick. So the 
merchant remembers prices, the politician other politicians' 
speeches and votes, with a copiousness which amazes out- 
siders, but which the amount of thinking they bestow on 
these subjects easily explains. The great memory for facts 
which a Darwin and a Spencer reveal in their books is not 
incompatible with the possession on their part of a brain 
with only a middling degree of physiological retentiveness. 
Let a man early in life set himself the task of verifying 
such a theory as that of evolution, and facts will soon 
cluster and cling to him like grapes to their stem. Their 
relations to the theory will hold them fast; and the more 
of these the mind is able to discern, the greater the erudi- 
tion will become. Meanwhile the theorist may have little, 
if any, desultory memory. Unutilizable facts may be 
unnoted by him and forgotten as soon as heard. An 
ignorance almost as encyclopaedic as his erudition may co- 
exist with the latter, and hide, as it were, in the interstices 
of its web. Those who have had much to do with scholars 
and savants will readily think of examples of the class of 
mind I mean. 

In a system, every fact is connected with every other by 
some thought-relation. The consequence is that every fact 
is retained by the combined suggestive power of all the 
other facts in the system, and forgetfulness is well-nigh 

The reason why cramming is such a bad mode of 
study is now made clear. I mean by cramming that way of 
preparing for examinations by committing ' points ' to mem- 
ory during a few hours or days of intense application 
immediately preceding the final ordeal, little or no work 
having been performed during the previous course of the 
term. Things learned thus in a few hours, on one occasion, 
for one purpose, cannot possibly have formed many associa- 
tions with other things in the mind. Their brain-processes 


are led into by few paths, and are relatively little liable to be 
awakened again. Speedy oblivion is the almost inevitable 
fate of all that is committed to memory in this simple way. 
Whereas, on the contrary, the same materials taken in 
gradually, day after day, recurring in different contexts, 
considered in various relations, associated with other exter- 
nal incidents, and repeatedly reflected on, grow into such a 
system, form such connections with the rest of the mind's 
fabric, lie open to so many paths of approach, that they 
remain permanent possessions. This is the intellectual 
reason why habits of continuous application should be 
enforced in educational establishments. Of course there 
is no moral turpitude in cramming. Did it lead to the 
desired end of secure learning, it were infinitely the best 
method of study. But it does not; and students them- 
selves should understand the reason why. 

One's native retentiveness is unchangeable. It will 
now appear clear that all improvement of the memory lies in 
the line of elaborating the associates of each of the 
several things to be remembered. No amount of culture 
would seem capable of modifying a man's general reten- 
tiveness. This is a physiological quality, given once for all 
with his organization, and which he can never hope to change. 
It differs no doubt in disease and health ; and it is a fact of 
observation that it is better in fresh and vigorous hours 
than when we are fagged or ill. We may say, then, that a 
man's native tenacity will fluctuate somewhat with his 
hygiene, and that whatever is good for his tone of health 
will also be good for his memory. We may even say that 
whatever amount of intellectual exercise is bracing to the 
general tone and nutrition of the brain will also be profit- 
able to the general retentiveness. But more than this we 
cannot say; and this, it is obvious, is far less than most 
people believe. 

It is, in fact, commonly thought that certain exercises, 
systematically repeated, will strengthen, not only a man's 
remembrance of the particular facts used in the exercises, 


but his faculty for remembering facts at large. And a 
plausible case is always made out by saying that practice in 
learning words by heart makes it easier to learn new words 
in the same way. If this be true, then what I have just 
said is false, and the whole doctrine of memory as due to 
1 paths ' must be revised. But I am disposed to think the 
alleged fact untrue. I have carefully questioned several 
mature actors on the point, and all have denied that the 
practice of learning parts has made any such difference as 
is alleged. What it has done for them is to improve their 
power of studying a part systematically. Their mind is 
now full of precedents in the way of intonation, emphasis, 
gesticulation; the new words awaken distinct suggestions 
and decisions; are caught up, in fact, into a preexisting 
network, like the merchant's prices, or the athlete's store 
of ' records/ and are recollected easier, although the mere 
native tenacity is not a whit improved, and is usually, in 
fact, impaired by age. It is a case of better remembering 
by better thinking. Similarly when schoolboys improve 
by practice in ease of learning by heart, the improvement 
will, I am sure, be always found to reside in the mode of 
study of the particular piece (due to the greater interest, 
the greater suggestiveness, the generic similarity with other 
pieces, the more sustained attention, etc., etc.), and not at 
all to any enhancement of the brute retentive power. 

The error I speak of pervades an otherwise useful and 
judicious book, ' How to Strengthen the Memory,' by Dr. 
M. C. Holbrook of New York. The author fails to distin- 
guish between the general physiological retentiveness and 
the retention of particular things, and talks as if both must 
be benefited by the same means. 

" I am now treating," he says, " a case of loss of memory 
in a person advanced in years, who did not know that his 
memory had failed most remarkably till I told him of it. 
He is making vigorous efforts to bring it back again, and 
with partial success. The method pursued is to spend two 
hours daily, one in the morning and one in the evening, in 


exercising this faculty. The patient is instructed to give 
the closest attention to all that he learns, so that it shall 
be impressed on his mind clearly. He is asked to recall 
every evening all the facts and experiences of the day, and 
again the next morning. Every name heard is written 
down and impressed on his mind clearly, and an effort 
made to recall it at intervals. Ten names from among 
public men are ordered to be committed to memory every 
week. A verse of poetry is to be learned, also a verse from 
the Bible, daily. He is asked to remember the number of 
the page in any book where any interesting fact is recorded. 
These and other methods are slowly resuscitating a failing 

I find it very hard to believe that the memory of the 
poor old gentleman is a bit the better for all this torture 
except in respect of the particular facts thus wrought into 
it, and other matters that may have been connected there- 

Improving the Memory. — All improvement of memory 
consists, then, in the improvement of one's habitual methods 
of recording facts. Methods have been divided into the 
mechanical, the ingenious, and the judicious. 

The mechanical methods consist in the intensification, 
prolongation, and repetition of the impression to be re- 
membered. The modern method of teaching children to 
read by blackboard work, in which each word is impressed 
by the fourfold channel of eye, ear, voice, and hand, is an 
example of an improved mechanical method of memorizing. 

Judicious methods of remembering things are nothing 
but logical ways of conceiving them and working them 
into rational systems, classifying them, analyzing them 
into parts, etc., etc. All the sciences are such methods. 

Of ingenious methods many have been invented, undei 
the name of technical memories. By means of these 
systems it is often possible to retain entirely disconnected 
facts, lists of names, numbers, and so forth, so multitudi- 
nous as to be entirely unrememberable in a natural way. 


The method consists usually in a framework learned 
mechanically, of which the mind is supposed to remain in 
secure and permanent possession. Then, whatever is to 
be remembered is deliberately associated by some fanciful 
analogy or connection with some part of this framework, 
and this connection thenceforward helps its recall. The 
best known and most used of these devices is the figure- 
alphabet. To remember numbers, e.g., a figure-alphabet 
is first formed, in which each numerical digit is represented 
by one or more letters. The number is then translated into 
such letters as will best make a word, if possible a word 
suggestive of the object to which the number belongs. 
The word will then be remembered when the numbers 
alone might be forgotten.* The recent system of Loisette 
is a method, much less mechanical, of weaving the thing 
into associations which may aid its recall. 

Recognition. — If, however, a phenomenon be met with 
too often, and with too great a variety of contexts, although 
its image is retained and reproduced with correspondingly 
great facility, it fails to come up with any one particular 
setting and the projection of it backwards to a particular 
past date consequently does not come about. We recognize 
but do not remember it — its associates form too confused a 
cloud. A similar result comes about when a definite setting 
is only nascently aroused. We then feel that we have seen 
the object already, but when or where we cannot say, though 
we may seem to ourselves to be on the brink of saying it. 
That nascent cerebral excitations can thus affect conscious- 
ness is obvious from what happens when we seek to remem- 
ber a name. It tingles, it trembles on the verge, but does 
not come. Just such a tingling and trembling of unre- 








3 4 








m r 















covered associates is the penumbra of recognition that may 
surround any experience and make it seem familiar, though 
we know not why. 

There is a curious experience which everyone seems to 
have had — the feeling that the present moment in its com- 
pleteness has been experienced before — we were saying just 
this thing, in just this place, to just these people, etc. 
This ' sense of preexistence ' has been treated as a great 
mystery and occasioned much speculation. Dr. Wigan 
considered it due to a dissociation of the action of the two 
hemispheres, one of them becoming conscious a little later 
than the other, but both of the same fact. I must confess 
that the quality of mystery seems to me here a little strained. 
I have over and over again in my own case succeeded in 
resolving the phenomenon into a case of memory, so indis- 
tinct that whilst some past circumstances are presented 
again, the others are not. The dissimilar portions of the 
past do not arise completely enough at first for the date to 
be identified. All we get is the present scene with a gen- 
eral suggestion of pastness about it. That faithful observer, 
Prof. Lazarus, interprets the phenomenon in the same way; 
and it is noteworthy that just as soon as the past context 
grows complete and distinct the emotion of weirdness fades 
from the experience. 

Forgetting. — In the practical use of our intellect, for- 
getting is as important a function as remembering. ' Total 
recall ' (see p. 261) we saw to be comparatively rare in asso- 
ciation. If we remembered everything, we should on most 
occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing. It 
would take as long for us to recall a space of time as it 
took the original time to elapse, and we should never get 
ahead with our thinking. All recollected times undergo, 
accordingly, what M. Ribot calls foreshortening; and this 
foreshortening is due to the omission of an enormous 
number of the facts which filled them. " We thus reach 
the paradoxical result," says M. Ribot, " that one condition 
of remembering is that we should forget. Without totally 


forgetting a. prodigious number of states of consciousness, 
and momentarily forgetting a large number, we could not 
remember at all. Oblivion, except in certain cases, is thus 
no malady of memory, but a condition of its health and its 

Pathological Conditions. — Hypnotic subjects as a rule 
forget all that has happened in their trance. But in a 
succeeding trance they will often remember the events of 
a past one. This is like what happens in those cases of 
1 double personality ' in which no recollection of one of the 
lives is to be found in the other. The sensibility in these 
cases often differs from one of the alternate personalities 
to another, the patient being often anaesthetic in certain 
respects in one of the secondary states. Now the memory 
may come and go with the sensibility. M. Pierre Janet 
proved in various ways that what his patients forgot when 
anaesthetic they remembered when the sensibility returned. 
For instance, he restored their tactile sense temporarily by 
means of electric currents, passes, etc., and then made them 
handle various objects, such as keys and pencils, or make 
particular movements, like the sign of the cross. The 
moment the anaesthesia returned they found it impossible 
to recollect the objects or the acts. ' They had had noth- 
ing in their hands, they had done nothing,' etc. The next 
day, however, sensibility being again restored by similar 
processes, they remembered perfectly the circumstance, 
and told what they had handled or done. 

All these pathological facts are showing us that the 
sphere of possible recollection may be wider than we think, 
and that in certain matters apparent oblivion is no proof 
against possible recall under other conditions. They give 
no countenance, however, to the extravagant opinion that 
absolutely no part of our experience can be forgotten. 



What it is. — Sensations, once experienced, modify the 
nervous organisms, so that copies of them arise again in the 
mind after the original outward stimulus is gone. No 
mental copy, however, can arise in the mind, of any kind 
of sensation which has never been directly excited from 

The blind may dream of sights, the deaf of sounds, for 
years after they have lost their vision or hearing; but the 
man born deaf can never be made to imagine what sound 
is like, nor can the man born blind ever have a mental 
vision. In Locke's words, already quoted, " the mind can 
frame unto itself no one new simple idea." The originals 
of them all must have been given from without. Fantasy, 
or Imagination, are the names given to the faculty of 
reproducing copies of originals once felt. The imagina- 
tion is called ' reproductive ' when the copies are literal ; 
* productive ' when elements from different originals are 
recombined so as to make new wholes. 

When represented with surroundings concrete enough to 
constitute a date, these pictures, when they revive, form 
recollections. We have just studied the machinery of recol- 
lection. When the mental pictures are of data freely 
combined, and reproducing no past combination exactly, 
we have acts of imagination properly so called. 

Men differ in visual imagination. Our ideas or images 
of past sensible experiences may be either distinct and 
adequate or dim, blurred, and incomplete. It is likely 
that the different degrees in which different men are able 
to make them sharp and complete has had something to 
do with keeping up such philosophic disputes as that of 
Berkeley with Locke over abstract ideas. Locke had spoken 



of our possessing ' the general idea of a triangle ' which 
" must be neither oblique nor rectangle, neither equilateral, 
equicrural, nor scalenon, but all and none of these at 
once.' 7 Berkeley says: " If any man has the faculty of 
framing in his mind such an idea of a triangle as is 
here described, it is in vain to pretend to dispute him 
out of it, nor would I go about it. All I desire is that the 
reader would fully and certainly inform himself whether he 
has such an idea or no." 

Until very recent years it was supposed by philosophers 
that there was a typical human mind which all individual 
minds were like, and that propositions of universal validity 
could be laid down about such faculties as ' the Imagination.' 
Lately, however, a mass of revelations have poured in 
which make us see how false a view this is. There are 
imaginations, not ' the Imagination/ and they must be 
studied in detail. 

Mr. Gal ton in 1880 began a statistical inquiry which 
may be said to have made an era in descriptive psy- 
chology. He addressed a circular to large numbers of 
persons asking them to describe the image in their mind's 
eye of their breakfast-table on a given morning. The 
variations were found to be enormous; and, strange to 
say, it appeared that eminent scientific men on the average 
had less visualizing power than younger and more insig- 
nificant persons. 

The reader will find details in Mr. Gal ton's ' Inquiries 
into Human Faculty,' pp. 83-114. I have myself for 
many years collected from each and all of my psychology- 
students descriptions of their own visual imagination; and 
found (together with some curious idiosyncrasies) corrobo- 
ration of all the variations which Mr. Galton reports. As 
examples, I subjoin extracts from two cases near the ends 
of the scale. The writers are first cousins, grandsons of 
a distinguished man of science. The one who is a good 
visualizer says: 

" This morning's breakfast-table is both dim and bright ; 


it is dim if I try to think of it when my eyts are open 
upon any object; it is perfectly clear and bright if I think 
of it with my eyes closed. — All the objects are clear at 
once, yet when I confine my attention to any one object it 
becomes far more distinct. — I have more power to recall 
color than any other one thing: if, for example, I were to 
recall a plate decorated with flowers I could reproduce in 
a drawing the exact tone, etc. The color of anything that 
was on the table is perfectly vivid. — There is very little 
limitation to the extent of my images: I can see all four 
sides of a room, I can see all four sides of two, three, four, 
even more rooms with such distinctness that if you should 
ask me what was in any particular place in any one, or ask 
me to count the chairs, etc., I could do it without the least 
hesitation. — The more I learn by heart the more clearly do 
I see images of my pages. Even before I can recite the 
lines I see them so that I could give them very slowly 
word for word, but my mind is so occupied in looking at 
my printed image that I have no idea of what I am saying, 
of the sense of it, etc. When I first found myself doing 
this I used to think it was merely because I knew the 
lines imperfectly; but I have quite convinced myself that 
I really do see an image. The strongest proof that such 
is really the fact is, I think, the following: 

" I can look down the mentally seen page and see the 
words that commence all the lines, and from any one of 
these words I can continue the line. I find this much 
easier to do if the words begin in a straight line than if 
there are breaks. Example: 

£tant fait 


A des 

Que fit * 



Un fleur 


(La Fontaine 8. iv.)" 


The poor visualizer says: 

" My ability to form mental images seems, from what I 
have studied of other people's images, to be defective and 
somewhat peculiar. The process by which I seem to re- 
member any particular event is not by a series of distinct 
images, but a sort of panorama, the faintest impressions of 
which are perceptible through a thick fog. — I cannot shut 
my eyes and get a distinct image of anyone, although I 
used to be able to a few years ago, and the faculty seems 
to have gradually slipped away. — In my most vivid dreams, 
where the events appear like the most real facts, I am 
often troubled with a dimness of sight which causes the 
images to appear indistinct. — To come to the question of 
the braakfast-table, there is nothing definite about it. 
Everything is vague. I cannot say what I see. I could 
not possibly count the chairs, but I happen to know that 
there are ten. I see nothing in detail. — The chief thing 
is a general impression that I cannot tell exactly what I 
do see. The coloring is about the same, as far as I can 
recall it, only very much washed out. Perhaps the only 
color I can see at all distinctly is that of the table-cloth, 
and I could probably see the color of the wall-paper if I 
could remember what color it was." 

A person whose visual imagination is strong finds it 
hard to understand how those who are without the faculty 
can think at all. Some people undoubtedly have no visual 
images at all worthy of the name, and instead of seeing 
their breakfast-table, they tell you that they remember it 
or know what was on it. The ' mind-stuff ' of which this 
1 knowing ' is made seems to be verbal images exclusively. 
But if the words ' coffee,' ' bacon,' ' muffins,' and ' eggs ' 
lead a man to speak to his cook, to pay his bills, and to 
take measures for the morrow's meal exactly as visual and 
gustatory memories would, why are they not, for all prac- 
tical intents and purposes, as good a kind of material in 
which to think? In fact, we may suspect them to be for 
most purposes better than terms with a richer imaginative 


coloring. The scheme of relationship and the conclusion 
being the essential things in thinking, that kind of mind- 
stuff which is handiest will be the best for the purpose. 
Now words, uttered or unexpressed, are the handiest mental 
elements we have. Not only are they very rapidly re- 
vivable, but they are revivable as actual sensations more 
easily than any other items of our experience. Did they 
not possess some such advantage as this, it would hardly 
be the case that the older men are and the more effective 
as thinkers, the more, as a rule, they have lost their visual- 
izing power, as Mr. Galton found to be the case with mem- 
bers of the Royal Society. 

Images of Sounds. — These also differ in individuals. 
Those who think by preference in auditory images are 
called audiles by Mr. Galton. This type, says M. Binet, 
" appears to be rarer than the visual. Persons of this type 
imagine what they think of in the language of sound. In 
order to remember a lesson they impress upon their mind, 
not the look of the page, but the sound of the words. 
They reason, as well as remember, by ear. In performing 
a mental addition they repeat verbally the names of the 
figures, and add, as it were, the sounds, without any 
thought of the graphic signs. Imagination also takes the 
auditory form. ' When I write a scene/ said Legouve to 
Scribe, ' I hear; but you see. In each phrase which I 
write, the voice of the personage who speaks strikes my 
ear. Vous, qui etes le thiatre meme, your actors walk, 
gesticulate before your eyes; I am a listener, you a spec- 
tator.' — ' Nothing more true,' said Scribe; ' do you know 
where I am when I write a piece? In the middle of the 
parterre.' It is clear that the pure audile, seeking to 
develop only a single one of his faculties, may, like tha 
pure visualizer, perform astounding feats of memory — 
Mozart, for example, noting from memory the Miserere of 
the Sistine Chapel after two hearings; the deaf Bee- 
thoven, composing and inwardly repeating his enormous 
symphonies. On the other hand, the man of auditory 


type, like the visual, is exposed to serious dangers; for if 
he lose his auditory images, he is without resource and 
breaks down completely." 

Images of Muscular Sensations. — Professor Strieker of 
Vienna, who seems to be a ' motile ' or to have this form of 
imagination developed in unusual strength, has given a 
careful analysis of his own case. His recollections both of 
his own movements and of those of other things are ac- 
companied invariably by distinct muscular feelings in those 
parts of his body which would naturally be used in effect- 
ing or in following the movement. In thinking of a soldier 
marching, for example, it is as if he were helping the image 
to march by marching himself in his rear. And if he sup- 
presses this sympathetic feeling in his own legs and con- 
centrates all his attention on the imagined soldier, the 
latter becomes, as it were, paralyzed. In general his im- 
agined movements, of whatsoever objects, seem paralyzed, 
the moment no feelings of movement either in his own eyes 
or in his own limbs accompany them. The movements of 
articulate speech play a predominant part in his mental 
life. " When, after my experimental work," he says, " I 
proceed to its description as a rule I reproduce in the first 
instance only words which I had already associated with 
the perception of the various details of the observation 
whilst the latter was going on. For speech plays in all my 
observing so important a part that I ordinarily clothe phe- 
nomena in words as fast as I observe them." 

Most persons, on being asked in what sort of terms they 
imagine words, will say, ' In terms of hearing.' It is not 
until their attention is expressly drawn to the point that 
they find it difficult to say whether auditory images 
or motor images connected with the organs of articulation 
predominate. A good way of bringing the difficulty to 
consciousness is that proposed by Strieker: Partly open 
your mouth and then imagine any word with labials or 
dentals in it, such as ' bubble/ ' toddle.' Is your image 
under these conditions distinct? To most people the 


image is at first ' thick/ as the sound of the word would be 
if they tried to pronounce it with the lips parted. Many 
can never imagine the words clearly with the mouth open; 
others succeed after a few preliminary trials. The experi- 
ment proves how dependent our verbal imagination is on 
actual feelings in lips, tongue, throat, larynx, etc. Prof. 
Bain says that " a suppressed articulation is in fact the 
material of our recollection, the intellectual manifestation, 
the idea of speech." In persons whose auditory imagina- 
tion is weak, the articulatory image does indeed seem to 
constitute the whole material for verbal thought. Pro- 
fessor Strieker says that in his own case no auditory image 
enters into the words of which he thinks. 

Images of Touch. — These are very strong in some peo- 
ple. The most vivid touch-images come when we ourselves 
barely escape local injury, or when we see another injured. 
The place may then actually tingle with the imaginary sen- 
sation — perhaps not altogether imaginary, since goose-flesh, 
paling or reddening, and other evidences of actual muscular 
contraction in the spot, may result. 

" An educated man," says Herr G. H. Meyer, " told me 
once that on entering his house one day he received a shock 
from crushing the finger of one of his little children in the 
door. At the moment of his fright he felt a violent pain 
in the corresponding finger of his own body, and this pain 
abode with him three days." 

The imagination of a blind deaf-mute like Laura Bridg- 
man must be confined entirely to tactile and motor mate- 
rial. All blind persons must belong to the ' tactile ' and 
4 motile ' types of the French authors. When the young 
man whose cataracts were removed by Dr. Franz was 
shown different geometric figures, he said he " had not been 
able to form from them the idea of a square and a disk 
until he perceived a sensation of what he saw in the points 
of his fingers, as if he really touched the objects." 

Pathological Differences. — The study of Aphasia (see 
p. 114) has of late years shown how unexpectedly individ- 


uals differ in the use of their imagination. In some the habit- 
ual ' thought-stuff,' if one may so call it, is visual; in others 
it is auditory, articulatory, or motor; in most, perhaps, it 
is evenly mixed. These are the ' differents ' of Charcot. 
The same local cerebral injury must needs work different 
practical results in persons who differ in this way. In 
one what is thrown out of gear is a much-used brain- 
tract; in the other an unimportant region is affected. A 
particularly instructive case was published by Charcot in 
1883. The patient was a merchant, an exceedingly accom- 
plished man, but a visualizer of the most exclusive type. 
Owing to some intra-cerebral accident he suddenly lost all 
his visual images, and with them much of his intellectual 
power, without any other perversion of faculty. He soon 
discovered that he could carry on his affairs by using his 
memory in an altogether new way, and described clearly 
the difference between his two conditions. " Every time 
he returns to A., from which place business often calls him, 
he seems to himself as if entering a strange city. He 
views the monuments, houses, and streets with the same 
surprise as if he saw them for the first time. When asked 
to describe the principal public place of the town, he an- 
swered, i I know that it is there, but it is impossible to 
imagine it, and I can tell you nothing about it.' " 

He can no more remember his wife and children's faces 
than he can remember A. Even after being with them 
some time they seem unusual to him. He forgets his own 
face, and once spoke to his image in a mirror, taking it for 
a stranger. He complains of his loss of feeling for colors. 
" My wife has black hair, this I know; but I can no more 
recall its color than I can her person and features." This 
visual amnesia extends to objects dating from his child- 
hood's years — paternal mansion, etc., forgotten. No other 
disturbances but this loss of visual images. Now when he 
seeks something in his correspondence, he must rummage 
among the letters like other men, until he meets the pas- 
sage. He can recall only the first few verses of the Iliad,, 


and must grope to recite Homer, Virgil, and Horace. 
Figures which he adds he must now whisper to himself. 
He realizes clearly that he must help his memory out with 
auditory images, which he does with effort. The words and 
expressions which he recalls seem now to echo in his ear, an 
altogether novel sensation for him. If he wishes to learn 
by heart anything, a series of phrases for example, he must 
read them several times aloud, so as to impress his ear. 
When later he repeats the thing in question, the sensation 
of inward hearing which precedes articulation rises up in 
his mind. This feeling was formerly unknown to him. 

Such a man would have suffered relatively little incon- 
venience if his images for hearing had been those suddenly 

The Neural Process in Imagination. — Most medical 
writers assume that the cerebral activity on which imagina- 
tion depends occupies a different seat from that subserving 
sensation. It is, however, a simpler interpretation of the 
facts to suppose that the same nerve-tracts are concerned 
in the two processes. Our mental images are aroused 
always by way of association; some previous idea or sensa- 
tion must have ' suggested ' them. Association is surely 
due to currents from one cortical centre to another. Now 
all we need suppose is that these intra-cortical currents are 
unable to produce in the cells the strong explosions which 
currents from the sense-organs occasion, to account for the 
subjective difference between images and sensations, with- 
out supposing any difference in their local seat. To the 
strong degree of explosion corresponds the character of 
'vividness' or sensible presence, in the object of thought; 
to the weak degree, that of ' faintness ' or outward unreality. 

If we admit that sensation and imagination are due to 
the activity of the same parts of the cortex, we can see a 
very good teleological reason why they should correspond 
to discrete kinds of process in these centres, and why the 
process which gives the sense that the object is really there 
ought normally to be arousable only by currents entering 


from the periphery and not by currents from the neighbor- 
ing cortical parts. We can see, in short, why the sensational 
process ought to be discontinuous with all normal idea- 
tional processes, however intense. For, as Dr. Miinsterberg 
justly observes, " Were there not this peculiar arrangement 
we should not distinguish reality and fantasy, our conduct 
would not be accommodated to the facts about us, but 
would be inappropriate and senseless, and we could not 
keep ourselves alive." 

Sometimes, by exception, the deeper sort of explosion 
may take place from intra-cortical excitement alone. In 
the sense of hearing, sensation and imagination are hard to 
discriminate where the sensation is so weak as to be just 
perceptible. At night, hearing a very faint striking of the 
hour by a far-off clock, our imagination reproduces both 
rhythm and sound, and it is often difficult to tell which 
was the last real stroke. So of a baby crying in a distant 
part of the house, we are uncertain whether we still hear 
it, or only imagine the sound. Certain violin-players take 
advantage of this in diminuendo terminations. After the 
pianissimo has been reached they continue to bow as if still 
playing, but are careful not to touch the strings. The 
listener hears in imagination a degree of sound fainter than 
the pianissimo. Hallucinations, whether of sight or hear- 
ing, are another case in point, to be touched on in the next 
chapter. I may mention as a fact still unexplained that 
several observers (Herr G. H. Meyer, M. Ch. Fere, Professor 
Scott of Ann Arbor, and Mr. T. C. Smith, one of myi 
students) have noticed negative after-images of objects 
which they had been imagining with the mind's eye. It 
is as if the retina itself were locally fatigued by the act. 


Perception and Sensation compared. — A pure sensa- 
tion we saw above, p. 12, to be an abstraction never realized 
in adult life. Anything which affects our sense-organs does 
also more than that: it arouses processes in the hemi- 
spheres which are partly due to the organization of that 
organ by past experiences, and the results of which in 
consciousness are described as ideas which the sensation 
suggests. The first of these ideas is that of the thing 
to which the sensible quality belongs. The conscious- 
ness of particular material things present to sense is 
nowadays called perception. The consciousness of such 
things may be more or less complete; it may be of the 
mere name of the thing and its other essential attributes, 
or it may be of the thing's various remoter relations. It is 
impossible to draw any sharp line if distinction between 
the barer and the richer consciousness, because the mo- 
ment we get beyond the first crude sensation all our 
consciousness is of what is suggested, and the various 
suggestions shade gradually into each other, being one and 
all products of the same psychological machinery of asso- 
ciation. In the directer consciousness fewer, in the re- 
moter more, associate processes are brought into play. 

Sensational and reproductive brain-processes combined, 
then, are what give us the content of our perceptions. 
Every concrete particular material thing is a conflux of 
sensible qualities, with which we have become acquainted 
at various times. Some of these qualities, since they are 
more constant, interesting, or practically important, we 
regard as essential constituents of the things. In a general 



way, such are the tangible shape, size, mass, etc. Other 
properties, being more fluctuating, we regard as more or 
less accidental or inessential. We call the former qualities 
the reality, the latter its appearances. Thus, I hear a 
sound, and say ' a horse-car *; but the sound is not the 
horse-car, it is one of the horse-car's least important mani- 
festations. The real horse-car is a feelable, or at most a 
feelable and visible, thing which in my imagination the 
sound calls up. So when I get, as now, a brown eye-pic- 
ture with lines not parallel, and with angles unlike, and 
call it my big solid rectangular walnut library-table, that 
picture is not the table. It is not even like the table as 
the table is for vision, when rightly seen. It is a distorted 
perspective view of three of the sides oi what I mentally 
perceive (more or less) in its totality and undistorted shape. 
The back of the table, its square corners, its size, its heavi- 
ness, are features of which I am conscious when I look, 
almost as I am conscious of its name. The suggestion of 
the name is of course due to mere custom. But no less is 
that of the back, the size, weight, squareness, etc. 

Nature, as Reid says, is frugal in her operations, and 
will not be at the expense of a particular instinct to give 
us that knowledge which experience and habit will soon 
produce. Reproduced attributes tied together with pres- 
ently felt attributes in the unity of a thing with a name, 
these are the materials out of which my actually perceived 
table is made. Infants must go through a long education 
of the eye and ear before they can perceive the realities 
which adults perceive. Every perception is an acquired 

The Perceptive State of Mind is not a Compound. — 
There is no reason, however, for supposing that this in- 
volves a i fusion ' of separate sensations and ideas. The 
thing perceived is the object of a unique state of thought; 
due no doubt in part to sensational, and in part to idea- 
tional currents, but in no wise ' containing ' psychically the 
identical ' sensations ' and images which these currents 


would severally have aroused if the others were not simul- 
taneously there. We can often directly notice a sensible 
difference in the consciousness, between the latter case and 
the former. The sensible quality changes under our very 
eye. Take the already -quoted catch, Pas de lieu Rhone que 
nous: one may read this over and over again without recog- 
nizing the sounds to be identical with those of the words 
paddle your own canoe. As the English associations arise, 
the sound itself appears to change. Verbal sounds are 
usually perceived with their meaning at the moment of being 
heard. Sometimes, however, the associative irradiations are 
inhibited for a few moments (the mind being preoccupied 
with other thoughts), whilst the words linger on the ear as 
mere echoes of acoustic sensations. Then, usually, their 
interpretation suddenly occurs. But at that moment one 
may often surprise a change in the very jeel of the word. 
Our own language would sound very different to us if we 
heard it without understanding, as we hear a foreign 
tongue. Rises and falls of voice, odd sibilants and other 
consonants, would fall on our ear in a way of which we 
can now form no notion. Frenchmen say that English 
sounds to them like the gazouillement des oiseaux — an 
impression which it certainly makes on no native ear. 
Many of us English would describe the sound of Russian 
in similar terms. All of us are conscious of the strong in- 
flections of voice and explosives and gutturals of German 
speech in a way in which no German can be conscious of 

This is probably the reason why, if we look at an iso- 
lated printed word and repeat it long enough, it ends by 
assuming an entirely unnatural aspect. Let the reader 
try this with any word on this page. He will soon begin 
to wonder if it can possibly be the word he has been using 
all life with that meaning. It stares at him from the 
paper like a glass eye, with no speculation in it. Its body 
is indeed there, but its soul is fled. It is reduced, by this 
new way of attending to it, to its sensational nudity. We 


never before attended to it in this way, but habitually got 
it clad with its meaning the moment we caught sight of it, 
and rapidly passed from it to the other words of the phrase. 
We apprehended it, in short, with a cloud of associates, and 
thus perceiving it, we felt it quite otherwise than as we feel 
it now divested and alone. 

Another well-known change is when we look at a land- 
scape with our head upside-down. Perception is to a cer- 
tain extent baffled by this manoeuvre; gradations of dis- 
tance and other space-determinations are made uncertain; 
the reproductive or associative processes, in short, decline; 
and, simultaneously with their diminution, the colors grow 
richer and more varied, and the contrasts of light and 
shade more marked, The same thing occurs when we 
turn a painting bottom-upward. We lose much of its 
meaning, but, to compensate for the loss, we feel more 
freshly the value of the mere tints and shadings, and be- 
come aware of any lack of purely sensible harmony or bal- 
ance which they may show. Just so, if we lie on the floor 
and look up at the mouth of a person talking behind us. 
His lower lip here takes the habitual place of the upper 
one upon our retina, and seems animated by the most 
extraordinary and unnatural mobility, a mobility which 
now strikes us because (the associative processes being dis- 
turbed by the unaccustomed point of view) we get it as a 
naked sensation and not as part of a familiar object per- 

Once more, then, we find ourselves driven to admit that 
when qualities of an object impress our sense and we there- 
upon perceive the object, the pure sensation as such of 
those qualities does not still exist inside of the perception 
and form a constituent therof. The pure sensation is 
one thing and the perception another, and neither can 
take place at the same time with the other, because their 
cerebral conditions are not the same. They may resemble 
each other, but in no respect are they identical states of 
mind. . 


Perception is of Definite and Probable Things. — The 
chief cerebral conditions of perception are old paths of 
association radiating from the sense-impression. If a cer- 
tain impression be strongly associated with the attributes 
of a certain thing, that thing is almost sure to be perceived 
when we get the impression. Examples of such things 
would be familiar people, places, etc., which we recognize 
and name at a glance. But where the impression is asso- 
ciated with more than one reality, so that either of two 
discrepant sets of residual properties may arise, the per- 
ception is doubtful and vacillating, and the most that can 
then be said of it is that it will be of a probable thing, 
of the thing which would most usually have given us that 

In these ambiguous cases it is interesting to note that 
perception is rarely abortive; some perception takes place. 
The two discrepant sets of associates do not neutralize each 
other or mix or make a blur. What we more commonly 
get is first one object in its completeness, and then the 
other in its completeness. In other words all brain-pro- 
cesses are such as give rise to what we may call figured 
consciousness.. If paths are shot-through at all, they are 
shot-through in consistent systems, and occasion thoughts 
of definite objects, not mere hodge-podges of elements. 
Even where the brain 's functions are half thrown out of 
gear, as in aphasia or dropping asleep, this law of figured 
consciousness holds good. A person who suddenly gets 
sleepy whilst reading aloud will read wrong; but instead of 
emitting a mere broth of syllables, he will make such mis- 
takes as to read ' supper-time ' instead of ( sovereign,' 
' overthrow ' instead of ' opposite,' or indeed utter entirely 
imaginary phrases, composed of several definite words, in- 
stead of phrases of the book. So in aphasia: where the 
disease is mild the patient's mistakes consist in using 
entire wrong words instead of right ones. It is only in 
grave lesions that be becomes quite inarticulate. These 
facts show how subtle is the associative link; how. delicate 


yet how strong that connection among brain-paths which 
makes any number of them, once excited together, there- 
after tend to vibrate as a systematic whole. A small group 
of elements, ' this' common to two systems, A and B, may 
touch off A and B according as accident decides the next 
step (see Fig. 63). If it happen that a single point leading 
from ' this ' to B is momentarily a little more pervious 
than any leading from ' this ' to A, then that little advan- 
tage will upset the equilibrium in favor of the entire sys- 
tem B. The currents will sweep first through that point 

Fig. 63. 

and thence into all the paths of B, each increment of ad- 
vance making A more and more impossible. The thoughts 
correlated with A and B, in such a case, will have objects 
different, though similar. The similarity will, however, 
consist in some very limited feature if the ' this ' be small. 
Thus the faintest sensations will give rise to the percep- 
tion of definite things if only they resemble those which the 
things are wont to arouse. 

Illusions. — Let us now, for brevity's sake, treat A and B 
in Fig. 63 as if they stood for objects instead of brain- 
processes. And let us furthermore suppose that A and B 
are, both of them, objects which might probably excite the 
sensation which I have called ' this* but that on the 
present occasion A and not B is the one which actually 
does so. If, then, on this occasion ' this ' suggests A and 
not B, the result is a correct perception. But if, on the 
contrary, l this ' suggests B and not A, the result is a false 
perception, or, as it is technically called, an illusion. But 
the process is the same, whether the perception be true or 



Note that in every illusion what is false is what is in- 
ferred, not what is immediately given. The 'this/ if it 
were felt by itself alone, would be all right; it only be- 
comes misleading by what it suggests. If it is a sensation 
of sight, it may suggest a tactile object, for example, which 
later tactile experiences prove to be not there. The so- 
called ' fallacy of the senses,' of which the ancient sceptics 
made so much account, is not fallacy of the senses proper, 
but rather of the intellect, which interprets wrongly what 
the senses give.* 

So much premised, let us look a little closer at these il- 
lusions. They are due to two main causes. The wrong 
object is perceived either because 

i) Although not on this occasion the real cause, it is yet 
the habitual, inveterate, or most probable cause of ' this '; 
or because 

2) The mind is temporarily full of the thought of that 
object, and therefore * this ' is peculiarly prone to suggest it 
at this moment. 

I will give briefly a number of examples under each head. 
The first head is the more important, because it includes a 
number of constant illusions to which all men are subject, 
and which can only be dispelled by much experience. 

Illusions of the First Type.— One of the oldest instances 

dates from Aristotle. Cross 
two fingers and roll a pea, 
penholder, or other small 
object between them. It 
will seem double. Professor 
Croom Robertson has given 
Flc - 6 *. the clearest analysis of this il- 

lusion. He observes that if the object be brought into 

*In Mind, ix. 206, M. Binet points out the fact that what is 
fallaciously inferred is always an object of some other sense than 
the ' this.' ' Optical illusions ' are generally errors of touch and 
muscular sensibility, and the fallaciously perceived object and the 
experiences which correct it are both tactile in these cases. 


contact first with the forefinger and next with the second 
finger, the two contacts seem to come in at different points 
of space. The forefinger-touch seems higher, though the 
finger is really lower; the second-finger-touch seems lower, 
though the finger is really higher. "We perceive the con- 
tacts as double because we refer them to two distinct parts 
of space." The touched sides of the two fingers are nor- 
mally not together in space, and customarily never do 
touch one thing; the one thing which now touches them, 
therefore, seems in two places, i.e. seems two things. 

There is a whole batch of illusions which come from 
optical sensations interpreted by us in accordance with our 
usual rule, although they are now produced by an unusual 
object. The stereoscope is an example. The eyes see a 
picture apiece, and the two pictures are a little disparate, 
the one seen by the right eye being a view of the object 
taken from a point slightly to the right of that from which 
the left eye's picture is taken. Pictures thrown on the 
two eyes by solid objects present this sort of disparity, 
so that we react "on the sensation in our usual way, and 
perceive a solid. If the pictures be exchanged we perceive 
a hollow mould of the object, for a hollow mould would 
cast just such disparate pictures as these. Wheatstone's 
instrument, the pseudoscope, allows us to look at solid ob- 
jects and see with each eye the other eye's picture. We 
then perceive the solid object hollow, if it be an object 
which might probably be hollow, but not otherwise. Thus 
the perceptive process is true to its law, which is always to 
react on the sensation in a determinate and figured fash- 
ion if possible, and in as probable a fashion as the case 
admits. A human face, e.g., never appears hollow to the 
pseudoscope, for to couple faces and hollowness violates all 
our habits. For the same reason it is very easy to make 
an intaglio cast of a face, or the painted inside of a paste- 
board mask, look convex, instead of concave as they are. 

Curious illusions of movement in objects occur when- 
ever the eyeballs move without our intending it. We 


have learned in an earlier chapter (p. 72) that the original 
visual feeling of movement is produced by any image pass- 
ing over the retina. Originally, however, this sensation is 
definitely referred neither to the object nor to the eyes. 
Such definite reference grows up later, and obeys certain 
simple laws. For one thing, we believe objects to move 
whenever we get the retinal movement-feeling, but think 
our eyes are still. This gives rise to an illusion when, 
after whirling on our heel, we stand still; for then ob- 
jects appear to continue whirling in the same direction in 
which, a moment previous, our body actually whirled. The 
reason is that our eves ( are animated, under these condi- 
tions, by an involuntary nystagmus or oscillation in their 
orbits, which may easily be observed in anyone with vertigo 
after whirling. As these movements are unconscious, the 
retinal movement-feelings which they occasion are naturally 
referred to the objects seen. The whole phenomenon fades 
out after a few seconds. And it ceases if we voluntarily 
fix our eyes upon a given point. 

There is an illusion of movement of the opposite sort, 
with which every one is familiar at railway stations. 
Habitually, when we ourselves move forward, our entire 
field of view glides backward over our retina. When our 
movement is due to that of the windowed carriage, car, or 
boat in which we sit, all stationary objects visible through 
the window give us a sensation of gliding in the opposite 
direction. Hence, whenever we get this sensation, of a 
window with all objects visible through it moving in one 
direction, we react upon it in our customary way, and 
perceive a stationary field of view, over which the window, 
and we ourselves inside of it, are passing by a motion of 
our own. Consequently when another train comes along- 
side of ours in a station, and fills the entire window, and, 
after standing still awhile, begins to glide away, we judge 
that it is our train which is moving, and that the other 
train is still. If, however, we catch a glimpse of any part 
of the station through the windows, or between the cars, of 


the other train, the illusion of our own movement instantly 
disappears, and we perceive the other train to be the one 
in motion. This, again, is but making the usual and 
probable inference from our sensation. 

Another illusion due to movement is explained by Helm- 
holtz. Most wayside objects, houses, trees, etc., look small 
when seen from the windows of a swift train. This is 
because we perceive them in the first instance unduly near. 
And we perceive them unduly near because of their extra- 
ordinarily rapid parallactic flight backwards. When we 
ourselves move forward all objects glide backwards, as 
aforesaid; but the nearer they are, the more rapid is this 
apparent translocation. Relative rapidity of passage back- 
wards is thus so familiarly associated with nearness that 
when we feel it we perceive nearness. But with a given 
size of retinal image the nearer an object is, the smaller do 
we judge its actual size to be. Hence in the train, the 
faster we go, the nearer do the trees and houses seem; and 
the nearer they seem, the smaller (with that size of retinal 
image) must they look. 

The feelings of our eyes' convergence, of their accommo- 
dation, the size of the retinal image, etc., may give rise to 
illusions about the size and distance of objects, which also 
belong to this first type. 

Illusions of the Second Type. — In this type we perceive 
a wrong object because our mind is full of the thought of it 
at the time, and any sensation which is in the least degree 
connected with it touches off, as it were, a train already 
laid, and gives us a sense that the object is really before us. 
Here is a familiar example: 

" If a sportsman, while shooting woodcock in cover, 
sees a bird about the size and color of a woodcock get up 
and fly through the foliage, not having time to see more 
than that it is a bird of such a size and color, he immedi- 
ately supplies by inference the other qualities of a wood- 
cock, and is afterwards disgusted to find that he has shot a 
thrush. I have done so myself, and could hardly believe 


that the thrush was the bird I fired at, so complete was 
my mental supplement to my visual perception."* 

As with game, so with enemies, ghosts, and the like. 
Anyone waiting in a dark place and expecting or fearing 
strongly a certain object will interpret any abrupt sensa- 
tion to mean that object's presence. The boy playing ' I 
spy,' the criminal skulking from his pursuers, the super- 
stitious person hurrying through the woods or past the 
churchyard at midnight, the man lost in the woods, the 
girl who tremulously has made an evening appointment 
with her swain, all are subject to illusions of sight and 
sound which made their hearts beat till they are dispelled. 
Twenty times a day the lover, perambulating the streets 
with his preoccupied fancy, will think he perceives his 
idol's bonnet before him. 

The Proof-reader's Illusion. — I remember one night in 
Boston, whilst waiting for a ' Mount Auburn ' car to bring 
me to Cambridge, reading most distinctly that name upon 
the signboard of a car on which (as I afterwards learned) 
' North Avenue ' was painted. The illusion was so vivid 
that 1 could hardly believe my eyes had deceived me. All 
reading is more or less performed in this way. 

" Practised novel- or newspaper-readers could not possi- 
bly get on so fast if they had to see accurately every single 
letter of every word in order to perceive the words. More 
than half of the words come out of their mind, and hardly 
half from the printed page. Were this not so, did we per- 
ceive each letter by itself, typographic errors in well-known 
words would never be overlooked. Children, whose ideas 
are not yet ready enough to perceive words at a glance, 
read them wrong if they are printed wrong, that is, right 
according to the way of printing. In a foreign language, 
although it may be printed with the same letters, we read 
by so much the more slowly as we do not understand, or 
are unable promptly to perceive, the words. But we notice 

♦Romanes, Mental Evolution in Animals, p. 324. 


misprints all the more readily. For this reason Latin and 
Greek, and still better Hebrew, works are more correctly 
printed, because the proofs are better corrected, than in 
German works. Of two friends of mine, one knew much 
Hebrew, the other little; the latter, however, gave instruc- 
tion in Hebrew in a gymnasium; and when he called the 
other to help correct his pupils' exercises, it turned out 
that he could find out all sorts of little errors better than 
his friend, because the latter 's perception of the words as 
totals was too swift." * 

Testimony to personal identity is proverbially fallacious 
for similar reasons. A man has witnessed a rapid crime 
or accident, and carries away his mental image. Later he 
is confronted by a prisoner whom he forthwith perceives 
in the light of that image, and recognizes or ' identifies ' as 
the criminal, although he may never have been near the 
spot. Similarly at the so-called ' materializing seances ' 
which fraudulent mediums give: in a dark room a man 
sees a gauze-robed figure who in a whisper tells him she is 
the spirit of his sister, mother, wife, or child, and falls 
upon his neck. The darkness, the previous forms, and the 
expectancy have so filled his mind with premonitory 
images that it is no wonder he perceives what is suggested. 
These fraudulent ' seances ' would furnish most precious 
documents to the psychology of perception, if they could 
only be satisfactorily inquired into. In the hypnotic 
trance any suggested object is sensibly perceived. In cer- 
tain subjects this happens more or less completely after 
waking from the trance. It would seem that under favor- 
able conditions a somewhat similar susceptibility to sug- 

* M. Lazarus : Das Leben d. Seele ( 1857) , ir. 6. 32. In the ordinary 
hearing of speech half the words we seem to hear are supplied out 
of our own head. A language with which we are familiar is under- 
stood even when spoken in low tones and far off. An unfamiliar 
language is unintelligible under these conditions. The ' ideas ' for in- 
terpreting the sounds by not being ready-made in our minds, as they 
are in our familiar mother-tongue, do not start up at so faint a cue. 


gestion may exist in certain persons who are not otherwise 
entranced at all. 

This suggestibility obtains in all the senses, although 
high authorities have doubted this power of imagination 
to falsify present impressions of sense. Everyone must be 
able to give instances from the smell-sense. When we 
have paid the faithless plumber for pretending to mend 
our drains, the intellect inhibits the nose from perceiving 
the same unaltered odor, until perhaps several days go by. 
As regards the ventilation or heating of rooms, we are apt 
to feel for some time as we think we ought to feel. If we 
believe the ventilator is shut, we feel the room close. On 
discovering it open, the oppression disappears. 

It is the same with touch. Everyone must have felt the 
sensible quality change under his hand, as sudden contact 
with something moist or hairy, in the dark, awoke a shock 
of disgust or fear which faded into calm recognition of 
some familiar object. Even so small a thing as a crumb 
of potato on the table-cloth, which we pick up, thinking 
it a crumb of bread, feels horrible for a few moments to 
our fancy, and different from what it is. 

In the sense of hearing, similar mistakes abound. Every- 
one must recall some experience in which sounds have 
altered their character as soon as the intellect referred 
them to a different source. The other day a friend was 
sitting in my room, when the clock, which has a rich low 
chime, began to strike. "Hollo! " said he, " hear that 
hand-organ in the garden," and was surprised at finding 
the real source of the sound. I have had myself a striking 
illusion of the sort. Sitting reading, late one night, I sud- 
denly heard a most formidable noise proceeding from the 
upper part of the house, which it seemed to fill. It ceased, 
and in a moment renewed itself. I went into the hall to 
listen, but it came no more. Resuming my seat in the 
room, however, there it was again, low, mighty, alarming, 
like a rising flood or the avant-courier of an awful gale. It 
came from all space. Quite startled, I again went into the 


hall, but it had already ceased once more. On returning 
a second time to the room, I discovered that it was noth- 
ing but the breathing of a little Scotch terrier which lay 
asleep on the floor. The noteworthy thing is that as soon 
as I recognized what it was, I was compelled to think it a 
different sound, and could not then hear it as I had heard 
it a moment before. 

The sense of sight is pregnant with illusions of both the 
types considered. No sense gives such fluctuating im- 
pressions of the same object as sight does. With no sense 
are we so apt to treat the sensations immediately given as 
mere signs; with none is the invocation from memory of a 
thing, and the consequent perception of the latter, so 
immediate. The c thing ' which we perceive always resem- 
bles, as we shall hereafter see, the object of some absent 
sensation, usually another optical figure which in our mind 
has come to be a standard bit of reality; and it is this in- 
cessant reduction of our immediately given optical objects 
to more standard and ' real ' forms which has led some 
authors into the mistake of thinking that our optical sen- 
sations are originally and natively of no particular form 
at all. 

Of accidental and occasional illusions of sight many 
amusing examples might be given. One will suffice. It 
is a reminiscence of my own. I was lying in my berth in 
a steamer listening to the sailors ' at their devotions with 
the holystones ' outside; when, on turning my eyes to the 
window, I perceived with perfect distinctness that the 
chief -engineer of the vessel had entered my state-room, 
and was standing looking through the window at the men 
at work upon the guards. Surprised at his intrusion, and 
also at his intentness and immobility, I remained watching 
him and wondering how long he would stand thus. At 
last I spoke; but getting no reply, sat up in my berth, and 
then saw that what I had taken for the engineer was my 
own cap and coat hanging on a peg beside the window. 
The illusion was complete; the engineer was a peculiar- 



looking man; and I saw him unmistakably; but after the 
illusion had vanished I found it hard voluntarily to make 
the cap and coat look like him at all. 

' Apperception/ — In Germany since Herbart's time psy- 
chology has always had a great deal to say about a process 
called Apperception. The incoming ideas or sensations 
are said to be ' apperceived ' by ' masses ' of ideas already 
in the mind. It is plain that the process we have been 
describing as perception is, at this rate, an apperceptive 
process. So are all recognition, classing, and naming; 
and passing beyond these simplest suggestions, all farther 
thoughts about our percepts are apperceptive processes as 
well. I have myself not used the word apperception, be- 
cause it has carried very different meanings in the history 
of philosophy, and ' psychic reaction,' ' interpretation/ 
1 conception/ ' assimilation/ ' elaboration/ or simply 
1 thought/ are perfect synonyms for its Herbartian mean- 
ing, widely taken. It is, moreover, hardly worth while to 
pretend to analyze the so-called apperceptive performances 
beyond the first or perceptive stage, because their varia- 
tions and degrees are literally innumerable. ' Appercep- 
tion ' is a name for the sum total of the effects of what we 
have studied as association; and it is obvious that the 
things which a given experience will suggest to a man 
depend on what Mr. Lewes calls his entire psychostatical 
conditions, his nature and stock of ideas, or, in other 
words, his character, habits, memory, education, previous 
experience and momentary mood. We gain no insight 
into what really occurs either in the mind or in the brain 
by calling all these things the ' apperceiving mass/ though 
of course this may upon occasion be convenient. On the 
whole I am inclined to think Mr. Lewes's term of ' assimi- 
lation ' the most fruitful one yet used. 

The ' apperceiving mass ' is treated by the Germans as 
the active factor, the apperceived sensation as the passive 
one; the sensation being usually modified by the ideas in 
the mind. Out of the interaction of the two, cognition is 


produced. But as Stein thai remarks, the apperceiving 
mass is itself often modified by the sensation. To quote 
him: " Although the a priori moment commonly shows 
itself to be the more powerful, apperception-processes can 
perfectly well occur in which the new observation trans- 
forms or enriches the apperceiving group of ideas. A 
child who hitherto has seen none but four-cornered tables 
apperceives a round one as a table; but by this the ap- 
perceiving mass (' table ') is enriched. To his previous 
knowledge of tables comes this new feature that they need 
not be four-cornered, but may be round. In the history of 
science it has happened often enough that some discovery, 
at the same time that it was apperceived, i. e. brought into 
connection with the system of our knowledge, transformed 
the whole system. In principle, however, we must main- 
tain that, although either factor is both active and passive, 
the a priori factor is almost always the more active of the 
two." * 

Genius and Old-fogyism. — This account of Steinthars 
brings out very clearly the difference between our pyscho- 
logical conceptions and what are called concepts in logic. 
In logic a concept is unalterable; but what are popularly 
called our ' conceptions of things ' alter by being used. 
The aim of ' Science ' is to attain conceptions so adequate 
and exact that we shall never need to change them. There 
is an everlasting struggle in every mind between the ten- 
dency to keep unchanged, and the tendency to renovate, 
its ideas. Our education is a ceaseless compromise be- 
tween the conservative and the progressive factors. Every 
new experience must be disposed of under some old head. 
The great point is to find the head which has to be least 
altered to take it in. Certain Polynesian natives, seeing 
horses for the first time, called them pigs, that being the 
nearest head. My child of two played for a week with the 
first orange that was given him, calling it a ' ball.' He 

♦Einleitung in die Psychologie u. Sprachwissenschaft (i88i),p. 171. 


called the first whole eggs he saw c potatoes, having been 
accustomed to see his ' eggs ' broken into a glass, and his 
potatoes without the skin. A folding pocket-corkscrew he 
unhesitatingly called ' bad-scissors.' Hardly any one of us 
can make new heads easily when fresh experiences come. 
Most of us grow more and more enslaved to the stock con- 
ceptions with which we have once become familiar, and 
less and less capable of assimilating impressions in any 
but the old ways. Old-fogyism, in short, is the inevitable 
terminus to which life sweeps us on. Objects which vio- 
late our established habits of ' apperception ' are simply 
not taken account of at all; or, if on some occasion we are 
forced by dint of argument to admit their existence, 
twenty-four hours later the admission is as if it were not, 
and every trace of the unassimilable truth has vansihed 
from our thought. Genius, in truth, means little more 
than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way. 

On the other hand, nothing is more congenial, from 
babyhood to the end of life, than to be able to assimilate 
the new to the old, to meet each threatening violator or 
burster of our well-known series of concepts, as it comes 
in, see through its unwontedness, and ticket it off as an 
old friend in disguise. This victorious assimilation of the 
new is in fact the type of all intellectual pleasure. The lust 
for it is scientific curiosity. The relation of the new to the 
old, before the assimilation is performed, is wonder. We 
feel neither curiosity nor wonder concerning things so far 
beyond us that we have no concepts to refer them to or 
standards by which to measure them.* The Fuegians, in 

* The great maxim in pedagogy is to knit every new piece of 
knowledge on to a preexisting curiosity — i.e., to assimilate its matter 
in some way to what is already known. Hence the advantage of 
" comparing all that is far off and foreign to something that is near 
home, of making the unknown plain by the example of the known, 
and of connecting all the instruction with the personal experience of 
the pupil. ... If the teacher is to explain the distance of the sun 
from the earth, let him ask . . . ' If anyone there in the sun fired 


Darwin's voyage, wondered at the small boats, but took 
the big ship as a ' matter of course.' Only what we partly 
know already inspires us with a desire to know more. The 
more elaborate textile fabrics, the vaster works in metal, 
to most of us are like the air, the water, and the ground, 
absolute existences which awaken no ideas. It is a matter 
of course that an engraving or a copper-plate inscription 
should possess that degree of beauty. But if we are shown 
a />e»-drawing of equal perfection, our personal sympathy 
with the difficulty of the task makes us immediately won- 
der at the skill. The old lady admiring the Academician's 
picture say to him: " And is it really all done by hand? " 

The Physiological Process in Perception. — Enough 
has now been said to prove the general law of perception, 
which is this: that whilst part of what we perceive comes 
through our senses from the object before us, another part 
(and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our 
own mind. 

At bottom this is but a case of the general fact that 
our nerve-centres are organs for reacting on sense-im- 
pressions, and that our hemispheres, in particular, are given 
us that records of our past private experience may coop- 
erate in the reaction. Of course such a general state- 
ment is va^ue. If we try to put an exact meaning into 
it, what we find most natural to believe is that the brain 
reacts by paths which the previous experiences have worn, 
and which make us perceive the probable thing, i. e., the 
thing by which on the previous occasions the reaction was 
most frequently aroused. The reaction of the hemispheres 
consists in the lighting up of a certain system of paths by 

off a cannon straight at you, what should you do ? ' ' Get out of the 
way/ would be the answer. ' No need of that,' the teacher might 
reply. ' You may quietly go to sleep in your room, and get up again, 
you may wait till your confirmation-day, you may learn a trade, and 
grow as old as I am, — then only will the cannon-ball be getting near, 
then you may jump to one side! See, so great as that is the sun's 
distance!'" (K. Lange, Ueber Apperception, 1879, p. 76.) 


the current entering from the outer world. What corre- 
sponds to this mentally is a certain special pulse of thought, 
the thought, namely, of that most probable object. Far- 
ther than this in the analysis we can hardly go. 

Hallucinations. — Between normal perception and illu- 
sion we have seen that there is no break, the process being 
identically the same in both. The last illusions we con- 
sidered might fairly be called hallucinations. We must now 
consider the false perceptions more commonly called by 
that name. In ordinary parlance hallucination is held to 
differ from illusion in that, whilst there is an object really 
there in illusion, in hallucination there is no objective 
stimulus at all. We shall presently see that this supposed 
absence of objective stimulus in hallucination is a mistake, 
and that hallucinations are often only extremes of the per- 
ceptive process, in which the secondary cerebral reaction is 
out of all normal proportion to the peripheral stimulus 
which occasions the activity. Hallucinations usually ap- 
pear abruptly and have the character of being forced upon 
the subject. But they possess various degrees of apparent 
objectivity. One mistake in limine must be guarded 
against. They are often talked of as images projected 
outwards by mistake. But where an hallucination is com- 
plete, it is much more than a mental image. An hallu- 
cination, subjectively considered, is a sensation, as good and 
true a sensation as if there were a real object there. The 
object happens not to be there, that is all. 

The milder degrees of hallucination have been designa- 
ted as pseudo-hallucinations. Pseudo-hallucinations and 
hallucinations have been sharply distinguished from each 
other only within a few years. From ordinary images of 
memory and fancy, pseudo-hallucinations differ in being 
much more vivid, minute, detailed, steady, abrupt, and 
spontaneous, in the sense that all feeling of our own activ- 
ity in producing them is lacking. Dr. Kandinsky had a 
patient who, after taking opium or haschisch, had abun- 
dant pseudo-hallucinations and hallucinations. As he also 


had strong visualizing power and was an educated physi- 
cian, the three sorts of phenomena could be easily com- 
pared. Although projected outwards (usually not farther 
than the limit of distinctest vision, a foot or so), the pseudo- 
hallucinations lacked the character of objective reality 
which the hallucinations possessed, but, unlike the pictures 
of imagination, it was almost impossible to produce them 
at will. Most of the ■ voices ' which people hear (whether 
they give rise to delusions or not) are pseudo-hallucina- 
tions. They are described as ' inner ' voices, although their 
character is entirely unlike the inner speech of the sub- 
ject with himself. I know several persons who hear such 
inner voices making unforeseen remarks whenever they 
grow quiet and listen for them. They are a very common 
incident of delusional insanity, and may at last grow into 
vivid or completely exteriorized hallucinations. The lat- 
ter are comparatively frequent occurrences in sporadic 
form; and certain individuals are liable to have them 
often. From the results of the ' Census of Hallucinations,' 
which was begun by Edmund Gurney, it would appear 
that, roughly speaking, one person at least in every ten is 
likely to have had a vivid hallucination at some time in 
his life. The following case from a healthy person will 
give an idea of what these hallucinations are: 

" When a girl of eighteen, I was one evening engaged in 
a very painful discussion with an elderly person. My dis- 
tress was so great that I took up a thick ivory knitting- 
needle that was lying on the mantelpiece of the parlor 
and broke it into small pieces as I talked. In the midst 
of the discussion I was very wishful to know the opinion 
of a brother with whom I had an unusually close relation- 
ship. I turned round and saw him sitting at the farther 
side of a centre- table, with his arms folded (an unusual 
position with him), but, to my dismay, I perceived from 
the sarcastic expression of his mouth that he was not in 
sympathy with me, was not ' taking my side,' as I should 


then have expressed it. The surprise cooled me, and the 
discussion was dropped. 

u Some minutes after, having "occasion to speak to my 
brother, I turned towards him, but he was gone. I in- 
quired when he left the room, arid was told that he had 
not been in it, which I did not believe, thinking that he 
had come in for a minute and had gone out without being 
noticed. About an hour and a half afterwards he appeared, 
and convinced me, with some trouble, that he had never 
been near the house that evening. He is still alive and 

The hallucinations of fever-delirium are a mixture of 
pseudo-hallucination, true hallucination, and illusion. 
Those of opium, haschish, and belladonna resemble them 
in this respect. The commonest hallucination of all is that 
of hearing one's own name called aloud. Nearly one half 
of the sporadic cases which I have collected are of this 

Hallucination and Illusion. — Hallucinations are easily 
produced By' verbal suggestion in hypnotic subjects. Thus, 
point to a dot on a sheet of paper, and call it ' General 
Grant's photograph/ and your subject will see a photo- 
graph of the General there instead of the dot. The dot 
gives objectivity to the appearance, and the suggested 
notion of the General gives it form. Then magnify the 
dot by a lens; double it by a prism or by nudging the eye- 
ball; reflect it in a mirror; turn it upside-down; or wipe 
it out ; and the subject will tell you that the ' photograph ' 
has been enlarged, doubled, reflected, turned about, or 
made to disappear. In M. Binet's language, the dot is the 
outward point de repbre which is needed to give objectivity 
to your suggestion, and without which the latter will only 
produce an inner image in the subject's mind. M. Binet has 
shown that such a peripheral point de repere is used in an 
enormous number, not only of hypnotic hallucinations, but 
of hallucinations of the insane. These latter are often uni- 
lateral; that is, the patient hears the voices always on one 


side of him, or sees the figure only when a certain one of his 
eyes is open. In many of these cases it has been distinctly- 
proved that a morbid irritation in the internal ear, or an' 
opacity in the humors of the eye, was the starting point of 
the current which the patient's diseased acoustic or optical 
centres clothed with their peculiar products in the way of 
ideas. Hallucinations produced in this way are ' illusions '; 
and M. Binet's theory, that all hallucinations must start in 
the periphery, may be called an attempt to reduce hallucina- 
tion and illusion to one physiological type, the type, namely, 
to which normal perception belongs. In every case, accord- 
ing to M. Binet, whether of perception, of hallucination, 
or of illusion, we get the sensational vividness by means of 
a current from the peripheral nerves. It may be a mere 
trace of a current. But that trace is enough to kindle the 
maximal process of disintegration in the cells (cf. p. 3io), 
and to give to the object perceived the character of exter- 
nality. What the nature of the object shall be will depend 
wholly on the particular system of paths in which the proc- 
ess is kindled. Part of the thing in all cases comes from 
the sense organ, the rest is furnished by the mind. But 
we cannot by introspection distinguish between these parts; 
and our only formula for the result is that the brain has 
reacted on the impression in the resulting way. 

M. Binet's theory accounts indeed for a multitude of 
cases, but certainly not for all. The prism does not always 
double the false appearance, nor does the latter always dis- 
appear when the eyes are closed. For Binet, an abnor- 
mally or exclusively active part of the cortex gives the 
nature of what shall appear, whilst a peripheral sense- 
organ alone can give the intensity sufficient to make it 
appear projected into real space. But since this intensity 
is after all but a matter of degree, one does not see why, 
under rare conditions, the degree in question might not 
be attained by inner causes exclusively. In that case we 
should have certain hallucinations centrally initiated, as 
well as the peripherally initiated hallucinations which are 


the only sort that M. Binet's theory allows. It seems prob- 
able on the whole, therefore, that centrally initiated hallu- 
cinations can exist. How often they do exist is another 
question. The existence of hallucinations which affect 
more than one sense is an argument for central initiation. 
For, grant that the thing seen may have its starting point 
in the outer world, the voice which it is heard to utter 
must be due to an influence from the visual region, i. e. 
must be of central origin. 

Sporadic cases of hallucination, visiting people only once 
in a lifetime (which seem to be a quite frequent type), 
are on any theory hard to understand in detail. They are 
often extraordinarily complete; and the fact that many of 
them are reported as veridical, that is, as coinciding with 
real events, such as accidents, deaths, etc., of the persons 
seen, is an additional complication of the phenomenon. 
The first really scientific study of hallucination in all its 
possible bearings, on the basis of a large mass of empirical 
material, was begun by Mr. Edmund Gurney and is con- 
tinued by other members of the Society for Psychical Re- 
search ; and the ' Census } is now being applied to several 
countries under the auspices of the International Congress 
of Experimental Psychology. It is to be hoped that out 
of these combined labors something solid will eventually 
grow. The facts shade off into the phenomena of motor 
automatism, trance, etc.; and nothing but a wide compar- 
ative study can give instructive results.* 

* The writer of the present work is Agent of the Census for Amer- 
ica, and will thankfully receive accounts of cases of hallucination 
of vision, hearing, etc., of which the reader may have knowledge. 



As adult thinkers we have a definite and apparently 
instantaneous knowledge of the sizes, shapes, and dis- 
tances of the things amongst which we live and move; 
and we have moreover a practically definite notion of the 
whole great infinite continuum of real space in which the 
world swings and in which all these things are located. 
Nevertheless it seems obvious that the baby's world is 
vague and confused in all these respects. How does our 
definite knowledge of space grow up? This is one of the 
quarrelsome problems in psychology. This chapter must 
be so brief that there will be no room for the polemic and 
historic aspects of the subject, and I will state simply and 
dogmatically the conclusions which seem most plausible to 

The quality of voluminousness exists in all sensations, 
just as intensity does. We call the reverberations of a 
thunder-storm more voluminous than the squeaking of 
a slate-pencil; the entrance into a warm bath gives our 
skin a more massive feeling than the prick of a pin; a 
little neuralgic pain, fine as a cobweb, in the face, seems 
less extensive than the heavy soreness of a boil or the vast 
discomfort of a colic or a lumbago; and a solitary star 
looks smaller than the noonday sky. Muscular sensations 
and semicircular-canal sensations have volume. Smells 
and tastes are not without it; and sensations from our 
inward organs have it in a marked degree. 

Repletion and emptiness, suffocation, palpitation, head- 
ache, are examples of this, and certainly not less spatial is 
the consciousness we have of our general bodily condition 



in nausea, fever, heavy drowsiness, and fatigue. Our entire 
cubic content seems then sensibly manifest to us as such, 
and feels much larger than any local pulsation, pressure, 
or discomfort. Skin and retina are, however, the organs 
in which the space-element plays the most active part. 
Not only does the maximal vastness yielded by the retina 
surpass that yielded by any other organ, but the intricacy 
with which our attention can subdivide this vastness and 
perceive it to be composed of lesser portions simultaneously 
coexisting alongside of each other is without a parallel 
elsewhere. The ear gives a greater vastness than the skin, 
but is considerably less able to subdivide it. The vastness, 
moreover, is as great in one direction as in another. Its 
dimensions are so vague that in it there is no question as 
yet of surface as opposed to depth ; ' volume ' being the 
best short name for the sensation in question. 

Sensations of different orders are roughly comparable 
with each other as to their volumes. Persons born blind 
are said to be surprised at the largeness with which objects 
appear to them when their sight is restored. Franz says 
of his patient cured of cataract: " He saw everything much 
larger than he had supposed from the idea obtained by his 
sense of touch. Moving, and especially living, objects ap- 
peared very large." Loud sounds have a certain enormous- 
ness of feeling. ' Glowing ' bodies as Hering says, give us a 
perception "which seems roomy (raumhaft) in comparison 
with that of strictly surface-color. A glowing iron looks 
luminous through and through, and so does a flame." The 
interior of one's mouth-cavity feels larger when explored 
by the tongue than when looked at. The crater of a 
newly-extracted tooth, and the movements of a loose tooth 
in its socket, feel quite monstrous. A midge buzzing 
against the drum of the ear will often seem as big as a 
butterfly. The pressure of the air in the tympanic cavity 
upon the membrane gives an astonishingly large sensation. 

The voluminousness of the feeling seems to bear very little 
relation to the size of the ocean that yields it. The ear and 


eye are comparatively minute organs, yet they give us feel- 
ings of great volume. The same lack of exact proportion 
between size of feeling and size of organ affected obtains 
within the limits of particular sensory organs. An object 
appears smaller on the lateral portions of the retina than 
it does on the fovea, as may be easily verified by holding 
the two forefingers parallel and a couple of inches apart, 
and transferring the gaze of one eye from one to the 
other. Then the finger not directly looked at will appear 
to shrink. On the skin, if two points kept equidistant 
(blunted compass- or scissors-points, for example) be drawn 
along so as really to describe a pair of parallel lines, the 
lines will appear farther apart in some spots than in 
others. If, for example, we draw them across the face, the 
person experimented upon will feel as if they began to 
diverge near the mouth and to include it in a well-marked 

Fig. 65 t (after Weber). 

The dotted lines give the real course of the points, the continuous 

lines the course as felt. 

Now my first thesis is that this extensity, dis- 
cernible in each and every sensation, though more developed 
in some than in others, is the original sensation of 
space, out of which all the exact knowledge about space 
that we afterwards come to have is woven by processes of 
discrimination, association, and selection. 

The Construction of Real Space. — To the babe who 
first opens his senses upon the world, though the experience 
is one of vastness or extensity, it is of an extensity within 


which no definite divisions, directions, sizes, or distances 
are yet marked out. Potentially, the room in which the 
child is born is subdivisible into a multitude of parts, 
fixed or movable, which at any given moment of time have 
definite relations to each other and to his person. Poten- 
tially, too, this room taken as a whole can be prolonged in 
various directions by the addition to it of those farther 
lying spaces which constitute the outer world. But actu- 
ally the further spaces are unfelt, and the subdivisions are 
undiscriminated, by the babe; the chief part of whose edu- 
cation during his" first year of life consists in his becoming 
acquainted with them and recognizing and identifying 
them in detail. This process may be called that of the con- 
struction of real space, as a newly apprehended object, out 
of the original chaotic experiences of vastness. It consists 
of several subordinate processes: 

_First, the total object of vision or of feeling at any time 
mustnave smaller objects definitely discriminated within 

Secondly, objects seen or tasted must be identified with 
objects felt, heard, etc., and vice versa, so that the same 
' thing ' may come to be recognized, although apprehended 
in such widely differing ways; 

Third, the total extent felt at any time must be con- 
ceived as definitely located in the midst of the surrounding 
extents of which the world consists; 

Fourth, these objects must appear arranged in definite 
order in the so-called three dimensions; and 

Fifth, their relative sizes must be perceived — in other 
words, they must be measured. 

Let us take these processes in regular order. 

1) Subdivision or Discrimination. — Concerning this 
there is not much to be added to what was set forth in 
Chapter XV. Moving parts, sharp parts, brightly colored 
parts of the total field of perception ' catch the attention ' 
and are then discerned as special objects surrounded by 
the remainder of the field of view or touch. That when 


such objects are discerned apart they should appear as 
thus surrounded, must be set down as an ultimate fact of 
our sensibility of which no farther account can be given. 
Later, as one partial object of this sort after another has 
become familiar and identifiable, the attention can be 
caught by more than one at once. We then see or feel a 
number of distinct objects alongside of each other in the 
general extended field. The ' alongsideness ' is in the first 
instance vague — it may not carry with it the sense of defi- 
nite directions or distances — and it too must be regarded 
as an ultimate fact of our sensibility. 

2) Coalescence of Different Sensations into the Same 
' Thing.' — When two senses are impressed simultaneously 
we tend to identify their objects as one thing. When a 
conductor is brought near the skin, the snap heard, the 
spark seen, and the sting felt, are all located together and 
believed to be different aspects of one entity, the ' electric 
discharge.' The space of the seen object fuses with the 
space of the heard object and with that of the felt object 
by an ultimate law of our consciousness, which is that we 
simplify, unify, and identify as much as we possibly can. 
Whatever sensible data can be attended to together we locate 
together. Their several extents seem one extent. The place 
at which each appears is held to be the same with the place 
at which the others appear. This is the first and great 
1 act ' by which our world gets spatially arranged. 

In this coalescence in a * thing,' one of the coalescing 
sensations is held to be the thing, the other sensations are 
taken for its more or less accidental properties, or modes 
of appearance. The sensation chosen to be essentially the 
thing is the most constant and practically important of the 
lot; most often it is hardness or weight. But the hardness 
or weight is never without tactile bulk; and as we can 
always see something in our hand when we feel something 
there, we equate the bulk felt with the bulk seen, and 
thenceforward this common bulk is also apt to figure as 
of the essence of the * thing/ Frequently a shape so fig- 


ures, sometimes a temperature, a taste, etc.; but for the 
most part temperature, smell, sound, color, or whatever 
other phenomena may vividly impress us simultaneously 
with the bulk felt or seen, figure among the accidents. 
Smell and sound impress us, it is true, when we neither 
see nor touch the thing; but they are strongest when we 
see or touch, so we locate the source of these properties 
within the touched or seen space, whilst the properties 
themselves we regard as overflowing in a weakened form 
into the spaces filled by other things. In all this, it will 
be observed, the sense-data whose spaces coalesce into one 
are yielded by different sense-organs. Such data have no 
tendency to displace each other from consciousness, but can 
be attended to together all at once. Often indeed they 
vary concomitantly and reach a maximum together. We 
may be sure, therefore, that the general rule of our mind 
is to locate in each other all sensations which are asso- 
ciated in simultaneous experience and do not interfere 
with each other's perception. 

3) The Sense of the Surrounding World. — Different 
impressions on the same sense-organ do interfere with each 
other's perception and cannot well be attended to at once. 
Hence we do not locate them in each other's spaces, but 
arrange them in a serial order of exteriority, each alongside 
of the rest, in a space larger than that which any one sensa- 
tion brings. We can usually recover anything lost from 
our sight by moving our eyes back in its direction; and 
it is through these constant changes that every field of 
seen things comes at last to be thought of as always hav- 
ing a fringe of other things possible to be seen spreading 
in all directions round about it. Meanwhile the move- 
ments concomitantly with which the various fields alter- 
nate are also felt and remembered; and gradually (through 
association) this and that movement come in our thought 
to suggest this or that extent of fresh objects introduced. 
Gradually, too, since the objects vary indefinitely in kind, 
we abstract from their several natures and think separately 


of their mere extents, of which extents the various move- 
ments remain as the only constant introducers and asso- 
ciates. More and more, therefore, do we think of move- 
ment and seen extent as mutually involving each other, 
until at last we may get to regard them as synonymous; 
and, empty space then meaning for us mere room for move- 
ment, we may, if we are psychologists, readily but errone- 
ously assign to the ' muscular sense ' the chief role in 
perceiving extensiveness at all. 

4) The Serial Order of Locations. — The muscular 
sense has much to do with denning the order of position of 
things seen, felt, or heard. We look at a point; another point 
upon the retina's margin catches our attention, and in an 
instant we turn the fovea upon it, letting its image suc- 
cessively fall upon all the points of the intervening retinal 
line. The line thus traced so rapidly by the second point 
is itself a visual object, with the first and second point at 
its respective ends. It separates the points, which become 
located by its length with reference to each other. If a 
third point catch the attention, more peripheral still than 
the second point, then a still greater movement of the eye- 
ball and a continuation of the line will result, the second 
point now appearing between the first and third. Every 
moment of our life, peripherally-lying objects are drawing 
lines like this between themselves and other objects which 
they displace from our attention as we bring them to the 
centre of our field of view. Each peripheral retinal point 
comes in this way to suggest a line at the end of which it 
lies, a line which a possible movement will trace; and even 
the motionless field of vision ends at last by signifying 
a system of positions brought out by possible movements 
between its centre and all peripheral parts. 

It is the same with our skin and joints. By moving our 
hand over objects we trace lines of direction, and new im- 
pressions arise at their ends. The ' lines ' are sometimes on 
the articular surfaces, sometimes on the skin as well; in 
either case they give a definite order arrangements to the 


successive objects between which they intervene. Similarly 
with sounds and smells. With our heads in a certain posi- 
tion, a certain sound or a certain smell is most distinct. 
Turning our head makes this experience fainter and brings 
another sound, or another smell, to its maximum. The two 
sounds or smells are thus separated by the movement located 
at its ends, the movement itself being realized as a sweep 
through space whose value is given partly by the semi- 
circular-canal feeling, partly by the articular cartilages of 
the neck, and partly by the impressions produced upon the 

By such general principles of action as these everything 
looked at, felt, smelt, or heard comes to be located in a 
more or less definite position relatively to other collateral 
things either actually presented or only imagined as possi- 
bly there. I say ' collateral ' things, for I prefer not to 
complicate the account just yet with any special considera- 
tion of the ' third dimension,' distance, or depth, as it has 
been called. 

5) The Measurement of Things in Terms of Each 
Other. — Here the first thing that seems evident is that we 
have no immediate power of comparing together with any 
accuracy the extents revealed by different sensations. Our 
mouth-cavity feels indeed to the tongue larger than it feels to 
the finger or eye, our lips feel larger than a surface equal 
to them on our thigh. So much comparison is immediate; 
but it is vague; and for anything exact we must resort to 
other help. 

The great agent in comparing the extent felt by one sen- 
sory surface with that felt by another is superposition— 
superposition of one surface upon another, and superposi- 
tion of one outer thing upon many surfaces. 

Two surfaces of skin superposed on each other are felt 
simultaneously, and by the law laid down on p. 339 are 
judged to occupy an identical place. Similarly of our 
hand, when seen and felt at the same time by its resident 


In these identifications and reductions of the many to the 
one it must be noticed that when the resident sensations of 
largeness of two opposed surfaces conflict, one of the sensa- 
tions is chosen as the true standard and the other treated as 
illusory. Thus an empty tooth-socket is believed to be really 
smaller than the finger-tip which it will not admit, al- 
though it may feel larger; and in general it may be said 
that the hand, as the almost exclusive organ of palpation, 
gives its own magnitude to the other parts, instead of hav- 
ing its size determined by them. 

But even though exploration of one surface by another 
were impossible, we could always measure our various sur- 
faces against each other by applying the same extended 
object first to one and then to another. We might of course 
at first suppose that the object itself waxed and waned as 
it glided from one place to another (cf. above, Fig. 65) ; but 
the principle of simplifying as much as possible our world 
would soon drive us out of that assumption into the easier 
one that objects as a rule keep their sizes, and that most of 
our sensations are affected by errors for which a constant 
allowance must be made. 

In the retina there is no reason to suppose that the 
bignesses of two impressions (lines or blotches) falling on 
different regions are at first felt to stand in any exact 
mutual ratio. But if the impressions come from the same 
object, then we might judge their sizes to be just the same. 
This, however, only when the relation of the object to the 
eye is believed to be on the whole unchanged. When the 
object, by moving, changes its relations to ihe eye, the sen- 
sation excited by its image even on the same retinal region 
becomes so fluctuating that we end by ascribing no abso- 
lute import whatever to the retinal space-feeling which at 
any moment we many receive. So complete does this over- 
looking of retinal magnitude become that it is next to 
impossible to compare the visual magnitudes of objects at 
different distances without making the experiment of 
superposition. We cannot say beforehand how much of a 


distant house or tree our finger will cover. The various 
answers to the familiar question, How large is the moon? 
— answers which vary from a cartwheel to a wafer — illus- 
trate this most strikingly. The hardest part of the train- 
ing of a young draughtsman is his learning to feel directly 
the retinal (i.e. primitively sensible) magnitudes which the 
different objects in the field of view subtend. To do this 
lie must recover what Ruskin calls the ' innocence of the 
eye ' — that is, a sort of childish perception of stains of 
color merely as such, without consciousness of what they 

With the rest of us this innocence is lost. Out of all the 
visual magnitudes of each known object we have selected 
one as the ' real ' one to think of, and degraded all the 
others to serve as its signs. This real magnitude is deter- 
mined by aesthetic and practical interests. It is that which 
we get when the object is at the distance most propitious 
for exact visual discrimination of its details. This is the 
distance at which we hold anything we are examining. 
Farther than this we see it too small, nearer too large. And 
the larger and the smaller feeling vanish in the act of sug- 
gesting this one, their more important meaning. . As I look 
along the dining-table I overlook the fact that the farther 
plates and glasses feel so much smaller than my own, for I 
know that they are all equal in size; and the feeling of 
them, which is a present sensation, is eclipsed in the glare 
of the knowledge, which is a merely imagined one. 

It is the same with shape as with size. Almost all the 
visible shapes of things are what we call perspective ' dis- 
tortions.' Square table-tops constantly present two acute 
and two obtuse angles; circles drawn on our wall-papers, 
our carpets, or on sheets of paper, usually show like ellipses; 
parallels approach as they recede; human bodies are fore- 
shortened; and the transitions from one to another of these 
altering forms are infinite and continual. Out of the flux, 
however, one phase always stands prominent. It is the 
form the object has when we see it easiest and best; and 


that is when our eyes and the object both are in what may 
be called the normal position. In this position our head is 
upright and our optic axes either parallel or symmetrically 
convergent; the plane of the object is perpendicular to the 
visual plane; and if the object is one containing many 
lines, it is turned so as to make them, as far as possible, 
either parallel or perpendicular to the visual plane. In this 
situation it is that we compare all shapes with each other; 
here every exact measurement and every decision is made. 

Most sensations are signs to us of other sensations 
whose space-value is held to be more real. The thing as 
it would appear to the eye if it were in the normal position 
is what we think of whenever we get one of the other optical 
views. Only as represented in the normal position do we 
believe we see the object as it is; elsewhere, only as it seems. 
Experience and custom soon teach us, however, that the 
seeming appearance passes into the real one by continuous 
gradations. They teach us, moreover, that seeming and 
being may be strangely interchanged. Now a real circle 
may slide into a seeming ellipse; now an ellipse may, by 
sliding in the same direction, become a seeming circle; 
now a rectangular cross grows slant-legged; now a slant- 
legged one grows rectangular. 

Almost any form in oblique vision may be thus a deriva- 
tive of almost any other in ' primary ' vision ; and we must 
learn, when we get one of the former appearances, to trans- 
late it into the appropriate one of the latter class; we must 
learn of what optical ' reality ' it is one of the optical signs. 
Having learned this, we do but obey that law of economy 
or simplification which dominates our whole psychic life, 
when we think exclusively of the ' reality ' and ignore as 
much as our consciousness will let us the ' sign ' by which 
we came to apprehend it. The signs of each probable real 
thing being multiple and the thing itself one and fixed, 
we gain the same mental relief of abandoning the former 
for the latter that we do when we abandon mental images, 
with all their fluctuating characters, for the definite and 


unchangeable names which they suggest. The selection of 
the several ' normal ' appearances from out of the jungle 
of our optical experiences, to serve as the real sights of 
which we shall think, has thus some analogy to the habit of 
thinking in words, in that by both we substitute terms few 
and fixed for terms manifold and vague. 

If an optical sensation can thus be a mere sign to recall 
another sensation of the same sense, judged more real, a 
fortiori can sensations of one sense be signs of realities 
which are objects of another. Smells and tastes make us 
believe the visible cologne-bottle, strawberry, or cheese to 
be there. Sights suggest objects of touch, touches suggest 
objects of sight, etc. In all this substitution and sugges- 
tive recall the only law that holds good is that in general 
the most interesting of the sensations which the ' thing ' 
can give us is held to represent its real nature most truly. 
It is a case of the selective activity mentioned on p. 170 ff. 

The Third Dimension or Distance. — This service of 
sensations as mere signs, to be ignored when they have 
evoked the other sensations which are their significates, was 
noticed first by Berkeley in his new theory of vision. He 
dwelt particularly on the fact that the signs were not 
natural signs, but properties of the object merely associ- 
ated by experience with the more real aspects of it which 
they recall. The tangible ' feel ' of a thing, and the ' look ' 
of it to the eye, have absolutely no point in common, said 
Berkeley; and if I think of the look of it when I get the 
feel, or think of the feel when I get the look, that is merely 
due to the fact that I have on so many previous occasions 
had the two sensations at once. When we open our eyes, 
for example, we think we see how far off the object is. 
But this feeling of distance, according to Berkeley, cannot 
possibly be a retinal sensation, for a point in outer space 
can only impress our retina by the single dot which it 
projects ' in the fund of the eye/ and this dot is the same 
for all distances. Distance from the eye, Berkeley con- 
sidered not to be an optical object at all, but an object of 


touch, of which we have optical signs of various sorts, such 
as the image's apparent magnitude, its ' faintness ' or ' con- 
fusion,' and the ' strain ' of accommodation and conver- 
gence. By distance being an object of ' touch,' Berkeley 
meant that our notion of it consists in ideas of the amount 
of muscular movement of arm or legs which would be 
required to place our hand upon the object. Most authors 
have agreed with Berkeley that creatures unable to move 
either their eyes or limbs would have no notion whatever 
of distance or the third dimension. 

This opinion seems to me unjustifiable. I cannot get 
over the fact that all our sensations are of volume, and that 
the primitive field of view (however imperfectly distance 
may be discriminated or measured in it) cannot be of 
something flat, as these authors unanimously maintain. 
Nor can I get over the fact that distance, when I see it, is 
a genuinely optical feeling, even though I be at a loss to 
assign any one physiological process in the organ of vision 
to the varying degrees of which the variations of the feel- 
ing uniformly correspond. It is awakened by all the op- 
tical signs which Berkeley mentioned, and by more besides, 
such as Wheatstone's binocular disparity, and by the par- 
allax which follows on slightly moving the head. When 
awakened, however, it seems optical, and not heteroge- 
neous with the other two dimensions of the visual field. 

The mutual equivalencies of the distance-dimension with 
the up-and-down and right-to-left dimensions of the field 
of view can easily be settled without resorting to experi- 
ences of touch. A being reduced to a single eyeball 
would perceive the same tridimensional world which we 
do, if he had our intellectual powers. For the same moving 
things, by alternately covering different parts of his retina, 
would determine the mutual equivalencies of the first two 
dimensions of the field of view; and by exciting the physi- 
ological cause of his perception of depth in various degrees, 
they would establish a scale of equivalency between the 
first two and the third. 


First of all, one of the sensations given by the object 
would be chosen to represent its ' real ' size and shape, in 
accordance with the principles so lately laid down. One 
sensation would measure the ' thing ■ present, and the 
' thing ' would measure the other sensations — the periph- 
eral parts of the retina would be equated with the cen- 
tral by receiving the image of the same object. This 
needs no elucidation in case the object does not change its 
distance or its front. But suppose, to take a more compli- 
cated case, that the object is a stick, seen first in its whole 
length, and then rotated round one of its ends; let this 
fixed end be the one near the eye. In this movement the 
stick's image will grow progressively shorter; its farther 
end will appear less and less separated laterally from its 
fixed near end; soon it will be screened by the latter, and 
then reappear on the opposite side, the image there finally 
resuming its original length. Suppose this movement to 
become a familiar experience; the mind will presumably 
react upon it after its usual fashion (which is that of 
unifying all data which it is in any way possible to unify), 
and consider it the movement of a constant object rather 
than the transformation of a fluctuating one. Now, the 
sensation of depth which it receives during the experience 
is awakened more by the far than by the near end of the 
object. But how much depth? What shall measure its 
amount? Why, at the moment the far end is about to be 
eclipsed, the difference of its distance from the near end's 
distance must be judged equal to the stick's whole length; 
but that length has already been seen and measured by a 
certain visual sensation of breadth. So we find that given 
amounts of the visual depth-feeling become signs of given 
amounts of the visual breadth- feeling, depth becoming 
equated with breadth. The measurement of distance is, as 
Berkeley truly said, a result of suggestion and experience. 
But visual experience alone is adequate to produce it, and 
this he erroneously denied. 


The Part played by the Intellect in Space-perception. 
— But although Berkeley was wrong in his assertion that out V »/ 
of optical experience alone no perception of distance can ' 
be evolved, he gave a great impetus to psychology by 
showing how originally incoherent and incommensurable 
in respect of their extensiveness our different sensations 
are, and how our actually so rapid space-perceptions are 
almost altogether acquired by education. Touch-space is 
one world; sight-space is another world. The two worlds 
have no essential or intrinsic congruence, and only through 
the ' association of ideas ' do we know what a seen object 
signifies in terms of touch. Persons with congenital cata- 
racts relieved by surgical aid, whose world until the opera- 
tion has been a world of tangibles exclusively, are ludi- 
crously unable at first to name any of the objects which 
newly fall upon their eye. " It might very well be a 
horse" said the latest patient of this sort of whom we have 
an account, when a 10-litre bottle was held up a foot from 
his face.* Neither do such patients have any accurate 
notion in motor terms of the relative distances of things 
from their eyes. All such confusions very quickly dis- 
appear with practice, and the novel optical sensations 
translate themselves into the familiar language of touch. 
The facts do not prove in the least that the optical sensa- 
tions are not spatial, but only that it needs a subtler sense 
for analogy than most people have, to discern the same 
spatial aspects and relations in them which previously- 
known tactile and motor experiences have yielded. 

Conclusion. — To sum up, the whole history of space- 
perception is explicable if we admit on the one hand sensa- 
tions with certain amounts of extensity native to them, 
and on the other the ordinary powers of discrimination, 
selection, and association in the mind's dealings with 
them. The fluctuating import of many of our optical 

*Cf. Raehlmann in Zeitschrift fur Psychol, und Physiol, der 
Sinnesorgane, 11. 79. 


sensations, the same sensation being so ambiguous as re- 
gards size, shape, locality, and the like, has led many to 
believe that such attributes as these could not possibly be 
the result of sensation at all, but must come from some 
higher power of intuition, synthesis, or whatever it might: 
be called. But the fact that a present sensation can at any 
time become the sign or represented one judged to be more 
real, sufficiently accounts for all the phenomena without 
the need of supposing that the quality of extensity is 
created out of non-extensive experiences by a super-sensa- 
tional faculty of the mind. 



What Reasoning is. — We talk of man being the ra- 
tional animal; and the traditional intellectualist philosophy 1 , 
has always made a great point of treating the brutes as: 
wholly irrational creatures. Nevertheless, it is by no means 
easy to decide just what is meant by reason, or how the 
peculiar thinking process called reasoning differs from other 
thought-sequences which may lead to similar results. 

Much of our thinking consists of trains of images sug- 
gested one by another, of a sort of spontaneous revery of 
which it seems likely enough that the higher brutes should 
be capable. This sort of thinking leads nevertheless to 
rational conclusions, both practical and theoretical. The 
links between the terms are either ' contiguity ' or ' similar- 
ity,' and with a mixture of both these things we can hardly 
be very incoherent. As a rule, in this sort of irresponsible 
thinking, the terms which fall to be coupled together are 
empirical concretes, not abstractions. A sunset may call 
up the vessel's deck from which I saw one last summer, 
the companions of my voyage, my arrival into port, etc.; 
or it may make me think of solar myths, of Hercules' and 
Hector's funeral pyres, of Homer and whether he could 
write, of the Greek alphabet, etc. If habitual contiguities 
predominate, we have a prosaic mind; if rare contiguities, 
or similarities, have free play, we call the person fanciful, 
poetic, or witty. But the thought as a rule is of matters 
taken in their entirety. Having been thinking of one, we 
find later that we are thinking of another, to which we have 
been lifted along, we hardly know how. If an abstract 



quality figures in the procession, it arrests our attention 
but for a moment, and fades into something else; and is 
never very abstract. Thus, in thinking of the sun-myths, 
we may have a gleam of admiration at the gracefulness of 
the primitive human mind, or a moment of digust at the 
narrowness of modern interpreters. But in the main, we 
think less of qualities than of concrete things, real or pos- 
sible, just as we may experience them. 

Our thought here may be rational, but it is nqtj reasonedj 
is not reasoning in the strict sense of the term. In reason- 
ing, although our results may be thought of as concrete 
things, they are not suggested immediately by other concrete 
things, as in the trains of simply associative thought. 
They are linked to the concretes which precede them by 
intermediate steps, and these steps are formed by abstract 
general characters articulately denoted and expressly ana- 
lyzed out. A thing inferred by reasoning need neither 
have been an habitual associate of the datum from which 
we infer it, nor need it be similar to it. It may be a thing 
entirely unknown to our previous experience, something 
which no simple association of concretes could ever have 
evoked. The great difference, in fact, between that sim- 
pler kind of rational thinking which consists in the con- 
crete objects of past experience merely suggesting each 
other, and reasoning distinctively so called, is this: that 
whilst the empirical thinking is only reproductive, reason- 
ing is productive. An empirical, or ' rule-of-thumb ' 
thinker can deduce nothing from data with whose beha- 
vior and associates in the concrete he is unfamiliar. But 
put a reasoner amongst a set of concrete objects which he 
has neither seen nor heard of before, and with a little time, 
if he is a good reasoner, he will make such inferences from 
them as will quite atone for his ignorance. Reasoning 
helps us out of unprecedented situations — situations for 
which all our common associative wisdom, all the ' educa- 
tion ' which we share in common with the beasts, leaves us 
without resource. 


Exact Definition of it. — Let us make this ability to 
deal with novel data the technical differentia of reasoning. 
This will sufficiently mark it out from common associative 
thinking, and will immediately enable us to say just what 
peculiarity it contains. 

It contains analysis and abstraction. Whereas the 
merely empirical thinker stares at a fact in its entirety, 
and remains helpless, or gets ' stuck/ if it suggests no con- 
comitant or similar, the reasoner breaks it up and notices 
some one of its separate attributes. This attribute he 
takes to be the essential part of the whole fact before him. 
This attribute has properties or consequences which the 
fact until then was not known to have, but which, now 
that it is noticed to contain the attribute, it must have. 
, Call the fact or concrete datum S; 
the essential attribute M; 
the attribute's property P. 

Then the reasoned inference of P from S cannot be made 
without M's intermediation. The ' essence ' M is thus that 
third or middle term in the reasoning which a moment ago 
was pronounced essential. For his original concrete S the 
reasoner substitutes its abstract property M. What is true 
of M, what is coupled with M, thereupon holds true of S, 
is coupled with S. As M is properly one of the parts of 
the entire S, reasoning may then be very well defined as 
the substitution of parts and their implications or conse- 
quences for wholes. And the art of the reasoner will con- 
sist of two stages: 

First, sagacity, or the ability to discover what part, M, 
lies embedded in the whole S which is before him ; 

Second, learning, or the ability to recall promptly M's 
consequences, concomitants, or implications. 

If we glance at the ordinary syllogism — 

M is P; 

S is M; 
.*. S is P 


— we see that the second or minor promise, the ' subsump- 
tion ' as it is sometimes called, is the one requiring the 
sagacity; the first, or major, the one requiring the fertility, 
or fulness of learning. Usually the learning is more apt to 
be ready than the sagacity, the ability to seize fresh aspects 
in concrete things being rarer than the ability to learn old 
rules; so that, in most actual cases of reasoning, the minor 
premise, or the way of conceiving the subject, is the one 
that makes the novel step in thought. This is, to be sure, 
not always the case; for the fact that M carries P with it 
may also be unfamiliar and now formulated for the first 

The perception that S is M is a mode of conceiving S. 
The statement that M is P is an abstract or general propo- 
sition. A word about both is necessary. 

What is meant by a Mode of Conceiving. — When we 
conceive of S merely as M (of vermilion merely as a mer- 
cury-compound, for example), we neglect all the other attri- 
butes which it may have, and attend exclusively to this 
one. We mutilate the fulness of S's reality. Every reality 
has an infinity of aspects or properties. Even so simple a 
fact as a line which you trace in the air may be considered 
in respect to its form, its length, its direction, and its loca- 
tion. When we reach more complex facts, the number of 
ways in which we may regard them is literally endless. 
Vermilion is not only a mercury-compound, it is vividly 
red, heavy, and expensive, it comes from China, and so on, 
ad infinitum. All objects are well-springs of properties, 
which are only little by little developed to our knowledge, 
and it is truly said that to know one thing thoroughly 
would be to know the whole universe. Mediately or im- 
mediately, that one thing is related to everything else; and 
to know all about it, all its relations need be known. But 
each relation forms one of its attributes, one angle by 
which some one may conceive it, and while so conceiving 
it may ignore the rest of it. A man is such a complex 
fact. But out of the complexity all that an army com- 


missary picks out as important for his purposes is his prop- 
erty of eating so many pounds a day; the general, of 
marching so many miles; the chair-maker, of having such 
a shape; the orator, of responding to such and such feel- 
ings; the theatre-manager, of being willing to pay just 
such a price, and no more, for an evening's amusement. 
Each of these persons singles out the particular sire of the 
entire man which has a bearing on his concerns, and not 
till this side is distinctly and separately conceived can the 
proper practical conclusions for that reasoner be drawn; 
and when they are drawn the man's other attributes may 
be ignored. 

All ways of conceiving a concrete fact, if they are true 
ways at all, are equally true ways. There is no property 
absolutely essential to any one thing. The same prop- 
erty which figures as the essence of a thing on one occasion 
becomes a very inessential feature upon another. Now 
that I am writing, it is essential that I conceive my paper 
as a surface for inscription. If I failed to do that, I 
should have to stop my work. But if I wished to light a 
fire, and no other materials were by, the essential way of 
conceiving the paper would be as combustible material; 
and I need then have no thought of any of its other des- 
tinations. It is really all that it is: a combustible, a writ- 
ing surface, a thin thing, a hydrocarbonaceous thing, a 
thing eight inches one way and ten another, a thing just 
one furlong east of a certain stone in my neighbor's field, 
an American thing, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Whichever 
one of these aspects of its being I temporarily class it 
under makes me unjust to the other aspects. But as I 
always am classing it under one aspect or another, I am 
always unjust, always partial, always exclusive. My ex- 
cuse is necessity — the necessity which my finite and prac- 
tical nature lays upon me. My thinking is first and last 
and always for the sake of my doing, and I can only do one 
thing at a time. A God who is supposed to drive the 
whole universe abreast may also be supposed, without 



detriment to his activity, to see all parts of it at once and 
without emphasis. But were our human attention so to 
disperse itself, we should simply stare vacantly at things at 
large and forfeit our opportunity of doing any particular 
act. Mr. Warner, in his Adirondack story, shot a bear by 
aiming, not at his eye or heart, but ' at him generally.' 
But we cannot aim ' generally ' at the universe; or if we 
do, we miss our game. Our scope is narrow, and we must 
attack things piecemeal, ignoring the solid fulness in which 
the elements of Nature exist, and stringing one after an- 
other of them together in a serial way, to suit our little 
interests as they change from hour to hour. In this, the 
partiality of one moment is partly atoned for by the differ- 
ent sort of partiality of the next. To me now, writing 
these words, emphasis and selection seem to be the essence 
of the human mind. In other chapters other qualities 
have seemed, and will again seem, more important parts of 

Men are so ingrainedly partial that, for common-sense 
and scholasticism (which is only common-sense grown ar- 
ticulate), the notion that there is no one quality genuinely, 
absolutely, and exclusively essential to anything is almost 
unthinkable. " A thing's essence makes it what it is. 
Without an exclusive essence it would be nothing in par- 
ticular, would be quite nameless, we could not say it was 
this rather than that. What you write on, for example, — 
why talk of its being combustible, rectangular, and the 
like, when you know that these are mere accidents, and 
that what it really is, and was made to be, is just paper 
and nothing else? " The reader is pretty sure to make 
some such comment as this. But he is himself merely 
insisting on an aspect of the thing which suits his own 
petty purpose, that of naming the thing; or else on an 
aspect which suits the manufacturer's purpose, that of 
producing an article for which there is a vulgar demand. 
Meanwhile the reality overflows these purposes at every 
pore. Our usual purpose with it, our commonest title for 


it, and the properties which this title suggests, have in 
reality nothing sacramental. They characterize us more 
than they characterize the thing. But we are so stuck in 
our prejudices, so petrified intellectually, that to our vul- 
garest names, with their suggestions, we ascribe an eternal 
and exclusive worth. The thing must be, essentially, 
what the vulgarest name connotes; what less usual names 
connote, it can be only in an * accidental ' and relatively 
unreal sense.* 

Locke undermined the fallacy. But none of his suc- 
cessors, sola? as I know, have radically escaped it, or seen 
that the only meaning of essence is teleological, and that 
classification and conception are purely teleological weap- 
ons of the mind. The essence of a thing is that one of its 
properties which is so important for my interests that in 
comparison with it I may neglect the rest. Amongst those 
other things which have this important property I class it, 
after this property I name it, as a thing endowed with this 
property I conceive it; and whilst so classing, naming, and 
conceiving it, all other truth about it becomes to me as 
naught. The properties which are important vary from 
man to man and from hour to hour. Hence divers appel- 
lations and conceptions for the same thing. But many 
objects of daily use — as paper, ink, butter, overcoat — have 
properties of such constant unwavering importance, and 
have such stereotyped names, that we end by believing that 
to conceive them in those ways is to conceive them in the 
only true way. Those are no truer ways of conceiving 

* Readers brought up on Popular Science may think that the 
molecular structure of things is their real essence in an absolute 
sense, and that water is H-O-H more deeply and truly than it is a 
solvent of sugar or a slaker of thirst. Not a whit ! It is all of these 
things with equal reality, and the only reason why for the chemist 
it is H-O-H primarily, and only secondarily the other things, is 
that for his purpose of laboratory analysis and synthesis, and inclu- 
sion in the science which treats of compositions and decompositions, 
the H-O-H aspect of it is the more important one to bear in mind. 


them than any others; they are only more frequently ser- 
viceable ways to us. 

Reasoning is always f or^a- subjectjye^mterest. — To 
revert now to our symbolic representation of thTTeasoning 

M is P 

S is M 

S is P 
M is discerned and picked out for the time being to be 
the essence of the concrete fact, phenomenon, or reality, S. 
But M in this world of ours is inevitably conjoined with 
P; so that P is the next thing that we may expect to find 
conjoined with the fact S. We may conclude or infer P, 
through the intermediation of the M which our sagacity 
began by discerning, when S came before it, to be the es- 
sence of the case. 

Now note that if P have any value or importance for us, 
M was a very good character for our sagacity to pounce 
upon and abstract. If, on the contrary, P were of no im- 
portance! some other character than M would have been a 
better essence for us to conceive of S by. Psychologically, 
as a rule, P overshadows the process from the start. We 
are seeking P, or something like P. But the bare totality 
of S does not yield it to our gaze; and casting about for 
some point in S to take hold of which will lead us to P, 
we hit, if we are sagacious, upon M, because M happens to 
be just the character which is knit up with P. Had we 
wished Q instead of P, and were N a property of S conjoined 
with Q, we ought to have ignored M, noticed N, and con- 
ceived of S as a sort of N exclusively. 

Reasoning is always to attain some particular conclusion, 
or to gratify some special curiosity. It not only breaks 
up the datum placed before it and conceives it abstractly; 
it must conceive it rightly too; and conceiving it rightly 
means conceiving it by that one particular abstract charac- 
ter which leads to the one sort of conclusion which it is 
the reasoned temporary interest to attain. 


The results of reasoning may be hit upon by accident. 
The stereoscope was actually a result of reasoning; it is 
conceivable, however, that a man playing with pictures and 
mirrors might accidentally have hit upon it. Cats have 
been known to open doors by pulling latches, etc. But no 
cat, if the latch got out of order, could open the door again, 
unless some new accident of random fumbling taught her 
to associate some new total movement with the total phe- 
nomenon of the closed door. A reasoning man, however, 
would open the door by first analyzing the hindrance. He 
would ascertain what particular feature of the door was 
wrong. The lever, e.g., does not raise the latch sufficiently 
from its slot — case of insufficient elevation: raise door 
bodily on hinges! Or door sticks at bottom by friction 
against sill: raise it bodily up! Now it is obvious that a 
child or an idiot might without this reasoning learn the 
rule for opening that particular door. I remember a clock 
which the maid-servant had discovered would not go unless 
it were supported so as to tilt slightly forwards. She had 
stumbled on this method after many weeks of groping. 
The reason of the stoppage was the friction of the pendu- 
lum-bob against the back of the clock-case, a reason which 
an educated man would have analyzed out in five minutes. 
I have a student's lamp of which the flame vibrates most 
unpleasantly unless the chimney be raised about a sixteenth 
of an inch. I learned the remedy after much torment by 
accident, and now always keep the chimney up with a small 
wedge. But my procedure is a mere association of two 
totals, diseased object and remedy. One learned in pneu- 
matics could have abstracted the cause of the disease, and 
thence inferred the remedy immediately. By many meas- 
urements of triangles one might find their area always 
equal to their height multiplied by half their base, and one 
might formulate an empirical law to that effect. But a 
reasoner saves himself all this trouble by seeing that it is 
the essence {pro hac vice) of a triangle to be the half of a 
parallelogram whose area is the height into the entire base. 


To see this he must invent additional lines; and the geom- 
eter must often draw such to get at the essential property 
he may require in a figure. The essence consists in some 
relation of the figure to the new lines, a relation not obvious 
at all until they are put in. The geometer's genius lies in 
the imagining of the new lines, and his sagacity in the per- 
ceiving of the relation. 

Thus, there are two great points in reasoning. First, 
an extracted character is taken as equivalent to the entire 
datum from which it comes; and, 

Second, the character thus taken suggests a certain conse- 
quence more obviously than it was suggested by the total 
datum from which it comes; and, Take these points again, 

i ) Suppose I say, when offered a piece of cloth, " I won't 
buy that; it looks as if it would fade," meaning merely 
that something about it suggests the idea of fading to my 
mind, — my judgment, though possibly correct, is not rea- 
soned, but purely empirical; but if I can say that into the 
color there enters a certain dye which I know to be chemi- 
cally unstable, and that therefore the color will fade, my 
judgment is reasoned. The notion of the dye, which is one 
of the parts of the cloth, is the connecting link between 
the latter and the notion of fading. So, again, an unedu- 
cated man will expect from past experience to see a piece 
of ice melt if placed near the fire, and the tip of his finger 
look coarse if he view it through a convex glass. In 
neither of these cases could the result be anticipated with- 
out full previous acquaintance with the entire phenomenon. 
It is not a result of reasoning. 

But a man who should conceive heat as a mode of 
motion, and liquefaction as identical with increased motion 
of molecules; who should know that curved surfaces bend 
light-rays in special ways, and that the apparent size of 
anything is connected with the amount of the ' bend ' of its 
light-rays as they enter the eye, — such a man would make 
the right inferences for all these objects, even though he 


had never in his life had any concrete experience of them: 
and he would do this because the ideas which we have 
above supposed him to possess would mediate in his mind 
between the phenomena he starts with and the conclusions 
he draws. But these ideas are all mere extracted portions 
or circumstances. The motions which form heat, the bend- 
ing of the light-waves, are, it is true, excessively recondite 
ingredients; the hidden pendulum I spoke of above is less 
so; and the sticking of a door on its sill in the earlier ex- 
ample would hardly be so at all. But each and all agree 
in this, that they bear a more evident relation to the con- 
clusion than did the facts in their immediate totality. 

2) And now to prove the second point: Why are the 
couplings, consequences, and implications of extracts more 
evident and obvious than those of entire phenomena? For 
two reasons. 

First, the extracted characters are more general than the 
concretes, and the connections they may have are, there- 
fore, more familiar to us, having been more often met in 
our experience. Think of heat as motion, and whatever is 
true of motion will be true of heat; but we have had a 
hundred experiences of motion for every one of heat. 
Think of the rays passing through this lens as bending 
towards the perpendicular, and you substitute for the com- 
paratively unfamiliar lens the very familiar notion of a 
particular change in direction of a line, of which notion 
every day brings us countless examples. 

The other reason why the relations of the extracted 
characters are so evident is that their properties are so 
few, compared with the properties of the whole, from 
which we derived them. In every concrete fact the char- 
acters and their consequences are so inexhaustibly numer- 
ous that we may lose our way among them before noticing 
the particular consequence it behooves us to draw. But, 
if we are lucky enough to single out the proper character, 
we take in, as it were, by a single glance all its possible 


consequences. Thus the character of scraping the sill has 
very few suggestions, prominent among which is the sug- 
gestion that the scraping will cease if we raise the door; 
whilst the entire refractory door suggests an enormous 
number of notions to the mind. Such examples may seem 
trivial, but they contain the essence of the most refined 
and transcendental theorizing. The reason why physics 
grows more deductive the more the fundamental proper- 
ties it assumes are of a mathematical sort, such as molecu- 
lar mass or wave-length, is that the immediate consequences 
of these notions are so few that we can survey them all at 
once, and promptly pick out those which concern us. 

Sagacity. — To reason, then, we must be able to extract 
characters, — not any characters, but the right characters 
for our conclusion. If we extract the wrong character, it 
will not lead to that conclusion. Here, then, is the diffi- 
culty: How are characters extracted, and why does it re- 
quire the advent of a genius in many cases before the fitting 
character is brought to light? Why cannot anybody rea- 
son as well as anybody else? Why does it need a Newton 
to notice the law of the squares, a Darwin to notice the 
survival of the fittest? To answer these questions we must 
begin a new research, and see how our insight into facts 
naturally grows. 

All our knowledge at first is vague. When we say that 
a thing is vague, we mean that it has no subdivisions a b 
intra, nor precise limitations ab extra; but still all the 
forms of thought may apply to it. It may have unity, 
reality, externality, extent, and what not — thinghood, in 
a word, but thinghood only as a whole. In this vague 
way, probably, does the room appear to the babe who first 
begins to be conscious of it as something other than his 
moving nurse. It has no subdivisions in his mind, un- 
less, perhaps, the window is able to attract his separate 
notice. In this vague way, certainly, does every entirely 
new experience appear to the adult. A library, a museum, 
a machine-shop, are mere confused wholes to the unin- 


structed, but the machinist, the antiquary, and the book- 
worm perhaps hardly notice the whole at all, so eager are 
they to pounce upon the details. Familiarity has in them 
bred discrimination. Such vague terms as ' grass,' ' mould/ 
and ' meat ' do not exist for the botanist or the anatomist. 
They know too much about grasses, moulds, and muscles. 
A certain person said to Charles Kingsley, who was show- 
ing him the dissection of a caterpillar, with its exquisite 
viscera, " Why, I thought it was nothing but skin and 
squash! " A layman present at a shipwreck, a battle, or a 
fire is helpless. Discrimination has been so little awak- 
ened in him by experience that his consciousness leaves no 
single point of the complex situation accented and stand- 
ing out for him to begin to act upon. But the sailor, the 
fireman, and the general know directly at what corner to 
take up the business. They ' see into the situation • — that 
is, they analyze it — with their first glance. It is full of 
delicately differenced ingredients which their education 
has little by little brought to their consciousness, but of 
which the novice gains no clear idea. 

How this power of analysis was brought about we saw in 
our chapters on Discrimination and Attention. We dis- 
sociate the elements of originally vague totals by attending 
to them or noticing them alternately, of course. But what 
determines which element we shall attend to first? There 
are two immediate and obvious answers: first, our practical 
or instinctive interests; and second, our aesthetic interests. 
The dog singles out of any situation its smells, and the 
horse its sounds, because they may reveal facts of practical 
moment, and are instinctively exciting to these several 
creatures. The infant notices the candle-flame or the win- 
dow, and ignores the rest of the room, because those objects 
give him a vivid pleasure. So, the country boy dissociates 
the blackberry, the chestnut, and the wintergreen, from 
the vague mass of other shrubs and trees, for their practi- 
cal uses, and the savage is delighted with the beads, the 
bits of looking-glass, brought by an exploring vessel, and 


gives no heed to the features of the vessel itself, which is 
too much beyond his sphere. These aesthetic and practical 
interests, then, are the weightiest factors in making partic- 
ular ingredients stand out in high relief. What they lay 
their accent on, that we notice ; but what they are in them- 
selves we cannot say. We must content ourselves here 
with simply accepting them as irreducible ultimate factors 
in determining the way our knowledge grows. 

Now, a creature which has few instinctive impulses, or 
interests practical or aesthetic, will dissociate few charac- 
ters, and will, at best, have limited reasoning powers; 
whilst one whose interests are very varied will reason 
much better. Man, by his immensely varied instincts, 
practical wants, and aesthetic feelings, to which every sense 
contributes, would, by dint of these alone, be sure to dis- 
sociate vastly more characters than any other animal; and 
accordingly we find that the lowest savages reason incom- 
parably better than the highest brutes. The diverse in- 
terests lead, too, to a diversification of experiences, whose 
accumulation becomes a condition for the play of that law 
of dissociation of varying concomitants of which I treated 
on p. 251. 

The Help given by Association by Similarity. — It is 
probable, also, that man's superior association by similar- 
ity has much to do with those discriminations of character 
on which his higher flights of reasoning are based. As 
this latter is an important matter, and as little or nothing 
was said of it in the chapter on Discrimination, it behooves 
me to dwell a little upon it here. 

What does the reader do when he wishes to see in what 
the precise likeness or difference of two objects lies? He 
transfers his attention as rapidly as possible, backwards 
and forwards, from one to the other. The rapid alteration 
of consciousness shakes out, as it were, the points of dif- 
ference or agreement, which would have slumbered forever 
unnoticed if the consciousness of the objects compared had 
occurred at widely distant periods of time. What does 


the scientific man do who searches for the reason or law 
embedded in a phenomenon? He deliberately accumu- 
lates all the instances he can find which have any analogy 
to that phenomenon; and, by simultaneously filling his 
mind with them all, he frequently succeeds in detaching 
from the collection the peculiarity which he was unable 
to formulate in one alone; even though that one had been 
preceded in his former experience by all of those with 
which he now at once confronts it. These examples show 
that the mere general fact of having occurred at some time 
in one's experience, with varying concomitants, is not by 
itself a sufficient reason for a character to be dissociated 
now. We need something more; we need that the varying 
concomitants should in all their variety be brought into 
consciousness at once. Not till then will the character in 
question escape from its adhesion to each and all of them 
and stand alone. This will immediately be recognized by 
those who have read Mill's Logic as the ground of Utility 
in his famous ' four methods of experimental inquiry,' the 
methods of agreement, of difference, of residues, and of 
concomitant variations. Each of these gives a list of 
analogous instances out of the midst of which a sought- 
for character may roll and strike the mind. 

Now it is obvious that any mind in which association by 
similarity is highly developed is a mind which will spon- 
taneously form lists of instances like this. Take a present 
fact A, with a character m in it. The mind may fail at first 
to notice this character m at all. But if A calls up C, D, 
E, and F, — these being phenomena which resemble A in 
possessing m, but which may not have entered for months 
into the experience of the animal who now experiences A, 
why, plainly, such association performs the part of the 
reader's deliberately rapid comparison referred to above, 
and of the systematic consideration of like cases by the 
scientific investigator, and may lead to the noticing of m 
in an abstract way. Certainly this is obvious; and no 
conclusion is left to us but to assert that, after the few 


most powerful practical and aesthetic interests, our chief 
help towards noticing those special characters of phenom- 
ena which, when once possessed and named, are used as 
reasons, class names, essences, or middle terms, is this 
association by similarity. Without it, indeed, the delib- 
erate procedure of the scientific man would be impossible: 
he could never collect his analogous instances. But it 
operates of itself in highly-gifted minds without any delib- 
eration, spontaneously collecting analogous instances, unit- 
ing in a moment what in nature the whole breadth of space 
and time keeps separate, and so permitting a perception of 
identical points in the midst of different circumstances, 
which minds governed wholly by the law of contiguity 
could never begin to attain. 

Fig. 66. 

Figure 66 shows this. If m, in the present representa- 
tion A, calls up B, C, D, and E, which are similar to A in 
possessing it, and calls them up in rapid succession, then 
m, being associated almost simultaneously with such vary- 
ing concomitants, will ' roll out ' and attract our separate 


If so much is clear to the reader, he will be willing to 
admit that the mind in which this mode of association most 
prevails will, from its better opportunity of extricating 
characters, be the one most prone to reasoned thinking; 
whilst, on the other hand, a mind in which we do not 
detect reasoned thinking will probably be one in which 
association by contiguity holds almost exclusive sway. 

Geniuses are, by common consent, considered to differ 
from ordinary minds by an unusual development of associ- 
ation by similarity. One of Professor Bain's best strokes 
of work is the exhibition of this truth. It applies to 
geniuses in the line of reasoning as well as in other lines. 

The Reasoning Powers of Brutes. — As the genius is to 
the vulgarian, so the vulgar human mind is to the intelli- ' 
gence of a brute. Compared with men, it is probable that 
brutes neither attend to abstract characters, nor have asso- 
ciations by similarity. Their thoughts probably pass from 
one concrete object to its habitual concrete successor far 
more uniformly than is the case with us. In other words, 
their associations of ideas are almost exclusively by con- 
tiguity. So far, however, as any brute might think by 
abstract characters insead of by the association of con- 
cretes, he would have to be admitted to be a reasoner in 
the true human sense. How far this may take place is 
quite uncertain. Certain it is that the more intelligent 
brutes obey abstract characters, whether they mentally single 
them out as such or not. They act upon things according 
to. their class. This involves some sort of emphasizing, if 
not abstracting, of the class-essence by the animal's mind. 
A concrete individual with none of his characters empha- 
sized is one thing; a sharply conceived attribute marked 
off from everything else by a name is another. But be- 
tween no analysis of a concrete, and complete analysis; no 
abstraction of an embedded character, and complete abstrac- 
tion, every possible intermediary grade must lie. And 
some of these grades ought to have names, for they are 
certainly represented in the mind. Dr. Romanes has pro- 


posed the name recept, and Prof. Lloyd Morgan the name 
construct, for the idea of a vaguely abstracted and gener- 
alized object-class. A definite abstraction is called an 
isolate by the latter author. Neither construct nor recept 
seems to me a felicitous word; but poor as both are, they 
form a distinct addition to psychology, so I give them 
here. Would such a word as influent sound better than 
recept in the following passage from Romanes? 

" Water-fowl adopt a somewhat different mode of alight- 
ing upon land, or even upon ice, from that which they 
adopt when alighting upon water; and those kinds which 
dive from a height (such as terns and gannets) never do 
so upon land or upon ice. These facts prove that the 
animals have one recept answering to a solid surface, 
and another answering to a fluid. Similarly a man will 
not dive from a height over hard ground or over ice, 
nor will he jump into water in the same way as he jumps 
upon dry land. In other words, like the water-fowl he has 
two distinct recepts, one of which answers to solid ground, 
and the other to an unresisting fluid. But unlike the 
water-fowl he is able to bestow upon each of these recepts 
a name, and thus to raise them both to the level of con- 
cepts. So far as the practical purposes of locomotion are 
concerned, it is of course immaterial whether or not he 
thus raises his recepts into concepts; but ... for many 
other purposes it is of the highest importance that he is 
able to do this." * 

A certain well-bred retriever of whom I know never bit 
his birds. But one day having to bring two birds at once, 
which, though unable to fly, were ' alive and kicking,' he 
deliberately gave one a bite which killed it, took the other 
one still alive to his master, and then returned for the first. 
It is impossible not to believe that some such abstract 
thoughts as l alive — get away — must kill/ . . . etc., passed in 
rapid succession through this dog's mind, whatever the 

* Mental Evolution in Man, p. 74. 


sensible imagery may have been with which they were 
blended. Such practical obedience to the special aspects 
of things which may be important involves the essence of 
reasoning. But the characters whose presence impress 
brutes are very few, being only those which are directly 
connected with their most instinctive interests. They 
never extract characters for the mere fun of the thing, as 
men do. One is tempted to explain this as the result in 
them of an almost entire absence of such association by 
similarity as characterizes the human mind. A thing 
may remind a brute of its full similars, but not of things to 
which it is but slightly similar; and all that dissociation 
by varying concomitants, which in man is based so largely 
on association by similarity, hardly seems to take place at 
all in the infra-human mind. One total object suggests 
another total object, and the lower mammals find them- 
selves acting with propriety, they know not why. The 
great, the fundamental, defect of their minds seems to be 
the inability of their groups of ideas to break across in 
unaccustomed places. They are enslaved to routine, to 
cut-and-dried thinking; and if the most prosaic of human 
beings could be transported into his dog's soul, he would 
be appalled at the utter absence of fancy which there 
reins. Thoughts would not be found to call up their simi- 
lars, but only their habitual successors. Sunsets would 
not suggest heroes' deaths, but supper-time. This is why 
man is the only metaphysical animal. To wonder why 
the universe should be as it is presupposes the notion of 
its being different, and a brute, who never reduces the 
actual to fluidity by breaking up its literal sequences in 
his imagination, can never form such a notion. He takes 
the world simply for granted, and never wonders at it at 





All consciousness is motor. The reader will not have 
orgotten, in the jungle "iSf^purely inward processes and 
products through which the last chapters have borne him, 
that the final result of them all must be some form of 
bodily activity due to the escape of the central excitement 
through outgoing nerves. The whole neural organism, it 
will be remembered, is, physiologically considered, but a 
machine for converting stimuli into reactions; and the 
intellectual part of our life is knit up with but the middle 
or ' central ' part of the machine's operations. We now 
go on to consider the final or emergent operations, the 
bodily activities, and the forms of consciousness consequent 

Every impression which impinges on the incoming 
nerves produces some discharge down the outgoing ones, 
whether we be aware of it or not. Using sweeping terms 
and ignoring exceptions, we might say that every possible 
feeling produces a movement, and that the movement is a 
movement of the entire organism, and of each and all its 
parts. What happens patently when an explosion or a 
flash of lightning startles us, or when we are tickled, hap- 
pens latently with every sensation which we receive. The 
only reason why we do not feel the startle or tickle in the 
case of insignificant sensations is partly its very small 
amount, partly our obtuseness. Professor Bain many years 
ago gave the name of the Law of Diffusion to this phe- 
nomenon of general discharge, and expressed it thus: 
" According as an impression is accompanied with Feeling, 
the aroused currents diffuse themselves over the brain 



leading to a general agitation of the moving organs, as 
well as affecting the viscera." 

There are probably no exceptions to the diffusion of 
every impression through the nerve-centres. The effect of 
a new wave through the centres may, however, often be to 
interfere with processes already going on there; and the 
outward consequence of such interference may be the 
checking of bodily activities in process of occurrence. 
When this happens it probably is like the siphoning of 
certain channels by currents flowing through others; as 
when, in walking, we suddenly stand still because a 
sound, sight, smell, or thought catches our attention. 
But there are cases of arrest of peripheral activity which 
depend, not on inhibition of centres, but on stimulation of 
centres which discharge outgoing currents of an inhibi- 
tory sort. Whenever we are startled, for example, our 
heart momentarily stops or slows its beating, and then 
palpitates with accelerated speed. The brief arrest is due 
to an outgoing current down the pneumogastric nerve. 
This nerve, when stimulated, stops or slows the heart- 
beats, and this particular effect of startling fails to occur 
if the nerve be cut. 

In general, however, the stimulating effects of a sense- 
impression preponderate over the inhibiting effects, so that 
we may roughly say, as we began by saying, that the wave 
of discharge produces an activity in all parts of the body. 
The task of tracing out. all the effects of any one incoming 
sensation has not yet been performed by physiologists. 
Recent years have, however, begun to enlarge our informa- 
tion; and we have now experimental proof that the heart- 
beats, the arterial pressure, the respiration, the sweat- 
glands, the pupil, the bladder, bowels, and uterus, as well 
as the voluntary muscles, may have their tone and degree 
of contraction altered even by the most insignificant sen- 
sorial stimuli. In short, a process set up anywhere in the 
centres reverberates everywhere, and in some way or other 
affects the organism throughout, making its activities 


either greater or less. It is as if the nerve-central mass 
were like a good conductor charged with electricity, of 
which the tension cannot be changed at all without chang- 
ing it everywhere at once. 

Herr Schneider has tried to show, by an ingenious zoo- 
logical review, that all the special movements which highly 
evolved animals make are differentiated from the two 
originally simple movements of contraction and expan- 
sion in which the entire body of simple organisms takes 
part. The tendency to contract is the source of all the 
self-protective impulses and reactions which are later de- 
veloped, including that of flight. The tendency to expand 
splits up, on the contrary, into the impulses and instincts 
of an aggressive kind, feeding, fighting, sexual intercourse, 
etc. I cite this as a sort of evolutionary reason to all to 
the mechanical a priori reason why there ought to be the 
diffusive wave which a posteriori instances show to exist. 

I shall now proceed to a detailed study of the more 
important classes of movement consequent upon cerebro- 
mental change. They may be enumerated as — 
i) Expressions of Emotion; 

2) Instinctive or Impulsive Performances; and 

3) Voluntary Deeds; 

and each shall have a chapter to itself. 


Emotions compared with Instincts. — An emotion is a 
tendency to feel, and an instinct is a tendency to act, char- 
acteristically, when in presence of a certain object in the 
environment. But the emotions also have their bodily 
' expression/ which may involve strong muscular activity 
(as in fear or anger, for example) ; and it becomes a little 
hard in many cases to separate the description of the 
1 emotional ' condition from that of the ' instinctive ' reac- 
tion which one and the same object may provoke. Shall 
fear be described in the chapter on Instincts or in that on 
Emotions? Where shall one describe curiosity, emulation, 
and the like? The answer is quite arbitrary from the 
scientific point of view, and practical convenience may de- 
cide. As inner mental conditions, emotions are quite in- 
describable. Description, moreover, would be superfluous, 
for the reader knows already how they feel. Their rela- 
tions to the objects which prompt them and to the reac- 
tions which they provoke are all that one can put down in 
a book. 

Every object that excites an instinct excites an emotion as 
well. The only distinction one may draw is that the reaction 
called emotional terminates in the subject's own body, 
whilst the reaction called instinctive is apt to go farther 
and enter into practical relations with the exciting object. 
In both instinct and emotion the mere memory or imagina- 
tion of the object may suffice to liberate the excitement. 
One may even get angrier in thinking over one's insult 
than one was in receiving it; and melt more over a mother 
who is dead than one ever did when she was living. In 



the rest of the chapter I shall use the word object of emo- 
tion indifferently to mean one which is physically present 
or one which is merely thought of. 

The varieties of emotion are innumerable. Anger, 
fear, love, hate, joy, grief, shame, pride, and their varieties, 
may be called the coarser emotions, being coupled as they are 
with relatively strong bodily reverberations. The subtler 
emotions are the moral, intellectual, and aesthetic feelings, 
and their bodily reaction is usually much less strong. The 
mere description of the objects, circumstances, and varie- 
ties of the different species of emotion may go to any 
length. Their internal shadings merge endlessly into each 
other, and have been partly commemorated in language, 
as, for example, by such synonyms as hatred, antipathy, 
animosity, resentment, dislike, aversion, malice, spite, re- 
venge, abhorrence, etc., etc. Dictionaries of synonyms 
have discriminated them, as well as text-books of psychol- 
ogy — in fact, many German psychological text-books are 
nothing but dictionaries of synonyms when it comes to the 
chapter on Emotion. But there are limits to the profitable 
elaboration of the obvious, and the result of all this flux is 
that the merely descriptive literature of the subject, from 
Descartes downwards, is one of the most tedious parts of 
psychology. And not only is it tedious, but you feel that 
its subdivisions are to a great extent either fictitious or 
unimportant, and that its pretences to accuracy are a 
sham. But unfortunately there is little psychological 
writing about the emotions which is not merely descriptive. 
As emotions are described in novels, they interest us, for 
we are made to share them. We have grown acquainted 
with the concrete objects and emergencies which call them 
forth, and any knowing touch of introspection which may 
grace the page meets with a quick and feeling response. 
Confessedly literary works of aphoristic philosophy also 
flash lights into our emotional life, and give us a fitful 
delight. But as far as the ' scientific psychology ' of the 
emotions goes, I may have been surfeited by too much 


reading of classic works on the subject, but I should as 
lief read verbal descriptions of the shapes of the rocks on 
a New Hampshire farm as toil through them again. They 
give one nowhere a central point of view, or a deductive 
or generative principle. They distinguish and refine and 
specify in infinitum without ever getting on to another 
logical level. Whereas the beauty of all truly scientific 
work is to get to ever deeper levels. Is there no way out 
from this level of individual description in the case of the 
emotions? I believe there is a way out, if one will only 
take it. 

The Cause of their Varieties. — The trouble with the 
emotions in psychology is that they are regarded too much 
as absolutely individual things. So long as they are set 
down as so many eternal and sacred psychic entities, like 
the old immutable species in natural history, so long all 
that can be done with them is reverently to catalogue their 
separate characters, points, and effects. But if we regard 
them as products of more general causes (as ' species ' are 
now regarded as products of heredity and variation), the 
mere distinguishing and cataloguing becomes of subsidiary 
importance. Having the goose which lays the golden 
eggs, the description of each egg already laid is a minor 
matter. I will devote the next few pages to setting forth 
one very general cause of our emotional feeling, limiting 
myself in the first instance to what may be called the 
coarser emotions. 

The feeling, in the coarser emotions, results from the 
bodily expression. Our natural way of thinking about 
these coarser emotions is that the mental perception of 
some fact excites the mental affection called the emotion, 
and that this latter state of mind gives rise to the bodily 
expression. My theory, on the contrary, is that the bodily 
changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, 
and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is 
the emotion. Common-sense says, we lose our fortune, are 
sorry and weep, we meet a bear, are frightened and run; 


we are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike. The 
hypothesis here to be defended says that this order of 
sequence is incorrect, that the one mental state is not 
immediately induced by the other, that the bodily mani- 
festations must first be interposed between, and that the 
more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we 
cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, 
and not that we cry, strike, or tremble because we are 
sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be. Without the 
bodily states following on the perception, the latter would 
be purely cognitive in form, pale, colorless, destitute of 
emotional warmth. We might then see the bear and 
judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right 
to strike, but we should not actually feel afraid or angry. 

Stated in this crude way, the hypothesis is pretty sure 
to meet with immediate disbelief. And yet neither many 
nor far-fetched considerations are required to mitigate its 
paradoxical character, and possibly to produce conviction 
of its truth. 

To begin with, particular perceptions certainly do pro- 
duce wide-spread bodily effects by a sort of immediate 
physical influence, antecedent to the arousal of an emotion 
or emotional idea. In listening to poetry, drama, or heroic 
narrative we are often surprised at the cutaneous shiver 
which like a sudden wave flows over us, and at the heart- 
swelling and the lachrymal effusion that unexpectedly 
catch us at intervals. In hearing music the same is even 
more strikingly true. If we abruptly see a dark moving 
form in the woods, our heart stops beating, and we catch 
our breath instantly and before any particular idea of dan- 
ger can arise. If our friend goes near to the edge of a preci- 
pice, we get the well-known feeling of ' all-overishness/ and 
we shrink back, although we positively know him to be safe, 
and have no distinct imagination of his fall. The writer 
well remembers his astonishment, when a boy of seven or 
eight, at fainting when he saw a horse bled. The blood 
was in a bucket, with a stick in it, and, if memory does not 


deceive him, he stirred it round and saw it drip from the 
stick with no feeling save that of childish curiosity. Sud- 
denly the world grew black before his eyes, his ears began 
to buzz, and he knew no more. He had never heard of the 
sight of blood producing faintness or sickness, and he had 
so little repugnance to it, and so little apprehension of any 
other sort of danger from it, that even at that tender age, 
as he well remembers, he could not help wondering how 
the mere physical presence of a pailful of crimson fluid 
could occasion in him such formidable bodily effects. 

The best proof that the immediate cause of emotion is 
a physical effect on the nerves is furnished by those patho- 
logical cases in which the emotion is objectless. One of the 
chief merits, in fact, of the view which I propose seems 
to be that we can so easily formulate by its means patho- 
logical cases and normal cases under a common scheme. 
In every asylum we find examples of absolutely unmotived 
fear, anger, melancholy, or conceit; and others of an 
equally unmotived apathy which persists in spite of the 
best of outward reasons why it should give way. In the 
former cases we must suppose the nervous machinery to 
be so ' labile 9 in some one emotional direction that almost 
every stimulus (however inappropriate) causes it to upset 
in that way, and to engender the particular complex of 
feelings of which the psychic body of the emotion consists. 
Thus, to take one special instance, if inability to draw deep 
breath, fluttering of the heart, and that peculiar epigastric 
change felt as ' precordial anxiety,' with an irresistible 
tendency to take a somewhat crouching attitude and to 
sit still, and with perhaps other visceral processes not now 
known, all spontaneously occur together in a certain per- 
son, his feeling of their combination is the emotion of 
dread, and he is the victim of what is known as morbid 
fear. A friend who has had occasional attacks of this most 
distressing of all maladies tells me that in his case the 
whole drama seems to centre about the region of the heart 
and respiratory apparatus, that his main effort during the 


attacks is to get control of his inspirations and to slow his 
heart, and that the moment he attains to breathing deeply 
and to holding himself erect, the dread, ipso facto, seems 
to depart. 

The emotion here is nothing but the feeling of a bodily 
state, and it has a purely bodily cause. 

The next thing to be noticed is this, that every one of 
the bodily changes, whatsoever it be, is felt, acutely or 
obscurely, the moment it occurs. If the reader has never 
paid attention to this matter, he will be both interested 
and astonished to learn how many different local bodily 
feelings he can detect in himself as characteristic of his 
various emotional moods. It would be perhaps too much 
to expect him to arrest the tide of any strong gust of pas- 
sion for the sake of any such curious analysis as this; but 
he can observe more tranquil states, and that may be as- 
sumed here to be true of the greater which is shown to be 
true of the less. Our whole cubic capacity is sensibly 
alive; and each morsel* of it contributes its pulsations of 
feeling, dim or sharp, pleasant, painful, or dubious, to that 
sense of personality that every one of us unfailingly carries 
with him. It is surprising what little items give accent to 
these complexes of sensibility. When worried by any 
slight trouble, one may find that the focus of one's bodily 
consciousness is the contraction, often quite inconsiderable, 
of the eyes and brows. When momentarily embarrassed, 
it is something in the pharynx that compels either a swal- 
low, a clearing of the throat, or a slight cough; and so on 
for as many more instances as might be named. The vari- 
ous permutations of which these organic changes are sus- 
ceptible make it abstractly possible that no shade of 
emotion should be without a bodily reverberation as 
unique, when taken in its totality, as is the mental mood 
itself. The immense number of parts modified is what 
makes it so difficult for us to reproduce in cold blood the 
total and integral expression of any one emotion. We 
may catch the trick with the voluntary muscles, but fail 


with the skin, glands, heart, and other viscera. Just as an 
artificially imitated sneeze lacks something of the reality, 
so the attempt to imitate grief or enthusiasm in the 
absence of its normal instigating cause is apt to be rather 
■ hollow.' 

I now proceed to urge the vital point of my whole 
theory, which is this: // we fancy some strong emotion, 
and then try to abstract from our consciousness of it all 
the feelings of its bodily symptoms, we find we have noth- 
ing left behind, no ' mind-stuff ' out of which the emotion 
can be constituted, and that a cold and neutral state of in- 
tellectual perception is all that remains. It is true that> 
although most people, when asked, say that their introspec- 
tion verifies this statement, some persist in saying theirs 
does not. Many cannot be made to understand the ques- 
tion. When you beg them to imagine away every feeling 
of laughter and of tendency to laugh from their conscious- 
ness of the ludicrousness of an object, and then to tell you 
what the feeling of its ludicrousness would be like, whether 
it be anything more than the perception that the object 
belongs to the class ' funny,' they persist in replying that 
the thing proposed is a physical impossibility, and that 
they always must laugh if they see a funny object. Of 
course the task proposed is not the practical one of seeing 
a ludicrous object and annihilating one's tendency to laugh. 
It is the purely speculative one of subtracting certain ele- 
ments of feeling from an emotional state supposed to exist 
in its fulness, and saying what the residual elements are. 
I cannot help thinking that all who rightly apprehend 
this problem will agree with the proposition above laid 
down. What kind of an emotion of fear would be left if 
the feeling neither of quickened heart-beats nor of shallow 
breathing, neither of trembling lips nor of weakened limbs, 
neither of goose-flesh nor of visceral stirrings, were pres- 
ent, it is quite impossible for me to think. Can one fancy 
the state of rage and picture no ebullition in the chest, no 
flushing of the face, no dilation of the nostrils, no clench- 


ing of the teeth, no impulse to vigorous action, but in their 
stead limp muscles, calm breathing, and a placid face? 
The present writer, for one, certainly cannot. The rage is 
as completely evaporated as the sensation of its so-called 
manifestations, and the only thing that can possibly be 
supposed to take its place is some cold-blooded and dis- 
passionate judicial sentence, confined entirely to the intel- 
lectual realm, to the effect that a certain person or persons 
merit chastisement for their sins. In like manner of grief: 
what would it be without its tears, its sobs, its suffocation 
of the heart, its pang in the breast-bone? A feelingless 
cognition that certain circumstances are deplorable, and 
nothing more. Every passion in turn tells the same story. 
A disembodied human emotion is a sheer nonentity. I 
do not say that it is a contradiction in the nature of things, 
or that pure spirits are necessarily condemned to cold in- 
tellectual lives; but I say that for us emotion dissociated 
from all bodily feeling is inconceivable. The more closely 
I scrutinize my states, the more persuaded I become that 
whatever ' coarse ' affections and passions I have are in very 
truth constituted by, and made up of, those bodily changes 
which we ordinarily call their expression or consequence; 
and the more it seems to me that, if I were to become cor- 
poreally anaesthetic, I should be excluded from the life of 
the affections, harsh and tender alike, and drag out an ex- 
istence of merely cognitive or intellectual form. Such an 
existence, although it seems to have been the ideal of an- 
cient sages, is too apathetic to be keenly sought after by 
those born after the revival of the worship of sensibility, a 
few generations ago. 

Let not this view be called materialistic. It is neither 
more nor less materialistic than any other view which says 
that our emotions are conditioned by nervous processes. 
No reader of this book is likely to rebel against such a 
saying so long as it is expressed in general terms; and if 
any one still finds materialism in the thesis now defended, 
that must be because of the special processes invoked. 


They are sensational processes, processes due to inward 
currents set up by physical happenings. Such processes 
have, it is true, always been regarded by the platonizers in 
psychology as having something peculiarly base about 
them. But our emotions must always be inwardly what 
they are, whatever be the physiological ground of their 
apparition. If they are deep, pure, worthy, spiritual facts 
on any conceivable theory of their physiological source, 
they remain no less deep, pure, spiritual, and worthy of 
regard on this present sensational » theory. They carry 
their own inner measure of worth with them; and it is 
just as logical to use the present theory of the emotions for 
proving that sensational processes need not be vile and 
material, as to use their vileness and materiality as a proof 
that such a theory cannot be true. 

This view explains the great variability of emotion. 
If such a theory is true, then each emotion is the resultant 
of a sum of elements, and each element is caused by a 
physiological process of a sort already well known. The 
elements are all organic changes, and each of them is the 
reflex effect of the exciting object. Definite questions 
now immediately arise — questions very different from those 
which were the only possible ones without this view. 
Those were questions of classification: " Which are the 
proper genera of emotion, and which the species under 
each?" — or of description: " By what expression is each 
emotion characterized?" The questions now are causal: 
Just what changes does this object and what changes does 
that object excite?" and " How come they to excite these 
particular changes and not others?" We step from a su- 
perficial to a deep order of inquiry. Classification and 
description are the lowest stage of science. They sink into 
the background the moment questions of causation are 
formulated, and remain important only so far as they facil- 
itate our answering these. Now the moment an emotion 
is causally accounted for, as the arousal by an object of a 
lot of reflex acts which are forthwith felt, we immediately 


see why there is no limit to the number of possible different 
emotions which may exist, and why the emotions of differ- 
ent individuals may vary indefinitely, both as to their 
constitution and as to the objects which call them forth. 
For there is nothing sacramental or eternally fixed in re- 
flex action. Any sort of reflex effect is possible, and re- 
flexes actually vary indefinitely, as we know. 

In short, any classification of the emotions is seen to be 
as true and as ' natural ' as any other, if it only serves 
some purpose; and such a question as " What is the ' real ' 
or ' typical ' expression of anger, or fear? " is seen to have 
no objective meaning at all. Instead of it we now have 
the question as to how any given ' expression ' of anger or 
fear may have come to exist ; and that is a real question of 
physiological mechanics on the one hand, and of history 
on the other, which (like all real questions) is in essence 
answerable, although the answer may be hard to find. On 
a later page I shall mention the attempts to answer it 
which have been made. 

A Corollary verified. — If our theory be true, a neces- 
sary corollary of it ought to be this: that any voluntary and 
cold-blooded arousal of the so-called manifestations of a 
special emotion should give us the emotion itself. Now 
within the limits in which it can be verified, experience 
corroborates rather than disproves this inference. Every- 
one knows how panic is increased by flight, and how the 
giving way to the symptoms of grief or anger increases 
those passions themselves. Each fit of sobbing makes the 
sorrow more acute, and calls forth another fit stronger 
still, until at last repose only ensues with lassitude and 
with the apparent exhaustion of the machinery. In rage, 
it is notorious how we ' work ourselves up ' to a climax by 
repeated outbreaks of expression. Refuse to express a 
passion, and it dies. Count ten before venting your anger, 
and its occasion seems ridiculous. Whistling to keep up 
courage is no mere figure of speech. On the other hand, 
sit all day in a moping posture, sigh, and reply to every- 


thing with a dismal voice, and your melancholy lingers. 
There is no more valuable precept in moral education than 
this, as all who have experience know: if we wish to con- 
quer undesirable emotional tendencies in ourselves, we 
must assiduously, and in the first instance cold-bloodedly, 
go through the outward movements of those contrary dis- 
positions which we prefer to cultivate. The reward of 
persistency will infallibly come, in the fading out of the 
sullenness or depression, and the advent of real cheerful- 
ness and kindliness in their stead. Smooth the brow, 
brighten the eye, contract the dorsal rather than the ven- 
tral aspect of the frame, and speak in a major key, pass 
the genial compliment, and your heart must be frigid 
indeed if it do not gradually thaw! 

Against this it is to be said that many actors who per- 
fectly mimic the outward appearances of emotion in face, 
gait, and voice declare that they feel no emotion at all. 
Others, however, according to Mr. Wm. Archer, who has 
made a very instructive statistical inquiry among them, say 
that the emotion of the part masters them whenever they 
play it well. The explanation for the discrepancy amongst 
actors is probably simple. The visceral and organic part 
of the expression can be suppressed in some men, but not 
in others, and on this it must be that the chief part of the 
felt emotion depends. Those actors who feel the emotion 
are probably unable, those who are inwardly cold are 
probably able, to affect the dissociation in a complete way. 

An Objection replied to. — It may be objected to the 
general theory which I maintain that stopping the ex- 
pression of an emotion often makes it worse. The funni- 
ness becomes quite excruciating when we are forbidden by 
the situation to laugh, and anger pent in by fear turns 
into tenfold hate. Expressing either emotion freely, how- 
ever, gives relief. 

This objection is more specious than real. During the 
expression the emotion is always felt. After it, the cen- 
tres having normally discharged themselves, we feel it no 


more. But where the facial part of the discharge is sup- 
pressed the thoracic and visceral may be all the more 
violent and persistent, as in suppressed laughter; or the 
original emotion may be changed, by the combination of 
the provoking object with the restraining pressure, into 
another emotion altogether, in which different and possibly 
profounder organic disturbance occurs. If I would kill 
my enemy but dare not, my emotion is surely altogether 
other than that which would possess me if I let my anger 
explode. — On the whole, therefore, this objection has no 

The Subtler Emotions. — In the aesthetic emotions the 
bodily reverberation and the feeling may both be faint. 
A connoisseur is apt to judge a work of art dryly and in- 
tellectually, and with no bodily thrill. On the other hand, 
works of art may arouse intense emotion; and whenever 
they do so, the experience is completely covered by the 
terms of our theory. Our theory requires that incoming 
currents be the basis of emotion. But, whether secondary 
organic reverberations "oe or be not aroused by it, the per- 
ception of a work of art (music, decoration, etc.) is always 
in the first instance at any rate an affair of incoming cur- 
rents. The work itself is an object of sensation; and, the 
perception of an object of sensation being a ' coarse ' or vivid 
experience, what pleasure goes with it will partake of the 
1 coarse ' or vivid form. 

That there may be subtle pleasure too, I do not deny. 
In other words, there may be purely cerebral emotion, in- 
dependent of all currents from outside. Such feelings as 
moral satisfaction, thankfulness, curiosity, relief at getting 
a problem solved, may be of this sort. But the thinness 
and paleness of these feelings, when unmixed with bodily 
effects, is in very striking contrast to the coarser emotions. 
In all sentimental and impressionable people the bodily 
effects mix in: the voice breaks and the eyes moisten when 
the moral truth is felt, etc. Wherever there is anything 
like rapture, however intellectual its ground, we find these 


secondary processes ensue. Unless we actually laugh at 
the neatness of the demonstration or witticism; unless we 
thrill at the case of justice, or tingle at the act of mag- 
nanimity, our state of mind can hardly be called emotional 
at all. It is in fact a mere intellectual perception of how 
certain things are to be called — neat, right, witty, gener- 
ous, and the like. Such a judicial state of mind as this is 
to be classed among cognitive rather than among emotional 

Description of Fear.— For the reasons given on p. 374, 1 
will append no inventory or classification of emotions or 
description of their symptoms. The reader has practically 
almost all the facts in his own hand. As an example, 
however, of the best sort of descriptive work on the symp- 
toms, I will quote Darwin's account of them in fear. 

" Fear is often preceded by astonishment, and is so far 
akin to it that both lead to the senses of sight and hearing 
being instantly aroused. In both cases the eyes and mouth 
are widely opened and the eyebrows raised. The fright- 
ened man at first stands like a statue, motionless and 
breathless, or crouches down as if instinctively to escape 
observation. The heart beats quickly and violently, so that 
it palpitates or knocks against the ribs ; but it is very doubt- 
ful if it then works more efficiently than usual, so as to 
send a greater supply of blood to all parts of the body; for 
the skin instantly becomes pale as during incipient faint- 
ness. This paleness of the surface, however, is probably 
in large part, or is exclusively, due to the vaso-motor cen- 
tre being affected in such a manner as to cause the con- 
traction of the small arteries of the skin. That the skin 
is much affected under the sense of great fear, we see in 
the marvellous manner in which prespiration immediately 
exudes from it. This exudation is all the more remark- 
able, as the surface is then cold, and hence the term, a cold 
sweat; whereas the sudorific glands are properly excited 
into action when the surface is heated. The hairs also 
on the skin stand erect, and the superficial muscles shiver. 


In connection with the disturbed action of the heart the 
breathing is hurried. The salivary glands act imperfectly; 
the mouth becomes dry and is often opened and shut. I 
have also noticed that under slight fear there is strong 
tendency to yawn. One of the best marked symptoms is 
the trembling of all the muscles of the body; and this is 
often first seen in the lips. From this cause, and from the 
dryness of the mouth, the voice becomes husky or indis- 
tinct or may altogether fail. ' Obstupui steteruntque 
comoe, et vox jaucibus koesit.' ... As fear increases into 
an agony of terror, we behold, as under all violent emo- 
tions, diversified results. The heart beats wildly or must 
fail to act and faintness ensue; there is a death-like pallor; 
the breathing is labored; the wings of the nostrils are 
widely dilated; there is a gasping and convulsive motion 
of the lips, a tremor on the hollow cheek, a gulping and 
catching of the throat; the uncovered and protruding eye- 
balls are fixed on the object of terror; or they may roll 
restlessly from side to side, hue illuc volens oculos totumque 
per err at. The pupils are said to be enormously dilated. 
All the muscles of the body may become rigid or may be 
thrown into convulsive movements. The hands are alter- 
nately clenched and opened, often with a twitching move- 
ment. The arms may be protruded as if to avert some 
dreadful danger, or may be thrown wildly over the head. 
The Rev. Mr. Hagenauer has seen this latter action in a 
terrified Australian. In other cases there is a sudden and 
uncontrollable tendency to headlong flight; and so strong 
is this that the boldest soldiers may be seized with a sud- 
den panic." * 

Genesis of the Emotional Reactions. — How come the 
various objects which excite emotion to produce such special 
and different bodily effects? This question was not asked 
till quite recently, but already some interesting suggestions 
towards answering it have been made. 

Some movements of expression can be accounted for as 

♦Origin of the Emotions (N. Y. ed.), p. 292. 


weakened repetitions of movements which formerly (when 
they were stronger) were of utility to the subject. Others 
are similarly weakened repetitions of movements which 
under other conditions were physiologically necessary con- 
comitants of the useful movements. Of the latter reactions 
the respiratory disturbances in anger and fear might be 
taken as examples — organic reminiscences, as it were, 
reverberations in imagination of the blowings of the man 
making a series of combative efforts, of the pantings of 
one in precipitate flight. Such at least is a suggestion 
made by Mr. Spencer which has found approval. And he 
also was the first, so far as I know, to suggest that other 
movements in anger and fear could be explained by the 
nascent excitation of formerly useful acts. 

" To have in a slight degree," he says, " such psychical 
states as accompany the reception of wounds, and are ex- 
perienced during flight, is to be in a state of what we call 
fear. And to have in a slight degree such psychical states 
as the processes of catching, killing, and eating imply, is 
to have the desires to catch, kill, and eat. That the pro- 
pensities to the acts are nothing else than nascent excita- 
tions of the psychical state involved in the acts, is proved 
by the natural language of the propensities. Fear, when 
strong, expresses itself in cries, in efforts to escape, in pal- 
pitations, in tremblings; and these are just the manifesta- 
tions that go along with an actual suffering of the evil 
feared. The destructive passion is shown in a general ten- 
sion of the muscular system, in gnashing of teeth and pro- 
trusion of the claws, in dilated eyes and nostrils in growls; 
and these are weaker forms of the actions that accompany 
the killing of prey. To such objective evidences every one 
can add subjective evidences. Everyone can testify that 
the psychical state called fear consists of mental represen- 
tations of certain painful results; and that the one called 
anger consists of mental representations of the actions and 
impressions which would occur while inflicting some kind 
of pain." 


The principle of revival, in weakened form, or reactions 
useful in more violent dealings with the object inspiring 
the emotion, has found many applications. So slight a 
symptom as the snarl or sneer, the one-sided uncovering 
of the upper teeth, is accounted for by Darwin as a sur- 
vival from the time when our ancestors had large canines, 
and unfleshed them (as dogs now do) for attack. Similarly 
the raising of the eyebrows in outward attention, the open- 
ing of the mouth in astonishment, come, according to the 
same author, from the utility of these movements in ex- 
treme cases. The raising of the eyebrows goes with the 
opening of the eye for better vision; the opening of the 
mouth with the intensest listening, and with the rapid 
catching of the breath which precedes muscular effort. 
The distention of the nostrils in anger is interpreted by 
Spencer as an echo of the way in which our ancestors 
had to breathe when, during combat, their " mouth was 
filled up by a part of an antagonist's body that had been 
seized "(I). The trembling of fear is supposed by Mante- 
gazza to be for the sake of warming the blood (!). The 
reddening of the face and neck is called by Wundt a com- 
pensatory arrangement for relieving the brain of the 
blood-pressure which the simultaneous excitement of the 
heart brings with it. The effusion of tears is explained 
both by this author and by Darwin to be a blood-withdraw- 
ing agency of a similar sort. The contraction of the muscles 
around the eyes, of which the primitive use is to protect 
those organs from being too much gorged with blood during 
the screaming fits of infancy, survives in adult life in the 
shape of the frown, which instantly comes over the brow 
when anything difficult or displeasing presents itself either 
to thought or action. 

" As the habit of contracting the brows has been fol- 
lowed by infants during innumerable generations, at the 
commencement of every crying or screaming fit," says 
Darwin, " it has become firmly associated with the incipient 
sense of something distressing or disagreeable. Hence, 


under similar circumstances, it would be apt to be con- 
tinued during maturity, although never then developed, 
into a crying fit. Screaming or weeping begins to be volun- 
tarily restrained at an early period of life, whereas frowning 
is hardly ever restrained at any age." 

Another principle, to which Darwin perhaps hardly 
does sufficient justice, may be called the principle of 
reacting similarly to analogous-feeling stimuli. There is 
a whole vocabulary of descriptive adjectives common to 
impressions belonging to different sensible spheres — expe- 
riences of all classes are sweet, impressions of all classes 
rich or solid, sensations of all classes sharp. Wundt and 
Piderit accordingly explain many of our most expressive 
reactions upon moral causes as symbolic gustatory move- 
ments. As soon as any experience arises which has an 
affinity with the feeling of sweet, or bitter, or sour, the 
same movements are executed which would result from 
the taste in point. " All the states of mind which lan- 
guage designates by the metaphors bitter, harsh, sweet, 
combine themselves, therefore, with the corresponding 
mimetic movements of the mouth." Certainly the emo- 
tions of disgust and satisfaction do express themselves in 
this mimetic way. Disgust is an incipient regurgitation 
or retching, limiting its expression often to the grimace of 
the lips and nose; satisfaction goes with a sucking smile, 
or tasting motion of the lips. The ordinary gesture of 
negation — among us, moving the head about its axis from 
side to side — is a reaction originally used by babies to keep 
disagreeables from getting into their mouth, and may be 
observed in perfection in any nursery. It is now evoked 
where the stimulus is only an unwelcome idea. Simi- 
larly the nod forward in affirmation is after the analogy of 
taking food into the mouth. The connection of the ex- 
pression of moral or social disdain or dislike, especially in 
women, with movements having a perfectly definite origi- 
nal olfactory function, is too obvious for comment. Wink- 


ing is the effect of any threatening surprise, not only of 
what puts the eyes in danger; and a momentary aversion 
of the eyes is very apt to be one's first symptom of response 
to an unexpectedly unwelcome proposition. — These may 
suffice as examples of movements expressive from analogy. 
But if certain of our emotional reactions can be ex- 
plained by the two principles invoked — and the reader will 
himself have felt how conjectural and fallible in some of 
the instances the explanation is — there remain many reac- 
tions which cannot so be explained at all, and these we 
must write down for the present as purely idiopathic effects 
of the stimulus. Amongst them are the effects on the 
viscera and internal glands, the dryness of the mouth and 
diarrhoea and nausea of fear, the liver-disturbances which 
sometimes produce jaundice after excessive rage, the 
urinary secretion of sanguine excitement, and the bladder- 
contraction of apprehension, the gaping of expectancy, 
the ' lump in the throat ' of grief, the tickling there and 
the swallowing of embarrassment, the ' precordial anxiety ' 
of dread, the changes in the pupil, the various sweatings 
of the skin, cold or hot, local or general, and its flushings, 
together with other symptoms which probably exist but 
are too hidden to have been noticed or named. Trem- 
bling which is found in many excitements besides that of 
terror, is, pace Mr. Spencer and Sig. Mantegazza, quite 
pathological. So are terror's other strong symptoms: they 
are harmful to the creature who presents them. In an 
organism as complex as the nervous system there must be 
many incidental reactions which would never themselves 
have been evolved independently, for any utility they might 
possess. Sea-sickness, ticklishness, shyness, the love of 
music, of the various intoxicants, nay, the entire aesthetic 
life of man, must be traced to this accidental origin. It 
would be foolish to suppose that none of the reactions 
called emotional could have arisen in this quasi- accidental 


Its Definition. — Instinct is usually defined as the fac- 
ulty of acting in such a way as to produce certain ends, with- 
out foresight of the ends, and without previous education in 
the performance. Instincts are the functional correlatives 
of structure. With the presence of a certain organ goes, 
one may say, almost always a native aptitude for its use. 

The actions we call instinctive all conform to the gen- 
eral reflex type; they are called forth by determinate 
sensory stimuli in contact with the animal's body, or at 
a distance in his environment. The cat runs after the 
mouse, runs or shows fight before the dog, avoids falling 
from walls and trees, shuns fire and water, etc., not 
because he has any notion either of life or of death, or of 
self, or of preservation. He has probably attained to no 
one of these conceptions in such a way as to react definitely 
upon it. He acts in each case separately, and simply 
because he cannot help it; being so framed when that 
particularly running thing called a mouse appears in his 
field of vision he must pursue; that when that particular 
barking and obstreperous thing called a dog appears there 
he must retire, if at a distance, and scratch if close by; 
that he must withdraw his feet from water and his face 
from flame, etc. His nervous system is to a great extent a 
preorganized bundle of such reactions — they are as fatal as 
sneezing, and as exactly correlated to their special excitants 
as it is to its own. Although the naturalist may, for his 
own convenience, class these reactions under general heads, 
he must not forget that in the animal it is a particular sen- 
sation or perception or image which calls them forth. 




At first this view astounds us by the enormous number 
of special adjustments it supposes animals to possess ready- 
made in anticipation of the outer things among which they 
are to dwell. Can mutual dependence be so intricate and 
go so far? Is each thing born fitted to particular other 
things, and to them exclusively, as locks are fitted to their 
keys? Undoubtedly this must be believed to be so. Each 
nook and cranny of creation, down to our very skin and 
entrails, has its living inhabitants, with organs suited to 
the place, to devour and digest the food it harbors and to 
meet the dangers it conceals; and the minuteness of adap- 
tation thus shown in the way of structure knows no 
bounds. Even so are there no bounds to the minuteness 
of adaptation in the way of conduct which the several 
inhabitants display. 

The older writings on instinct are ineffectual wastes of 
words, because their authors never came down to this defi- 
nite and simple point of view, but smothered everything 
in vague wonder at the clairvoyant and prophetic power of 
the animals — so superior to anything in man — and at the 
beneficence of God in endowing them with such a gift. 
But God's beneficence endows them, first of all, with a 
nervous system; and, turning our attention to this, makes 
instinct immediately appear neither more nor less wonder- 
ful than all the other facts of life. 

Every instinct is an impulse. Whether we shall call 
such impulses as blushing, sneezing, coughing, smiling, or 
dodging, or keeping time to music, instincts or not, is a 
mere matter of terminology. The process is the same 
throughout. In his delighfully fresh and interesting 
work, ' Der Thierische Wille/ Herr G. H. Schneider sub- 
divides impulses (Triebe) into sensation-impulses, percep- 
tion-impulses, and idea-impulses. To crouch from cold is 
a sensation-impulse; to turn and follow, if we see people 
running one way, is a perception-impulse; to cast about 
for cover, if it begins to blow and rain, is an imagination- 
impulse. A single complex instinctive action may involve 


successively the awakening of impulses of all three classes. 
Thus a hungry lion starts to seek prey by the awakening 
in him of imagination coupled with desire; he begins to 
stalk it when, on eye, ear, or nostril, he gets an impression 
of its presence at a certain distance; he springs upon it, 
either when the booty takes alarm and flees, or when the 
distance is sufficiently reduced; he proceeds to tear and 
devour it the moment he gets a sensation of its contact 
with his claws and fangs. Seeking, stalking, springing, and 
devouring are just so many different kinds of muscular 
contraction, and neither kind is called forth by the stimu- 
lus appropriate to the other. 

Now, why do the various animals do what seem to us such 
strange things, in the presence of such outlandish stimuli? 
Why does the hen, for example, submit herself to the 
tedium of incubating such a fearfully uninteresting set of 
objects as a nestful of eggs, unless she have some sort of a 
prophetic inkling of the result? The only answer is ad 
hominem. We can only interpret the instincts of brutes 
by what we know of instincts in ourselves. Why do men 
always lie down, when they can, on soft beds rather than 
on hard floors? Why do they sit round the stove on a 
cold day? Why, in a room, do they place themselves, 
ninety-nine times out of a hundred, with their faces 
toward its middle rather than to the wall? Why do they 
prefer saddle of mutton and champagne to hard-tack and 
ditch-water? Why does the maiden interest the youth so 
that everything about her seems more important and sig- 
nificant than anything else in the world? Nothing more 
can be said than that these are human ways, and that 
every creature likes its own ways, and takes to the follow- 
ing them as a matter of course. Science may come and 
consider these ways, and find that most of them are useful. 
But it is not for the sake of their utility that they are fol- 
lowed, but because at the moment of following them we 
feel that that is the only appropriate and natural thing to 
do. Not one man in a billion, when taking his dinner, 


ever thinks of utility. He eats because the food tastes 
good and makes him want more. If you ask him why he 
should want to eat more of what tastes like that, instead 
or revering you as a philosopher he will probably laugh at 
you for a fool. The connection between the savory sensa- 
tion and the act it awakens is for him absolute and selbst- 
verstandlich, an ' a priori synthesis ' of the most perfect 
sort, needing no proof but its own evidence. It takes, in 
short, what Berkeley calls a mind debauched by learning 
to carry the process of making the natural seem strange, 
so far as to ask for the why of any instinctive human act. 
To the metaphysician alone can such questions occur as: 
Why do we smile, when pleased, and not scowl? Why are 
we unable to talk to a crowd as we talk to a single friend? 
Why does a particular maiden turn our wits so upside- 
down? The common man can only say, " Of course we 
smile, of course our heart palpitates at the sight of the 
crowd, of course we love the maiden, that beautiful soul 
clad in that perfect form, so palpably and flagrantly made 
from all eternity to be loved! " 

And so, probably, does each animal feel about the par- 
ticular things it tends to do in presence of particular ob- 
jects. They, too, are a priori syntheses. To the lion it is 
the lioness which is made to be loved; to the bear, the she- 
bear. To the broody hen the notion would probably seem 
monstrous that there should be a creature in the world to 
whom a nestful of eggs was not the utterly fascinating and 
precious and never-to-be-too-much-sat-upon object which 
it is to her. 

Thus we may be sure that, however mysterious some 
animals' instincts may appear to us, our instincts will 
appear no less mysterious to them. And we may conclude 
that, to the animal which obeys it, every impulse and 
every step of every instinct shines with its own sufficient 

light, and seems at the moment the only eternally right 
and proper thing to do. It is done for its own sake exclu- 
sively. What voluptuous thrill may not shake a fly, when 


she at last discovers the one particular leaf, or carrion, or 
bit of dung, that out of all the world can stimulate her 
ovipositor to its discharge? Does not the discharge then 
seem to her the only fitting thing? And need she care or 
know anything about the future maggot and its food? 

Instincts are not always blind or invariable. Noth- 
ing is commoner than the remark that man differs from lower 
creatures by the almost total absence of instincts, and the 
assumption of their work in him by ' reason.' A fruitless 
discussion might be waged on this point by two theorizers 
who were careful not to define their terms. We must of 
course avoid a quarrel about words, and the facts of the 
case are really tolerably plain. Man has a far greater 
variety of impulses than any lower animal; and any one 
of these impulses, taken in itself, is as ' blind ' as the 
lowest instinct can be; but, owing to man's memory, 
power of reflection, and power of inference, they come 
each one to be felt by him, after he has once yielded to 
them and experienced their results, in connection with a 
foresight of those results. In this condition an impulse 
acted out may be said to be acted out, in part at least, for 
the sake of its results. It is obvious that every instinctive 
act, in an animal with memory, must cease to be * blind ' 
after being once repeated, and must be accompanied with 
foresight of its ' end ' just so far as that end may have 
fallen under the animal's cognizance. An insect that lays 
her eggs in a place where she never sees them hatched 
must always do so ' blindly ' ; but a hen who has already 
hatched a brood can hardly be assumed to sit with perfect 
1 blindness ' on her second nest. Some expectation of con- 
sequences must in every case like this be aroused; and 
this expectation, according as it is that of something 
desired or of something disliked, must necessarily either 
re-enforce or inhibit the mere impulse. The hen's idea of 
the chickens would probably encourage her to sit; a rat's 
memory, on the other hand, of a former escape from a trap 
would neutralize his impulse to take bait from anything 


that reminded him of that trap. If a boy sees a fat hop- 
ping-toad, he probably has incontinently an impulse 
(especially if with other boys) to smash the creature with a 
stone, which impulse we may suppose him blindly to obey. 
But something in the expression of the dying toad's 
clasped hands suggests the meanness of the act, or 
reminds him of sayings he has heard about the sufferings 
of animals being like his own; so that, when next he is 
tempted by a toad, an idea arises which, far from spurring 
him again to the torment, prompts kindly actions, and 
may even make him the toad's champion against less 
reflecting boys. 

It is plain, then, that, no matter how well endowed an 
animal may originally be in the way of instincts, his 
resultant actions will be much modified if the instincts 
combine with experience, if in addition to impulses he have 
memories, associations, inferences, and expectations, on 
any considerable scale. An object O, on which he has 
an instinctive impulse to react in the manner A, would 
directly provoke him to that reaction. But O has mean- 
time become for him a sign of the nearness of P, on which 
he has an equally strong impulse to react in the manner 
B, quite unlike A. So that when he meets O, the immedi- 
ate impulse A and the remote impulse B struggle in his 
breast for the mastery. The fatality and uniformity said 
to be characteristic of instinctive actions will be so little 
manifest that one might be tempted to deny to him alto- 
gether the possession of any instinct about the object O. 
Yet how false this judgment would be! The instinct 
about O is there; only by the complication of the associa- 
tive machinery it has come into conflict with another 
instinct about P. 

Here we immediately reap the good fruits of our simple 
physiological conception of what an instinct is. If it be a 
mere excito-motor impulse, due to the preexistence of a 
certain ' reflex arc ' in the nerve-centres of the creature, of 
course it must follow the law of all such reflex arcs. One 


liability of such arcs is to have their activity ' inhibited ' by 
other processes going on at the same time. It makes no 
difference whether the arc be organized at birth, or ripen 
spontaneously later, or be due to acquired habit; it must 
take its chances with all the other arcs, and sometimes 
succeed, and sometimes fail, in drafting off the currents 
through itself. The mystical view of an instinct would 
make it invariable. The physiological view would require 
it to show occasional irregularities in any animal in whom 
the number of separate instincts, and the possible entrance 
of the same stimulus into several of them, were great. 
And such irregularities are what every superior animal's 
instincts do show in abundance. 

Wherever the mind is elevated enough to discriminate; 
wherever several distinct sensory elements must combine 
to discharge the reflex arc; wherever, instead of plumping 
into action instantly at the first rough intimation of what 
sort of a thing is there, the agent waits to see which one of 
its kind it is and what the circumstances are of its appear- 
ance; wherever different individuals and different circum- 
stances can impel him in different ways; wherever these 
are the conditions — we have a masking of the elementary 
constitution of the instinctive life. The whole story of 
our dealings with the lower wild animals is the history 
of our taking advantage of the way in which they judge 
of everything by its mere label, as it were, so as to ensnare 
or kill them. Nature, in them, has left matters in this 
rough way, and made them act always in the manner 
which would be ojtenest right. There are more worms 
unattached to hooks than impaled upon them; therefore, 
on the whole, says Nature to her fishy children, bite at 
every worm and take your chances. But as her children 
get higher, and their lives more precious, she reduces the 
risks. Since what seems to be the same object may be 
now a genuine food and now a bait; since in gregarious 
species each individual may prove to be either the friend 
or the rival, according to the circumstances, of another; 


since any entirely unknown object may be fraught with 
weal or woe, Nature implants contrary impulses to act on 
many classes of things, and leaves it to slight alterations 
in the conditions of the individual case to decide which 
impulse shall carry the day. Thus, greediness and sus- 
picion, curiosity and timidity, coyness and desire, bash- 
fulness and vanity, sociability and pugnacity, seem to 
shoot over into each other as quickly, and to remain in as 
unstable an equilibrium, in the higher birds and mammals 
as in man. All are impulses, congenital, blind at first, and 
productive of motor reactions of a rigorously determinate 
sort. Each one of them then is an instinct, as instincts are 
commonly defined. But they contradict each other — ' ex- 
perience ' in each particular opportunity of application 
usually deciding the issue. The animal that exhibits them 
loses the ' instinctive ' demeanor and appears to lead a life 
of hesitation and choice, an intellectual life; not, however, 
because he has no instincts — rather because he has so many 
that they block each other's path. 

Thus we may confidently say that however uncertain 
man's reactions upon his environment may sometimes 
seem in comparison with those of lower mammals, the 
uncertainty is probably not due to their possession of any 
principles of action which he lacks. On the contrary, man 
possesses all the impulses that they have, and a great many 
more besides. In other words, there is no material antag- 
onism between instinct and reason. Reason, per se, can 
inhibit no impulses; the only thing that can neutralize 
an impulse is an impulse the other way. Reason may, how- 
ever, make an inference which will excite the imagination 
so as to let loose the impulse the other way; and thus, 
though the animal richest in reason is also the animal 
richest in instinctive impulses too, he never seems the 
fatal automaton which a merely instinctive animal must be. 

Two Principles of Non-uniformity. — Instincts may be 
masked in the mature animal's life by two other causes. 
These are: 



a. The inhibition of instincts by habits; and 

b. The transit oriness of instincts. 

a. The law of inhibition of instincts by habits is this: 
When objects of a certain class elicit from an animal a 
certain sort of reaction, it often happens that the animal 
becomes partial to the first specimen of the class on which 
it has reacted, and will not afterward react on any other 

The selection of a particular hole to live in, of a par- 
ticular mate, of a particular feeding-ground, a particular 
variety of diet, a particular anything, in short, out of a 
possible multitude, is a very wide-spread tendency among 
animals, even those low down in the scale. The limpet 
will return to the same sticking-place in its rock, and the 
lobster to its favorite nook on the sea-bottom. The rabbit 
will deposit its dung in the same corner; the bird makes 
its nest on the same bough. But each of these preferences 
carries with it an insensibility to other opportunities and 
occasions — an insensibility which can only be described 
physiologically as an inhibition of new impulses by the 
habit of old ones already formed. The possession of homes 
and wives of our own makes us strangely insensible to the 
charms of those of other people. Few of us are adventur- 
ous in the matter of food; in fact, most of us think there 
is something disgusting in a bill of fare to which we are 
unused. Strangers, we are apt to think, cannot be worth 
knowing, especially if they come from distant cities, etc. 
The original impulse which got us homes, wives, dietaries, 
and friends at all, seems to exhaust itself in its first 
achievements and to leave no surplus energy for reacting 
on new cases. And so it comes about that, witnessing this 
torpor, an observer of mankind might say that no instinc- 
tive propensity toward certain objects existed at all. It 
existed, but it existed miscellaneously, or as an instinct 
pure and simple, only before habit was formed. A habit, 
once grafted on an instinctive tendency, restricts the range 
of the tendency itself, and keeps us from reacting on any 



but the habitual object, although other objects might just 
as well have been chosen had they been the first-comers. 

Another sort of arrest of instinct by habit is where the 
same class of objects awakens contrary instinctive impulses. 
Here the impulse first followed toward a given individual 
of the class is apt to keep him from ever awakening the 
opposite impulse in us. In fact, the whole class may be 
protected by this individual specimen from the application 
to it of the other impulse. Animals, for example, awaken 
in a child the opposite impulses of fearing and fondling. 
But if a child, in his first attempts to pat a dog, gets 
snapped at or bitten, so that the impulse of fear is strongly 
aroused, it may be that for years to come no dog will excite 
in him the impulse to fondle again. On the other hand, 
the greatest natural enemies, if carefully introduced to 
each other when young and guided at the outset by 
superior authority, settle down into those ' happy fami- 
lies ' of friends which we see in our menageries. Young 
animals, immediately after birth, have no instinct of fear, 
but show their dependence by allowing themselves to be 
freely handled. Later, however, they grow ' wild/ and, if 
left to themselves, will not let man approach them. I am 
told by farmers in the Adirondack wilderness that it is a 
very serious matter if a cow wanders off and calves in the 
woods and is not found for a week or more. The calf, by 
that time, is as wild and almost as fleet as a deer, and hard 
to capture without violence. But calves rarely show any 
wildness to the men who have been in contact with them 
during the first days of their life, when the instinct to 
attach themselves is uppermost, nor do they dread strangers 
as they would if brought up wild. 

Chickens give a curious illustration of the same law. 
Mr. Spalding's wonderful article on instinct shall supply 
us with the facts. These little creatures show opposite 
instincts of attachment and fear, either of which may be 
aroused by the same object, man. If a chick is born in 
the absence of the hen, it " will follow any moving object. 


And when guided by sight alone, they seem to have no 
more disposition to follow a hen than to follow a duck or 
a human being. Unreflecting lookers-on, when they saw 
chickens a day old running after me," says Mr. Spalding, 
" and older ones following me for miles, and answering to 
my whistle, imagined that I must have some occult power 
over the creatures: whereas I had simply allowed them to 
follow me from the first. There is the instinct to follow; 
and the ear, prior to experience, attaches them to the right 
object." * 

But if a man presents himself for the first time when 
the instinct of fear is strong, the phenomena are altogther 
reversed. Mr. Spalding kept three chickens hooded until 
they were nearly four days old, and thus describes their 

" Each of them, on being unhooded, evinced the greatest 
terror to me, dashing off in the opposite direction whenever 
I sought to approach it. The table on which they were 
unhooded stood before a window, and each in its turn beat 
against the window like a wild bird. One of them darted 
behind some books, and, squeezing itself into a corner, 
remained cowering for a length of time. We might guess 
at the meaning of this strange and exceptional wildness; 
but the odd fact is enough for my present purpose. What- 
ever might have been the meaning of this marked change 
in their mental constitution — had they been unhooded on 
the previous day they would have run to me instead of 
from me — it could not have been the effect of experience; 
it must have resulted wholly from changes in their own 
organizations." f 

Their case was precisely analogous to that of the Adi- 
rondack calves. The two opposite instincts relative to the 
same object ripen in succession. If the first one engenders 
a habit, that habit will inhibit the application of the second 

* Spalding, Macmillan's Magazine, Feb. 1873, P- 2 %7- 
f Ibid., p. 289. 


instinct to that object. All animals are tame during the 
earliest phase of their infancy. Habits formed then limit 
the effects of whatever instincts of wildness may later be 

b. This leads us to the law of transitoriness, which is 
this: Many instincts ripen at a certain age and then jade 
away. A consequence of this law is that if, during the 
time of such an instinct's vivacity, objects adequate to 
arouse it are met with, a habit of acting on them is 
formed, which remains when the original instinct has 
passed away; but that if no such objects are met with, 
then no habit will be formed; and, later on in life, when 
the animal meets the objects, he will altogether fail to 
react, as at the earlier epoch he would instinctively have 

No doubt such a law is restricted. Some instincts are 
far less transient than others — those connected with feed- 
ing and ' self-preservation ' may hardly be transient at all, 
— and some, after fading out for a time, recur as strong as 
ever; e.g., the instincts of pairing and rearing young. 
The law, however, though not absolute, is certainly very 
widespread, and a few examples will illustrate just what 
it means. 

In the chickens and calves above mentioned it is obvious 
that the instinct to follow and become attached fades out 
after a few days and that the instinct of flight then takes 
its place, the conduct of the creature toward man being 
decided by the formation or non-formation of a certain 
habit during those days. The transiency of the chicken's 
instinct to follow is also proved by its conduct toward the 
hen. Mr. Spalding kept some chickens shut up till they 
were comparatively old, and, speaking of these, he says: 

" A chicken that has not heard the call of the mother 
until eight or ten days old then hears it as if it heard it 
not. I regret to find that on this point my notes are not 
so full as I could wish, or as they might have been. There 
is, however, an account of one chicken that could not be 


returned to the mother when ten days old. The hen fol- 
lowed it, and tried to entice it in every way; still, it con- 
tinually left her and ran to the house or to any person of 
whom, it caught sight. This it persisted in doing, though 
beaten back with a small branch dozens of times, and, in- 
deed, cruelly maltreated. It was also placed under the 
mother at night, but it again left her in the morning." 

The instinct of sucking is ripe in all mammals at birth, 
and leads to that habit of taking the breast which, in the 
human infant, may be prolonged by daily exercise long 
beyond its usual term of a year or a year and a half. But 
the instinct itself is transient, in the sense that if, for any 
reason, the child be fed by spoon during the first few days 
of its life and not put to the breast, it may be no easy 
matter after that to make it suck at all. So of calves. If 
their mother die, or be dry, or refuse to let them suck for 
a day or two, so that they are fed by hand, it becomes hard 
to get them to suck at all when a new nurse is provided. 
The ease with which sucking creatures are weaned, by 
simply breaking the habit and giving them food in a new 
way, shows that the instinct, purely as such, must be en- 
tirely extinct. 

Assuredly the simple fact that instincts are transient, 
and that the effect of later ones may be altered by the 
habits which earlier ones have left behind, is a far more 
philosophical explanation than the notion of an instinctive 
constitution vaguely ' deranged ' or ' thrown out of gear.' 

I have observed a Scotch terrier, born on the floor of a 
stable in December, and transferred six weeks later to a 
carpeted house, make, when he was less than four months 
old, a very elaborate pretence of burying things, such as 
gloves, etc., with which he had played till he was tired. 
He scratched the carpet with his forefeet, dropped the 
object from his mouth upon the spot, then scratched all 
about it, and finally went away and let it lie. Of course, 
the act was entirely useless. I saw him perform it at that 
age some four or five times, and never again in his life. 


The conditions were not present to fix a habit which should 
last when the prompting instinct died away. But suppose 
meat instead of a glove, earth instead of a carpet, hunger- 
pangs instead of a fresh supper a few hours later, and it is 
easy to see how this dog might have got into a habit of 
burying superfluous food, which might have lasted all his 
life. Who can swear that the strictly instinctive part of 
the food-burying propensity in the wild Canidos may not 
be as short-lived as it was in this terrier? 

Leaving lower animals aside, and turning to human in- 
stincts, we see the law of transiency corroborated on the 
widest scale by the alternation of different interests and 
passions as human life goes on. With the child, life is all 
play and fairy-tales and learning the external properties of 
1 thing '; with the youth, it is bodily exercises of a more 
systematic sort, novels of the real world, boon-fellowship 
and song, friendship and love, nature, travel and adven- 
ture, science and philosophy; with the man, ambition and 
policy, acquisitiveness, responsibility to others, and the 
selfish zest of the battle of life. If a boy grows up alone 
at the age of games and sports, and learns neither to play 
ball, nor row, nor sail, nor ride, nor skate, nor fish, nor 
shoot, probably he will be sedentary to the end of his days; 
and, though the best of opportunities be afforded him for 
learning these things later, it is a hundred to one but he 
will pass them by and shrink back from the effort of tak- 
ing those necessary first steps the prospect of which, at an 
earlier age, would have filled him with eager delight. The 
sexual passion expires after a protracted reign; but it is 
well known that its peculiar manifestations in a given in- 
dividual depend almost entirely on the habits he may form 
during the early period of its activity. Exposure to bad 
company then makes him a loose liver all his days; chas- 
tity kept at first makes the same easy later on. In all 
pedagogy the great thing is to strike the iron while hot, 
and to seize the wave of the pupil's interest in each suc- 
cessive subject before its ebb has come, so that knowledge 


may be got and a habit of skill acquired — a headway of 
interest, in short, secured, on which afterward the individ- 
ual may float. There is a happy moment for fixing skill 
in drawing, for making boys collectors in natural history, 
and presently dissectors and botanists; then for initiating 
them into the harmonies of mechanics and the wonders of 
physical and chemical law. Later, introspective psychol- 
ogy and the metaphysical and religious mysteries take their 
turn; and, last of all, the drama of human affairs and 
worldly wisdom in the widest sense of the term. In each 
of us a saturation-point is soon reached in all these things; 
the impetus of our purely intellectual zeal expires, and 
unless the topic be one associated with some urgent per- 
sonal need that keeps our wits constantly whetted about 
it, we settle into an equilibrium, and live on what we 
learned when our interest was fresh and instinctive, with- 
out adding to the store. Outside of their own business, 
the ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are 
practically the only ideas they shall have in their lives. 
They cannot get anything new. Disinterested curiosity is 
past, the mental grooves and channels set, the power of 
assimilation gone. If by chance we ever do learn anything 
about some entirely new topic, we are afflicted with a 
strange sense of insecurity, and we fear to advance a reso- 
lute opinion. But with things learned in the plastic days 
of instinctive curiosity we never lose entirely our sense of 
being at home. There remains a kinship, a sentiment of 
intimate acquaintance, which, even when we know we have 
failed to keep abreast of the subject, flatters us with a 
sense of power over it, and makes us feel not altogether 
out of the pale. 

Whatever individual exceptions to this might be cited 
are of the sort that ' prove the rule.' 

To detect the moment of the instinctive readiness for 
the subject is, then, the first duty of every educator. As 
for the pupils, it would probably lead to a more earnest 
temper on the part of college students if they had less 


belief in their unlimited future intellectual potentialities, 
and could be brought to realize that whatever physics and 
political economy and philosophy they are now acquiring 
are, for better or worse, the physics and political economy 
and philosophy that will have to serve them to the end. 

Enumeration of Instincts in Man. — Professor Preyer, 
in his careful little work, ' Die Seele des Kindes/ says " in- 
stinctive acts are in man few in number, and, apart from 
those connected with the sexual passion, difficult to recog- 
nize after early youth is past." And he adds, " so much 
the more attention should we pay to the instinctive move- 
ments of new-born babies, sucklings, and small children. " 
That instinctive acts should be easiest recognized in child- 
hood would be a very natural effect of our principles of 
transitoriness, and of the restrictive influence of habits 
once acquired ; but they are far indeed from being ' few in 
number ' in man. Professir Preyer divides the movements 
of infants into impulsive, reflex, and instinctive. By im- 
pulsive movements he means random movements of limbs, 
body, and voice, with no aim, and before perception is 
aroused. Among the first reflex movements are crying on 
contact with the air, sneezing, snuffling, snorting, coughing, 
sighing, sobbing, gagging, vomiting, hiccuping, starting, 
moving the limbs when touched, and sucking. To these 
may now be added hanging by the hands (see Nineteenth 
Century, Nov. 1891). Later on come biting, clasping ob- 
jects, and carrying them to the mouth, sitting-up, standing, 
creeping, and walking. It is probable that the centres for 
executing these three latter acts ripen spontaneously, just 
as those for flight have been proved to do in birds, and 
that the appearance of learning to stand and walk, by 
trial and failure, is due to the exercise beginning in 
most children before the centres are ripe. Children vary 
enormously in the rate and manner in which they learn 
to walk. With the first impulses to imitation, those 
to significant vocalization are born. Emulation rapidly 
ensues, with pugnacity in its train. Fear of definite 


objects comes in early, sympathy much later, though on 
the instinct (or emotion? — see p. 373) of sympathy so 
much in human life depends. Shyness and sociability, 
play, curiosity, acquisitiveness, all begin very early in life. 
The hunting instinct, modesty, love, the parental instinct, 
etc., come later. By the age of 15 or 16 the whole array of 
human instincts is complete. It will be observed that no 
other mammal, not even the monkey, shows so large a 
list. In a perfectly-rounded development every one of 
these instincts would start a habit toward certain objects 
and inhibit a habit towards certain others. Usually this 
is the case; but, in the one-sided development of civilized 
life, it happens that the timely age goes by in a sort of 
starvation of objects, and the individual then grows up 
with gaps in his psychic constitution which future experi- 
ences can never fill. Compare the accomplished gentleman 
with the poor artisan or tradesman of a city: during the 
adolescence of the former, objects appropriate to his grow- 
ing interests, bodily and mental, were offered as fast as the 
interests awoke, and, as a consequence, he is armed and 
equipped at every angle to meet the world. Sport came 
to the rescue and completed his education where real 
things were lacking. He has tasted of the essence of 
every side of human life, being sailor, hunter, athlete, 
scholar, fighter, talker, dandy, man of affairs, etc., all in 
one. Over the city poor boy's youth no such golden 
opportunities were hung, and in his manhood no desires 
for most of them exist. Fortunate it is for him if gaps 
are the only anomalies his instinctive life presents;- per- 
versions are too often the fruit of his unnatural bringing- 

Description of Fear. — In order to treat at least one in- 
stinct at greater length, I will take the instance of fear. 

Fear is a reaction aroused by the same objects that 
arouse ferocity. The antagonism of the two is an interest- 
ing study in instinctive dynamics. We both fear, and 
wish to kill, anything that may kill us; and the question 


which of the two impulses we shall follow is usually de- 
cided by some one of those collateral circumstances of 
the particular case, to be moved by which is the mark of 
superior mental natures. Of course this introduces un- 
certainty into the reaction; but it is an uncertainty found 
in the higher brutes as well as in men, and ought not to 
be taken as proof that we are less instinctive than they. 
Fear has bodily expressions of an extremely energetic 
kind, and stands, beside lust and anger, as one of the 
three most exciting emotions of which our nature is sus- 
ceptible. The progress from brute to man is characterized 
by nothing so much as by the decrease in frequency of 
proper occasions for fear. In civilized life, in particular, 
it has at last become possible for large numbers of people 
to pass from the cradle to the grave without ever having 
had a pang of genuine fear. Many of us need an attack 
of mental disease to teach us the meaning of the word. 
Hence the possibility of so much blindly optimistic phi- 
losophy and religion. The atrocites of life"lDecome l like 
a tale of little meaning though the words are strong ' we 
doubt if anything like us ever really was within the tiger's 
jaws, and conclude that the horrors we hear of are but a 
sort of painted tapestry for the chambers in which we 
lie so comfortably at peace with ourselves and with the 

Be this as it may, fear is a genuine instinct, and one of 
the earliest shown by the human child. Noises seem es- 
pecially to call it forth. Most noises from the outer world, 
to a child bred in the house, have no exact significance. 
They are simply startling. To quote a good observer, M. 

" Children between three and ten months are less often 
alarmed by visual than by auditory impressions. In cats, 
from the fifteenth day, the contrary is the case. A child, 
three and half months old, in the midst of the turmoil 
of a conflagration, in presence of the devouring flames and 
ruined walls, showed neither astonishment nor fear, but 


smiled at the woman who was taking care of him, while 
his parents were busy. The noise, however, of the trumpet 
of the firemen, who were approaching, and that of the 
wheels of the engine, made him start and cry. At this 
age I have never yet seen an infant startled at a flash of 
lightning, even when intense; but I have seen many of 
them alarmed at the voice of the thunder. . . . Thus fear 
comes rather by the ears than by the eyes, to the child 
without experience."* 

The effect of noise in heightening any terror we may 
feel in adult years is very marked. The howling of the 
storm, whether on sea or land, is a principal cause of our 
anxiety when exposed to it. The writer has been in- 
terested in noticing in his own person, while lying in bed, 
and kept awake by the wind outside, how invariably each 
loud gust of it arrested momentarily his heart. A dog 
attacking us is much more dreadful by reason of the 
noises he makes. 

Strange men, and strange animals, either large or small, 
excite fear, but especially men or animals advancing to- 
ward us in a threatening way. This is entirely instinctive 
and antecedent to experience. Some children will cry 
with terror at their very first sight of a cat or dog, and it 
will often be impossible for weeks to make them touch it. 
Others will wish to fondle it almost immediately. Certain 
kinds of ' vermin,' especially spiders and snakes, seem to 
excite a fear unusually difficult to overcome. It is impos- 
sible to say how much of this difference is instinctive and 
how much the result of stories heard about these creatures. 
That the fear of ' vermin ' ripens gradually seemed to me 
to be proved in a child of my own to whom I gave a live 
frog once, at the age of six to eight months, and again 
when he was a year and half old. The first time, he 
seized it promptly, and holding it in spite of its strug- 
gling, at last got its head into his mouth. He then let 

* Psychologie de l'Enfant, p. 72. 


it crawl up his breast, and get upon his face, without 
showing alarm. But the second time, although he had 
seen no frog and heard no story about a frog between- 
whiles, it was almost impossible to induce him to touch 
it. Another child, a year old, eagerly took some very 
large spiders into his hand. At present he is afraid, but 
has been exposed meanwhile to the teachings of the 
nursery. One of my children from her birth upwards 
saw daily the pet pug-dog of the house, and never be- 
trayed the slightest fear until she was (if I recollect 
rightly) about eight months old. Then the instinct sud- 
denly seemed to develop, and with such intensity that 
familiarity had no mitigating effect. She screamed when- 
ever the dog entered the room, and for many months re- 
mained afraid to touch him. It is needless to say that 
no change in the pug's unfailingly friendly conduct had 
anything to do with this change of feeling in the child. 
Two of my children were afraid, when babies, of fur: 
Richet reports a similar observation. 

Preyer tells of a young child screaming with fear on 
being carried near to the sea. The great cource of terror 
to infancy is solitude. The teleology of this is obvious, 
as is also that of the infant's expression of dismay — the 
never-failing cry — on waking up and finding himself 

Black things, and especially dark places, holes, caverns, 
etc., arouse a peculiarly gruesome fear. This fear, as well 
as that of solitude, of being ' lost,' are explained after a 
fashion by ancestral experience. Says Schneider: 

" It is a fact that men, especially in childhood, fear to 
go into a dark cavern or a gloomy wood. This feeling of 
fear arises, to be sure, partly from the fact that we easily 
suspect that dangerous beasts may lurk in these localities 
— a suspicion due to stories we have heard and read. But, 
on the other hand, it is quite sure that this fear at a 
certain perception is also directly inherited. Children 
who have been carefully guarded from all ghost-stories 


are nevertheless terrified and cry if led into a dark place, 
especially if sounds are made there. Even an adult can 
easily observe that an uncomfortable timidity steals over 
him in a lonely wood at night, although he may have the 
fixed conviction that not the slightest danger is near. 

" This feeling of fear occurs in many men even in their 
own house after dark, although it is much stronger in a 
dark cavern or forest. The fact of such instinctive fear 
is easily explicable when we consider that our savage an- 
cestors through innumerable generations were accustomed 
to meet with dangerous beasts in caverns, especially bears, 
and were for the most part attacked by such beasts during 
the night and in the woods, and that thus an inseparable 
association between the perceptions of darkness, caverns, 
woods, and fear took place, and was inherited." * 

High places cause fear of a peculiarly sickening sort, 
though here, again, individuals differ enormously. The 
uttterly blind instinctive character of the motor impulses 
here is shown by the fact that they are almost always 
entirely unreasonable, but that reason is powerless to 
suppress them. That they are a mere incidental pecu- 
liarity of the nervous system, like liability to sea-sickness, 
or love of music, with no teleological significance, seems 
more than probable. The fear in question varies so much 
from one person to another, and its detrimental effects 
are so much more obvious than its uses, that it is hard to 
see how it could be a selected instinct. Man is anatomi- 
cally one of the best fitted of animals for climbing about 
high places. The best psychical complement to this 
equipment would seem to be a ' level head ' when there, 
not a dread of going there at all. In fact, the teleology 
of fear, beyond a certain point, is more than dubious. 
A certain amount of timidity obviously adapts us to the 
world we live in, but the fear-paroxysm is surely altogether 
harmful to him who is its prey. 

* Der Menschliche Wille, p. 224. 


Fear of the supernatural is one variety of fear. It is 
difficult to assign any normal object for this fear, unless it 
were a genuine ghost. But, in spite of psychical-research 
societies, science has not yet adopted ghosts; so we can 
only say that certain ideas of supernatural agency, associ- 
ated with real circumstances, produce a peculiar kind of 
horror. This horror is probably explicable as the result of 
a combination of simpler horrors. To bring the ghostly 
terror to its maximum, many usual elements of the dread- 
ful must combine, such as loneliness, darkness, inexplicable 
sounds, especially of a dismal character, moving figures 
half discerned (or, if discerned, of dreadful aspect), and a 
vertiginous baffling of the expectation. This last element, 
which is intellectual, is very important. It produces a 
strange emotional ' curdle ' in our blood to see a process 
with which we are familiar deliberately taking an un- 
wonted course. Anyone's heart would stop beating if he 
perceived his chair sliding unassisted across the floor. 
The lower animals appear to be sensitive to the mys- 
teriously exceptional as well as ourselves. My friend 
Professor W. K. Brooks told me of his large and noble 
dog being frightened into a sort of epileptic fit by a bone 
being drawn across the floor by a thread which the dog did 
not see. Darwin and Romanes have given similar expe- 
riences. The idea of the supernatural involves that the 
usual should be set at naught. In the witch and hobgob- 
lin supernatural, other elements still of fear are brought 
in — caverns, slime and ooze, vermin, corpses, and the like. 
A human corpse seems normally to produce an instinctive 
dread, which is no doubt somewhat due to its mysterious- 
ness, and which familiarity rapidly dispels. But, in view 
of the fact that cadaveric, reptilian, and underground 
horrors play so specific and constant a part in many night- 
mares and forms of delirium, it seems not altogether un- 
wise to ask whether these forms of dreadful circumstance 
may not at a former period have been more normal objects 
of the environment than now. The ordinary cock-sure 


evolutionist ought to have no difficulty in explaining these 
terrors, and the scenery that provokes them, as relapses 
into the consciousness of the cave-men, a consciousness 
usually overlaid in us by experiences of more recent date. 

There are certain other pathological fears, and certain 
peculiarities in the expression of ordinary fear, which 
might receive an explanatory light from ancestral condi- 
tions, even infra-human ones. In ordinary fear, one may 
either run, or remain semi-paralyzed. The latter condi- 
tion reminds us of the so-called death-shamming instinct 
shown by many animals. Dr. Lindsay, in his work ' Mind 
in Animals,' says this must require great self-command in 
those that practise it. But it is really no feigning of 
death at all, and requires no self-command. It is simply 
a terror-paralysis which has been so useful as to become 
hereditary. The beast of prey does not think the motion- 
less bird, insect, or crustacean dead. He simply fails to 
notice them at all; because his senses, like ours, are much 
more strongly excited by a moving object than by a still 
one. It is the same instinct which leads a boy playing ' I 
spy ' to hold his very breath when the seeker is near, and 
which makes the beast of prey himself in many cases mo- 
tionlessly lie in wait for his victim or silently ' stalk ' it, by 
stealthy advances alternated with periods of immobility. 
It is the opposite of the instinct which makes us jump up 
and down and move our arms when we wish to attract the 
notice of someone passing far away, and makes the ship- 
wrecked sailor upon the raft where he is floating fran- 
tically wave a cloth when a distant sail appears. Now, 
may not the statue-like, crouching immobility of some 
melancholiacs, insane with general anxiety and fear of 
everything, be in some way connected with this old in- 
stinct? They can give no reason for their fear to move; 
but immobility makes them feel safer and more comfort- 
able. Is not this the mental state of the ' feigning ' 

Again, take the strange symptom which has been de- 


scribed of late years by the rather absurd name of agora- 
phobia. The patient is seized with palpitation and terror 
at the sight of any open place or broad street which he 
has to cross alone. He trembles, his knees bend, he may 
even faint at the idea. Where he has sufficient self-com- 
mand he sometimes accomplishes the object by keeping 
safe under the lee of a vehicle going across, or joining him- 
self to a knot of other people. But usually he slinks round 
the sides of the square, hugging the houses as closely as he 
can. This emotion has no utility in a civilized man, but 
when we notice the chronic agoraphobia of our domestic 
cats, and see the tenacious way in which many wild 
animals, especially rodents, cling to cover, and only ven- 
ture on a dash across the open as a desperate measure — 
even then making for every stone or bunch of weeds which 
may give a momentary shelter — when we see this we are 
strongly tempted to ask whether such an odd kind of fear 
in us be not due to the accidental resurrection, through 
disease, of a sort of instinct which may in some of our 
remote ancestors have had a permanent and on the whole 
a useful part to play? 


Voluntary Acts. — Desire, wish, will, are states of mind 1 / 
which everyone knows, and which no definition can make * 
plainer. We desire to feel, to have, to do, all sorts of 
things which at the moment are not felt, had, or done. If 
with the desire there goes a sense that attainment is not 
possible, we simply wish; but if we believe that the end is^ 
in our power, we will that the desired feeling, having, or 
doing shall be real; and real it presently becomes, either 
immediately upon the willing or after certain preliminaries 
have been fulfilled. 

The only ends which follow immediately upon our will- 
ing seem to be movements of our own bodies. Whatever 
feelings and havings we may will to get come in as results 
of preliminary movements which we make for the purpose. 
This fact is too familiar to need illustration; so that we 
may start with the proposition that the only direct out- 
ward effects of our will are bodily movements. The 
mechanism of production of these voluntary movements is 
what befalls us to study now. 

They are secondary performances. The movements 
we have studied hitherto have been automatic and reflex, 
and (on the first occasion of their performance, at any rate) 
unforeseen by the agent. The movements to the study of 
which we now address ourselves, being desired and in- 
tended beforehand, are of course done with full prevision 
of what they are to be. It follows from this that voluntary^ 
movements must be secondary, not primary, functions of 
our organism. This is the first point to understand in the 
psychology of Volition. Reflex, instinctive, and emotional 



movements are all primary performances. The nerve- 
centres are so organized that certain stimuli pull the 
trigger of certain explosive parts; and a creature going 
through one of these explosions for the first time under- 
goes an entirely novel experience. The other day I was 
standing at a railroad station with a little child, when an 
express-train went thundering by. The child, who was 
near the edge of the platform, started, winked, had his 
breathing convulsed, turned pale, burst out crying, and 
ran frantically towards me and hid his face. I have no 
doubt that this youngster was almost as much astonished 
by his own behavior as he was by the train, and more than 
I was, who stood by. Of course if such a reaction has 
many times occurred we learn what to expect of ourselves, 
and can then foresee our conduct, even though it remain 
as involuntary and uncontrollable as it was before. But 
if, in voluntary action properly so called, the act must be 
foreseen, it follows that no creature not endowed with pro- 
phetic power can perform an act voluntarily for the first 
time. Well, we are no more endowed with prophetic vision 
of what movements lie in our power than we are endowed 
with prophetic vision of what sensations we are capable of 
receiving. As we must wait for the sensations to be given 
us, so we must wait for the movements to be performed 
involuntarily, before we can frame ideas of what either of 
these things are. We learn all our possibilities by the way 
of experience. When a particular movement, having once 
occurred in a random, reflex, or involuntary way, has left 
an image of itself in the memory, then the movement can 
be desired again, and deliberately willed. But it is impos- 
sible to see how it could be willed before. 

A supply of ideas of the various movements that are pos- 
sible, left in the memory by experiences of their involuntary 
performance, is thus the first prerequisite of the voluntary 

Two Kinds of Ideas of Movement. — Now these ideas 
may be either resident or remote. That is, they may be of 

WILL 417 

the movement as it feels, when taking place, in the moving 
parts; or they may be of the movement as it feels in some 
other part of the body which it affects (strokes, presses, 
scratches, etc.), or as it sounds, or as it looks. The resi- 
dent sensations in the parts that move have been called 
kinoesthetic feelings, the memories of them are kinesthetic 
ideas. It is by these kinesthetic sensations that we are 
made conscious of passive movements — movements com- 
municated to our limbs by others. If you lie with closed 
eyes, and another person noiselessly places your arm or leg 
in any arbitrarily chosen attitude, you receive a feeling of 
what attitude it is, and can reproduce it yourself in the 
arm or leg of the opposite side. Similarly a man waked 
suddenly from sleep in the dark is aware of how he finds 
himself lying. At least this is what happens in normal 
cases. But when the feelings of passive movement as well 
as all other feelings of a limb are lost, we get such re- 
sults as are given in the following account by Prof. A. 
Strumpell of his wonderful anaesthetic boy, whose only 
sources of feeling were the right eye and the left ear : * 

" Passive movements could be imprinted on all the 
extremities to the greatest extent, without attracting the 
patient's notice. Only in violent forced hyperextension 
of the joints, especially of the knees, there arose a dull 
vague feeling of strain, but this was seldom precisely 
localized. We have often, after bandaging the eyes of 
the patient, carried him about the room, laid him on a 
table, given to his arms and legs the most fantastic and 
apparently the most inconvenient attitudes without his 
having a suspicion of it. The expression of astonishment 
in his face, when all at once the removal of the handker- 
chief revealed his situation, is indescribable in words. 
Only when his head was made to hang away down he 
immediately spoke of dizziness, but could not assign its 
ground. Later he sometimes inferred from the sounds 

*Deutsches Archiv f. Klin. Medicin, xxii. 321. 


connected with the manipulation that something special 
was being done with him. ... He had no feelings of 
muscular fatigue. If, with his eyes shut, we told him to 
raise his arm and to keep it up, he did so without trouble. 
After one or two minutes, however, the arm began to 
tremble and sink without his being aware of it. He as- 
serted still his ability to keep it up. . . . Passively hold- 
ing still his fingers did not affect him. He thought con- 
stantly that he opened and shut his hand, whereas it was 
really fixed." 

No third kind of idea is called for. We need, then, 
when we perform a movement, either a kinesthetic or a 
remote idea of which special movement it is to be. In 
addition to this it has often been supposed that we need 
an idea of the amount of innervation required for the 
muscular contraction. The discharge from the motor 
centre into the motor nerve is supposed to give a sensation 
sui generis, opposed to all our other sensations. These ac- 
company incoming currents, whilst that, it is said, accom- 
panies an outgoing current, and no movement is supposed 
to be totally defined in our mind, unless an anticipation 
of this feeling enter into our idea. The movement's 
degree of strength, and the effort required to perform it, 
are supposed to be specially revealed by the feeling of in- 
nervation. Many authors deny that this feeling exists, and 
the proofs given of its existence are certainly insufficient. 

The various degrees of ' effort y actually felt in making 
the same movement against different resistances are all 
accounted for by the incoming feelings from our chest, 
jaws, abdomen, and other parts sympathetically contracted 
whenever the effort is great. There is no need of a con- 
sciousness of the amount of outgoing current required. 
If anything be obvious to introspection, it is that the 
degree of strength put forth is completely revealed to us 
by incoming feelings from the muscles themselves and 
their insertions, from the vicinity of the joints, and from 
the general fixation of the larynx, chest, face, and body. 

WILL 419 

When a certain degree of energy of contraction rather than 
another is thought of by us, this complex aggregate of 
afferent feelings, forming the material of our thought, ren- 
ders absolutely precise and distinctive our mental image 
of the exact strength of movement to be made, and the 
exact amount of resistance to be overcome. 

Let the reader try to direct his will towards a particular y 
movement, and then notice what constituted the direction 7 
of the will. Was it anything over and above the notion 
of the different feelings to which the movement when 
effected would give rise? If we abstract from these feel- 
ings, will any sign, principle, or means of orientation be 
left by which the will may innervate the proper muscles 
with the right intensity, and not go astray into the wrong 
ones? Strip off these images anticipative of the results 
of the motion, and so far from leaving us with a complete 
assortment of directions into which our will may launch 
itself, you leave our consciuosness in an absolute and total 
vacuum. If I will to write Peter rather than Paul, it is 
the thought of certain digital sensations, of certain alpha- 
betic sounds, of certain appearances on the paper, and of 
no others, which immediately precedes the motion of my 
pen. If I will to utter the word Paul rather than Peter, s 
it is the thought of my voice falling on my ear, and. of 
certain muscular feelings in my tongue, lips, and larynx, 
which guide the utterance. All these are incoming feel- 
ings, and between the thought of them, by which the act 
is mentally specified with all possible completeness, and 
the act itself, there is no room for any third order of 
mental phenomenon. 

There is indeed the fiat, the element of consent, or re- 
solve that the act shall ensue. This, doubtless, to the 
reader's mind, as to my own, constitutes the essence of the 
voluntariness of the act. This fiat will be treated of in 
detail farther on. It may be entirely neglected here, for it 
is a constant coefficient, affecting all voluntary actions 
alike, and incapable of serving to distinguish them. No 


one will pretend that its quality varies according as the 
right arm, for example, or the left is used. 

An anticipatory image, then, of the sensorial conse- 
quences of a movement, plus {on certain occasions) the fiat 
that these consequences shall become actual, is the only 
Psychic state which introspection lets us discern as the 
forerunner of our voluntary acts. There is no coercive 
evidence of any feeling attached to the efferent dis- 

' The entire content and material of our consciousness 
— consciousness of movement, as of all things else — seems 
thus to be of peripheral origin, and to come to us in the 
first instance through the peripheral nerves. 

The Motor-cue. — Let us call the last idea which in the 
mind precedes the motor discharge the ■ motor-cue.' Now 
do ' resident ' images form the only motor-cue, or will ■ re- 
mote ' ones equally suffice? 

There can be no doubt whatever that the cue may be 
an image either of the resident or of the remote kind. Al- 
though, at the outset of our learning a movement, it would 
seem that the resident feelings must come strongly before 
consciousness, later this need not be the case. The rule, 
in fact, would seem to be that they tend to lapse more and 
more from consciousness, and that the more practised we 
become in a movement, the more ' remote ' do the ideas 
become which form its mental cue. What we are inter- 
ested in is what sticks in our consciousness; everything 
else we get rid of as quickly as we can. Our resident feel- 
ings of movement have no substantive interest for us at 
all, as a rule. What interest us are the ends which the 
movement is to attain. Such an end is generally a remote 
sensation, an impression which the movement produces on 
the eye or ear, or sometimes on the skin, nose, or palate. 
Now let the idea of such an end associate itself definitely 
with the right discharge, and the thought of the innerva- 
tion's resident effects will become as great an encumbrance 
as we have already concluded that the feeling of the in- 

WILL 421 

nervation itself is. The mind does not need it; the end 
alone is enough. 

The idea of the end, then, tends more and more to 
make itself all-sufficient. Or, at any rate, if the kinass- 
thetic ideas are called up at all, they are so swamped in 
the vivid kinesthetic feelings by which they are immedi- 
ately overtaken that we have no time to be aware of their 
separate existence. As I write, I have no anticipation, as 
a thing distinct from my sensation, of either the look or 
the digital feel of the letters which flow from my pen. 
The words chime on my mental ear, as it were, before I 
write them, but not on my mental eye or hand. This 
comes from the rapidity with which the movements follow 
on their mental cue. An end consented to as soon as con- 
ceived innervates directly the centre of the first movement 
of the chain which leads to its accomplishment, and then 
the whole chain rattles off <7w<m-reflexly, as was described 
on pp. 115-6. 

The reader will certainly recognize this to be true in all 
fluent and unhesitating voluntary acts. The only special 
fiat there is at the outset of the performance. A man says 
to himself, " I must change my clothes," and involuntarily 
he has taken off his coat, and his fingers are at work in 
their accustomed manner on his waistcoat-buttons, etc.; 
or we say, " I must go downstairs," and ere we know it we 
have risen, walked, and turned the handle of the door; — 
all through the idea of an end coupled with a series of 
guiding sensations which successively arise. It would 
seem indeed that we fail of accuracy and certainty in our 
attainment of the end whenever we are preoccupied with 
the way in which the movement will feel. We walk a beam 
the better the less we think of the position of our feet upon 
it. We pitch or catch, we shoot or chop the better the 
less tactile and muscular (the less resident), and the more 
exclusively optical (the more remote), our consciousness 
is. Keep your eye on the place aimed at, and your hand 
will fetch it; think of your hand, and you will very likely 


miss your aim. Dr. Southard found that he could touch 
a spot with a pencil-point more accurately with a visual 
than with a tactile mental cue. In the former case he 
looked at a small object and closed his eyes before try- 
ing to touch it. In the latter case he placed it with closed 
eyes, and then after removing his hand tried to touch it 
again. The average error with touch (when the results 
were most favorable) was 17.13 mm. With sight it was 
only 12.37 mm - — AH these are plain results of introspection 
and observation. By what neural machinery they are made 
possible we do not know. 

In Chapter XIX we saw how enormously individuals 
differ in respect to their mental imagery. In the type of 
imagination called tactile by the French authors, it is 
probable that the kinesthetic ideas are more prominent 
than in my account. We must not expect too great a 
uniformity in individual accounts, nor wrangle overmuch 
as to which one ' truly ' represents the process. 

I trust that I have now made clear what that l idea of 
a movement ' is which must precede it in order that it be 
voluntary. It is not the thought of the innervation which 
the movement requires. It is the anticipation of the 
movement's sensible effects, resident or remote, and some- 
times very remote indeed. Such anticipations, to say the 
least, determine what our movements shall be. I have 
spoken all along as if they also might determine that they 
shall be. This, no doubt, has disconcerted many readers, 
for it certainly seems as if a special fiat, or consent to the 
movement, were required in addition to the mere concep- 
tion of it, in many cases of volition; and this fiat I have 
altogether left out of my account. This leads us to the 
next point in our discussion. 

Ideo-motor Action. — The question is this: Is the bare 
idea of a movement's sensible effects its sufficient motor-cue, 
or must there be an additional mental antecedent, in the 
shape of a fiat, decision, consent, volitional mandate, or 

WILL 423 

other synonymous phenomenon of consciousness, before the 
movement can follow? 

I answer: Sometimes the bare idea is sufficient, but^- 
sometimes an additional conscious element, in the shape--- 
of a fiat, mandate, or express consent, has to intervene anoV 
precede the movement. The cases without a fiat constitutes 
the more fundamental, because the more simple, variety. 
The others involve a special complication, which must be 
fully discussed at the proper time. For the present let us 
turn to ideo-motor action, as it has been termed, or the , 
sequence of movement upon the mere thought of it, with- 
out a special fiat, as the type of the process of volition. 

Wherever a movement unhesitatingly and immediately 
follows upon the idea of it, we have ideo-motor action. 
We are then aware of nothing between the conception 
and the execution. All sorts of neuro-muscular proc- 
esses come between, of course, but we know absolutely 
nothing of them. We think the act, and it is done; and 
that is all that introspection tells us of the matter. Dr. 
Carpenter, who first used, I believe, the name of ideo- \ 
motor action, placed it, if I mistake not, among the curi- 
osities of our mental life. The truth is that it is no- 
curiosity, but simply the normal process stripped of dis- 
guise. Whilst talking I become conscious of a pin on the 
floor, or of some dust on my sleeve. Without interrupting 
the conversation I brush away the dust or pick up the pin. 
I make no express resolve, but the mere perception of the 
object and the fleeting notion of the act seem of themselves 
to bring the latter about. Similarly, I sit at table after 
dinner and find myself from time to time taking nuts or 
raisins out of the dish and eating them. My dinner prop- 
erly is over, and in the heat of the conversation I am 
hardly aware of what I do; but the perception of the 
fruit, and the fleeting notion that I may eat it, seem fa- 
tally to bring the act about. There is certainly no express 
fiat here; any more than there is in all those habitual 
goings and comings and rearrangements of ourselves which 


fill every hour of the day, and which incoming sensations 
instigate so immediately that it is often difficult to decide 
whether not to call them reflex rather than voluntary acts. 
As Lotze says: 

" We see in writing or piano-playing a great number of 
very complicated movements following quickly one upon 
the other, the instigative representations of which re- 
mained scarcely a second in consciousness, certainly not 
long enough to awaken any other volition than the general 
one of resigning one's self without reserve to the passing 
over of representation into action. All the acts of our 
daily life happen in this wise: Our standing up, walking, 
talking, all this never demands a distinct impulse of the 
will, but is adequately brought about by the pure flux of 
thought." * 

In all this the determining condition of the unhesitating 
and resistless sequence of the act seems to be the absence of 
any conflicting notion in the mind. Either there is noth- 
ing else at all in the mind, or what is there does not con- 
flict. We know what it is to get out of bed on a freezing 
morning in a room without a fire, and how the very vital 
principle within us protests against the ordeal. Probably 
most persons have lain on certain mornings for an hour at 
a time unable to brace themselves to the resolve. We 
think how late we shall be, how the duties of the day will 
suffer; we say, " I must get up, this is ignominious," etc.; 
but still the warm couch feels too delicious, the cold out- 
side too cruel, and resolution faints away and postpones 
itself again and again just as it seemed on the verge of 
bursting the resistance and passing over into the decisive 
act. Now how do we ever get up under such circum- 
stances? If I may generalize from my own experience, 
we more often than not get up without any struggle or 
decision at all. We suddenly find that we have got up. 
A fortunate lapse of consciousness occurs; we forget both 

* Medicinische Psychologie, p. 298. 

WILL 425 

the warmth and the cold; we fall into some revery con- 
nected with the day's life, in the course of which the idea 
flashes across us, " Hollo! I must lie here no longer" — an 
idea which at that lucky instant awakens no contradictory 
or paralyzing suggestions, and consequently produces im- 
mediately its appropriate motor effects. It was our acute 
consciousness of both the warmth and the cold during the 
period of struggle, which paralyzed our activity then and 
kept our idea of rising in the condition of wish and not 
of will. The moment these inhibitory ideas ceased, the 
original idea exerted its effects. 

This case seems to me to contain in miniature form the 
data for an entire psychology of volition. It was in fact 
through meditating on the phenomenon in my own person 
that I first became convinced of the truth of the doctrine 
which these pages present, and which I need here illustrate 
by no farther examples. The reason why that doctrine is 
not a self-evident truth is that we have so many ideas 
which do not result in action. But it will be seen that in 
every such case, without exception, that is because other 
ideas simultaneously present rob them of their impulsive 
power. But even here, and when a movement in inhibited 
from completely taking place by contrary ideas, it will 
incipiently take place. To quote Lotze once more: 

" The spectator accompanies the throwing of a billiard- 
ball, or the thrust of the swordsman, with slight move- 
ments of his arm; the untaught narrator tells his story 
with many gesticulations; the reader while absorbed in the 
perusal of a battle-scene feels a slight tension run through 
his muscular system, keeping time as it were with the 
actions he is reading of. These results become the more 
marked the more we are absorbed in thinking of the 
movements which suggest them; they grow fainter ex- 
actly in proportion as a complex consciousness, under the 
dominion of a crowd of other representations, withstands 
the passing over of mental contemplation into outward 


The l willing-game,' the exhibitions of so-called ' mind- 
reading/ or more properly muscle-reading, which have 
lately grown so fashionable, are based on this incipient 
obedience of muscular contraction to idea, even when the 
deliberate intention is that no contraction shall occur. 

We may then lay it down for certain that every repre- 
sentation of a movement awakens in some degree the actual 
movement which is its object; and awakens it in a maxi- 
mum degree whenever it is not kept from so doing by an 
antagonistic representation present simultaneously to the 

The express fiat, or act of mental consent to the move- 
ment, comes in when the neutralization of the antagonistic 
and inhibitory idea is required. But that there is no 
express fiat needed when the conditions are simple, the 
reader ought now to be convinced. Lest, however, he 
should still share the common prejudice that voluntary 
action without ' exertion of will-power ' is Hamlet with 
the prince's part left out, I will make a few farther re- 
marks. The first point to start from, in understanding 
voluntary action and the possible occurrence of it with 
no fiat or express resolve, is the fact that consciousness is 
in its very nature impulsive. We do not first have a 
sensation or thought, and then have to add something 
dynamic to it to get a movement. Every pulse of feeling 
which we have is the correlate of some neural activity 
that is already on its way to instigate a movement. Our 
sensations and thoughts are but cross-sections, as it were, 
of currents whose essential consequence is motion, and 
which have no sooner run in at one nerve than they are 
ready to run out by another. The popular notion that con- 
sciousness is not essentially a forerunner of activity, but 
that the latter must result from some superadded * will- 
force,' is a very natural inference from those special cases 
in which we think of an act for an indefinite length of 
time without the action taking place. These cases, how- 
ever, are not the norm; they are cases of inhibition by 


WILL 427 

antagonistic thoughts. When the blocking is released we 
feel as if an inward spring were let loose, and this is the 
additional impulse or fiat upon which the act effectively 
succeeds. We shall study anon the blocking and its re- 
lease. Our higher thought is full of it. But where there 
is no blocking, there is naturally no hiatus between the 
thought-process and the motor discharge. Movement is - 
the natural immediate eject of the process of feeling, irre- 
spective of what the quality of the feeling may be. It is so 
in reflex action, it is so in emotional expression, it is so in 
the voluntary life. Ideo-motor action is thus no paradox, 
to be softened or explained away. It obeys the type of 
all conscious action, and from it one must start to explain 
the sort of action in which a special fiat is involved. 

It may be remarked in passing, that the inhibition of a 
movement no more involves an express effort or command 
than its execution does. Either of them may require it. 
But in all simple and ordinary cases, just as the bare pres- 
ence of one idea prompts a movement, so the bare pres- 
ence of another idea will prevent its taking place. Try 
to feel as if you were crooking your finger, whilst keeping 
it straight. In a minute it will fairly tingle with the 
imaginary change of position; yet it will not sensibly 
move, because its not really moving is also a part of what 
you have in mind. Drop this idea, think purely and sim- 
ply of the movement, and nothing else, and, presto! it 
takes place with no effort at all. 

A waking man's behavior is thus at all times the re- 
sultant of two opposing neural forces. With unimagina- 
ble fineness some currents among the cells and fibres of 
his brain are playing on his motor nerves, whilst other 
currents, as unimaginably fine, are playing on the first 
currents, damming or helping them, altering their direc- 
tion or their speed. The upshot of it all is, that whilst 
the currents must always end by being drained off through 
some motor nerves, they are drained off sometimes through 
one set and sometimes through another; and sometimes 


they keep each other in equilibrium so long that a super- 
ficial observer may think they are not drained off at all. 
Such an observer must remember, however, that from the 
physiological point of view a gesture, an expression of the 
brow, or an expulsion of the breath are movements as 
much as an act of locomotion is. A king's breath slays 
as well as an assassin's blow; and the outpouring of those 
currents which the magic imponderable streaming of our 
ideas accompanies need not always be of an explosive or 
otherwise physically conspicuous kind. 

Action after Deliberation. — We are now in a position to 
describe what happem in deliberate action, or when the 
mind has many objects before it, related to each other in 
antagonistic or in favorable ways. One of these objects 
of its thought may be an act. By itself this would prompt 
a movement; some of the additional objects or considera- 
tions, however, block the motor discharge, whilst others, 
on the contrary, solicit it to take place. The result is 
that peculiar feeling of inward unrest known as indecision. 
Fortunately it is to^familiar to need description, for to 
describe it would be impossible. As long as it lasts, with 
the various objects before the attention, we are said to 
deliberate; and when finally the original suggestion either 
prevails and makes the movement take place, or gets defin- 
itively quenched by its antagonists, we are said to decide, 
or to utter our voluntary fiat, in favor of one or the other 
course. The reinforcing and inhibiting objects meanwhile 
are termed the reasons or motives by which the decision is 
brought about. 

The process of deliberation contains endless degrees of 
complication. At every moment of it our consciousness 
is of an extremely complex thing, namely, the whole set 
of motives and their conflict. Of this complicated ob- 
ject, the totality of which is realized more or less dimly 
all the while by consciousness, certain parts stand out 
more or less sharply at one moment in the foreground, 
and at another moment other parts, in consequence of the 

WILL 429 

oscillations of our attention, and of the l associative ' flow 
of our ideas. But no matter how sharp the foreground- 
reasons may be, or how imminently close to bursting 
through the dam and carrying the motor consequences 
their own way, the background, however dimly felt, is 
always there as a fringe (p. 163); and its presence (so 
long as the indecision actually lasts) serves as an effective 
check upon the irrevocable discharge. The deliberation 
may last for weeks or months, occupying at intervals the 
mind. The motives which yesterday seemed full of 
urgency and blood and life to-day feel strangely weak and 
pale and dead. But as little to-day as to-morrow is the 
question finally resolved. Something tells us that all this 
is provisional; that the weakened reasons will wax strong 
again, and the stronger weaken; that equilibrium is un- 
reached; that testing our reasons, not obeying them, is 
still the order of the day, and that we must wait awhile, 
patiently or impatiently, until our mind is made up ' for 
good and all.' This inclining first to one, then to another 
future, both of which we represent as possible, resembles 
the oscillations to and fro of a material body within the 
limits of its elasticity. There is inward strain, but no 
outward rupture. And this condition, plainly enough, is 
susceptible of indefinite continuance, as well in the physi- 
cal mass as in the mind. If the elasticity give way, how- 
ever, if the dam ever do break, and the currents burst the 
crust, vacillation is over and decision is irrevocably there. 

The decision may come in either of many modes. I 
will try briefly to sketch the most characteristic types of 
it, merely warning the reader that this is only an intro- 
spective account of symptoms and phenomena, and that 
all questions of causal agency, whether neural or spiritual, 
are relegated to a later page. 

Five Chief Types of Decision. — Turning now to the 
form of the decision itself, we may distinguish five chief 
types. The first may be called the reasonable type. It is that 
of those cases in which the arguments for and against a given 


course seem gradually and almost insensibly to settle 
themselves in the mind and to end by leaving a clear 
balance in favor of one alternative, which alternative we 
then adopt without effort or constraint. Until this rational 
balancing of the books is consummated we have a calm 
feeling that the evidence is not yet all in, and this keeps 
action in suspense. But some day we wake with the sense 
that we see the matter rightly, that no new light will be 
thrown on it by farther delay, and that it had better be 
settled now. In this easy transition from doubt to assur- 
ance we seem to ourselves almost passive ; the ' reasons p 
which decide us appearing to flow in from the nature of 
things, and to owe nothing to our will. We have, however, 
a perfect sense of being free, in that we are devoid of any 
feeling of coercion. The conclusive reason for the decision 
in these cases usually is the discovery that we can refer 
the case to a class upon which we are accustomed to act 
unhesitatingly in a certain stereotyped way. It may be 
said in general that a great part of every deliberation con- 
sists in the turning over of all the possible modes of con- 
ceiving the doing or not doing of the act in point. The 
moment we hit upon a conception which lets up apply 
some principle of action which is a fixed and stable part of 
our Ego, our state of doubt is at an end. Persons of 
authority, who have to make many decisions in the day, 
carry with them a set of heads of classification, each bear- 
ing its volitional consequence, and under these they seek as 
far as possible to range each new emergency as it occurs. 
It is where the emergency belongs to a species without 
precedent, to which consequently no cut-and-dried maxim 
will apply, that we feel most at a loss, and are distressed 
at the indeterminateness of our task. As soon, however, 
as we see our way to a familiar classification, we are at ease 
again.^ In action as in reasoning, then, the great thing is 
fhequest of the right conception. The concrete dilemmas 
do not come to us with labels gummed upon their backs. 
We may name them by many names. The wise man is he 

WILL 431 

who succeeds in finding the name which suits the needs of 
the particular occasion best (p. 357 ff.). A 'reasonable' 
character is one who has a store of stable and worthy ends, 
and who does not decide about an action till he has calmly 
ascertained whether it be ministerial or detrimental to any 
one of these. 

In the next two types of decision, the final fiat occurs 
before the evidence is all ' in. ' It often happens that no 
paramount and authoritative reason for either course will 
come. Either seems a good, and there is no umpire to de- 
cide which should yield its place to the other. We grow 
tired of long hesitation and inconclusiveness, and the hour 
may come when we feel that even a bad decision is better 
than no decision at all. Under these conditions it will often 
happen that some accidental circumstance, supervening at 
a particular movement upon our mental weariness, will 
upset the balance in the direction of one of the alterna- 
tives, to which then we feel ourselves committed, although 
an opposite accident at the same time might have produced 
the opposite result. 

In the second type our feeling is to a great extent that 
of letting ourselves drift with a certain indifferent acqui- 

/ escence in a direction accidentally determined front with- 
out, with the conviction that, after all, we might as well 
stand by this course as by the other, and that things are 

\jn any event sure to turn out sufficiently right. 

In the third type the determination seems equally acci- 
dental, but it comes from within, and not from without. 
It often happens, when the absence of imperative princi- 
ple is perplexing and suspense distracting, that we find 
ourselves acting, as it were, automatically, and as if by a 
spontaneous discharge of our nerves, in the direction of 
one of the horns of the dilemma. But so exciting is this 
sense of motion after our intolerable pent-up state that 
we eagerly throw ourselves into it. ' Forward now! ' we 
inwardly cry, ' though the heavens fall.' This reckless and 
exultant espousal of an energy so little premeditated by us 


that we feel rather like passive spectators cheering on the 
display of some extraneous force than like voluntary 
agents is a type of decision too abrupt and tumultuous to 
occur often in humdrum and cool-blooded natures. But 
it is probable frequent in persons of strong emotional en- 
dowment and unstable or vacillating character. And in 
men of the world-shaking type, the Napoleons, Luthers, 
etc., in whom tenacious passion combines with ebullient 
activity, when by any chance the passion's outlet has been 
dammed by scruples or apprehensions, the resolution is 
probably often of this catastrophic kind. The flood breaks 
quite unexpectedly through the dam. That it should so 
often do so is quite sufficient to account for the tendency 
of these characters to a fatalistic mood of mind. And the 
fatalistic mood itself is sure to reinforce the strength of 
the energy just started on its exciting path of discharge. 

There is a fourth form of decision, which often ends 
deliberation as-6«4denly as the third form does. It comes 
when, in consequence of some outer experience or some 
inexplicable inward change, we suddenly pass from the 
easy and careless to the sober and strenuous mood, or 
possibly the other way. The whole scale of values of our 
motives and impulses then undergoes a change like that 
which a change of the observer's level produces on a view. 
The most sobering possible agents are objects of grief and 
fear. When one of these affects us, all ' light fantastic ' 
notions lose their motive power, all solemn ones find theirs 
multiplied many-fold. The consequence is an instant 
abandonment of the more trivial projects with which we 
had been dallying, and an instant practical acceptance of 
the more grim and earnest alternative which till then 
could not extort our mind's consent. All those ' changes 
heart,' ' awakenings of conscience,' etc., which make 
new men of so many of us may be classed under this 
head. The character abruptly rises to another ' level,' and 
deliberation comes to an immediate end. 

In the fift^^atid final type of decision, the feeling that 

WILL 433 

the evidence is all in, and that reason has balanced the -^ 
books, may be either present or absent. But in either case > 
we feel, in deciding, as if we ourselves by our own wilful 
act inclined the beam: in the former case by adding our 
living effort to the weight of the logical reason which, 
taken alone, seems powerless to make the act discharge; 
in the latter by a kind of creative contribution of some- 
thing instead of a reason which does a reason's work. The 
slow dead heave of the will that is felt in these instances 
makes of them a class altogether different subjectively 
from all the four preceding classes. What the heave of 
the will betokens metaphysically, what the effort might 
lead us to infer about a will-power distinct from motives 
are not matters that concern us yet. Subjectively and 
phenomenally, the feeling of effort, absent from the former 
decision, accompanies these. Whether it be the dreary 
resignation for the sake of austere and naked duty of all 
sorts of rich mundane delights; or whether it be the heavy 
resolve that of two mutually exclusive trains of future 
fact, both sweet and good and with no strictly objective 
or imperative principle of choice between them, one shall 
forevermore become impossible, while the other shall be- 
come reality; it is a desolate and acrid sort of act, an en- 
trance into a lonesome moral wilderness. If examined 
closely, its chief difference from the former cases appears 
to be that in those cases the mind at the moment of de- 
ciding on the triumphant alternative dropped the other 
one wholly or nearly out of sight, whereas here both alter- 
natives are steadily held in view, and in the very act of 
murdering the vanquished possibility the chooser realizes 
how much in that instant he is making himself lose. It 
is deliberately driving a thorn into one's flesh; and the 
sense of inward effort with which the act is accompanied 
is an element which sets this fifth type of decision in 
strong contrast with the previous four varieties, and makes 
of it an altogether peculiar sort of mental phenomenon. 
The immense majority of human decisions are decisions , 


without effort. In comparatively few of them, in most 
people, does effort accompany the final act. We are, I 
think, misled into supposing that effort is more frequent 
than it is by the fact that during deliberation we so often 
have a feeling of how great an effort it would take to make 
a decision now. Later, after the decision has made itself 
with ease, we recollect this and erroneously suppose the 
effort also to have been made then. 

The existence of the effort as a phenomenal fact in our 
consciousness cannot of course be doubted or denied. Its 
significance, on the other hand, is a matter about which 
the gravest difference of opinion prevails. Questions as 
momentous as that of the very existence of spiritual cau- 
sality, as vast as that of universal predestination or free- 
will, depend on its interpretation. It therefore becomes 
essential that we study with some care the conditions under 
which the feeling of volitional effort is found. 

The Feeling of Effort. — When I said, awhile back, that 
consciousness (or the neural process which goes with it) is 
in its very nature impulsive, I should have added the 
proviso that it must be sufficiently intense. Now there are 
remarkable differences in the power of different sorts of 
consciousness to excite movement. The intensity of some 
feelings is practically apt to be below the discharging 
point, whilst that of others is apt to be above it. By 
practically apt, I mean apt under ordinary circumstances. 
These circumstances may be habitual inhibitions, like that 
comfortable feeling of the dolce jar niente which gives to 
each and all of us a certain dose of laziness only to be 
overcome by the acuteness of the impulsive spur; or they 
may consist in the native inertia, or internal resistance, of 
the motor centres themselves, making explosion impossible 
until a certain inward tension has been reached and over- 
passed. These conditions may vary from one person to an- 
other, and in the same person from time to time. The 
neural inertia may wax or wane, and the habitual inhibi- 
tions dwindle or augment. The intensity of particular 



thought-processes and stimulations may also change inde- 
pendently, and particular paths of association grow more 
pervious or less so. There thus result great possibilities 
of alteration in the actual impulsive efficacy of particular 
motives compared with others. It is where the normally 
less efficacious motive becomes more efficacious, and the 
normally more efficacious one less so, that actions ordinarily 
effortless, or abstinences ordinarily easy, either become im- 
possible, or are effected (if at all) by the expenditure of 
effort. A little more description will make it plainer what 
these cases are. 

Healthiness of Will. — There is a certain normal ratio 
in the impulsive power of different mental objects, which 
characterizes what may be called ordinary healthiness of 
will, and which is departed from only at exceptional times 
or by exceptional individuals. The states of mind which 
normally possess the most impulsive quality are either 
those which represent objects of passion, appetite, or emo- 
tion — objects of instinctive reaction, in short; or they are 
feelings or ideas of pleasure or of pain; or ideas which for 
any reason we have grown accustomed to obey, so that the 
habit of reacting on them is ingrained; or finally, in com- 
parison with ideas of remoter objects, they are ideas of 
objects present or near in space and time. Compared with 
these various objects, all far-off considerations, all highly 
abstract conceptions, unaccustomed reasons, and motives 
foreign to the instinctive history of the race, have little or 
no impulsive power. They prevail, when they ever do 
prevail, with effort; and the normal, as distinguished from 
the pathological, sphere of effort is thus found wherever 
non-instinctive motives to behavior must be reinforced so as 
to rule the day. 

Healthiness of will moreover requires a certain amount 
of complication in the process which precedes the fiat or 
the act. Each stimulus or idea, at the same time that it 
wakens its own impulse, must also arouse other ideas along 
with their characteristic impulses, and action must finally 



follow, neither too slowly nor too rapidly, as the resultant 
of all the forces thus engaged. Even when the decision is 
pretty prompt, the normal thing is thus a sort of prelimi- 
nary survey of the field and a vision of which course is 
best before the fiat comes. And where the will is healthy, 
the vision must be right (i. e., the motives must be on the 
whole in a normal or not too unusual ratio to each other), 
and the action must obey the vision's lead. 

Unhealthiness of will may thus come about in many 
^ways. The action may follow the stimulus or idea too 
^ rapidly, leaving no time for the arousal of restraining 
associates — we then have a precipitate will. Or, although 
the associates may come, the ratio which the impulsive 
and inhibitive forces normally bear to each other may be 
distorted, and we then have a will which is perverse. The 
perversity, in turn, may be due to either of many causes — 
too much intensity, or too little, here; too much or too 
little inertia there; or elsewhere too much or too little 
inhibitory power. // we compare the outward symptoms 
of perversity together, they jail into two groups, in one of 
which normal actions are impossible, and in the other 
abnormal ones are irrepressible. Briefly, we may call them 
respectively the obstructed and the explosive will. 

It must be kept in mind, however, that since the re- 
sultant action is always due to the ratio between the 
obstructive and the explosive forces which are present, 
we never can tell by the mere outward symptoms to what 
elementary cause the perversion of a man's will may be 
due, whether to an increase of one component or a dimi- 
nution of the other. One may grow explosive as readily 
by losing the usual brakes as by getting up more of the 
impulsive steam; and one may find things impossible as 
well through the enfeeblement of the original desire as 
through the advent of new lions in the path. As Dr. 
Clouston says, " the driver may be so weak that he cannot 
control well-broken horses, or the horses may be so hard- 
mouthed that no driver can pull them up." 

WILL 437 

The Explosive Will, i.) From Defective Inhibition. 
— There is a normal type of character, for example, in which 
impulses seem to discharge so promptly into movements 
that inhibitions get no time to arise. These are the ' dare- 
devil ' and ' mercurial ■ temperaments, overflowing with 
animation and fizzling with talk, which are so common 
in the Slavic and Celtic races, and with which the cold- 
blooded and long-headed English character forms so 
marked a contrast. Simian these people seem to us, whilst 
we seem to them reptilian. It is quite impossible to judge, 
as between an obstructed and an explosive individual, 
which has the greater sum of vital energy. An explosive 
Italian with good perception and intellect will cut a figure 
as a perfectly tremendous fellow, on an inward capital 
that could be tucked away inside of an obstructed Yankee 
and hardly let you know that it was there. He will be 
the king of his company, sing the songs and make the 
speeches, lead the parties, carry out the practical jokes, 
kiss the girls, fight the men, and, if need be, lead the 
forlorn hopes and enterprises, so that an onlooker would 
think he has more life in his little finger than can exist 
in the whole body of a correct judicious fellow. But the 
judicious fellow all the while may have all these possi- 
bilities and more besides, ready to break out in the same 
or even a more violent way, if only the brakes were taken 
off. It is the absence of scruples, of consequences, of 
considerations, the extraordinary simplification of each 
moment's mental outlook, that gives to the explosive 
individual such motor energy and ease; it need not be 
the greater intensity of any of his passions, motives, or 
thoughts. As mental evolution goes on, the complexity 
of human consciousness grows ever greater, and with it 
the multiplication of the inhibitions to which every im- 
pulse is exposed. How much freedom of discourse we 
English folk lose because we feel obliged always to speak 
the truth! This predominance of inhibition has a bad 
as well as a good side; and if a man's impulses are in 


the main orderly as well as prompt, if he has courage 
to accept their consequences, and intellect to lead them 
to a successful end, he is all the better for his hair- 
trigger organization, and for not being ' sicklied o'er with 
the pale cast of thought/ Many of the most successful 
military and revolutionary characters in history have 
belonged to this simple but quick-witted impulsive type. 
Problems come much harder to reflective and inhibitive 
minds. They can, it is true, solve much vaster problems; 
and they can avoid many a mistake to which the men of 
impulse are exposed. But when the latter do not make 
mistakes, or when they are always able to retrieve them, 
theirs is one of the most engaging and indispensable of 
human types. 

In infancy, and in certain conditions of exhaustion, as 
well as in peculiar pathological states, the inhibitory 
power may fail to arrest the explosions of the impulsive 
discharge. We have then an explosive temperament 
temporarily realized in an individual who at other times 
may be of a relatively obstructed type. In other persons, 
again, hysterics, epileptics, criminals of the neurotic class 
called degeneres by French authors, there is such a native 
feebleness in the mental machinery that before the inhibitory 
ideas can arise the impulsive ones have already discharged 
into act. In persons heal thy- willed by nature bad habits 
can bring about this condition, especially in relation to par- 
ticular sorts of impulse. Ask half the common drunkards 
you know why it is that they fall so often a prey to tempta- 
tion, and they will say that most of the time they cannot 
tell. It is a sort of vertigo with them. Their nervous 
centres have become a sluice-way pathologically unlocked 
by every passing conception of a bottle and a glass. They 
do not thirst for the beverage; the taste of it may even 
appear repugnant; and they perfectly foresee the morrow's 
remorse. But when they think of the liquor or see it, they 
find themselves preparing to drink, and do not stop them- 
selves: and more than this they cannot say. Similarly a 

WILL 439 

man may lead a life of incessant love-making or sexual 
indulgence, though what spurs him thereto seems to be 
trivial suggestions and notions of possibility rather than any 
real solid strength of passion or desire. Such characters 
are too flimsy even to be bad in any deep sense of the word. 
The paths of natural (or it may be unnatural) impulse are 
so pervious in them that the slightest rise in the level of in- 
nervation produces an overflow. It is the condition recog- 
nized in pathology as ' irritable weakness.' The phase 
known as nascency or latency is so short in the excitement 
of the neural tissues that there is no opportunity for strain 
or tension to accumulate within them; and the consequence 
is that with all the agitation and activity, the amount of 
real feeling engaged may be very small. The hysterical 
temperament is the playground par excellence in this 
unstable equilibrium. One of these subjects will be filled 
with what seems the most genuine and settled aversion to 
a certain line of conduct, and the very next instant follow 
the stirring of temptation and plunge in it up to the 

2.) From Exaggerated Impulsion. — Disorderly and 
impulsive conduct may, on the other hand, come about where 
the neural tissues preserve their proper inward tone, and 
where the inhibitory power is normal or even unusually 
great. In such cases the strength of the impulsive idea is 
preter naturally exalted, and what would be for most 
people the passing suggestion of a possibility becomes a 
gnawing, craving urgency to act. Works on insanity are 
full of examples of these morbid insistent ideas, in ob- 
stinately struggling against which the unfortunate victim's 
soul often sweats with agony ere at last it gets swept 

The craving for drink in real dipsomaniacs, or for opium 
or chloral in those subjugated, is of a strength of which 
normal persons can form no conception. " Were a keg 
of rum in one corner of a room and were a cannon con- 
stantly discharging balls between me and it, I could not 


refrain from passing before that cannon in order to get 
the rum; " " If a bottle of brandy stood at one hand and 
the pit of hell yawned at the other, and I were convinced 
that I should be pushed in as sure as I took one glass, I 
could not refrain: " such statements abound in dipso- 
maniacs' mouths. Dr. Mussey of Cincinnati relates this 

" A few years ago a tippler was put into an almshouse 
in this State. Within a few days he had devised various 
expedients to procure rum, but failed. At length, how- 
ever, he hit upon one which was successful. He went 
into the wood-yard of the establishment, placed one hand 
upon the block, and with an axe in the other struck it 
off at a single blow. With the stump raised and stream- 
ing he ran into the house and cried, ' Get some rum! get 
some rum! My hand is off! ' In the confusion and bustle 
of the occasion a bowl of rum was brought, into which he 
plunged the bleeding member of his body, then raising 
the bowl to his mouth, drank freely, and exultingly ex- 
claimed, ' Now I am satisfied/ Dr. J. E. Turner tells of 
a man who, while under treatment for inebriety, during 
four weeks secretly drank the alcohol from six jars con- 
taining morbid specimens. On asking him why he had 
committed this loathsome act, he replied: l Sir, it is as 
impossible for me to control this diseased appetite as it is 
for me to control the pulsations of my heart.' " 

Often the insistent idea is of a trivial sort, but it may 
wear the patient's life out. His hands feel dirty, they 
must be washed. He knows they are not dirty; yet to 
get rid of the teasing idea he washes them. The idea, 
however, returns in a moment, and the unfortunate victim, 
who is not in the least deluded intellectually, will end by 
spending the whole day at the wash-stand. Or his clothes 
are not ' rightly ' put on ; and to banish the thought he 
takes them off and puts them on again, till his toilet con- 
sumes two or three hours of time. Most people have the 
potentiality of this disease. To few has it not happened 

WILL 441 

to conceive, after getting into bed, that they may have 
forgotten to lock the front door, or to turn out the entry 
gas. And few of us have not on some occasion got up to 
repeat the performance, less because we believe in the 
reality of its omission than because only so could we banish 
the worrying doubt and get to sleep. 

The Obstructed Will. — In striking contrast with the 
cases in which inhibition is insufficient or impulsion in 
excess are those in which impulsion is insufficient or 
inhibition in excess. We all know the condition de- 
scribed on p. 218, in which the mind for a few moments > 
seems to lose its focussing power and to be unable to 
rally its attention to any determinate thing. At such 
times we sit blankly staring and do nothing. The objects 
of consciousness fail to touch the quick or break the skin. 
They are there, but do not reach the level of effectiveness. 
This state of non-efficacious presence is the normal con- 
dition of some objects, in all of us. Great fatigue or 
exhaustion may make it the condition of almost all ob- 
jects; and an apathy resembling that then brought about 
is recognized in asylums under the name of abulia as a 
symptom of mental disease. The healthy state of the will 
requires, as aforesaid, both that vision should be right, 
and that action should obey its lead. But in the morbid 
condition in question the vision may be wholly unaffected, 
and the intellect clear, and yet the act either fails to 
follow or follows in some other way. 

" Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor " is the 
classic expression of this latter condition of mind. The 
moral tragedy of human life comes almost wholly from 
the fact that the link is ruptured which normally should 
hold between vision of the truth and action, and that this 
pungent sense of effective reality will not attach to certain 
ideas. Men do not differ so much in their mere feelings 
and conceptions. Their notions of possibility and their 
ideals are not as far apart as might be argued from their 
differing fates. No class of them have better sentiments 


or feel more constantly the difference between the higher 
and the lower path in life than the hopeless failures, the 
sentimentalists, the drunkards, the schemers, the ' dead- 
beats/ whose life is one long contradiction between knowl- 
edge and action, and who, with full command of theory, 
never get to holding their limp characters erect. No one 
eats of the fruit of the tree of knowledge as they do; as 
far as moral insight goes, in comparison with them, the 
orderly and prosperous philistines whom they scandalize 
are sucking babes. And yet their moral knowledge, always 
there grumbling and rumbling in the background, — dis- 
cerning, commenting, protesting, longing, half resolving, 
— never wholly resolves, never gets its voice out of the 
minor into the major key, or its speech out of the sub- 
junctive into the imperative mood, never breaks the spell, 
never takes the helm into its hands. In such characters 
as Rousseau and Restif it would seem as if the lower 
motives had all the impulsive efficacy in their hands. 
Like trains with the right of way, they retain exclusive 
possession of the track. The more ideal motives exist 
alongside of them in profusion, but they never get switched 
on, and the man's conduct is no more influenced by them 
than an express train is influenced by a wayfarer standing 
by the roadside and calling to be taken aboard. They 
are an inert accompaniment to the end of time; and the 
consciousness of inward hollowness that accrues from 
habitually seeing the better only to do the worse, is one 
of the saddest feelings one can bear with him through 
this vale of tears. 

Effort feels like an original force. We now see at one 
view when it is that effort complicates volition. It does 
so whenever a rarer and more ideal impulse is called upon 
to neutralize others of a more instinctive and habitual 
kind; it does so whenever strongly explosive tendencies 
are checked, or strongly obstructive conditions overcome. 
The ante bien nee, the child of the sunshine, at whose birth 
the fairies made their gifts, does not need much of it in 

WILL 443 

his life. The hero and the neurotic subject, on the other 
hand, do. Now our spontaneous way of conceiving the 
effort, under all these circumstances, is as an active force 
adding its strength to that of the motives which ultimately 
prevail. When outer forces impinge upon a body, we say 
that the resultant motion is in the line of least resistance, 
or of greatest traction. But it is a curious fact that our 
spontaneous language never speaks of volition with effort 
in this way. Of course if we proceed a priori and define 
the line of least resistance as the line that is followed, the 
physical law must also hold good in the mental sphere. 
But we feel, in all hard cases of volition, as if the line 
taken, when the rarer and more ideal motives prevail, were 
the line of greater resistance, and as if the line of coarser 
motivation were the more pervious and easy one, even at 
the very moment when we refuse to follow it. He who 
under the surgeon's knife represses cries of pain, or he 
who exposes himself to social obloquy for duty's sake, feels 
as if he were following the line of greatest temporary re- 
sistance. He speaks of conquering and overcoming his 
impulses and temptations. 

But the sluggard, the drunkard, the coward, never talk 
of their conduct in that way, or say they resist their energy, 
overcome their sobriety, conquer their courage, and so 
forth. If in general we class all springs of action as pro- 
pensities on the one hand and ideals on the other, the sen- 
sualist never says of his behavior that it results from a 
victory over his ideals, but the moralist always speaks of 
his as a victory over his propensities. The sensualist uses 
terms of inactivity, says he forgets his ideals, is deaf to 
duty, and so forth; which terms seem to imply that the 
ideal motives per se can be annulled without energy or 
effort, and that the strongest mere traction lies in the line 
of the propensities. The ideal impulse appears, in com- 
parison with this, a still small voice which must be artifi- 
cially reinforced to prevail. Effort is what reinforces it, 
making things seem as if, while the force of propensity 


were essentially a fixed quantity, the ideal force might be 
of various amount. But what determines the amount of 
the effort when, by its aid, an ideal motive becomes vic- 
torious over a great sensual resistance? The very great- 
ness of the resistance itself. If the sensual propensity is 
small, the effort is small. The latter is made great by the 
presence of a great antagonist to overcome. And if a brief 
definition of ideal or moral action were required, none 
could be given which would better fit the appearances than 
this: // is action in the line of the greatest resistance. 

The facts may be most briefly symbolized thus, P stand- 
ing for propensity, I for the ideal impulse, and E for 
the effort: 

I per se < P. 
I + E > P. 

In other words, if E adds itself to I, P immediately 
offers the least resistance, and motion occurs in spite of it. 

But the E does not seem to form an integral part of the 
I. It appears adventitious and indeterminate in advance. 
We can make more or less as we please, and if we make 
enough we can convert the greatest mental resistance into 
the least. Such, at least, is the impression which the facts 
spontaneously produce upon us. But we will not discuss 
the truth of this impression at present; let us rather con- 
tinue our descriptive detail. 

Pleasure and Pain as Springs of Action. — Objects 
and thoughts of objects start our action, but the pleasures 
and pains which action brings modify its course and regulate 
it; and later the thoughts of the pleasures and the pains 
acquire themselves impulsive and inhibitive power. Not 
that the thought of a pleasure need be itself a pleasure, 
usually it is the reverse — nessun maggior dolore — as Dante 
says — and not that the thought of pain need be a pain, for, 
as Homer says, " griefs are often afterwards an entertain- 
ment." But as present pleasures are tremendous rein- 
forcers, and present pains tremendous inhibitors of what- 

WILL 445 

ever action leads to them, so the thoughts of pleasures and 
pains take rank amongst the thoughts which have most 
impulsive and inhibitive power. The precise relation which 
these thoughts hold to other thoughts is thus a matter 
demanding some attention. 

If a movement feels agreeable, we repeat and repeat it 
as long as the pleasure lasts. If it hurts us, our muscular 
contractions at the instant stop. So complete is the inhi- 
bition in this latter case that it is almost impossible for a 
man to cut or mutilate himself slowly and deliberately — 
his hand invincibly refusing to bring on the pain. And 
there are many pleasures which, when once we have begun 
to taste them, make it all but obligatory to keep up the 
activity to which they are due. So widespread and search- 
ing is this influence of pleasures and pains upon our move- 
ments that a premature philosophy has decided that these 
are our only spurs to action, and that wherever they seem 
to be absent, it is only because they are so far on among 
the ' remoter ' images that prompt the action that they are 

This is a great mistake, however. Important as is the 
influence of pleasures and pains upon our movements, they 
are far from being our only stimuli. With the manifesta- 
tions of instinct and emotional expression, for example, 
they have absolutely nothing to do. Who smiles for the 
pleasure of the smiling, or frowns for the pleasure of the 
frown? Who blushes to escape the discomfort of not 
blushing? Or who in anger, grief, or fear is actuated to 
the movements which he makes by the pleasures which 
they yield? In all these cases the movements are dis- 
charged fatally by the vis a tergo which the stimulus 
exerts upon a nervous system framed to respond in just 
that way. The objects of our rage, love, or terror, the 
occasions of our tears and smiles, whether they be present 
to our senses, or whether they be merely represented in 
idea, have this peculiar sort of impulsive power. The 


impulsive quality of mental states is an attribute behind 
which we cannot go. Some states of mind have more of it 
than others, some have it in this direction and some in 
that. Feelings of pleasure and pain have it, and percep- 
tions and imaginations of fact have it, but neither have it 
exclusively or peculiarly. It is of the essence of all con- 
sciousness (or of the neural process which underlies it) to 
instigate movement of some sort. That with one creature 
and object it should be of one sort, with others of another 
sort, is a problem for evolutionary history to explain. 
However the actual impulsions may have arisen, they must 
now be described as they exist; and those persons obey a 
curiously narrow teleological superstition who think them- 
selves bound to interpret then in every instance as effects 
of the secret solicitancy of pleasure and repugnancy of 
pain. If the thought of pleasure can impel to action, 
surely other thoughts may. Experience only can decide 
which thoughts do. The chapters on Instinct and Emo- 
tion have shown us that their name is legion; and with 
this verdict we ought to remain contented, and not seek 
an illusory simplification at the cost of half the facts. 

If in these our first acts pleasures and pain bear no 
part, as little do they bear in our last acts, or those arti- 
ficially acquired performances which have become habitual. 
All the daily routine of life, our dressing and undressing, 
the coming and going from our work or carrying through 
of its various operations, is utterly without mental refer- 
ence to pleasure and pain, except under rarely realized 
conditions. It is ideo-motor action. As I do not breathe 
for the pleasure of the breathing, but simply find that I 
am breathing, so I do not write for the pleasure of the 
writing, but simply because I have once begun, and being 
in a state of intellectual excitement which keeps venting 
itself in that way, find that I am writing still. Who will 
pretend that when he idly fingers his knife-handle at the 
table, it is for the sake of any pleasure which it gives him, 
or pain which he thereby avoids? We do all these things 

WILL 447 

because at the moment we cannot help it; our nervous 
systems are so shaped that they overflow in just that way; 
and for many of our idle or purely ' nervous ' and fidgety 
performances we can assign absolutely no reason at all. 

Or what shall be said of a shy and unsociable man who 
receives point-blank an invitation to a small party? The 
thing is to him an abomination; but your presence exerts 
a compulsion on him, he can think of no excuse, and so 
says yes, cursing himself the while for what he does. He 
is unusually sui compos who does not every week of his 
life fall into some such blundering act as this. Such in- 
stances of voluntas invita show not only that our acts 
cannot all be conceived as effects of represented pleasure, 
but that they cannot even be classed as cases of repre- 
sented good. The class ' goods ' contains many more gen- 
erally influential motives to action than the class ' pleas- 
ants.' But almost as little as under the form of pleasures 
do our acts invariably appear to us under the form of 
goods. All diseased impulses and pathological fixed ideas 
are instances to the contrary. It is the very badness of 
the act that gives it then its vertiginous fascination. 
Remove the prohibition, and the attraction stops. In my 
university days a student threw himself from an upper 
entry window of one of the college buildings and was 
nearly killed. Another student, a friend of my own, had 
to pass the window daily in coming and going from his 
room, and experienced a dreadful temptation to imitate 
the deed. Being a Catholic, he told his director, who said, 
* All right! if you must, you must/ and added, ' Go ahead 
and do it/ thereby instantly quenching his desire. This 
director knew how to minister to a mind diseased. But 
we need not go to minds diseased for examples of the occa- 
sional tempting-power of simple badness and unpleasant- 
ness as such. Every one who has a wound or hurt any- 
where, a sore tooth, e.g., will ever and anon press it just to 
bring out the pain. If we are near a new sort of stink, we 
must sniff it again just to verify once more how bad it is. 



This very day I have been repeating over and over to 
myself a verbal jingle whose mawkish silliness was the 
secret of its haunting power. I loathed yet could not 
banish it. 

What holds attention determines action. If one 
must have a single name for the condition upon which the 
impulsive and inhibitive quality of objects depends, one had 
better call it their interest. ' The interesting ' is a title 
— which covers not only the pleasant and the painful, but 
also the morbidly fascinating, the tediously haunting, and 
even the simply habitual, inasmuch as the attention usually 
travels on habitual lines, and what-we-attend-to and what- 
interests-us are synonymous terms. It seems as if we 
ought to look for the secret of an idea's impulsiveness, not 
in any peculiar relations which it may have with paths of 
motor discharge, — for all ideas have relations with some 
such paths, — but rather in a preliminary phenomenon, the 
urgency, namely, with which it is able to compel attention 
and dominate in consciousness. Let it once so dominate, 
let no other ideas succeed in displacing it, and whatever 
motor effects belong to it by nature will inevitably occur 
— its impulsion, in short, will be given to boot, and will 
manifest itself as a matter of course. This is what we 
have seen in instinct, in emotion, in common ideo-motor 
action, in hypnotic suggestion, in morbid impulsion, and 
in voluntas invita, — the impelling idea is simply the 
one which possesses the attention. It is the same where 
pleasure and pain are the motor spurs — they drive other 
thoughts from consciousness at the same time that they 
instigate their own characteristic ' volitional ' effects. And 
this is also what happens at the moment of the fiat, in all 
the five types of ' decision ' which we have described. In 
short, one does not see any case in which the steadfast 
occupancy of consciousness does not appear to be the prime 
condition of impulsive power. It is still more obviously 
the prime condition of inhibitive power. What checks 
our impulses is the mere thinking of reasons to the con- 

WILL 449 

trary — it is their bare presence to the mind which gives 
the veto, and makes acts, otherwise seductive, impossible 
to perform. If we could only forget our scruples, our 
doubts, our fears, what exultant energy we should for a 
while display. 

Will is a relation between the mind and its 'ideas*' 
In closing in, therefore, after all these preliminaries, upon 
the more intimate nature of the volitional process, we 
find ourselves driven more and more exclusively to con- 
sider the conditions which make ideas prevail in the mind. 
With the prevalence, once there as a fact, of the motive 
idea, the psychology of volition properly stops. The move- 
ments which ensue are exclusively physiological phenomena, 
following according to physiological laws upon the neural 
events to which the idea corresponds. The willing termi- 
nates with the prevalence of the idea ; and whether the . 
act then follows or not is a matter quite immaterial, so far 
as the willing itself goes. I will to write, and the act fol- 
lows. I will to sneeze, and it does not. I will that the 
distant table slide over the floor towards me; it also does 
not. My willing representation can no more instigate my 
sneezing-centre than it can instigate the table to activ- 
ity. But in both cases it is as true and good willing as 
it was when I willed to write. In a word, volition is a 
psychic or moral fact pure and simple, and is absolutely 
completed when the stable state of the idea is there. The 
supervention of motion is a supernumerary phenomenon 
depending on executive ganglia whose function lies out- 
side the mind. If the ganglia work duly, the act occurs 
perfectly. If they work, but work wrongly, we, have St. 
Vitus's dance, locomotor ataxy, motor aphasia, or minor 
degrees of awkwardness. If they don't work at all, the 
act fails altogether, and we say the man is paralyzed He 
may make a tremendous effort, and contract the other 
muscles of the body, but the paralyzed limb fails to move. 
In all these cases, however, the volition considered as a 
psychic process is intact. 




Volitional effort is effort of attention. We thus find 
that we reach the heart of our inquiry into volition when we 
ask by what process it is that the thought of any given ac- 
tion comes to prevail stably in the mind. Where thoughts 
prevail without effort, we have sufficiently studied in the 
several chapters on Sensation, Association, and Attention, 
the laws of their advent before consciousness and of their 
stay. We shall not go over that ground again, for we know 
that interest and association are the words, let their worth 
be what it may, on which our explantions must perforce 
rely. Where, on the other hand, the prevalence of the 
thought is accompanied by the phenomenon of effort, the 
case is much less clear. Already in the chapter on Atten- 
tion we postponed the final consideration of voluntary 
attention with effort to a later place. We have now 
brought things to a point at which we see that attention 
with effort is all that any case of volition implies. The 
essential achievement of the will, in short, when it is most 
1 voluntary] is to attend to a difficult object and hold it 
fast before the mind. The so-doing is the fiat; and it is a 
mere physiological incident that when the object is thus 
attended to, immediate motor consequences should ensue. 

Effort of attention is thus the essential phenomenon of 
will* Every reader must know by his own experience 

* This volitional effort pure and simple must be carefully distin- 
guished from the muscular effort with which it is usually confounded. 
The latter consists of all those peripheral feelings to which a mus- 
cular "exertion" may give rise. These feelings, whenever they are 
massive and the body is not "fresh," are rather disagreeable, espe- 
cially when accompanied by stopped breath, congested head, bruised 
skin of fingers, toes, or shoulders, and strained joints. And it is only 
as thus disagreeable that the mind must make its volitional effort in 
stably representing their reality and consequently bringing it about. 
That they happen to be made real by muscular activity is a purely 
accidental circumstance. There are instances where the fiat demands 
great volitional effort though the muscular exertion be insignificant, 
e.g., the getting out of bed and bathing one's self on a cold morn- 
ing. Again, a soldier standing still to be fired at expects disagreeable 

WILL 45 r 

that this is so, for every reader must have felt some fiery 
passion's grasp. What constitutes the difficulty for a man 
laboring under an unwise passion of acting as if the pas- 
sion were wise? Certainly there is no physical difficulty. 
It is as easy physically to avoid a fight as to begin one, to 
pocket one's money as to squander it on one's cupidities, 
to walk away from as towards a coquette's door. The dif- 
ficulty is mental: it is that of getting the idea of the wise 
action to stay before our mind at all. When any strong 
emotional state whatever is upon us, the tendency is for no 
images but such as are congruous with it to come up. If 
others by chance offer themselves, they are instantly smoth- 
ered and crowded out. If we be joyous, we cannot keep 
thinking of those uncertainties and risks of failure which 
abound upon our path; if lugubrious, we cannot think of 
new triumphs, travels, loves, and joys; nor if vengeful, of 
our oppressor's community of nature with ourselves. The 
cooling advice which we get from others when the fever- 
fit is on us is the most jarring and exasperating thing in 
life. Reply we cannot, so we get angry; for by a sort of 
self -preserving instinct which our passion has, it feels that 
these chill objects, if they once but gain a lodgment, will 
work and work until they have frozen the very vital spark 
from out of all our mood and brought our airy castles in 
ruin to the ground. Such is the inevitable effect of rea- 
sonable ideas over others — if they can once get a quiet hear- 
ing; and passion's cue accordingly is always and every- 
where to prevent their still small voice from being heard 
at all. "Let me not think of that! Don't speak to me 
of that! " This is the sudden cry of all those who in a 
passion perceive some sobering considerations about to 
check them in mid-career. There is something so icy in 
this cold-water bath, something which seems so hostile to 

sensations from his muscular passivity. The action of his will, in 
sustaining the expectation, is identical with that required for a pain- 
ful muscular effort. What is hard for both is facing an idea as real. 


the movement of our life, so purely negative, in Reason, 
when she lays her corpse-like finger on our heart and says, 
" Halt! give up! leave off! go back! sit down! " that it is 
no wonder that to most men the steadying influence seems, 
for the time being, a very minister of death. 

The strong-willed man, however, is the man who hears 
the still small voice unflinchingly, and who, when the 
death-bringing consideration comes, looks at its face, con- 
sents to its presence, clings to it, affirms it, and holds it 
fast, in spite of the host of exciting mental images which 
rise in revolt against it and would expel it from the mind. 
Sustained in this way by a resolute effort of attention, the 
difficult object erelong begins to call up its own congeners 
and associates and ends by changing the disposition of the 
man's consciousness altogether. And with his conscious- 
ness his action changes, for the new object, once stably in 
possession of the field of his thoughts, infallibly produces 
its own motor effects. The difficulty lies in the gaining 
possession of that field. Though the spontaneous drift of 
thought is all the other way, the attention must be kept 
strained on that one object until at last it grows, so as to 
maintain itself before the mind with ease. This strain of 
the attention is the fundamental act of will. And the 
will's work is in most cases practically ended when the 
bare presence to our thought of the naturally unwelcome 
object has been secured. For the mysterious tie between 
the "thought and the motor centres next comes into play, 
and, in a way which we cannot even guess at, the obedience 
of the bodily organs follows as a matter of course. 

In all this one sees how the immediate point of appli- 
cation of the volitional effort lies exclusively in the mental 
world. The whole drama is a mental drama. The whole 
difficulty is a mental difficulty, difficulty with an ideal 
object of our thought. It is, in one word, an idea to 
which our will applies itself, an idea which if we let it go 
would slip away, but which we will not let go. Consent to 
the idea's undivided presence, this is effort's sole achieve- 

WILL 453 

ment. Its only function is to get this feeling of consent 
into the mind. And for this there is but one way. The 
idea to be consented to must be kept from flickering and 
going out. It must be held steadily before the mind until 
it fills the mind. Such filling of the mind by an idea, 
with its congruous associates, is consent to the idea and 
to the fact which the idea represents. If the idea be that, 
or include that, of a bodily movement of our own, then we 
call the consent thus laboriously gained a motor volition. 
For Nature here ( backs ' us instantaneously and follows 
up our inward willingness by outward changes on her own 
part. She does this in no other instance. Pity she should 
not have been more generous, nor made a world whose 
other parts were as immediately subject to our will! 

On page 430, in describing the ' reasonable type ' of de- 
cision, it was said that it usually came when the right con- 
ception of the case was found. Where, however, the right 
conception is an anti-impulsive one, the whole intellectual 
ingenuity of the man usually goes to work to crowd it out 
of sight, and to find for the emergency names by the help 
of which the dispositions of the moment may sound sanc- 
tified, and sloth or passion may reign unchecked. How 
many excuses does the drunkard find when each new 
temptation comes! It is a new brand of liquor which the 
interests of intellectual culture in such matters oblige him 
to test; moreover it is poured out and it is sin to waste it; 
also others are drinking and it would be churlishness to 
refuse. Or it is but to enable him to sleep, or just to get 
through this job of work; or it isn't drinking, it is be- 
cause he feels so cold; or it is Christmas-day; or it is a 
means of stimulating him to make a more powerful resolu- 
tion in favor of abstinence than any he has hitherto made; 
or it is just this once, and once doesn't count, etc., etc., ad 
libitum — it is, in fact, anything you like except being a 
drunkard. That is the conception that will not stay be- 
fore the poor soul's attention. But if he once gets able to 
pick out that way of conceiving, from all the other possi- 


ble ways of conceiving the various opportunities which 
occur, if through thick and thin he holds to it that this is 
being a drunkard and is nothing else, he is not likely to 
remain one long. The effort by which he succeeds in 
keeping the right name unwaveringly present to his mind 
proves to be his saving moral act. 

Everywhere, then, the function of the effort is the same: 
to keep affirming and adopting a thought which, if left to 
itself, would slip away. It may be cold and flat when the 
spontaneous mental drift is towards excitement, or great 
and arduous when the spontaneous drift is towards repose. 
In the one case the effort has to inhibit an explosive, in 
the other to arouse an obstructed will. The exhausted 
sailor on a wreck has a will which is obstructed. One of 
his ideas is that of his sore hands, of the nameless exhaus- 
tion of his whole frame which the act of farther pumping 
involves, and of the deliciousness of sinking into sleep. 
The other is that of the hungry sea engulfing him. 
" Rather the aching toil! " he says; and it becomes reality 
then, in spite of the inhibiting influence of the relatively 
luxurious sensations which he gets from lying still. Often 
again it may be the thought of sleep and what leads to 
it which is the hard one to keep before the mind. If a 
patient afflicted with insomnia can only control the whirl- 
ing chase of his ideas so far as to think of nothing at 
all (which can be done), or so far as to imagine one letter 
after another of a verse of Scripture or poetry spelt slowly 
and monotonously out, it is almost certain that here, too, 
specific bodily effects will follow, and that sleep will come. 
The trouble is to keep the mind upon a train of objects 
naturally so insipid. To sustain a representation, to 
think, is, in short, the only moral act, for the impulsive 
and the obstructed, for sane and lunatics alike. Most 
maniacs know their thoughts to be crazy, but find them 
too pressing to be withstood. Compared with them the 
sane truths are so deadly sober, so cadaverous, that the 
lunatic cannot bear to look them in the face and say, 

WILL 455 

"Let these alone be my reality! " But with sufficient 
effort, as Dr. Wigan says, " Such a man can for a time wind 
himself up, as it were, and determine that the notions of the 
disordered brain shall not be manifested. Many instances 
are on record similar to that told by Pinel, where an inmate 
of the Bicetre, having stood a long cross-examination, and 
given every mark of restored reason, signed his name to 
the paper authorizing his discharge ' Jesus Christ,' and 
then went off into all the vagaries connected with that 
delusion. In the phraseology of the gentleman whose case 
is related in an early part of this [ Wigan 's] work he had 
1 held himself tight ' during the examination in order to 
attain his object ; this once accomplished he ' let himself 
down ' again, and, if even conscious of his delusion, could 
not control it. I have observed with such persons that it 
requires a considerable time to wind themselves up to the 
pitch of complete self-control, that the effort is a painful 
tension of the mind. . . . When thrown off their guard by 
any accidental remark or worn out by the length of the 
examination, they let themselves go, and cannot gather 
themselves up again without preparation." 

To sum it all up in a word, the terminus of the psycho- 
logical process in volition, the point to which the will is 
directly applied, is always an idea. There are at all times 
some ideas from which we shy away like frightened horses 
the moment we get a glimpse of their forbidding profile 
upon the threshold of our thought. The only resistance 
which our will can possibly experience is the resistance 
which such an idea offers to being attended to at all. To 
attend to it is the volitional act, and the only inward 
volitional act which we ever perform. 

The Question of 'Free-will.' — As was remarked on p. 
443 , in the experience of effort we feel as if we might make 
more or less than we actually at any moment are making. 

The effort appears, in other words, not as a fixed reaction 
on our part which the object that resists us necessarily 
calls forth, but as what the mathematicians call an ' inde- 


pendent variable ' amongst the fixed data of the case, our 
motives, character, etc. If it be really so, if the amount of 
our effort is not a determinate function of those other data, 
then, in common parlance, our wills are jree. If, on the 
contrary, the amount of effort be a fixed function, so that 
whatever object at any time fills our consciousness was 
from eternity bound to fill it then and there, and compel 
from us the exact effort, neither more nor less, which we 
bestow upon it, — then our wills are not free, and all our 
acts are foreordained. The question of fact in the free- 
will controversy is thus extremely simple. It relates solely 
to the amount of effort of attention which we can at any 
time put forth. .Are the duration and intensity of this 
effort fixed functions of the object, or are they not? Now, 
as I just said, it seems as if we might exert more or less 
in any given case. When a man has let his thoughts go 
for days and weeks until at last they culminate in some 
particularly dirty or cowardly or cruel act, it is hard to 
persuade him, in the midst of his remorse, that he might 
not have reined them in; hard to make him believe that 
this whole goodly universe (which his act so jars upon) 
required and exacted it of him at that fatal moment, and 
from eternity made aught else impossible. But, on the 
other hand, there is the certainty that all his effortless voli- 
tions are resultants of interests and associations whose 
strength and sequence are mechanically determined by the 
structure of that physical mass, his brain; and the general 
continuity of things and the monistic conception of the 
world may lead one irresistibly to postulate that a little 
fact like effort can form no real exception to the over- 
whelming reign of deterministic law. Even in effortless 
volition we have the consciousness of the alternative being 
also possible. This is surely a delusion here; why is it 
not a delusion everywhere? 

The fact is that the question of free-will is insoluble on 
strictly psychologic grounds. After a certain amount of 
effort of attention has been given to an idea, it is mani- 

WILL 457 

festly impossible to tdl whether either more or less of it 
might have been given or not. To tell that, we should have 
to ascend to the antecedents of the effort, and defining them 
with mathematical exactitude, prove, by laws of which we 
have not at present even an inkling, that the only amount 
of sequent effort which could possibly comport with them 
was the precise amount that actually came. Such measure- 
ments, whether of psychic or neural quantities, and such 
deductive reasonings as this method of proof implies, will 
surely be forever beyond human reach. No serious psy- 
chologist or physiologist will venture even to suggest a 
notion of how they might be practically made. Had one 
no motives drawn from elsewhere to make one partial to 
either solution, one might easily leave the matter unde- 
cided. But a psychologist cannot be expected to be thus 
impartial, having a great motive in favor of determinism. 
He wants to build a Science; and a Science is a system of 
fixed relations. Wherever there are independent variables, 
there Science stops. So far, then, as our volitions may be 
independent variables, a scientific psychology must ignore 
that fact, and treat of them only so far as they are fixed 
functions. In other words, she must deal with the general 
laws of volition exclusively; with the impulsive and in- 
hibitory character of ideas; with the nature of their 
appeals to the attention; with the conditions under which 
effort may arise, etc.; but not with the precise amounts 
of effort, for these, if our wills be free, are impossible 
to compute. She thus abstracts from free-will, without 
necessarily denying its existence. Practically, however, 
such abstraction is not distinguished from rejection; and 
most actual psychologists have no hesitation in denying 
that free-will exists. 

For ourselves, we can hand the free-will controversy over 
to metaphysics. Psychology will surely never grow refined 
enough to discover, in the case of any individual's decision, 
a discrepancy between her scientific calculations and the 
fact. Her prevision will never foretell, whether the effort 


be completely predestinate or not, the way in which each 
individual emergency is resolved. Psychology will be psy- 
chology, and Science science, as much as ever (as much 
and no more) in this world, whether free-will be true in it 
or not. 

We can thus ignore the free-will question in psychology. 
As we said on p. 452, the operation of free effort, if it existed, 
could only be to hold some one ideal object, or part of an 
object, a little longer or a little more intensely before the 
mind. Amongst the alternatives which present themselves 
as genuine possibles, it would thus make one effective. 
And although such quickening of one idea might be 
morally and historically momentous, yet if considered 
dynamically, it would be an operation amongst those 
physiological infinitesimals which an actual science must 
forever neglect. 

Ethical Importance of the Phenomenon of Effort. — 
Bult whilst eliminating the question about the amount of our 
effort as one which psychology will never have a practical 
call to decide, I must say one word about the extraor- 
dinarily intimate and important character which the 
phenomenon of effort assumes in our own eyes as individ- 
ual men. Of course we measure ourselves by many stand- 
ards. Our strength and our intelligence, our wealth and 
even our good luck, are things which warm our heart and 
make us feel ourselves a match for life. But deeper than 
all such things, and able to suffice unto itself without them, 
is the sense of the amount of effort which we can put 
forth. Those are, after all, but effects, products, and 
reflections of the outer world within. But the effort 
seems to belong to an altogether different realm, as if it 
were the substantive thing which we are and those were 
externals which we carry. If the ' searching of our 
heart and reins ' be the purpose of this human drama, then 
what is sought seems to be what effort we can make. He 
who can make none is but a shadow; he who can make 
much is a hero. The huge world that girdles us about 

WILL 459 

puts all sorts of questions to us, and tests us in all sorts of 
ways. Some of the tests we meet by actions that are easy, 
and some of the questions we answer in articulately 
formulated words. But the deepest question that is ever 
asked admits of no reply but the dumb turning of the will 
and tightening of our heart-strings as we say, " Yes, I will 
even have it sol " When a dreadful object is presented, or 
when life as a whole turns up its dark abysses to our view, 
then the worthless ones among us lose their hold on the 
situation altogether, and either escape from its difficulties 
by averting their attention, or if they cannot do that, 
collapse into yielding masses of plaintiveness and fear. 
The effort required for facing and consenting to such 
objects is beyond their power to make. But the heroic 
mind does differently. To it, too, the objects are sinister 
and dreadful, unwelcome, incompatible with wished-for 
things. But it can face them if necessary, without for 
that losing its hold upon the rest of life. The world thus 
finds in the heroic man its worthy match and mate; and 
the effort which he is able to put forth to hold himself 
erect and keep his heart unshaken is the direct measure 
of his worth and function in the game of human life. He 
can stand this Universe. He can meet it and keep up his 
faith in it in presence of those same features which lay his 
weaker brethren low. He can still find a zest in it, not by 
' ostrich-like forgetfulness/ but by pure inward willingness 
to face it with those deterrent objects there. And hereby 
he makes himself one of the masters and the lords of life. 
He must be counted with henceforth; he forms a part of 
human destiny. Neither in the theoretic nor in the prac- 
tical sphere do we care for, or go for help to, those who 
have no head for risks, or sense for living on the perilous 
edge. Our religious life lies more, our practical life lies 
less, than it used to, on the perilous edge. But just as 
our courage is so often a reflex of another's courage, so our 
faith is apt to be a faith in some one else's faith. We 
draw new life from the heroic example. The prophet has 


drunk more deeply than anyone of the cup of bitterness, 
but his countenance is so unshaken and he speaks such 
mighty words of cheer that his will becomes our will, and 
our life is kindled at his own. 

Thus not only our morality but our religion, so far as 
the latter is deliberate, depend on the effort which we can 
make. " Will you or won't you have it so? " is the most 
probing question we are ever asked; we are asked it every 
hour of the day, and about the largest as well as the 
smallest, the most theoretical as well as the most practical, 
things. We answer by consents or non-consents and not by 
words. What wonder that these dumb responses should 
seem our deepest organs of communication with the nature 
of things! What wonder if the effort demanded by them 
be the measure of our worth as men! What wonder if the 
amount which we accord of it were the one strictly un- 
derived and original contribution which we make to the 



What the Word Metaphysics means. — In the last 
chapter we handed the question of free-will over to ' meta- 
physics.' It would indeed have been hasty to settle the ques- 
tion absolutely, inside the limits of psychology. Let psychol- 
ogy frankly admit that for her scientific purposes deter- 
minism may be claimed, and no one can find fault. If, 
then, it turn out later that the claim has only a relative 
purpose, and may be crossed by counter-claims, the re- 
adjustment can be made. Now ethics makes a counter- 
claim; and the present writer, for one, has no hesitation 
in regarding her claim as the stronger, and in assuming 
that our wills are ' free.' For him, then, the determi- 
nistic assumption of psychology is merely provisional and 
methodological. This is no place to argue the ethical 
point; and I only mention the conflict to show that all 
these special sciences, marked off for convenience from 
the remaining body of truth (cf. p. i), must hold their as- 
sumptions and results subject to revision in the light of 
each others' needs. The forum where they hold discus- 
sion is called metaphysics. Metaphysics means only an 
unusually obstinate attempt to think clearly and con- 
sistently. The special sciences all deal with data that 
are full of obscurity and contradiction; but from the point 
of view of their limited purposes these defects may be 
overlooked. Hence the disparaging use of the name meta- 
physics which is so common. To a man with a limited 
purpose any discussion that is over-subtle for that purpose 
is branded as ' metaphysical.' A geologist's purposes fall 
short of understanding Time itself. A mechanist need 



not know how action and reaction are possible at all. A 
psychologist has enough to do without asking how both 
he and the mind which he studies are able to take cogni- 
zance of the same outer world. But it is obvious that 
problems irrelevant from one standpoint may be essential 
from another. And as soon as one's purpose is the attain- 
ment of the maximum of possible insight into the world 
as a whole, the metaphysical puzzles become the most 
urgent ones of all. Psychology contributes to general 
philosophy her full share of these; and I propose in this 
last chapter to indicate briefly which of them seem the 
more important. And first, of the 

Relation of Consciousness to the Brain. — When psy- 
chology is treated as a natural science (after the fashion in 
which it has been treated in this book ) , ' states of mind p 
are taken for granted, as data immediately given in expe- 
rience; and the working hypothesis (see p. 6) is the mere 
empirical law that to the entire state of the brain at any 
moment one unique state of mind always ' corresponds/ 
This does very well till we begin to be metaphysical and 
ask ourselves just what we mean by such a word as c cor- 
responds.' This notion appears dark in the extreme, the 
moment we seek to translate it into something more in- 
timate than mere parallel variation. Some think they 
make the notion of it clearer by calling the mental state 
and the brain the inner and outer ' aspects,' respectively, of 
1 One and the Same Reality.' Others consider the mental 
state as the ' reaction ' of a unitary being, the Soul, upon 
the multiple activities which the brain presents. Others 
again comminute the mystery by supposing each brain- 
cell to be separately conscious, and the empirically given 
mental state to be the appearance of all the little con- 
sciousnesses fused into one, just as the ' brain ' itself is 
the appearance of all the cells together, when looked at 
from one point of view. 

We may call these three metaphysical attempts the 
monistic, the spiritualistic, and the atomistic theories re- 


spectively. Each has its difficulties, of which it seems to 
me that those of the spiritualistic theory are logically much 
the least grave. But the spiritualistic theory is quite out 
of touch with facts of multiple consciousness, alternate 
personality, etc. (pp. 207-214). These lend themselves 
more naturally to the atomistic formulation, for it seems 
easier to think of a lot of minor consciousnesses now gather- 
ing together into one large mass, and now into several 
smaller ones, than of a Soul now reacting totally, now break- 
ing into several disconnected simultaneous reactions. The 
localization of brain-functions also makes for the atomistic 
view. If in my experience, say of a bell, it is my occipital 
lobes which are the condition of its being seen, and my 
temporal lobes which are the condition of its being heard, 
what is more natural than to say that the former see it and 
the latter hear it, and then ' combine their information '? 
In view of the extreme naturalness of such a way of repre- 
senting the well-established fact that the appearance of 
the several parts of an object to consciousness at any mo- 
ment does depend on as many several parts of the brain 
being then active, all such objections as were urged, on 
PP- 2 3> 57> an d elsewhere, to the notion that * parts ' of con- 
sciousness can ' combine ' will be rejected as far-fetched, 
unreal, and ' metaphysical ' by the atomistic philospher. 
His ' purpose ' is to gain a formula which shall unify 
things in a natural and easy manner, and for such a pur- 
pose the atomistic theory seems expressly made to his hand. 
But the difficulty with the problem of * correspondence ' 
is not only that of solving it, it is that of even stating it in 
elementary terms. 

" L'ombre en ce lieu s'amasse, et la nuit est la toute." 

Before we can know just what sort of goings-on occur 
when thought corresponds to a change in the brain, we 
must know the subjects of the goings-on. We must know 
which sort of mental fact and which sort of cerebral fact 
are, so to speak, in immediate juxtaposition. We must 




find the minimal mental fact whose being reposes directl 
on a brain-fact; and we must similarly find the minim; 
brain-event which can have a mental counterpart at all. 
Between the mental and the physical minima thus found 
there will be an immediate relation, the expression of which, 
if we had it, would be the elementary psycho-physic law. 

Our own formula has escaped the metempiric assump- 
tion of psychic atoms by taking the entire thought (even 
of a complex object) as the minimum with which it deals 
on tb" mental side, and the entire brain as the minimum 
on the physical side. But the ' entire brain y is not a phy- 
sical fact at all! It is nothing but our name for the way 
in which a billion of molecules arranged in certain posi- 
tions may affect our sense. On the principles of the cor- 
puscular or mechanical philosophy, the only realities are 
the separate molecules, or at most the cells. Their aggre- 
gation into a ' brain ' is a fiction of popular speech. Such 
a figment cannot serve as the objectively real counterpart 
to any psychic state whatever. Only a genuinely physical 
fact can so serve, and the molecular fact is the only genu- 
ine physical fact. Whereupon we seem, if we are to have 
an elementary psycho-physic law at all, thrust right back 
upon something like the mental-atom- theory, for the 
molecular fact, being an element of the * brain/ would 
seem naturally to correspond, not to total thoughts, but 
to elements of thoughts. Thus the real in psychics, seems 
to ' correspond ' to the unreal in physics, and vice versa; 
and our perplexity is extreme. 

The Relation of States of Mind to their 'Objects/ — 
The perplexity is not diminished when we reflect upon our as- 
sumption that states of consciousness can know (pp. 2-13). 
From the common-sense point of view (which is that of 
all the natural sciences) knowledge is an ultimate rela- 
tion between two mutually external entities, the knower 
and the known. The world first exists, and then the states 
of mind; and these gain a cognizance of the world which 
gets gradually more and more complete. But it is hard 




to carry through this simple dualism, for idealistic reflec- 
tions will intrude. Take the states of mind called pure 
sensations (so far as such may exist), that for example of 
blue, which we may get from looking into the zenith on a 
clear day. Is the blue a determination of the feeling itself, 
or of its ' object '? Shall we describe the experience as a 
quality of our feeling or as our feeling of a quality? 
Ordinary speech vacillates incessantly on this point. The 
ambiguous word ' content ' has been recently invented in- 
stead of 'object,' to escape a decision; for ' content -^sug- 
gests something not exactly out of the feeling, nor yet 
exactly identical with the feeling, since the latter remains 
suggested as the container or vessel. Yet of our feelings as 
vessels apart from their content we really have no clear 
notion whatever. The fact is that such an experience as 
blue, as it is immediately given, can only be called by some 
such neutral name as that phenomenon. It does not come 
to us immediately as a relation between two realities, one 
mental and one physical. It is only when, still thinking 
of it as the same blue (cf. p. 239), we trace relations between 
it and other things, that it doubles itself, so to speak, and 
develops in two directions; and, taken in connection with 
some associates, figures as a physical quality, whilst with 
others it figures as a feeling in the mind. 

Our non-sensational, or conceptual, states of mind, on 
the other hand, seem to obey a different law. They pre- 
sent themselves immediately as referring beyond them- 
selves. Although they also possess an immediately given 
'content/ they have a 'fringe' beyond it (p. 168), and 
claim to ' represent ' something else than it. The ' blue ' 
we have just spoken of, for instance, was, substantively 
considered, a word; but it was a word with a meaning. 
The quality blue was the object of the thought, the 
word was its content. The mental state, in short, was not 
self-sufficient as sensations are, but expressly pointed at 
something more in which it meant to terminate. 

But the moment when, as in sensations, object and con- 


scious state seem to be different ways of considering one 
and the same fact, it becomes hard to justify our denial 
that mental states consist of parts. The blue sky, consid- 
ered physically, is a sum of mutually external parts; why 
is it not such a sum, when considered as a content of sen- 

The only result that is plain from all this is that the 
relations of the known and the knower are infinitely 
complicated, and that a genial, whole-hearted, popular- 
science way of formulating them will not suffice. The 
only possible path to understanding them lies through 
metaphysical subtlety; and Idealism and Erkenntniss- 
theorie must say their say before the natural-science as- 
sumption that thoughts ' know ! things grows clear. 

The changing character of consciousness presents an- 
other puzzle. We first assumed conscious ' states ' as the 
units with which psychology deals, and we said later that 
they were in constant change. Yet any state must have a 
certain duration to be effective at all — a pain which 
lasted but a hundredth of a second would practically be 
no pain — and the question comes up, how long may a 
state last and still be treated as one state? In time-per- 
ception for example, if the ' present ' as known (the 
1 specious present/ as we called it) may be a dozen seconds 
long (p. 281), how long need the present as knower be? 
That is, what is the minimum duration of the conscious- 
ness in which those twelve seconds can be apprehended as 
just past, the minimum which can be called a ' state/ for 
such a cognitive purpose? Consciousness, as a process in 
time, offers the paradoxes which have been found in all 
continuous change. There are no ( states ' in such a thing, 
any more than there are facets in a circle, or places where 
an arrow ' is ' when it flies. The vertical raised upon the 
time-line on which (p. 285) we represented the past to 
be ' projected ' at any given instant of memory, is only 
an ideal construction. Yet anything broader than that 
vertical it not, for the actual present is only the joint be- 


tween the past and future and has no breadth of its own. 
Where everything is change and process, how can we talk 
of ' state ' ? Yet how can we do without l states/ in de- 
scribing what the vehicles of our knowledge seem to be? 

States of consciousness themselves are not verifiable 
facts. — But ' worse remains behind/ Neither common- 
sense, nor psychology so far as it has yet been written, has 
ever doubted that the states of consciousness which that 
science studies are immediate data of experience. ' Things ' 
have been doubted, but thoughts and feelings have never 
been doubted. The outer world, but never the inner world, 
has been denied. Everyone assumes that we have direct 
introspective acquaintance with our thinking activity as 
such, with our consciousness as something inward and 
contrasted with the outer objects which it knows. Yet I 
must confess that for my part I cannot feel sure of this 
conclusion. Whenever I try to become sensible of my 
thinking activity as such, what I catch is some bodily 
fact, an impression coming from my brow, or head, or 
throat, or nose. It seems as if consciousness as an inner 
activity were rather a postulate than a sensibly given fact, 
the postulate, namely, of a knower as correlative to all 
this known ; and as if ' sciousness ' might be a better word 
by which to describe it. But c sciousness postulated as 
an hypothesis ' is practically a very different thing from 
* states of consciousness apprehended with infallible cer- 
tainty by an inner sense.' For one thing, it throws the 
question of who the knower really is wide open again, and 
makes the answer which we gave to it at the end of 
Chapter XII a mere provisional statement from a popular 
and prejudiced point of view. 

Conclusion. — When, then, we talk of l psychology as a 
natural science,' we must not assume that that means a 
sort of psychology that stands at last o n solid ground . It 
means just the reverse; it means a psychology particularly 
fragile, and into which the waters of metaphysical criticism 
leak at every joint, a psychology all of whose elementary 


assumptions and data must be reconsidered in wider con- 
nections and translated into other terms. It is, in short, 
a phrase of diffidence, and not of arrogance; and it is 
indeed strange to hear people talk triumphantly of ' the 
New Psychology/ and write ' Histories of Psychology/ 
when into the real elements and forces which the word 
covers not the first glimpse of clear insight exists. A 
string of raw facts; a little gossip and wrangle about opin- 
ions; a little classification and generalization on the mere 
descriptive level; a strong prejudice that we have states of 
mind, and that our brain conditions them: but not a single 
law in the sense in which physics shows us laws, not a 
single proposition from which any consequence can caus- 
ally be deduced. We don't even know the terms between 
which the elementary laws would obtain if we had them 
(p. 464). This is no science, it is only the hope of a science. 
The matter of a science is with us. Something definite 
happens when to a certain brain-state a certain ' sciousness ' 
corresponds. A genuine glimpse into what it is would be 
the scientific achievement, before which all past achieve- 
ments would pale. But at present psychology is in the 
condition of physics before Galileo and the laws of mo- 
tion, of chemistry before Lavoisier and the notion that 
mass is preserved in all reactions. The Galileo and the 
Lavoisier of psychology will be famous men indeed when 
they come, as come they some day surely will, or past 
successes are no index to the future. When they do come, 
however, the necessities of the case will make them ' meta- 
physical. ' Meanwhile the best way in which we can facili- 
tate their advent is to understand how great is the darkness 
in which we grope, and never to forget that the natural- 
science assumptions with which we started are provisional 
and revisable things. 



Abstract ideas, 240, 250 ; charac- 
ters, 353, propositions, 354 

Abstraction, 251 ; see Distraction 

Accommodation, of crystalline 
lens, 32; of ear, 49 

Acquaintance, 14 

Acquisitiveness, 407 

Action, what holds attention de- 
termines, 448 

After-images, 43-5 

Agassiz, 132 

Alexia, 113 

Allen, Grant, 104 

Alternating personality, 205 ff. 

Amidon, 132 

Analysis, 56, 248, 251, 362 

Anger, 374 

Aphasia, 108, 113; loss of images 
in, 309 

Apperception, 326 

Aqueduct of Silvius, 80 

Arachnoid membrane, 84 

Arbor vitae, 86 

Aristotle, 318 

Articular sensibility, 74 

Association, Chapter XVI ; the 
order of our ideas ; 253 ; de- 
termined by cerebral laws, 
255; is not of ideas, but of 
things thought of, 255; the 
elementary principle of, 256; 
the ultimate cause of, is habit, 
256; indeterminateness of its 
results, 258 ; total recall, 259 ; 
partial recall and the law of 
interest, 261 ; frequency, re- 
cency, vividness, and emo- 
tional congruity tend to de- 
termine the object recalled, 


264; focalized recall or by 
similarity, 267, 364; voluntary 
trains of thought, 271 ; prob- 
lems, 273 

Atomistic theories of conscious- 
ness, 462 

Attention, Chapter XIII ; its 
relation to interest, 170; its 
physiological ground, 217; ' 
narrowness of field of con- 
sciousness, 217; to how many 
things possible, 219; to simul- 
taneous sight and sound, 220; 
its varieties, 220; voluntary, 
224, involuntary, 220; change 
necessary to, 226; its relation 
to genius, 227; physiological 
conditions of, 228; the sense- 
organ must be adapted, 229; 
the idea of the object must be 
aroused, 232; pedagogic re- 
marks, 236; attention and 
free-will, 237; what holds at- 
tention determines action, 448 ; 
volitional effort is effort of 
attention, 450 

Auditory centre in brain, 113 

Auditory type of imagination, 

Austen, Miss, 261 

Automaton theory, 10, 101 

Azam, 210 

Bahnsen, 147 
Bain, 145, 367, 370 
Berkeley, 302, 303, 347 
Binet, 318, 332 
Black, 45-6 
Blind Spot, 31 



Blix, 64, 68 

Blood-supply, cerebral, 130 

Bodily expression, cause of emo- 
tions, 375 

Brace, Julia, 252 

Brain, the functions of, Chapter 
VIII, 91 

Brain, its connection with mind, 
5-7; its relations to outer 
forces, 9; relations of con- 
sciousness to, 462 

Brain, structure of, Chapter 
VII, 78 ff.; vesicles, 78 ff. ; 
dissection of sheep's, 81 ; how 
to preserve, 83; functions of, 
Chapter VIII, 91 ff. 

Bridgman, Laura, 252, 308 

Broca, 109, 113, 115 

Broca's convolution, 109 

Brodhun, 46 

Brooks, Prof. W. K., 412 

Brutes, reasoning of, 367 

Calamus scriptorius, 84 
Canals, semicircular, 50 
Carpenter, 223, 224 
Cattell, 125, 126, 127 
Caudate nucleus, 81, 86 
Centres, nerve, 92 
Cerebellum, its relation to equi- 
librium, 76; its anatomy, 79, 


Cerebral laws of association, 255 

Cerebral process, see Neural 

Cerebrum, see Brain, Hemi- 

Changing character of con- 
sciousness, 152, 466 

Charcot, 113, 309 

Choice, see Interest 

Coalescence of different sensa- 
tions into the same ' thing,' 

Cochlea, 51, 52 
Cognition, see Reasoning 
Cold, sensations of, 63 ff. ; 

nerves of, 64 
Color, 40-3 
Commissures, 84 

Commissure, middle, 88 ff. ; an- 
terior, 88; posterior, 88 

Comparison of magnitudes, 342 

Compounding of sensations, 23, 
43, 57 

Compound objects, analysis of, 

Concatenated acts, dependent on 
habit, 140 

Conceiving, mode of, what is 
meant by, 354 

Conceptions, Chapter XIV; de- 
fined, 239; their permanence, 
239; different states of mind 
can mean the same, 239; ab- 
stract, universal, and problem- 
atic, 240 ; the thought of ' the 
same ' is not the same thought 
over again, 243 

Conceptual order different from 
perceptual, 243 

Consciousness, stream of, Chap- 
ter XI, 151 ; four characters 
in, 152; personal, 152; is in 
constant change, 152, 466; 
same state of mind never 
occurs twice, 154; conscious- 
ness is continuous, 157; sub- 
stantive and transitive states 
of, 160 ; interested in one part 
of its object more than an- 
other, 170; double conscious- 
ness, 206 ff. ; narrowness of 
field of, 217; relations of, to 
brain, 462 

Consciousness and Movement, 
Chapter XXIII ; all conscious- 
ness is motor, 370 

Concomitants, law of varying, 


Consent, in willing, 452 

Continuity of object of con- 
sciousness, 157 

Contrast, 25, 44-5 

Convergence of eyeballs, 31, 33 

Convolutions, motor, 106 

Corpora fimbriata, 86 

Corpora quadrigemma, 79, 86, 

Corpus albicans, 84 



Corpus callosum, 81, 84 
Corpus striatum, 81, 86, 108 
Cortex, 11, note 

Cortex, localization in, 104 ; mo- 
tor region of, 106 
Corti's organ, 52 
Cramming, 295 
Crura of brain, 79, 84, 108 
Curiosity, 407 
Currents, in nerves, 10 
Czerman, 70 

Darwin, 388, 389 

Deafness, mental, 113 

Delage, 76 

Deliberation, 448 

Delusions of insane, 207 

Dermal senses, 60 ff. 

Determinism and psychology, 461 

Decision, five types, 429 

Differences, 24, directly felt, 
245 ; not resolvable into com- 
position, 245; inferred, 248 

Diffusion of movements, the law 
of, 371 

Dimension, third, 342, 346 

Discharge, nervous, 120 

Discord, 58 

Discrimination, Chapter XV, 59, 
touch, 62; defined, 244, condi- 
tions which favor, 245 ; sensa- 
tion of difference, 246, differ- 
ences inferred, 248 ; analysis 
of compound objects, 249; t<5 
be easily singled out a quality 
should already be separately 
known, 250; dissociation by 
varying concomitants, 251 ; 
practice improves discrimina- 
tion, 252; of space, 338. See 

' Disparate ' retinal points, 35 

Dissection, of sheep's brain, 81 

Distance, as seen, 39; between 
members of series, 24; in 
space, see Third dimension 

Distraction, 218 ff. 

Division of space, 338 

Donaldson, 64 

Double consciousness, 206 ff. 

Double images, 36 

Double personality, 205 

Duality of brain, 205 

Dumont, 135 

Dura mater, 82 

Duration, the primitive object in 
time-perception, 280 ; our esti- 
mation of short, 281 

Ear, 47 ff. 

Effort, feeling of, 434 ; feels like 
an original force, 442; voli- 
tional effort is effort oi atten- 
tion, 450; ethical importance 
of the phenomena of effort, 

Ego, see Self 

Embryological sketch, Chapter 
VII, 78 

Emotion, Chapter XXIV; com- 
pared with instincts, 373; 
varieties of, innumerable, 374 ; 
causes of varieties, 375, 381 ; 
results from bodily expres- 
sion, 375 ; this view not ma- 
terialistic, 380; the subtler 
emotions, 384, fear, 385 ; gene- 
sis of reactions, 388 

Emotional congruity, determines 
association, 264 

Empirical self, see Self 

Emulation, 406 

End-organs, 10; of touch, 60; 
of temperature, 64; of pres- 
sure, 60; of pain, 67 

Environment, 3 

Essence of reason, always for 
subjective interest, 358 

Essential characters, in reason, 


Ethical importance of effort, 

Exaggerated impulsion, causes 
an explosive will, 439 

Exner, 123, 281 

Experience, 218, 244 

Explosive will, from defective 
inhibition, 437 ; from exag- 
gerated impulsion, 439 



Expression, bodily, cause of 
emotions, 375 

Extensity, primitive to all sen- 
sation, 335 

Exteriority of objects, 15 

External world, 15 

Extirpation of higher nerve- 
centres, 95 ff. 

Eye, its anatomy, 28-30 

Familiarity, sense of, see Recog- 

Fear, 385, 406, 407 

Fechner, 31, 229 

Feeling of effort, 434 

Fere, 311 

Ferrier, 132 

Fissure of Rolando, seat of mo- 
tor incitations, 106 

Fissure of Sylvius, 108 

Foramen of Monro, 88 

Force, original, effort feels like, 

Forgetting, 300 

Fornix, 81, 86, 87, 89 

Fovea centralis, 31 

Franklin, 121 

Franz, Dr., 308 

Freedom of the will, 237 

Free-will and attention, 237 ; re- 
lates sorely to effort of atten- 
tion, 455 ; insoluble on strictly 
psychologic grounds, 456 ; 
ethical importance of the phe- 
nomena of effort, 458 

Frequency, determines associa- 
tion, 264 

" Fringes " of mental objects, 
163 ff. 

Frog's lower centres, 95 

Functions of the Brain, Chapter 
VIII, 91 ; nervous functions, 
general idea of, 91 

Fusion of mental states, 197, 

245, 339 
Fusion of sensations, 23, 43, 57 

Galton, 126, 265, 303, 306 
Genius, 227, 327 

Goethe, 146, 157 

GOLTZ, 100 

Gurney, Edmund, 331, 334 

Habit, Chapter X, 134 ff. ; has a 
physical basis, 134; due to 
plasticity, 135; due to path- 
ways through nerve-centres, 
136; effects of, 138; practical 
use of, 138; depends on sensa- 
tions not attended to, 141 ; 
ethical and pedagogical impor- 
tance of, 142 ff. ; habit the ulti- 
mate cause of association, 256 

Hagenauer. 386 

Hall, Robert, 223 

Hallucinations, 330 ff. 

Hamilton, 260, 268 

Harmony, 58 

Hartley, 255 

Hearing, 47 ff . ; centre of, in 
cortex, 113 

Heat-sensations, 63 ff. ; nerves 
of, 64 

Helmholtz, 26, 42, 43, 55, 56, 
58, lai, 226, 227, 231, 233, 
234, 321 

Hemispheres, general notion of, 
97 ; chief seat of memory, 98 ; 
effects of deprivation of, on 
frogs, 92; on pigeons, 96 

Herbart, 22, 326 

Herbartian School. 157 

Hering, 24, 26 

Herzen. 123, 124 

Hippocampi, 88 

Hodgson, 262, 264, 280, 283 

Holbrook, 297 

HORSLEY, 107, Il8 

Hume, 161, 244 

Hunger, sensations of, 69 

Huxley, 143 

Hypnotic conditions, 301 

Ideas, the theory of, I54ff. ; 
never come twice the same, 
154; they do not permanently 



exist, 157; abstract ideas, 240, 
251; universal, 240; order of 
ideas by association, 253 

'Identical retinal points,' 35 

Identity, personal, 201 ; muta- 
tions of, 205 ff. ; alternating 
personality, 205 

Ideo-motor action the type of all 
volition, 432 

Illusions, 317 ff. : 330 

Images, mental, compared with 
sensations, 14; double, in vis- 
ion, 36 ; 'after-images,' 43-5 ; 
visual, 302; auditory, 306; 
motor, 307 ; tactile, 308 

Imagination, Chapter XIX ; de- 
fined, 302 ; differs in individ- 
uals, 302; Galton's statistics 
of, 302 ; visual, 302 ; auditory, 
306; motor, 307; tactile, 308; 
pathological differences, 308; 
cerebral process of, 310; not 
locally distinct from that of 
sensation, 310 

Imitation, 406 

Inattention, 218, 236 

Increase of stimulus, 20; serial, 

Infundibulum, 82, 84, 88 

Inhibition, defective, causes an 
Explosive Will, 437 

Inhibition of instincts by habits, 

Insane delusions, 207 

Instinct, Chapter XXV; emo- 

•< tions compared with, ^73 \ 
definition of, 391 ; every in- 
stinct is an impulse, 392; not 
always blind or invariable, 
395 ; modified by experience, 
396; two principles of non- 
uniformity, 398; man has 
more than beasts, 398, 406; 
transitory, 402; of children, 
406 ; fear, 407 

Intellect, part played by, in 
space-perception, 349 

Intensity of sensations, 16 

Interest, selects certain objects 
and determines thoughts, 170; 
influence in association, 262 

Introspection, 118 

Janet, 211, 212, 301 

Jackson, Hughlings, 105, 117 

Joints, their sensibility, 74 

Kadinsky, 330 

Knowledge, theory of, 2, 464, 

467; two kinds of, 14 
Konig, 46 
Krishaber, 208 

Labyrinth, 47, 49-52 

Lange, K., 329 

Laws, cerebral, of association, 

Law, Weber's, 17; — , Fechner's 

21 ; — , of relativity, 24 
Lazarus, 300, 323 
Lenticular nucleus, 81 
Lewes, ii, 232, 326 
Likeness, 243, 364 
Lindsay, Dr., 413 
Localization of Functions in the 

hemispheres, 104 ff 
Localization, Skin, 61 
Locations, in environment, 340 

serial order of, 341 
Locke, 244, 302, 357 
Lockean School, 15** 
Locomotion, instinct of, 406 
Lombard, 131 
Longitudinal fissure, 84 
Lotze, 175 
Love, 407 
Lower Centres, of frogs and 

pigeons, 95 ff 
Ludwig, 130 

Mach, 75 

Mamillary bodies, 84 

Man's intellectual distinction 

from brutes, 367 
Mantegazza, 390 
Martin, 40, 44, 45, 49, 52, 53, 

60, 61, 65, 69 
Martineau, 251 




Materialism and emotion, 380 

Matteuci, 120 

Maudsley, 138 

Measurement, of sensations, 22; 
of space, 342 

'Mediumships,' 212 

Medulla oblongata, 84, 108 

Memory, Chapter XVIII ; hem- 
ispheres physical seat of, 98; 
defined, 287; analysis of the 
phenomenon of memory, 287 
ff. ; return of a mental image 
is not memory, 289 ; association 
explains recall and retention, 
289; brain-scheme of, 291; 
conditions of good memory, 
292; multiple associations 
favor, 294; effects of cram- 
ming on, 295 ; how to improve 
memory, 298 ; recognition, 299 ; 
forgetting, 300 ; hypnotics, 301 

Mental blindness, 112 

Mental images, 14 

Mental operations, simultaneous, 

Mental states, cannot fuse, 197; 
relation of, to their objects, 

Merkel, 59, 66 

Metaphysics, what the word 
means, 461 

Meyer, G. H., 308, 311 

Meynert, 105, 117 

Mill, James, 196, 276, 289 

Mill, J. S., 147, 157 

Mimicry, 406 

Mind depends on brain condi- 
tion, 3-7 ; states of, their rela- 
tion to their objects, 464; see 

Modesty, 407 

Monistic theories of conscious- 
ness, 462 

Morgan, Lloyd, 368 

Mosso, 130, 131 

Motion, sensations of, Chapter 
VI, 70 ff. ; feeling of motion 
over surfaces, 70 

Motor aphasia, 108 

Motor region of cortex, 106 

Motor type of imagination, 307 
Movement, consciousness and, 
II, Chapter I ; images of 
movement, 307 ; all conscious- 
ness is motor, 370 
Munk, no 


Muscular sensation, 65 ff. ; rela- 
tions to space, 66, 74; muscu- 
lar centre in cortex, 106 

Mussey, Dr., 440 

Naunyn, 115 

Nerve-currents, 9 

Nervous discharge, 120 

Nerve-endings in the skin, 60; 
in muscles and tendons, 66-67 ; 
Pain, 67 ff. ; nerve-centres, 92 

Nerves, general functions of, 91 

Neural activity, general condi- 
tions of, Chapter IX, 120; 
nervous discharge, 120 

Neural functions, general idea 
of, 91 

Neural process, in habit, 134 ff. ; 
in association, 255 ff. ; in 
memory, 291 ; in imagination, 
310; in perception, 329 

Nucleus lenticularis, 81, 108; 
caudatus, 81, 108 

Object, the, of sensation, 13-15; 
of thought, 154, 163; one part 
of, more interesting than an- 
other, 170; object must change 
to hold attention, 226; objects 
as signs and as realities, 345; 
relation of states of mind to 
their object, 464 

Occipital lobes, seat of visual 
centre, no 

Old-fogyism vs. genius, 327 

Olfactory lobes, 82, 84 

Olivary bodies, 85 

Optic nerve, 82, 89 

Optic tracts, 84 

Original force, effort feels like 
one, 442 

Overtones, 55 



Pain, 67 ff. ; pain and pleasure as 
springs of action, 444 

Pascal, 223 

Past time, known in a present 
feeling, 285 ; the immediate 
past is a portion of the present 
duration-block, 280 

Paulhan, 219, 220 

Pedagogic remarks on habit, 
142; on attention, 236 

Peduncles, 84, 85, 86 

Perception, Chapter XX; com- 
pared with sensation, 312; in- 
volves reproductive processes, 
312; the perceptive state of 
mind is not a compound, 313 ; 
perception is of definite and 
probable things, 316; illusory 
perceptions, 317 ; physiological 
process of perception, 329 

Perception of Space, Chapter 

Perez, M., 408 

Personal Identity, 201 ; muta- 
tions of, 205 ff. ; alternating 
personality, 205 ff. 

Personality, alterations of, 
205 ff. 

Philosophy, Psychology and, 
Epilogue, 461 

Phosphorus and thought, 132 

Pia mater, 82 

Pigeons' lower centres, 96 

Pitch, 54 

Pituitary body, 82, 89 

Place, a series of position, 341 

Plasticity, as basis of habit, de- 
fined, 135 

Plato, 240 

Play, 407 

Pleasure, and pain, as springs of 
action, 444 

Psychology and Philosophy, 
Epilogue, 461 

Pons Varolii, 79, 84, 108 

Positions, place a series of, 341 

Practice, improves discrimina- 
tion, 252 

Present, the present moment, 

Pressure, sense, 60 

Preyer, 406 

Probability determines what ob- 
ject shall be preceived, 316, 

Problematic conceptions, 240 

Problems, solution of, 272 

Projection of sensations, eccen- 
tric, 15 

Psychology, defined, 1 ; a natural 
science, 2; what data it as- 
sumes, 2; Psychology and 
Philosophy, Chapter XXVII. 

Psycho-physic law, 17, 24, 46, 
59, 66, 67 

Pugnacity, 406 

Purkinje, 75 

Pyramids, 85 

Quality, 13, 23, 25, 56 

Raehlmann, 349 

Rationality, 173 

Reaction-time, 120 ff. 

Real magnitude, determined by 
aesthetic and practical inter- 
ests, 344 

Real Space, 337 

Reason, 254 

Reasoning, Chapter XXIII ; 
what it is, 351 ; involves use 
of abstract characters, 353; 
what is meant by an essential 
character, 354; the essence is 
always for a subjective inter- 
est, 358; two great points in 
reasoning, 360; sagacity, 362; 
help from association by 
similarity, 364 ; reasoning 
power of brutes, 367 

Recall, 289 

Recency, determines association, 

'Recepts,' 368 

Recognition, 299 

Recollection, 289 ff. 

Redintegration, 264 

Reflex acts, defined, 92; reac- 
tion-time measures one, 123; 



concatenated habits are con- 
stituted by a chain of, 140 

Reid, 313 

Relations, between objects, 162; 
feelings of, 162 

'Relativity of knowledge,' 24 

Reproduction in memory, 289 ff . ; 
voluntary, 271 

Resemblance, 243 

Retention in memory, 289 

Retentiveness, organic, 291 ; it is 
unchangeable, 296 

Retina, peripheral parts of, act 
as sentinels, 73 

Revival in memory, 289 ff. 

Ribot, 300 

Richet, 410 

Rivalry of selves, 186 

Robertson, Prof. Croom, 318 

Rolando, fissure of, 106 

Romanes, 128, 322, 367 

Rosenthal, ii 

Rousseau, 148 

Rotation, sense of, 75 

Sagacity, 362 
Sameness, 201, 202 

SCHAEFER, 107, HO, Il8 
SCHIFF, 131 

Schneider, 72, 372, 392 

Science, natural, 1 

Scott, Prof., 311 

Sea-sickness, accidental origin, 

Seat of consciousness, 5 

Selection, 10; a cardinal func- 
tion of consciousness, 170 

Self, The, Chapter XII; not 
primary, 176; the empirical 
self, 176 ; its constituents, 177 ; 
the material self, 177; the 
social self, 179; the spiritual 
self, 181 ; self -appreciation, 
182; self-seeking, bodily, 
social, and spiritual, 184; riv- 
alry of the mes, 186; their 
hierarchy, 190; teleology of 
self-interest, 193; the I, or 
'pure ego,' 195; thoughts are 
not compounded of 'fused' 

sensations, 196 ; the soul as a 
combining medium, 200; the 
sense of personal identity, 201 ; 
explained by identity of func- 
tion in successive passing 
thoughts, 203; mutations of 
the self, 205 ; insane delusions, 
207; alternating personalities, 
210; mediumships, 212; who 
is the thinker?, 215 

Self -appreciation, 182 

Self-interest, theological uses of, 
193; teleological character of, 


Selves, their rivalry, 186 

Semicircular canals, 50 

Semicircular canals, their rela- 
tion to sensations of rotation, 


Sensations, in General, Chapter 
II, p. 9; distinguished from 
perceptions, 12; from images, 
14; first things in conscious- 
ness, 12; make us acquainted 
with qualities, 14; their ex- 
teriority, 15; intensity of sen- 
sations, 16; their measure- 
ment, 21 ; they are not com- 
pounds, 23 

Sensations, of touch, 60 ; of skin, 
60 ff. ; of smell, 69; of pain, 
67; of heat, 63; of cold, 63; 
of hunger, 69; of thirst, 69; 
of motion, 70; muscular, 65; 
of taste, 69; of pressure, 60; 
of joints, 74; of movement 
through space, 75 ; of rotation, 
75 ; of translation, 76 

Sense of time, see Time 

Sensory centres in the cortex, 

113 ff- 
Septum lucidum, 87 
Serial order of locations, 341 
Shame, 374 

Sheep's brain, dissection of, 81 
Sight, 28 ff. ; See Vision 
Signs, 40; sensations are, to us 

of other sensations, whose 

space-value is held to be more 

real, 345 ff- 



Similarity, association by, 267, 
364, see Likeness 

Size, 40 

Skin — senses, 60 ff. ; localizing 
power of, 61 ; discrimination 
of, points on, 247 

Smell, 69; centre of, in cortex, 

Smith, T. C, 311 

Sociability, 407 

Soul, the, as ego or thinker, 196 ; 
as a combining medium, 200, 

Sound, 53-59 ; images of, 306 

Space, Perception of, Chapter 
XXI ; extensity in three di- 
mensions primitive to all sen- 
sation, 335; construction of 

_jeal space, 337; the processes 
which it involves: (1) Sub- 
division, 338 ; (2) Coalescence 
of different sensible data into 
one 'thing,' 339; (3) Loca- 
tion in an environment, 342 ; 
objects which are signs, and 
objects which are realities, 
345 ; the third dimension, 346 ; 
Berkeley's theory of dis- 
tance, 346; part played by in- 
tellect in space-perception, 349 

Space, relation of muscular 
sense to, 66, 74 

Spalding, 401 ff. 

Span of consciousness, 219, 286 

Specific energies, 11 

Speech, centres of, in cortex, 
109; thought possible without 
it, 169; see Aphasia 

Spencer, 103, 387, 390 

Spinal cord, conduction of pain 
by, 68; centre of defensive 
movements, 93 

Spiritual substance, See Soul 

Spiritualistic theories of con- 
sciousness, 462 

Spontaneous trains of thought, 
257; examples, 257 ff.; 271 

Starr, 107, 113, 115 

Steinthal, 327 

Stream of Consciousness, Chap- 
ter XI, 151 
Stricker, 307 
Subdivision of space, 338 
Substantive states of mind, 160 
Succession vs. duration, 280 ; not 
known by successive feelings, 
Summation of stimuli, 128 
Surfaces, feeling of motion over, 

Tactile centre in cortex, 116 

Tactile images, 308 

Taine, 208 

Taste, 69; centre of, in cortex, 

Teleological character of con- 
sciousness, 4; of self-interest, 
Temperature-sense, 63 ff. 
Terminal organs, 10, 30, 52 
Thalami, 80, 86, 89, 108 
Thermometry, cerebral, 131 
'Thing,' coalescence of sensa- 
tions to form the same, 339 
Thinking principle, see Soul 
Third dimension of space, 346 
Thirst, sensations of, 69 
Thomson, Dr. Allen, 129 
Thought, the Topic' of, 167; 
stream of, 151 ; can be carried 
on in any terms, 167 ; unity of, 
196; spontaneous trains of, 
257; the entire thought the 
minimum, 464 
'Timbre,' 55 

Time, sense of, Chapter XVII ; 
begins with duration, 280; no 
sense of empty time, 281 ; com- 
pared with perception of space, 
282; discrete flow of time, 
282; long intervals conceived 
symbolically, 283 ; we measure 
duration by events that suc- 
ceed in it, 283; variations in 
our estimations of its length, 
283 ; cerebral processes of, 286 



Touch, 60 ff. ; centre of, in cor- 
tex, 116; images of, 308 
Transcendental self or ego, 196 
Transitive states of mind, 160 
Translation, sense of, 76 
Trapezium, 85 
Turner, Dr. J. E., 440 
Tympanum, 48 
Types of decision, 429 

Unity of the passing thought, 

Universal conceptions, 240 
Urbantschitch, 25 

Value of Vieussens, 80, 86 

Variability of the emotions, 381 

Varying concomitants, law of 
disassociation by, 251 

Ventricles, 79 ff. 

Vierordt, 71 

Vision, 28 ff. ; binocular, 33-9; 
of solidity, 37 

Visual centre of cortex, no, 115 

Visual imagination, 302 

Visualizing power, 302 

Vividness, determines associa- 
tion, 264 

Volition, see Will 


Voluminousness, primitive, of 
sensations, 335 

Voluntary acts, defined, 92 ; vol- 
untary attention, 224; volun- 
tary trains of thought, 271 

Weber's law, 17, 24, 46, 59 
Weber's law — weight, 66; pain, 


Weight, sensibility to, 66 ff. . 

Wernicke, 109, 113, 115 

Wesley, 223 

Wheatstone, 347 

Wigan, 300 

Will, Chapter XXVII; volun- 
tary acts, 415; they are sec- 
ondary performances, 415; no 
third kind of idea is called 
for, 418; the motor-cue, 420; 
ideo-motor action, 432; action 
after deliberation, 428; five 
types of decision, 429; feeling 
of effort, 434; healthiness of 
will, 435 ; defects of, 436 ; the 
explosive will : ( 1 ) from de- 
fective inhibition, 437; (2) 
from exaggerated impulsion, 
439 ; the obstructed will, 441 ; 
effort feels like an original 
force, 442; pleasure and pain 
as springs of action, 444 ; what 
holds attention determines ac- 
tion, 448 ; will is a relation be- 
tween the mind and its ideas, 
449; volitional effort is effort 
of attention, 450; free-will, 
455; ethical importance of 
effort, 458 

Willing terminates with the 
prevalence of the idea, 449 

Wundt, 11, 18, 25, 58, 122, 123, 
125, 127, 220, 281 



) ^000 

CAT. MO. 11 37