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Full text of "The principles of psychology"

AMERICAN SCIENCE SERIES-ADVANCED COURSE 



THE PRINCIPLES 



OP 



PSYCHOLOGY 



BY 

WILLIAM JAMES 

/ y 
PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY 



IN TWO VOLUMES 



VOL. I 





NEW YORK 
HENRY HOL J AND COMPANY 



COPYRIGHT, 1890 

BY 
HENRY HOLT & CO 



COPYRIGHT, 1918 

BY 

ALICE H. JAMES 
August, 1931 




BF 



I8<f0 

YJ 



PRINTED IN THE 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



TO 
MY DEAR FRIEND 

FRANCOIS PILLON. 

AS A TOKEN OF AFFECTION, 

AND AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF WHAT I OWE 
TO THE 

CRITIQUE PHILOSOPHIQUE. 



PREFACE. 



THE treatise which follows has in the main grown up in 
connection with the author s class-room instruction in 
Psychology, although it is true that some of the chapters 
are more * metaphysical, and others fuller of detail, than 
is suitable for students who are going over the subject for 
the first time. The consequence of this is that, in spite of 
the exclusion of the important subjects of pleasure and 
pain, and moral and aesthetic feelings and judgments, the 
work has grown to a length which no one can regret more 
than the writer himself. The man must indeed be sanguine 
who, in this crowded age, can hope to have many readers 
for fourteen hundred continuous pages from his pen. But 
wer Vieles bringt wird Manchem etivas bringen ; and, by judi 
ciously skipping according to their several needs, I am sure 
that many sorts of readers, even those who are just begin 
ning the study of the subject, will find my book of use. 
Since the beginners are most in need of guidance, I sug 
gest for their behoof that they omit altogether on a first 
reading chapters 6, 7, 8, 10 (from page 330 to page 371), 
12, 13, 15, 17, 20, 21, and 28. The better to awaken the 
neophyte s interest, it is possible that the wise order would 
be to pass directly from chapter 4 to chapters 23, 24, 25, 
and 26, and thence to return to the first volume again. 
Chapter 20, on Space-perception, is a terrible thing, which, 
unless written with all that detail, could not be fairly 
treated at all. An abridgment of it, called The Spatial 
Quale, which appeared in the Journal of Speculative 
Philosophy, vol. xm. p. 64, may be found by some per 
sons a useful substitute for the entire chapter. 

I have kept close to the point of view of natural science 
throughout the book. Every natural science assumes cer- 



vi PREFACE. 

tain data uncritically, and declines to challenge the ele 
ments between which its own laws obtain, and from 
which its own deductions are carried on. Psychology, the 
science of finite individual minds, assumes as its data (1) 
thoughts and feelings, and (2) a physical world in time and 
space with which they coexist and which (3) they know. Of 
course these data themselves are discussable ; but the dis 
cussion of them (as of other elements) is called meta 
physics and falls outside the province of this book. This 
book, assuming that thoughts and feelings exist and are 
vehicles of knowledge, thereupon contends that psychology 
when she has ascertained the empirical correlation of the 
various sorts of thought or feeling with definite conditions 
of the brain, can go no farther can go no farther, that is, 
as a natural science. If she goes farther she becomes 
metaphysical. All attempts to explain our phenomenally 
given thoughts as products of deeper-lying entities 
(whether the latter be named Soul, Transcendental 
Ego, Ideas, or Elementary Units of Consciousness ) are 
metaphysical. This book consequently rejects both the 
associationist and the spiritualist theories ; and in this 
strictly positivistic point of view consists the only feature 
of it for which I feel tempted to claim originality. Of 
course this point of view is anything but ultimate. Men 
must keep thinking ; and the data assumed by psychology, 
just like those assumed by physics and the other natural 
sciences, must some time be overhauled. The effort to 
overhaul them clearly and thoroughly is metaphysics ; 
but metaphysics can only perform her task well when dis 
tinctly conscious of its great extent. Metaphysics fragmen 
tary, irresponsible, and half-awake, and unconscious that 
she is metaphysical, spoils two good things when she in 
jects herself into a natural science. And it seems to me 
that the theories both of a spiritual agent and of associated 
* ideas are, as they figure in the psychology-books, just such 
metaphysics as this. Even if their results be true, it 
would be as well to keep them, as thus presented, out of 
psychology as it is to keep the results of idealism out of 
physics. 

I have therefore treated our passing thoughts as inte- 



PREFACE. Vll 

gers, and regarded tlie mere laws of their coexistence with 
brain-states as the ultimate laws for our science. The 
reader will in vain seek for any closed system in the book. 
It is mainly a mass of descriptive details, running out into 
queries which only a metaphysics alive to the weight of 
her task can hope successfully to deal with. That will 
perhaps be centuries hence ; and meanwhile the best mark 
of health that a science can show is this unfinished-seeming 
front. 

The completion of the book has been so slow that 
several chapters have been published successively in Mind, 
the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, the Popular Science 
Monthly, and Scribner s Magazine. Acknowledgment is 
made in the proper places. 

The bibliography, I regret to say, is quite unsystem 
atic. I have habitually given my authority for special 
experimental facts ; but beyond that I have aimed mainly 
to cite books that would probably be actually used by 
the ordinary American college-student in his collateral 
reading. The bibliography in W. Volkmann von Yolkmar s 
Lehrbuch der Psychologic (1875) is so complete, up to its 
date, that there is no need of an inferior duplicate. And 
for more recent references, Sully s Outlines, Dewey s Psy 
chology, and Baldwin s Handbook of Psychology may be 
advantageously used. 

Finally, where one owes to so many, it seems absurd to 
single out particular creditors ; yet I cannot resist the 
temptation at the end of my first literary venture to record 
my gratitude for the inspiration I have got from the writ 
ings of J. S. Mill, Lotze, Benouvier, Hodgson, and Wundt, 
and from the intellectual companionship (to name only five 
names) of Chauncey Wright and Charles Peirce in old 
times, and more recently of Stanley Hall, James Putnam, 
and Josiah Royce. 

HARVARD UNIVERSITY, August 1890. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PA09 

THE SCOPE OF PSYCHOLOGY, 1 

Mental Manifestations depend on Cerebral Conditions, 1. 
Pursuit of ends and choice are the marks of Mind s presence, 6. 

CHAPTER II. 
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN, 12 

Reflex, semi-reflex, and voluntary acts, 12. The Frog s nerve- 
centres, 14. General notion of the hemispheres, 20. Their 
Education the Meynert scheme, 24. The phrenological con 
trasted with the physiological conception, 27. The localization 
of function in the hemispheres, 30. The motor zone, 31. Motor 
Aphasia, 37. The sight-centre, 41. Mental blindness, 48. The 
hearing-centre, 52. Sensory Aphasia, 54. Centres for smell and 
taste, 57. The touch-centre, 58. Man s Consciousness limited to 
the hemispheres, 65. The restitution of function, 67. Final 
correction of the Meynert scheme, 73. Conclusions, 78. 

CHAPTER III. 
ON SOME GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY, . 81 

The summation of Stimuli, 82. Reaction-time, 85. Cerebral 
blood-supply, 97. Cerebral Thermometry, 99. Phosphorus and 
Thought, 101. 

CHAPTER IV. 
HABIT, 104 

Due to plasticity of neural matter, 105. Produces ease of 
action, 112. Diminishes attention, 115. Concatenated perform 
ances, 116. Ethical implications and pedagogic maxims, 120. 

CHAPTER V. 

THE AUTOMATON-THEORY, 128 

The theory described, 128. Reasons for it, 133. Reasons 
against it, 138. 

iz 



X CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VI. 

P40B 

THE MIND-STUFF THEORY, 145 

Evolutionary Psychology demands a Mind-dust, 146. Some 
alleged proofs that it exists, 150. Refutation of these proofs, 154. 
Self-compounding of mental facts is inadmissible, 158. Can 
states of mind be unconscious? 162. Refutation of alleged proofs 
of unconscious thought, 164. Difficulty of stating the connection 
between mind and brain, 176. The Soul is logically the least 
objectionable hypothesis, 180. Conclusion, 182. 

CHAPTER VII. 

THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY, . . . 183 

Psychology is a natural Science, 183. Introspection, 185. 
Experiment, 192. Sources of error, 194. The Psychologist s 
fallacy, 196. 

CHAPTER VIII. 
THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS, . . .199 

Time relations : lapses of Consciousness Locke . Descartes, 
200. The unconsciousness of hysterics not genuine, 202. 
Minds may split into dissociated parts, 206. Space-relations! 
the Seat of the Soul, 214. Cognitive relations, 216. The Psychol 
ogist s point of view, 218. Two kinds of knowledge, acquaint 
ance and knowledge about, 221. 

CHAPTER IX. 
THE STREAM OF THOUGHT, . 224 

Consciousness tends to the personal form, 225. It is in con 
stant change, 229. It is sensibly continuous, 237. Substantive 
and transitive parts of Consciousness, 243. Feelings of rela 
tion, 245. Feelings of tendency, 249. The fringe of the 
object, 258. The feeling of rational sequence, 261. Thought 
possible in any kind of mental material, 265. Thought and lan 
guage, 267. Consciousness is cognitive, 271. The word Object 

275. Every cognition is due to one integral pulse of thought 

276. Diagrams of Thought s stream, 279. Thought is always 
selective, 284. J 

CHAPTER X. 
THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF, ... 291 

The Empirical Self or Me, 291. Its constituents, 292* The 

material self, 292. The Social Self, 293. The Spiritual Self, 296 

acuity of apprehending Thought as a purely spiritual activity 



CONTENTS. XI 

PAGK 

299. Emotions of Self, 305. Rivalry and conflict of one s different 
selves, 309. Their hierarchy, 313. What Self we love in Self- 
love, 317. The Pure Ego, 329. The verifiable ground of the 
sense of personal identity, 332. The passing Thought is the only 
Thinker which Psychology requires, 338. Theories of Self-con 
sciousness : 1) The theory of the Soul, 342. 2) The Association ist 
theory, 350. 3) The Transcendentalist theory, 360. The muta 
tions of the Self, 373. Insane delusions, 375. Alternating selves, 
379. Mediumships or possessions, 393. Summary, 400. 

CHAPTER XI. 
ATTENTION, 402 

Its neglect by English psychologists, 402. Description of it, 
404. To how many things can we attend at ouce? 405. Wundt s 
experiments on displacement of date of impressions simultaneously 
attended to, 410. Personal equation, 413. The varieties of 
attention, 416. Passive attention, 418. Voluntary attention, 420. 
Attention s effects on sensation, 425 ; on discrimination, 426 ; 
on recollection, 427 ; on reaction-time, 427. The neural pro 
cess in attention : 1) Accommodation of sense-organ, 434. 
2) Preperception, 438. Is voluntary attention a resultant or a 
force? 447. The effort to attend can be conceived as a 
resultant, 450. Conclusion, 453. Acquired Inattention, 455. 

CHAPTER XII. 
CONCEPTION, 459 

The sense of sameness, 459. Conception defined, 461. Con 
ceptions are unchangeable, 464. Abstract ideas, 468. Universals, 
473. The conception of the same is not the same state of 
mind, 480. 

CHAPTER XIII. 
DISCRIMINATION AND COMPARISON, 483 

Locke on discrimination, 483. Martineau ditto, 484. Simul 
taneous sensations originally fuse into one object, 488. The 
principle of mediate comparison, 489. Not all differences are 
differences of composition, 490. The conditions of discrimina 
tion, 494. The sensation of difference, 495. The transcendental- 
ist theory of the perception of differences uncalled for, 498. The 
process of analysis, 502. The process of abstraction, 505. The 
improvement of discrimination by practice, 508. Its two causes, 
510. Practical interests limit our discrimination, 515. Reaction- 
time after discrimination, 523. The perception of likeness, 528. 
The magnitude of differences, 530. The measurement of dis- 



xii CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

criminative sensibility : Weber s law, 533. Fechner s interpreta 
tion of this as the psycho-physic law, 537. Criticism thereof, 545. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

ASSOCIATION, 550 

The problem of the connection of our thoughts, 550. It 
depends on mechanical conditions, 553. Association is of objects 
thought- of, not of ideas, 554. The rapidity of association, 557. 
The law of contiguity, 561. The elementary law of association, 
566. Impartial redintegration, 569. Ordinary or mixed associa 
tion, 571. The law of interest, 572. Association by similarity, 
578. Elementary expression of the difference between the three 
kinds of association, 581. Association in voluntary thought, 583. 
Similarity no elementary law, 590. History of the doctrine of 
association, 594. 

CHAPTER XV. 

THE PERCEPTION OF TIME, 605 

The sensible present, 606. Its duration is the primitive time- 
perception, 608. Accuracy of our estimate of short durations, 
611. We have no sense for empty time, 619. Variations of our 
time-estimate, 624. The feeling of past time is a present feeling, 
627. Its cerebral process, 632. 

CHAPTER XVI. 
MEMORY, 643 

Primary memory, 643. Analysis of the phenomenon of mem 
ory, 648. Retention and reproduction are both caused by paths 
of association in the brain, 653. The conditions of goodness in 
memory, 659. Native retentiveness is unchangeable, 663. All im 
provement of memory consists in better thinking, 667. Other con 
ditions of good memory, 669. Recognition, or the sense of famil 
iarity, 673. Exact measurements of memory, 676. Forgetting, 
679. Pathological cases, 681. Professor Ladd criticised, 687. 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



CHAPTEK I. 

THE SCOPE OF PSYCHOLOGY. 

PSYCHOLOGY is the Science of Mental Life, both of its 
phenomena and of their conditions. The phenomena are 
such things as we call feelings, desires, cognitions, reason 
ings, decisions, and the like ; and, superficially considered, 
their variety and complexity is such as to leave a chaotic 
impression on the observer. The most natural and con 
sequently the earliest way of unifying the material was, 
first, to classify it as well as might be, and, secondly, to 
affiliate the diverse mental mod&d thus found, upon a 
simple entity, the personal Soul, of which they are taken 
to be so many facultative manifestations. Now, for in 
stance, the Soul manifests its faculty of Memory, now of 
Keasoning, now of Volition, or again its Imagination or its 
Appetite. This is the orthodox spiritualistic theory of 
scholasticism and of common-sense. Another and a less 
obvious way of unifying the chaos is to seek common ele 
ments in the divers mental facts rather than a common 
agent behind them, and to explain them constructively by 
the various forms of arrangement of these elements, as one 
explains houses by stones aad bricks. The association- 
ist schools of Herbart in Germany, and of Hume the 
Mills and Bain in Britain have thus constructed a psychology 
ivithout a soid by taking discrete ideas, faint or vivid, 
and showing how, by their cohesions, repulsions, and forms 



2 PSYCHOLOGY. 

of succession, such tilings as reminiscences, perceptions, 
emotions, volitions, passions, theories, and all the other 
furnishings of an individual s mind may be engendered. 
The very Self or ego of the individual comes in this 
way to be viewed no longer as the pre-existing source of 
the representations, but rather as their last and most com 
plicated fruit. 

Now, if we strive rigorously to simplify the phenomena 
in either of these ways, we soon become aware of inade 
quacies in our method. Any particular cognition, for ex 
ample, or recollection, is accounted for on the soul-theory 
by being referred to the spiritual faculties of Cognition 
or of Memory. These faculties themselves are thought 
of as absolute properties of the soul ; that is, to take 
the case of memory, no reason is given why we should 
remember a fact as it happened, except that so to re 
member it constitutes the essence of our Kecollective 
Power. We may, as spiritualists, try to explain our mem 
ory s failures and blunders by secondary causes. But 
its successes can invoke no factors save the existence of 
certain objective things to be remembered on the one 
hand, and of our faculty of memory on the other. When, 
for instance, I recall my graduation-day, and drag all its 
incidents and emotions up from death s dateless night, no 
mechanical cause can explain this process, nor can any 
analysis reduce it to lower terms or make its nature seem 
other than an ultimate datum, which, whether we rebel 01 
not at its mysteriousness, must simply be taken for granted 
if we are to psychologize at all. However the associationist 
may represent the present ideas as thronging and arranging 
themselves, still, the spiritualist insists, he has in the end to 
admit that something, be it brain, be it ideas, be it asso 
ciation/ knoics past time as past, and fills it out with this 
or that event. And when the spiritualist calls memory an 
irreducible faculty, he says no more than this admission 
of the associationist already grants. 

And yet the admission is far from being a satisfactory 
simplification of the concrete facts. For why should this 
absolute god-given Faculty retain so much better the events 
of yesterday than those of last year, and, best of all, those 



THE SCOPE OF PSYCHOLOGY. 3 

of an hour ago ? Why, again, in old age should its grasp 
of childhood s events seem firmest ? Why should illness 
and exhaustion enfeeble it ? Why should repeating an ex 
perience strengthen our recollection of it ? Why should 
drugs, fevers, asphyxia, and excitement resuscitate things 
long since forgotten ? If we content ourselves with merely 
affirming that the faculty of memory is so peculiarly con 
stituted by nature as to exhibit just these oddities, we seem 
little the better for having invoked it, for our explanation \ 
becomes as complicated as that of the crude facts with which 
we started. Moreover there is something grotesque and 
irrational in the supposition that the soul is equipped witl 
elementary powers of such an ingeniously intricate sort 
Why should our memory cling more easily to the near than 
the remote ? Why should it lose its grasp of proper sooner 
than of abstract names ? Such peculiarities seem quite fan 
tastic ; and might, for aught we can see a priori, be the 
precise opposites of what they are. Evidently, then, the 
faculty does not exist absolutely, but ivorks under conditions ; 
and the quest of the conditions becomes the psychologist s 
most interesting task. 

However firmly he may hold to the soul and her re 
membering faculty, he must acknowledge that she never 
exerts the latter without a cue, and that something must al 
ways precede and remind us of whatever we are to recollect 
" An idea /" says the associationist, " an idea associated with 
the remembered thing ; and this explains also why things 
repeatedly met with are more easily recollected, for their as 
sociates on the various occasions furnish so many distinct 
avenues of recall." But this does not explain the effects of 
fever, exhaustion, hypnotism, old age, and the like. And 
in general, the pure associationist s account of our mental 
life is almost as bewildering as that of the pure spiritualist. 
This multitude of ideas, existing absolutely, jet clinging 
together, and weaving an endless carpet of themselves, like 
dominoes in ceaseless change, or the bits of glass in a 
kaleidoscope, whence do they get their fantastic laws of 
clinging, and why do they cling in just the shapes they dc ? 

For this the associationist must introduce the order of 
experience in the outer world. The dance of the ideas is 



4 PSYCHOLOGY. 

a copy, somewhat mutilated and altered, of the order of 
j phenomena. But the slightest reflection shows that phe 
nomena have absolutely no power to influence our ideas 
until they have first impressed our senses and our brain. 
- The bare existence of a past fact is no ground for our re 
membering it. Unless we have seen it, or somehow under 
gone it, we shall never know of its having been. The expe- 
Ariences of the body are thus one of the conditions of the 
llfaculty of memory being what it is. And a very small 
amount of reflection on facts shows that one part of_ the 
body, namely, the brain, is the part whose experiences are 
directly concerned. If the nervous communication be cut 
off between the brain and other parts, the experiences of 
those other parts are non-existent for the mind. The eye j 
is blind, the ear deaf, the hand insensible and motionless. 
And conversely, if the brain be injured, consciousness is 
abolished or altered, even although every other organ in 
the body be ready to play its normal part. A blow on the 
head, a sudden subtraction of blood, the pressure of an 
apoplectic hemorrhage, may have the first effect; whilst a 
very few ounces of alcohol or grains of opium or hasheesh, 
or a whiff of chloroform or nitrous oxide gas, are sure to 
have the second. The delirium of fever, the altered self 
of insanity, are all due to foreign matters circulating 
through the brain, or to pathological changes in that 
organ s substance. The fact that the brain is the one 
i immediate bodily condition of the mental operations is 
indeed so universally admitted nowadays that I need 
spend no more time in illustrating it, but will simply 
postulate it and pass on. The whole remainder of the 
jbook will be more or less of a proof that the postulate was 
correct. 

Bodily experiences, therefore, and more particularly 
brain-experiences, must take a place amongst those con 
ditions of the mentallife of which Psychology need take 
i account. The spiritualist and the associationist must both 
\be centralists, to the extent at least of admitting that 
certain peculiarities in the way of working of their own 
favorite principles are explicable only by the fact that the 
brain laws are a codeterminant of the result. 



THE SCOPE OF PSYCHOLOGY. 6 

Our first conclusion, then, is that a certain amount of 
brain-physiology must be presupposed or included in 
Psychology.* 

In still another way the pyschologist is forced to be 
something of a nerve-physiologist. Mental phenomena are | 
not only conditioned a parteante by bodily processes; but * 
they lead to them a parte post. That they lead to acts is of 
course the most familiar of truths, but I do not merely mean 
acts in the sense of voluntary and deliberate muscular 
performances. Mental states occasion also changes in the 
calibre of blood-vessels, or alteration in the heart-beats, or 
processes more subtle still, in glands and viscera. If these 
are taken into account, as well as acts which follow at some 
remote period because the mental state was once there, it will 
be safe to lay down the general law that no mental modifica 
tion ever occurs ivhich is not accompanied orfolloiued by a bodily 
change. The ideas and feelings, e.g., which these present 
printed characters excite in the reader s mind not only 
occasion movements of his eyes and nascent movements o| 
articulation in him, but will some day make him speak, 01 
take sides in a discussion, or give advice, or choose a book 
to read, differently from what would have been the case had ] 
they never impressed his retina. Our psychology must there 
fore take account not only of the conditions antecedent to 
mental states, but of their resultant consequences as well. 

But actions originally prompted by conscious intelli 
gence may grow so automatic by dint of habit as to be 
apparently unconsciously performed. Standing, walking, 
buttoning and unbuttoning, piano-playing, talking, even < 
saying one s prayers, may be done when the mind is ab- I 
sorbed in other things. The performances of animal 
instinct seern semi-automatic, and the reflex acts of self- 
preservation certainly are so. Yet they resemble intelli 
gent acts in bringing about the same ends at which the ani 
mals consciousness, on other occasions, deliberately aims. 

* Of. Geo. T. Ladd : Elements of Physiological Psychology (1887), pt 
m, chap, in, 9, 12. 



6 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Shall the study of such machine-like yet purposive acts as 
these be included in Psychology ? 

The boundary- line of the mental is certainly vague. It 
is better not to be pedantic, but to let the science be as 
vague as its subject, and include such phenomena as these 
if by so doing we can throw any light on the main business 
in hand. It will ere long be seen, I trust, that we can ; 
and that we gain much more by a broad than by a narrow 
conception of our subject. At a certain stage in the devel 
opment of every science a degree of vagueness is what 
best consists with fertility. On the whole, few recent for 
mulas have done more real service of a rough sort in psy 
chology than the Spencerian one that the essence of mental 
life and of bodily life are one, namely, the adjustment of 
inner to outer relations. Such a formula is vagueness 
incarnate; but because it takes into account the fact that 
minds inhabit environments which act on them and on 
which they in turn react ; because, in short, it takes mind 
in the midst of all its concrete relations, it is immensely 
more fertile than the old-fashioned rational psychology, 
j which treated the soul as a detached existent, sufficient 
* unto itself, and assumed to consider only its nature and 
properties. I shall therefore feel free to make any sallies 
into zoology or into pure nerve-physiology which may 
seem instructive for our purposes, but otherwise shall leave 
those sciences to the physiologists. 

Can we state more distinctly still the manner in which 
the mental life seems to intervene between impressions 
made from without upon the body, and reactions of the 
body upon the outer world again ? Let us look at a few 
facts. 

If some iron filings be sprinkled on a table and a mag 
net brought near them, they will fly through the air for a 
certain distance and stick to its surface. A savage see 
ing the phenomenon explains it as the result of an attrac 
tion or love between the magnet and the filings. But 
let a card cover the poles of the magnet, and the filings 
will press forever against its surface without its ever oc 
curring to them to pass around its sides and thus come into 



THE SCOPE OF PSYCHOLOGY. 7 

more direct contact with the object of their love. Blo~w 
bubbles through a tube into the bottom of a pail of water, 
they will rise to the surface and mingle with the air. Their 
action may again be poetically interpreted as due to a 
longing to reccmbine with the mother-atmosphere above 
the surface. But if you invert a jar full of water over the 
pail, they will rise and remain lodged beneath its bottom, 
shut in from the outer air, although a slight deflection 
from their course at the outset, or a re-descent towards the 
rim of the jar when they found their upward course im 
peded, would easily have set them free. 

If now we pass from such actions as these to those of 
living things, we notice a striking difference. Romeo wants 
Juliet as the filings want the magnet ; and if no obstacles 
intervene he moves towards her by as straight a line as 
they. But Borneo and Juliet, if a wall be built between 
them, do not remain idiotically pressing their faces against 
its opposite sides like the magnet and the filings with the 
card. Borneo soon finds a circuitous way, by scaling the 
wall or otherwise, of touching Juliet s lips directly. With 
the filings the path is fixed; whether it reaches the end 
depends on accidents. With the lover it is the end which 
is fixed, the path may be modified indefinitely. 

Suppose a living frog in the position in which we placed 
our bubbles of air, namely, at the bottom of a jar of water. 
The want jf breath will soon make him also long to rejoin 
the mother-atmosphere, and he will take the shortest path 
to his end by swimming straight upwards. But if a jar 
full of water be inverted over him, he will not, like the 
bubbles, perpetually press his nose against its unyielding 
roof, but will restlessly explore the neighborhood until 
by re-descending again he has discovered a path round its 
brim to the goal of his desires. Again the fixed end, the 
varying means ! 

Such contrasts between living and inanimate perform 
ances end by leading men to deny that in the physical 
world final purposes exist at all. Loves and desires are 
to-day no longer imputed to particles of iron or of air. 
No one supposes now that the end of any activity which 
they may display is an ideal purpose presiding over the 



8 PSYCHOLOGY. 

activity from its outset and soliciting or drawing it into 
being by a sort of vis afronte. The end, on the contrary, is 
deemed a mere passive result, pushed into being a tergo, 
having had, so to speak, no voice in its own production. 
Alter the pre-existing conditions, and with inorganic ma 
terials you bring forth each time a different apparent end. 
But with intelligent agents, altering the conditions changes 
the activity displayed, but not the end reached ; for here 
the idea of the yet unrealized end co-operates with the con 
ditions to determine what the activities shall be. 

The pursuance of future ends and the choice of means f of 
their attainment arq thus the mark and criterion of the presence 
of mentality in a phenomenon. We all use this test to dis 
criminate between an intelligent and a mechanical per 
formance. Wo impute no mentality to sticks and stones, 
because they never seem to move for the sake of anything, 
but always when pushed, and then indifferently and with no 
sign of choice. So we unhesitatingly call them senseless. 

Just so we form our decision upon the deepest of all 
philosophic problems : Is the Kosmos an expression of 
intelligence rational in its inward nature, or a brute ex- 
] ternal fact pure and simple ? If we find ourselves, in con- 
templating it, unable to banish the impression that it is a 
realm of final purposes, that it exists for the sake of some 
thing, we place intelligence at the heart of it and have a 
religion. If, on the contrary, in surveying its irremediable 
flux, we can think of the present only as so much mere 
mechanical sprouting from the past, occurring with no 
reference to the future, we are atheists and materialists. 

In the lengthy discussions which psychologists have 
carried on about the amount of intelligence displayed by 
lower mammals, or the amount of consciousness involved in 
the functions of the nerve-centres of reptiles, the same test 
has always been applied : Is the character of the actions 
such that we must believe them to be performed/or the sake 
of their result ? The result in question, as we shall here 
after abundantly see, is as a rule a useful one, the animal 
is, on the whole, safer under the circumstances for bringing 
it forth. So far the action has a teleological character; 



THE SCOPE OF PSYCHO LOOT. 9 

but such mere outward teleology as this might still be the 
blind result of vis a tergo. The growth and movements of 
plants, the processes of development, digestion, secretion, 
etc., in animals, supply innumerable instances of per 
formances useful to the individual which may nevertheless 
be, and by most of us are supposed to be, produced by 
automatic mechanism. The physiologist does not con 
fidently assert conscious intelligence in the frog s spinal 
cord until he has shown that the useful result which the 
nervous machinery brings forth under a given irritation 
remains the same when the machinery is altered. If, to take 
the stock instance, the right knee of a headless frog be irri 
tated with acid, the right foot will wipe it off. "When, how 
ever, this foot is amputated, the animal will often raise the j / 
left foot to the spot and wipe the offending material away. 

Pfliiger and Lewes reason from such facts in the follow 
ing way : If the first reaction were the result of mere machin 
ery, they say ; if that irritated portion of the skin discharged 
the right leg as a trigger discharges its own barrel of a shot 
gun ; then amputating the right foot would indeed frustrate 
the wiping, but would not make the left leg move. It would 
simply result in the right stump moving through the empty 
air (which is in fact the phenomenon sometimes observed). 
The right trigger makes no effort to discharge the left barrel 
if the right one be unloaded ; nor does an electrical ma 
chine ever get restless because it can only emit sparks, 
and not hem pillow-cases like a sewing-machine. 

If, on the contrary, the right leg originally moved for the 
purpose of wiping the acid, then nothing is more natural 
than that, when the easiest means of effecting that purpose 
prove fruitless, other means should be tried. Every failure 
must keep the animal in a state of disappointment which 
will lead to all sorts of new trials and devices ; and tran 
quillity will not ensue till one of these, by a happy stroke, 
achieves the wished-for end. 

In a similar way Goltz ascribes intelligence to the 
frog s optic lobes and cerebellum. We alluded above to the 
manner in which a sound frog imprisoned in water will dis 
cover an outlet to the atmosphere. Goltz found that frogs 
deprived of their cerebral hemispheres would often exhibit 



10 PSYCHOLOGY. 

a like ingenuity. Such a frog, after rising from the bottom 
and finding his farther upward progress checked by the 
glass bell which has been inverted over him, will not per 
sist in butting his nose against the obstacle until dead of 
suffocation, but will often re-descend and emerge from under 
its rim as if, not a definite mechanical propulsion upwards, 
but rather a conscious desire to reach the air by hook or 
crook were the main-spring of his activity. Goltz con 
cluded from this that the hemispheres are not the sole seat 
of intellect in frogs. He made the same inference from 
observing that a brainless frog will turn over from his back 
to his belly when one of his legs is sewed up, although the 
movements required are then very different from those 
excited under normal circumstances by the same annoying 
position. They seem determined, consequently, not merely 
by the antecedent irritant, but by the final end, though the 
irritant of course is what makes the end desired. 

Another brilliant German author, Liebmann,* argues 
against the brain s mechanism accounting for mental action, 
by very similar considerations. A machine as such, he 
says, will bring forth right results when it is in good order, 
and wrong results if out of repair. But both kinds of result 
flow with equally fatal necessity from their conditions. We 
cannot suppose the clock-work whose structure fatally 
determines it to a certain rate of speed, noticing that this 
speed is too slow or too fast and vainly trying to correct it. 
Its conscience, if it have any, should be as good as that of 
the best chronometer, for both alike obey equally well the 
y same eternal mechanical laws laws from behind. But if 
the brain be out of order and the man says " Twice four are 
two," instead of " Twice four are eight," or else " I must go 
to the coal to buy the wharf," instead of " I must go to the 
wharf to buy the coal," instantly there arises a conscious- 
I ness of error. The wrong performance, though it obey the 
same mechanical law as the right, is nevertheless con 
demned, condemned as contradicting the inner lawthe 
law from in front, the purpose or ideal for which the brain 
should act, whether it do so or not. 

* Zur Analysis der Wirklichkeit, p. 489. 



THE SCOPE OF PSYCHOLOGY. 11 

We need not discuss here whether these writers in draw 
ing their conclusion have done justice to all the premises 
involved in the cases they treat of. We quote their argu 
ments only to show how they appeal to the principle that / 
no actions but such as are done for an end, and shoiv a choice of /y 
means, can be called indubitable expressions of Mind. 

I shall then adopt this as the criterion by which to cir 
cumscribe the subject-matter of this work so far as action \ 
enters into it. Many nervous performances will therefore 
be unmentioned, as being purely physiological. Nor will the 
anatomy of the nervous system and organs of sense be 
described anew. The reader will find in H. N. Martin s 
* Human Body, in G. T. Ladd s Physiological Psychol 
ogy, and in all the other standard Anatomies and Physi 
ologies, a mass of information which we must regard as pre 
liminary and take for granted in the present work.* Of 
the functions of the cerebral hemispheres, however, since i 
they directly subserve consciousness, it will be well to j 
give some little account. 

* Nothing is easier than to familiarize one s self with the mammalian 
brain. Get a sheep s head, a small saw, chisel, scalpel and forceps (all 
three can best be had from a surgical-instrument maker), and unravel its 
parts either by the aid of a human dissecting book, such as Holden s Manual 
of Anatomy, or by the specific directions ad Iwc given in such books as 
Foster and Langley s Practical Physiology (Macmillan) or Morrell s 
Comparative Anatomy and Dissection of Mammalia (Longmans). 



CHAPTER II. 
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 

IF I begin chopping 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 difference 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 co-operation 
with every other. The afferent nerves, when excited by 
some physical irritant, be this as gross in its mode of oper 
ation as a chopping axe or as subtle as the waves of light, 
conveys the excitement to the nervous centres. The com 
motion set up in the centres does not stop there, but dis 
charges itself, if at all strong, through the efferent nerves 
into muscles and glands, exciting movements of the limbs 
and viscera, or acts of secretion, 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 stimulus be a sign of 
some distant circumstance of practical importance, the 
animal s acts are addressed to this circumstance 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 depot, 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. 

12 



THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 13 

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 disturbance 
of the heart. Such involuntary responses we know as 
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. Whether it be instinc 
tive or whether it result from the pedestrian education of 
childhood may be doubtful ; 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 alto 
gether. 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 edu 
cation, and is preceded by a consciousness of the purpose to 
be attained and a distinct mandate of the will. It is a vol 
untary act. Thus the animal s reflex and voluntary per 
formances shade into each other gradually, being connected 
by acts which may often occur automatically, but may also 
be modified by conscious intelligence. 

An outside observer, unable to perceive the accompany 
ing consciousness, might be wholly at a loss to discriminate 
between the automatic acts and those which volition es 
corted. But if the criterion of mind s existence be the 
choice of the proper means for the attainment of a supposed 
end, all the acts seem to be inspired by intelligence, for 
appropriateness characterizes them all alike. This fact, now, 
has led to two quite opposite theories about the relation to 
consciousness of the nervous functions. Some authors, 
finding that the higher voluntary ones seem to require the 
guidance of feeling, conclude that over the lowest reflexes 
some such feeling also presides, though it may be a feeling 
of which tve remain unconscious. Others, finding that reflex 
and semi-automatic acts may, notwithstanding their appro 
priateness, take place with an unconsciousness apparently 
complete, fly to the opposite extreme and maintain that the 
appropriateness even of voluntary actions owes nothing to 
the fact that consciousness attends them. They are, accord 
ing to these writers, results oi physiological mechanism pure 



14 PSYCHOLOGY. 

and simple. In a near chapter we shall return to this 
controversy again. Let us now look a little more closely 
at the brain and at the ways in which its states may be sup 
posed to condition those of the mind. 



THE PROG S NERVE-CENTRES. 

Both the minute anatomy and the detailed physiology 
of the brain are achievements of the present generation, or 
rather we may say (beginning with Meynert) of the past 
twenty years. Many points are still obscure and subject 
to controversy ; but a general way of conceiving the organ 
has been reached on all hands which in its main feature 
seems not unlikely to stand, and which even gives a most 
plausible scheme of the way in which cerebral and mental 
operations go hand in hand. 

The best way to enter the subject will be to take a lower 
creature, like a frog, and study by the vivisectional method 
the functions of his different nerve-centres. The frog s 
nerve-centres are figured in the accompany 
ing diagram, which needs no further ex 
planation. I will first proceed to state 
what happens when various amounts of 
the anterior parts are removed, in different 
frogs, in the way in which an ordinary 
~ * student removes them ; that is, with no ex 
treme precautions as to the purity of the 
operation. We shall in this way reach a 
very simple conception of the functions of 
the various centres, involving the strongest 
possible contrast between the cerebral 
FIO. \.c H, cerebral hemispheres and the lower lobes. This 

Hemispheres; O Th, , . .,, , T i i j 

Optic fhaiaini; o L, sharp conception will have didactic ad- 

Optic Lobes; C6, ., . , , , 

Cerebellum ; M o, vantages, lor it is olten very instructive 

Medulla Oblonjrata; . .,, i < i j 

s c, spinal Cord, to start with too simple a iormula and 
correct it later on. Our first formula, as we shall later 
see, will have to be softened down somewhat by the results 
of more careful experimentation both on frogs and birds, 
and by those of the most recent observations on dogs, 




THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 15 

monkeys, and man. But it will put us, from the outset, in 
clear possession of some fundamental notions and distinc 
tions which we could otherwise not gain so well, and none 
of which the later more completed view will overturn. 

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 oblon- 
gata, 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 peculiarly 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 re 
sume 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 sus 
pend it by the nose, and irritate different portions of its 
skin by acid, it performs a set of remarkable defensive 
movements calculated 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 respec- 



16 PSYCHOLOGY. 

tively. The segment governing the arms is especially 
active, in male frogs, in the breeding season; and these mem 
bers alone with the breast and back appertaining to them, 
everything else being cut away, will then actively grasp a 
finger placed between them and remain hanging to it for a 
considerable time. 

The spinal cord in other animals has analogous powers. 
Even in man it makes movements of defence. Paraplegics 
draw up their legs when tickled ; and Eobin, on tickling 
the breast of a criminal an hour after decapitation, saw the 
arm and hand move towards the spot. Of the lower func 
tions of the mammalian cord, studied so ably by Goltz and 
others, this is not the place to speak. 

If, in a second animal, the cut be made just behind the 
optic lobes so that the cerebellum and medulla oblongata 
remain attached to the cord, then swallowing, breathing, 
crawling, and a rather enfeebled jumping and swimming 
are added to the movements previously observed.* There 
are other reflexes too. The animal, thrown on his back, 
immediately turns over to his belly. Placed in a shallow 
bowl, which is floated on water and made to rotate, he re 
sponds to the rotation by first turning his head and then 
waltzing around with his entire body, in the opposite direc 
tion to the whirling of the bowl. If his support be tilted so 
that his head points downwards, he points it up ; he points 
it down if it be pointed upwards, to the right if it be 
pointed to the left, etc. But his reactions do not go 
iarther than these movements of the head. He will not 
like frogs whose thalami are preserved, climb up a board 
if the latter be tilted, but will slide off it to the ground 

If the cut be made on another frog between the tha- 

lami and the optic lobes, the locomotion both on land 

and water becomes quite normal, and, in addition to the 

lexes already shown by the lower centres, he croaks 

regularly whenever he is pinched under the arms He 

compensates rotations, etc., by movements of the head, and 

irns over from his back; but still drops off his tilted 

. 

be said that this particular cut commonlv proves fatal The 
he rare cases which survive. 



THE FUNCTIONS OF TUB BRAIN. 17 

board. As his optic nerves are destroyed by the usual 
operation, it is impossible to say whether he will avoid 
obstacles placed in his path. 

When, finally, a frog s cerebral hemispheres alone are cut 
off by a section between them and the thalami which pre 
serves the latter, an unpractised observer would not at first 
suspect anything abnormal about the animal. Not only is 
he capable, on proper instigation, of all the acts already 
described, 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 sexual passion at the proper 
season, and, unlike an altogether brainless frog, which em 
braces anything placed between his arms, postpones this 
reflex act until a female of his own species is provided. 
Thus far, as aforesaid, a person unfamiliar with frogs 
might not suspect a mutilation ; but even such a person 
would soon remark the almost entire absence of spontane 
ous motion that is, motion unprovoked by any present in- 
citation 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 automatic 
ally drawn by reflex action, and on which the animal re 
mains 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 extremely com 
plex 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 applying 
the right sensory stimulus to him we are almost as certain 
of getting a fixed response as an organist is of hearing a 
certain tone when he pulls out a certain stop. 

But now if to the lower centres we add the cerebral 
hemispheres, or if, in other words, we make an intact ani 
mal 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 our- 



18 PSYCHOLOGY. 

selves 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 sit 
ting still like a hemisphereless one, he makes persistent 
and varied efforts at 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 foretell 
it exactly. Effort to escape is his dominant reaction, but 
he may do anything else, even swell up and become per 
fectly 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 
following : 

The acts of all the centres involve the use of the same 
muscles. When a headless 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 re 
sults 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. 
Similarly they exist in the thalami for jumping over 
seen obstacles and for balancing the moved body ; in the 
optic lobes for creeping backwards, or what not. But in 
the hemispheres, 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 machine-like ; 
we need suppose no such machinery directly co-ordinative 
of muscular contractions to exist. We may rather assume, 
when the mandate for a wiping-movement is sent forth by 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 19 

the hemispheres, that a current goes straight to the wiping- 
arrangernent in the spinal cord, exciting this arrangement 
as a whole. Similarly, if an intact frog wishes to jump 
over a stone which he sees, 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 de 
tails 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 different 
heights; and at each it enters into a different combination 
with other muscles to co-operate in some special form of 
concerted movement. At each height the movement is dis 
charged by some particular form of sensorial stimulus. Thus 
in the cord, the skin alone occasions movements ; in the 
upper part of the optic lobes, the eyes are added ; in the 
thalami, the semi-circular canals would seem to play a part ; 
whilst the stimuli which discharge the hemispheres would 
seem not so much to be elementary sorts of sensation, as 
groups ot sensations forming determinate objects or things. 
Prey is not pursued nor are enemies shunned by ordinary 
hemisphereless frogs. Those reactions upon complex cir 
cumstances which we call instinctive rather than reflex, are 
already in this animal dependent on the brain s highest 
lobes, and still more is this the case with animals higher 
in the zoological scale. 

The results are just the same if, instead of a frog, we 
take a pigeon, and cut out his hemispheres as they are ordi 
narily cut out for a lecture-room demonstration. There is 
not a movement natural to him which this brainless bird 
cannot perform if expressly excited thereto ; only the inner 
promptings seem deficient, and when left to himself he 
spends most of his time crouched on the ground with his 
head sunk between his shoulders as if asleep. 

* I confine myself to the frog for simplicity s sake. In higher animals, 
especially the ape and man, it would seem as if not only determinate com 
binations of muscles, but limited groups or even single muscles could be 
innervated from the hemispheres. 



20 PSYCHOLOGY. 



GENERAL NOTION OF HEMISPHERES. 

All these facts lead us, when we think about them, to 
some such explanatory conception as this : The lower centres 
act from present sensational stimuli alone; the hemispheres act 
from perceptions and considerations, the sensations which they 
may receive serving only as suggesters of these. But what 
are perceptions but sensations grouped together ? and what 
are considerations but expectations, in the fancy, of sensa 
tions 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 considering 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, unconsciousness, 
etc., etc., and the ruin of my hopes. But all these images 
are constructed out of my past experiences. They are repro 
ductions of what I have felt or witnessed. They are, in 
short, remote sensations ; and the difference between the hemi- 
sphereless animal and the whole one may be concisely ex 
pressed by saying that the one obeys absent, the other only 
present, objects. 

The hemispheres would then seem to be the seat of mem 
ory. 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, (7, 
below the hemispheres to a direct circuit from sense- 
organ to muscle along the line S...C...Moi Fig. 2 (p. 21). 
The hemisphere, H, adds the long circuit or loop-line 
through which the current may pass when for any reason 
the direct line is not used. 

Thus, a tired wayfarer on a hot day throws himself on 




FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 21 

the damp eartli beneath a maple-tree. The sensations of 
delicious rest and coolness pour 
ing themselves through the direct 
line would naturally discharge into 
the muscles of complete exten 
sion: he would abandon himself 
to the dangerous repose. But the 
loop-line being open, part of the 
current is drafted along it, and 
awakens rheumatic or catarrlial 
reminiscences, which prevail over 
the instigations of sense, and make FlQ * 

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 reminiscences as these. Mean 
while 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 en 
vironment, prudence is a virtue. The higheJ animals have so 
to deal ; and the more complex the features, the higher we 
call the animals. The fewer of his acts, i/ien, 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 
presented, 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 poi His 
life will again and again pay the forfeit of his gluttony. 



22 PSyCHOLOGY. 

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 attractive-ness 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 extinc 
tion of their type, did not their exaggerated fecundity atone 
for their imprudence. Appetite and the acts it prompts 
have consequently become in all higher vertebrates func 
tions of the cerebrum. They disappear when the physiol 
ogist s knife nas left the subordinate 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. And Goltz found that a bitch in heat 
would excite no emotion in male dogs who had suffered 
large loss of cerebral tissue. Those who have read Dar 
win s Descent of Man know what immense importance in 
the amelioration of the breed in birds this author ascribes 
to the mere fact of sexual selection. The sexual act is not 
performed until every condition of circumstance and senti 
ment is fulfilled, until time, place, and partner all are fit. 
But in frogs and toads this passion devolves on the lower 
centres. They show consequently a machine-like obe 
dience to the present incitement of sense, and an almost 
total exclusion of the power of choice. Copulation occurs 
per fas aut nefas, occasionally between males, often with 
dead females, in puddles exposed on the highway, and 
the male may be cut in two without letting go his hold. 
Every spring an immense sacrifice of batrachian life takes 
place from these causes alone. 

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 civili* 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 23 

zation 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 permissive in 
fluence 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 
humanity 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 
fyorn all below them. 

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 interpreted 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 deter 
mined 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 conception of all action as 
conforming to this type is the fundamental conception of 
modern nerve-physiology. So much for our general pre 
liminary conception of the nerve-centres ! Let us define it 
more distinctly before we see how well physiological ob 
servation will bear it out in detail. 



24 PSYCHOLOGY. 

THE EDUCATION OF THE HEMISPHERES. 

Nerve-currents run in through sense-organs, and whilst 
provoking reflex acts in the lower centres, they arouse ideas 
in the hemispheres, which either permit the reflexes in 
question, check them, or substitute others for them. All 
ideas being in the last resort reminiscences, the question to 
answer is : How can processes become organized in the hemi 
spheres ivhich correspond to reminiscences in the mind ?* 

Nothing is easier than to conceive a possible way in 
which this might be done, provided four assumptions be 
granted. These assumptions (which after all are inevitable 
in any event) are : 

1) The same cerebral process which, when aroused 
from without by a sense-organ, gives the perception of an 
object, will give an idea of the same object when aroused 
by other cerebral processes from within. 

2) If processes 1, 2, 3, 4 have once been aroused to 
gether or in immediate succession, any subsequent arousal 
of any one of them (whether from without or within) will 
tend to arouse the others in the original order. [This is the 
so-called law of association.] 

3) Every sensorial excitement propagated to a lower 
centre tends to spread upwards and arouse an idea. 

4) Every idea tends ultimately either to produce a 
movement or to check one which otherwise would be pro 
duced. 

Suppose now (these assumptions being granted) that we 
have a baby before us who sees a candle-flame for the first 

* I hope that the reader will take no umbrage at my so mixing the 

\ physical and mental, and talking of reflex acts and hemispheres and remi- 

niscences in the same breath, as if they were homogeneous quantities and 

factors of one causal chain. I have done so deliberately ; for although I 

admit that from the radically physical point of view it is easy to conceive 

of the chain of events amongst the cells and fibres as complete in itself, 

I and that whilst so conceiving it one need make no mention of ideas, 
I yet suspect that point of view of being an unreal abstraction. Reflexes 
In centres may take place even where accompanying feelings or ideas guide 
/ them. In another chapter I shall try to show reasons for not abandoning 
this common-sense position ; meanwhile language lends itself so much 
more easily to the mixed way of describing, that I will continue to employ 
the latter. The more radical-minded reader can always read ideationa] 
orocess for idea. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 




FIG. 3. 



time, and, by virtue of a reflex tendency common in babies 
of a certain age, extends his 
hand to grasp it, so that his 
fingers get burned. So far we 
have two reflex currents in 
play : first, from the eye to the 
extension movement, along the 
line 1111 of Fig. 3 ; and 
second, from the finger to the 
movement of drawing back the 
hand, along the line 2 2 2 2. ^ 
If this were the baby s whole 
nervous system, and if the re 
flexes were once for all organic, 
we should have no alteration in his behavior, no matter 
how often the experience recurred. The retinal image of 
the flame would always make the arm shoot forward, the 
burning of the finger would always send it back. But we 
know that the burnt child dreads the fire, and that one 
experience usually protects the fingers forever. The point 
is to see how the hemispheres may bring this result to pass. 
We must complicate our diagram (see Fig. 4). Let 
the current 1 1, from the eye, discharge upward as well as 
downward when it reaches the lower centre for vision, and 
arouse the perceptional process s l in the hemispheres ; let 

the feeling of the arm s exten 
sion also send up a current 
which leaves a trace of itself, 
in 1 ; let tli3 burnt finger leave 
an analogous trace, s a ; and 
let the movement of retrac 
tion leave m 2 . These four 
processes will now, by virtue 
of assumption 2), be associ 
ated together by the path 
6- 1 ra 1 s 2 m 2 , running from 

+l, a fivc-f fn fLa Incf GO -fTmf if 
tne first tO tlie last SO ttiat " 

anything touches off s 1 , ideas 
of the extension, of the burnt 
finger, and of the retraction will pass in rapid succession 




FIG. 4. The dotted lines stand for affer- 
ent paths, the broken lines for paths 

for effe"eut e path t s es; the entlre lilies 



26 PSYCHOLOGY. 

through the mind. The effect on the child s conduct when 
the candle-flame is next presented is easy to imagine. Of 
course the sight of it arouses the grasping reflex ; but it 
arouses simultaneously the idea thereof, together with that 
of the consequent pain, and of the final retraction of the 
hand ; and if these cerebral processes prevail in strength 
over the immediate sensation in the centres below, the last 
idea will be the cue by which the final action is discharged. 
The grasping will be arrested in mid-career, the hand 
drawn back, and the child s fingers saved. 

In all this we assume that the hemispheres do not 
natively couple any particular sense-impression with any 
special motor discharge. They only register, and preserve 
traces of, such couplings as are already organized in the 
reflex centres below. But this brings it inevitably about 
that, when a chain of experiences has been already regis 
tered and the first link is impressed once again from without, 
the last link will often be awakened in idea long before it 
can exist in fact. And if this last link were previously 
coupled with a motion, that motion may now come from the 
mere ideal suggestion without waiting for the actual impres 
sion to arise. Thus an animal with hemispheres acts in an 
ticipation of future things ; or, to use our previous formula, he 
acts from considerations of distant good and ill. If we give 
the name of partners to the original couplings of impressions 
with motions in a reflex way, then we may say that the func 
tion of the hemispheres is simply to bring about exchanges 
among the partners. Movement m n , which natively is sensa 
tion s n s partner, becomes through the hemispheres the 
partner of sensation s 1 , s 2 or s 3 . It is like the great corn- 
mutating switch-board at a central telephone station. No 
new elementary process is involved ; no impression nor any 
motion peculiar to the hemispheres ; but any number of 
combinations impossible to the lower machinery taken 
alone, and an endless consequent increase in the possibilities 
of behavior on the creature s part. 

All this, as a mere scheme,* is so clear and so concordant 

* I shall call it hereafter for shortness the Meynert scheme; for the 
child-and-flame example, as well as the whole general notion that the hemi 
spheres are a supernumerary surface for the projection and association o* 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 27 

with the general look of the facts as almost to impose itself 
on our belief ; but it is anything but clear in detail. The 
brain-physiology of late years has with great effort sought 
to work out the paths by which these couplings of sensa 
tions with movements take place, both in the hemispheres 
and in the centres below. 

So we must next test our scheme by the facts discovered 
in this direction. We shall conclude, I think, after taking 
them all into account, that the scheme probably makes 
the lower centres too machine-like and the hemispheres 
not quite machine-like enough, and must consequently be 
softened down a little. So much I may say in advance. 
Meanwhile, before plunging into the details which await us, 
it will somewhat clear our ideas if we contrast the modern 
way of looking at the matter with the phrenological concep 
tion which but lately preceded it. 

THE PHRENOLOGICAL CONCEPTION. 

In a certain sense Gall was the first to seek to explain 
in detail how the brain could subserve our mental opera 
tions. His way of proceeding was only too simple. He took 
the faculty-psychology as his ultimatum on the mental side, 
and he made no farther psychological analysis. Wherever 
he found an individual with some strongly-marked trait 
of character he examined his head ; and if he found the 
latter prominent in a certain region, he said without more 
ado that that region was the organ of the trait or 
faculty in question. The traits were of very diverse con 
stitution, some being simple sensibilities like weight 
or color ; some being instinctive tendencies like alimen- 
tiveness or amativeness ; and others, again, being com 
plex resultants like conscientiousness, individuality. 
Phrenology fell promptly into disrepute among scientific 
men because observation seemed to show that large facul- 

sensations and movements natively coupled in the centres below, is due to 
Th. Meynert, the Austrian anatomist. For a popular account of his views, 
see his pamphlet Zur Mechanik des Gehirnbaues, Vienna, 1874. His 
most recent development of them is embodied in his Psychiatry, a 
clinical treatise on diseases of the forebruiu, translated by B. Sachs, New 
York, 1885. 



28 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ties and large bumps might fail to coexist ; because the 
scheme of Gall was so vast as hardly to admit of accurate 
determination at all who of us can say even of his own 
brothers whether their perceptions of weight and of time are 
well developed or not ? because the followers of Gall and 
Spurzheim were unable to reform these errors in any appre 
ciable degree ; and, finally, because the whole analysis of 
faculties was vague and erroneous from a psychologic point 
of view. Popular professors of the lore have nevertheless 
continued to command the admiration of popular audiences ; 
and there seems no doubt that Phrenology, however little 
it satisfy our scientific curiosity about the functions of dif 
ferent portions of the brain, may still be, in the hands of 
intelligent practitioners, a useful help in the art of reading 
character. A hooked nose and a firm jaw are usually signs 
of practical energy ; soft, delicate hands are signs of refined 
sensibility. Even so may a prominent eye be a sign of 
power over language, and a bull-neck a sign of sensuality. 
But the brain behind the eye and neck need no more be 
the organ of the signified faculty than the jaw is the 
organ of the will or the hand the organ of refinement. 
These correlations between mind and body are, however, so 
frequent that the characters given by phrenologists are 
often remarkable for knowingness and insight. 

Phrenology hardly does more than restate the problem. 
To answer the question, "Why do I like children?" by 
saying, " Because you have a large organ of philoprogeni- 
tiveness," but renames the phenomenon to be explained. 
What is my philoprogenitiveness ? Of what mental ele 
ments does it consist ? And how can a part of the brain 
be its organ? A science of the mind must reduce such 
complex manifestations as philoprogenitiveness to their 
dements. A science of the brain must point out the func 
tions of its elements. A science cf the relations of mind 
and brain must show how the elementary ingredients of the 
former correspond to the elementary functions of the latter. 
But phrenology, except by occasional coincidence, takes no 
account of elements at all. Its faculties, as a rule, are 
fully equipped persons in a particular mental attitude. 
Take, for example, the faculty of language. It involves 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 29 

in reality a host of distinct powers. We must first have 
images of concrete things and ideas of abstract qualities 
and relations ; we must next have the memory of words 
and then the capacity so to associate each idea or image 
with a particular word that, when the word is heard, the 
idea shall forthwith enter our mind. We must conversely, 
as soon as the idea arises in our mind, associate with it a 
mental image of the word, and by means of this image we 
must innervate our articulatory apparatus so as to repro 
duce the word as physical sound. To read or to write a 
language other elements still must be introduced. But it 
is plain that the faculty of spoken language alone is so 
complicated as to call into play almost all the elementary 
powers which the mind possesses, memory, imagination, 
association, judgment, and volition. A portion of the brain 
competent to be the adequate seat of such a faculty would 
needs be an entire brain in miniature, just as the faculty 
itself is really a specification of the entire man, a sort of 
bomunculus. 

Yet just such homunculi are for the most part the 
phrenological organs. As Lange says : 

" "We have a parliament of little men together, each one of whom, 
as happens also in a real parliament, possesses but a single idea 
which he ceaselessly strives to make prevail " benevolence, firmness, 
hope, and the rest. "Instead of one soul, phrenology gives us forty, 
each alone as enigmatic as the full aggregate psychic life can be. In 
stead of dividing the latter into effective elements, she divides it into 
personal beings of peculiar character. . . . Herr Pastor, sure there 
be a horse inside, called out the peasants to X after their spiritual 
shepherd had spent hours in explaining to them the construction of the 
locomotive. With a horse inside truly everything becomes clear, even 
though it be a queer enough sort of horse the horse itself calls for no 
explanation ! Phrenology takes a start to get beyond the point of view 
of the ghost-like soul entity, but she ends by populating the whole skull 
with ghosts of the same order." * 

Modern Science conceives of the matter in a very differ 
ent way. Brain and mind alike consist of simple elements, 
sensory and motor. "All nervous centres," says Dr. Hugh- 
lings Jackson,f " from the lowest to the very highest (the 

*Gescnichte des Materialismus, 3d ed., n. p. 345. 
f West Riding Asylum Reports, 1876, p. 267. 



30 PSYCHOLOGY. 



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 
similarly when he calls the cortex of the hemispheres the 
surface 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 
nothing but the sum of all these cortical points, to which, 
on the mental side, as many ideas correspond. Ideas of 
sensation, ideas of motion are, on the other hand, the ele 
mentary factors out of which the mind is built up by the 
associationists in psychology. There is a complete parallel 
ism between the two analyses, the same diagram of little 
dots, circles, or triangles joined by lines symbolizes equally 
well the cerebral and mental processes : the dots stand for 
cells or ideas, the lines for fibres or associations. We shall 
have later to criticise this analysis so far as it relates to 
the mind ; but there is no doubt that it is a most convenient, 
and has been a most useful, hypothesis, formulating the 
facts in an extremely natural way. 

If, then, we grant that motor and sensory ideas variously 
associated are the materials of the mind, all we need do to get 
a complete diagram of the mind s and the brain s relations 
should be to ascertain which sensory idea corresponds to 
which sensational surface of projection, and which motor 
idea to which muscular surface of projection. The associa 
tions would then correspond to the fibrous connections be 
tween the various surfaces. This distinct cerebral localization 
of the various elementary sorts of idea has been treated as 
a postulate by many physiologists (e.g. Munk) ; and the 
most stirring controversy in nerve-physiology which the 
present generation has seen has been the localization- 
question. 

THE LOCALIZATION OF FUNCTIONS IN THE 
HEMISPHERES. 

Up to 1870, the opinion which prevailed was that which 
the experiments of Flourens on pigeons brains had made 
plausible, namely, that the different functions of the hemi- 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BftAIN. 31 

spheres were not locally separated, but carried on each by 
the aid of the whole organ. Hitzig in 1870 showed, how 
ever, that in a dog s brain highly specialized movements 
could be produced by electric irritation of determinate 
regions of the cortex ; and Ferrier and Munk, half a dozen 
years later, seemed to prove, either by irritations or excis 
ions or both, that there were equally determinate regions 
connected with the senses of sight, touch, hearing, and 
smell. Munk s special sensorial localizations, however, 
disagreed with Ferrier s ; and Goltz, from his extirpation- 
experiments, came to a conclusion adverse to strict local 
ization of any kind. The controversy is not yet over. I 
will not pretend to say anything more of it historically, but 
give a brief account of the condition in which matters at 
present stand. 

The one thing which is perfectly well established is this, 
that the central convolutions, on either side of the fissure of 
Kolando, 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 the lines of evidence successively 
given below : 

(1) Cortical Irritations. Electrical currents oi small 
intensity applied to the surface of the said convolutions in 
dogs, monkeys, and other animals, produce well-defined 
movements in face, fore-limb, hind-limb, tail, or trunk, 
according as one point or another of the surface is irritated. 
These movements affect almost invariably the side opposite 
to the brain irritations : If the left hemisphere be excited, the 
movement i& of the right leg, side of face, etc. All the objec 
tions at first raised against the validity of these experiments 
have been overcome. The movements are certainly not due 
to irritations of the base of the brain by the downward spread 
of the current, for : a) mechanical irritations will produce 
them, though less easily than electrical ; 6) shifting the 



32 PSYCHOLOGY, 

electrodes to a point close by on the surface changes the 
movement in ways quite inexplicable by changed physical 
conduction of the current ; c) if the cortical centre for a 
certain movement be cut under with a sharp knife but left 
in situ, although the electric conductivity is physically 
unaltered by the operation, the physiological conductivity 
is gone and currents of the same strength no longer pro 
duce the movements which they did ; d) the time-interval 
between the application of the electric stimulus to the cor 
tex and the resultant movement is what it would be if the 
cortex acted physiologically and not merely physically in 
transmitting the irritation. It is namely a well-known fact 
that when a nerve-current has to pass through the spinal 
cord to excite a muscle by reflex action, the time is longer 
than if it passes directly down the motor nerve : the cells 
of the cord take a certain time to discharge. Similarly, 
when a stimulus is applied directly to the cortex the muscle 
contracts two or three hundredths of a second later than it 
does when the place on the cortex is cut away and the elec 
trodes are applied to the white fibres below.* 

(2) Cortical Ablations. "When the cortical spot which is 
found to produce a movement of the fore-leg, in a dog, 
is excised (see spot 5 in Fig. 5), the leg in question becomes 
peculiarly affected. At first it seems paralyzed. Soon, how 
ever, it is used with the other legs, but badly. The animal 
does not bear his weight on it, allows it to rest on its dorsal 
surface, stands with it crossing the other leg, does not remove 
it if it hangs over the edge of a table, can no longer give the 
paw at word of command if able to do so before the opera 
tion, does not use it for scratching the ground, or holding a 
bone as formerly, lets it slip out when running on a smooth 

* For a thorough discussion of the various objections, see Ferrier s 
Functions of the Brain, 2d ed., pp. 227-234, and Fra^ois-Franck s 
Le9ons sur les Fonctions Motrices du Cerveau (1887), Le?on 31. The most 
minutely accurate experiments on irritation of cortical points are those 
of Paneth, in Pfliiger s Archiv, vol 37, p. 528. Recently the skull has been 
fearlessly opened by surgeons, and operations upon the human brain per 
formed, sometimes with the happiest results. In some of these operations 
the cortex has been electrically excited for the purpose of more exactly 
localizing the spot, and the movements first observed in dogs and monkeys 
have then been verified in men. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 33 

surface or when shaking himself, etc., etc. Sensibility of 
all kinds seems diminished as well as motility, but of this I 
shall speak later on. Moreover the dog tends in voluntary 
movements to swerve towards the side of the brain-lesion in 
stead of going straight forward. All these symptoms gradu 
ally decrease, so that even with a very severe brain-lesion 
the dog may be outwardly indistinguishable from a well dog 
after eight or ten weeks. Still, a slight chloroformization 
will reproduce the disturbances, even then. There is a cer 
tain appearance of ataxic in-coordination in the movements 
the dog lifts his fore-feet high and brings them down with 
more strength than usual, and yet the trouble is not ordi- 




FIG. 5. Left Hemisphere of Dog s Brain, after Ferrier. A, the fissure of Sylvius. B, 
the crucial sulcus. O, the olfactory bulb. J, II, III, IV, indicate the first, second, 
third, and fourth external convolutions respectively. (1), (4), and (5) are on the 
sigmoid gyrus. 

nary lack of co-ordination. Neither is there paralysis. 
The strength of whatever movements are made is as great 
as ever dogs with extensive destruction of the motor zone 
can jump as high and bite as hard as ever they did, but 
they seem less easily moved to do anything with the affected 
parts. Dr Loeb, who has studied the motor disturbances 
of dogs more carefully than any one, conceives of them en 
masse as effects of an increased inertia in all the processes 
of innervation towards the side opposed to the lesion. All 
such movements require an unwonted effort for their exe 
cution ; and when only the normally usual effort is made 
they fall behind in effectiveness.* 

* J. Loeb : Beitriige zur Physiologic des Grosshirns; ; Pflliger s Ar- 
chiv, xxxix. 293. I simplify the author s statement. 



34 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



Even when the entire motor zone of a dog is removed, 
there is no permanent paralysis of any part, but only this 
curious sort of relative inertia when the two sides of the 
body are compared ; and this itself becomes hardly notice 
able after a number of weeks have elapsed. Prof. Goltz 
has described a dog whose entire left hemisphere was de 
stroyed, and who retained only a slight motor inertia on the 
right half of the body. In particular he could use his right 




FIG. 6. Left Hemisphere of Monkey s Brain. Outer Surface. 

paw for holding a bone whilst gnawing it, or for reaching 
after a piece of meat. Had he been taught to give his paw 
before the operations, it would have been curious to see 
whether that faculty also came back. His tactile sensi 
bility was permanently diminished on the right side.* In 
monkeys a genuine paralysis follows upon ablations of the 
cortex in the motor region. This paralysis affects parts of 
the body which vary with the brain-parts removed. The 
monkey s opposite arm or leg hangs flaccid, or at most takes a 
small part in associated movements. When the entire region 
is removed there is a genuine and permanent hemiplegia 
in which the arm is more affected than the leg; and this is 

* Goltz : PflUger s Arcbiv, XLII. 419. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 35 

followed months later by contracture of the muscles, as in 
man after inveterate hemiplegia.* According to Schaefer 
and Horsley, the trunk-muscles also become paralyzed after 
destruction of the marginal convolution on both sides (see 
Fig. 7). These differences between dogs and monkeys show 
the danger of drawing general conclusions from experiments 
done on any one sort of animal. I subjoin the figures given 
by the last-named authors of the motor regions in the 
monkey s brain, f 




FIG. 7. Left Hemisphere of Monkey s Brain. Mesial Surface. 



In man we are necessarily reduced to the observation 
post-mortem of cortical ablations produced by accident or 
disease (tumor, hemorrhage, softening, etc.). What results 
during life from such conditions is either localized spasm, 
or palsy of certain muscles of the opposite side. The cor 
tical regions which invariably produce these results are 
homologous with those which we have just been study 
ing in the dog, cat, a~e, etc. Figs. 8 and 9 show the result of 

* Hemiplegia means one-sided palsy. 

^ f Philosophical Transactions, vol. 179, pp. 6. 10 (1888). In a later paper 
(HM. p. 205) Messrs. Beevor and Horsley go into the localization still more 
minutely, showing spots from which single muscles or single digits can be 
made to contract. 



36 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



169 cases carefully studied by Exner. The parts shaded 
are regions where lesions produced no motor disturbance. 




FIG. 8. Right Hemisphere of Human Brain. Lateral Surface. 

Those left white were, on the contrary, never injured with 
out motor disturbances of some sort. Where the injury to 




FIG. 9. Right Hemisphere of Human Brain. Mesial Surface. 



the cortical substance is profound in man, the paralysis is 
permanent and is succeeded by muscular rigidity in the 
paralyzed parts, just as it may be in the monkey. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 37 

(3) Descending degenerations show the intimate connec 
tion of the rolandic regions of the cortex with the motor 
tracts of the cord. When, either in man or in the lower ani 
mals, these regions are destroyed, a peculiar degenerative 
change known as secondary sclerosis is found to extend 
downwards through the white fibrous substance of the 
brain in a perfectly definite manner, affecting certain dis 
tinct strands which pass through the inner capsule, crura, 
and pons, into the anterior pyramids of the medulla oblon- 
gata, and from thence (partly crossing to the other side) 
downwards into the anterior (direct) and lateral (crossed) 
columns of the spinal cord. 

(4) Anatomical proof of the continuity of the rolandic 
regions with these motor columns of the cord is also clearly 
given. Flechsig s Pyramidenbalm forms an uninter 
rupted strand (distinctly traceable in human embryos, 
before its fibres have acquired their white medullary 
sheath ) passing upwards from the pyramids of the me 
dulla, and traversing the internal capsule and corona radi- 
ata to the convolutions in question (Fig. 10). None of the 
inferior gray matter of the brain seems to have any connec 
tion with this important fibrous strand. It passes directly 
from the cortex to the motor arrangements in the cord, de 
pending for its proper nutrition (as the facts of degenera 
tion show) on the influence of the cortical cells, just as motor 
nerves depend for their nutrition on that of the cells of the 
spinal cord. Electrical stimulation of this motor strand in 
any accessible part of its course has been nhown in dogs to 
produce movements analogous to those which excitement 
of the cortical surface calls forth. 

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 
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, mispronounc- 



38 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



ing, misplacing, and misusing his words in various degrees. 
Sometimes his speech is a mere broth of unintelligible syl 
lables. In cases of pure motor aphasia the patient recog- 

Cort/c a / 




M spinal __J>. 

FIG. lO.-Sehematic Transverse Section of Brain showing Motor Strand -After 

-Ldinger. 

nizes his mistakes and suffers acutely from them. Now 
whenever a patient dies in such a condition as this, and 
an examination of his brain is permitted, it is found that 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 



39 



the lowest frontal gyrus (see Fig. 11) is the seat of injury. 
Broca first noticed this fact in 1861, and since then the 
gyrus has gone by the name of Broca s convolution. The 




Fio. 11. Schematic Profile 
destru 



jhematic Profile of T,eft Hemisphere, with the parts shaded whose 
ction causes motor ( Broca ) and sensory ( Weruicke ) Aphasia. 

injury in right-handed people is found on the left hemi 
sphere, and in left-handed people on the right hemisphere. 
Most people, in fact, are left-brained, that is, all then 
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 outwardly on account 
of that extensive decussation of the fibres whereby most of 
those from the left hemisphere pass to the right half of the 
body only. But the left-brainedness might exist in equal 
measure and not show outwardly. This would happen 
wherever organs on both sides of the body could be gov 
erned 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 hemi 
sphere can innervate them bilaterally, just as either seems 
able to innervate bilaterally the muscles of the trunk, ribs, 
and diaphragm. Of the special movements of speech, how- 



40 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ever, it would appear (from the 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. 

It will be noticed that Broca s region is homologous 
with the parts ascertained to produce movements of the 
lips, tongue, and larynx when excited by electric currents 
in apes (cf. Fig. 6, p. 34). The evidence is therefore as com 
plete as it well can be that the motor incitations to these 
organs leave the brain by the lower frontal region. 

Yictims of motor aphasia generally have other disorders. 
One which interests us in this connection has been called 
agraphia: they have lost the power to ivrite. They can 
read writing and understand it ; but either cannot use the 
pen at all or make egregious mistakes with it. The seat 
of the lesion here is less well determined, owing to an in 
sufficient number of good cases to conclude from.* There 
is no doubt, however, that it is (in right-handed people) on 
the left side, and little doubt that it consists of elements 
of the hand-and-arm region specialized for that service. 
The symptom may exist when there is little or no disability 
in the hand for other uses. If it does not get well, the 
patient usually educates his right hemisphere, i.e. learns 
to write with his left hand. In other cases of which we 
shall say more a few pages later on, the patient can write 
both spontaneously and at dictation, but cannot read even 
what he has himself written ! All these phenomena are 
now quite clearly explained by separate brain-centres for 
the various feelings and movements and tracts for associate 
ing these together. But their minute discussion belongs to 
medicine rather than to general psychology, and I can only 
use them here to illustrate the principles of motor locali 
zation, f Under the heads of sight and hearing I shall 
have a little more to say. 

* Nothuagel und Naunyn ; Die Localization in den Geliirnkrankheiten 
(Wiesbaden, 1887), p. 34. 

f An accessible account of the history of our knowledge of motor 
aphasia is in W. A. Hammond s Treatise on the Diseases .of the Nervous 
System, chapter vn. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 41 

The different lines of proof which I have taken up 
establish conclusively the proposition that all the motor 
impulses which leave the cortex pass out, in healthy animals, 
from the convolutions about the fissure of Rolando. 

When, however, it comes to denning precisely what is 
involved in a motor impulse leaving the cortex, things grow 
more obscure. Does the impulse start independently from 
the convolutions in question, or does it start elsewhere and 
merely flow through ? And to what particular phase of 
psychic activity does the activity of these centres corre 
spond ? Opinions and authorities here divide ; but it will 
be better, before entering into these deeper aspects of the 
problem, to cast a glance at the facts which have been 
made out concerning the relations of the cortex to sight, 
hearing, and smell. 

Sight. 

Ferrier was the first in the field here. He found, when 
the angular convolution (that lying between the intra 
parietal and * external occipital fissures, and bending 
round the top of the fissure of Sylvius, in Fig. 6) was ex 
cited in the monkey, that movements of the eyes and head 
as if for vision occurred ; and that when it was extirpated, 
what he supposed to be total and permanent blindness 
of the opposite eye followed. Munk almost immediately 
declared total and permanent blindness to follow from de 
struction of the occipital lobe in monkeys as well as dogs, and 
said that the angular gyrus had nothing to do with sight, 
but was only the centre for tactile sensibility of the eyeball. 
Munk s absolute tone about his observations and his theo 
retic arrogance have led to his ruin as an authority. But he 
did two things of permanent value. He was the first to 
distinguish in these vivisections between sensorial and 
psychic blindness, and to describe the phenomenon of resti 
tution of the visual function after its first impairment by 
an operation ; and the first to notice the hemiopic character 
of the visual disturbances which result when only one 
hemisphere is injured. Sensorial blindness is absolute 
insensibility to light ; psychic blindness is inability to rec 
ognize the meaning of the optical impressions, as when we 



42 PSYCHOLOGY. 

see a page of Chinese print but it suggests nothing to us. 
A hemiopic disturbance of vision is one in which neither 
retina is affected in its totality, but in which, for example, 
the left portion of each retina is blind, so that the animal 
sees nothing situated in space towards its right. Later 
observations have corroborated this hemiopic character of 
all the disturbances of sight from injury to a single hemi 
sphere in the higher animals ; and the question whether 
an animal s apparent blindness is sensorial or only psychic 
has, since Munk s first publications, been the most urgent 
one to answer, in all observations relative to the function of 
sight. 

Goltz almost simultaneously with Ferrier and Munk 
reported experiments which led him to deny that the 
visual function was essentially bound up with any one 
localized portion of the hemispheres. Other divergent 
results soon came in from many quarters, so that, without 
going into the history of the matter any more, I may report 
the existing state of the case as follows : * 

In fishes, frogs, and lizards vision persists when the 
hemispheres are entirely removed. This is admitted for 
frogs and fishes even by Munk, who denies it for birds. 

All of Munk s birds seemed totally blind (blind senso- 
rially) after removal of the hemispheres by his operation. 
The following of a candle by the head and winking at a 
threatened blow, which are ordinarily held to prove the 
retention of crude optical sensations by the lower centres 
in supposed hemisphereless pigeons, are by Munk ascribed 
to vestiges of the visual sphere of the cortex left behind 
by the imperfection of the operation. But Schrader, who 
operated after Munk and with every apparent guarantee of 
completeness, found that all his pigeons saw after two 
or three weeks had elapsed, and the inhibitions resulting 
from the wound had passed away. They invariably avoided 
even the slightest obstacles, flew very regularly towards 
certain perches, etc., differing toto ccelo in these respects 
with certain simply blinded pigeons who were kept with 

* The history up to 1885 may be found in A. Christian! : Zur Physi 
ologie des Gehirnes Berlin. 18sT>\. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 43 

them for comparison. They did not pick up food strewn 
on the ground, however. Schrader found that they would 
do this if even a small part of the frontal region of the 
hemispheres was left, and ascribes their non-self-feeding 
when deprived of their occipital cerebrum not to a visual, 
but to a motor, defect, a sort of alimentary aphasia.* 

In presence of such discord as that between Munk and 
his opponents one must carefully note how differently sig 
nificant is loss, from preservation, of a function after an opera 
tion on the brain. The loss of the function does not neces 
sarily show that it is dependent on the part cut out ; but its 
preservation does show that it is not dependent : and this is 
true though the loss should be observed ninety-nine times 
and the preservation only once in a hundred similar excisions. 
That birds and mammals can be blinded by cortical abla 
tion is undoubted ; the only question is, must they be so ? 
Only then can the cortex be certainly called the * seat of 
sight. The blindness may always be due to one of those 
remote effects of the wound on distant parts, inhibitions, 
extensions of inflammation, interferences, in a word, 
upon which Brown-Sequard and Goltz have rightly insisted, 
and the importance of which becomes more manifest every 
day. Such effects are transient ; whereas the symptoms of 
deprivation (Ausfallserscheinungen, as Goltz calls them) which 
come from the actual loss of the cut-out region must from 
the nature of the case be permanent. Blindness in the 
pigeons, so far as it passes away, cannot possibly be charged 
to their seat of vision being lost, but only to some influence 
which temporarily depresses the activity of that seat. 
The same is true mutatis mutandis of all the other effects of 
operations, and as we pass to mammals we shall see still 
more the importance of the remark. 

In rabbits loss of the entire cortex seems compatible 
with the preservation of enough sight to guide the poor 
animals movements, and enable them to avoid obstacles. 
Christian! s observations and discussions seem conclusively 

* Pfl tiger s Archiv, vol. 44, p. 176. Munk (Berlin Academy Sitzsungs- 
berichte, 1889, xxxi) returns to the charge, denying the extirpations of 
Schrader to be complete : Microscopic portions of the SelispMre must 



44 PSYCHOLOGY. 

to have established this, although Munk found that all his 
animals were made totally blind.* 

In dogs also Munk found absolute stone-blindness after 
ablation of the occipital lobes. He went farther and 
mapped out determinate portions of the cortex thereupon, 
which he considered correlated with definite segments of the 
two retinae, so that destruction of given portions of the cor 
tex produces blindness of the retinal centre, top, bottom, 
or right or left side, of the same or opposite eye. There 
seems little doubt that this definite correlation is mythologi 
cal. Other observers, Hitzig, Goltz, Luciani, Loeb, Exner, 
etc., find, whatever part of the cortex may be ablated on 
one side, that there usually results a hemiopic disturbance 
of loth eyes, slight and transient when the anterior lobes 
are the parts attacked, grave when an occipital lobe is the 
seat of injury, and lasting in proportion to the latter s 
extent. According to Loeb, the defect is a dimness of vis 
ion ( hemiamblyopia ) in which (however severe) the centres 
remain the best seeing portions of the retina, just as they 
are in normal dogs. The lateral or temporal part of each 
retina seems to be in exclusive connection with the cortex 
of its own side. The centre and nasal part of each seems, 
on the contrary, to be connected with the cortex of the 
opposite hemispheres. Loeb, who takes broader views 
than any one, conceives the hemiamblyopia as he con 
ceives the motor disturbances, namely, as the expression 
of an increased inertia in the whole optical machinery, of 
which the result is to make the animal respond with greater 
effort to impressions coming from the half of space opposed 
to the side of the lesion. If a dog has right hemiamblyopia, 
say, and two pieces of meat are hung before him at once, 
he invariably turns first to the one on his left. But if the 
lesion be a slight one, shaking slightly the piece of meat 
on his right (this makes of it a stronger stimulus) makes him 
seize upon it first. If only one piece of meat be offered, he 
takes it, on whichever side it be. 

When both occipital lobes are extensively destroyed 
total blindness may result. Munk maps out his Seh- 

* A. Christian!: Zur Physiol. d. Gehirnes (Berlin, 1885), chaps, n, in, iv. 
H. Munk : Berlin Akad. Stzgsb. 1884, xxiv. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 



45 



sphare definitely, and says that blindness must result 
when the entire shaded part, marked A, A, in Figs. 12 
and 13, is involved in the lesion. Discrepant reports 
of other observations he explains as due to incomplete 





FIG. 12. FIG. 13. 

The Dog s visual centre according to Munk, the entire striated region, A, A, being the 
exclusive seat of vision, and the dark central circle, A , being correlated with the 
retinal centre of the opposite eye. 

ablation. Luciani, Goltz, and Lannegrace, however, con 
tend that they have made complete bilateral extirpations 
of Munk s Sehsphare more than once, and found a sort 
of crude indiscriminating sight of objects to return in a 
few Aveeks.* The question whether a dog is blind or not 
is harder to solve than would at first appear ; for simply 
blinded dogs, in places to which they are accustomed, show 
little of their loss and avoid all obstacles; whilst dogs 
whose occipital lobes are gone may run against things fre 
quently and yet see notwithstanding. The best proof that 
they may see is that which Goltz s dogs furnished : they 
carefully avoided, as it seemed, strips of sunshine or paper 
on the floor, as if they were solid obstacles. This no really 
blind dog would do. Luciani tested his dogs when hungry 
(a condition which sharpens their attention) by strewing 

* Luciani und Scppili : Die Functions-Localization auf dev Grosshirn- 
rinde (Deutsch von Fraeukel), Leipzig, 1886, Dogs M, N, and S. Goltz in 
Pfluger s Archiv, vol. 84, pp. 490-6; vol. 42, p. 454. Cf. also Munk: Berlin 
Akad. Stzgsb. 1886, vii, vm, pp. 113-121, and Loeb: Pfluger s Archiv, 
vol. 39, p. 337. 



46 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



pieces of meat and pieces of cork before them. If they 
went straight at them, they saw; and if they chose the meat 
and left the cork, they saw discriminatingly. The quarrel 
is very acrimonious ; indeed the subject of localization of 
functions in the brain seems to have a peculiar effect on the 
temper of those who cultivate it experimentally. The 
amount of preserved vision which Goltz and Luciani report 
seems hardly to be worth considering, on the one hand; 
and on the other, Munk admits in his penultimate paper 
that out of 85 dogs he only succeeded 4 times in his opera 
tion of producing complete blindness by complete extirpa 
tion of his -Sehsphare. * The safe conclusion for us is that 
Luciani s diagram, Fig. 14, represents something like the 




FIG. 14. Distribution of the Visual Function in the Cortex, according to Luciani. 

truth. The occipital lobes are far more important for 
vision than any other part of the cortex, so that their com 
plete destruction makes the animal almost blind. As for 
the crude sensibility to light which may then remain, noth 
ing exact is known either about its nature or its seat. 

In the monkey, doctors also disagree. The truth seems, 
however, to be that the occipital lobes in this animal also are 
the part connected most intimately with the visual function. 
The function would seem to go on when very small portions 
of them are left, for Ferrier found no appreciable impair 
ment of it after almost complete destruction of them on both 
sides. On the other hand, he found complete and perma 
nent blindness to ensue when they and the angular gyri in 
addition were destroyed on both sides. Munk, as well as 

* Berlin Akad. Sitzungsberichte, 1886, vii, vm, p. 124. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 47 

Brown and Schaefer, found no disturbance of sight from 
destroying the angular gyri alone, although Ferrier found 
blindness to ensue. This blindness was probably due to 
inhibitions exerted in distans, or to cutting of the white 
optical fibres passing under the angular gyri on their way 
to the occipital lobes. Brown and Schaefer got complete 
and permanent blindness in one monkey from total destruc 
tion of both occipital lobes. Luciani and Seppili, perform 
ing this operation on two monkeys, found that the animals 
were only mentally, not sensorially, blind. After some 
weeks they saw their food, but could not distinguish by 
sight between figs and pieces of cork. Luciani and Seppili 
seem, however, not to have extirpated the entire lobes. 
When one lobe only is injured the affection of sight is 
hemiopic in monkeys: in this all observers agree. On 
the whole, then, Munk s original location of vision ID the 
occipital lobes is confirmed by the later evidence.* 

In man we have more exact results, since we are not 
driven to interpret the vision from the outward conduct. 
On the other hand, however, we cannot vivisect, but must 
wait for pathological lesions to turn up. The pathologists 
who have discussed these (the literature is tedious ad libi 
tum) conclude that the occipital lobes are the indispensable 
part for vision in man. Hemiopic disturbance in both eyes 
comes from lesion of either one of them, and total blindness, 
sensorial as well as psychic, from destruction of both. 

Hemiopia may also result from lesion in other parts, 
especially the neighboring angular and supra-marginal gyri, 
and it may accompany extensive injury in the motor region 
of the cortex. In these cases it seems probable that it is 
due to an actio in distans, probably to the interruption oi 

* H. Munk: Functionen der Grosshirnrinde (Berlin, 1881), pp. 36-40 
Ferrier : Functions, etc.,2ded., chap, ix, pt. i. Brown and Schaefer. 
Philos. Transactions, vol. 179, p. 321. Luciani u. Seppili, op. cit. pp. 
131-138. Lannegrace found traces of sight with both occipital lobes de 
stroyed, and in one monkey even when angular gyri and occipital lobes 
were destroyed altogether. His paper is in the Archives de Medeciue 
Experimentale for January and March, 1889. I only know it from the 
abstract in the Neurologisches Centralblatt, 1889, pp. 108-420. The reporter 
doubts the evidence of vision in the monkey. It appears to have consisted 
in avoiding obstacles and in emotional disturbance in the presence of men. 



48 PSYCHOLOGY. 

fibres proceeding from the occipital lobe. There seem to 
be a few cases on record where there was injury to the 
occipital lobes without visual defect. Ferrier has collected 
as many as possible to prove his localization in the angular 
gyrus.* A strict application of logical principles would make 
one of these cases outweigh one hundred contrary ones. And 
yet, remembering how imperfect observations may be, and 
how individual brains may vary, it would certainly be rash for 
their sake to throw away the enormous amount of positive 
evidence for the occipital lobes. Individual variability is 
always a possible explanation of an anomalous case. There 
is no more prominent anatomical fact than that of the de- 
cussation of the pyramids, nor any more usual pathologi 
cal fact than its consequence, that left-handed hemorrhages 
into the motor region produce right-handed paralyses. 
And yet the decussation is variable in amount, and seems 
sometimes to be absent altogether, f If, in such a case as 
this last, the left brain were to become the seat of apoplexy, 
the left and not the right half of the body would be the 
one to suffer paralysis. 

The schema on the opposite page, copied from Dr. 
Seguin, expresses, on the whole, the probable truth about the 
regions concerned in vision. Not the entire occipital lobes, 
but the so-called cunei, and the first convolutions, are the 
cortical parts most intimately concerned. Nothnagel agrees 
with Seguin in this limitation of the essential tracts. :[ 

A most interesting effect of cortical disorder is mental 
blindness. This consists not so much in insensibility to 
optical impressions, as in inability to understand them. 
Psychologically it is interpretable as loss of associations be 
tween 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, 

* Localization of Cerebral Disease (1878), pp. 117-8. 

t For cases see Flecbsig : Die Leitungsbahnen iu Gehiru u. Riickenmark 
(Leipzig, 1876), pp. 112, 272; Exner sUntersuchungen, etc., p. 83 ; Ferrier s 
Localization, etc., p. 11; Francois-Franck s Cerveau Moteur, p. 63, note. 

| E. C. Seguin : Hemianopsia of Cerebral Origin, in Journal of Nervous 
and Mental Disease, vol. xnr. p. 30. Notbuagel und Naunyn : Ueber die 
Localization der Gehirnkrankbeiten (Wiesbaden, 1887), p. 10. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 



49 



printed letters of the alphabet, or words, signify certain 
sounds and certain articulatory movements. If the con 
nection between the articulating or auditory centres, on the 
one hand, and the visual centres on the other, be ruptured 



L T. r. 



R.N. 




L.O.S L 0.0 

FIQ. 15. Scheme of the mechanism of vision, after Seguin. The cuneus convolution 
(0u) 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 cen 
tres (corpora geuiculata 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 2 of the rteht 
retina; and F. C. 8 are those going to the central or nasal half of the left retina 
O. D. is the right, and O. S. the left eyeball. The rightward half of each is there 
fore 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 Cu. 

we ought a priori to expect that the sight of words would 
fail to awaken the idea of their sound, or the movement for 
pronouncing them. We ought, in short, to have alexia, or 
inability to read : and this is just what we do have in many 



50 PSYCHOLOGY. 

cases of extensive injury about the fronto-teinporal regions, 
as a complication of aphasic disease. Nothnagel suggests 
that whilst the cuneus is the seat of optical sensations, the 
other parts of the occipital lobe may be the field of optical 
memories and ideas, from the loss of which mental blind 
ness should ensue. In fact, all the medical authors speak 
of mental blindness as if it must consist in the loss of visual 
images from the memory. It seems to me, however, that 
this is a psychological misapprehension. A man whose 
power of visual imagination has decayed (no unusual phe 
nomenon in its lighter grades) is not mentally blind in 
the least, for he recognizes perfectly all that he sees. On 
the other hand, he may be mentally blind, with his optical 
imagination well preserved ; as in the interesting case pub 
lished by Wilbrand in 1887.* In the still more interest 
ing case of mental blindness recently published by Lissauer,t 
though the patient made the most ludicrous mistakes, call 
ing for instance a clothes-brush a pair of spectacles, an um 
brella a plant with flowers, an apple a portrait of a lady, etc. 
etc., he seemed, according to the reporter, to have his men 
tal images fairly well preserved. It is in fact the momen 
tary loss of our wow-optical images which makes us mentally 
blind, just as it is that of our wow-auditory images which 
makes us mentally deaf. I am mentally deaf if, hearing a 
bell, I can t recall how it looks; and mentally blind if, see 
ing it, I can t recall its sound or its name. As a matter of 
fact, I should have to be not merely mentally blind, but 
stone-blind, if all my visual images were lost. For although 
I am blind to the right half of the field of view if my 
left occipital region is injured, and to the left half if my 
right region is injured, such hemianopsia does not deprive 
me of visual images, experience seeming to show that 
the unaffected hemisphere is always sufficient for pro 
duction of these. To abolish them entirely I should have 
to be deprived of both occipital lobes, and that would de 
prive me not only of my inward images of sight, but of my 



^ * Die Seelenblindheit, etc., p. 51 ff. The mental blindness was in 
this woman s case moderate in degree. 
t Archiv f. Psychiatric, vol. 21, p. 222. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 51 

sight altogether.* Kecent pathological annals seem to offer 
a few such cases. t Meanwhile there are a number of cases 
of mental blindness, especially for written language, coupled 
with hemianopsia, usually of the rightward field of view. 
These are all explicable by the breaking down, through 
disease, of the connecting tracts between the occipital lobes 
and other parts of the brain, especially those which go to 
the centres for speech in the frontal and temporal regions of 
the left hemisphere. They are to be classed among distur 
bances of conduction or of association ; and nowhere can I find 
any fact which should force us to believe that optical images 
needj be lost in mental blindness, or that the cerebral 
centres for such images are locally distinct from those for 
direct sensations from the eyes. 

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 interest- 

* Nothnagel (loc. cit. p. 22) says : " Dies trifft aber niclitzu." He gives, 
however, no case in support of his opinion that double-sided cortical lesion 
may make one stone-blind and yet not destroy one s visual images ; so that 
I do not know whether it is an observation of fact or an a priori as 
sumption. 

f In a case published by C. S. Freund : Archiv f. Psychiatric, vol. xx, the 
occipital lobes were injured, but their cortex was not destroyed, on both 
sides. There was still vision. Of. pp. 291-5. 

\ I say need, for I do not of course deny the possible coexistence of the 
two symptoms. Many a brain-lesion might block optical associations and at 
the same time impair optical imagination, without entirely stopping vision. 
Such a case seems to have been the remarkable one from Charcot which I 
shall give rather fully in the chapter on Imagination. 

Freund (in the article cited above Ueber optZsche Aphasie und 
Seelenblindheit ) and Bruns ( Ein Fall von Alexie, etc., in the Neuro- 
logisches Centralblatt for 1888, pp. 581, 509) explain their cases by broken- 
down conduction. Wilbraud, whose painstaking monograph on mental 
blindness was referred to a moment ago, gives none but a priori reasons for 
his belief that the optical Erinnerungsfeld must be locally distinct from 
the Wahrnehmungsfeld (cf. pp. 84, 93). The a priori reasons are really the 
other way. Mauthner ( Gehirn u. Auge (1881), p. 487 ff.) tries to show 
that the mental blindness of Muuk s dogs and apes after occipital mutila 
tion was not such, but real dimness of sight. The best case of mental 
blindness yet reported is that by Lissauer, as above. The reader will also 
do well to read Bernard : De 1 Aphasie (1885) chap, v; Ballet : Le Laugage 
Interieur (1886), chap, vin ; and Jas. Koss s little book on Aphasia (1887). 
p. 74 



52 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ing way how numerous the associative paths are 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 complete, neither 
sight, touch, nor sound avails to steer the patient, and a sort 
of dementia which has been called asymbolia 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 dis 
order can only come from extensive brain-injury.* 

The method of degeneration corroborates the other evi 
dence localizing the tracts of vision. In young animals one 
gets secondary degeneration of the occipital regions from 
destroying an eyeball, and, vice versa, degeneration of the 
optic nerves from destroying the occipital regions. The 
corpora geniculata, thalami, and subcortical fibres leading 
to the occipital lobes are also found atrophied in these 
cases. The phenomena are not uniform, but are indispu 
table ; f so that, taking all lines of evidence together, the 
special connection of vision with the occipital lobes is per 
fectly made out. It should be added that the occipital 
lobes have frequently been found shrunken in cases of in 
veterate blindness in man. 

Hearing. 

Hearing is hardly as definitely localized as sight. In the 
dog, Luciani s diagram will show the regions which directly or 
indirectly affect it for the worse when injured. As with sight, 
one-sided lesions produce symptoms on both sides. The 
mixture of black dots and gray dots in the diagram is meant 
to represent this mixture of crossed and uncrossed con 
nections, though of course no topographical exactitude is 
aimed at. Of all the region, the temporal lobe is the most 
important part ; yet permanent absolute deafness did not 

* For a case see Wernicke s Lelirb. d. Gehirnkrankhciten vol n p 
554 (1881). 

f The latest account of them is the paper Uber die optischen Cenlren 
Bahnen by von Monakow in the Archiv fur Psychiatric, vol. xx. p. 714. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 53 

result in a dog of Luciani s, even from bilateral destruction 
of both temporal lobes in their entirety. * 

In the monkey, Ferrier and Yeo once found permanent 
deafness to follow destruction of the upper temporal con 
volution (the one just below the fissure of Sylvius in Fig. 




FIG. 16. Luciani s Hearing Region. 

6) on both sides. Brown and Schaefer found, on the con 
trary, that in several monkeys this operation failed to notice 
ably affect the hearing. In one animal, indeed, both entire 
temporal lobes were destroyed. After a week or two of 
depression of the mental faculties this beast recovered and 
became one of the brightest monkeys possible, domineering 
over all his mates, and admitted by all who saw him to 
have all his senses, including hearing, perfectly acute. f 
Terrible recriminations have, as usual, ensued between the 
investigators, Ferrier denying that Brown and Schaefer s 
ablations were complete, J Schaefer that Ferrier s monkey 
was really deaf. In this unsatisfactory condition the sub 
ject must be left, although there seems no reason to doubt 
that Brown and Schaefer s observation is the more important 
of the two. 

In man the temporal lobe is unquestionably the seat of 
the hearing function, and the superior convolution adjacent 
to the sylvian fissure is its most important part. The phe 
nomena of aphasia show this. We studied motor aphasia a 
few pages back ; we must now consider sensory aphasia. 

* Die Functions-Localization, etc., Dog X; see also p. 161. 
f Philos. Trans., vol. 179, p. 312. 
$ Brain, vol. xi. p. 10. 
Ibid. p. 147 



54 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Our knowledge of this disease has had three stages : we 
may talk of the period of Broca, the period of Wernicke, 
and the period of Charcot. What Broca s discovery was we 
have seen. Wernicke 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, f In the seven cases 
oipure word-deafness which he has collected, cases in which 
the patient could read, talk, and write, but 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 a large majority of Dr. Starr s fifty 
cases, the power either to name objects or to talk coherently 
was impaired. This shows that in most of us (as Wernicke 
said) speech must go on from auditory cues ; that is, it 
must be that our ideas 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 possibility of this is abolished by the de 
struction 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 idiosyncrasy. The patient must innervate his 
speech-organs either from the corresponding portion of the 
other hemisphere or directly from the centres of ideation, 

* Der aphasische Symptomencomplex (1874). See in Fig. 11 the con 
volution marked WERNICKE. 

f The Pathology of Sensory Aphasia, Brain/ July, 1889. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 55 

those, namely, of vision, touch, etc., without leaning on the 
auditory region. It is the minuter analysis of the facts in 
the light of such individual differences as these which con 
stitutes Charcot s contribution towards clearing up the 
subject. 

Every namable thing, act, or relation has numerous 
properties, qualities, or aspects. In our minds the proper 
ties of each thing, together with its name, form an associated 
group. If different parts of the brain are severally con 
cerned 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 dynamic connec 
tion amongst all these brain-parts that the activity of any one 
of them wiJl be likely to awaken the activity of all the rest. 
When we are talking as we think, the ultimate process is that 
of utterance. If the brain-part for that be injured, speech 
is impossible or disorderly, even though all the other brain- 
parts be intact : and this is just the condition of things 
which, on page 37, we found to be brought about by 
limited lesion of the left inferior frontal convolution. But 
back of that last act various orders of succession are 
possible in the associations of a talking man s ideas. The 
more usual order seems to be from the tactile, visual, or 
other properties of the things thought-about to the sound 
of their names, and then to the latter s utterance. But if in 
a certain individual the thought of the look of an object or 
of the look of its printed name be the process which 
habitually precedes articulation, then the loss of the 
hearing centre will pro tanto not affect that individual s 
speech. He will be mentally deaf, i.e. his understanding of 
speech will suffer, but he will not be aphasic. In this way 
it is possible to explain the seven cases of pure word-deaf 
ness which figure in Dr. Starr s table. 

If this order of association be ingrained and habitual in 
that individual, injury to his visucd 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 



56 PSYCHOLOGY. 

aphasia which he was able to collect, finds that the lesions 
concentrate themselves in three places : first, on Broca s 
centre ; second, on Wernicke s ; third, on the supra-marginal 
and angular gyri under which those fibres pass which con 
nect the visual centres with the rest of the brain* (see Fig. 
17). With this result Dr. Starr s analysis of purely sensory 
cases agrees. 




Pio. li. 

In a later chapter we shall again return to these differences 
in the effectiveness of the sensory spheres in different 
individuals. Meanwhile few things show more beautifully 
than the history 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. f There is no centre of Speech in the brain any 
more than there is a faculty of Speech in the mind. The 
entire brain, more or less, is at work in a man who uses 
language. The subjoined diagram, from Koss, shows the 
four parts most critically concerned, and, in the light of our 
text, needs no farther explanation (see Fig. 18). 

*Nothnagel und Naunyn : op. eit., plates. 

f Ballet s and Bernard s works cited on p. 51 are the most accessible 
documents of Charcot s school. Bastian s book on the Brain as an Organ 
of Mind (last three chapters) is also good. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 



Smell. 



Everything conspires to point to the median descending 
part of the temporal lobes as being the organs of smell. 
Even Terrier and Munk agree on the hippocampal gyrus, 




Fia. 18. 

though Ferrier restricts olfaction, as Munk does not, to the 
lobule or uncinate process of the convolution, reserving the 
rest of it for touch. Anatomy and pathology also point to 
the hippocampal gyrus ; but as the matter is less interest 
ing from the point of view of human psychology than were 
sight and hearing, I will say no more, but simply add 
LucianiandSeppili s diagram of the dog s smell-centre.* Of 



*For details, see Ferrier s Functions, chap, ix. pt. m, and Chas. 
K. Mills : Transactions of Congress of American Physicians and Sur 
geons, 1888, vol. i. p. 278. 



58 



PSYCHOLOGY. 

Taste 



we know little that is definite. What little there is points 
to the lower temporal regions again. Consult Terrier as 
below. 

Touch. 

Interesting problems arise with regard to the seat of 
tactile and muscular sensibility. Hitzig, whose experiments 
on dogs brains fifteen years ago opened the entire subject 




Fia. 19. Luciani s Olfactory Region in the Dog. 

which we are discussing, ascribed the disorders of motility 
observed after ablations of the motor region to a loss of 
what he called muscular consciousness. The animals do 
not notice eccentric positions of their limbs, will stand with 
their legs crossed, with the affected paw resting on its back 
or hanging over a table s edge, etc.; and do not resist our 
bending and stretching of it as they resist with the un 
affected paw. Goltz, Munk, Schiff, Herzen, and others 
promptly ascertained an equal defect of cutaneous sensi 
bility to pain, touch, and cold. The paw is not withdrawn 
when pinched, remains standing in cold water, etc. Fer- 
rier meanwhile denied that there was any true anaesthesia 
produced by ablations in the motor zone, and explains 
the appearance of it as an effect of the sluggish motor 
responses of the affected side.* Munkf and Schiff J, on the 

* Functions of the Brain, chap. x. 14. 
tUeber die Functionen d. Grosshirnrinde (1881), p. 50 
JLezioni di Fisiologia sperirnentale sul sistema nervoso encefalico 
(1 73), p. 527 ff. Also Brain/ vol. ix. p. 298. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 69 

contrary, conceive of the motor zone as essentially sen 
sory, and in different ways explain the motor disorders as 
secondary results of the anaesthesia which is always there, 
Munk calls the motor zone the Fiihlsphare of the animal s 
limbs, etc., and makes it coordinate with the Sehsphiire, 
the Horsphiire, etc., the entire cortex being, according to 
him, nothing but a projection-surface for sensations, with 
no exclusively or essentially motor part. Such a view 
would be important if true, through its bearings on the 
psychology of volition. What is the truth? As regards 
the fact of cutaneous anaesthesia from motor-zone ablations v 
all other observers are against Ferrier, so that he is proba 
bly wrong in denying it. On the other hand, Munk and 
Schiff are wrong in making the motor symptoms depend on 
the anaesthesia, for in certain rare cases they have been 
observed to exist not only without insensibility, but with 
actual hypersesthesia of the parts.* The motor and 
sensory symptoms seem, therefore, to be independent 
variables. 

In monkeys the latest experiments are those of Horsley 
and Schaefer,f whose results Ferrier accepts. They find 
that excision of the hippocampal convolution produces tran 
sient insensibility of the opposite side of the body, and that 
permanent insensibility is produced by destruction of its 
continuation upwards above the corpus callosum, the so- 
called gyrus fornicatus (the part just below the calloso- 
marginal fissure in Fig. 7). The insensibility is at its maxi 
mum when the entire tract comprising both convolutions is 
destroyed. Ferrier says that the sensibility of monkeys is 
entirely unaffected by ablations of the motor zone,J and 
Horsley and Schaefer consider it by no means necessarily 



*Bechterew (Pfluger s Archiv., vol. 35, p. 137) found no anaesthesia in 
a cat with motor symptoms from ablation of sigmoid gyrus. Luciani got 
hypersesthesia coexistent with cortical motor defect in a dog, by simulta 
neously hemisecting the spinal cord (Luciani u. Seppili, op. cit. p. 234). 
Goltz frequently found hyperaesthesia of the whole body to accompany 
motor defect after ablation of both frontal lobes, and he once found it 
after ablating the motor zone (Pfliiger s Archiv, vol. 34, p. 471). 

f Philos. Transactions, vol. 179, p. 20 ff. 

| Functions, p. 375, 



60 PSYCHOLOGY. 

abolished.* Luciani found it diminished in his three ex 
periments on apes.f 

In man we have the fact that one-sided paralysis from 
disease of the opposite motor zone may or may not be 
accompanied with anaesthesia of the parts. Luciani, who 




FIG. 20. Luciani s Tactile Region in the Dog. 

believes that the motor zone is also sensory, tries to minim 
ize the value of this evidence by pointing to the insufficiency 
with which patients are examined. He himself believes that 
in dogs the tactile sphere extends backwards and forwards 
of the directly excitable region, into the frontal and parietal 
lobes (see Fig. 20). Nothnagel considers that pathological 
evidence points in the same direction ; ; and Dr. Mills, care 
fully reviewing the evidence, adds the gyri fornicatus and 
hippocampi to the cutaneo-muscular region in man. If one 
compare Luciani s diagrams together (Figs. 14, 16, 19, 20) 
one will see that the entire parietal region of the dog s skull 
is common to the four senses of sight, hearing, smell, and 
touch, including muscular feeling. The corresponding re 
gion in the human brain (upper parietal and supra-marginal 
gyri see Fig. 17, p. 56) seems to be a somewhat similar 
place of conflux. Optical aphasias and motor and tactile 
disturbances all result from its injury, especially when that is 
on the left side.ll The lower we go in the animal scale the 



* Pp. 15-17. f Luciani u. Seppili, op. cit. pp. 275-288. 
t Op. cit. p. 18. Trans, of Congress, etc., p. 272. 

j See Exner s Unters. lib. Localization, plate xxv. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 61 

less differentiated the functions of the several brain-parts 
seem to be.* It may be that the region in question still 
represents in ourselves something like this primitive condi 
tion, and that the surrounding parts, in adapting themselves 
more and more to specialized and narrow functions, have 
left it as a sort of carrefour through which they send cur 
rents and converse. That it should be connected with 
musculo-cutaneous feeling is, however, no reason why the 
motor zone proper should not be so connected too. And 
the cases of paralysis from the motor zone with no accom 
panying anaesthesia may be explicable without denying all 
sensory function to that region. For, as my colleague Dr. 
James Putnam informs me, sensibility is always harder to 
kill than motility, even where we know for a certainty that 
the lesion affects tracts that are both sensory and motor. 
Persons whose hand is paralyzed in its movements from 
compression of arm-nerves during sleep, still feel with their 
fingers ; and they may still feel in their feet when their legs 
are paralyzed by bruising of the spinal cord. In a simi 
lar way, the motor cortex might be sensitive as well as 
motor, and yet by this greater subtlety (or whatever the 
peculiarity may be) in the sensory currents, the sensibility 
might survive an amount of injury there by which the 
motility was destroyed. Nothnagel considers that there are 
grounds for supposing the muscular sense to be exclusively 
connected with the parietal lobe and not with the motor 
zone. " Disease of this lobe gives pure ataxy without palsy, 
and of the motor zone pure palsy without loss of muscular 
sense." f He fails, however, to convince more competent 
critics than the present writer,:]: so I conclude with them 
that as yet we have no decisive grounds for locating muscular 
and cutaneous feeling apart. Much still remains to be 
learned about the relations between musculo-cutaneous 
sensibility and the cortex, but one thing is certain: that 
neither the occipital, the forward frontal, nor the temporal 
lobes seem to have anything essential to do with it in man. 

* Cf. Ferrier s Functions, etc., chap, iv and chap, x, 6 to 9. 
f Op. cit. p. 17. 

\ E.g. Starr, loc. cit. p 272; Leyden, Beitrilge zur Lehre v. d. Localiza 
tion im Gehirn (1888), p. 72. 



62 PSYCHOLOGY. 

It is knit up with the performances of the motor zone and 
of the convolutions backwards and midtvards of them. The 
reader must remember this conclusion when we come tc 
the chapter on the Will. 

I must add a word about the connection of aphasia 
with the tactile sense. On p. 40 I spoke of those cases 
in which the patient can write but not read his own writ 
ing. He cannot read by his eyes ; but he can read by the 
feeling in his fingers, if he retrace the letters in the air. 
It is convenient for such a patient to have a pen in hand 
whilst reading in this way, in order to make the usual feel 
ing of writing more complete.* In such a case we must 
suppose that the path between the optical and the graphic 
centres remains open, whilst that between the optical and 
the auditory and articulatory centres is closed. Only thus 
can we understand how the look of the writing should fail 
to suggest the sound of the words to the patient s mind, 
whilst it still suggests the proper movements of graphic 
imitation. These movements in their turn must of course 
be felt, and the feeling of them must be associated with 
the centres for hearing and pronouncing the words. The 
injury in cases like this where very special combinations 
fail, whilst others go on as usual, must always be supposed 
to be of the nature of increased resistance to the passage 
of certain currents of association. If any of the elements of 
mental function were destroyed the incapacity would 
necessarily be much more formidable. A patient who can 
both read and write with his fingers most likely uses an 
identical graphic centre, at once sensory and motor, for 
both operations. 

I have now given, as far as the nature of this book will 
allow, a complete account of the present state of the locali 
zation-question. In its main outlines it stands firm, though 
much has still to be discovered. The anterior frontal lobes, 
for example, so far as is yet known, have no definite functions. 
G-oltz finds that dogs bereft of them both are incessantly in 
motion, and excitable by every small stimulus. They are 

* Bernard, op. cit. p. 84. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 63 

kascible and amative in an extraordinary degree, and their 
sides grow bare with perpetual reflex scratching ; but they 
show no local troubles of either motion or sensibility. In 
monkeys not even this lack of inhibitory ability is shown, 
and neither stimulation nor excision of the prefrontal lobes 
produces any symptoms whatever. One monkey of Horsley 
and Schaefer s was as tame, and did certain tricks as well 
after as before the operation.* It is probable that we have 
about reached the limits of what can be learned about brain- 
functions from vivisecting inferior animals, and that we 
must hereafter look more exclusively to human pathology 
for light. The existence of separate speech and writing 
centres in the left hemisphere in man ; the fact that palsy 
from cortical injury is so much more complete and endur 
ing in man and the monkey than in dogs ; and the farther 
fact that it seems more difficult to get complete sensorial 
blindness from cortical ablations in the lower animals than 
in man, all show that functions get more specially local 
ized as evolution goes on. In birds localization seems 
hardly to exist, and in rodents it is much less conspicuous 
than in carnivora. Even for man, however, Munk s way of 
mapping out the cortex into absolute areas within which 
only one movement or sensation is represented is surely 
false. The truth seems to be rather that, although there is 
a correspondence of certain regions of the brain to certain 
regions of the body, yet the several parts within each bodily 
region are represented throughout the whole of the corre 
sponding brain-region like pepper and salt sprinkled from 
the same caster. This, however, does not prevent each 
part from having its focus at one spot within the brain- 
region. The various brain-regions merge into each other 
in the same mixed way. As Mr. Horsley says : " There are 
border centres, and the area of representation of the face 
merges into that for the representation of the upper limb. 
If there was a focal lesion at that point, you would have 
the movements of these two parts starting together." f 

* Philos. Trans., vol. 179, p. 3. 

f Trans, of Congress of Am. Phys. and Surg. 1888, vol. i. p. 343. 
Beevor and Horsley s paper on electric stimulation of the monkey s bruin 
is the most beautiful work yet done for precision. See Phil. Trans., vol. 
179, p. 205, especially the plates. 



64 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



The accompanying figure from Paneth shows just how the 

matter stands in the dog.* 

I am speaking now of localiza 
tions breadthwise over the brain- 
surface. It is conceivable that 
there might be also localizations 
depthwise through the cortex. The 
more superficial cells are smaller, 
the deepest layer of them is large ; 
and it has been suggested that the 
superficial cells are sensorial, the 
deeper ones motor ;f or that the 
superficial ones in the motor region 
are correlated with the extremities 
of the organs to be moved (fingers, 
etc.), the deeper ones with the more 
central segments (wrist, elbow, 
etc.). J It need hardly be said that 
all such theories are as yet but 
guesses. 

We thus see that the postulate 
of Meynert and Jackson which we 
started with en p. 30 is on the whole 
most satisfactorily corroborated 
by subsequent objective research. 
The highest centres do probably 

FIG. 21. -Dog s motor centres, right contain nothing but arrangements 

hemisphere, according to Paneth. y 

The points of the motor region f or representing impressions and 

are correlated as follows with- " " * 

mnscies: the loops with the orbi- movements, and other arrangements 

culans palpebrarum; the plain . * 

crosses twith the flexor, the crosses f or coupling the activity O/ these 

inscribed in circles with the ex- J Jf "V ^ 

tensor, digitorum communis of arrangements together. Currents 

the fore-paw; the plain circles 

with the abductor poiiicis pouring in from the sense-organs 

longus; the doutle crosses with r 3 

the extensor communis of the first excite some arrangements, 

hind-limb. 

* Pfltiger s Archiv, vol. 37, p. 523 (1885). 

f By Lays in his generally preposterous book The Brain ; also by 
Horsley. 

\ C. Mercier : The Nervous System and the Mind, p. 124. 

The frontal lobes as yet remain a puzzle. Wundt tries to explain 
them as an organ of apperception (Grundzuge d. Pbysiologischen 
Psychologic, 3d ed.. vol. i. p. 233 If.), but 1 confess myself unable to appre 
hend clearly the Wundtian philosophy so far as this word enters into it. se 
must be contented with this bare reference. Until quite recently it wae 




FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 65 

which in turn excite others, until at last a motor discharge 
downwards of some sort occurs. When this is once 
clearly grasped there remains little ground for keeping 
up that old controversy about the motor zone, as to 
whether it is in reality motor or sensitive. 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 afferent, in another efferent, even the motor 
cells of the spinal cord having these two aspects insepara 
bly conjoined. Marique,* and Exner and Panethf have 
shown that by cutting round a motor centre and so sepa 
rating it from the influence of the rest of the cortex, the 
same disorders are produced as by cutting it out, so that 
really it is only the mouth of the funnel, as it were, 
through which the stream of innervation, starting from else 
where, pours ; J consciousness accompanying 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 occupies 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 ; and in subsequent chapters 
I expect to give confirmatory reasons for my view. 

MAN S CONSCIOUSNESS LIMITED TO THE HEMISPHEBES. 

But is the consciousness which accompanies the activity of 
the cortex the only consciousness that man has ? or are his lower 
centres conscious as well ? 

This, is a difficult question to decide, how difficult one 
only learns when one discovers that the cortex-conscious 
ness itself of certain objects can be seemingly annihilated 
in any good hypnotic subject by a bare wave of his opera- 
common to talk of an ideational centre as of something distinct from the 
aggregate of other centres. Fortunately this custom is already on the 
wane. 

* Rech. Exp. sur le Fonctionnement des Centres Psycho-moteurs (Brus 
sels, 1885). 

f Ptiiiger s Archiv, vol. 44, p. 544. 

\ I ought to add, however, that Fra^ois-Franck (Fonctious Motrices, 
p. 370) got, in two dogs and a cat, a different result from this sort of cir 
fjumvallation." 



66 PSYCHOLOGY. 

tor s hand, and yet be proved by circumstantial evidence to 
exist all the while in a split-off condition, quite as ejective * 
to the rest of the subject s mind as that mind is to the mind 
of the bystanders, f The lower centres themselves may 
conceivably all the while have a split-off consciousness of 
their own, similarly ejective to the cortex-consciousness; 
but whether they have it or not can never be known from 
merely introspective evidence. Meanwhile the fact that 
occipital destruction in man may cause a blindness which 
is apparently absolute (no feeling remaining either of light 
or dark over one half of the field of view), would lead us to 
suppose that if our lower optical centres, the corpora 
quadrigemina, and thalami, do have any consciousness, it 
is at all events a consciousness which does not mix with 
that which accompanies the cortical activities, and which 
has nothing to do with our personal Self. In lower 
animals this may not be so much the case. The traces of 
sight found (supra, p. 46) in dogs and monkeys whose occip 
ital lobes were entirely destroyed, may possibly have been 
due to the fact that the lower centres of these animals saw, 
and that what they saw was not ejective but objective to 
the remaining cortex, i.e. it formed part of one and the 
same inner world with the things which that cortex per 
ceived. It may be, however, that the phenomena were due 
to the fact that in these animals the cortical centres for 
vision reach outside of the occipital zone, and that destruc 
tion of the latter fails to remove them as completely as in 
man. This, as we know, is the opinion of the experiment 
ers themselves. For practical purposes, nevertheless, and 
limiting the meaning of the word consciousness to the per 
sonal self of the individual, we can pretty confidently answer 
the question prefixed to this paragraph by saying that the 
cortex is the sole organ of consciousness in man.$ If there 

* For this word, see T. K. Clifford s Lectures and Essays (1879), vol. n. 
p. 72. 

f See below, Chapter VIII. 

\ Cf. Ferrier s Functions, pp. 120, 147, 414. See also Vulpian: Le9ons 
sur la Physiol. du Syst. Nerveux, p. 548; Luciani u. Seppili, op. cit. pp. 
404-5; H. Maudsley: Physiology of Mind (1876), pp. 138 ff., 197 ff., and 
241 ff. In G. H. Lewes s Physical Basis of Mind, Problem IV: The Reflex 
Theory/ a very full history of the question is given. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 67 

be any consciousness pertaining to the lower centres, it is 
a consciousness of which the self knows nothing. 

THE RESTITUTION OF FUNCTION". 

Another problem, not so metaphysical, remains. The 
most general and striking fact connected with cortical in 
jury is that of the restoration of function. Functions lost at 
first are after a few days or weeks restored. How are ive 
to understand this restitution ? 

Two theories are in the field : 

1) Restitution is due to the vicarious action either of the 
rest of the cortex or of centres lower down, acquiring func 
tions which until then they had not performed ; 

2) It is due to the remaining centres (whether cortical or 
lower ) resuming functions which they had always had, 
but of which the wound had temporarily inhibited the 
exercise. This is the view of which Goltz and Brown- 
Sequard are the most distinguished defenders. 

Inhibition is a vera causa, of that there can be no doubt. 
The pneumogastric nerve inhibits the heart, the splanch 
nic inhibits the intestinal movements, and the superior 
laryngeal those of inspiration. The nerve-irritations which 
may inhibit the contraction of arterioles are innumerable, 
and reflex actions are often repressed by the simultaneous 
excitement of other sensory nerves. For all such facts the 
reader must consult the treatises on physiology. "What 
concerns us here is the inhibition exerted by different parts 
of ^ne nerve-centres, when irritated, on the activity of dis 
tant parts. The naccidity of a frog from shock, for a, 
minute or so after his medulla oblongata is cut, is an in 
hibition from the seat of injury which quickly passes away. 

What is known as surgical shock (unconsciousness, 
pallor, dilatation of splanchnic blood-vessels, and general 
syncope and collapse) in the human subject is an inhibition 
which lasts a longer time. Goltz, Freusberg, and others, 
cutting the spinal cord in dogs, proved that there were 
functions inhibited still longer by the wound, but which re 
established themselves ultimately if the animal was kept 
alive. The lumbar region of the cord was thus found to 
contain independent vase-motor centres, centres for erec- 



68 PSYCHOLOGY. 

tion, for control of the sphincters, etc., which could be 
excited to activity by tactile stimuli and as readily reinhib- 
ited by others simultaneously applied.* "We may therefore 
plausibly suppose that the rapid reappearance of motility, 
vision, etc., after their first disappearance in consequence 
of a cortical mutilation, is due to the passing off of 
inhibitions exerted by the irritated surface of the wound. 
The only question is whether all restorations of function 
must be explained in this one simple way, or whether some 
part of them may not be owing to the formation of entirely 
uew paths in the remaining centres, by which they become 
educated to duties which they did not originally possess. 
In favor of an indefinite extension of the inhibition theory 
facts may be cited such as the following : In dogs whose dis 
turbances due to cortical lesion have disappeared, they may 
in consequence of some inner or outer accident reappear in all 
their intensity for 24 hours or so and then disappear again, f 
In a dog made half blind by an operation, and then shut 
up in the dark, vision comes back just as quickly as in 
other similar dogs whose sight is exercised systematically 
every day4 A dog which has learned to beg before the 
operation recommences this practice quite spontaneously 
a week after a double-sided ablation of the motor zone. 
Occasionally, in a pigeon (or even, it is said, in a dog) 
we see the disturbances less marked immediately after 
the operation than they are half an hour later. | This 
would be impossible were they due to the subtraction of the 
organs which normally carried them on. Moreover the 
entire drift of recent physiological and pathological specu 
lation is towards enthroning inhibition as an ever-present 
and indispensable condition of orderly activity. We shall 
see how great is its importance, in the chapter on the "Will. 
Mr. Charles Mercier considers that no muscular contraction, 
once begun, would ever stop without it, short of exhaustion 



* Goltz : Pfltiger s Archiv, vol. 8, p. 460; Freusberg: ibid. vol. 10, p. 174 

f Goltz : Verrichtungen des Grosshirns, p. 78. 

$ Loeb : Pfltiger s Archiv, vol. 89, p. 276. 

Ibid. p. 289. 

|| Schrader : ibid. vol. 44, p. 21& 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 69 

of the system ; * and Brown-Sequard has for years been 
accumulating examples to show how far its influence ex 
tends, f Under these circumstances it seems as if error 
might more probably lie in curtailing its sphere too much 
than in stretching it too far as an explanation of the 
phenomena following cortical lesion. J 

On the other hand, if we admit no re-education of cen 
tres, we not only fly in the face of an a priori probability, 
but we find ourselves compelled by facts to suppose an 
almost incredible number of functions natively lodged in the 
centres below the thalami or even in those below the corpora 
quadrigemina. I will consider the a priori objection after 
first taking a look at the facts which I have in mind. They 
confront us the moment we ask ourselves just which are the 
parts ivhich perform the functions abolished by an operation 
after sufficient time has elapsed for restoration to occur ? 

The first observers thought that they must be the cor 
responding parts of the opposite or intact hemisphere. But as 
long ago as 1875 Carville and Duret tested this by cutting 
out the fore-leg-centre on one side, in a dog, and then, after 
waiting till restitution had occurred, cutting it out on the 
opposite side as well. Goltz and others have done the 
same thing. If the opposite side were really the seat of the 
restored function, the original palsy should have appeared 
again and been permanent. But it did not appear at all ; 
there appeared only a palsy of the hitherto unaffected side. 
The next supposition is that the parts surrounding the cut-out 
region learn vicariously to perform its duties. But here, 
again, experiment seems to upset the hypothesis, so far as 
the motor zone goes at least ; for we may wait till motility 
has returned in the affected limb, and then both irritate the 

* The Nervous System and the Mind (1888), chaps, in, vi; also in 
Brain, vol. xi. p. 361. 

f Brown-Sequard has given a resume of his opinions in the Archives 
de Physiologic for Oct. 1889, 5rne. Serie, vol. I. p 751. 

\ Goltz first applied the inhibition theory to the brain in his Verrich- 
tungen des Grosshirns, p. 39 ff. On the general philosophy of Inhibition 
the reader may consult Brunton s Pharmakology and Therapeutics, 1 
p. 154 ff., and also Nature/ vol. 27, p. 419 ff. 

E.g. Herzen, Herman u. Schwalbe s Jahres-bericht for 1886, PhysioL 
AJbth. p. 38. (Experiments on new-born puppies.? 



70 PSYCHOLOGY. 

cortex surrounding the wound without exciting the limb 
to movement, and ablate it, without bringing back the 
vanished palsy.* It would accordingly seem that the cere 
bral centres below the cortex must be the seat of the regained 
activities. But Goltz destroyed a dog s entire left hemi 
sphere, together with the corpus striatum and the thalamus 
on that side, and kept him alive until a surprisingly small 
amount of motor and tactile disturbance remained.t These 
centres cannot here have accounted for the restitution. He 
has even, as it would appear, J ablated both the hemispheres 
of a dog, and kept him alive 51 days, able to walk and stand. 
The corpora striata and thalami in this dog were also prac 
tically gone. In view of such results we seem driven, with 
M. Francois-Franck, to fall back on the ganglia lower still, 
or even on the spinal cord as the vicarious organ of which 
we are in quest. If the abeyance of function between the 
operation and the restoration was due exclusively to inhibi 
tion, then we must suppose these lowest centres to be in 
reality extremely accomplished organs. They must always 
have done what we now find them doing after function is 
restored, even when the hemispheres were intact. Of 
course this is conceivably the case ; yet it does not seem 
very plausible. And the a priori considerations which a 
moment since I said I should urge, make it less plausible 
still. 

For, in the first place, the brain is essentially a place of 
currents, which run in organized paths. Loss of function 
can only mean one of two things, either that a current can 
no longer run in, or that if it runs in, it can no longer run 
out, by its old path. Either of these inabilities may come 
from a local ablation; and restitution can then only mean 
that, in spite of a temporary block, an inrunning current has 
at last become enabled to flow out by its old path again 
e.g., the sound of give your paw discharges after some 

* Fran9ois-Franck : op. cit. p. 382. Results are somewhat contradictory. 

t Pfluger s Archiv, vol. 42, p. 419. 

j Neurologisches Centralblatt, 1889, p. 372. 

Op. cit. p. 387. See pp. 378 to 388 for a discussion of the whole 
question. Compare also Wundt s Physiol. Psych., 3d ed., i. 225 ff., and 
Luciani u. Seppili, pp. 243, 293. 



FUNCTIONS OP THE BRAIN. 71 

weeks into the same canine muscles into which it used to 
discharge before the operation. As far as the cortex itself 
goes, since one of the purposes for which it actually exists 
is the production of new paths/ the only question before 
us is : Is the formation of these particular vicarious paths 
too much to expect of its plastic powers ? It would cer 
tainly be too much to expect that a hemisphere should 
receive currents from optic fibres whose arriving -place with 
in it is destroyed, or that it should discharge into fibres of 
the pyramidal strand if their place of exit is broken down. 
Such lesions as these must be irreparable ivithin that 
hemisphere. Yet even then, through the other hemisphere, 
the corpus callosum, and the bilateral connections in the 
spinal cord, one can imagine some road by which the old 
muscles might eventually be innervated by the same in 
coming currents which innervated them before the block. 
And for all minor interruptions, not involving the arriving- 
place of the cortico-petal or the place of exit of the cortico- 
fugal fibres, roundabout paths of some sort through the 
affected hemisphere itself must exist, for every point of it 
is, remotely at least, in potential communication with every 
other point. The normal paths are only paths of least 
resistance. If they get blocked or cut, paths formerly more 
resistant become the least resistant paths under the changed 
conditions. It must never be forgotten that a current that 
runs in has got to run out somewhere ; and if it only once 
succeeds by accident in striking into its old place of exit 
again, the thrill of satisfaction which the consciousness 
connected with the whole residual brain then receives wil] 
reinforce and fix the paths of that moment and make them 
more likely to be struck into again. The resultant feeling 
that the old habitual act is at last successfully back again, 
becomes itself a new stimulus which stamps all the exist 
ing currents in. It is matter of experience that such feel 
ings of successful achievement do tend to fix in our memory 
whatever processes have led to them ; and we shall have 



* The Chapters on Habit, Association, Memory, and Perception will 
change our present preliminary conjecture that that is one of its essential 
uses, into an unshakable conviction. 



72 PSYCHOLOGY. 

a good deal more to say upon the subject when we come to 
the Chapter on the Will. 

My conclusion then is this : that some of the restitution 
of function (especially where the cortical lesion is not too 
great) is probably due to genuinely vicarious function on 
the p irt of the centres that remain ; whilst some of it 
is due to the passing off of inhibitions. In other words, 
both the vicarious theory and the inhibition theory are 
true in their measure. But as for determining that measure, 
or saying which centres are vicarious, and to what extent 
they can learn new tricks, that is impossible at present. 

FINAL CORRECTION OP THE MEYNERT SCHEME. 

And now, after learning all these facts, what are we to 
think of the child and the candle-flame, and of that scheme 
which provisionally imposed itself on our acceptance after 
surveying the actions of the frog ? (Cf. pp. 25-6, supra.) It 
will be remembered that we then considered the lower cen 
tres en masse as machines for responding to present sense- 
impressions exclusively, and the hemispheres as equally 
exclusive organs oi action from inward considerations or 
ideas ; and that, following Meynert, we supposed the hemi 
spheres to have no native tendencies to determinate activity, 
but to be merely superadded organs for breaking up the 
various reflexes performed by the lower centres, and com 
bining their motor and sensory elements in novel ways. It 
will also be remembered that I prophesied that we should 
be obliged to soften down the sharpness of this distinction 
after we had completed our survey of the farther facts. 
The time has now come for that correction to be made. 

Wider and completer observations show us both that the 
lower centres are more spontaneous, and that the hemi 
spheres are more automatic, than the Meynert scheme 
allows. Schrader s observations in Goltz s Laboratory on 
hemisphereless frogs* and pigeons f give an idea quite 
different from the picture of these creatures which is 
classically current. Steiner s J observations on frogs 

* Pfltiger s Archiv, vol. 41, p. 75 (1887). \lbid., vol. 44, p. 175 (1889) 
% Untersuchuugeii liber die Physiologic des Froschhirns. 1885. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 73 

already went a good way in the same direction, showing, 
for example, that locomotion is a well-developed function 
of the medulla oblongata. But Schrader, by great care 
in the operation, and by keeping the frogs a long time alive, 
found that at least in some of them the spinal cord would 
produce movements of locomotion when the frog was 
smartly roused by a poke, and that swimming and croaking 
could sometimes be performed when nothing above the 
medulla oblongata remained.* Schrader s hemisphereless 
frogs moved spontaneously, ate flies, buried themselves 
in the ground, and in short did many things which before 
his observations were supposed to be impossible unless the 
hemispheres remained. Steinerf and Yulpian have re 
marked an even greater vivacity in fishes deprived of their 
hemispheres. Vulpian says of his brainless carps:): that 
three days after the operation one of them darted at food 
and at a knot tied on the end of a string, holding the latter so 
tight between his jaws that his head was drawn out of 
water. Later, "they see morsels of white of egg; the 
moment these sink through the water in front of them, 
they follow and seize them, sometimes after they are on the 
bottom, sometimes before they have reached it. In captur 
ing and swallowing this food they execute just the same 
movements as the intact carps which are in the same aqua 
rium. The only difference is that they seem to see them at 
less distance, seek them with less impetuosity and less per 
severance in all the points of the bottom of the aquarium, 
but they struggle (so to speak) sometimes with the sound 
carps to grasp the morsels. It is certain that they do not 
confound these bits of white of egg with other white bodies, 
small pebbles for example, which are at the bottom of the 
water. The same carp which, three days after operation, 
seized the knot on a piece of string, no longer snaps at it 
now, but if one brings it near her, she draws away from it 
by swimming backwards before it comes into contact with 



* LOG. cit. pp. 80, 82-3. Schrader also found a biting-rettex developed 
when the medulla oblongata is cut through just behind the cerebellum, 
f Berlin Akad. Sitzungsberichte for 1886. 
j Comptes Rendus, vol. 102, p. 90. 



74 PSYCHOLOGY. 

her mouth."* Already on pp. 9-10, as the reader may re* 
member, we instanced those adaptations of conduct to ne^ 
conditions, on the part of the frog s spinal cord and thalami, 
which led Pfliiger and Lewes on the one hand and Goltz on 
the other to locate in these organs an intelligence akin to 
that of which the hemispheres are the seat. 

When it comes to birds deprived of their hemispheres, 
the evidence that some of their acts have conscious purpose 
behind them is quite as persuasive. In pigeons Schrader 
found that the state of somnolence lasted only three or four 
days, after which time the birds began indefatigably to 
walk about the room. They climbed out of boxes in which 
they were put, jumped over or flew up upon obstacles, and 
their sight was so perfect that neither in walking nor flying 
did they ever strike any object in the room. They had 
also definite ends or purposes, flying straight for more 
convenient perching places when made uncomfortable by 
movements imparted to those on which they stood ; and of 
several possible perches they always chose the most con 
venient. "If we give the dove the choice of a horizontal 
bar (Recti) or an equally distant table to fly to, she always 
gives decided preference to the table. Indeed she chooses 
the table even if it is several meters farther off than the bar 
or the chair." Placed on the back of a chair, she flies first 
to the seat and then to the floor, and in general " will for 
sake a high position, although it give her sufficiently firm 
support, and in order to reach the ground will make use of 
the environing objects as intermediate goals of flight, show 
ing a perfectly correct judgment of their distance. Although 
able to fly directly to the ground, she prefers to make the 
journey in successive stages. . . . Once on the ground, she 
hardly ever rises spontaneously into the air." f 

Young rabbits deprived of their hemispheres will stand, 
run, start at noises, avoid obstacles in their path, and give 
responsive cries of suffering when hurt. Eats will do the 
same, and throw themselves moreover into an attitude of 
defence. Dogs never survive such an operation if per 
formed at once. But Goltz s latest dog, mentioned on p. 

* Comptes Rendus de 1 Acad. d. Sciences, vol. 102, p. 1530. 
f Loc. cit. p. 216. 



FUNCTIONS Of THE BRAIN. 75 

70, which is said to have been kept alive for fifty-one days 
after both hemispheres had been removed by a series of 
ablations and the corpora striata and thalami had softened 
away, shows how much the mid-brain centres and the cord 
can do even in the canine species. Taken together, the 
number of reactions shown to exist in the lower centres by 
these observations make out a pretty good case for the Mey- 
nert scheme, as applied to these lower animals. That 
scheme demands hemispheres which shall be mere supple 
ments or organs of repetition, and in the light of these 
observations they obviously are so to a great extent. But 
the Meynert scheme also demands that the reactions of the 
lower centres shall all be native, and we are not absolutely 
sure that some of those which we have been considering 
may not have been acquired after the injury ; and it further 
more demands that they should be machine-like, whereas 
the expression of some of them makes us doubt whether 
they may not be guided by an intelligence of low degree. 

Even in the lower animals, then, there is reason to soften 
down that opposition between the hemispheres and the 
lower centres which the scheme demands. The hemi 
spheres may, it is true, only supplement the lower centres, 
but the latter resemble the former in nature and have 
some small amount at least of spontaneity and choice. 

But when we come to monkeys and man the scheme 
well-nigh breaks down altogether; for we find that the 
hemispheres do not simply repeat voluntarily actions which 
the lower centres perform as machines. There are many 
functions which the lower centres cannot by themselves 
perform at all. When the motor cortex is injured in a man 
or a monkey genuine paralysis ensues, which in man is 
incurable, and almost or quite equally so in the ape. Dr. 
Seguin knew a man with hemi-blindness, from cortical 
injury, which had persisted unaltered for twenty-three 
years. Traumatic inhibition cannot possibly account 
for this. The blindness must have been an Ausfallser- 
scheinung, due to the loss of vision s essential organ. It 
would seem, then, that in these higher creatures the lower 
centres must be less adequate than they are farther down 
in the zoological scale ; and that even for certain elementary 



76 PSYCHOLOGY. 

combinations of movement and impression the co-operation 
of the hemispheres is necessary from the start. Even in 
birds and dogs the power of eating properly is lost when 
the frontal lobes are cut off.* 

The plain truth is that neither in man nor beast are the 
hemispheres the virgin organs which our scheme called 
them. So far from being unorganized at birth, they must 
have native tendencies to reaction of a determinate sort.f 
These are the tendencies which we know as emotions and 
instincts, and which we must study with some detail in later 
chapters of this book. Both instincts and emotions are reac 
tions upon special sorts of objects of perception; they de 
pend on the hemispheres ; and they are in the first instance 
reflex, that is, they take place the first time the exciting ob 
ject is met, are accompanied by no forethought or delibera 
tion, and are irresistible. But they are modifiable to a 
certain extent by experience, and on later occasions of 
meeting the exciting object, the instincts especially have 
less of the blind impulsive character which they had at 
first. All this will be explained at some length in Chapter 
XXIV. Meanwhile we can say that the multiplicity of emo 
tional and instinctive reactions in man, together with his 
extensive associative power, permit of extensive recouplings 
of the original sensory and motor partners. The conse 
quences of one instinctive reaction often prove to be the 
inciters of an opposite reaction, and being suggested on later 
occasions by the original object, may then suppress the 
first reaction altogether, just as in the case of the child and 
the flame. For this education the hemispheres do not need 

* Goltz: Ptiflger s Archiv, vol. 42, p. 447 ; Schrader: ibid. vol. 44, p. 
219 ff . It is possible that this symptom may be an effect of traumatic 
inhibition, however. 

f A few years ago one of the strongest arguments for the theory that 
the hemispheres are purely supernumerary was Soltmann s often-quoted 
observation that in new-born puppies the motor zone of the cortex is not 
excitable by electricity and only becomes so in the course of a fortnight, 
presumably after the experiences of the lower centres have educated it to 
motor duties. Paneth s later observations, however, seem to show that 
Soltmann may have been misled through overnarcotizing his victims 
(Pfltiger s Archiv, vol. 37, p. 202). In the Neurologisches Centralblatt 
for 1889, p. 513, Bechterew returns to the subject on Soltmann s side with 
out, however, noticing Paneth s work. 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 77 

to be tabulae rasce at first, as the Meynert scheme would 
have them ; and so far from their being educated by the 
lower centres exclusively, they educate themselves.* 

We have already noticed the absence of reactions from 
fear and hunger in the ordinary brainless frog. Schrader 
gives a striking account of the instinctless condition of his 
brainless pigeons, active as they were in the way of loco 
motion and voice. " 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 in 
animate 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 activ 
ity 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 at 
tention 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 hemi- 



* Milnsterberg (Die Willenshaudlung, 1888, p. 134) challenges Meynert s 
scheme in toto, saying that whilst we have in our personal experience 
plenty of examples of acts which were at first voluntary becoming second 
arily automatic and reflex, we have no conscious record of a single origi 
nally reflex act growing voluntary. As far as conscious record is concerned, 
we could not possibly have it even if the Meynert scheme were wholly true, 
for the education of the hemispheres which that schesra postulates must 
in the nature of things antedate recollection. Bit it s^oa to me that 
Munsterberg s rejection of the scheme may pcsaibl/ be correct as regards 
reflexes from the lower centres. Everywhere in this department 0* P v 
chogenesis we are made to feel how ignorant wt, really an,. 



78 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Bphereless pigeon is in the highest degree tame, and fears 
man as little as cat or bird of prey." * 

Putting together now all the facts and reflections which 
we have been through, it seems to me that we can no longer 
hold strictly to the Meynert scheme. If anywhere, it will 
apply to the lowest animals ; but in them especially the 
lower centres seem to have a degree of spontaneity and 
choice. On the whole, I think that we are driven to sub 
stitute for it some such general conception as the following, 
which allows for zoological differences as we know them, 
and is vague and elastic enough to receive any number of 
future discoveries of detail. 

CONCLUSION. 

All the centres, in all animals, whilst they are in one 
aspect mechanisms, probably are, or at least once were, 
organs of consciousness in another, although the conscious 
ness is doubtless much more developed in the hemispheres 
than it is anywhere else. The consciousness must every 
where prefer some of the sensations which it gets to others ; 
and if it can remember these in their absence, however 
dimly, they must be its ends of desire. If, moreover, it can 
identify in memory any motor discharges which may have 
led to such ends, and associate the latter with them, then 
these motor discharges themselves may in turn become 
desired as means. This is the development of will ; and its 
realization must of course be proportional to the possible 
complication of the consciousness. Even the spinal cord 
may possibly have some little power of will in this sense, 
and of effort towards modified behavior in consequence of 
new experiences of sensibility, f 

* Pfltiger s Archiv, vol. 44, p. 230-1. 

f Naturally, as Schiff long ago pointed out (Lehrb. d. Muskel-u. Ner 
venphysiologie, 1859, p. 213 ff.),the Riickenmarksseele, if it now exist, 
can have no higher sense-consciousness, for its incoming currents are 
solely from the skin. But it may, in its dim way, both feel, prefer, and 
desire. See, for the view favorable to the text: G. H. Lewes, The Physiol 
ogy of Common Life (1860), chap. ix. Goltz (Nervencentren des Frosches 
1869, pp. 102-130) thinks that the frog s cord has no adaptative power. This 
may be the case in such experiments as his, because the beheaded frog a 



FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN. 79 

All nervous centres have then in the first instance one 
essential function, that of intelligent action. They feel, 
prefer one thing to another, and have ends. Like all 
other organs, however, they evolve from ancestor to descend 
ant, and their evolution takes two directions, the lower 
centres passing downwards into more unhesitating autom 
atism, and the higher ones upwards into larger intellectu 
ality.* Thus it may happen that those functions which 
can safely grow uniform and fatal become least accompanied 
by mind, and that their organ, the spinal cord, becomes a 
more and more soulless machine; whilst on the contrary 
those functions which it benefits the animal to have adapted 
to delicate environing variations pass more and more to the 
hemispheres, whose anatomical structure and attendant 
consciousness grow more and more elaborate as zoological 
evolution proceeds. In this way it might come about that 
in man and the monkeys the basal ganglia should do fewer 
things by themselves than they can do in dogs, fewer in dogs 
than in rabbits, fewer in rabbits than in hawks, f fewer in 
hawks than in pigeons, fewer in pigeons than in frogs, fewer 
in frogs than in fishes, and that the hemispheres should 
correspondingly do more. This passage of functions for 
ward to the ever-enlarging hemispheres would be itself one 
of the evolutive changes, to be explained like the develop 
ment of the hemispheres themselves, either by fortunate 
variation or by inherited effects of use. The reflexes, on 
this view, upon which the education of our human hemi 
spheres depends, would not be due to the basal ganglia 

short span of life does not give it time to learn the new tricks asked for. 
But Rosenthal (Biologisches Centralblatt, vol. iv. p. 247) and Mendelssohn 
(Berlin Akad. Sitzuugsberichte, 1885, p. 107) in their investigations on the 
simple reflexes of the frog s cord, show that there is some adaptation to new 
conditions, inasmuch as when usual paths of conduction are interrupted by 
a cut, new paths are taken. According to Rosenthal, these grow more 
pervious (i.e. require a smaller stimulus) in proportion as they are more 
often traversed. 

* Whether this evolution takes place through the inheritance of habits 
acquired, or through the preservation of lucky variations, is an alternative 
which we need not discuss here. We shall consider it in the last chapter 
in the book. For our present purpose the modus operandi of the evolution 
makes no difference, provided it be admitted to occur. 

f See Schrader s Observations, loc. cit. 



80 PSYCHOLOGY. 

alone. They would be tendencies in the hemispheres them* 
selves, modifiable by education, unlike the reflexes of the 
medulla oblongata, pons, optic lobes and spinal cord. Such 
cerebral reflexes, if they exist, form a basis quite as good 
as that which the Meynert scheme offers, for the acquisition 
of memories and associations which may later result in all 
sorts of changes of partners in the psychic world. The 
diagram of the baby and the candle (see page 25) can be 
re-edited, if need be, as an entirely cortical transaction. 
The original tendency to touch will be a cortical instinct ; 
the burn will leave an image in another part of the cortex, 
which, being recalled by association, will inhibit the touch 
ing tendency the next time the candle is perceived, and 
excite the tendency to withdraw so that the retinal picture 
will, upon that next time, be coupled with the original 
motor partner of the pain. We thus get whatever psycho 
logical truth the Meynert scheme possesses without en 
tangling ourselves on a dubious anatomy and physiology. 

Some such shadowy view of the evolution of the centres, 
of the relation of consciousness to them, and of the hemi 
spheres to the other lobes, is, it seems to me, that in which 
it is safest to indulge. If it has no other advantage, it at 
any rate makes us realize how enormous are the gaps in our 
knowledge, the moment we try to cover the facts by any 
one formula of a general kind. 



CHAPTER III. 
ON SOME GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY. 

THE elementary properties of nerve-tissue on which 
the brain-functions depend are far from being satisfactorily 
made out. The scheme that suggests itself in the first 
instance to the mind, because it is so obvious, is certainly 
false: I mean the notion that each cell stands for an idea 
or part of an idea, and that the ideas are associated or 
bound into bundles (to use a phrase of Locke s) by the 
fibres. If we make a symbolic diagram on a blackboard, 
of the laws of association between ideas, we are inevitably 
led to draw circles, or closed figures of some kind, and to 
connect them by lines. When we hear that the nerve-cen 
tres contain cells which send off fibres, we say that Nature 
has realized our diagram for us, and that the mechanical 
substratum of thought is plain. In some way, it is true, oui 
diagram must be realized in the brain ; but surely in no 
such visible and palpable way as we at first suppose.* An 
enormous number of the cellular bodies in the hemispheres 
are fibreless. Where fibres are sent off they soon divide into 
untraceable ramifications ; and nowhere do we see a simple 
coarse anatomical connection, like a line on the black 
board, between two cells. Too much anatomy has been 
found to order for theoretic purposes, even by the anat 
omists ; and the popular-science notions of cells and fibres 
are almost wholly wide of the truth. Let us therefore rele 
gate the subject of the intimate workings of the brain to 



* I shall myself in later places indulge in much of this schematization. 
The reader will understand once for all that it is symbolic; and that the 
use of it is hardly more than to show what a deep congruity there is between 
mental processes and mechanical processes of some kind, not necessarily p* 
the exact kind portrayed. 

81 



82 PSYCHOLOGY. 

the physiology of the future, save in respect to a few points 
of which a word must now be said. And first of 

THE SUMMATION OF STIMULI 

in the same nerve-tract. This is a property extremely im 
portant for the understanding of a great many phenomena 
of the neural, and consequently of the mental, life ; and it 
behooves us to gain a clear conception of what it means be 
fore we proceed any farther. 

The law is this, that a stimuli^ which itiould be inadequate by 
itself to excite a nerve-centre to effective discharge may, by acting 
ivith one or more other stimuli (equally ineffectual by themselves 
alone) bring the discharge about. The natural way to con 
sider this is as a summation of tensions which at last over 
come 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. Where the 
neural process is one that has consciousness for its accom 
paniment, the final explosion would in all cases seem to 
involve a vivid state of feeling of a more or less substantive 
kind. But there is no ground for supposing that the ten 
sions whilst yet submaximal or outwardly ineffective, may 
not also have a share in determining the total conscious 
ness present in the individual at the time. In later 
chapters we shall see abundant reason to suppose that they 
do have such a share, and that without their contribution 
the fringe of relations which is at every moment a vital in 
gredient of the mind s object, would not come to conscious 
ness at all. 

The subject belongs too much to physiology for the 
evidence to be cited in detail in these pages. I will throw 
into a note a few references for such readers as may be in> 
terested in following it out,* and simply say that the direct 
* Valentin: Archiv f. d. gesanimt. Physiol., 1873, p. 458. Stirling: 
Leipzig Acad. Berichte, 1875, p. 372 (Journal of Physiol., 1875). J 
Ward : Archiv f. (Anut. u.) Physiol., 1880, p. 72. H. Sewall : Johns 
Hopkins Studies, 1880, p. 30. Kronecker u. Nicolaides : Archiv f. 
(Anat. u.) Physiol., 1880, p. 437. Exner : Archiv f. die ges. Physiol., Bd. 
28, p. 487 (1882). Eckhard : in Hermann s Hdbch. d. Physiol., Bd. i/Thl. 
u. p. 31. Frangors-Franck : Lecons sur les Fonctions tuotrices du Cer- 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY. 83 

electrical irritation of the cortical centres sufficiently proves 
the point. For it was found by the earliest experimenters 
here that whereas it takes an exceedingly strong current 
to produce any movement when a single induction-shock 
is used, a rapid succession of induction-shocks ( faradiza 
tion ) will produce movements when the current is com 
paratively weak. A single quotation from an excellent 
investigation will exhibit this law under further aspects : 

" If wo continue to stimulate the cortex at short intervals with the 
strength of current which produces the minimal muscular contrac 
tion [of the dog s digital extensor muscle], the amount of contraction 
gradually increases till it reaches the maximum. Each earlier stimula 
tion leaves thus an effect behind it, which increases the efficacy of the 
following one. In this summation of the stimuli .... the following 
points may be noted : 1) Single stimuli entirely inefficacious when 
alone may become efficacious by sufficiently rapid reiteration. If the 
current used is very much less than that which provokes the first begin 
ning of contraction, a very large number of successive shocks may be 
needed before the movement appears 20, 50, once 106 shocks were 
needed. 2) The summation takes place easily in proportion to the 
shortness of the interval between the stimuli. A current too weak to 
give effective summation when its shocks are 3 seconds apart will be 
capable of so doing when the interval is shortened to 1 second. 3) 
Not only electrical irritation leaves a modification which goes to swell 
the following stimulus, but every sort of irritant which can produce a 
contraction does so. If in any way a reflex contraction of the muscle 
experimented on has been produced, or if it is contracted spontaneously 
by the animal (as not unfrequently happens by sympathy, during a 
deep inspiration), it is found that an electrical stimulus, until then 
inoperative, operates energetically if immediately applied." * 

Furthermore : 

"In a certain stage of the morphia-narcosis an ineffectively weak 
shock will become powerfully effective, if, immediately before its appli- 

veau, p. 51 ft ., 339. For the process of summation in nerves and muscles, 
cf. Hermann: ibid. Thl. i. p. 109, and vol. i. p. 40. Also Wundt: 
Physiol. Psych. , i. 243 ff . ; Ricliet : Travaux du Laboratoire de Marey, 1877, 
p. 97 ; L Homme et 1 Intelligence, pp. 24 ff., 468 ; Revue Philosophique, 
t. xxi. p. 564. Kronecker u. Hall: Archiv f. (Anat. u.) Physiol., 1879; 
Schoulein : ibid. 1882, p. 357. Sertoli (Hofinann and Schwalbe s Jahres- 
bericht, 1882. p. 25. De Watteville : Neurologisches Ceutralblatt, 1883, 
No. 7. Grilnhagen : Arch. f. d. ges. Physiol., Bd. 34, p. 301 (1884). 

*Bubnoff und Heidenhain : UeberErreguugs- uncl Hemmmigsvorgauge 
innerhalb der motorisclieii Hirucentren. Archiv f. d. ges. Physiol., Bd. 
26, p. 156(1881). 



84 PSYCHOLOGY. 

cation to the motor centre, the skin of certain parts of the body is 
exposed to gentle tactile stimulation. ... If, having ascertained the 
subminimal strength of current and convinced one s self repeatedly of its 
inefficacy, we draw our hand a single time lightly over the skin of the 
paw whose cortical centre is the object of stimulation, we find the cur 
rent at once strongly effective. The increase of irritability lasts some 
seconds before it disappears. Sometimes th 3 effect of a single light 
stroking of the paw is only sufficient to make the previously ineffectual 
current produce a very weak contraction. Repeating the tactile stimu 
lation will then, as a rule, increase the contraction s extent." * 

We constantly use the summation of stimuli in our 
practical appeals. If a car-horse balks, the final way of 
starting him is by applying a number of customary incite 
ments at once. If the driver uses reins and voice, if one 
bystander pulls at his head, another lashes his hind 
quarters, and the conductor rings the bell, and the dis 
mounted passengers shove the car, all at the same moment, 
his obstinacy generally yields, and he goes on his way re 
joicing. 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 stimulate a 
beast to pursuit, but if the sight of movement be added to 
that of form, pursuit occurs. " Briicke noted that his brain 
less 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." t 
"Dr. Allen Thomson hatched out some chickens on a carpet, 
where he kept them for several days. They showed no in 
clination to scrape, . . . but when Dr. Thomson sprinkled 
a little gravel on the carpet, . . . the chickens immediately 
began their scraping movements." J 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 circum- 



* Archiv f. d. ges. Physiol., Bd. 26, p. 176 (1881). Exner thinks (ibid. 
Bd. 28, p. 497 (1882) ) that the summation here occurs in the spinal cord. 
It makes no difference where this particular summation occurs, so far as 
the general philosophy of summation ?oes. 

f G H. Lewes : Physical Basis of Mind, p. 479, where many similar 
examples are given, 487-9. 

t Romanes : Mental Evolution In Animals, p. 168. 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN- ACTIVITY. 85 

stance alone may awaken outward manifestations, but to 
gether, i.e. when the strange man is met in the dark, the dog 
will be excited to violent defiance. * Street-hawkers well 
know the efficacy of summation, for they arrange themselves 
in a line upon the sidewalk, and the passer often buys from 
the last one of them, through the effect of the reiterated so 
licitation, what he refused to buy from the first in tne row. 
Aphasia shows many examples of summation. A patient 
who cannot name an object simply shown him, will name it 
if he touches as well as sees it, etc. 

Instances of summation might be multiplied indefinitely, 
but it is hardly worth while to forestall subsequent chapters. 
Those on Instinct, the Stream of Thought, Attention, Dis 
crimination, Association, Memory, ^Esthetics, and Will, will 
contain numerous exemplifications of the reach of the prin 
ciple in the purely psychological field. 

REACTION-TIME. 

One of the lines of experimental investigation most 
diligently followed of late years is that of the ascertain 
ment of the time occupied by nervous events. Helmholtz led 
off by discovering the rapidity of the current in the sciatic 
nerve of the frog. But the methods he used were soon 
applied to the sensory nerves and the centres, and the 
results caused much popular scientific 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 determina 
tion 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 ccelo fulmen, fore- 

* See a similar instance in Mach : Beitrage zur Analyse der Empfin- 
dungen, p. 36, a sparrow being the animal. My young children are afraid 
of their own pug-dog, if he enters their room after they are in bed and the 
lights are out. Compare this statement also : " The first question to a 
peasant seldom proves more than a flapper to rouse the torpid adjustments 
of his ears. The invariable answer of a Scottish peasant is, What s your 
wull? that of the English, a vacant stare. A second and even a third 
question may be required to elicit an answer." (R. Fowler: Some Obser 
vations on the Mental State of the Blind, and Deaf, and Dumb (Salisbury, 
1843), p. 14.) 



86 PSYCHOLOGY. 

shadowing the reign of a newer and colder race of gods, 
We shall take up the various operations measured, each in 
the chapter to which it more naturally pertains. I may 
say, however, 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. Velocity of nerve-action is 
liable to the same criticism, for in most cases we do not know 
what particular nerve-processes occur. What the times 
in question really represent is the total duration of certain 
reactions upon stimuli. Certain of the conditions of the reac 
tion are prepared beforehand ; they consist in the assump 
tion of those motor and sensory tensions which we name 
the expectant state. Just what happens during the actual 
time occupied by the reaction (in other words, just what 
is added to the pre-existent 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 subject, 
and at the same instant records itself on a time-register 
ing apparatus. The subject then makes a muscular move 
ment 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 observation. 
The time-registering instruments are of various types. 

Signal. Reaction. 



J I 



Reaction- line 
Time-line. 



FIG. 21. 



One type is that of the revolving drum covered with smoLed 
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 pendulum or a rod of metal 
vibrating at a known rate) traces alongside of the former 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN- ACTIVITY. 87 

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. 21, where the line is broken by the signal at the first 
arrow, and continued again by the reaction at the second. 
Ludwig s Kymograph, Marey s Chronograph are good ex 
amples of this type of instrument. 

Another type of instrument is represented by the stop 
watch, of which the most perfect form is Hipp s Chrono- 
scope. The hand on the dial measures intervals as short 
as j-fas of a second. The signal (by an appropriate electric 




FIG. 2-2. Bowditeh s Reaction-timer. F, tuning-fork carrying a little plate which 
holds the paper on which the electric pen M makes the tracing, and sliding in 
grooves on the base-board. P, a plug which spreads the prongs of the fork apart 
when it is pushed forward to its extreme limit, and releases them when it is drawn 
back to a certain point. The fork then vibrates, and, its backward movement con 
tinuing, an undulating line is drawn on the smoked paper by the pen. At T is a 
tongue fixed to the carriage of the fork, and at K an electric key which the tongue 
opens and with which the electric pen is connected. At the instant of opening, the 
t>en changes its place and the undulating line is drawn at a different level on the 
paper. The opening can be made to serve as a signal to the reacter in a variety 
of ways, and his reaction can be made to close the pen again, when the line re 
turns to its first level. The reaction time = the number of undulations traced at 
the second level. 

connection) starts it ; the reaction stops it ; and by reading 
off its initial and terminal positions we have immediately 
and with no farther trouble the time we seek. A still 
simpler instrument, though one not very satisfactory in its 
working, is the psychodometer of Exner & Obersteiner, 
of which I picture a modification devised by my colleague 
Professor H. P. Bowditch, which works very well. 

The manner in which the signal and reaction are con 
nected with the chronographic apparatus varies indefinitely 



88 PSYCHOLOGY. 

in different experiments. Every new problem requires 
some new electric or mechanical disposition of apparatus.* 

The least complicated time-measurement is that known 
as simple reaction-time, in which there is but one possible 
signal and one possible movement, and both are known in 
advance. The movement is generally the closing of an elec 
tric key with the hand. The foot, the jaw, the lips, even 
the eyelid, have been in turn made organs of reaction, and 
the apparatus has been modified accordingly, f The time 
usually elapsing between stimulus and movement lies be 
tween one and three tenths of a second, varying according 
to circumstances which will be mentioned anon. 

The subject of experiment, whenever the reactions are 
short and regular, is in a state of extreme tension, and feels, 
when the signal comes, as if it started the reaction, by a 
sort of fatality, and as if no psychic process of perception 
or volition had a chance to intervene. The whole succession 
is so rapid that perception seems to be retrospective, and 
the time-order of events to be read off in memory rather 
than known at the moment. This at least is my own per 
sonal experience in the matter, and with it I find others to 
agree. The question is, What happens inside of us, either 
in brain or mind ? and to answer that we must analyze just 
what processes the reaction involves. It is evident that 
some time is lost in each of the following stages : 

1. The stimulus excites the peripheral sense-organ 
adequately for a current to pass into the sensory nerve ; 

2. The sensory nerve is traversed ; 

3. The transformation (or reflection) of the sensory into 
a motor current occurs in the centres ; 

4. The spinal cord and motor nerve are traversed ; 

5. The motor current excites the muscle to the contract 
ing point. 

* The reader will find a great deal about chronographic apparatus in 
J. Marey : La Methode Grapbique, pt. n. chap. n. One can make pretty 
fair measurements with no other instrument than a watch, by making a 
large number of reactions, each serving as a signal for the following one, 
and dividing the total time they take by their number. Dr. O. W. Holmes 
first suggested this method, which has been ingeniously elaborated and 
applied by Professor Jastrow. See Science for September 10. 1886. 

I See, for a few modifications, Cattell, Mind, xi. 220 ff. 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY. 89 

Time is also lost, of course, outside the muscle, in the 
joints, skin, etc., and between the parts of the apparatus ; 
and when the stimulus which serves as signal is applied to 
the skin of the trunk or limbs, time is lost in the sensorial 
conduction through the spinal cord. 

The stage marked 3 is the only one that interests us 
here. The other stages answer to purely physiological 
processes, but stage 3 is psycho-physical ; that is, it is a 
higher-central process, and has probably some sort of con 
sciousness accompanying it. What sort? 

Wundt has little difficulty in deciding that it is con 
sciousness of a quite elaborate kind. He distinguishes 
between two stages in the conscious reception of an im 
pression, calling one perception, and the other apperception, 
and likening the one to the mere entrance of an object into 
the periphery of the field of vision, and the other to its 
coming to occupy the focus or point of view. Inattentive 
aivareness of an object, and attention to it, are, it seems to 
me, equivalents for perception and apperception, as Wundt 
uses the words. To these two forms of awareness of the 
impression Wundt adds the conscious volition to react, 
gives to the trio the name of psycho-physical processes, 
and assumes that they actually follow upon each other in 
the succession in which they have been named. * So at 
least I understand him. The simplest way to determine 
the time taken up by this psycho-physical stage No. 3 
would be to determine separately the duration of the sev 
eral purely physical processes, 1, 2, 4, and 5, and to sub 
tract them from the total reaction-time. Such attempts 
have been made, t But the data for calculation are too 

* Physiol. Psych., n. 221-2. Cf. also the first edition, 728-9. I must 
confess to finding all Wundt s utterances about apperception both vacil 
lating and obscure. I see no use whatever for the word, as he employs it, 
in Psychology. Attention, perception, conception, volition, are its ample 
equivalents. Why we should need a single word to denote all these things 
by turns, Wundt fails to make clear. Consult, however, his pupil Staude s 
article, Ueber den Begriff der Apperception, etc., in Wundt s periodical 
Philosophische Studien, i. 149, which may be supposed official. For a 
minute criticism of Wundt s apperception, see Marty. Vierteljahrschrift 
f. wiss. Philos. , x. 346. 

f By Exner, for example, Pfluger s Archiv, vn. 628 ff. 



90 PSYCHOLOGY. 

inaccurate for use, and, as Wundt himself admits, * the pre 
cise duration of stage 3 must at present be left enveloped 
with that of the other processes, in the total reaction-time. 
My own belief is that no such succession of conscious 
feelings as Wundt describes takes place during stage 3. 
It is a process of central excitement and discharge, with 
which doubtless some feeling coexists, but ivhat feeling we 
cannot tell, because it is so fugitive and so immediately 
eclipsed by the more substantive and enduring memory of 
the impression as it came in, and of the executed move 
ment of response. Feeling of the impression, attention to 
it, thought of the reaction, volition to react, ivould, undoubt 
edly, all be links of the process under other conditions, f and 
would lead to the same reaction after an indefinitely longer 
time. But these other conditions are not those of the 
experiments we are discussing ; and it is mythological psy 
chology (of which we shall see many later examples) to con 
clude that because two mental processes lead to the same 
result they must be similar in their inward subjective con 
stitution. The feeling of stage 3 is certainly no articulate 
perception. It can be nothing but the mere sense of a 
reflex discharge. The reaction ivhose time is measured is, 
in short, a reflex action pure and simple, and not a psychic 
act. A foregoing psychic condition is, it is true, a pre 
requisite for this reflex action. The preparation of the 
attention and volition ; the expectation of the signal and 
the readiness of the hand to move, the instant it shall come ; 
the nervous tension in which the subject waits, are all con 
ditions of the formation in him for the time being of a new 
path or arc of reflex discharge. The tract from the sense- 
organ which receives the stimulus, into the motor centre 
which discharges the reaction, is already tingling with pre 
monitory innervation, is raised to such a pitch of heightened 
irritability by the expectant attention, that the signal is 
instantaneously sufficient to cause the overflow.^ No other 
* P. 222. Cf. also Riohet, Rev. Philos., vi. 395-6. ~ 
t For instance, if, on the previous day, one had resolved to act on a 
signal when it should come, and it now came whilst we were engaged in 
other things, and reminded us of the resolve. 

" I need hardly mention that success in these experiments depends in 
a high degree on our concentration of attention. If inattentive, one gets 



GENEEAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY. 91 

tract of the nervous system is, at the moment, in this hair- 
trigger condition. The consequence is that one sometimes 
responds to a ivrong signal, especially if it be an impression 
of the same kind with the signal we expect.* But if by 
chance we are tired, or the signal is unexpectedly weak, 
and we do not react instantly, but only after an express 
perception that the signal has come, and an express voli 
tion, the time becomes quite disproportionately long (a 
second or more, according to Exner t), and we feel that the 
process is in nature altogether different. 

In fact, the reaction-time experiments are a case to 
which we can immediately apply what we have just learned 
about the summation of stimuli. Expectant attention is 
but the subjective name for what objectively is a partial 
stimulation of a certain pathway, the pathway from the 
4 centre for the signal to that for the discharge. In Chapter 
XI we shall see that all attention involves excitement from 
within of the tract concerned in feeling the objects to which 
attention is given. The tract here is the excito-motor arc 
about to be traversed. The signal is but the spark from 
without which touches off a train already laid. The per 
formance, under these conditions, exactly resembles any 
reflex action. The only difference is that whilst, in the 
ordinarily so-called reflex acts, the reflex arc is a permanent 
result of organic growth, it is here a transient result of 
previous cerebral conditions. ; 

very discrepant figures. . . . This concentration of the attention is in the 
highest degree exhausting. After some experiments in which I was con 
cerned to get results as uniform as possible, I was covered witli perspiration 
and excessively fatigued although I had sat quietly in my chair all the 
while." (Exner, loc. cit. vn. 618.) 

* Wundt, Physiol. Psych., n. 226. 

f Pfliiger s Archiv, vn. 616. 

\ In short, what M. Delboeuf calls an organe adventice. The reaction- 
time, moreover, is quite compatible with the reaction itself being of a reflex 
order. Some reflexes (sneezing, e.g.) are very slow. The only time- 
measurement of a reflex act in the human subject with which I am 
acquainted is Exner s measurement of winking (in Pfliiger s Archiv f. 
d. gesammt. Physiol., Bd. vui. p. 526, 1874). He found that when the 
stimulus was a flash of light it took the wink 0.2168 sec. to occur. A strong 
electric shock to the cornea shortened the time to 0.0578 sec. The ordinary 
reaction-time is midway between these values. Exuer reduces his times 
by eliminating the physiological process of conduction. His reduced 



92 PSYCHOLOGY. 

I am happy to say that since the preceding paragraphs 
(and the notes thereto appertaining) were written, Wundt 
has himself become converted to the view which I defend. 
He now admits that in the shortest reactions "there is 
neither apperception nor will, but that they are merely 
brain-reflexes due to practice." * The means of his conver. 
sion are certain experiments performed in his laboratory 
by Herr L. Lange, t who was led to distinguish between 
two ways of setting the attention in reacting on a signal, 
and who found that they gave very different time-results. 
In the extreme sensorial way, as Lange calls it, of reacting, 

minimum winking-time is then 0.0471 (ibid. 531), whilst his reduced reac 
tion-time is 0.0828 (itrid. vn. 637). These figures have really no scientific 
value beyond that of showing, according to Exner s own belief (vn. 531), 
that reaction-time and reflex-time measure processes of essentially the same 
order. His description, moreover, of the process is an excellent description 
of a reflex act. Every one," says he, " who makes reaction-time experi 
ments for the first time is surprised to find how little he is master of his own 
movements, so soon as it becomes a question of executing them with a 
maximum of speed. Not only does their energy lie, as it were, outside the 
field of choice, but even the time in which the movement occurs depends 
only partly upon ourselves. We jerk our arm, and we can afterwards tell 
with astonishing precision whether we have jerked it quicker or slower than 
another time, although we have no power to jerk it exactly at the wished-for 
moment." Wundt himself admits that when we await a strong signal with 
tense preparation there is no consciousness of any duality of appercep 
tion and motor response; the two are continuous (Physiol. Psych., II. 
226). Mr. Cattell s view is identical with the one I defend. "I think," 
he says, "that if the processes of perception and willing are present at all 
they are very rudimentary. . . . The subject, by a voluntary effort [before 
the signal comes], puts the lines of communication between the centre for" 
the stimulus " and the centre for the co-ordination of motions . .. in a state 
of unstable equilibrium. When, therefore, a nervous impulse reaches the" 
former centre, " it causes brain-changes in two directions; an impulse moves 
along to the cortex and calls forth there a perception corresponding to the 
stimulus, while at the same time an impulse follows a line of small resist 
ance to the centre for the co-ordination of motions, and the proper nervous 
impulse, already prepared and waiting for the signal, is sent from the 
centre to the muscle of the hand. When the reaction has often been 
made the entire cerebral process becomes automatic, the impulse of itself 
takes the well-travelled way to the motor centre, and releases the motor 
impulse." (Mind, xi. 232-3.) Finally, Prof. Lipps has, in his elaborate 
way (Grundtatsachen, 179-188), made mince-meat of the view that stage 3 
involves either conscious perception 01 conscious will. 

* Physiol. Psych., 3d edition (1887), vol. n. p. 266. 

f Philosophische Studien, vol. iv. p. 479 (1888). 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN- ACTIVITY. 93 

one keeps one s mind as intent as possible upon the ex 
pected signal, and purposely avoids * thinking of the move 
ment to be executed ; in the t extreme muscular way one 
1 does not think at all t of the signal, but stands as ready as 
possible for the movement. The muscular reactions are 
much shorter than the sensorial ones, the average differ 
ence being in the neighborhood of a tenth of a second. 
Wuudt accordingly calls them shortened reactions and, 
with Lange, admits them to be mere reflexes ; whilst the 
sensorial reactions he calls complete, and holds to his 
original conception as far as they are concerned. The 
facts, however, do not seem to me to warrant even this 
amount of fidelity to the original Wundtia.n position. 
When we begin to react in the extreme sensorial way, 
Lange says that we get times so very long that they must 
be rejected from the count as non-typical. " Only after 
the reactor has succeeded by repeated and conscientious 
practice in bringing about an extremely precise co-ordina 
tion of his voluntary impulse with his sense-impression 
do we get times which can be regarded as typical sensorial 
reaction-times/ J Now it seems to me that these excessive 
and untypical times are probably the real complete times/ 
the only ones in which distinct processes of actual percep 
tion and volition occur (see above, pp. 88-9). The typical 
sensorial time which is attained by practice is probably 
another sort of reflex, less perfect than the reflexes pre 
pared by straining one s attention towards the movement. 
The times are much more variable in the sensorial way 
than in the muscular. The several muscular reactions 
differ little from each other. Only in them does the phe 
nomenon occur of reacting on a false signal, or of reacting 
before the signal. Times intermediate between these two 
types occur according as the attention fails to turn itself 
exclusively to one of the extremes. It is obvious that Herr 
Lange s distinction between the two types of reaction is a 
highly important one, and that the extreme muscular 



*Loc. cit. p. 488. f Loc- cit. p. 487. \Loc. cit. p. 489. 

Lange has an interesting hypothesis as to the brain-process concerned 
in the latter, for which I can only refer to his essay- 



94 PSYCHOLOGY. 

method, giving both the shortest times and the most con 
stant ones, ought to be aimed at in all comparative investi 
gations. Herr Lange s own muscular time averaged 
(T.123 ; his sensorial time, 0".230. 

These reaction-time experiments are then 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, association-time) and then 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 pre 
liminary recognition and choice. "We shall see, however, 
in the appropriate chapters, that the discrimination and 
choice involved in such a reaction are widely different from 
the intellectual operations of which we are ordinarily con 
scious under those names. Meanwhile the simple reaction- 
time remains as the starting point of all these superinduced 
complications. It is the fundamental physiological con 
stant in ail time-measurements. As such, its own variations 
have an interest, and must be briefly passed in review.* 

The reaction-time varies with the individual and his age. 
An individual may have it particularly long in respect of 
signals of one sense (Buccola, p. 147), but not of others. 
Old and uncultivated people have it long (nearly a second, 
in an old pauper observed by Exner, Pfliiger s Archiv, VII. 
612-4). Children have it long (half a second, Herzen in 
Buccola, p. 152). 

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. (loc. cit. p. 626). 

* The reader who wishes to know more about the matter will find a 
most faithful compilation of all that has been done, together with much 
original matter, in G. Buccola s Legge del Tempo, etc. See also chap 
ter xvi of Wundt s Physiol. Psychology; Exner in Hermann s Hdbch., 
Bd. 2, Thl. ii. pp. 252-280; aJso Ribot s Contemp. Germ. Psych 
chap. vm. 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY. 95 

Fatigue lengthens it. 

Concentration of attention shortens it. Details will be 
given in the chapter on Attention. 

The nature of the signal makes it vary.* Wundt writes : 

u I found that the reaction-time for impressions on the skin with 
electric stimulus is less than for true touch-sensations, as the following 
averages show: 

Average. vtriSSS. 

Sound 0.167 sec. 0.0221 sec. 

Light 0.222 u 0.0219 " 

Electric skin-sensation 0.201 " 0.0115 " 

Touch-sensations 0.213 " 0.0134 " 

"I here bring together the averages which have been obtained by 
some other observers : 

Hirsch. Hankel. Exner. 

Sound 0.149 0.1505 0.1360 

Light 0.200 0.2246 0.1506 

Skin-sensation 0.182 0. 1546 0. 1337 " t 

Thermic reactions have been lately measured by A. 
Goldscheider and by Vintschgau (1887), who find them 
slower than reactions from touch. That from heat espe 
cially is very slow, more so than from cold, the differences 
(according to Goldscheider) depending on the nerve-ter 
minations in the skin. 

Gustatory reactions were measured by Vintschgau. They 
differed according to the substances used, running up to 
half a second as a maximum when identification took place. 
The mere perception of the presence of the substance on 
the tongue varied from 0".159 to 0".219 (Pfliiger s Archiv, 
xiv. 529). 

Olfactory reactions have been studied by Vintsehgau, 



*The nature of the movement also seems to make it vary. Mr. B. I. 
Oilman and I reacted to the same signal by simply raising our hand, and 
again by carrying our hand towards oiir back. The moment registered was 
always that at which the hand broke an electric contact in starting to 
move. But it started one or two hundredths of a second later when the 
more extensive movement was the one to be made. Orchansky, on the 
other hand, experimenting on contractions of the masseter muscle, found 
(Archiv f. (Anat. u.) Physiol., 1889, p. 187) that the greater the amplitude 
of contraction intended, the shorter grew the time of reaction. He 
explains this by the fact that a more ample contraction makes a greater 
appeal to the attention, and that this shortens the times. 

| Physiol. Psych., u. 223. 



96 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Buccola, and Beaunis. They are slow, averaging about 
half a second (cf. Beaunis, Recherches exp. sur 1 Activite 
Cerebrale, 1884, p. 49 ff.). 

It will be observed that sound is more promptly reacted 
on than either sight or touch. Taste and smell are slower 
than either. One individual, who reacted to touch upon 
the tip of the tongue in O x/ .125, took 0^.993 to react upon 
the taste of quinine applied to the same spot. In another, 
upon the base of the tongue, the reaction to touch being 
// .141, that to sugar was 0".552 (Vintschgau, quoted by 
Buccola, p. 103). Buccola found the reaction to odors to 
vary from 0".334 to 0".681, according to the perfume used 
and the individual. 

The intensity of the signal makes a difference. The in- 
tenser the stimulus the shorter the time. Herzen (Grund- 
linien einer allgem. Psychophysiologie, p. 101) 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. "Wundt tries to show that when the signal is 
made barely perceptible, the time is probably the same in 
all the senses, namely, about 0.332" (Physiol. Psych., 2d 
ed., n. 224). 

Where the signal is of touch, the place to which it is 
applied makes a difference in the resultant reaction-time. 
G. S. Hall and V. Kries found (Archiv f. Anat. u. Physiol., 
1879) that when the finger-tip was the place the reaction 
was shorter than when the middle of the upper arm was 
used, in spite of the greater length of nerve-trunk to be 
traversed in the latter case. This discovery invalidates the 
measurements of the rapidity of transmission of the current 
in human nerves, for they are all based on the method of 
comparing reaction-times from places near the root and 
near the extremity of a limb. The same observers found 
that signals seen by the periphery of the retina gave longer 
times than the same signals seen by direct vision. 

The season makes a difference, the time being some hun- 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN- ACTIVITY. 97 

dredths of a second shorter on cold winter days (Vintschgau 
apud Exner, Hermann s Hdbli., p. 270). 

Intoxicants alter the time. Coffee and tea appear to 
shorten it. Small doses of ivine and alcohol first shorten and 
then lengthen it ; but the shortening stage tends to disap 
pear if a large dose be given immediately. This, at least, 
is the report of two German observers. Dr. J. W. Warren, 
whose observations are more thorough than any previous 
ones, could find no very decided effects from ordinary doses 
(Journal of Physiology, vm. 311). Morphia lengthens the 
time. Amyl-nitrite lengthens it, but after the inhalation it 
may fall to less than the normal. Ether and chloroform 
lengthen it (for authorities, etc., see Buccola, p. 189). 

Certain diseased states naturally lengthen the time. 

The hypnotic trance has no constant effect, sometimes 
shortening and sometimes lengthening it (Hall, Mind, vm. 
170 ; James, Proc. Am. Soc. for Psych. Kesearch, 246). 

The time taken to inhibit a movement (e.g. to cease con 
traction of jaw-muscles) seems to be about the same as to 
produce one (Gad, Archiv f. (Anat. u.) Physiol., 1887, 468 ; 
Orchansky, ibid., 1889, 1885). 

An immense amount of work has been done on reaction- 
time, of which I have cited but a small part. It is a sort 
of work which appeals particularly to patient and exact 
minds, and they have not failed to profit by the opportunity. 

CEREBRAL BLOOD-SUPPLY. 

The next point to occupy our attention is the changes of 
circulation which accompany cerebral activity. 

All parts of the cortex, when electrically excited, produce 
alterations both of respiration and circulation. The blood- 
pressure rises, as a rule, all over the body, no matter where 
the cortical irritation is applied, though the motor zone is 
the most sensitive region for the purpose. Elsewhere the 
current must be strong enough for an epileptic attack to be 
produced.* Slowing and quickening of the heart are also 
observed, and are independent of the vaso-constrictive 
phenomenon. Mosso, using his ingenious plethysmo- 

* Francois- Franck, Fonctions Motrices, Le^on xxn. 



98 PSYCHOLOGY. 

graph as an indicator, discovered that the blood-supply to 
the arms diminished during intellectual activity, and found 
furthermore that the arterial tension (as shown by the 
sphygmograph) was increased in these members (see 



FIG. 23. Sphymographic pulse-tracing. A, during intellectual repose ; B, during in 
tellectual activity. (Mosso.) 

Fig. 23). So slight an emotion as that produced by the 
entrance of Professor Ludwig into the laboratory was in 
stantly followed by a shrinkage of the arms.* The brain 
itself is an excessively vascular organ, a sponge full of 
blood, in fact ; and another of Mosso s inventions showed 
that when less blood went to the arms, more went to the 
head. The subject to be observed lay on a delicately bal 
anced table which could tip downward either at the head 
or at the foot if the weight of either end were increased. 
The moment emotional or intellectual activity began in the 
subject, down went the balance at the head-end, in conse 
quence of the redistribution of blood in his system. But 
the best proof of the immediate afflux of blood to the brain 
during mental activity 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, f 
this physiologist was enabled to let the brain-pulse record 
itself diroctly 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 

* La Paura(1884), p. 117. 

t Ueber den Kreislauf des Blutes im menschlicheii Gehirn (1881). 
chap. ii. The Introduction gives the history of our previous knowledge 
:>f the subject. 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY. 

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 
voom 3 and that this had given her a slight emotion. 

The fluctuations of the blood supply to the brain were 
independent of respiratory changes,* and followed the 
quickening of mental activity almost immediately. We 
must suppose a very delicate adjustment whereby the cir 
culation follows the needs of the cerebral activity. Blood 
very likely may rush to each region of the cortex accord 
ing as it is most active, but of this we know nothing. I need 
hardly say that the activity of the nervous matter is the 
primary phenomenon, and the afflux of blood its secondary 
consequence. Many popular writers talk as if it were 
the other way about, and as if mental activity were due to 
the afflux of blood. But, as Professor H. N. Martin has 
well said, "that belief has no physiological foundation 
whatever; it is even directly opposed to all that we know of 
cell life."f A chronic pathological congestion may, it is true, 
have secondary consequences, but the primary congestions 
which we have been considering follow the activity of the 
brain-cells by an adaptive reflex vaso-motor mechanism 
doubtless as elaborate as that which harmonizes blood- 
supply with cell-action in any muscle or gland. 

Of the changes in the cerebral circulation during sleep 
I will speak in the chapter which treats of that subject. 

CEREBRAL THERMOMETRY. 

Brain-activity seems accompanied by a local disengagement 
of heat. The earliest careful work in this direction was by 
Dr. J. S. Lombard in 1867. Dr. Lombard s latest results in 
clude the records of over 60,000 observations.^: He noted the 

* In this conclusion M. Gley (Archives de Pbysiologie, 1881, p. 742) 
agrees with Professor Mosso. Gley found his pulse rise 1-3 beats, his 
carotid dilate, and his radial artery contract during hard mental work. 
f Address before Med. and Chirurg. Society of Maryland, 1879 
^ See his book. "Experimental Researches on the Regional Tempera 
lure of the Head" (London. 1879). 



100 PSYCHOLOGY. 

changes in delicate thermometers and electric piles placed 
against the scalp in human beings, and found that any intel 
lectual effort, such as computing, composing, reciting poetry 
silently or aloud, and especially that emotional excitement 
such as an anger fit, caused a general rise of temperature, 
which rarely exceeded a degree Fahrenheit. The rise was 
in most cases more marked in the middle region of the head 
than elsewhere. Strange to say, it was greater in reciting 
poetry silently than in reciting it aloud. Dr. Lombard s 
explanation is that " in internal recitation an additional 
portion of energy, which in recitation aloud was con 
verted into nervous and muscular force, now appears as 
heat." * I should suggest rather, if we must have a theory, 
that the surplus of heat in recitation to one s self is due to 
inhibitory processes which are absent when we recite aloud. 
In the chapter on the Will we shall see that the simple cen 
tral process is to speak when we think ; to think silently 
involves a check in addition. In 1870 the indefatigable 
Schiff took up the subject, experimenting on live dogs and 
chickens, plunging thermo-electric needles into the sub 
stance of their brain, to eliminate possible errors from 
vascular changes in the skin when the thermometers were 
placed upon the scalp. After habituation was established, 
he tested the animals with various sensations, tactile, optic, 
olfactory, and auditory. He found very regularly an im 
mediate deflection of the galvanometer, indicating an abrupt 
alteration of the intra-cerebral temperature. When, for in 
stance, 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 
experiments 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, t Dr. E. W. Amidon in 1880 made 
a farther step forward, in localizing the heat produced by 
voluntary muscular contractions. Applying a number of 

* Loc. cit. p. 195. 

f The most convenient account of Schiff s experiments is by Prof, 
fierzen, in the Revue Philosophique, vol. in. p. 36. 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN- ACTIVITY. 101 

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. As a re 
sult of his investigations he gives a diagram in which num 
bered regions represent the centres of highest temperature 
for the various special movements which were investigated. 
To a large extent they 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. 

Chemical action must of course accompany brain-activity. 
But little definite is known of its exact nature. Cholesterin 
and creatin are both excrementitious products, and are 
both found in the brain. The subject belongs to chemistry 
rather than to psychology, and I only mention it here for 
the sake of saying a word about a wide-spread popu 
lar error about brain-activity and phosphorus. Ohm 
Phosphor, kein Gedanke, was a noted war-cry of the 
materialists during the excitement on that subject which 
filled Germany in the 60s. 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 
phosphorus. In America the phosphorus-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 facts may be 
doubted. 

The only straight way to ascertain the importance of 

* A New Study of Cerebral Cortical Localization (N. Y., Putnam, 
1880), pp. 48-53. 



1TJ2 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 PO 6 in the urine, which repre 
sents other organs as well as the brain, and this procedure, 
as Dr. Edes says, is like measuring the rise of water at the 
mouth of the Mississippi to tell where there has been a 
thunder-storm in Minnesota.* It has been adopted, how 
ever, 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. There are differences be 
tween the alkaline and earthy phosphates into which I will 
not enter, as my only aim is to show that the popular way 
of looking at the matter has no exact foundation, f 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 

* Archives of Medicine, vol. x, No. 1 (1883). 

f Without multiplying references, I will simply cite Mendel (Archiv f . 
Psychiatric, vol. in, 1871), Mairet (Archives de Neurologic, vol. ix, 1885), 
and Beaunis (Rech. Experimentales sur 1 Activite Cerebrale, 1887). Richet 
gives a partial bibliography in the Revue Scientifique, vol. 38, p. 788 (1886). 



GENERAL CONDITIONS OF BRAIN-ACTIVITY. 103 

be in the remotest degree compared with the stream of 
thought that accompanies the brain s material secretions. 

There remains another feature of general brain-physi 
ology, and indeed for psychological purposes the most 
important feature of all. I refer to the aptitude of the brain 
for acquiring habits. But I will treat of that in a chapter 
by itself. 



OHAPTEK IV.* 
HABIT. 

WHEN we look at living creatures from an outward point 
of view, one of the first things that strike us is that they 
are bundles of habits. In wild animals, the usual round of 
daily behavior seems a necessity implanted at birth; in 
animals domesticated, and especially in man, it seems, to a 
great extent, to be the result of education. The habits to 
which there is an innate tendency are called instincts ; some 
of those due to education would by most persons be called 
acts of reason. It thus appears that habit covers a very 
large part of life, and that one engaged in studying the 
objective manifestations of mind is bound at the very out 
set to define clearly just what its limits are. 

The moment one tries to define what habit is, one is led 
to the fundamental properties 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, how 
ever, the habits are more variable than this. Even instincts 
vary from one individual to another of a kind; and are 
modified in the same individual, as we shall later see, to 
suit the exigencies of the case. The habits of an elemen 
tary particle of matter cannot change (on the principles of 
the atomistic philosophy), 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 tensions can, from one hour to another, turn that 
structure into something different from what it was. That 
is, they can do so if the body be plastic enough to maintain 

* This chapter has already appeared in the Popular Science Monthly 
for February 1887. 

104 



HABIT. 105 

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 struc 
ture 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 wliich their 
bodies are composed. 

But 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 mat 
ter. Thus, M. Leon Dumont, whose essay on habit is per 
haps the most philosophical account yet published, 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 out 
set more force was required to overcome certain roughnesses in the 
mechanism. The overcoming of their resistance is a phenomenon of 
habituation. It costs less trouble to fold a paper when it has been 

* In the sense above explained, which applies to inner structure as well 
as to outer form. 



106 PSYCHOLOGY. 

folded already. This saving of trouble is due to the essential nature ot 
habit, which brings it about that, to reproduce the effect, a less amount 
of the outward cause is required. The sounds of a violin improve by 
use in the hands of an able artist, because the fibres of the wood at last 
contract habits of vibration conformed to harmonic relations. This is 
what gives such inestimable value to instruments that have belonged to 
great masters. Water, in flowing, hollows out for itself a channel, which 
grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, 
when it flows again, the path traced by itself before. Just so, the im 
pressions of outer objects fashion for themselves in the nervous system 
more and more appropriate paths, and these vital phenomena recur 
under similar excitements from without, when they have been inter 
rupted 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 re 
currence more prone to a relapse, until often the morbid 
state chronically substitutes itself for the sound one. And 
if we ascend to the nervous system, we find 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 pos 
session of the field again, and to bring the organs back to 
functions of health. Epilepsies, neuralgias, convulsive affec 
tions 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. 

Can we now form a notion of what the inward physical 
changes may be like, in organs whose habits have thus 



* Revne Philosophique, i, 324. 



HABIT. 107 

struck into new paths ? In other words, can we say just 
what mechanical facts the expression change of habit 1 
covers when it is applied to a nervous system ? Certainly 
we cannot in anything like a minute or definite way. But 
our usual scientific custom of interpreting hidden molecular 
events after the analogy of visible massive ones enables us to 
frame easily an abstract and general scheme of processes 
which the physical changes in question may be like. And 
when once the possibility of some kind of mechanical inter 
pretation is established, Mechanical Science, in her present 
mood, will not hesitate to set her brand of ownership upon 
the matter, feeling sure that it is only a question of time 
when the exact mechanical explanation of the case shall be 
found out. 

If habits are due to the plasticity of materials to out 
ward 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 the forces to which all the other organs of our body are 
exposed ; for nature has carefully shut up our brain and 
spinal cord in bony boxes, where no influences of this sort 
can get at them. She has floated them in fluid so that 
only the severest shocks can give them a concussion, and 
blanketed and wrapped them about in an altogether excep 
tional way. The only impressions that can be made upon 
them are through the blood, on the one hand, and through 
the sensory nerve-roots, on the other ; and it is to the infi 
nitely 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 



108 PSYCHOLOGY. 

discharge ; and its anatomical substratum must be a path 
in the system. The most complex habits, as we shall 
presently see more fully, are, from the same point of view, 
1 nothing but concatenated discharges in the nerve-centres, 
lue to the presence there of systems of reflex paths, so 
>rganized 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. The only diffi 
cult mechanical problem is to explain the formation de novo 
of a simple reflex or path in a pre-existing nervous system. 
Here, as in so many other cases, it is only the premier pas 
qui coute. For the entire nervous system is nothing but a 
system of paths between a sensory terminus a quo and a mus 
cular, glandular, or other terminus ad quern. A path once 
traversed by a nerve-current might be expected to follow 
the law of most of the paths we know, and to be scooped 
out and made more permeable than before ; * and this ought 
to be repeated with each new passage of the current. 
Whatever obstructions may have kept it at first from being 
a path should then, little by little, and more and more, be 
swept out of the way, until at last it might become a natural 
drainage-channel. This is what happens where either 
solids or liquids pass over a path ; there seems no reason 
why it should not happen where the thing that passes is a 
mere wave of rearrangement in matter that does not dis 
place itself, but merely changes chemically or turns itself 
round in place, or vibrates across the line. The most 
plausible views of the nerve-current make it out to be the 
passage of some such wave of rearrangement as this. If 
only a part of the matter of the path were to rearrange 
itself, the neighboring parts remaining inert, it is easy to 
see how their inertness might oppose a friction which it 
would take many waves of rearrangement to break down 
and overcome. If we call the path itself the organ, and 
the wave of rearrangement the function, then it is obvi- 

* Some paths, to be sure, are banked up by bodies moving through 
them under too great pressure, and made impervious. These special cases 
we disregard. 



HABIT. 109 

ously a case for repeating the celebrated French formula 
of La f (motion fait V organs. 

So nothing is easier than to imagine how, when a cur 
rent once has traversed a path, it should traverse it more 
readily still a second time. But what made it ever traverse 
it the first time ? * In answering this question we can only 
fall back on our general conception of a nervous system as 
a mass of matter whose parts, constantly kept in states of 
different tension, are as constantly tending to equalize their 
states. The equalization between any two points occurs 
through whatever path may at the moment be most per-j 
vious. But, as a given point of the system may belong, 
actually or potentially, to many different paths, and, as the 

i play of nutrition is subject to accidental changes, blockf 
may from time to time occur, and make currents shoot 
through unwonted lines. Such an unwonted line would be 
a new-created path, which if traversed repeatedly, would 
become the beginning of a new reflex arc. All this is vague 
to the last degree, and amounts to little more than saying 
that a new path may be formed by the sort of chances that 

} in nervous material are likely to occur. But, vague as it 
is, it is really the last word of our wisdom in the matter, f 
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 corroborate 

* We cannot say the will, for, though many, perhaps most, human 
habits were once voluntary actions, no action, as we shall see in a later 
chapter, can be primarily such. While an habitual action may once have 
been voluntary, the voluntary action must before that, at least ouce, have 
been impulsive or reflex. It is this very first occurrence of all that we 
consider in the text. 

f Those who desire a more definite formulation may consult J. Fiske s 
Cosmic Philosophy, vol. n. pp. 142-146 and Spencer s Principles of 
Biology, sections 302 and 803, and the part entitled Physical Synthesis 
of his Principles of Psychology. Mr. Spencer there tries, not only to 
show how new actions may arise in nervous systems and form new reflex 
arcs therein, but even how nervous tissue may actually be born by the pas 
sage of new waves of isometric transformation through an originally indif 
ferent mass. I cannot help thinking that Mr. Spencer s data, under a great 
show of precision, conceal vagueness and improbability, and even self 
contradiction. 



110 PSYCHOLOGY. 



fix the impressed modification, rather than to counter- 
jact 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. 
Dr. Carpenter writes :* 

" It is a matter of universal experience that every kind of training 
for special aptitudes is both far more effective, and leaves a more per 
manent impress, when exerted on the growing organism than when 
brought to bear on the adult. The effect of such training is shown in 
the tendency of the organ to grow to the mode in which it is habitually 
exercised ; as is evidenced by the increased size and power of particular 
sets of muscles, and the extraordinary flexibility of joints, which are 
acquired by such as have been early exercised in gymnastic perfor- 
mances. . . . There is no part of the organism of man in which the 
reconstructive activity is so great, during the whole period of life, as it 
; is in the ganglionic substance of the brain. This is indicated by the 
enormous supply of blood which it receives. ... It is, moreover, a 
fact of great significance that the nerve-substance is specially dis 
tinguished by its reparative power. For while injuries of other tissues 
(such as the muscular) which are distinguished by the speciality of their 
structure and endowments, are repaired by substance of a lower or less 
specialized type, those of nerve-substance are repaired by a complete 
reproduction of the normal tissue ; as is evidenced in the sensibility of 
the newly forming skin which is closing over an open wound, or in the 
recovery of the sensibility of a piece of transplanted skin, which has 
for a time been rendered insensible by the complete interruption of the 
continuity of its nerves. The most remarkable example of this repro 
duction, however, is afforded by the results of M. Brown-Sequard st 
\experiments upon the gradual restoration of the functional activity of 
}the spinal cord after its complete division ; which takes place in a way 
that indicates rather a reproduction of the whole, or the lower part of 
the cord and of the nerves proceeding from it, than a mere reunion of 
divided surfaces. This reproduction is but a special manifestation of 
the reconstructive change which is always taking place in the nervous 
system ; it being not less obvious to the eye of reason that the waste 
occasioned by its functional activity must be constantly repaired by the 



f Mental Physiology (1874.) pp. 339-345. 

t [See, later, Masius in Van Benedens and Van Bambeke s Archives 
de Biologie, vol. I (Liege, 1880). W. J.] 



HABIT. Ill 

production of new tissue, than it is to the eye of sense that such repa 
ration supplies an actual loss of substance by disease or injury. 

"Now, in this constant and active reconstruction of the nervous 
system, we recognize a most marked conformity to the general plan 
manifested in the nutrition of the organism as a whole. For, in the I 

/ first place, it is obvious that there is a tendency to the production of a 
/ ! determinate type of structure ; which type is often not merely that of 

<. the species, but some special modification of it which characterized one 
or both of the progenitors. But this type is peculiarly liable to modi 
fication during the early period of life ; in which the functional activity 
of the nervous system (and particularly of the brain) is extraordinarily 
great, and the reconstructive process proportionally active. And this 
modifiability expresses itself in the formation of the mechanism by 
which those secondarily automatic modes of movement come to be 
established, which, in man, take the place of those that are congenital 
in most of the animals beneath him ; and those modes of sense-percep 
tion come to be acquired, which are elsewhere clearly instinctive. For 
there can be no reasonable doubt that, in both cases, a nervous 
mechanism is developed in the course of this self-education, correspond 
ing with that which the lower animals inherit from their parents. The 
plan of that rebuilding process, which is necessary to maintain the 
integrity of the organism generally, and which goes on with peculiar 
activity in this portion of it. is thus being incessantly modified ; and in 
this manner all that portion of it which ministers to the external life of 
sense and motion that is shared by man with the animal kingdom at 
large, becomes at adult age the expression of the habits which the 
individual has acquired during the period of growth and development. 
Of these habits, some are common to the race generally, while others . 
are peculiar to the individual ; those of the former kind (such as walk 
ing erect) being universally acquired, save where physical inability 
prevents ; while for the latter a special training is needed, which is 
usually the more effective the earlier it is begun as is remarkably 
seen in the case of such feats of dexterity as require a conjoint edu 
cation of the perceptive and of the motor powers. And when thus 
developed during the period of growth, so as to have become a part of 
the constitution of the adult, the acquired mechanism is thenceforth K 
maintained in the ordinary course of the nutritive operations, so as to j /< 
be ready for use when called upon, even after long inaction. 

"What is so clearly true of the nervous apparatus of animal life can 
scarcely be otherwise than true of that which ministers to the automatic , 
activity of the mind. For, as already shown, the study of psychology 
has evolved no more certain result than that there are uniformities of 
mental action which aro so entirely conformable to those of bodily action 
as to indicate their intimate relation to a mechanism of thought and 

feeling, acting under the like conditions with that of sense and motion. 
The psychical principles of association, indeed, and the physiological 
principles of nutrition, simply express the former in terms of mind, 






PSYCHOLOGY. 

the latter in terms of brain the universally admitted fact that any 
sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to 
perpetuate itself ; so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to 
think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, 
or do, under like circumstances, without any consciously formed pur 
pose, or anticipation of results. For there is no reason to regard the 
cerebrum as an exception to the general principle that, while each part 
of the organism tends to form itself in accordance with the mode in 
which it is habitually exercised, this tendency will be especially strong 
in the nervous apparatus, in virtue of that incessant regeneration which 
is the very condition of its functional activity. It scarcely, indeed, 
admits of doubt that every state of ideational consciousness which is 
either very strong or is habitually repeated leaves an organic impres 
sion on the cerebrum ; in virtue of which that same state may be re 
produced at any future time, in respondence to a suggestion fitted to 
excite it. ... The strength of early association is a fact so 
universally recognized that the expression of it has become proverbial ; 
and this precisely accords with the physiological principle that, during 
the period of growth and development, the formative activity of the 
brain will be most amenable to directing influences. It is in this way 
that what is early learned by heart becomes branded in (as it were) 
upon the cerebrum ; so that its traces are never lost, even though 
the conscious memory of it may have completely faded out. For, when 
the organic modification has been once fixed in the growing brain, it 
becomes a part of the normal fabric, and is regularly maintained by 
nutritive substitution ; so that it may endure to the end of life, like the 
scar of a wound." 

Dr. Carpenter s phrase that our nervous system groivs to 
the modes in which it has been exercised expresses the philos 
ophy of habit in a nutshell. We may now trace some of 
the practical applications of the principle to human life. 

The first result of it is that habit simplifies the movements 
required to achieve a given result, makes them more accurate 
and diminishes fatigue. 

1 The beginner at the piano not only moves his finger up and down 
in order to depress the key, he moves the whole hand, the forearm and 
even the entire body, especially moving its least rigid part, the head, 
as if he would press down the key with that organ too. Often a con 
traction of the abdominal muscles occurs as well. Principally, however, 
the impulse is determined to the motion of the hand and of the single 
finger. This is, in the first place, because the movement of the finger 
is the movement thought of, and, in the second place, because its move 
ment and that of the key are the movements we try to perceive, along 
with the results of the latter on the ear. The more often the process 



HABIT. 113 

is repeated, the more easily the movement follows, on account of the 
increase in permeability of the nerves engaged. 

"But the more easily the movement occurs, the slighter is the 
stimulus required to set it up ; and the slighter the stimulus is, the 
more its effect is confined to the fingers alone. 

" Thus, an impulse which originally spread its effects over the whole 
body, or at least over many of its movable parts, is gradually deter 
mined to a single definite organ, in which it effects the contraction of 
a few limited muscles. In this change the thoughts and perceptions 
which start the impulse acquire more and more intimate causal relations 
with a particular group of motor nerves. 

" To recur to a simile, at least partially apt, imagine the nervous 
system to represent a drainage-system, inclining, on the whole, toward 
certain muscles, but with the escape thither somewhat clogged. Then 
streams of water will, on the whole, tend most to fill the drains that 
go towards these muscles and to wash out the escape. In case of a 
sudden flushing, however, the whole system of channels will fill itself, 
and the water overflow everywhere before it escapes. But a moderate 
quantity of water invading the system will flow through the proper 
escape alone. 

" Just so with the piano-player. As soon as his impulse, which has 
gradually learned to confine itself to single muscles, grows extreme, 
it overflows into larger muscular regions. He usually plays with his 
fingers, his body being at rest. But no sooner does he get excited than 
his whole body becomes animated, and he moves his head and trunk, 
in particular, as if these also were organs with which he meant to 
belabor the keys."* 

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 ^normous, that most 
of them must be the fruit of painful study. If practice did 
not make perfect, nor habit economize the expense of ner 
vous and muscular energy, he would therefore be in a sorry 
plight. As Dr. Maudsley says : f 

"If an act became no easier after being done several times, if the 
careful direction of consciousness were necessary 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 dressing and un- 

* G. H. Schneider : Der menschliche Wille (1882), pp. 417-419 (freely 
translated). For the drain-simile, see also Spencer s Psychology, part 
v, chap. vm. 

f Physiology of Mind, p. 155. 



114 PSYCHOLOGY. 

dressing himself ; the attitude of his body would absorb all his atten- 
tion 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 ex 
ertions. 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 auto 
matic 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 exhaus 
tion. A spinal cord without . . memory would simply be an idiotic 
spinal cord. ... It is impossible for an individual to realize how 
much he owes to its automatic agency until disease has impaired its 
functions." 

The next result is that habit diminishes the conscious atten 
tion loith 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, J}, 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. When we 
are learning to walk, to ride, to swim, skate, fence, write, 
play, or sing, we interrupt ourselves at every step by un 
necessary movements and false notes. When we are pro 
ficients, on the contrary, the results not only follow with 
the very minimum of muscular action requisite to bring them 
forth, they also follow from a single instantaneous < 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 cataract of notes. And not only 
is it the right thing at the right time that we thus involun 
tarily do, but the wrong thing also, if it be an habitual 



HABIT. 115 

thing. Who is there that has never wound up his watch on 
taking oft* his waistcoat in the daytime, or taken his latch 
key out on arriving at the door-step of a friend ? Very 
absent-minded persons in going to their bedroom 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 movements when per 
formed at a later hour. The writer well remembers how, 
on revisiting Paris after ten years absence, and, finding 
himself in the street in which for one winter he had attended 
school, he lost himself in a brown study, from which he was 
awakened by finding himself upon the stairs which led to 
the apartment in a house many streets away in which he 
had lived during that earlier time, and to which his steps 
from the school had then habitually led. We all of us 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. Our lower centres know 
the order of these movements, and show their knowledge 
by their surprise if the objects are altered so as to oblige 
the movement to be made in a different way. 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 my double door opens first ? Which way does my 
door swing ? etc. I cannot tell the answer ; yet my hand 
never makes a mistake. iSo 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 
muscular contraction to take place in its appointed order 
is not a thought or a perception, but the sensation occa 
sioned by the muscular contraction just finished. A strictly 
voluntary act has to be guided by idea, perception, and 
volition, throughout its whole course. In an habitual ac 
tion, mere sensation is a sufficient guide, and the upper 



116 PSYCHOLOGY. 

regions of brain and mind are set comparatively free, i 
diagram will make the matter clear : 

G* 




FIG. 24. 



Let A, B, C, D, E, F, G represent an habitual chain of 
muscular contractions, and let a, b, c, d, e, f stand for the 
respective sensations which these contractions excite in us 
when they are successively performed. Such sensations 
will usually be of the muscles, skin, or joints of 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 the contraction has or 
has not occurred. When the series, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, is 
being learned, each of these sensations becomes the object 
of a separate perception by the mind. By it we test each 
movement, to see if it be right before advancing to the next. 
We hesitate, compare, choose, revoke, reject, etc., by intel 
lectual means ; and the order by which the next movement 
is discharged is an express order from the ideational centres 
after this deliberation has been gone through. 

In habitual action, on the contrary, the only impulse 
which the centres of idea or perception need send down is 
the initial impulse, the command to start. This is repre 
sented 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 case, 
no sooner has the 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 
by and so on till the chain is ended, when the intellect gen 
erally takes cognizance of the final result. The process, in 
fact, resembles the passage of a wave of peristaltic motion 



HABIT. 117 

down the bowels. The intellectual perception at the end 
is indicated in the diagram by the effect of G being repre 
sented, at G , in the ideational centres above the merely 
sensational line. The sensational impressions, a, 6, c, d, e,f, 
are all supposed to have their seat below the ideational 
lines. That our ideational centres, if involved at all by a, 
I, c, d, e,f, are involved in a minimal degree, is shown by 
the fact that the attention may be wholly absorbed else 
where. "We may say our prayers, or repeat the alphabet, 
with our attention far away. 

" A musical performer will play a piece which has become familiar 
by repetition while carrying on an animated conversation, or while con 
tinuously engrossed by some train of deeply interesting thought; the 
accustomed sequence of movements being directly prompted by the 
sight of the notes, or by the remembered succession of the sounds (if 
the piece is played from memory), aided in both cases by the guiding 
sensations derived from the muscles themselves. But, further, a higher 
degree of the same training (acting on an organism specially fitted to 
profit by it) enables an accomplished pianist to play a difficult piece of 
music at sight; the movements of the hands and fingers following so 
immediately upon the sight of the notes that it seems impossible to 
believe that any but the very shortest and most direct track can be the 
channel of the nervous communication through which they are called 
forth. The following curious example of the same class of acquired 
aptitudes, which differ from instincts only in being prompted to action 
by the will, is furnished by Robert Houdin : 

" With a view of cultivating the rapidity of visual and tactile per 
ception, and the precision of respondent movements, which are neces 
sary for success in every kind of prestidigitation, Houdin early practised 
the art of juggling with balls in the air; and having, after a month s 
practice, become thorough master of the art of keeping up four balls at 
once, he placed a book before him, and, while the balls were in the air, 
accustomed himself to read without hesitation. This, he says, will 
probably seem to my readers very extraordinary; but I shall surprise 
them still more when I say that I have just amused myself with repeat 
ing this curious experiment. Though thirty years have elapsed since 
the time I was writing, and though I have scarcely once touched the 
balls during that period, I can still manage to read with ease while 
keeping three balls up. " (Autobiography, p. 26.)* 

We have called a, 1), c, d, e, /, the antecedents of the suc 
cessive muscular attractions, by the name of sensations. 
Some authors seem to deny that they are even this. If not 

* Carpenter s Mental Physiology (1874), pp. 217, 218. 



118 PSYCHOLOGY. 

even this, they can only be centripetal nerve-currents, not 
sufficient to arouse feeling, but sufficient to arouse motor 
response.* It may be at once admitted that they are not 
distinct volitions. The will, if any will be present, limits 
itself to a permission that they exert their motor effects. 
Dr. Carpenter writes : 

"There may still be metaphysicians who maintain that actions 
which were originally prompted by the will with a distinct intention, 
and which are still entirely under its control, can never cease to be 
volitional; and that either an infinitesimally small amount of will is 
required to sustain them when they have been once set going, or that 
the will is in a sort of pendulum-like oscillation between the two actions 
the maintenance of the train of thought, and the maintenance of the 
train of movement. But if only an infinitesimally small amount of will 
is necessary to sustain them, is not this tantamount to saying that they 
go on by a force of their own ? And does not the experience of the 
perfect continuity of our train of thought during the performance of 
movements that have become habitual, entirely negative the hypothesis 
of oscillation ? Besides, if such an oscillation existed, there must be 
intervals in which each action goes on of itself; so that its essentially 
automatic character is virtually admitted. The physiological explana 
tion, that the mechanism of locomotion, as of other habitual move 
ments, grows to the mode in which it is early exercised, and that it then 
works automatically under the general control and direction of the will, 
can scarcely be put down by any assumption of an hypothetical neces 
sity, which rests only on the basis of ignorance of one side of our com 
posite nature."! 

But if not distinct acts of will, these immediate ante 
cedents of each movement of the chain are at any rate 
accompanied by consciousness of some kind. They are 
sensations to which we are usually inattentive, but which im 
mediately call our attention if they go ivrong. Schneider s 
account of these sensations deserves to be quoted. In the 
act of walking, he says, even when our attention is entirely 
off, 

"we are continuously aware of certain muscular feelings; and we 
have, moreover, a feeling of certain impulses to keep our equilibrium 
and to set down one leg after another. It is doubtful whether we could 
preserve equilibrium if no sensation of our body s attitude were there, 

* Von Hartraann devotes a chapter of his Philosophy of the Uncon 
scious (English translation, vol. i. p. 72) to proving that they must be 
both ideas and unconscious. 

f Mental Physiology, p. 20. 



HABIT. 119 

and doubtful 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 be 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. 

"So of everyone who practises, apparently automatically, along- 
familiar handicraft. The smith turning his tongs as he smites the iron, 
the carpenter wielding his plane, the lace-maker with her bobbin, the 
weaver at his loom, all will answer the same question in the same way 
by saying that they have a feeling of the proper management of the 
implement in their hands. 

" In these cases, the feelings which are conditions of the appropriate 
acts are very faint. But none the less are they necessary. Imagine 
your hands not feeling; your movements could then only be provoked 
by ideas, and if your ideas were then diverted away, the movements 
ought to come to a standstill, which is a consequence that seldom 
occurs." * 

Again : 

" An idea makes you take, for example, a violin into your left hand. 
But it is not necessary that your idea remain fixed on the contrac 
tion of the muscles of the left hand and fingers in order that the 
violin may continue to be held fast and not let fall. The sensations 
themselves which the holding of the instrument awakens in the hand, 
since they are associated with the motor impulse of grasping, are suf 
ficient to cause this impulse, which then lasts as long as the feeling 
itself lasts, or until the impulse is inhibited by the idea of some antag 
onistic motion." 

And the same may be said of the manner in which the right 
hand holds the bow : 

" It sometimes happens, in beginning these simultaneous combina 
tions, that one movement or impulse will cease if the consciousness 
turn particularly toward another, because at the outset the guiding 
sensations must all be strongly felt. The bow will perhaps slip from 
the fingers, because some of the muscles have relaxed. But the 
slipping is a cause of new sensations starting up in the hand, so that 
the attention is in a moment brought back to the grasping of the bow. 

The following experiment shows this well : When one begins to 
play on the violin, to keep him from raising his right elbow in playing 

* Der menschliche Wille, pp. 447, 44& 



120 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 production 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 combination of movements is thus 
in the first instance conditioned by the facility with which in us, along 
side of intellectual processes, processes of inattentive feeling may still 



This brings us by a very natural transition to the ethical 
implications of the law of habit. They are numerous and 
momentous. Dr. Carpenter, from whose Mental Physiol 
ogy we have quoted, has so prominently enforced the 
principle that our organs grow to the way in which they 
have been exercised, and dwelt upon its consequences, that 
his book almost deserves to be called a work of edification, 
on this account alone. We need make no apology, then, 
for tracing a few of these consequences ourselves : 

" 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 can probably 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. 

" There is a story, 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 ! where 
upon the man instantly 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 structure." t 

Kiderless cavalry-horses, at many a battle, have been 

seen to come together and go through their customary 

I evolutions at the sound of the bugle-call. Most trained 

domestic animals, dogs and oxen, and omnibus- and car- 

* Der menschliche Wille, p. 439. The last sentence is rather freely 
translated the sense is uualtered. 



f Huxley s Elementary Lessons in Physiology, lesson 



xn. 



HABIT. 121 

horses, seem to be machines almost pure and simple, un- 
doubtingly, unhesitatingly 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 read 
mitted after being once set free. In a railroad accident to 
a travelling menagerie in the United States some time in 
1884, a 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 with 
out difficulty secured. 

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 
again. 

If the period between twenty and thirty is the critical 
one in the formation of intellectual and professional habits, 



122 PSYCHOLOGY. 

the period below twenty is more important still for the fix 
ing 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-bred 
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 

j nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund 

* and capitalize our acquisitions, aiid 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 t 
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 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 



HABIT. 123 

is tliat in the acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off 
of an old one, we must take care to launch ourselves with as A 
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 en 
courage 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 breakdown 
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 care 
fully 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 infallibly 
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 dampen the energy of all future 
attempts, whereas past experience of success nerves 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 habitu 
ally successful career. Prof. Baumann, from whom I bor 
row the anecdote,* says that the collapse of barbarian 

* See the admirable passage about success at the outset, in his Handbuch 
der Moral (1878), pp. 38-43. 



124 PSYCHOLOGY. 

nations when Europeans come among them is due to their 
despair of ever succeeding as the new-comers do in the 
larger tasks of life. Old ways are broken and new ones 
not formed. 

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 careful not to give the will so stiff a task as to in 
sure 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 straight and narrow path, before one oan 
begin to make one s self over again. He who every day makes a 
fresh resolve is like one who, 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 resolu 
tion 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 aspira 
tions 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 
gesture-making." 



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



HABIT. 125 

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 proverbially 
paved. And this is an obvious consequence of the prin 
ciples we have laid down. A character, as J. S. Mill says, 
l is a completely fashioned will ; and a will, in the sense in 
which he means it, is an aggregate of tendencies to act in a 
firm and prompt and definite way upon all the principal 
emergencies of life. A tendency to act only becomes effec 
tively ingrained in us in proportion to the uninterrupted 
frequency with which the actions actually occur, and the 
brain grows to their use. Every time a resolve or a fine 
glow of feeling evaporates without bearing practical fruit is 
worse than a chance lost; it works so as positively to 
hinder future resolutions and emotions from taking the 
normal path of discharge. There is no more contemptible 
type of human character than that of the nerveless senti 
mentalist 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 oft 
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 glow 
ing for an abstractly formulated Good, he practically 
ignores some actual case, among the squalid other partic 
ulars of which that same Good lurks disguised, treads 
straight on Rousseau s path. All Goods are disguised 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 a Russian lady 
over the fictitious personages in the play, while her coach 
man 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 excessive indulgence in music, for those 
who are neither performers themselves nor musically gifted 



126 P8YGHOLOQ7. 

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 after 
ward in some active way.* Let the expression be the least 
thing in the world speaking genially to one s aunt, 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 
particular lines of discharge, but also general forms of dis 
charge, 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, rela 
tive to these habits of the will, we may, then, offer some- 

I I thing like this : Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a 
little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematic 
ally 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 
Ho stand the test. Asceticism of this sort is like the insur 
ance 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 

* See for remarks on this subject a readable article by Miss V. Scudde* 
on Musical Devotees aiid Morals/ in the Andover Keview for January 
1887. 



HABIT. 127 

daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention, j ^ j^ 
energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. ) 
He will stand like a tower when everything 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 \/) X) 
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 Kip 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 v\ r e 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 w r e 
become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in 
the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate f 
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 morn 
ing, to find himself one of the competent ones of his gen 
eration, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. 
Silently, between all the details of his business, the poiver oj ^ 
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-lieartedness in youths embarking on arduous 
careers than all other causes put together. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE AUTOMATON-THEORY. 

IN describing the functions of the hemispheres a short 
way back, we used language derived from both the bodily 
and the mental life, saying now that the animal made inde 
terminate and unforeseeable reactions, and anon that he 
was swayed by considerations of future good and evil ; 
treating his hemispheres sometimes as the seat of mem 
ory and ideas in the psychic sense, and sometimes talk 
ing of them as simply a complicated addition to his 
reflex machinery. This sort of vacillation in the point of 
view is a fatal incident of all ordinary talk about these 
questions ; but I must now settle my scores with those 
readers to whom I already dropped a word in passing (see 
page 24, note) and who have probably been dissatisfied 
with my conduct ever since. 

Suppose we restrict our view to facts of one and the same 
plane, and let that be the bodily plane : cannot all the out 
ward phenomena of intelligence still be exhaustively de 
scribed ? Those mental images, those considerations, 
whereof we spoke, presumably they do not arise without 
neural processes arising simultaneously with them, and 
presumably each consideration corresponds to a process sui 
generis, and unlike all the rest. In other words, however 
numerous and delicately differentiated the train of ideas 
may be, the train of brain-events that runs alongside of it 
must in both respects be exactly its match, and we must 
postulate a neural machinery that offers a living counterpart 
for every shading, however fine, of the history of its owner s 
mind. Whatever degree of complication the latter may 
reach, the complication of the machinery must be quite as 
extreme, otherwise we should have to admit that there 
may be mental events to which no brain-events correspond, 

138 



THE AUTOMATON- THEORY, 129 

But such an admission as this the physiologist is reluctant 
to make. It would violate all his beliefs. No psychosis \ 
without neurosis, is one form which the principle of con- [ 
tinuity takes in his mind. 

But this principle forces the physiologist to make still 
another step. If neural action is as complicated as mind ; 
and if in the sympathetic system and lower spinal cord we 
see what, so far as we know, is unconscious neural action 
executing deeds that to all outward intent may be called 
intelligent ; what is there to hinder us from supposing that 
even where we know consciousness to be there, the still 
more complicated neural action which we believe to be its 
inseparable companion is alone and of itself the real agent / ^ 
of whatever intelligent deeds may appear ? " As actions of 
a certain degree of complexity are brought about by mere 
mechanism, why may not actions of a still greater degree of 
complexity be the result of a more refined mechanism ?" 
The conception of reflex action is surely one of the best 
conquests of physiological theory ; why not be radical with 
it ? Why not say that just as the spinal cord is a machine 
with few reflexes, so the hemispheres are a machine with 
many, and that that is all the difference ? The principle of 
continuity would press us to accept this view. 

But what on this view could be the function of the con 
sciousness itself ? Mechanical function it would have none. 
The sense-organs would awaken the brain-cells ; these 
would awaken each other in rational and orderly sequence, 
until the time for action came ; and then the last brain 
vibration would discharge downward into the motor tracts. ( 
But this would be a quite autonomous chain of occur 
rences, and whatever mind went with it would be there 
only as an epiphenomenon, an inert spectator, a sort of 
* foam, aura, or melody as Mr. Hodgson says, whose oppo 
sition or whose furtherance would be alike powerless over 
the occurrences themselves. When talking, some time ago, < 
we ought not, accordingly, as physiologists, to have said any 
thing about considerations as guiding the animal. We j 
ought to have said paths left in the hemispherical cortex 
by former currents, and nothing more. 

Now so simple and attractive is this conception from the 



130 PSYCHOLOGY, 

consistently physiological point of view, that it is quite 
wonderful to see how late it was stumbled on in philosophy, 
and how few people, even when it has been explained to 
them, fully and easily realize its import. Much of the 
polemic writing against it is by men who have as }^et failed 
k> take it into their imaginations. Since this has been the 
case, it seems worth while to devote a few more words to 
making it plausible, before criticising it ourselves. 

To Descartes belongs the credit of having first been bold 
enough to conceive of a completely self-sufficing nervous 
mechanism which should be able to perform complicated 
and apparently intelligent acts. By a singularly arbitrary 
\ jj restriction, however, Descartes stopped short at man, and 
while contending that in beasts the nervous machinery was 
all, he held that the higher acts of man were the result 
of the agency of his rational soul. The opinion that 
beasts have no consciousness at all was of course too para 
doxical to maintain itself long as anything more than a 
curious item in the history of philosophy. And with its 
i, abandonment the very notion that the nervous system per se 
might work the work of intelligence, which was an integral, 
though detachable part of the whole theory, seemed also to 
slip out of men s conception, until, in this century, the 
elaboration of the doctrine of reflex action made it possible 
and natural that it should again arise. But it was not till 
1870, I believe, that Mr. Hodgson made the decisive step, 
by saying that feelings, no matter how intensely they may 
be present, can have no causal efficacy whatever, and com 
paring them to the colors laid on the surface of a mosaic, of 
which the events in the nervous system are represented by 
the stones.* Obviously the stones are held in place by each 
other and not by the several colors which they support. 

About the same time Mr. Spalding, and a little later 
Messrs. Huxley and Clifford, gave great publicity to an 
identical doctrine, though in their case it was backed by 
less refined metaphysical considerations. t 

* The Theory of Practice, vol. i, p. 416 ff. 

f The present writer recalls how in 1869, when still a medical student, 
he began to write an essay showing how almost every one who speculated 
about brain-processes illicitly interpolated into his account of them links 



A UTOMA TON- THEOR Y. 131 

A few sentences from Huxley and Clifford may be sub 
joined to make the matter entirely clear. Professor Huxley 
says: 

The consciousness of brutes would appear to be related to the 
mechanism of their body simply as a collateral product of its working, 
and to be as completely without any power of modifying that working 
as the steam-whistle which accompanies the work of a locomotive engine 
is without influence on its machinery. Their volition, if they have any, 
is an emotion indicative of physical changes, not a cause of such changes. 
. . . The soul stands related to the body as the bell of a clock to the works, 
and consciousness answers to the sound which the bell gives out when 
it is struck. . . . Thus far I have strictly confined myself to the j 
automatism of brutes. ... It is quite true that, to the best of my I 
judgment, the argumentation which applies to brutes holds equally 
good of men ; and, therefore, that all states of consciousness in us, as 
in them, are immediately caused by molecular changes of the brain-sub- . 
stance. It seems to me that in men, as in brutes, there is no proof that 
any state of consciousness is the cause of change in the motion of the 
matter of the organism. If these positions are well based, it follows 
that our mental conditions are simply the symbols in consciousness of 
the changes which take place automatically in the organism ; and that, 
to take an extreme illustration, the feeling we call volition is not the 
cause of a voluntary act, but the symbol of that state of the brain which 
is the immediate cause of that act. We are conscious automata." 

Professor Clifford writes : 

All the evidence that we have goes to show that the physical world 
gets along entirely by itself, according to practically universal rules. 
. . . The train of physical facts between the stimulus sent into the eye, 
or to any one of our senses, and the exertion which follows it, and the 
train of physical facts which goes on in the brain, even when there is 
no stimulus and no exertion, these are perfectly complete physical 
trams, and every step is fully accounted for by mechanical conditions. 
. . . The two things are on utterly different platforms the physical 
facts go along by themselves, and the mental facts go along by them- / * 
selves. There is a parallelism between them, but there is no interfer 
ence of one with the other. Again, if anybody says that the will 
influences matter, the statement is not untrue, but it is nonsense. Such 
an assertion belongs to the crude materialism of the savage. The only 

derived from the entirely heterogeneous universe of Feeling. Spencer, 
Hodgson (in his Time and Space), Maudsley, Lockhart Clarke, Bain, Dr. 
Carpenter, and other authors were cited as having been guilty of the con 
fusion. The writing was soon stopped because he perceived that the view 
which he was upholding against these authors was a pure conception, with 
no proofs to be adduced of its reality. Later it seemed to him that what 
ever proofs existed really told in favor of their view. 



132 PSYCHOLOGY. 

thing which influences matter is the position of surrounding matter o? 
the motion of surrounding matter. ... The assertion that another 
man s volition, a feeling in his consciousness that I cannot perceive, is 
part of the train of physical facts which I may perceive, this is neither 
true nor untrue, but nonsense ; it is a combination of words whose cor 
responding ideas will not go together. . . . Sometimes one series is 
known better, and sometimes the other ; so that in telling a story we 
speak sometimes of mental and sometimes of material facts. A feeling 
of chill made a man run ; strictly speaking, the nervous disturbance 
which coexisted with that feeling of chill made him run, if we want to 
talk about material facts ; or the feeling of chill produced the form of 
sub-consciousness which coexists with the motion of legs, if we want 
to talk about mental facts. . . . When, therefore, we ask : What is the 
physical link between the ingoing message from chilled skin and the 
outgoing message which moves the leg ? and the answer is, A man s 
will, we have as much right to be amused as if we had asked our friend 
with the picture what pigment was used in painting the cannon in the 
foreground, and received the answer, Wrought iron. It will be found 
excellent practice in the mental operations required by this doctrine to 
imagine a train, the fore part of which is an engine and three carriages 
linked with iron couplings, and the hind part three other carriages 
linked with iron couplings ; the bond between the two parts being 
made up out of the sentiments of amity subsisting between the stoker 
and the guard." 

To comprehend completely the consequences of the 
dogma so confidently enunciated, one should unflinchingly 
apply it to the most complicated examples. The move 
ments of our tongues and pens, the flashings of our eyes in 
conversation, are of course events of a material order, and as 
such their causal antecedents must be exclusively material. 
Jf we knew thoroughly the nervous system of Shake 
speare, and as thoroughly all his environing conditions, we 
should be able to show why at a certain period of his life 
his hand came to trace on certain sheets of paper those 
crabbed little black marks which we for shortness 
sake call the manuscript of Hamlet. We should under 
stand 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 Shake 
speare s mind. The words and sentences would be taken, 
not as signs of anything beyond themselves, but as little 
outward facts, pure and simple. In like manner we might 
exhaustively write the biography of those two hundred 



A UTOMA TON- THEOR T. 1 33 

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. 

Another inference, apparently more paradoxical still, 
needs to be made, though, as far as I am aware, Dr. Hodg 
son is the only writer who has explicitly drawn it. That 
inference is that feelings, not causing nerve-actions, cannot 
even cause each other. To ordinary common sense, felt 
pain is, as such, not only the cause of outward tears and 
cries, but also the cause of such inward events as sorrow, 
compunction, desire, or inventive thought. So the con 
sciousness of good news is the direct producer of the feel 
ing of joy, the awareness of premises that of the belief in 
conclusions. But according to the automaton-theory, each 
of the feelings mentioned is only the correlate of some nerve- 1 1 . 
movement whose cause lay wholly in a previous nerve-move 
ment. The first nerve-movement called up the second ; 
whatever feeling was attached to the second consequently 
found itself following upon the feeling that was attached 
to the first. If, for example, good news was the conscious 
ness correlated with the first movement, then joy turned 
out to be the correlate in consciousness of the second. 
But all the while the items of the nerve series were the 
only ones in causal continuity ; the items of the conscious 
series, however inwardly rational their sequence, were 
simply juxtaposed. 

REASON S FOR THE THEORY. 

The conscious automaton-theory, as this conception is 
generally called, is thus a radical and simple conception of 
the manner in which certain facts may possibly occur. But 






134 PSYCHOLOGY. 

between conception and belief, proof ought to lie. And 
when we ask, What proves that all this is more than a 
mere conception of the possible ? it is not easy to get a 
sufficient reply. If we start from the frog s spinal cord 
and reason by continuity, saying, as that acts so intelli 
gently, though unconscious, so the higher centres, though 
conscious, may have the intelligence they show quite as 
mechanically based ; we are immediately met by the exact 
counter-argument from continuity, an Argument actually 
urged by such writers as Pfliiger and Lewes, which starts 
from the acts of the hemispheres, and says : " As these owe 
their intelligence to the consciousness which we know to 
be there, so the intelligence of the spinal cord s acts must 
really be due to the invisible presence of a consciousness 
lower in degree." All arguments from continuity work in 
two ways : you can either level up or level down by their 
means. And it is clear that such arguments as these can 
eat each other up to all eternity. 

There remains a sort of philosophic faith, bred like 
most faiths from an aesthetic demand. Mental and physical 
events are, on all hands, admitted to present the strongest 
contrast in the entire field of being. The chasm which 
yawns between them is less easily bridged over by the 
mind than any interval we know. Why, then, not call it an 
absolute chasm, and say not only that the two worlds 
are different, but that they are independent ? This gives 
us the comfort of all simple and absolute formulas, and it 
makes each chain homogeneous to our consideration. 
Yfhen talking of nervous tremors and bodily actions, we 
may feel secure against intrusion from an irrelevant mental 
world. When, on the other hand, we speak of feelings, we 
may with equal consistency use terms always of one de 
nomination, and never be annoyed by what Aristotle calls 
slipping into another kind. The desire on the part of men 
educated in laboratories not to have their physical reason 
ings mixed up with such incommensurable factors as feelings 
is certainly very strong. I have heard a most intelligent 
biologist say : * It is high time for scientific men to protest 
against the recognition of any such thing as consciousness 
in a scientific investigation." In a word, feeling constitutes 



A UTOMA TON-THEOR Y. 135 

the unscientific half of existence, and any one who enjoys 
calling himself a scientist will be too happy to purchase 
an untrammelled homogeneity of terms in the studies of his 
predilection, at the slight cost of admitting a dualism 
which, in the same breath that it allows to mind an inde 
pendent status of being, banishes it to a limbo of causal 
inertness, from whence no intrusion or interruption on its 
part need ever be feared. 

Over and above this great postulate that matters must 
be kept simple, there is, it must be confessed, still another 
highly abstract reason for denying causal efficacity to our 
feelings. We can form no positive image of the modus 
operandi of a volition or other thought affecting the cere 
bral molecules. 

" Let us try to imagine an idea, say of food, producing a movement, 
say of carrying food to the mouth. . . . What is the method of its 
action? Does it assist the decomposition of the molecules of the gray 
matter, or does it retard the process, or does it alter the direction in 
which the shocks are distributed ? Let us imagine the molecules of the 
gray matter combined in such a way that they will fall into simpler 
combinations on the impact of an incident force. Now suppose the in 
cident force, in the shape of a shock from some other centre, to impinge 
upon these molecules. By hypothesis it will decompose them, and they 
will fall into the simpler combination. How is the idea of food to pre 
vent this decomposition ? Manifestly it can do so only by increasing , 
the force which binds the molecules together. Good ! Try to imagine 
the idea of a beefsteak binding two molecules together. It is impossi 
ble. Equally impossible is it to imagine a similar idea loosening the 
attractive force between two molecules." * 

This passage from an exceedingly clever writer expresses ] 
admirably the difficulty to which I allude. Combined with 
a strong sense of the chasm between the two worlds, and 
with a lively faith in reflex machinery, the sense of this 
difficulty can hardly fail to make one turn consciousness 
out of the door as a superfluity so far as one s explanations i 
go. One may bow her out politely, allow her to remain as 
an epiphenomenon (invaluable word !), but one insists that 
matter shall hold all the power. 

"Having thoroughly recognized the fathomless abyss that separates 
mind from matter, and having so blended the very notion into his very 

* Chas. Mercier : The Nervous Svstem aud the Mind (1888), p. 9. 






136 PSYCHOLOGY. 

nature that there is no chance of his ever forgetting it or failing to 
saturate with it all his meditations, the student of psychology has next 
to appreciate the association between these two orders of phenomena. 
. . . They are associated in a manner so intimate that some of the 
greatest thinkers consider them different aspects of the same process. 
. . . When the rearrangement of molecules takes place in the higher 
regions of the brain, a change of consciousness simultaneously occurs. 
. . . The change of consciousness never takes place without the change 
in the brain ; the change in the brain never . . . without the change 
in consciousness. But why the two occur together, or what the link is 
which connects them, we do not know, and most authorities believe 
that we never shall and never can know. Having firmly and tena 
ciously grasped these two notions, of the absolute separateness of mind 
and matter, and of the invariable concomitance of a mental change 
with a bodily change, the student will enter on the study of psychology 
with half his difficulties surmounted." * 

Half his difficulties ignored, I should prefer to say. For 
this concomitance in the midst of absolute separateness 
is an utterly irrational notion. It is to my mind quite in, 
conceivable that consciousness should have nothing to do 
with a business which it so faithfully attends. And the 
question, What has it to do ? is one which psychology 
has no right to surmount, for it is her plain duty to con 
sider it. The fact is that the whole question of interaction 
and influence between things is a metaphysical question, 
and cannot be discussed at all by those who are unwilling 
to go into matters thoroughly. It is truly enough hard to 
imagine the idea of a beefsteak binding two molecules 
together ; but since Hume s time it has been equally hard 
Vv-to imagine anything binding them together. The whole 
notion of binding is a mystery, the first step towards the 
solution of which is to clear scholastic rubbish out of the 
way. Popular science talks of forces, attractions or 
affinities as binding the molecules ; but clear science, 
though she may use such words to abbreviate discourse, has 
no use for the conceptions, and is satisfied when she can 
express in simple laws the bare space-relations of the 
molecules as functions of each other and of time. To the 
more curiously inquiring mind, however, this simplified 
expression of the bare facts is not enough ; there must 

* On. <&. v ? t. 



AUTOMATON-THEORY. 137 

be a reason for them, and something must determine 
the laws. And when one seriously sits down to con- 
^ider what sort of a thing one means when one asks 

i for a reason, one is led so far afield, so far away from 
popular science and its scholasticism, as to see that even 
such a fact as the existence or non-existence in the universe 
of the idea of a beefsteak may not be wholly indifferent 
to other facts in the same universe, and in particular may 
have something to do with determining the distance at 
which two molecules in that universe shall lie apart. If 
ihis is so, then common-sense, though the intimate nature 
of causality and of the connection of things in the universe 

i lies beyond her pitifully bounded horizon, has the root and 
gist of the truth in her hands when she obstinately holds 

i to it that feelings and ideas are causes. However inade 
quate our ideas of causal efficacy may be, we are less wide , 
of the mark when we say that our ideas and feelings have 
it, than the Automatists are when they say they haven t it. ; 
As in the night all cats are gray, so in the darkness of meta 
physical criticism all causes are obscure. But one has no 
right to pull the pall over the psychic half of the subject 
only, as the automatists do, and to say that that causation 
is unintelligible, whilst in the same breath one dogmatizes 

: about material causation as if Hume, Kant, and Lotze had 
never been born. One cannot thus blow hot and cold. One 
must be impartially naif or impartially critical. If the 
latter, the reconstruction must be thorough-going or meta 
physical, and will probably preserve the common-sense 
view that ideas are forces, in some translated form. But 
Psychology is a mere natural science, accepting certain 
terms uncritically as her data, and stopping short of 
metaphysical reconstruction. Like physics, she must be 
naive ; and if she finds that in her very peculiar field of 
study ideas seem to be causes, she had better continue to 
talk of them as such. She gains absolutely nothing by a 
breach with common-sense in this matter, and she loses, 
to say the least, all naturalness of speech. If feelings are 
causes, of course their effects must be furtherances and 
checkings of internal cerebral motions, of which in them 
selves we are entirely without knowledge. It is probable 



138 PSYCHOLOGY. 

that for years to come we shall have to infer what happens 
/ in the brain either from our feelings or from motor effects 
which we observe. The organ will be for us a sort of vat 
in which feelings and motions somehow go on stewing 
together, and in which innumerable things happen of which 
we catch but the statistical result. Why, under these cir- 
\ cumstances, we should be asked to forswear the language 
of our childhood I cannot well imagine, especially as it is 
perfectly compatible with the language of physiology. The 
feelings can produce nothing absolutely new, they can only 
reinforce and inhibit reflex currents which already exist, 
and the original organization of these by physiological 
forces must always be the ground-work of the psycho 
logical scheme. 

My conclusion is that to urge the automaton-theory 
upon us, as it is now urged, on purely a priori and quasi. 
metaphysical grounds, is an unwarrantable impertinence in 
the present state of psychology. 

REASONS AGAINST THE THEORY. 

But there are much more positive reasons than this why 
we ought to continue to talk in psychology as if conscious 
ness had causal efficacy. The particulars of the distribu 
tion of consciousness, so far as we know them, point to its 
being efficacious. Let us trace some of them. 

It is very generally admitted, though the point would 
, be hard to prove, that consciousness grows the more com 
plex and intense the higher we rise in the animal kingdom. 
That of a man must exceed that of an oyster. From this 
point of view it seems an organ, superadded to the other 
organs which maintain the animal in the struggle for exist 
ence ; and the presumption of course is that it helps him 
in some way in the struggle, just as they do. But it 
cannot help him without being in some way efficacious and 
influencing the course of his bodily history. If now it 
could be shown in what way consciousness might help him, 
and if, moreover, the defects of his other organs (where 
consciousness is most developed) are such as to make them 
need just the kind of help that consciousness would bring 
provided it <were efficacious ; why, then the plausible infer- 



A UTOMA TON- THEOR 7. 139 

ence would be that it came just because of its efficacy in 
other words, its efficacy would be inductively proved. 

Now the study of the phenomena of consciousness which 
we shall make throughout the rest of this book will show 
us that consciousness is at all times primarily a selecting | 
agency * Whether we take it in the lowest sphere of sense, 
or in the highest of intellection, we find it always doing 
one thing, choosing one out of several of the materials so 
presented to its notice, emphasizing and accentuating that 
and suppressing as far as possible all the rest. The item 
emphasized is always in close connection with some interest 
felt by consciousness to be paramount at the time. 

But what are now the defects of the nervous system in 
those animals whose consciousness seems most highly 
developed? Chief among them must be instability. The 
cerebral hemispheres are the characteristically high 
nerve-centres, and we saw how indeterminate and unfore 
seeable their performances were in comparison with those 
of the basal ganglia and the cord. But this very vague 
ness constitutes their advantage. They allow their pos 
sessor to adapt his conduct to the minutest alterations in 
the environing circumstances, any one of which may be 
for him a sign, suggesting distant motives more powerful 
than any present solicitations of sense. It seems as if cer 
tain mechanical conclusions should be drawn from this 
state of things. An organ swayed by slight impressions is 
an organ whose natural state is one of unstable equilibrium. 
We may imagine the various lines of discharge in the cere 
brum to be almost on a par in point of permeability what 
discharge a given small impression will produce may be 
called accidental, in the sense in which we say it is a mat 
ter of accident whether a rain-drop falling on a moun 
tain ridge descend the eastern or the western slope. It 
is in this sense that we may call it a matter of accident 
whether a child be a boy or a girl. The ovum is so un 
stable a body that certain causes too minute for our appre-^ 
hension may at a certain moment tip it one way or the 
other. The natural law of an organ constituted after this 

* See in particular the end of Chapter IX. 



140 PSYCHOLOGY. 

fashion can be nothing but a law of caprice. I do not see 
how one could reasonably expect from it any certain pursu 
ance of useful lines of reaction, such as the few and fatally 
determined performances of the lower centres constitute 
within their narrow sphere. The dilemma in regard to the 
nervous system seems, in short, to be of the following kind. 
We may construct one which will react infallibly and cer 
tainly, but it will then be capable of reacting to very few 
changes in the environment it will fail to be adapted to all 
the rest. We may, on the other hand, construct a nervous 
system potentially adapted to respond to an infinite variety 
of minute features in the situation ; but its fallibility will 
then be as great as its elaboration. We can never be sure 
that its equilibrium will be upset in the appropriate direc 
tion. In short, a high brain may do many things, and may 
do each of them at a very slight hint. But its hair-trigger 
organization makes of it a happy-go-lucky, hit-or-miss 
affair. It is as likely to do the crazy as the sane thing at 
, any given moment. A low brain does few things, and in 
doing them perfectly forfeits all other use. The perform 
ances of a high brain are like dice thrown forever on a 
table. Unless they be loaded, what chance is there that 
the highest number will turn up oftener than the lowest ? 

All this is said of the brain as a physical machino pure 
and simple. Can consciousness increase its efficiency by 
loading its dice ? Such is the problem. 

Loading its dice would mean bringing a more or less 
constant pressure to bear in favor of those of its perform 
ances which make for the most permanent interests cf the 
brain s owner ; it would mean a constant inhibition of the 
tendencies to stray aside. 

Well, just such pressure and such inhibition are what 
consciousness seems to be exerting all the while. And the 
interests in whose favor it seems to exert them are its inter 
ests and its alone, interests which it creates, and which, 
but for it, would have no status in the realm of being what 
ever. We talk, it is true, when we are darwinizing, as if 
the mere body that owns the brain had interests ; we speak 
about the utilities of its various organs and how they help 
or hinder the body s survival ; and we treat the survival aa 



AUTOMATON-THEORY. 141 

if it were an absolute end, existing as such in the physical 
world, a sort of actual should-be, presiding over the animal 
and judging his reactions, quite apart from the presence of 
any commenting intelligence outside. We forget that in 
the absence of some such superadded commenting intelli 
gence (whether it be that of the animal itself, or only ours 
or Mr. Darwin s), the reactions cannot be properly talked 
of as useful or hurtful at all. Considered merely 
physically, all that can be said of them is that if they occur 
in a certain way survival will as a matter of fact prove to be 
their incidental consequence. The organs themselves, and 
all the rest of the physical world, will, however, all the time 
be quite indifferent to this consequence, and would quite as 
cheerfully, the circumstances changed, compass the animal s 
destruction. In a word, survival can enter into a purely 
physiological discussion only as an hypothesis made by an 
onlooker, about the future. But the moment you bring a 
qonsciousness into the midst, survival ceases to be a mere 
hypothesis. No longer is it, " if survival is to occur, then 
so and so must brain and other organs work." It has now 
become an imperative decree : " Survival shall occur, and 
therefore organs must so work !" Real ends appear for the 
first time now upon the world s stage. The conception of 
consciousness as a purely cognitive form of being, which 
is the pet way of regarding it in many idealistic schools, 
modern as well as ancient, is thoroughly anti-psychologi 
cal, as the remainder of this book will show. Every actu 
ally existing consciousness seems to itself at any rate to 
be a fighter for ends, of which many, but for its presence, 
vvould not be ends at all. Its powers of cognition are 
mainly subservient to these ends, discerning which facts 
further them and which do not. 

Now let consciousness only be what it seems to itself, 
and it will help an instable brain to compass its proper 
ends. The movements of the brain per se yield the means 
of attaining these ends mechanically, but only out of a lot of 
other ends, if so they may be called, which are not the 
proper ones of the animal, but often quite opposed. The 
brain is an instrument of possibilities, but of no certainties. 
But the consciousness, with its own ends present to it, and 



142 PSYCHOLOGY. 

knowing also well which possibilities lead thereto and 
which away, will, if endowed with causal efficacy, reinforce 
the favorable possibilities and repress the unfavorable or 
indifferent ones. The nerve-currents, coursing through the 
cells and fibres, must in this case be supposed strengthened 
by the fact of their awaking one consciousness and damp 
ened by awaking another. Hoiu such reaction of the con 
sciousness upon the currents may occur must remain at 
present unsolved : it is enough for my purpose to have 
shown that it may not uselessly exist, and that the matter 
is less simple than the brain-automatists hold. 

All the facts of the natural history of consciousness lend 
color to this view. Consciousness, for example, is only 
intense when nerve-processes are hesitant. In rapid, 
automatic, habitual action it sinks to a minimum. Nothing 
could be more fitting than this, if consciousness have the 
teleological function we suppose ; nothing more meaning 
less, if not. Habitual actions are certain, and being in no 
danger of going astray from their end, need no extraneous 
help. In hesitant action, there seem many alternative pos 
sibilities of final nervous discharge. The feeling awakened 
by the nascent excitement of each alternative nerve-tract 
seems by its attractive or repulsive quality to determine 
whether the excitement shall abort or shall become com 
plete. Where indecision is great, as before a dangerous 
leap, consciousness is agonizingly intense. Feeling, from 
this point of view, may be likened to a cross-section of the 
chain of nervous discharge, ascertaining the links already 
laid down, and groping among the fresh ends presented 
to it for the one which seems best to fit the case. 

The phenomena of vicarious function which we studied 

in Chapter II seem to form another bit of circumstantial 

evidence. A machine in working order acts fatally in 

one way. Our consciousness calls this the right way. 

Take out a valve, throw a wheel out of gear or bend a 

pivot, and it becomes a different machine, acting just as 

fatally in another way which we call the wrong way. But 

. the machine itself knows nothing of wrong or right : matter 

i has no ideals to pursue. A locomotive will carry its train 



A UTOMA TON- THEOR Y. 143 

through an open drawbridge as cheerfully as to any other 
destination. 

A brain with part of it scooped out is virtually a new 
machine, and during the first days after the operation 
functions in a thoroughly abnormal manner. As a matter 
of fact, however, its performances become from day to day 
more normal, until at last a practised eye may be needed 
to suspect anything wrong. Borne of the restoration is un 
doubtedly due to inhibitions passing away. But if the 
consciousness which goes with the rest of the brain, be there 
not only in order to take cognizance of each functional 
error, but also to exert an efficient pressure to check it if it 
be a sin of commission, and to lend a strengthening hand 
if it be a weakness or sin of omission, nothing seems 
more natural than that the remaining parts, assisted in 
this way, should by virtue of the principle of habit grow 
back to the old teleological modes of exercise for which 
they were at first incapacitated. Nothing, on the contrary, 
seems at first sight more unnatural than that they should 
vicariously take up the duties of a part now lost without 
those duties as such exerting any persuasive or coercive 
force. At the end of Chapter XXVI I shall return to this 
again. 

There is yet another set of facts which seem explicable 
on the supposition that consciousness has causal efficacy. 
It is a ivell-knoivn fact that pleasures are generally asso 
ciated 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 pre-established 
harmony, 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 feel- 



144 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ing of suffocation would, if that pleasure were efficacious 
enough to make him immerse his head in water, enjoy a 
longevity of four or five minutes. But if pleasures and 
pains have no efficacy, one does not see (without some 
such d priori rational harmony as would be scouted by the 
scientific champions of the automaton-theory) why the 
most noxious acts, such as burning, might not give thrills 
of delight, and the most necessary ones, such as breathing, 
cause agony. The exceptions to the law are, it is true, 
numerous, but relate to experiences that are either not vital 
or not universal. Drunkenness, for instance, which though 
noxious, is to many persons delightful, is a very exceptional 
experience. But, as the excellent physiologist Fick re 
marks, if all rivers and springs ran alcohol instead of water, 
either all men would now be born to hate it or our nerves 
would have been selected so as to drink it with impunity. 
The only considerable attempt, in fact, 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 double-aspect partisans 
so strenuously deny. 

Thus, then, from every point of view the circumstantial 
evidence against that theory is strong. A priori analysis 
of both brain-action and conscious action shows us that if 
the latter were efficacious it would, by its selective emphasis, 
make amends for the indeterminateness of the former; whilst 
tile study a posteriori of the distribution of consciousness 
shows it to be exactly such as we might expect in an organ 
added for the sake of steering a nervous system grown too 
complex to regulate itself. The conclusion that it is use 
ful is, after all this, quite justifiable. But, if it is useful, 
it must be so through its causal efficaciousness, and the 
automaton-theory must succumb to the theory of common- 
sense. I, at any rate (pending metaphysical reconstruc 
tions not yet successfully achieved), shall have no hesita 
tion in using the language of common-sense throughout this 
book. 



CHAPTER VI. 
THE MIND STUFF THEORY. 

THE reader who found himself swamped with too much 
metaphysics in the last chapter will have a still worse 
time of it in this one, which is exclusively metaphysical. 
Metaphysics means nothing but an unusually obstinate \\ 
effort to think clearly. The fundamental conceptions of 
psychology are practically very clear to us, but theoreti 
cally they are very confused, and one easily makes the ob 
scurest assumptions in this science without realizing, until 
challenged, what internal difficulties they involve. When 
these assumptions have once established themselves (as 
they have a way of doing in our very descriptions of the 
phenomenal facts) it is almost impossible to get rid of them 
afterwards or to make any one see that they are not essen 
tial features of the subject. The only way to prevent this 
disaster is to scrutinize them beforehand and make them 
give an articulate account of themselves before letting them 
pass. On of the obscurest of the assumptions of which 
I speak is the assumption that our mental states are com 
posite in structure, made up of smaller states conjoined. 
This hypothesis has outward advantages which make it 
almost irresistibly attractive to the intellect, and yet it is 
inwardly quite unintelligible. Of its unintelligibility, how 
ever, half the writers on psychology seem unaware. As 
our own aim is to understand if possible, I make no apology 
for singling out this particular notion for very explicit 
treatment before taking up the descriptive part of our work. 
The theory of mind- stuff is the theory that our mental 
states are compounds, expressed in its most radical form. 

145 



146 PSYCHOLOGY. 

EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY DEMANDS A MIND-DUST. 

In a general theory of evolution the inorganic comes 
first, then the lowest forms of animal and vegetable life, 
then forms of life that possess mentality, and finally those 
like ourselves that possess it in a high degree. As long as 
we keep to the consideration of purely outward facts, even 
the most complicated facts of biology, our task as evolution. 
ists is comparatively easy. We are dealing all the time with 
matter and its aggregations and separations ; and although 
our treatment must perforce be hypothetical, this does not 
prevent it from being continuous. The point which as evo 
lutionists we are bound to hold fast to is that all the new 
forms of being that make their appearance are really noth 
ing more than results of the redistribution of the original 
and unchanging materials. The self-same atoms which, 
chaotically dispersed, made the nebula, now, jammed and 
temporarily caught in peculiar positions, form our brains ; 
and the evolution of the brains, if understood, would be 
simply the account of how the atoms came to be so caught 
and jammed. In this story no new natures, no factors not 
present at the beginning, are introduced at any later stage. 

But with the dawn of consciousness an entirely new 
nature seems to slip in, something whereof the potency was 
not given in the mere outward atoms of the original chaos. 

The enemies of evolution have been quick to pounce 
upon this undeniable discontinuity in the data of the world, 
and many of them, from the failure of evolutionary expla 
nations at this point, have inferred their general incapacity 
all along the line. Every one admits the entire incommen 
surability of feeling as such with material motion as 
such. " A motion became a feeling ! " no phrase that our 
lips can frame is so devoid of apprehensible meaning. 
Accordingly, even the vaguest of evolutionary enthusiasts, 
when deliberately comparing material with mental facts, 
have been as forward as any one else to emphasize the 
" chasm between the inner and the outer worlds. 

" Can the oscillations of a molecule," says Mr. Spencer, "be repre 
sented side by side with a nervous shock [he means a mental shock], 
and the two b recognized as one ? No effort enables us to assimilate 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 147 

them. That a unit of feeling has nothing in common with a unit of 
motion becomes more than ever manifest when we bring the two into 
juxtaposition. " * 

And again : 

"Suppose it to have become quite clear that a shock in conscious 
ness and a molecular motion are the subjective and objective faces of 
the same thing; we continue utterly incapable of uniting the two, so as 
to conceive that reality of which they are the opposite faces."t 

In other words, incapable of perceiving in them any com 
mon character. So Tyndall, in that lucky paragraph 
which has been quoted so often that every one knows it by 
heart : 

"The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding 
facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought 
and a definite molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously ; we 
do not possess the intellectual organ, nor apparently any rudiment of 
the organ, which would enable us to pass, by a process of reasoning, 
from one to the other." I 
Or in this other passage : 

" We can trace the development of a nervous system and correlate 
with it the parallel phenomena of sensation and thought. We see with 
undoubting certainty that they go hand in hand. But we try to soar 
in a vacuum the moment we seek to comprehend the connection 
between them. . . . There is no fusion possible between the two classes 
of facts no motor energy in the intellect of man to carry it without 
logical rupture from the one to the other." 

None the less easily, however, when the evolutionary 
afflatus is upon them, do the very same writers leap over 
the breach whose flagrancy they are the foremost to an 
nounce, and talk as if mind grew out of body in a con 
tinuous way. Mr. Spencer, looking back on his review of 
mental evolution, tells us how " in tracing up the increase 

* Psychol. 62. f Ibid. 272. 

$ Fragments of Science, 5th ed., p. 420. 

Belfast Address, Nature, August 20, 1874, p. 318. I cannot help 
remarking that the disparity between motious and feelings 011 which these 
authors lay so much stress, is somewhat less absolute than at first sight 
it seems. There are categories common to the two worlds. Not only tem 
poral succession (as Helmholtz admits, Physiol. Optik, p. 445), but such 
attributes as intensity, volume, simplicity or complication, smooth or im 
peded change, rest or agitation, are habitually predicated of both physical 
facts and mental facts. Where surb analogies obtain, the things do have 
something- in cominoa. 



148 PSYCHOLOGY. 

we found ourselves passing without break from the phenomena 
of bodily life to the phenomena of mental life." And Mr. 
Tyndall, in the same Belfast Address from which we just 
quoted, delivers his other famous passage : 

" Abandoning all disguise, the confession that I feel bound to make 
before you is that I prolong the vision backward across the boundary of 
the experimental evidence, and discern in that matter which we, in our 
ignorance and notwithstanding our professed reverence for its Creator, 
have hitherto covered with opprobrium the promise and potency of 
every form and quality of life." t 
mental life included, as a matter of course. 

So strong a postulate is continuity ! Now this book will 
tend to show that mental postulates are on the whole to be 
respected. The demand for continuity has, over large tracts 
of science, proved itself to possess true prophetic power. 
We ought therefore ourselves sincerely to try every possible 
mode of conceiving the dawn of consciousness so that it 
may not appear equivalent to the irruption into the universe 
of a new nature, non-existent until then. 

Merely to call the consciousness * nascent will not 
serve our turn.:f It is true that the word signifies not yet 

* Psychology, 131. t Nature, as above, 317-8. 

\ Nascent is Mr. Spencer s great word. lu showing how at a certain 
point consciousness must appear upon the evolving scene this author fairly 
outdoes himself in vagueness. 

" In its higher forms, Instinct is probably accompanied by a rudimen 
tary consciousness. There cannot be co-ordination of many stimuli without 
some ganglion through which they are all brought into relation. In the 
process of bringing them into relation, this ganglion must be subject to 
the influence of each must undergo many changes. And the quick suc 
cession of changes in a ganglion, implying as it does perpetual experiences 
of differences and likenesses, constitutes the raw material of consciousness. 
The implication is that as fast as Instinct is developed, some kind of con 
sciousness becomes nascent." (Psychology, 195.) 

The words raw material and implication which I have italicized 
aie the words which do the evolving. They are supposed to have ail the 
rigor which the synthetic philosophy requires. In the following passage, 
when impressions pass through a common centre of communication 
in succession (much as people might pass into a theatre through a turnstile) 
consciousness, non-existent until then, is supposed to result : 

"Separate impressions are received by the senses by different parts of the 
body. If they go no further than the places at which they are received, they 
are useless. Or if only some of them are brought into relation with one an 
other, they are useless. That an effectual adjustment may be made, they must 
be all brought into relation with one another. But this implies some centre 
of communication common to them all, through which they severally pass,- 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 149 

quite born, and so seems to form a sort of bridge between 
existence and nonentity. But that is a verbal quibble. 
The fact is that discontinuity comes in if a new nature 
comes in at all. The quantity of the latter is quite imma 
terial. The girl in Midshipman Easy could not excuse the 
illegitimacy of her child by saying, *it was a little small 
one. And Consciousness, however little, is an illegiti 
mate birth in any philosophy that starts without it, and yet 
professes to explain all facts by continuous evolution. 

If evolution is to work smoothly, consciousness in some shape 
must have been present at the very origin of things. Accord 
ingly we find that the more clear-sighted evolutionary phi 
losophers are beginning to posit it there. Each atom of the 
nebula, they suppose, must have had an aboriginal atom 
of consciousness linked with it ; and, just as the material 
atoms have formed bodies and brains by massing them 
selves together, so the mental atoms, by an analogous 
process of aggregation, have fused into those larger con 
sciousnesses which we know in ourselves and suppose to 
exist in our fellow-animals. Some such doctrine of 
atomistic hylozoism as this is an indispensable part of a 
thorough-going philosophy of evolution. According to it 
there must be an infinite number of degrees of conscious- 

and as they cannot pass through it simultaneously, they must pass through 
it in succession. So that as the external phenomena responded to become 
greater in number and more complicated in kind, the variety and rapidity 
of the changes to which this common centre of communication is subject 
must increase there must result an unbroken series of these changes 
there must arise a consciousness. 

"Hence the progress of the correspondence between the organism and its 
environment necessitates a gradual reduction of the sensorial changes to a 
succession ; and by so doing evolves a distinct consciousness & consciousness 
that becomes higher as the succession becomes more rapid and the corre 
spondence more complete." (Ibid. 179.) 

It is true that in the Fortnightly Review (vol. xiv. p. 716) Mr. Spencer 
denies thnt he means by this passage to tell us anything about the origin of 
consciousness at all. It resembles, however, too many other places in his 
Psychology (e.g. 43, 110, 244) not to be taken as a serious attempt to ex 
plain how consciousness must at a certain point be evolved. That, 
when a critic calls his attention to the inanity of his words, Mr. Spencer 
should say he never meant anything particular by them, is simply an 
example of the scandalous vagueness with which this sort of chromo- 
philosophy is carried on. 



150 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ness, following the degrees of complication and aggrega 
tion of tlie primordial mind-dust. To prove the separate 
existence of these degrees of consciousness by indirect evi 
dence, since direct intuition of them is not to be had, be 
comes therefore the first duty of psychological evolutionism. 

SOME ALLEGED PROOFS THAT MIND-DUST EXISTS. 

Some of this duty we find already performed by a num 
ber of philosophers who, though not interested at all in 
evolution, have nevertheless on independent grounds con 
vinced themselves of the existence of a vast amount ef 
sub-conscious mental life. The criticism of this general 
opinion and its grounds will have to be postponed for a 
while. At present let us merely deal with the arguments 
assumed to prove aggregation of bits of mind-stuff into 
distinctly sensible feelings. They are clear and admit of a 
clear reply. 

The German physiologist A. Tick, in 1862, was, so far 
as I know, the first to use them. He made experiments on 
the discrimination of the feelings of warmth and of touch, 
when only a very small portion of the skin was excited 
through a hole in a card, the surrounding parts being pro 
tected by the card. He found that under these circum 
stances mistakes were frequently made by the patient,* 
and concluded that this must be because the number of 

* His own words are: " Mistakes are made in the sense that he admits 
having been touched, when in reality it was radiant heat that affected his 
skin. In our own before-mentioned experiments there was never any de 
ception on the entire palmar side of the hand or on the face. On the back 
of the hand in one case in a series of 60 stimulations 4 mistakes occurred, 
in another case 2 mistakes in 45 stimulations. On the extensor side of the 
upper arm 3 deceptions out of 48 stimulations were noticed, and in the case 
of another individual, 1 out of 31. In one case over the spine 3 deceptions 
in a series of 11 excitations were observed ; in another, 4 out of 19. On 
the lumbar spine 6 deceptions came among 29 stimulations, and again 4 
out of 7. There is certainly not yet enough material on which to rest a 
calculation of probabilities, but any one can easily convince himself that 
on the back there is no question of even a moderately accurate discrimina 
tion between warmth and a light pressure so far as but small portions of 
skin come into play. It has been as yet impossible to make corresponding 
experiments with regard to sensibility to cold." (Lehrb. d. Anat. u 
Physiol. d. Siuuesorgane (1862), p. 29.) 



THE MIND- STUFF THEORY. 151 

sensations from the elementary nerve-tips affected was too 
small to sum itself distinctly into either of the qualities of 
feeling in question. He tried to show how a different 
manner of the summation might give rise in one case to the 
heat and in another to the touch. 

"A feeling of temperature." he says, arises when the intensities 
of the units of feeling are evenly gradated, so that between two 
elements a and 6 no other unit can spatially intervene whose intensity 
is not also between that of a and b, A feeling of contact perhaps arises 
when this condition is not fulfilled. Both kinds of feeling, however, are 
composed of the same units." 

But it is obviously far clearer to interpret such a grada 
tion of intensities as a brain-fact than as a mind-fact. If 
in the brain a tract were first excited in one of the ways 
suggested by Prof. Tick, and then again in the other, it 
might very well happen, for aught we can say to the con 
trary, that the psychic accompaniment in the one case would 
be heat, and in the other pain. The pain and the heat would, 
however, not be composed of psychic units, but would each 
be the direct result of one total brain-process. So long as 
this latter interpretation remains open, Tick cannot be held 
to have proved psychic summation. 

Later, both Spencer and Taine, independently of each 
other, took up the same line of thought. Mr. Spencer s 
reasoning is worth quoting in extenso. He writes : 

" Although the individual sensations and emotions, real or ideal, of 
which consciousness is built up, appear to be severally simple, homo 
geneous, unanalyzable, or of inscrutable natures, yet they are not so. 
There is at least one kind of feeling which, as ordinarily experienced, 
seems elementary, that is demonstrably not elementary. And after re 
solving it into its proximate components, we can scarcely help suspect 
ing that other apparently-elementary feelings are also compound, and 
may have proximate components like those which we can in this one 
instance identify. 

" Musical sound is the name we give to this seemingly simple feeling 
which is clearly resolvable into simpler feelings. Well-known experi 
ments prove that when equal blows or taps are made one after another 
at a rate not exceeding some sixteen per second, the effect of each is 
perceived as a separate noise ; but when the rapidity with which the 
blows follow one another exceeds this, the noises are no longer identified 
in separate states of consciousness, and there arises in place of them a 
continuous state of consciousness, called a tone- In further increasing 



152 PSYCHOLOGY. 

the rapidity of the blows, the tone undergoes the change of quality dis 
tinguished as rise in pitch ; and it continues to rise in pitch as the blows 
continue to increase in rapidity, until it reaches an acuteness beyond 
which it is no longer appreciable as a tone. So that out of units of feel 
ing of the same kind ~ many feelings distinguishable from one another 
in quality result, according as the units are more or less integrated. 

" This is not all. The inquiries of Professor Helmholtz have shown 
that when, along with one series of these rapidly-recurring noises, there 
is generated another series in which the noises are more rapid though 
not so loud, the effect is a change in that quality known as its timbre. 
As various musical instruments show us, tones which are alike in pitch 
and strength are distinguishable by their harshness or sweetness, their 
ringing or their liquid characters; and all their specific ( peculiarities are 
proved to arise from the combination of one, two, thrfee, or more, sup 
plementary series of recurrent noises with the chief series of recurrent 
noises. So that while the unlikenesses of feeling known as differences 
of pitch in tones are due to differences of integration among the recur 
rent noises of one series, the unlikenesses of feeling known as differ 
ences of timbre, are due to the simultaneous integration with this series 
of other series having other degrees of integration. And thus an 
enormous number of qualitatively-contrasted kinds of consciousness 
that seem severally elementary prove to be composed of one simple 
kind of consciousness, combined and recombined with itself in multi 
tudinous ways. 

"Can we stop short here? If the different sensations known as 
sounds are built out of a common unit, is it not to be rationally inferred 
that so likewise are the different sensations known as tastes, and the 
different sensations known as odors, and the different sensations known 
as colors ? Nay, shall we not regard it as probable that there is a unit 
common to all these strongly-contrasted classes of sensations ? If the 
unlikenesses among the sensations of each class may be due to unlike 
nesses among the modes of aggregation of a unit of consciousness com 
mon to them all ; so too may the much greater unlikenesses between 
the sensations of each class and those of other classes. There may be a 
single primordial element of consciousness, and the countless kinds of 
consciousness may be produced by the compounding of this element 
with itself and the recompounding of its compounds with one another 
in higher and higher degrees : so producing increased multiplicity, 
variety, and complexity. 

"Have we any clue to this primordial element ? I think we have. 
That simple mental impression which proves to be the unit of composi 
tion of the sensation of musical tone, is allied to certain other simple 
mental impressions differently originated. The subjective effect pro 
duced by a crack or noise that has no appreciable duration is little 
else than a nervous shock. Though we distinguish such a nervous 
shock as belonging to what we call sounds, yet it does not differ very 
much from nervous shocks of other kinds. An electric discharge sent 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 158 

through the body causes a feeling akin to that which a sudden loud re 
port causes. A strong unexpected impression made through the eyes, 
as by a flash of lightning, similarly gives rise to a start or shock ; and 
though the feeling so named seems, like the electric shock, to have the 
body at large for its seat, and may therefore be regarded as the correla 
tive rather of the efferent than of the afferent disturbance, yet on re 
membering the mental change that results from the instantaneous 
transit of an object across the field of vision, I think it may be perceived 
that the feeling accompanying the efferent disturbance is itself reduced 
very nearly to the same form. The state of consciousness so generated 
is, in fact, comparable in quality to the initial state of consciousness 
caused by a blow (distinguishing it from the pain or other feeling that 
commences theJnstant after); which state of consciousness caused by a 
blow may be tSten as the primitive and typical form of the nervous 
shock. The fa ct that sudden brief disturbances thus set up by differ 
ent stimuli through different sets of nerves cause feelings scarcely 
distinguishable in quality will not appear strange when we recollect that 
distinguishableness of feeling implies appreciable duration; and that 
when the duration is greatly abridged, nothing more is known than that 
some mental change has occurred and ceased. To have a sensation of 
redness, to know a tone as acute or grave, to be conscious of a taste as 
sweet, implies in each case a considerable continuity of state. If tl# 
state does not last long enough to admit of its being contemplated, it 
cannot be classed as of this or that kind; and becomes a momentary 
modification very similar to momentary modifications otherwise caused. 
"It is possible, then may we not even say probable? that some 
thing of the same order as that which we call a nervous shock is the 
ultimate unit of consciousness ; and that all the unlikenes^es among 
our feelings result from unlike modes of integration of this ultimate 
unit. I say of the same order, because there are discernible differences 
among nervous shocks that are differently caused ; and the primitive 
nervous shock probably differs somewhat from each of them. And I 
say of the same order, for the further reason that while we may 
ascribe to them a general likeness in nature, we must suppose a great 
unlikeness in degree. The nervous shocks recognized as such are vio 
lent must be violent before they can be perceived amid the proces 
sion of multitudinous vivid feelings suddenly interrupted by them. 
But the rapidly-recurring nervous shocks of which the different forms 
of feeling consist, we must assume to be of comparatively moderate, or 
even of very slight intensity. Were our various sensations and emotions 
composed of rapidly-recurring shocks as strong as those ordinarily 
called shocks, they would be unbearable ; indeed life would cease at 
once. We must think of them rather as successive faint pulses of sub 
jective change, each having the same quality as the strong pulse of 
subjective change distinguished as a nervous shock." * 

* Principles of Psychology, 60, 



154 



PSYCHOLOGY. 
INSUFFICIENCY OF THESE PKOOPS. 



Convincing as this argument of Mr. Spencer s may 
appear on a first reading, it is singular how weak it really 
is.* We do, it is true, when we study the connection be 
tween a musical note and its outward cause, find the note 
simple and continuous while the cause is multiple and dis 
crete. Somewhere, then, there is a transformation, reduc 
tion, or fusion. The question is, Where ? in the nerve* 






One second of time. 

FIG. 25. 

world or in the mind- world ? Really we have no experi 
mental proof by which to decide ; and if decide we must, 

* Oddly enough, Mr. Spencer seems quite unaware of the general func 
tion of the theory of elementary units of mind-stuff in the evolutionary 
philosophy. We have seen it to be absolutely indispensable, if that phi 
losophy is to work, to postulate consciousness in the nebula, the simplest 
way being, of course, to suppose every atom animated. Mr. Spencer, how 
ever, will have it (e.g. First Principles, 71) that consciousness is only the 
occasional result of the transformation of a certain amount of physical 
force to which it is equivalent. Presumably a brain must already be there 
before any such transformation can take place ; and so the argument 
quoted in the text stands as a mere local detail, without general bearings. 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 155 

analogy and a priori probability can alone guide us. Mr. 
Spencer assumes that the fusion must come to pass in the 
mental world, and that the physical processes get through 
air and ear, auditory nerve and medulla, lower brain and 
hemispheres, without their number being reduced. Figure 
25, on the previous page, will make the point clear. 

Let the line a b represent the threshold of conscious^ 
ness : then everything drawn below that line will symbolize 
a physical process, everything above it will mean a fact 
of mind. Let the crosses stand for the physical blows, the 
circles for theevents in successively higher orders of nerve- 
cells, and tll| horizontal marks for the facts of feeling. 
Spencer s argument implies that each order of cells trans 
mits just as many impulses as it receives to the cells above 
it ; so that if the blows come at the rate of 20,000 in a second 
the cortical cells discharge at the same rate, and one unit 
of feeling corresponds to each one of the 20,000 discharges. 
Then, and only then, does integration occur, by the 
20,000 units of feeling compounding with themselves into 
the continuous state of consciousness represented by the 
short line at the top of the figure. 

Now such an interpretation as this flies in the face of 
physical analogy, no less than of logical intelligibility. 
Consider physical analogy first. 

A pendulum may be deflected by a single blow, and swing 
back. Will it swing back the more often the more we multi 
ply the blows ? No ; for if they rain upon the pendulum too 
fast, it will not swing at all but remain deflected in a sensi 
bly stationary state. In other words, increasing the cause 
numerically need not equally increase numerically the 
eft ect. Blow through a tube : you get a certain musical 
note ; and increasing the blowing increases for a certain time 
the loudness of the note. Will this be true indefinitely ? 
No ; for when a certain force is reached, the note, instead of 
growing louder, suddenly disappears and is replaced by its 
higher octave. Turn on the gas slightly and light it : you 
get a tiny flame. Turn on more gas, and the breadth of the 
.flame increases. Will this relation increase indefinitely? 
No, again ; for at a certain moment up shoots the flame 
into a ragged streamer and begins to hiss. Send slowly 



156 PSYCHOLOGY. 

through the nerve of a frog s gastrocnemius muscle a suo 
cession of galvanic shocks : you get a succession of twitches. 
Increasing the number of shocks does not increase the 
twitching; on the contrary, it stops it, and we have the 
muscle in the apparently stationary state of contraction 
called tetanus. This last fact is the true analogue of what 
must happen between the nerve-cell and the sensory fibre. 
It is certain that cells are more inert than fibres, and that 
rapid vibrations in the latter can only arouse relatively 
simple processes or states in the former. The higher 
cells may have even a slower rate of explosion than the 
lower, and so the twenty thousand supposejfcblows of the 
outer air may be integrated in the cortex into a very 
small number of cell-discharges in a second. This other 
diagram will serve to contrast this supposition with 
Spencer s. In Fig. 26 all integration occurs below the 
threshold of consciousness. The frequency of cell-events 
becomes more and more reduced as we approach the cells 
to which feeling is most directly attached, until at last we 
come to a condition of things symbolized by the larger 
ellipse, which may be taken to stand for some rather 
massive and slow process of tension and discharge in the 
cortical centres, to which, as a ivliole, the feeling of musical 
tone symbolized by the line at the top of the diagram 
simply and totally corresponds. It is as if a long file 

of men were to start one afte- 
the other to reach a distant point. 
The road at first is good and 
they keep their original distance 
apart. Presently it is intersected 
by bogs each worse than the last, 
so that the front men get so re 
tarded that the hinder ones catch 
up with them before the journey 
is do ne, and all arrive together 
FIG. 26. at the goal.* 

* The compounding of colors may be dealt with in an identical way. 
Helmholtz has shown that if green light and red light fall simultaneously 
on the retina, we see the color yellow. The mind-stuff theory would in 
terpret this as a case where the feeling green and the feeling red com 




THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 157 

On this supposition there are no unperceived units of 
mind-stuff preceding and composing the full consciousness. 
The latter is itself an immediate psychic fact and bears 
an immediate relation to the neural state which is its un 
conditional accompaniment. Did each neural shock give 
rise to its own psychic shock, and the psychic shocks then 
combine, it would be impossible to understand why sever 
ing one part of the central nervous system from another 
should break up the integrity of the consciousness. The 
cut has nothing to do with the psychic world. The atoms 
of mind-stufkouglit to float off from the nerve-matter on 
either side*c^pt, and come together over it and fuse, just 
as well as i^t had not been made. We know, however, 
that they do not ; that severance of the paths of conduction 
between a man s left auditory centre or optical centre and 
the rest of his cortex will sever all communication between 
the words which he hears or sees written and the rest of 
his ideas. 

Moreover, if feelings can mix into a tertium quid, why 
do we not take a feeling of greenness and a feeling of red 
ness, and make a feeling of yellowness out of them ? Why 
has optics neglected the open road to truth, and wasted 
centuries in disputing about theories of color-composition 
which two minutes of introspection would have settled 
forever ? * We cannot mix feelings as such, though we may 
mix the objects we feel, and from their mixture get new 
feelings. We cannot even (as we shall later see) have two 
feelings in our mind at once. At most we can compare 
together objects previously presented to us in distinct feel 
ings ; but then we find each object stubbornly maintaining 



bine into the tertium quid of feeling, yellow. What really occurs is no 
doubt that a third kind of nerve-process is set up when the combined lights 
impinge on the retina, not simply the process of red plus the process of 
green, but something quite different from both or either. Of course, then, 
there are no feelings, either of red or of green, present to the mind at all , 
but the feeling of yellow which is there, answers as directly to the nerve, 
process which momentarily then exists, as the feelings of green and red 
would answer to their respective nerve-processes did the latter happen to be 
taking place. 

* Cf. Mill s Logic, book vi. chao. iv. 3. 



158 PSYCHOLOGY, 

its separate identity before consciousness, whatever the 
verdict of the comparison may be.* 

SELF-COMPOUNDING OF MENTAL FACTS IS INADMISSIBLE. 

But there is a still more fatal objection to the theory of 
mental units compounding with themselves or integrat 
ing. It is logically unintelligible ; it leaves out the es 
sential feature of all the combinations we actually know. 

All the combinations which we actually know are EFFECTS, 
wrought by the units said to be combined, UPONSOME ENTITY 
OTHER THAN THEMSELVES. Without this featu^U a medium 
or vehicle, the notion of combination has noWvi 

" A multitude of contractile units, by joint action, and by being all 
connected, for instance, with a single tendon, will pull at the same, and 
will bring about a dynamical effect which is undoubtedly the resultant 
of their combined individual energies. ... On the whole, tendons are 
to muscular fibres, and bones are to tendons, combining recipients of 
mechanical energies. A medium of composition is indispensable to the 
summation of energies. To realize the complete dependence of mechan 
ical resultants on a combining substratum, one may fancy for a moment 
all the individually contracting muscular elements severed from their 
attachments. They might then still be capable of contracting with the 
same energy as before, yet no co-operative result would be accomplished. 
The medium of dynamical combination would be wanting. The mul 
tiple energies, singly exerted on no common recipient, would lose 
themselves on entirely isolated and disconnected efforts, "f 

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 

* I find in my students an almost invincible tendency to think that we 
can immediately perceive that feelings do combine. " What !" they say, 
" is not the taste of lemonade composed of that of leinon plus that of 
sugar?" 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 lemon-sour 
on the one hand and the sugar-sweet on the other. These tastes are 
absent utterly. Ths entirely new taste which is present resembles, it is true, 
both those tastes ; but in Chapter XIII we shall see that resemblance can 
not always be held to involve partial identity. 

i E. Montgomery, in Mind. v. 18-19. See also Dp. 24-5. 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 159 

apprehend the sum as such ; or else it exists in the shape 
of some other effect on an entity external to the sum itself. 
Let it not be objected that H 2 and O combine of themselves 
into water, and thenceforward exhibit new properties. 
They do not. The water is just the old atoms in the 
new position, H-O-H ; the new properties are just their 
combined 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. 

" Aggregations are organized wholes only when they behave as such 
in the presenajji other things. A statue is an aggregation of par 
ticles of marb^^Bbt as such it has no unity. For the spectator it is 
one; in itself ro^Pan aggregate; just as, to the consciousness of an ant 
crawling over it, it may again appear a mere aggregate. No summing 
up of parts can make an unity of a mass of discrete constituents, unless 
this unity exist for some other subject, not for the mass itself." * 

Just so, in the parallelogram of forces, the forces 
themselves do not combine 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 ear. 

* J. Royce, Mind, vi. p. 376. Lotze has set forth the truth of this law 
more clearly and copiously than any other writer. Unfortunately lie is too 
lengthy to quote. See his Microco&mus, bk. ir. ch. i. 5; Metaphysik, 
242, 260 ; Outlines of Metaphysics, part n. chap. i. 3, 4, 5. Compare 
ulso Reid s Intellectual Powers, essay v, chap, mad Jin.,- Bowne s Meta 
physics, pp. 361-76; St. J. Mivart : Nature and Thought, pp. 98-101; E. 
Gurney: Monism, in Mind. vi. 153; and the article by Prof . Royce, 
just quoted, on Mind-stuff and Reality. 

In defence of the mind-stuff mew , see W. K. Clifford: Mind, in. 57 (re 
printed in his Lectures and Essays, n. 71); G. T. Fechner, Psycho 
physik, Bd. n. cap. XLV; H. Taiue: on Intelligence, bk. in; E. Haeckel: 
Zellseelen u. Seelenzellen in Gesammelte pop. Vortrage, Bd. i. p. 143; W. 
S. Duncan ; Conscious Matter, pasttim; H. Z5llner: Natur d. Cometen, pp. 
320 ff.; Alfred Barratt: Physical Ethic and Physical Metempiric, pas- 
wm; J. Soury: Hylozoismus, in Kosmos, V. Jahrg., Heft x. p. 241; A. 
Main: Mind, i. 292, 431, 566; n. 129, 402; Id. Revue Philos., n. 86, 88, 
419; m. 51,502; iv. 402; F. W. Fraukland: Mind. vi. 116; Whittaker: 
Mind, vi. 498 (historical); Morton Prince: The Nature of Mind and 
Human Automatism (1885); A. Riehl: Der philosophische Kriticismus, Bd. 
n. Theil 2, 2ter Absclmitt, 2tes Cap. (1887). The clearest of all these 
Statements is, as far as it goes, that of Prince. 



160 PSYCHOLOGY. 

"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 feel 
ing it always was, shut in its own skin, windowless, igno 
rant 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 belong 
ing to the group as such should emerge. And this 101st feel 
ing would be a totally new fact ; the 100 original feelings 
might, by a curious physical law, be a signa^tkits creation, 
when they came together; but they woulc^lpive no sub 
stantial identity with it, nor it with them, Ima one could 
never deduce the one from the others, or (in any intelligible 
sense) say that they evolved it. 

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 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 sym 
bolic speech, and never dream that the spirit, opinion, 
sentiment, etc., constitute a consciousness other thai], 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, a 
contention which we shall take up at greater length in 
Chapter X. The associationists say the mind is constituted 



*" Someone might say that although it is true that neither a blind 
man nor a deaf man by himself can compare sounds with colors, yet 
since one hears and the other sees they might do so both together. . . . 
But whether they are apart or close together makes no difference ; not even 
if they permanently keep house together ; no, not if they were Siamese 
twins, or more than Siamese twins, and were inseparably grown together, 
would it make the assumption any more possible. Only when sound and 
color are represented in the same reality is it thinkable that they should 
be compared." (Brentano: Psychologic, p. 209.) 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 161 

by a multiplicity of distinct 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 -f- &, 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 -j- idea of b is not identical 
with idea of (a -{- b). It is one, they are two ; in it, what 
knows a also knows &; 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 and 
the same tl^fl^is the associated idea. 

This is J^P the spiritualists keep saying ; and since we 
do, as a matter of fact, have the compounded idea, and do 
know a and b together, they adopt a farther hypothesis to 
explain that fact. The separate ideas exist, they say, but 
affect a third entity, the soul. This has the l compounded 
idea, if you please so to call it ; and the compounded idea 
is an altogether new psychic fact to which the separate ideas 
stand in the relation, not of constituents, but of occasions 
of production. 

This argument of the spiritualists against the association- 
ists has never been answered by the latter. It holds good 
against any talk about self-compounding amongst feelings, 
against any blending, or complication, or mental 
chemistry, or psychic synthesis, which supposes a re 
sultant consciousness to float off from the constituents per se, 
in the absence of a supernumerary principle of conscious 
ness which they may affect. The mind-stuff theory, in 
short, is unintelligible. Atoms of feeling cannot compose 
higher feelings, any more than atoms of matter can compose 
physical things! The things, for a clear-headed ato 
mistic evolutionist, are not. Nothing is but the everlasting 
atoms. When grouped in a certain way, ive name them 
this thing or that ; but the thing we name has no exist 
ence out of our mind. So of the states of mind which are 
supposed to be compound because they know many differ 
ent things together. Since indubitably such states do exist, 
they must exist as single new facts, effects, possibly, as 
the spiritualists say, on the Soul (we will not decide that 



162 PSYCHOLOGY. 

point here), but at any rate independent and integral, and 
not compounded of psychic atoms.* 

CAN STATES OF MIND BE UNCONSCIOUS? 

The passion for unity and smoothness is in some minds 
so insatiate that, in spite of the logical clearness of these 
reasonings and conclusions, many will fail to be influenced 
by them. They establish a sort of disjointedness in things 
which in certain quarters will appear intolerable. They 

* The reader must observe that we are reasoning ab^^her about the 
logic of the mind-stuff theory, about whether it can ea^KBthe constitution 
of higher mental states by viewing them as identv^^Hlih lower ones 
summed together. We say the two sorts of fact are not icrentical : a higher 
state is not a lot of lower states ; it is itself. When, however, a lot of 
lower states have come together, or when certain brain-conditions occur 
together which, if they occurred separately, would produce a lot of lower 
states, we have not for a moment pretended that a higher state may not 
emerge. In fact it does emerge under those conditions ; and our Chapter 
IX will be mainly devoted to the proof of this fact. But such emergence 
is that of a new psychic entity, and is ioto coslo different from such an 
integration of the lower states as the mind-stuff theory affirms. 

It may seem strange to suppose that anyone should mistake criticism of 
a certain theory about a fact for doubt of the fact itself. And yet the 
confusion is made in high quarters enough to justify our remarks. Mr. J. 
Ward, in his article Psychology in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, speak 
ing of the hypothesis that "a series of feelings can be aware of itself as 
a series," says (p. 39): " Paradox is too mild a word for it, even contradiction 
will hardly suffice." Whereupon, Professor Bain takes him thus to task: 
" As to a series of states being aware of itself, I confess I see no insur 
mountable difficulty. It may be a fact, or not a fact ; it may be a very 
clumsy expression for what it is applied to ; but it is neither paradox nor 
contradiction. A series merely contradicts an individual, or it may be 
two or more individuals as coexisting ; but that is too general to exclude 
the possibility of self-knowledge. It certainly does not bring the property 
of self-knowledge into the foreground, which, however, is not the same 
as denying it. An algebraic series might know itself, without any con 
tradiction : the only thing against it is the want of evidence of the fact. 
( Mind, xt. 459). Prof. Bain thinks, then, that all the bother is about the 
difficulty of seeing how a series of feelings can have the knowledge of 
itself added to it f ! ! As if anybody ever was troubled about that. That, 
notoriously enough, is a fact : our consciousness is a series of feelings to 
which every now and then is added a retrospective consciousness that they 
have come and gone. What Mr. Ward and I are troubled about is merely 
the silliness of the mind-stuffists and associationists continuing to say that 
the series of states is the awareness of itself ; that if the states be posited 
severally, their collective consciousness is eo ipso given ; and that we need 
no farther explanation, or evidence of the fact. 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 153 

sweep away all chance of passing without break either 
from the material to the mental, or from the lower to the 
higher mental ; and they thrust us back into a pluralism of 
consciousnesses each arising discontinuously in the midst 
of two disconnected worlds, material and mental which is 
even worse than the old notion of the separate creation of 
each particular soul. But the malcontents will hardly try 
to refute oi?r reasonings by direct attack. It is more prob 
able that, turning their back upon them altogether, they 
will devote themselves to sapping and mining the region 
roundabou^^til it is a bog of logical liquefaction, into the 
midst of NN ^^V all definite conclusions of any sort may be 
trusted ere J^g to sink and disappear. 

Our reasonings have assumed that the integration of 
a thousand psychic units must be either just the units over 
again, simply rebaptized, or else something real, but then 
other than and additional to those units ; that if a certain 
existing fact is that of a thousand feelings, it cannot at the 
same time be that of ONE feeling ; for the essence of feeling 
is to be felt, and as a psychic existent feels, so it must be. 
If the one feeling feels like no one of the thousand, in what 
sense can it be said to be the thousand ? These assumptions 
are what the monists will seek to undermine. The Hegelizers 
amongst them will take high ground at once, and say 
that the glory and beauty of the psychic life is that in it all 
contradictions find their reconciliation ; and that it is just 
because the i acts we are considering are facts of the self 
that they are both one and many at the same time. With 
this intellectual temper I confess that I cannot contend. 
As in striking at some unresisting gossamer with a club, 
one but overreaches one s self, and the thing one aims at 
gets no harm. So I leave this school to its devices. 

The other monists are of less deliquescent frame, and 
try to break down distinctness among mental states by 
making a distinction. This sounds paradoxical, but it is 
only ingenious. The distinction is that between the uncon 
scious and the conscious being of the mental state. It is the 
sovereign means for believing what one likes in psychology, 
and of turning what might become a science into a tum 
bling-ground for whimsies. It has numerous champions. 



164 PSYCHOLOGY. 

and elaborate reasons to give for itself. We must there* 
fore accord it due consideration. In discussing the question : 

DO UNCONSCIOUS MENTAL STATES EXIST? 

it will be best to give the list of so-called proofs as briefly 
as possible, and to follow each by its objection, as in scho 
lastic books.* 

First Proof. The minimum visibile, the minimum audibile, 
are objects composed of parts. How can the whole affect 
the sense unless each part does ? And yet each part does 
so without being separately sensible. Leifrjta calls the 
total consciousness an aperception, the su^^Bd insensi 
ble consciousness by the name of l petites^^eptions* 

"To judge of the latter," he says, " I am accustomed to use the ex 
ample of the roaring of the sea with which one is assailed when near the 
shore. To hear this noise as one does, one must hear the parts which 
compose its totality, that is, the noise of each wave, . . . although this 
noise would not be noticed if its wave were alone. One must be affected 
a little by the movement cf one wave, one must have some perception 
of each several noise, however small it be. Otherwise one would not 
hear that of 100,000 waves, for of 100,000 zeros one can never make a 
quantity." f 

Reply. This is an excellent example of the so-called 
fallacy of division, or predicating what is true only of a 
collection, of each member of the collection distributively. 
It no more follows that if a thousand things together cause 
sensation, one thing alone must cause it, than it follows 
that if one pound weight moves a balance, then one ounce 
weight must move it too, in less degree. One ounce 
weight does not move it at all ; its movement begins with 

* The writers about unconscious cerebration seem sometimes to mean 
that and sometimes unconscious thought. The arguments which follow 
are culled from various quarters. The reader will find them most sys 
tematically urged by E. von Hartmann: Philosophy of the Unconscious, vol. 
i, and by E, Colsenet : La vie luconsciente de 1 Esprit (1880). Consult also 
T. Laycock : Mind and Brain, vol. i. chap, v (1860); W. B. Carpenter: 
Mental Physiology, chap, xin; F. P. Cobbe : Darwinism in Morals and 
other Essays, essay xi, Unconscious Cerebration (1872); F. Bowen: Mod 
ern Philosophy, pp. 428-480 ; R. H. Hutton : Contemporary Review, vol. 
xxiv. p. 201 ; J. S. Mill: Exam, of Hamilton, chap, xv; G. H. Lewes: 
Problems of Life and Mind, 3d series, Prob. n. cbap. x, arid also Prob. 
in. chap, ii : D. G. Thompson: A System of Psychology, chap, xxxni 1 
J. M. Baldwin, Hand-book of Psychology, chap. rv. 

i Nouveaux Essais, Avant-propos. 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 165 

the pound. At most we can say that each ounce affects 
it in some way which helps the advent of that move 
ment. And so each infra-sensible stimulus to a nerve 
no doubt affects the nerve and helps the birth of sensa 
tion when the other stimuli come. But this affection is 
a nerve-affection, and there is not the slightest ground for 
supposing it to be a * perception unconscious of itsell 
" A certain quantity of the cause may be a necessary con 
dition to the production of any of the effect," * when the 
latter is a mental state. 

Second Jf^kf - I u a ^ acquired dexterities and habits, 
secondarilj^BDmatic performances as they are called, we 
do what or^finally required a chain of deliberately con 
scious perceptions and volitions. As the actions still keep 
their intelligent character, intelligence must still preside 
over their execution. But since our consciousness seems 
all the while elsewhere engaged, such intelligence must 
consist of unconscious perceptions, inferences, and volitions. 

Reply. There is more than one alternative explanation 
in accordance with larger bodies of fact. One is that the 
perceptions and volitions in habitual actions may be per 
formed consciously, only so quickly and inattentively that 
no memory of them remains. Another is that the conscious 
ness of these actions exists, but is split-off from the rest of 
the consciousness of the hemispheres. We shall find in 
Chapter X numerous proofs of the reality of this split-off 
condition of portions of consciousness. Since in man the 
hemispheres indubitably co-operate in these secondarily 
automatic acts, it will not do to say either that they occur 
without consciousness or that their consciousness is that of 
the lower centres, which we know nothing about. But 
either lack of memory or split-off cortical consciousness 
will certainly account for all of the facts.f 

Third Proof. Thinking of A, we presently find our 
selves thinking of C. Now B is the natural logical link 
between A and C, but we have no consciousness of having 
thought of B. It must have been in our mind wwcon- 

* J. S. Mill, Exam, of Hamilton, chap. xv. 
f Cf. Dugald Stewart, Elements, chap. n. 



166 PSYCHOLOGY. 

sciously, and in that state affected the sequence of oui 
ideas. 

Reply. Here again we have a choice between more 
plausible explanations. Either B was consciously there, 
but the next instant forgotten, or its brain-tract alone was 
adequate to do the whole work of coupling A with C, with 
out the idea B being aroused at all, whether consciously 
or unconsciously. 

Fourth Proof. Problems unsolved when we go to bed 
are found solved in the morning when we wak^ Somnam 
bulists do rational things. We awaken pi^^kally at an 
hour predetermined overnight, etc. Uncons^HI thinking, 
volition, time-registration, etc., must have presided over 
these acts. 

Reply. Consciousness forgotten, as in the hypnotic 
trance. 

Fifth Proof. Some patients will often, in an attack 
of epileptiform unconsciousness, go through complicated 
processes, such as eating a dinner in a restaurant and pay 
ing for it, or making a violent homicidal attack. In trance, 
artificial or pathological, long and complex performances, 
involving the use of the reasoning powers, are executed, of 
which the patient is wholly unaware on coming to. 

Reply. Rapid and complete oblivescence is certainly 
the explanation here. The analogue again is hypnotism. 
Tell the subject of an hypnotic trance, during his trance, 
that he will remember, and he may remember everything 
perfectly when he awakes, though without your telling him 
no memory would have remained. The extremely rapid 
oblivescence of common dreams is a familiar fact. 

Sixth Proof. In a musical concord the vibrations of the 
several notes are in relatively simple ratios. The mind 
must unconsciously count the vibrations, and be pleased by 
the simplicity which it finds. 

Reply. The brain-process produced by the simple ratios 
may be as directly agreeable as the conscious process of 
comparing them would be. No counting, either conscious 
or unconscious, is required. 

Seventh Proof. Every hour we make theoretic judgments 
and emotional reactions, and exhibit practical tendencies, 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 167 

for which w r e can give no explicit logical justification, but 
which are good inferences from certain premises. We 
know more than we can say. Our conclusions run ahead 
of our power to analyze their grounds. A child, ignorant 
of the axiom that two things equal to the same are equal to 
each other, applies it nevertheless in his concrete judgments 
unerringly. A boor will use the dictum de omni et nullo who 
is unable to understand it in abstract terms. 

" We seldom consciously think how our house is painted, what the 
shade of it is,^hat the pattern of our furniture is, or whether the door 
opens to thn^^^t or left, or out or in. But how quickly should we 
notice a chai^^B any of these things ! Think of the door you have 
most often opSR, and tell, if you can, whether it opens to the right or 
left, out or in. Yet when you open the door you never put the hand 
on the wrong side to find the latch, nor try to push it when it opens 
with a pull. . . . What is the precise characteristic in your friend s step 
that enables you to recognize it when he is coming ? Did you ever con 
sciously think the idea, if I run into a solid piece of matter I shall get 
hurt, or be hindered in my progress ? and do you avoid running into 
obstacles because you ever distinctly conceived, or consciously acquired 
and thought, that idea?"* 

Most of our knowledge is at all times potential. We act 
in accordance with the whole drift of what we have learned, 
but few items rise into consciousness at the time. Many 
of them, however, we may recall at will. All this co 
operation of unrealized principles and facts, of potential 
knowledge, with our actual thought is quite inexplicable 
unless we suppose the perpetual existence of an immense 
mass of ideas in an unconscious state, all of them exerting a 
steady pressure and influence upon our conscious thinking, 
and many of them in such continuity with it as ever and 
anon to become conscious themselves. 

Reply. No such mass of ideas is supposable. .But there 
are all kinds of short-cuts in the brain ; and processes not 
aroused strongly enough to give any idea distinct enough 
to be a premise, may, nevertheless, help to determine just 
that resultant process of whose psychic accompaniment the 
said idea would be a premise, if the idea existed at all. A 
certain overtone may be a feature of my friend s voice, and 

* J. E. Maude: The Unconscious in Education, in Education vol 
L p. 401 (1882). 



168 PSYCHOLOGY. 

may conspire with the other tones thereof to arouse in my 
brain the process which suggests to my consciousness his 
name. And yet I may be ignorant of the overtone per se, 
and unable, even when he speaks, to tell whether it be there 
or no. It leads me to the idea of the name ; but it pro 
duces in me no such cerebral process as that to which the 
idea of the overtone would correspond. And similarly of our 
learning. Each subject we learn leaves behind it a modifi 
cation of the brain, which makes it impossible for the latter 
to react upon things just as it did before ; an^the result of 
the difference may be a tendency to act, thou^^ith no idea, 
much as we should if we were consciously WRing about 
the subject. The becoming conscious of tli^Tatter at will 
is equally readily explained as a result of the brain-modifi 
cation. This, as Wundt phrases it, is a predisposition to 
bring forth the conscious idea of the original subject, a pre 
disposition which other stimuli and brain-processes may 
convert into an actual result. But such a predisposition is 
no unconscious idea; it is only a particular collocation of 
\/ the molecules in certain tracts of the brain. 

Eighth Proof. Instincts, as pursuits of ends by appro 
priate means, are manifestations of intelligence ; but as the 
ends are not foreseen, the intelligence must be unconscious. 

Reply. Chapter XXIV will show that all the phenomena 
of instinct are explicable as actions of the nervous system, 
mechanically discharged by stimuli to the senses. 

Ninth Proof. In sense-perception we have results in 
abundance, which can only be explained as conclusions 
drawn by a process of unconscious inference from data 
given to sense. A small human image on the retina is 
referred, not to a pygmy, but to a distant man of normal 
size. A certain gray patch is inferred to be a white object 
seen in a dim light. Often the inference leads us astray : 
e.g., pale gray against pale green looks red, because we 
take a wrong premise to argue from. We think a green 
film is spread over everything; and knowing that under 
such a film a red thing would look gray, we wrongly infer 
from the gray appearance that a red thing must be there. 
Our study of space-perception in Chapter XYIII will give 
abundant additional examples both of the truthful andilhi 



TEE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 169 

sory percepts which have been explained to result from 
unconscious logic operations. 

Reply. That Chapter will also in many cases refute 
this explanation. Color- and light-contrast are certainly 
purely sensational affairs, in which inference plays no part. 
This has been satisfactorily proved by Hering,* and shall 
be treated of again in Chapter XVII. Our rapid judg 
ments of size, shape, distance, and the like, are best ex- \ / 
plained as processes ^ i simple cerebral association. Cer 
tain sense-impressions directly stimulate brain-tracts, of 
whose activity ready-made conscious percepts are the 
immediate psychic counterparts. They do this by a mech 
anism either connate or acquired by habit. It is to be 
remarked that Wundt and Helmholtz, who in their earlier 
writings did more than any one to give vogue to the notion 
that unconscious inference is a vital factor in sense-percep 
tion, have seen fit on later occasions to modify their views 
and to admit that results like those of reasoning may accrue 
without any actual reasoning process unconsciously taking 
place. f Maybe the excessive and riotous applications made 
by Hartmann of their principle have led them to this 
change. It would be natural to feel towards him as the 
sailor in the story felt towards the horse who got his foot 
into the stirrup, " If you re going to get on, I must get off." V 

Hartmann fairly boxes the compass of the universe with 
the principle of unconscious thought. For him there is no 
namable thing that does not exemplify it. But his logic 
is so lax and his failure to consider the most obvious alter 
natives so complete that it would, on the whole, be a 
waste of time to look at his arguments in detail. The same 
is true of Schopenhauer, in whom the mythology reaches 
its climax. The visual perception, for example, of an 
object in space results, according to him, from the intellect 
performing the following operations, all unconscious. First, 
it apprehends the inverted retinal image and turns it right 
side up, constructing flat space as a preliminary operation ; 

* Zur Lehre vom Lichtsiune (1878). 

f Cf. Wundt: Ueber den Einfiuss dcr Philosoplrie, etc. Antritlsrede 
11876), pp. 10-11; Heliiiholt/: Die Thatsacheu in der Walnuelmmug, 
1879), p. 27. 



170 PSYCHOLOGY. 

then it computes from the angle of convergence of the eye 
balls that the two retinal images must be the projection of 
but a single object; thirdly, it constructs the third dimen 
sion and sees this object solid; fourthly, it assigns its dis 
tance; and fifthly, in each and all of these operations it gets 
the objective character of what it constructs by uncon 
sciously inferring it as the only possible cause of some sen 
sation which it unconsciously feels.* Comment on this 
seems hardly called for. It is, as I said, pure mythology. 

None of these facts, then, appealed to so confidently in 
proof of the existence of ideas in an unconscious state, 
prove anything of the sort. They prove either that con 
scious ideas were present which the next instant were 
forgotten ; or they prove that certain results, similar to 
results of reasoning, may bo wrought out by rapid brain- 
processes to which no ideation seems attached. But there 
is one more argument to be alleged, less obviously insuffi 
cient than those which we have reviewed, and demanding 
a new sort of reply. 

Tenth Proof. There is a great class of experiences in 
our mental life which may be described as discoveries that 
a subjective condition which we have been having is really 
something different from what we had supposed. We sud 
denly find ourselves bored by a thing which we thought we 
were enjoying well enough ; or in love with a person whom 
we imagined we only liked. Or else we deliberately ana 
lyze our motives, and find that at bottom they contain 
jealousies and cupidities which we little suspected to be 
there. Oar feelings towards people are perfect wells of 
motivation, unconscious of itself, which introspection brings 
to light. And our sensations likewise : we constantly dis 
cover new elements in sensations which we have been in 
the habit of receiving all our days, elements, too, which 
have been there from the first, since otherwise we should 
have been unable to distinguish the sensations containing 
them from others nearly allied. The elements must exist, 
for we use them to discriminate by ; but they must exist in 

* Cf. Satz vom Grunde, pp. 59-65. Compare also F. Zolluer s Natui 
der Kometen, pp. 342 ff.. ami 425 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 171 

an unconscious state, since we so completely fail to single 
them out.* The books of the analytic school of psychol 
ogy abound in examples of the kind. Who knows the 
countless associations that mingle with his each and every 
thought? Who can pick apart all the nameless i eelings 
that stream in at every moment from his various internal 
organs, muscles, heart, glands, lungs, etc., and compose in 
their totality his sense of bodily life ? Who is aware of the 
part played by feelings of innervation and suggestions of 
possible muscular exertion in all his judgments of distance, 
shape, and size ? Consider, too, the difference between a 
sensation which we simply have and one which we attend to. 
Attention gives results that seem like fresh creations ; and 
yet the feelings and elements of feeling which it reveals 
must have been already there in an unconscious state. 
We all know practically the difference between the so-called 
sonant and the so-called surd consonants, between D, B, Z, 
G, V, and T, P, S, K, F, respectively. But comparatively few 
persons know the difference theoretically, until their atten 
tion has been called to what it is, when they perceive it 
readily enough. The sonants are nothing but the surds 
plus a certain element, which is alike in all, superadded. 
That element is the laryngeal sound with which they are 
uttered, surds having no such accompaniment. When we 
hear the sonant letter, both its component elements must 
really be in our mind ; but we remain unconscious of what 
they rerlly are, and mistake the letter for a simple quality 
of sound until an effort of attention teaches us its two com 
ponents. There exist a host of sensations which most men 
pass through life and never attend to, and consequently 
have only in an unconscious way. The feelings of opening 
and closing the glottis, of making tense the tympanic mem 
brane, of accommodating for near vision, of intercepting the 
passage from the nostrils to the throat, are instances of 
what I mean. Every one gets these feelings many times an 
hour ; but few readers, probably, are conscious of exactly 
^hat sensations are meant by the names I have just used. 
All these facts, and an enormous number more, seem to 

* Cf. the statements from Helmholtz to be found later iu Chapter 
XIII. 



172 PSYCHOLOGY. 

prove conclusively that, in addition to the fully conscious 
way in which an idea may exist in the mind, there is also 
an unconscious way ; that it is unquestionably the same 
identical idea which exists in these two ways ; and that 
therefore any arguments against the mind-stuff theory, 
based on the notion that esse in our mental life is sentiri, 
and that an idea must consciously be felt as what it is, fall 
to the ground. 

Objection. These reasonings are one tissue of confusion. 
Two states of mind which refer to the same external reality, 
or two states of mind the later one of which refers to the 
earlier, are described as the same state of mind, or idea, 
published as it were in two editions ; and then whatever 
qualities of the second edition are found openly lacking in 
the first are explained as having really been there, only in 
an * unconscious way. It would be difficult to believe that 
intelligent men could be guilty of so patent a fallacy, were 
not the history of psychology there to give the proof. The 
psychological stock-in-trade of some authors is the belief 
that two thoughts about one thing are virtually the same 
thought, and that this same thought may in subsequent 
reflections become more and more conscious of what it really 
was all along from the first. But once make the distinc 
tion between simply having an idea at the moment of its pres 
ence and subsequently knowing all sorts of things about it ; 
make moreover that between a state of mind itself, taken 
as a subjective fact, on the one hand, and the objective 
thing it knows, on the other, and one has no difficulty in 
escaping from the labyrinth. 

Take the latter distinction first : Immediately all the 
arguments based on sensations and the new features in 
them which attention brings to light fall to the ground. 
The sensations of the B and the V when we attend to these 
sounds and analyze out the laryngeal contribution which 
makes them differ from P and F respectively, are different 
sensations from those of the B and the V taken in a simple 
way. They stand, it is true, for the same letters, and thus 
mean the same outer realities; but they are different mental 
affections, and certainly depend on widely different processes 
of cerebral activity. It is unbelievable that two mentaJ 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 173 

states so different as the passive reception of a sound as a 
whole, and the analysis of that whole into distinct ingre 
dients by voluntary attention, should be due to processes 
at all similar. And the subjective difference does not con 
sist in that the first-named state is the second in an un 
conscious form. It is an absolute psychic difference, even 
greater than that between the stages to which two different 
surds will give rise. The same is true of the other sensa 
tions chosen as examples. The man who learns for the 
first time how the closure of his glottis feels, experiences in 
this discovery an absolutely new psychic modification, the 
like of which he never had before. He had another feeling 
before, a feeling incessantly rerewed, and of which the same 
glottis was the organic starting _, oint ; but that was not the 
later feeling in an unconscious state ; it was a feeling sui 
generis altogether, although it took cognizance of the same 
bodily part, the glottis. "We shall see, hereafter, that the 
same reality can be cognized by an endless number of 
psychic states, which may differ toto coelo among themselves, 
without ceasing on that account to refer to the reality in 
question. Each of them is a conscious fact : none of them 
has any mode of being whatever except a certain way of 
being felt at the moment of being present. It is simply 
unintelligible and fantastical to say, because they point to 
the same outer reality, that they must therefore be so many 
editions of the same idea/ now in a conscious and now in 
an unconscious phase. There is only one phase in 
which an idea can be, and that is a fully conscious condi 
tion. If it is not in that condition, then it is not at all. 
Something else is, in its place. The something else may be 
a merely physical brain-process, or it may be another con- 
scious idea. Either of these things may perform much tha 
same function as the first idea, refer to the same object, 
and roughly stand in the same relations to the upshot of 
our thought. But that is no reason why wo should throw 
away the logical principle of identity in psychology, and 
say that, however it may fare in the outer world, the mind 
at any rate is a place in which a thing can be all kinds of 
other things without ceasing to be itself as well. 

Now take the other cases alleged, and the other distinc 



174 PSYCHOLOGY. 

tion, that namely between having a mental state and know 
ing all about it. The truth is here even simpler to unravel. 
When I decide that I have, without knowing it, been for 
several weeks in love, I am simply giving a name to a state 
which previously / have not named, but which was fully con 
scious ; which had no residual mode of being except the 
manner in which it was conscious ; and which, though it was 
a feeling towards the same person for whom I now have a 
much more inflamed feeling, and though it continuously led 
into the latter, and is similar enough to be called by the 
same name, is yet in no sense identical with the latter, and 
least of all in an * unconscious way. Again, the feelings from 
our viscera and other dimly-felt organs, the feelings of 
innervation (if such there ?e), and those of muscular exer 
tion which, in our spatial judgments, are supposed uncon 
sciously to determine what we shall perceive, are just exactly 
what we feel them, perfectly determinate conscious states, 
not vague editions of other conscious states. They may be 
faint and weak ; they may be very vague cognizers of the 
same realities which other conscious states cognize and name 
exactly ; they may be unconscious of much in the reality 
which the other states are conscious of. But that does not 
make them in themselves a whit dim or vague or uncon 
scious. They are eternally as they feel when they exist, 
and can, neither actually nor potentially, be identified with 
anything else than their own faint selves. A faint feeling 
may be looked back upon and classified and understood iu 
its relations to what went before or after it in the stream of 
thought. But it, on the one hand, and the later state of 
mind which knows all these things about it, on the other, 
are surely not two conditions, one conscious and the other 
* unconscious, of the same identical psychic fact. It is the 
destiny of thought thai, on the whole, our early ideas are 
superseded by later onos, giving fuller accounts of the same 
realities. But none the less do the earlier and the later 
ideas preserve their own several substantive identities as so 
many several successive states of mind. To believe the con 
trary would make any definite science of psychology im 
possible. The only identity to be found among our suc 
cessive ideas is their similarity of cognitive or represents 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 175 

fcive function as dealing with the same objects. Identity oi 
being, there is none ; and I believe that throughout the rest 
of this volume the reader will reap the advantages of the 
simpler way of formulating the facts which is here begun.* 

So we seem not only to have ascertained the unintelli- 
gibility of the notion that a mental fact can be two things 
at once, and that what seems like one feeling, of blueness 
for example, or of hatred, may really and unconsciously 
be ten thousand elementary feelings which do not resem 
ble blueness or hatred at all, but we find that we can 
express all the observed facts in other ways. The mind- 

* The text was written before Professor Lipps s Grundtatsachen des See- 
lenlebeus (1883) came into my hands. In Chapter III of that book the 
notion of unconscious thought is subjected to the clearest and most search 
ing criticism which it has yet received, Some passages are so similar to 
what I have myself written that I must quote them in a note. After 
proving that dimness and clearness, incompleteness and completeness do 
not pertain to a state of mind as such since every state of mind must be 
txactly what it is, and nothing else but only pertain to the way in which 
states of mind stand for objects, which they more or less dimly, more 
or less clearly, represent ; Lipps takes the case of those sensations which 
attention is said to make more clear. "I perceive an object," he says, 
" now in clear daylight, and again at night. Call the content of the day- 
perception a, and that of the evening-perception a 1 . There will probably 
be a considerable difference between a and a 1 . The colors of a will be 
varied and intense, and will be sharply bounded by each other ; those of 
a 1 will be less luminous, and less strongly contrasted, and will approach 
a common gray or brown, and merge more into each other. Both percepts, 
however, as such, are completely determinate and distinct from all others. 
The colors of a 1 appear before my eye neither more nor less decidedly dark 
and blurred than the colors of a appear bright and sharply bounded. But 
now I know, or believe I know, that one and the same real Object A corre 
sponds to both a and a } . I am convinced, moreover, that a represents A 
better than does a 1 . Instead, however, of giving to my conviction this, its 
only correct, expression, and keeping the content of my consciousness and 
the real object, the representation and what it means, distinct from each 
other, I substitute the real object for the content of the consciousness, 
and talk of the experience as if it consisted in one and the same object 
(namely, the surreptitiously introduced real one), constituting twice over 
the content of my consciousness, once in a clear and distinct, the other 
time in an obscure and vague fashion. I talk now of a distiucter and of a 
less distinct consciousness of A, whereas I am only justified in talking of 
two consciousnesses, a and a } , equally distinct in se, but to which the sup 
posed external obiect A corresponds with different degrees of distinctness." 
(P. 38-9 ) 



176 PSYCHOLOGY. 

stuff theory, however, though scotched, is, we may be sure, 
not killed. If we ascribe consciousness to unicellular 
animalcules, then single cells can have it, and analogy 
should make us ascribe it to the several cells cf the brain, 
each individually taken. And what a convenience would it 
not be for the psychologist if, by the adding together of vari 
ous doses of this separate-cell-consciousness, he could treat 
thought as a kind of stuff or material, to be measured out 
in great or small amount, increased and subtracted from, 
and baled about at will ! He feels an imperious craving 
to be allowed to construct synthetically the successive 
mental states which he describes. The mind-stuff theory 
so easily admits of the construction being made, that it 
seems certain that man s unconquerable mind will devote 
much future pertinacity and ingenuity to setting it on its 
legs again and getting it into some sort of plausible work 
ing-order. I will therefore conclude the chapter with some 
consideration of the remaining difficulties which beset the 
matter as it at present stands. 

DIFFICULTY OF STATING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MIND 
AND BRAIN. 

It will be remembered that in our criticism of the theory 
of the integration of successive conscious units into a feel 
ing of musical pitch, we decided that whatever integration 
there was was that of the air-pulses into a simpler and sim 
pler sort of physical effect, as the propagations of material 
change got higher and higher in the nervous system. At 
last, we said (p. 23), there results some simple and massive 
process in the auditory centres of the hemispherical cortex, 
to which, as a ivhole, the feeling of musical pitch directly 
corresponds. Already, in discussing the localization of 
functions in the brain, I had said (pp. 158-9) that conscious 
ness accompanies the stream of innervation through that 
organ and varies in quality with the character of the cur 
rents, being mainly of things seen if the occipital lobes are 
much involved, of things heard if the action is focalized in 
the temporal lobes, etc., etc.; and I had added that a vague 
formula like this was as much as one could safely venture 
on in the actual state of physiology. The facts of mental 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 177 

deafness and blindness, of auditory and optical aphasia, 
show us that the whole brain must act together if certain 
thoughts are to occur. The consciousness, which is itself 
an integral thing not made of parts, corresponds to the 
entire activity of the brain, whatever that may be, at the 
moment. This is a way of expressing the relation of mind 
and brain from which I shall not depart during the re 
mainder of the book, because it expresses the bare 
phenomenal fact with no hypothesis, and is exposed to no 
such logical objections as we have found to cling to the 
theory of ideas in combination. 

Nevertheless, this formula which is so unobjectionable 
if taken vaguely, positivistically, or scientifically, as a 
mere empirical law of concomitance between our thoughts 
and our brain, tumbles to pieces entirely if we assume 
to represent anything more intimate or ultimate by it. 
The ultimate of ultimate problems, of course, in the 
study of the relations of thought and brain, is to under 
stand why and how such disparate things are connected 
at all. But before that problem is solved (if it ever is 
solved) there is a less ultimate problem which must first 
be settled. Before the connection of thought and brain 
can be explained, it must at least be stated in an elementary 
form ; and there are great difficulties about so stating it. 
To state it in elementary form one must reduce it to its 
lowest terms and know which mental fact and which cerebral 
fact are, so to speak, in immediate juxtaposition. We must 
find the minimal mental fact whose being reposes directly 
on a brain-fact ; and we must similarly find the minimal 
brain-event which will 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-pnysic 
law. 

Our own formula escapes the unintelligibility of psychic 
atoms by taking t/ie entire thought (even of a complex 
object) as the minimum with which it deals on the mental 
side. But in taking the entire brain-process as its mini 
mal fact on the material side it confronts other difficulties 
almost as bad- 



178 PSYCHOLOGY. 

In the first place, it ignores analogies on which certain 
critics will insist, those, namely, between the composition 
of the total brain-process and that of the object of the 
thought. The total brain-process is composed of parts, 
of simultaneous processes in the seeing, the hearing, the 
feeling, and other centres. The object thought of is also 
composed of parts, some of which are seen, others heard, 
others perceived by touch and muscular manipulation. 
" How then," these critics will say, " should the thought 
not itself be composed of parts, each the counterpart 
of a part of the object and of a part of the brain-pro 
cess?" So natural is this way of looking at the matter 
that it has given rise to what is on the whole the most 
flourishing of all psychological systems that of the Lock- 
ian school of associated ideas of which school the mind- 
stuff theory is nothing but the last and subtlest offshoot. 

The second difficulty is deeper still. The entire brain- 
process is not a physical fact at all. It is the appearance to 
an onlooking mind of a multitude of physical facts. En 
tire brain is nothing but our name for the way in which a 
million of molecules arranged in certain positions may 
affect our sense. On the principles of the corpuscular or 
mechanical philosophy, the only realities are the separate 
molecules, or at most the cells. Their aggregation into 
a brain is a fiction of popular speech. Such a fiction 
cannot serve as the objectively real counterpart to any 
psychic state whatever. Only a genuinely physical fact can 
so serve. But the molecular fact is the only genuine physi 
cal fact whereupon we seem, if we are to have an elemen 
tary psycho-physic law at all, thrust right back upon some 
thing like the mind-stuff theory, lor the molecular fact, 
being an element of the brain, would seem naturally to 
correspond, not to the total thoughts, but to elements in 
the thought. 

What shall we do? Many would find relief at this 
point in celebrating the mystery of the Unknowable and the 
* awe which we should feel at having such a principle to 
take final charge of our perplexities. Others would rejoice 
that the finite and separatist view of things with which we 
started had at last developed its contradictions, and was 



THE MIND-STUFF THEORY. 179 

about to lead us dialectically upwards to some higher 
synthesis in which inconsistencies cease from troubling 
and logic is at rest. It may be a constitutional infirmity, 
but I can take no comfort in such devices for making a 
luxury of intellectual defeat. They are but spiritual 
chloroform. Better live on the ragged edge, better gnaw 
the file forever ! 

THE MATERIAL-MONAD THEORY. 

The most rational thing to do is to suspect that there 
may be a third possibility, an alternative supposition which 
we have not considered. Now there is an alternative sup* 
position a supposition moreover which has been fre 
quently made in the history of philosophy, and which is 
freer from logical objections than either c the views w 
have ourselves discussed. It may be called the theory of 
polyzoism or multiple monadism; and it conceives tho matter 
thus : 

Every brain-cell has its own individual consciousness, 
which no other cell knows anything about, all individual 
consciousnesses being ejective to each other. There is, 
however, among the cells one central or pontifical one to 
which our consciousness is attached. But the events of all the 
other cells physically influence this arch-cell ; and through 
producing their joint effects on it, these other cells may be 
said to combine. The arch-cell is, in fact, one of those 
external media without which we saw that no fusion or 
integration of a number of things can occur. The physical 
modifications of the arch-cell thus form a sequence of 
results in the production whereof every other cell has a 
share, so that, as one might say, every other cell is repre 
sented therein. And similarly, the conscious correlates to 
these physical modifications form a sequence of thoughts 
or feelings, each one of which is, as to its substantive 
being, an integral and uncompounded psychic thing, but 
each one of which may (in the exercise of its cognitive 
function) be aware of THINGS many and complicated in 
proportion to the number of other cells that have helped 
to modify the central cell. 

Bv a conception of this sort, one incurs neither of the 



180 PSYCHOLOGY. 

internal contradictions which we found to beset the other 
two theories. One has no unintelligible self-combining of 
psychic units to account for on the one hand ; and on the 
other hand, one need not treat as the physical counterpart 
of the stream of consciousness under observation, a total 
brain-activity which is non-existent as a genuinely physi 
cal fact. But, to offset these advantages, one has physio 
logical difficulties and improbabilities. There is no cell 
or group of cells in the brain of such anatomical or func 
tional pre-eminence as to appear to be the keystone or centre 
of gravity of the whole system. And even if there were 
such a cell, the theory of multiple monadism would, in 
strictness of thought, have no right to stop at it and treat 
it as a unit. The cell is no more a unit, materially con 
sidered, than the total brain is a unit. It is a compound of 
molecules, just as the brain is a compound of cells and fibres. 
And the molecules, according to the prevalent physical theo 
ries, are in turn compounds of atoms. The theory in ques 
tion, therefore, if radically carried out, must set up for its 
elementary and irreducible psycho-physic couple, not the 
cell and its consciousness, but the primordial and eternal 
atom and its consciousness. We are back at Leibnitzian 
monadism, and therewith leave physiology behind us and 
dive into regions inaccessible to experience and verification ; 
and our doctrine, although not self-contradictory, becomes 
so remote and unreal as to be almost as bad as if it were. 
Speculative minds alone will take an interest in it ; and 
metaphysics, not psychology, will be responsible for its 
career. That the career may be a successful one must be 
admitted as a possibility a theory which Leibnitz, Her- 
bart, and Lotze have taken under their protection must 
have some sort of a destiny. 

THE SOUL-THEORY. 

But is this my last word? By no means. Many 
readers have certainly been saying to themselves for the 
last few pages : " Why on earth doesn t the poor man say 
the Soul and have done with it ? " Other readers, of anti- 
spiritualistic training and prepossessions, advanced think 
ers, or popular evolutionists, will perhaps be a little sur- 



THE MIND- STUFF THEORY. 181 

prised to find this much-despised word now sprung upon 
them at the end of so physiological a train of thought. But 
the plain fact is that all the arguments for a pontifical cell 
or an arch-monad are also arguments for that well-known 
spiritual agent in which scholastic psychology and com 
mon-sense have always believed. And my only reason for 
beating the bushes so, and not bringing it in earlier as a 
possible solution of our difficulties, has been that by this 
procedure I might perhaps force some of these materialistic 
minds to feel the more strongly the logical respectability of 
the spiritualistic position. The fact is that one cannot 
atiord to despise any of these great traditional objects of 
belief. Whether we realize it or not, there is always a great 
drift of reasons, positive and negative, towing us in their 
direction. If there be such entities as Souls in the universe, 
they may possibly be affected by the manifold occurrences 
that go on in the nervous centres. To the state of the en 
tire brain at a given moment they may respond by inward 
modifications of their own. These changes of state may be 
pulses of consciousness, cognitive of objects few or many, 
simple or complex. The soul would be thus a medium 
upon which (to use our earlier phraseology) the manifold 
brain-processes combine their effects. Not needing to con 
sider it as the inner aspect of any arch-molecule or brain- 
cell, we escape that physiological improbability ; and as its 
pulses of consciousness are unitary and integral affairs from 
the outset, we escape the absurdity of supposing feelings 
which exist separately and then fuse together by them 
selves. The separateness is in the brain-world, on this 
theory, and the unity in the soul-world ; and the only 
trouble that remains to haunt us is the metaphysical one of 
understanding how one sort of world or existent thing can 
affect or influence another at all. This trouble, however, 
since it also exists inside of both worlds, and involves 
neither physical improbability nor logical contradiction, is 
relatively small. 

I confess, therefore, that to posit a soul influenced in 
some mysterious way by the brain-states and responding to 
them by conscious affections of its own, seems to me the 
line of least logical resistance, so far as we yet have attained. 



182 PSYCHOLOGY. 

If it does not strictly explain anything, it is at any rate 
less positively objectionable fchan either mind-stuff or a 
material-monad creed. The bare PHENOMENON, hoivever, the 
IMMEDIATELY KNOWN thing which on the mental side is in appo 
sition ivith the entire brain-process is the state of consciousness 
and not the soul itself. Many of the stanchest believers in 
the soul admit that we knc w it only as an inference from 
experiencing its states. In Chapter X, accordingly, we must 
return to its consideration again, and ask ourselves whether, 
after all, the ascertainment of a blank unmediated correspond 
ence, term for term, of the succession of states of consciousness 
with the succession of total brain-processes, be not the simplest 
psycho-physic formula, and the last word of a psychology 
ivhich contents itself ivith verifiable laivs, and seeks only to 
be clear, and to avoid unsafe hypotheses. Such a mere ad 
mission of the empirical parallelism will there appear the 
wisest course. By keeping to it, our psychology will re 
main positivistic and non-metaphysical ; and although this 
is certainly only a provisional halting-place, and things 
must some day be more thoroughly thought out, we shall 
abide there in this book, and just as we have rejected mind- 
dust, we shall take no account of the soul. The spiritualis 
tic reader may nevertheless believe in the soul if he will ; 
whilst the positivistic one who wishes to give a tinge of 
mystery to the expression of his positivism can continue to 
say that nature in her unfathomable designs has mixed us 
of clay and flame, of brain and mind, that the two things 
hang indubitably together and determine each other s being, 
but how or why, no mortal may ever know. 



CHAPTEB VII. 

THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY 

WE have now finished the physiological preliminaries of 
our subject and must in the remaining chapters study the 
mental states themselves whose cerebral conditions and 
concomitants we have been considering hitherto. Beyond 
the brain, however, there is an outer world to which the 
brain-states themselves * correspond. And it will be well, 
ere we advance farther, to say a word about the relation of 
the mind to this larger sphere of physical fact. 

PSYCHOLOGY IS A NATURAL SCIENCE. 

That is, the mind which the psychologist studies is the 
mind of distinct individuals inhabiting definite portions of 
a real space and of a real time. With any other sort of 
mind, absolute Intelligence, Mind unattached to a particular 
body, or Mind not subject to the course of time, the psychol 
ogist as such has nothing to do. * Mind, in his mouth, is 
only a class name for minds. Fortunate will it be if his 
more modest inquiry result in any generalizations which 
the philosopher devoted to absolute Intelligence as such 
can use. 

To the psychologist, then, the minds he studies are 
objects, in a world of other objects. Even when he intro- 
spectively analyzes his own mind, and tells what he finds 
there, he talks about it in an objective way. He says, for 
instance, that under certain circumstances the color gray 
appears to him green, and calls the appearance an illusion. 
This implies that he compares two objects, a real color 
seen under certain conditions, and a mental perception 
which he believes to represent it, and that he declares the 
relation between them to be of a certain kind. In making 
this critical judgment, the psychologist stands as much out 
side of the perception which he criticises as he does of the 
color. Both are his objects. And if this is true of him when 

183 



184 PSYCHOLOGY. 

lie reflects on liis own conscious states, how much truer is it 
when he treats of those of others ! In German philosophy 
since Kant the word Urkenntnisstheorie, criticism of the 
faculty of knowledge, plays a great part. Now the psychol 
ogist necessarily becomes such an Erkenntnisstheoretiker. 
But the knowledge he theorizes about is not the bare 
function of knowledge which Kant criticises he does not 
inquire into the possibility of knowledge uberhaupt. He 
assumes it to be possible, he does not doubt its presence 
in himself at the moment he speaks. The knowledge he 
criticises is the knowledge of particular men about the 
particular things that surround them. This he may, upon 
occasion, in the light of his own unquestioned knowledge, 
pronounce true or false, and trace the reasons by which it 
has become one or the other. 

It is highly important that this natural-science point 
of view should be understood at the outset. Otherwise 
more may be demanded of the psychologist than he ought 
to be expected to perform. 

A diagram will exhibit more emphatically what the 
assumptions of Psychology must be : 



1 

The 
Psychologist 


2 

The Thought 
Studied 


3 

The Thought s 
Object 


4 
The Psycholo 
gist s Reality 






These four squares contain the irreducible data of 
psychology. No. 1, the psychologist, believes Nos. 2, 3, 
and 4, which together form his total object, to be realities, 
and reports them and their mutual relations as truly as he 
can without troubling himself with the puzzle of how he 
can report them at all. About such ultimate puzzles he in 
the main need trouble himself no more than the geometer, 
the chemist, or the botanist do, who make precisely the 
same assumptions as he.* 

Of certain fallacies to which the psychologist is exposed 
by reason of his peculiar point of view that of being a 

* On the relation between Pyschology and General Philosophy, see G. 
C. Robertson, Mind, vol. vm. p. 1, and J. Ward, $>id. p. 153 ; J. Dewey, 
ibid. vol. ix. p. 1. 



THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 185 

reporter of subjective as well as of objective facts, we must 
presently speak. But not until we have considered the 
methods he uses for ascertaining what the facts in question 
are. 

THE METHODS OF INVESTIGATION. 

Introspective Observation is what we have to rely on first 
and foremost and always. The word introspection need 
hardly be defined it means, of course, the looking into our 
own minds and reporting what we there discover. Every 
one, agrees that we there discover states of consciousness. So 
far as I know, the existence of such states has never been 
doubted by any critic, however sceptical in other respects 
he may have been. That we have cogitations of some sort is 
the inconcussum in a world most of whose other facts have 
at some time tottered in the breath of philosophic doubt. 
All people unhesitatingly believe that they feel themselves 
thinking, and that they distinguish the mental state as an 
inward activity or passion, from all the objects with which 
it may cognitively deal. / regard this belief as the most }. ; 
fundamental of all the postulates of Psychology, and shall dis 
card all curious inquiries about its certainty as too meta 
physical for the scope of this book. 

A Question of Nomenclature. We ought to have some 
general term by which to designate all states of con 
sciousness merely as such, and apart from their par 
ticular quality or cognitive function. Unfortunately most 
of the terms in use have grave objections. Mental 
state, state of consciousness, conscious modification, are 
cumbrous and have no kindred verbs. The same is true 
of subjective condition. Feeling has the verb to feel, 
both active and neuter, and such derivatives as feelingly, 
felt, 4 eltness, etc., which make it extremely convenient. 
But on the other hand it has specific meanings as well as 
its generic one, sometimes standing for pleasure and pain, 
and being sometimes a synonym of sensation as opposed 
to thought ; whereas we wish a term to cover sensation and 



186 PSYCHOLOGY. 

thought indifferently. Moreover, feeling has acquired in 
the hearts of platonizing thinkers a very opprobrious set of 
implications ; and since one of the great obstacles to mutual 
understanding in philosophy is the use of words eulogisti- 
cally and disparagingly, impartial terms ought always, if 
possible, to be preferred. The word psychosis has been 
proposed by Mr. Huxley. It has the advantage of being 
correlative to neurosis (the name applied by the same author 
to the corresponding nerve-process), and is moreover tech 
nical and devoid of partial implications. But it has no 
)/ verb or other grammatical form allied to it. The expres 
sions affection of the soul, * modification of the ego, are 
clumsy, like state of consciousness, and they implicitly 
assert theories which it is not well to embody in terminol 
ogy before they have been openly discussed and approved. 
Idea is a good vague neutral word, and was by Locke 
employed in the broadest generic way ; but notwithstanding 
his authority it has not domesticated itself in the language 
so as to cover bodily sensations, and it moreover has no 
verb. Thought would be by far the best word to use if 
it could be made to cover sensations. It has no opprobri 
ous connotation such as feeling has, and it immediately 
suggests the omnipresence of cognition (or reference to an 
object other than the mental state itself), which we shall 
^soon see to be of the mental life s essence. But can the 
expression thought of a toothache ever suggest to the 
reader the actual present pain itself ? It is hardly possi 
ble ; and we thus seem about to be forced back on some 
pair of terms like Hume s impression and idea, or Ham 
ilton s presentation and representation, or the ordinary 
feeling and thought, if we wish to cover the whole ground. 
In this quandary we can make no definitive choice, but 
must, according to the convenience of the context, use 
sometimes one, sometimes another of the synonyms that 
have been mentioned. My oivn partiality is for either 
FEELING or THOUGHT. I shall probably often use both words 
in a wider sense than usual, and alternately startle two 
classes of readers by their unusual sound ; but if the con 
nection makes it clear that mental states at large, irrespec- 



THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 187 

tive of their kind, are meant, this will do no harm, and may 
even do some good.* 

The inaccuracy of introspective observation has been made 
a subject of debate. It is important to gain some fixed 
ideas on this point before we proceed. 

The commonest spiritualistic opinion is that the Soul 
or Subject of the mental life is a metaphysical entity, inac 
cessible to direct knowledge, and that the various mental 
states and operations of which we reflectively become 
aware are objects of an inner sense which does not lay hold 
of the real agent in itself, any more than sight or hear- 
ing gives us direct knowledge of matter in itself. From, 
this point of view introspection is, of course, incompetent 
to lay hold of anything more than the Soul s phenomena. 
But even then the question remains, How well can it know 
the phenomena themselves ? 

Some authors take high ground here and claim for it a 
sort of infallibility. Thus Ueberweg : 

" When a mental image, as such, is the object of my apprehension, 
there is no meaning in seeking to distinguish its existence in my con 
sciousness (in me) from its existence out of my consciousness (in itself) ; 
for the object apprehended is, in this case, one which does not even 
exist, as the objects of external perception do, in itself outside of my 
consciousness. It exists only within me." t 

And Brentano : 

" The phenomena inwardly apprehended are true in themselves, 
As they appear of this the evidence with which they are apprehended 
is a warrant so they are in reality. Who, then, can deny that in this 
a great superiority of Psychology over the physical sciences comes to 
light ?" 

And again : 

" No one can doubt whether the psychic condition he apprehends in 
himself \e, and be so, as he apprehends it. Whoever should doubt this 
would have reached that finished doubt which destroys itself in de 
stroying every fixed point from which to make an attack upon knowl 
edge, "t 

Others have gone to the opposite extreme, and main- . 
tained that we can have no introspective cognition of our / ) 

* Compare some remarks in Mill s Logic, bk. i. chap, in 2, 3. 
f Logic, 40. J Psychologic, bk. n. chap. in. 1, 2. 



188 PSYCHOLOGY. 

own minds at all. A deliverance of Auguste Comte to thia 
effect has been so often quoted as to be almost classical ; 
and some reference to it seems therefore indispensable 
here. 

Philosophers, says Comte,* have 

" in these latter days imagined themselves able to distinguish, by a 
very singular subtlety, two sorts of observation of equal importance, 
one external, the other internal, the latter being solely destined for the 
study of intellectual phenomena. ... I limit myself to pointing out 
/ the principal consideration which proves clearly that this pretended 
; direct contemplation of the mind by itself is a pure illusion. . . . 
It is in fact evident that, by an invincible neccessity, the human mind 
can observe directly all phenomena except its own proper states. For 
by whom shall the observation of these be made ? It is conceivable 
that a man might observe himself with respect to the passions that 
animate him, for the anatomical organs of passion are distinct from 
those whose function is observation. Though we have all made such 
observations on ourselves, they can never have much scientific value, 
and the best mode of knowing the passions will always be that of ob 
serving them from without ; for every strong state of passion ... is 
necessarily incompatible with the state of observation. But, as for 
observing in the same way intellectual phenomena at the time of their 
actual presence, that is a manifest impossibility. The thinker cannot 
divide himself into two, of whom one reasons whilst the other observes 
him reason. The organ observed and the organ observing being, in 
this case, identical, how could observation take place ? This pretended 
psychological method is then radically null and void. On the one 
hand, they advise you to isolate yourself, as far as possible, from every 
external sensation, especially every intellectual work, for if you were 
to busy yourself even with the simplest calculation, what would become 
of internal observation ? on the other hand, after having with the 
utmost care attained this state of intellectual slumber, you must begin 
to contemplate the operations going on in your mind, when nothing 
there takes place ! Our descendants will doubtless see such pretensions 
some day ridiculed upon the stage. The results of so strange a proced 
ure harmonize entirely with its principle. For all the two thousand 
years during which metaphysicians have thus cultivated psychology, 
they are not agreed about one intelligible and established proposition. 

* Internal observation gives almost as many divergent results as there 
are individuals who think they practise it." 

Comte hardly could have known anything of the English, 
and nothing of the German, empirical psychology. The 

* results which he had in mind when writing were probably 

* Cours de Philosophic Positive, i. 34-8. 



THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 189 

scholastic ones, such as principles of internal activity, the 
faculties, the ego, the liberum arbitrium indiffer entice, etc. 
John Mill, in replying to him,* says : 

" It might have occurred to M. Comte that a fact may be studied 
through the medium of memory, not at the very moment of our per 
ceiving it, but the moment" after: and this is really the mode in which 
our best knowledge of our intellectual acts is generally acquired. We 
reflect on what we have been doing when the act is past, but when its 
impression in the memory is still fresh. Unless in one of these ways, 
we could not have acquired the knowledge which nobody denies us to 
have, of what passes in our minds. M. Comte would scarcely have 
affirmed that we are not aware of our own intellectual operations. We 
know of our observings and our reasonings, either at the very time, or 
by memory the moment after; in either case, by direct knowledge, and 
not (like things done by us in a state of somnambulism) merely by 
their results. This simple fact destroys the whole of M. Comte s argu 
ment. Whatever we are directly aware of, we can directly observe." 

Where now does the truth lie? Our quotation from 
Mill is obviously the one which expresses the most of 
practical truth about the matter. Even the writers who 
insist upon the absolute veracity of our immediate inner 
apprehension of a conscious state have to contrast with 
this the fallibility of our memory or observation of it, a 
moment later. No one has emphasized more sharply than 
Brentano himself the difference between the immediate 
feltness of a feeling, and its perception by a subsequent re 
flective act. But which mode of consciousness of it is that 
which the psychologist must depend on ? If to have feel 
ings or thoughts in their immediacy were enough, babies 
in the cradle would be psychologists, and infallible ones. 
But the psychologist must not only have his mental states 
in their absolute veritableness, he must report them and 
write about them, name them, classify and compare them 
and trace their relations to other things. Whilst alive they 
are their own property ; it is only post-mortem that they be 
come his prey.f And as in the naming, classing, and know- 

* Auguste Comte and Positivism, 3d edition (1882), p. 64. 

f Wundt says: " The first rule for utilizing inward observation con- 
gists in taking, as far as possible, experiences that are accidental, unex 
pected, and not intentionally brought about. . . . First it is best as far as 
possible to rely on Memory and not on immediate Apprehension. . . 



190 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ing of things in general we are notoriously fallible, why noi 
also here? Comte is quite right in laying stress on the 
, fact that a feeling, to be named, judged, or perceived, must 
\ be already past. No subjective state, whilst present, is its 
own object; its object is always something else. There 
are, it is true, cases in which we appear to be naming our 
present feeling, and so to be experiencing and observing 
the same inner fact at a single stroke, as when we say I 
feel tired, I am angry, etc. But these are illusory, and 
a little attention unmasks the illusion. The present con 
scious state, when I say I feel tired, is not the direct 
state of tire ; when I say I feel angry, it is not the direct 
state of anger. It is the state of say ing -I-f eel-tired, of 
saying-I-f eel-angry, entirely different matters, so different 
that the fatigue and anger apparently included in them are 
considerable modifications of the fatigue and anger directly 
felt the previous instant. The act of naming them has 
momentarily detracted from their force.* 

The only sound grounds on which the infallible veracity 
of the introspective judgment might be maintained are 
empirical. If we had reason to think it has never yet 
deceived us, we might continue to trust it. This is the 
ground actually maintained by Herr Mohr. 

* The illusions of our senses, 1 says this author, " have undermined 

our belief in the reality of the outer world; but in the sphere of inner 

observation our confidence is intact, for we have never found ourselves 

J to be in error about the reality of an act of thought or feeling. We 



Second, internal observation is better fitted to grasp clearly conscious 
states, especially voluntary mental acts: such inner processes as are ob 
scurely conscious and involuntary will almost entirely elude it, because 
the effort to observe interferes with them, and because they seldom abide 
in memory." (Logik, n. 432.) 

* In cases like this, where the state outlasts the act of naming it, exists 

before it, and recurs when it is past, we probably run little practical risk 

of error when we talk as if the state knew itself. The state of feeling and 

the state of naming the feeling are continuous, and the infallibility of 

such prompt introspective judgments is probably great. But even here the 

certainty of our knowledge ought not to be argued on the a priori ground 

; that percipi and esse are in psychology the same. The states are really 

two; the naming state and the named state are apart; percipi is esse is not 

the principle tnat applies. 



THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 191 

have never been misled into thinking we were not in doubt or in anger 
when these conditions were really states of our consciousness." * 

But sound as the reasoning here would be, were the 
premises correct, I fear the latter cannot pass. However 
it may be with such strong feelings as doubt or anger, ( i / 
about weaker feelings, and about the relations to each other ! /f 
of all feelings, we find ourselves in continual error and 
uncertainty so soon as we are called on to name and class, 
and not merely to feel. Who can be sure of the exact order 
of his feelings when they are excessively rapid ? Who can 
be sure, in his sensible perception of a chair, how much 
comes from the eye and how much is supplied out of the 
previous knowledge of the mind ? Who can compare with 
precision the quantities of disparate feelings even where the 
feelings are very much alike ? For instance, where an object 
is felt now against the back and now against the cheek, 
which feeling is most extensive? Who can be sure that 
two given feelings are or are not exactly the same ? Who 
can tell which is briefer or longer than the other when 
both occupy but an instant of time ? Who knows, of many | 
actions, for what motive they were done, or if for any motive 
at all ? Who can enumerate all the distinct ingredients of 
such a complicated feeling as anger ? and who can tell off 
hand whether or no a perception of distance be a compound 
or a simple state of mind? The whole mind-stuff contro 
versy would stop if we could decide conclusively by intro- / 
spection that what seem to us elementary feelings are 
really elementary and not compound. 

Mr. Sully, in his work on Illusions, has a chapter on 
those of Introspection from which we might now quote. 
But, since the rest of this volume will be little more than a 
collection of illustrations of the difficulty of discovering by 
direct introspection exactly what our feelings and their 
relations are, we need not anticipate our own future details, 
but just state our general conclusion that introspection is 
difficult and fallible; and that the difficulty is simply that 
of all observation of whatever kind. Something is before 

* J. Mohr: Grundlage der Empirischen Psychologic (Leipzig, 1882), 
p- 47. 



192 PSYCHOLOGY. 

us ; we do our best to tell what it is, but in spite of oui 
good will we may go astray, and give a description more 
applicable to some other sort of thing. The only safeguard 
is in the final consensus of our farther knowledge about the 
thing in question, later views correcting earlier ones, until 
at last the harmony of a consistent system is reached. 
Such a system, gradually worked out, is the best guarantee 
the psychologist can give for the soundness of any partic 
ular psychologic observation which he may report. Such a 
system we ourselves must strive, as far as may be, to attain. 
The English writers on psychology, and the school of 
Herbart in Germany, have in the main contented them 
selves with such results as the immediate introspection of 
single individuals gave, and shown what a body of doctrine 
they may make. The works of Locke, Hume, Reid, Hart 
ley, Stewart, Brown, the Mills, will always be classics in 
this line ; and in Professor Bain s Treatises we have prob 
ably the last word of what this method taken mainly by 
itself can do the last monument of the youth of our science, 
still unteclmical and generally intelligible, like the Chem 
istry of Lavoisier, or Anatomy before the microscope was 
used. 

The Experimental Method. But psychology is passing 
into a less simple phase. Within a few years what one may 
call a microscopic psychologj^ has arisen in Germany, car 
ried on by experimental methods, asking of course every 
moment for introspective data, but eliminating their uncer 
tainty by operating on a large scale and taking statistical 
means. This method taxes patience to the utmost, and 
could hardly have arisen in a country whose natives 
could be bored. Such Germans as Weber, Fechner, 
Vierordt, and Wundt obviously cannot ; and their success 
has brought into the field an array of younger experi 
mental psychologists, bent on studying the elements of the 
mental life, dissecting them out from the gross results in 
which they are embedded, and as far as possible reducing 
them to quantitative scales. The simple and open method 
of attack having done what it can, the method of patience, 
starving out, and harassing to death is tried; the Mind 



THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 103 

must submit to a regular siege, in which minute advantages 
gained night and day by the forces that hem her in must 
sum themselves up at last into her overthrow. There is 
little of the grand style about these new prism, pendulum, 
and chronograph-philosophers. They mean business, not 
chivalry. What generous divination, and that superiority 
in virtue which was thought by Cicero to give a man the 
best insight into nature, have failed to do, their spying 
and scraping, their deadly tenacity and almost diabolic 
cunning, will doubtless some day bring about, 

No general description of the methods of experimental 
psychology would be instructive to one unfamiliar with the 
instances of their application, so we will waste no words 
upon the attempt. The principal fields of experimentation 
BO far have been : 1) the connection of conscious states 
with their physical conditions, including the whole of brain- 
physiology, and the recent minutely cultivated physiology 
of the sense-organs, together with what is technically known 
as psycho-physics, or the laws of ^correlation between 
sensations aijd the outward stimuli by which they are 
aroused ; 2) the analysis of space-perceptionlnto its sensa 
tional elements ; 3) the measurement of the duration of the 
simplest mental processes ; 4) that of the accuracy of re 
production in the memory of sensible experiences and of 
intervals of space and time; 5) that of the manner in 
which simple mental states influence each other, call each 
other up, or inhibit each other s reproduction ; 6) that of 
the number of facts which consciousness can simultaneously 
discern ; finally, 7) that of the elementary laws of obli- 
vescence and retention. It must be said that in some of 
these fields the results have as yet borne little theoretic 
fruit commensurate with the great labor expended in their 
acquisition. But facts are facts, and if we only get enough 
of them they are sure to combine. New ground will from 
year to year be broken, and theoretic results will grow. 
Meanwhile the experimental method has quite changed the 
face of the science so far as the latter is a record of mere 
work done. 

The comparative method, finally, supplements the intro 



194 PSYCHOLOGY. 

spective and experimental methods. This method pre 
supposes a normal psychology of introspection to be estab 
lished in its main features. But where the origin of these 
features, or their dependence upon one another, is in ques 
tion, it is of the utmost importance to trace the phenom 
enon considered through all its possible variations of type 
and combination. So it has come to pass that instincts of 
; animals are ransacked to throw light on our own ; and that 
^ the reasoning faculties of bees and ants, the minds of savages, 
infants, madmen, idiots, the deaf and blind, criminals, and 
eccentrics, are all invoked in support of this or that special 
theory about some part of our own mental life. The history 
of sciences, moral and political institutions, and languages, 
as types of mental product, are pressed into the same ser 
vice. Messrs. Darwin and Galton have set the example of 
circulars of questions sent out by the hundred to those 
supposed able to reply. The custom has spread, and it 
will be well for us in the next generation if such cir 
culars be not ranked among the common pests of life. 
Meanwhile information grows, and results emerge. There 
are great sources of error in the comparative method-^ 
The interpretation of the psychoses of animals, savages, 
and infants is necessarily wild work, in which the per 
sonal equation of the investigator has things very much 
its own way. A savage will be reported to have no 
moral or religious feeling if his actions shock the ob 
server unduly. A child will be assumed without self-con 
sciousness because he talks of himself in the third person, 
etc., etc. No rules can be laid down in advance. Com 
parative observations, to be definite, must usually be made 
to test some pre-existing hypothesis ; and the only thing 
/ j\ then is to use as much sagacity as you possess, and to be 
7 as candid as you can. 

THE SOURCES OF ERROR IN PSYCHOLOGY. 

The first of them arises from the Misleading Influence 0} 
Speech. Language was originally made by men who were 
fSlf^psychologists, and most men to-day employ almost 
exclusively the vocabulary of outward things. The car 
dinal passions of our life, anger, love, fear, hate, hope, 



THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 195 

and the most comprehensive divisions of our intellectual 
activity, to remember, expect, think, know, dream, with 
the broadest genera of aesthetic feeling, joy, sorrow, 
pleasure, pain, are the only facts of a subjective order 
which this vocabulary deigns to note by special words. 
The elementary qualities of sensation, bright, loud, red, 
blue, hot, cold, are, it is true, susceptible of being used in 
both an objective and a subjective sense. They stand for 
outer qualities and for the feelings which these arouse. But 
the objective sense is the original sense ; and still to-day 
we have to describe a large number of sensations by the 
name of the object from which they have most frequently 
been got. An orange color, an odor of violets, a cheesy 
taste, a thunderous sound, a fiery smart, etc., will recall 
what I mean. This absence of a special vocabulary for sub 
jective facts hinders the study of all but the very coarsest 
of them. Empiricist writers are very fond of emphasizing 
one great set of delusions which language inflicts on the 
mind. Whenever we have made a word, they say, to denote 
a certain group of phenomena, we are prone to suppose a 
substantive entity existing beyond the phenomena, of which 
the word shall be the name. But the lack of a word quite 
as often leads to the directly opposite error. We are then 
prone to suppose that no entity can be there ; and so we 
come to overlook phenomena whose existence would be 
patent to us all, had we only grown up to hear it familiarly 
recognized in speech.* It is hard to focus OUT attention on \ 
J;he nameless, and so there results a certain vacuousness in ) 
the descriptive parts of most psychologies. 

But a worse defect than vacuousness comes from the 
dependence of psychology on common speech. Naming 
our thought by its own objects, we almost all of us assume 
that as the objects are, so the thought must be. The 
thought of several distinct things can only consist of several 
distinct bits of thought, or ideas ; that of an abstract or 
universal object can only be an abstract or universal, idea 

* In English we have not even the generic distinction between the- 
thiug-thought-of and the-thought-thinking-it, which in German is expressed 
by the opposition between (jedachtes and Gedanke, in Latiu by that between 
WQitfitum and cooitatda 



196 PSYCHOLOGY. 

As each object may come and go, be forgotten and then 
thought of again, it is held that the thought of it has a pre 
cisely similar independence, self-identity, and mobility. 
The thought of the object s recurrent identity is regarded 
as the identity of its recurrent thought ; and the perceptions 
of multiplicity, of coexistence, of succession, are severally 
conceived to be brought about only through a multiplic 
ity, a coexistence, a succession, of perceptions. The con 
tinuous flow of the mental stream is sacrificed, and in its 
place an atomism, a brickbat plan of construction, is 
preached, for the existence of which no good introspective 
grounds can be brought forward, and out of which pres 
ently grow all sorts of paradoxes and contradictions, the 
heritage of woe of students of the mind. 

These words are meant to impeach the entire English 
psychology derived from Locke and Hume, and the entire 
German psychology derived from Herbart, so far as they 
both treat ideas as separate subjective entities that come 
and go. Examples will soon make the matter clearer. 
Meanwhile our psychologic insight is vitiated by still other 
snares. 

The Psychologist s Fallacy. The great snare of the psy 
chologist is the confusion of his own standpoint with that of the 
mental fact about which he is making his report. I shall 
hereafter call this the psychologist s fallacy par excellence. 
For some of the mischief, here too, language is to blame. 
The psychologist, as we remarked above (p. 183), stands out 
side of the mental state he speaks of. Both itself and it 
object are objects for him. Now when it is a cognitive state 
(percept, thought, concept, etc.), he ordinarily has no other 
way of naming it than as the thought, percept, etc., of that 
object. He himself, meanwhile, knowing the self-same 
object in his way, gets easily led to suppose that the 
thought, which is of it, knows it in the same way in w r hich 
he knows it, although this is often very far from being the 
case.* The most fictitious puzzles have been introduced 
into our science by this means. The so-called question of 
presentative or representative perception, of whether an 

* Compare B. P. Bowne s Metaphysics (1882), p. 408, 



THE METHODS AND SNARES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 197 

object is present to the thought that thinks it by a coun 
terfeit image of itself, or directly and without any interven* 
ing image at all ; the question of nominalism and concep- 
tualism, of the shape in which things are present when only 
a general notion of them is before the mind ; are compara 
tively easy questions when once the psychologist s fallacy 
is eliminated from their treatment, as we shall ere long 
see (in Chapter XII). 

Another variety of the psychologist s fallacy is the as 
sumption that the mental state studied must be conscious of it 
self as the psychologist is conscious of it. The mental state is 
aware of itself only from within ; it grasps what we call its 
own content, and nothing more. The psychologist, on the 
contrary, is aware of it from without, and knows its relations 
with all sorts of other things. What the thought sees is 
only its own object; what the psychologist sees is the j 
thought s object, plus the thought itself, plus possibly all 
the rest of the world. We must be very careful therefore, 
in discussing a state of mind from the psychologist s point 
of view, to avoid foisting into its own ken matters that are 
only there for ours. We must avoid substituting what we 
know the consciousness is, for what it is a consciousness of, 
and counting its outward, and so to speak physical, relations 
with other facts of the world, in among the objects of which 
we set it down as aware. Crude as such a confusion of 
standpoints seems to be when abstractly stated, it is never 
theless a snare into which no psychologist has kept himself 
at all times from falling, and which forms almost the entire 
stock-in-trade of certain schools. We cannot be too watch 
ful against its subtly corrupting influence. 

Summary. To sum up the chapter, Psychology assumes 
that thoughts successively occur, and that they know objects 
in a world which the psychologist also knows. These thoughts 
are the subjective data of which he treats, and their relations to 
their objects, to the brain, and to the rest of the ivorld constitute 
the subject-matter of psychologic science. Its methods are 
introspection, experimentation, and comparison. But intro 
spection is no sure guide to truths about our mental states ; 
and in particular the poverty of the psychological vocabu. 




198 PSYCHOLOGY. 

lary leads us to drop out certain states from our consid 
eration, and to treat others as if they knew themselves and 
their objects as the psychologist knows both, which is a 
disastrous fallacy in the science. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 

SINCE, for psychology, a mind is an object in a world of 
other objects, its relation to those other objects must next 
be surveyed. First of all, to its 

TIME-RELATIONS. 

Minds, as we know them, are temporary existences. 
Whether my mind had a being prior to the birth of my body, 
whether it shall have one after the latter s decease, are 
questions to be decided by my general philosophy or the 
ology rather than by what we call scientific facts I leave 
out the facts of so-called spiritualism, as being still in dis 
pute. Psychology, as a natural science, confines itself to 
the present life, in which every mind appears yoked to a 
body through which its manifestations appear. In the 
present world, then, minds precede, succeed, and coexist 
with each other in the common receptacle of time, and of 
their collective relations to the latter nothing more can be 
said. The life of the individual consciousness in time seems, 
however, to be an interrupted one, so that the question : 

Are we ever wholly unconscious ? 

becomes one which must be discussed. Sleep, fainting, 
coma, epilepsy, and other unconscious conditions are apt 
to break in upon and occupy large durations of what we 
nevertheless consider the mental history of a single man. 
And, the fact of interruption being admitted, is it not 
possible that it may exist where we do not suspect it, and 
even perhaps in an incessant and fine-grained form ? 

This might happen, and yet the subject himself never 
know it. We often take ether and have operations per 
formed without a suspicion that our consciousness has suf 

199 



200 PSYCHOLOGY. 

fered a breach. The two ends join each other smoothly 
over the gap ; and only the sight of our wound assures us 
that we must have been living through a time which for 
our immediate consciousness was non-existent. Even in 
sleep this sometimes happens : We think we have had no 
nap, and it takes the clock to assure us that we are wrong.* 
We thus may live through a real outward time, a time 
known by the psychologist who studies us, and yet not 
feel the time, or infer it from any inward sign. The ques 
tion is, how often does this happen ? Is consciousness 
really discontinuous, incessantly interrupted and recom 
mencing (from the psychologist s point of view) ? and does 
it only seem continuous to itself by an illusion analogous 
to that of the zoetrope ? Or is it at most times as continu 
ous outwardly as it inwardly seems ? 

It must be confessed that we can give no rigorous 
answer to this question. Cartesians, who hold that the 
essence of the soul is to think, can of course solve it 
a priori, and explain the appearance of thoughtless inter 
vals either by lapses in our ordinary memory, or by the 
sinking of consciousness to a minimal state, in which per 
haps all that it feels is a bare existence which leaves no 
particulars behind to be recalled. If, however, one have 
no doctrine about the soul or its essence, one is free to take 
the appearances for what they seem to be, and to admit 
that the mind, as well as the body, may go to sleep. 

Locke was the first prominent champion of this latter 
view, and the pages in which he attacks the Cartesian belief 
are as spirited as any in his Essay. " Every drowsy nod 
shakes their doctrine who teach that their soul is always 
thinking." He will not believe that men so easily forget. 
M. Jouffroy and Sir W. Hamilton, attacking the question in 
the same empirical way, are led to an opposite conclusion. 
Their reasons, briefly stated, are these : 



* Messrs. Payton Spence (Journal of Spec. Phil., x. 338, xiv. 286) 
and M. M. Garver (Amer. Jour, of Science, 3d series, xx. 189) argue, the 
one from speculative, the other from experimental grounds, that, the physi 
cal condition of consciousness being neural vibration, the consciousness 
must itself be incessantly interrupted by unconsciousness about fifty times 
a second, according to Garver. 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 201 

Iii somnambulism, natural or induced, there is often a 
great display of intellectual activity, followed by complete 
oblivion of all that has passed.* 

On being suddenly awakened from a sleep, however pro 
found, we always catch ourselves in the middle of a dream. 
Common dreams are often remembered for a few minutes 
after waking, and then irretrievably lost. 

Frequently, when awake and absent-minded, we are 
visited by thoughts and images which the next instant we 
cannot recall. 

Our insensibility to habitual noises, etc., whilst awake, 
proves that we can neglect to attend to that which we never 
theless feel. Similarly in sleep, we grow inured, and sleep 
soundly in presence of sensations of sound, cold, contact, 
etc., which at first prevented our complete repose. We have 
learned to neglect them whilst asleep as we should whilst 
awake. The mere sense-impressions are the same when the 
sleep is deep as when it is light ; the difference must lie in 
a judgment on the part of the apparently slumbering mind 
that they are not worth noticing. 

This discrimination is equally shown by nurses of the 
sick and mothers of infants, who will sleep through much 
noise of an irrelevant sort, but waken at the slightest stir 
ring of the patient or the babe. This last fact shows the 
sense-organ to be pervious for sounds. 

Many people have a remarkable faculty of registering 
when asleep the flight of time. They will habitually wake 
up at the same minute day after day, or will wake punctu 
ally at an unusual hour determined upon overnight. How 
can this knowledge of the hour (more accurate often than 
anything the waking consciousness shows) be possible 
without mental activity during the interval ? 

Such are what we may call the classical reasons for ad 
mitting that the mind is active even when the person after 
wards ignores the fact.f Of late years, or rather, one may 



* That the appearance of meutal activity here is real can be proved by 
suggesting to the hypnotized somnambulist that he shall remember when 
he awakes. He will then often do so. 

f For more details, cf. Malebranche, Rech. de la Verite, bk. in. chap, 
i; J. Locke, Essay cone. H. U., book 11. ch. i; C. Wolf, Psychol. 



202 PSYCHOLOGY. 

say, of late months, they have been reinforced by a lot of 
curious observations made on hysterical and hypnotic 
subjects, which prove the existence of a highly developed 
consciousness in places where it has hitherto not been sus 
pected at all. These observations throw such a novel light 
upon human nature that I must give them in some detail. 
That at least four different and in a certain sense rival ob 
servers should agree in the same conclusion justifies us in 
accepting the conclusion as true. 

Unconsciousness in Hysterics. 

One of the most constant symptoms in persons suffer 
ing from hysteric disease in its extreme forms consists in 
alterations of the natural sensibility of various parts and 
organs of the body. Usually the alteration is in the direc 
tion of defect, or anaesthesia. One or both eyes are blind, 
or color-blind, or there is hemianopsia (blindness to one 
half the field of view), or the field is contracted. Hearing, 
taste, smell may similarly disappear, in part or in totality. 
Still more striking are the cutaneous anaesthesias. The old 
witch-finders looking for the devil s seals learned well 
the existence of those insensible patches on the skin of 
their victims, to which the minute physical examinations 
of recent medicine have but recently attracted attention 
again. They may be scattered anywhere, but are very 
apt to affect one side of the body. Not infrequently they 
affect an entire lateral half, from head to foot; and the 
insensible skin of, say, the left side will then be found 
separated from the naturally sensitive skin of the right by a 
perfectly sharp line of demarcation down the middle of the 
front and back. Sometimes, most remarkable of all, the 
entire skin, hands, feet, face, everything, and the mucous 
membranes, muscles and joints so far as they can be ex- 

rationalis, 59; Sir W. Hamilton, Lectures on Metaph., lecture xvn; 
J. Bascom, Science of Mind, 12; Th. Jouffroy, Melanges Philos., du 
Sommeil ; H. Holland, Chapters on Mental Physiol., p. 80; B. Brodie, 
Psychol, Researches, p. 147; E. M. Chesley, Journ. of Spec. Phil., vol. xi 
p. 72; Th. Ribot, Maladies de la Personnalite, pp. 8-10; H. Lotze, Meta 
physics, 533. 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 203 

plored, become completely insensible without the other vital 
functions becoming gravely disturbed. 

These hysterical anaesthesias can be made to disappear 
more or less completely by various odd processes. It has 
been recently found that magnets, plates of metal, or the 
electrodes of a battery, placed against the skin, have this 
peculiar power. And when one side is relieved in this way. 
the anaesthesia is often found to have transferred itself to 
the opposite side, which until then was well. Whether these 
strange effects of magnets and metals be due to their direct 
physiological action, or to a prior effect on the patient s 
mind ( expectant attention or * suggestion ) is still a 
mooted question. A still better awakener of sensibility is 
the hypnotic trance, into which many of these patients can 
be very easily placed, and in which their lost sensibility not 
infrequently becomes entirely restored. Such returns of 
sensibility succeed the times of insensibility and alternate 
with them. But Messrs. Pierre Janet* and A. Biuet t have 
shown that during the times of anaesthesia, and coexisting 
with it, sensibility to the anesthetic parts is also there, in the 
form of a secondary consciousness entirely cut off from the 
primary or normal one, but susceptible of being tapped and 
made to testify to its existence in various odd ways. 

Chief amongst these is what M. Janet calls the method 
of distraction. These hysterics are apt to possess a very 
narrow field of attention, and to be unable to think of more 
than one thing at a time. When talking with any person 
they forget everything else. " When Lucie talked directly 
with any one," saysM. Janet, "she ceased to be able to hear 
any other person. You may stand behind her, call her by 
name, shout abuse into her ears, without making her turn 
round ; or place yourself before her, show her objects, 
touch her, etc., without attracting her notice. When finally 
she becomes aware of you, she thinks you have just come 
into the room again, and greets you accordingly. This 
singular forgetfulness makes her liable to tell all her secrete 
aloud, unrestrained by the presence of unsuitable auditors." 

* L Automatisme Psychologique, Paris, 1889, passim. 
f See his articles in the Chicago Open Court, for July, August and 
November, 1889. Also in the Revue Philosophique for 1889 and 90. 



204 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Now M. Janet found in several subjects like this that if he 
came up behind them whilst they were plunged in conversa 
tion with a third party, and addressed them in a whisper, tell 
ing them to raise their hand or perform other simple acts, 
they would obey the order given, although their talk 
ing intelligence was quite unconscious of receiving it. Lead 
ing them from one thing to another, he made them reply by 
signs to his whispered questions, and finally made them 
answer in writing, if a pencil were placed in their hand. 
The primary consciousness meanwhile went on with the 
conversation, entirely unaware of these performances on the 
hand s part. The consciousness which presided over these 
latter appeared in its turn to be quite as little disturbed by 
the upper consciousness s concerns. This proof by auto 
matic ivriting, of a secondary consciousness s existence, is 
the most cogent and striking one ; but a crowd of other facts 
prove the same thing. If I run through them rapidly, the 
reader will probably be convinced. 

The apparently anaesthetic hand of these subjects, for 
one thing, will often adapt itself discriminatingly to what 
ever object may be put into it. With a pencil it will make 
writing movements ; into a pair of scissors it will put its fin 
gers and will open and shut them, etc., etc. The primary con 
sciousness, so to call it, is meanwhile unable to say whether 
or no anything is in the hand, if the latter be hidden from 
sight. " I put a pair of eyeglasses into Leonie s anaesthetic 
hand, this hand opens it and raises it towards the nose, but 
half way thither it enters the field of vision of Leonie, who 
sees it and stops stupefied : Why, says she, I have an eye 
glass in my left hand ! " M. Binet found a very curious sort 
of connection between the apparently anaesthetic skin and 
the mind in some Salpetriere-subjects. Things placed in 
the hand were not felt, but thought of (apparently in visual 
terms) and in no wise referred by the subject to their start 
ing point in the hand s sensation. A key, a knife, placed in 
the hand occasioned ideas of a key or a knife, but the hand 
felt nothing. Similarly the subject thought of the number 
3, 6, etc., if the hand or finger was bent three or six times 
by the operator, or if he stroked it three, six, etc., times. 

In certain individuals there was found a still odder 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS, 205 

phenomenon, which reminds one of that curious idiosyncrasy 
of colored hearing of which a few cases have been lately 
described with great care by foreign writers. These indi 
viduals, namely, saw the impression received by the hand, 
but could not feel it ; and the thing seen appeared by no 
means associated with the hand, but more like an indepen 
dent vision, which usually interested and surprised the 
patient. Her hand being hidden by a screen, she was 
ordered to look at another screen and to tell of any visual 
image which might project itself thereon. Numbers would 
then come, corresponding to the number of times the in 
sensible member was raised, touched, etc. Colored lines 
and figures would come, corresponding to similar ones 
traced on the palm ; the hand itself or its fingers would 
come when manipulated ; and finally objects placed in it 
would come ; but on the hand itself nothing would ever be 
felt. Of course simulation would not be hard here; but 
M. Binet disbelieves this (usually very shallow) explanation 
to be a probable one in cases in question.* 

The usual way in which doctors measure the delicacy 
of our touch is by the compass-points. Two points are 
normally felt as one whenever they are too close together 
for discrimination ; but what is too close on one part of 
the skin may seem very far apart on another. In the 
middle of the back or on the thigh, less than 3 inches may 
be too close ; on the finger-tip a tenth of an inch is far 
enough apart. Now, as tested in this way, with the appeal 
made to the primary consciousness, which talks through 
the mouth and seems to hold the field alone, a certain per 
son s skin may be entirely anaesthetic and not feel the com 
pass-points at all ; and yet this same skin will prove to have 
a perfectly normal sensibility if the appeal be made to that 
other secondary or sub-consciousness, which expresses 
itself automatically by writing or by movements of the hand. 
M. Binet, M. Pierre Janet, and M. Jules Janet have all found 
this. The subject, whenever touched, wonld signify one 

* This whole phenomenon shows how an idea which remains itself below 
the threshold of a certain conscious self may occasion associative effects 
therein. The skin-seusations uufelt by the patient s primary consciousness 
awaken nevertheless their usual visual associates therein. 



206 PSYCHOLOGY. 

point or two points/ as accurately as if she were a nor< 
mal person. She would signify it only by these movements ; 
and of the movements themselves her primary self would 
be as unconscious as of the facts they signified, for what the 
submerged consciousness makes the hand do automatically 
is unknown to the consciousness which uses the mouth. 

Messrs. Bernheim and Pitres have also proved, by ob 
servations too complicated to be given in this spot, 
that the hysterical blindness is no real blindness at all. 
The eye of an hysteric which is totally blind when the 
other or seeing eye is shut, will do its share of vision per 
fectly well when both eyes are open together. But even 
where both eyes are semi-blind from hysterical disease, 
the method of automatic writing proves that their percep 
tions exist, only cut off from communication with the upper 
consciousness. M. Binet has found the hand of his patients 
unconsciously writing down words which their eyes were 
vainly endeavoring to see, i.e., to bring to the upper con 
sciousness. Their submerged consciousness was of course 
seeing them, or the hand could not have written as it did. 
Colors are similarly perceived by the sub-conscious self, 
which the hysterically color-blind eyes cannot bring to the 
normal consciousness. Pricks, burns, and pinches on the 
anaesthetic skin, all unnoticed by the upper self, are recol 
lected to have been suffered, and complained of, as soon 
as the under self gets a chance to express itself by the 
passage of the subject into hypnotic trance. 

It must be admitted, therefore, that in certain persons, 
at least, the total possible consciousness may be split into 
parts which coexist but mutually ignore each other, and 
share the objects of knowledge between them. More re 
markable still, they are complementary. Give an object 
to one of the consciousnesses, and by that fact you remove 
it from the other or others. Barring a certain common 
fund of information, like the command of language, etc., 
what the upper self knows the under self is ignorant of, 
and vice versa. M. Janet has proved this beautifully in his 
subject Lucie. The following experiment will serve as the 
type of the rest : In her trance he covered her lap with 
cards, each bearing a number. He then told her that OD 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 207 

waking she should not see any card whose number was a 
multiple of three. This is the ordinary so-called post- 
hypnotic suggestion/ now well known, and for which Lucie 
was a well-adapted subject. Accordingly, when she was 
awakened and asked about the papers on her lap, she 
counted and said she saw those only whose number was 
not a multiple of 3. To the 12, 18, 9, etc., she was blind. 
But the hand, when the sub-conscious self was interrogated 
by the usual method of engrossing the upper self in another 
conversation, wrote that the only cards in Lucie s lap were 
those numbered 12, 18, 9, etc., and on being asked to pick 
up all the cards which were there, picked up these and let 
the others lie. Similarly when the sight of certain things 
was suggested to the sub-conscious Lucie, the normal 
Lucie suddenly became partially or totally blind. " What 
is the matter? I can t see!" the normal personage sud 
denly cried out in the midst of her conversation, when 
M. Janet whispered to the secondary personage to make 
use of her eyes. The anaesthesias, paralyses, contractions 
and other irregularities from which hysterics suffer seem 
then to be clue to the fact that their secondary personage 
has enriched itself by robbing the primary one of a func 
tion which the latter ought to have retained. The curative 
indication is evident : get at the secondary personage, by 
Jiypnotization or in whatever other way, and make her give 
up the eye, the skin, the arm, or whatever the affected part 
may be. The normal self thereupon regains possession, sees, 
feels, or is able to move again. In this way M. Jules Janet 
easily cured the well-known subject of the Salpetriere, Wit., 
of all sorts of afflictions which, until he discovered the 
secret of her deeper trance, it had been difficult to subdue. 
" Cessez cette mauvaise plaisanterie," he said to the sec 
ondary self and the latter obeyed. The way in which the 
various personages share the stock of possible sensations 
between them seems to be amusingly illustrated in this 
young woman. When awake, her skin is insensible every 
where except on a zone about the arm where she habitually 
wears a gold bracelet. This zone has feeling ; but in the 
deepest trance, when all the rest of her body feels, this par 
ticular zone becomes absolutely anaesthetic. 



208 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Sometimes the mutual ignorance of the selves leads to 
incidents which are strange enough. The acts and move 
ments performed by the sub- conscious self are withdrawn 
from the conscious one, and the subject will do all sorts of 
incongruous things of which he remains quite unaware. 
" I order Lucie [by the method of distraction] to make a 
pied de nez, and her hands go forthwith to the end of her 
nose. Asked what she is doing, she replies that she is 
doing nothing, and continues for a long time talking, with 
no apparent suspicion that her fingers are moving in front 
of her nose. I make her walk about the room ; she con 
tinues to speak and believes herself sitting down." 

M. Janet observed similar acts in a man in alcoholic 
delirium. Whilst the doctor was questioning him, M. J. 
made him by whispered suggestion walk, sit, kneel, and even 
lie down on his face on the floor, he all the while believing 
himself to be standing beside his bed. Such bizarreries 
sound incredible, until one has seen their like. Long ago, 
without understanding it, I myself saw a small example of 
the way in which a person s knowledge may be shared by 
the two selves. A young woman who had been writing 
automatically was sitting with a pencil in her hand, trying to 
recall at my request the name of a gentleman whom she had 
once seen. She could only recollect the first syllable. Her 
hand meanwhile, without her knowledge, wrote down the 
last two syllables. In a perfectly healthy young man who 
can write with the planchette, I lately found the hand to 
be entirely anaesthetic during the writing act ; I could prick 
it severely without the Subject knowing the fact. The writ 
ing on the planchette, however, accused me in strong terms 
of hurting the hand. Pricks on the other (non-writing) 
hand, meanwhile, which awakened strong protest from the 
young man s vocal organs, were denied to exist by the self 
which made the planchette go." x " 

We get exactly similar results in the so-called post-hyp 
notic suggestion. It is a familiar fact that certain sub 
jects, when told during a trance to perform an act or to 

* See Proceedings of American Soc. for Psych. Research, vol. I. p. 
54S, 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 209 

experience an hallucination after waking, will when the time 
comes, obey the command. How is the command regis 
tered? How is its performance so accurately timed? 
These problems were long a mystery, for the primary per 
sonality remembers nothing of the trance or the suggestion, 
and will often trump up an improvised pretext for yielding 
to the unaccountable impulse which possesses the man so 
suddenly and which he cannot resist. Edmund Gurney 
was the first to discover, by means of automatic writing, that 
the secondary self is awake, keeping its attention con 
stantly fixed on the command and watching for the signal 
of its execution. Certain trance-subjects who were also 
automatic writers, when roused from trance and put to the 
planchette, not knowing then what they wrote, and having 
their upper attention fully engrossed by reading aloud, talk 
ing, or solving problems in mental arithmetic, would in 
scribe the orders which they had received, together with 
notes relative to the time elapsed and the time yet to run 
before the execution. * It is therefore to no automatism 
in the mechanical sense that such acts are due : a self pre 
sides over them, a split-off, limited and buried, but yet a 
fully conscious, self. More than this, the buried self often 
comes to the surface and drives out the other self whilst 
the acts are performing. In other words, the subject 
lapses into trance again when the moment arrives for exe 
cution, and has no subsequent recollection of the act which 
he has done. Gurney and Beaunis established this fact, 
which has since been verified on a large scale ; and Gurney 
also showed that the patient became suggestible again during 
the brief time of the performance. M. Janet s observa 
tions, in their turn, well illustrate the phenomenon. 

" I tell I/ucie to keep her arms raised after she shall have 
awakened. Hardly is she in the normal state, when up go her arms 
above her head, but she pays no attention to them. She goes, comes, 
converses, holding her arms high in the air. If asked what her arms 
are doing, she is surprised at such a question, and says very sincerely : 
My hands are doing nothing; they are just like yours. ... I com- 



* Proceedings of the (London) Soc. for Psych. Research, Hay, 1887, p. 
268 ff. 



210 PSYCHOLOGY. 

mand her to weep, and when awake she really sobs, but continues ir 
the rnidst of her tears to talk of very gay matters. The sobbing over, 
there remained no trace of this grief, which seemed to have been quite 
sub-conscious." 

The primary self often has to invent an hallucination by 
which to mask and hide from its own view the deeds which 
the other self is enacting. Leonie 3 * writes real letters 
whilst Leonie 1 believes that she is knitting ; or Lucie 
really comes to the doctor s office, whilst Lucie 1 believes 
herself to be at home. This is a sort of delirium. The 
alphabet, or the series of numbers, when handed over to 
the attention of the secondary personage may for the 
time be lost to the normal self. Whilst the hand writes 
the alphabet, obediently to command, the subject/ to 
her great stupefaction, finds herself unable to recall it, etc. 
Few things are more curious than these relations of mutual 
exclusion, of which all gradations exist between the several 
partial consciousnesses. 

How far this splitting up of the mind into separate con 
sciousnesses may exist in each one of us is a problem. M. 
Janet holds that it is only possible where there is abnormal 
weakness, and consequently a defect of unifying or co-or 
dinating power. An hysterical woman abandons part of her 
consciousness because she is too weak nervously to hold 
it together. The abandoned part, meanwhile may solidify 
into a secondary or sub-conscious self. In a perfectly sound 
subject, on the other hand, what is dropped out of mind at 
one moment keeps coming back at the next. The whole 
fund of experiences and knowledges remains integrated, and 
no split-off portions of it can get organized stably enough 
to form subordinate selves. The stability, monotony, and 
stupidity of these latter is often very striking. The post- 
hypnotic sub-consciousness seems to think of nothing but 
the order which it last received; the cataleptic sub-con 
sciousness, of nothing but the last position imprinted on the 
limb. M. Janet could cause definitely circumscribed red 
dening and tumefaction of the skin on two of his subjects, 

* M, Janet designates by numbers the different personalities which the 
subject may display. 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 211 

by suggesting to them in hypnotism the hallucination of a 
mustard-poultice of any special shape. "J ai tout le 
temps pense a votre sinapisme," says the subject, when 
put back into trance after the suggestion has taken effect. 
A man N., . . . whom M. Janet operated on at long in 
tervals, was betweenwhiles tampered with by another 
operator, and when put to sleep again by M. Janet, said he 
was too far away to receive orders, being in Algiers. 
The other operator, having suggested that hallucination, 
had forgotten to remove it before waking the subject from 
his trance, and the poor passive trance-personality had 
stuck for weeks in the stagnant dream. Leonie s sub-con 
scious performances having been illustrated to a caller, by 
a pied de nez executed with her left hand in the course 
of conversation, when, a year later, she meets him again, 
up goes the same hand to her nose again, without Leonie s 
normal self suspecting the fact. 

All these facts, taken together, form unquestionably the 
beginning of an inquiry which is destined to throw a new 
light into the very abysses of our nature. It is for that 
reason that I have cited them at such length in this early 
chapter of the book. They prove one thing conclusively, 
namely, that we must never take a person s testimony, hoiv- 
ever sincere, that he has felt nothing, as proof positive that 
no feeling has been there. It may have been there as part of 
the consciousness of a secondary personage, of whose ex 
periences the primary one whom we are consulting can 
naturally give no account. In hypnotic subjects (as we 
shall see in a later chapter) just as it is the easiest thing in 
the world to paralyze a movement or member by simple 
suggestion, so it is easy to produce what is called a system 
atized anaesthesia by word of command. A systematized 
anaesthesia means an insensibility, not to any one element 
of things, but to some one concrete thing or class of things. 
The subject is made blind or deaf to a certain person in the 
room and to no one else, and thereupon denies that that per 
son is present, or has spoken, etc. M. P. Janet s Lucie, blind 
Co some of the numbered cards in her lap (p. 207 above), is 
a case in point. Now when the object is simple, like a red 



212 PSYCHOLOGY. 

wafer or a black cross, the subject, although he denies that 
he sees it when he looks straight at it, nevertheless gets a 
negative after-image of it when he looks away again, 
showing that the optical, impression of it has been received. 
Moreover reflection shows that such a subject must dis 
tinguish the object from others like it in order to be blind to 
it. Make him blind to one person in the room, set all 
the persons in a row, and tell him to count them. He will 
count all but that one. But how can he tell which one not 
to count without recognizing who he is ? In like manner, 
make a stroke on paper or blackboard, and tell him it is 
not there, and he will see nothing but the clean paper or 
board. Next (he not looking) surround the original stroke 
with other strokes exactly like it, and ask him what he 
sees. He will point out one by one all the new strokes, and 
omit the original one every time, no matter how numerous 
the new strokes may be, or in what order they are 
arranged. Similarly, if the original single stroke to which 
he is blind be doubled by a prism of some sixteen degrees 
placed before one of his eyes (both being kept open), he 
will say that he now sees one stroke, and point in the direc 
tion in which the image seen through the prism lies, ignor 
ing still the original stroke. 

Obviously, then, he is not blind to the kind of stroke in 
the least. He is blind only to one individual stroke of that 
kind in a particular position on the board or paper that 
is to a particular complex object ; and, paradoxical as it 
may seem to say so, he must distinguish it with great ac 
curacy from others like it, in order to remain blind to it 
when the others are brought near. He discriminates it, as 
a preliminary to not seeing it at all. 

Again, when by a prism before one eye a previously in 
visible line has been made visible to that eye, and the other 
eye is thereupon closed or screened, its closure makes no 
difference ; the line still remains visible. But if then the 
prism be removed, the line will disappear even to the eye 
which a moment ago saw it, and both eyes will revert to 
their original blind state. 

We have, then, to deal in these cases neither with a blind 
ness of the eye itself, nor with a mere failure to notice, but 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS 213 

with something much more complex ; namely, an active 
counting out and positive exclusion of certain objects. It 
is as when one * cuts an acquaintance, ignores a claim, 
or * refuses to be influenced by a consideration. But the 
perceptive activity which works to this result is discon 
nected from the consciousness which is personal, so to 
speak, to the subject, and makes of the object concerning 
which the suggestion is made, its own private possession 
and prey.* 

The mother who is asleep to every sound but the stir 
rings of her babe, evidently has the babe-portion of her au 
ditory sensibility systematically awake. ^Relatively to that, 
the rest of her mind is in a state of systematized anaesthesia. 
That department, split off and disconnected from the sleep 
ing part, can none the less wake the latter up in case of 
need. So that on the whole the quarrel between Des 
cartes and Locke as to whether the mind ever sleeps is less 
near to solution than ever. On a priori speculative grounds 
Locke s view that thought and feeling may at times wholly 
disappear seems the more plausible. As glands cease to 
secrete and muscles to contract, so the brain should some 
times cease to carry currents, and with this minimum of its 
activity might well coexist a minimum of consciousness. 
On the other hand, we see how deceptive are appearances, 
and are forced to admit that a part of consciousness may 
sever its connections with other parts and yet continue to be. 
On the whole it is best to abstain from a conclusion. The 
science of the near future will doubtless answer this ques 
tion more wisely than we can now. 



* How to conceive of this state of mind is not easy. It would be much 
simpler to understand the process, if adding new strokes made the first one 
visible. There would then be two different objects apperceived as totals, 
paper with one stroke, paper with many strokes ; and, blind to the for 
mer, he would see all that was in the latter, because he would have apper 
ceived it as a different total in the first instance. 

A process of this sort occurs sometimes (not always) when the new 
strokes, instead of being mere repetitions of the original one, are lines 
which combine with it into a total object, say a human face. The sub 
ject of the trance then may regain his sight of the line to which he had 
previously been blind, by seeing it as part of the face. 



214 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Let us turn now to consider the 

EOLATIONS OF CONSCIOUSNESS TO SPACE. 

This is the problem known in the history of philoso 
phy as the question of the seat of the soul. It has given 
rise to much literature, but we must ourselves treat it very 
briefly. Everything depends on what we conceive the soul 
to be, an extended or an inextended entity. If the former, 
it may occupy a seat. If the latter, it may not ; though it 
has been thought that even then it might still have a posi 
tion. Much hair-splitting has arisen about the possibility 
of an inextended thing nevertheless being present through 
out a certain amount of extension. We must distinguish 
the kinds of presence. In some manner our consciousness 
is present to everything with which it is in relation. I am 
cognitively present to Orion whenever I perceive that con 
stellation, but I am not dynamically present there, I work 
no effects. To my brain, however, I am dynamically present, 
inasmuch as my thoughts and feelings seem to react upon 
the processes thereof. If, then, by the seat of the mind is 
meant nothing more than the locality with which it stands 
in immediate dynamic relations, we are certain to be 
right in saying that its seat is somewhere in the cortex of 
the brain. Descartes, as is well known, thought that the 
inextended soul was immediately present to the pineal 
gland. Others, as Lotze in his earlier days, and W. Volk- 
mann, think its position must be at some point of the struc 
tureless matrix of the anatomical brain-elements, at which 
point they suppose that all nerve-currents may cross and 
combine. The scholastic doctrine is that the soul is to 
tally present, both in the whole and in each and every part 
of the body. This mode of presence is said to be due to 
the soul s inextended nature and to its simplicity. Two ex 
tended entities could only correspond in space with one 
another, part to part, but not so does the soul, which has 
no parts, correspond with the body. Sir Wm. Hamilton 
and Professor Bowen defend something like this view. I. 
H. Fichte, Ulrici, and, among American philosophers, Mr, 
J. E. Walter,* maintain the soul to be a space -filling prin- 

* Perception of Space and Matter, 1879, part n. chap. 3 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 215 

ciple. Ficlite calls it the inner body, Ulrici likens it to a 
fluid of non-molecular composition. These theories remind 
us of the theosophic doctrines of the present day, and 
carry us back to times when the soul as vehicle of con 
sciousness was not discriminated, as it now is, from the 
vital principle presiding over the formation of the body. 
Plato gave head, breast, and abdomen to the immortal rea 
son, the courage, and the appetites, as their seats respec 
tively. Aristotle argues that the heart is the sole seat. 
Elsewhere we find the blood, the brain, the lungs, the liver 
the kidneys even, in turn assigned as seat of the whole or 
part of the soul.* 

The truth is that if the thinking principle is extended we 
neither know its form nor its seat ; whilst if unextended, it 
is absurd to speak of its having any space-relations at all. 
Space-relations we shall see hereafter to be sensible things. 
The only objects that can have mutual relations of position 
are objects that are perceived coexisting in the same felt 
space. A thing not perceived at all, such as the inextended 
soul must be, cannot coexist with any perceived objects in 
this way. No lines can be felt stretching from it to the 
other objects. It can form no terminus to any space-inter 
val. It can therefore in no intelligible sense enjoy position. 
Its relations cannot be spatial, but must be exclusively 
cognitive or dynamic, as we have seen. So far as they are 
dynamic, to talk of the soul being present is only a figure 
of speech. Hamilton s doctrine that the soul is present to 
the whole body is at any rate false : for cognitively its pres 
ence extends far beyond the body, and dynamically it does 
not extend beyond the brain, t 

* For a very good condensed history of the various opinions, see W. 
Volkmann von Volkmar, Lehrbuch d. Psychologic, 16, Anm. Complete 
references to Sir W. Hamilton are given in J. E. Walter, Perception of 
Space and Matter, pp. 65-6. 

f Most contemporary writers ignore the question of the soul s seat. 
Lotze is the only one who seems to have been much concerned about it, 
and his views have varied. Cf. Medicinische Psychol., 10. Microcos- 
mus, bk. in. ch. 2. Metaphysic, bk. in. ch. 5. Outlines of Psychol., 
part n. ch. 3. See also ft- T. Fechner, Psychophysik, chap, xxxvn. 



216 PSYCHOLOGY. 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER OBJECTS 

are either relations to other minds, or to material things. The 
material things are either the mind s own brain, on the one 
hand, or anything else, on the other. The relations of a 
mind to its own brain are of a unique and utterly mysteri 
ous sort ; we discussed them in the last two chapters, and 
can add nothing to that account. 

The mind s relations to other objects than the brain are 
cognitive and emotional relations exclusively, so far as we 
know. It knows them, and it inwardly welcomes or rejects 
them, but it has no other dealings with them. When it seems 
to act upon them, it only does so through the intermediary 
of its own body, so that not it but the body is what acts on 
them, and the brain must first act upon the body. The 
same is true when other things seem to act on it they only 
act on the body, and through that on its brain.* All that 
it can do directly is to know other things, misknow or 
ignore them, and to find that they interest it, in this fashion 
or in that. 

Now the relation of knowing is the most mysterious thing 
in the world. If we ask how one thing can know another 
we are led into the heart of Erkenntnisstheorie and metaphys 
ics. The psychologist, for his part, does not consider the 
matter so curiously as this. Finding a world before him 
which he cannot but believe that he knows, and setting 
himself to study his own past thoughts, or someone else s 
thoughts, of what he believes to be that same world ; he 
cannot but conclude that those other thoughts know it after 
their fashion even as he knows it after his. Knowledge be 
comes for him an ultimate relation that must be admitted, 
whether it be explained or not, just like difference or re 
semblance, which no one seeks to explain. 

Were our topic Absolute Mind instead of being the con 
crete minds of individuals dwelling in the natural world, 
we could not tell whether that Mind had the function of 
knowing or not, as knowing is commonly understood. We 

* I purposely ignore clairvoyance and action upon distant things b? 
mediums, as not yet matters of common consent. 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 217 

might learn the complexion of its thoughts ; but, as we 
should have no realities outside of it to compare them with, 
for if we had, the Mind would not be Absolute, we could 
not criticise them, and find them either right or wrong ; and 
we should have to call them simply the thoughts, and not 
the knowledge, of the Absolute Mind. Finite minds, how 
ever, can be judged in a different way, because the psychol 
ogist himself can go bail for the independent reality of the 
objects of which they think. He knows these to exist out 
side as well as inside the minds in question ; he thus knows 
whether the minds think and knoiv, or only think ; and 
though his knowledge is of course that of a fallible mortal, 
uhere is nothing in the conditions that should make it more 
likely to be wrong in this case than in any other. 

Now by what tests does the psychologist decide whether 
the state of mind he is studying is a bit of knowledge, or 
only a subjective fact not referring to anything outside 
itself? 

He uses the tests we all practically use. If the state of 
mind resembles his own idea of a certain reality ; or if without 
resembling his idea of it, it seems to imply that reality and 
refer to it by operating upon it through the bodily organs ; 
or even if it resembles and operates on some other reality 
that implies, and leads up to, and terminates in, the first 
one, in either or all of these cases the psychologist admits 
that the state of mind takes cognizance, directly or remotely, 
distinctly or vaguely, truly or falsely, of the reality s nature 
and position in the world. If, on the other hand, the 
mental state under examination neither resembles nor oper 
ates on any of the realities known to the psychologist, he calls 
it a subjective state pure and simple, possessed of no cog 
nitive worth. If, again, it resemble a reality or a set of 
realities as he knows them, but altogether fail to operate 
on them or modify their course by producing bodily motions 
which the psychologist sees, then the psychologist, like all 
of us, may be in doubt. Let the mental state, for example, 
occur during the sleep of its subject. Let the latter dream 
of the death of a certain man, and let the man simulta 
neously die. Is the dream a mere coincidence, or a veri 
table cognition of the death ? Such puzzling cases are 



218 PSYCHOLOGY. 

what the Societies for Psychical Research are collect- 
ing and trying to interpret in the most reasonable way. 

If the dream were the only one of the kind the subject 
ever had in his life, if the context of the death in the dream 
differed in many particulars from the real death s context, 
and if the dream led to no action about the death, unques 
tionably we should all call it a strange coincidence, and 
naught besides. But if the death in the dream had a long 
context, agreeing point for point with every feature that 
attended the real death ; if the subject were constantly 
having such dreams, all equally perfect, and if on awaking 
he had a habit of acting immediately as if they were true 
and so getting the start of his more tardily informed 
neighbors, we should probably all have to admit that he 
had some mysterious kind of clairvoyant power, that his 
dreams in an inscrutable way knew just those realities 
which they figured, and that the word * coincidence failed 
to touch the root of the matter. And whatever doubts any 
one preserved would completely vanish if it should appear 
that from the midst of his dream he had the power of inter 
fering with the course of the reality, and making the events 
in it turn this way or that, according as he dreamed they 
should. Then at least it would be certain that he and the 
psychologist were dealing with the same. It is by such 
tests as these that we are convinced that the waking minds 
of our fellows and our own minds know the same external 
world. 

The psychologist s attitude toivards cognition will be so 
important in the sequel that we must not leave it until it is 
made perfectly clear. It is a thoroughgoing dualism. It 
supposes two elements, mind knowing and thing known, and 
treats them as irreducible. Neither gets out of itself or 
into the other, neither in any way is the other, neither 
makes the other. They just stand face to face in a common 
woild, and one simply knows, or is known unto, its counter 
part. This singular relation is not to be expressed in any 
lower terms, or translated into any more intelligible name. 
Some sort of signal must be given by the thing to the mind s 
brain, or the knowing will not occur we find as a matter 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 219 

of fact that the mere existence of a thing outside the brain 
is not a sufficient cause for our knowing it : it must strike 
the brain in some way, as well as be there, to be known. 
But the brain being struck, the knowledge is constituted 
by a new construction that occurs altogether in the mind. 
The thing remains the same whether known or not.* And 
when once there, the knowledge may remain there, what 
ever becomes of the thing. 

By the ancients, and by unreflecting people perhaps to 
day, knowledge is explained as the passage of something 
from without into the mind the latter, so far, at least, as 
its sensible affections go, being passive and receptive. 
But even in mere sense-impression the duplication of the 
object by an inner construction must take place. Consider, 
with Professor Bowne, what happens when two people con 
verse together and know each other s mind. 

" No thoughts leave the mind of one and cross into the mind of the 
other. When we speak of an exchange of thought, even the crudest 
mind knows that this is a mere figure of speech. ... To perceive 
another s thought, we must construct his thought within ourselves; . . . 
this thought is our own and is strictly original with us. At the same 
time we owe it to the other ; and if it had not originated with him, it 
would probably not have originated with us. But what has the other 
done ? . . . This : by an entirely mysterious world-order, the speaker 
is enabled to produce a series of signs which are totally unlike [the] 
thought, but which, by virtue of the same mysterious order, act as a 
series of incitements upon the hearer, so that he constructs within 
himself the corresponding mental state. The act of the speaker consists 
in availing himself of the proper incitements. The act of the hearer is 
immediately only the reaction of the soul against the incitement. . . . 
All communion between finite minds is of this sort. . . . Probably no 
reflecting person would deny this conclusion, but when we say that 
what is thus true of perception of another s thought is equally true of 
the perception of the outer world in general, many minds will be 
disposed to question, and not a few will deny it outright. Yet there is 
no alternative but to affirm that to perceive the universe we must 
construct it in thought, and that our knowledge of the universe is but 
the unfolding of the mind s inner nature. . . . By describing the mind 
as a waxen tablet, and things as impressing themselves upon it, we 
seem to get great insight until we think to ask where this extended 
tablet is, and how things stamp themselves on it, and how the percep- 

* I disregard consequences which may later come to the thing from the 
f*M*t that it is known. The knowing per se in no wise affects the thing. 



220 PSYCHOLOGY. 

tive act would be explained even if they did. . . . The immediate 
antecedents of sensation and perception are a series of nervous changes 
in the brain. Whatever we know of the outer world is revealed only 
in and through these nervous changes. But these are totally unlike 
the objects assumed to exist as their causes. If we might conceive the 
mind as in the light, and in direct contact with its objects, the 
imagination at least would be comforted ; but when we conceive the 
mind as coming in contact with the outer world only in the dark 
chamber of the skull, and then not in contact with the objects per 
ceived, but only with a series of nerve -changes of which, moreover, it 
knows nothing, it is plain that the object is a long way off. All talk 
of pictures, impressions, etc., ceases because of the lack of all the 
conditions to give such figures any meaning. It is not even clear that 
we shall ever find our way out of the darkness into the world of light 
and reality again. We begin with complete trust in physics and the 
senses, and are forthwith led away from the object into a nervous 
labyrinth, where the object is entirely displaced by a set of nervous 
changes which are totally unlike anything but themselves. Finally, 
we land in the dark chamber of the skull. The object has gone com 
pletely, and knowledge has not yet appeared. Nervous signs are the 
raw material of all knowledge of the outer world according to the most 
decided realism. But in order to pass beyond these signs into a 
knowledge of the outer world, we must posit an interpreter who shall 
read back these signs into their objective meaning. But that inter 
preter, again, must implicitly contain the meaning of the universe 
within itself; and these signs are really but excitations which cause the 
soul to unfold what is within itself. Inasmuch as by common consent 
the soul communicates with the outer world only through these signs, 
and never comes nearer to the object than such signs can bring it, it 
follows that the principles of interpretation must be in the mind itself, 
and that the resulting construction is primarily only an expression of the 
mind s own nature. All reaction is of this sort; it expresses the nature 
of the reacting agent, and knowledge comes under the same head, 
this fact makes it necessary for us either to admit a pre-established 
harmony between the laws and nature of thought and the laws and 
nature of things, or else to allow that the objects of perception, the 
universe as it appears, are purely phenomenal, being but the way in 
which the mind reacts against the ground of its sensations." * 

The dualism of Object and Subject and their pre-estab 
lished harmony are what the psychologist as such must 
assume, whatever ulterior monistic philosophy he may, as 
an individual who has the right also to be a metaphysician, 
have in reserve. I hope that this general point is now 

* B. P. Bowne: Metaphysics, pp. 407-10. Of. also Lotze: Logik, 
308, 326-7. 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 221 

made clear, so that we may leave it, and descend to some 
distinctions of detail. 

There are two kinds of knowledge broadly and practically 
distinguishable : we may call them respectively knowledge 
of acquaintance and knowledge-dbout. Most languages ex 
press the distinction; thus, yrtiorai, eidevai\ noscere, scire; 
kennen, ivissen; connaitre, savoir.* I am acquainted with 
many people and things, which I know very little about, 
except their presence in the places where I have met them. 
I know the color blue when I see it, and the flavor of a 
pear when I taste it ; I know an inch when I move my 
finger through it ; a second of time, when I feel it pass ; 
an effort of attention when I make it ; a difference between 
two things when I notice it ; but about the inner nature of 
these facts or what makes them what they are, I can say 
nothing at all. I cannot impart acquaintance with them 
to any one who has not already made it himself. I cannot 
describe them, make a blind man guess what blue is like, 
define to a child a syllogism, or tell a philosopher in just 
what respect distance is just what it is, and differs from 
other forms of relation. At most, I can say to my friends, 
Go to certain places and act in certain ways, and these 
objects will probably come. All the elementary natures of 
the world, its highest genera, the simple qualities of matter 
and mind, together with the kinds of relation that subsist 
between them, must either not be known at all, or known 
in this dumb way of acquaintance without knowledge-about. 
In minds able to speak at all there is, it is true, some knowl 
edge about everything. Things can at least be classed, and 
the times of their appearance told. But in general, the less 
we analyze a thing, and the fewer of its relations we per 
ceive, the less we know about it and the more our famili 
arity with it is of the acquaintance-type. The two kinds 
of knowledge are, therefore, as the human mind practi 
cally exerts them, relative terms. That is, the same thought 
of a thing may be called knowledge-about it in comparison 
with a simpler thought, or acquaintance with it in compari- 

* Of. John Grote : Explorutio Philosophica, p. 60 ; H. Helmholtz, 
Popular Scientific Lectures, London, p. 308-9. 



222 PSYCHOLOGY. 

son with a thought of it that is more articulate and explicit 
still. 

The grammatical sentence expresses this. Its subject* 
stands for an object of acquaintance which, by the addition 
of the predicate, is to get something known about it. We 
may already know a good deal, when we hear the subject 
named its name may have rich connotations. But, know 
we much or little then, we know more still when the sen 
tence is done. We can relapse at will into a mere condi 
tion of acquaintance with an object by scattering our 
attention and staring at it in a vacuous trance-like way. 
We can ascend to knowledge about it by rallying our wits 
and proceeding to notice and analyze and think. What we 
are only acquainted with is only present to our minds ; we 
have it, or the idea of it. But when we know about it, we 
do more than merely have it ; we seem, as we think over its 
relations, to subject it to a sort of treatment and to operate 
upon it with our thought. The words feeling and thought 
give voice to the antithesis. Through feelings we become 
acquainted with things, but only by our thoughts do we 
know about them. Feelings are the germ and starting 
point of cognition, thoughts the developed tree. The mini 
mum of grammatical subject, of objective presence, of reality 
known about, the mere beginning of knowledge, must be 
named by the word that says the least. Such a word is the 
interjection, as lo ! there! eccoj voild ! or the article or 
demonstrative pronoun introducing the sentence, as the, it, 
that. In Chapter XII we shall see a little deeper into what 
this distinction, between the mere mental having or feeling 
of an object and the thinking of it, portends. 

The mental states usually distinguished as feelings are 
the emotions, and the sensations we get from skin, muscle, 
viscus, eye, ear, nose, and palate. The thoughts, as 
recognized in popular parlance, are the conceptions and 
judgments. When we treat of these mental states in par 
ticular we shall have to say a word about the cognitive 
function and value of each. It may perhaps be well to 
notice now that our senses only give us acquaintance with 
facts of body, and that of the mental states of other persons 



THE RELATIONS OF MINDS TO OTHER THINGS. 223 

we only have conceptual knowledge. Of our own past 
states of mind we take cognizance in a peculiar way. They 
are objects of memory, and appear to us endowed with 
a sort of warmth and intimacy that makes the perception 
of them seem more like a process of sensation than like a 
thought. 



CHAPTER IX.* 
THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 

WE now begin our study of the mind from within. Most 
books start with sensations, as the simplest mental facts, 
and proceed synthetically, constructing each higher stage 
from those below it. But this is abandoning the empirical 
method of investigation. No one ever had a simple sensa 
tion by itself. Consciousness, from our natal day, is of a 
teeming multiplicity of objects and relations, and what we 
call simple sensations are results of discriminative atten 
tion, pushed often to a very high degree. It is astonishing 
what havoc is wrought in psychology by admitting at the 
outset apparently innocent suppositions, that nevertheless 
contain a flaw. The bad consequences develop themselves 
later on, and are irremediable, being woven through the 
whole texture of the work. The notion that sensations, 
being the simplest things, are the first things to take up in 
psychology is one of these suppositions. The only thing 
which psychology has a right to postulate at the outset is 
the fact of thinking itself, and that must first be taken up 
and analyzed. If sensations then prove to be amongst the 
elements of the thinking, we shall be no worse off as re 
spects them than if we had taken them for granted at the 
start. 

The first fact for us, then, as psychologists, is that thinking 
of some sort goes on. I use the word thinking, in accordance 
with what was said on p. 186, for every form of conscious 
ness indiscriminately. If we could say in English it 
thinks, as we say it rains or it blows, we should be 

* A good deal of this chapter is reprinted from an article On some 
Omissions of Introspective Psychology which appeared in Mind foi 
January 1884. 

324 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 225 

stating tlio fact most simply and with the minimum of as 
sumption. As we cannot, we must simply say that thought 
goes on. 

FIVE CHAKACTEES IN THOUGHT. 

How does it go on ? We notice immediately five impor 
tant characters in the process, of which it shall be the dutj 
of the present chapter to treat in a general way : 

1) Every thought tends to be part of a personal con 
sciousness. 

2) Within each personal consciousness thought is always 
changing. 

3) Within each personal consciousness thought is sen 
sibly continuous. 

4) It always appears to deal with objects independent 
of itself. 

5) It is interested in some parts of these objects to the* 
exclusion of others, and welcomes or rejects chooses from 
among them, in a word all the while. 

In considering these five points successively, we shall 
have to plunge in medias res as regards our vocabulary, and 
use psychological terms which can only be adequately de 
fined 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. 

1) Thought tends to Personal Form. 

When I say every thought is part of a personal con 
sciousness, 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 suffice. 

In this room this lecture-room, say there are a mul 
titude 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, 



226 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 I s and 
you s. 

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 oivned. Neither 
contemporaneity, nor proximity in space, nor similarity of 
quality and content are able to fuse thoughts together 
which are sundered by this barrier of belonging to differ 
ent personal minds. The breaches between such thoughts 
are the most absolute breaches in nature. Everyone wil? 
recognize this to be true, so long as the existence of some 
thing 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 feel 
ings and thoughts exist, but I think and I feel. * No 
psychology, at any rate, can question the existence of per 
sonal selves. The worst a psychology can do is so to 
interpret the nature of these selves as to rob them of their 
worth. A French writer, speaking of our ideas, says some 
where in a fit of anti-spiritualistic excitement that, mislej 
by certain peculiaritities which they display, we end by 
personifying the procession which they make, such per 
sonification being regarded by him as a great philosophic 
blunder on our part. It could only be a blunder if the 
notion of personality meant something essentially different 

* B. P. Bowne : Metaphysics, p. 362. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 227 

from anything to be found in the mental procession. But if 
that procession be itself the very original of the notion of 
personality, to personify it cannot possibly be wrong. It is 
already personified. There are no marks of personality to 
be gathered aliunde, and then found lacking in the train of 
thought. It has them all already ; so that to whatever 
farther analysis we may subject that form of personal self 
hood under which thoughts appear, it is, and must remain, 
true that the thoughts which psychology studies do contin 
ually tend to appear as parts of personal selves. 

I say tend to appear rather than appear, on account 
of those facts of sub- conscious personality, automatic writ 
ing, etc., of which we studied a few in the last chapter. 
The buried feelings and thoughts proved now to exist in 
hysterical anaesthetics, in recipients of post-hypnotic sug 
gestion, ttc., themselves are parts of secondary personal 
selves. These selves are for the most part very stupid and 
contracted, and are cut off at ordinary times from commu 
nication with the regular and normal self of the individual ; 
but still they form conscious unities, have continuous mem 
ories, speak, write, invent distinct names for themselves, or 
adopt names that are suggested ; and, in short, are entirely 
worthy of that title of secondary personalities which is now 
commonly given them. According to M. Janet these second 
ary personalities are always abnormal, and result from the 
splitting of what ought to be a single complete self into two 
parts, of which one lurks in the background whilst the other 
appears on the surface as the only self the man or woman 
has. For our present purpose it is unimportant whether 
this account of the origin of secondary selves is applicable 
to all possible cases of them or not, for it certainly is true 
of a large number of them. Now although the size of a 
secondary self thus formed will depend on the number of 
thoughts that are thus split-off from the main conscious 
ness, the form of it tends to personality, and the later 
thoughts pertaining to it remember the earlier ones and 
adopt them as their own. M. Janet caught the actual mo 
ment of inspissation (so to speak) of one of these secondary 
personalities in his anaesthetic somnambulist Lucie. He 
found that when this young woman s attention was absorbed 



228 PSYCHOLOGY, 

in conversation with a third party, her anaesthetic hand 
would write simple answers to questions whispered to her by 
himself. " Do you hear ?" he asked. " No" was the uncon 
sciously written reply. "But to answer you must hear." 
" Yes, quite so." "Then how do you manage?" " I don t 
knoiu" " There must be some one who hears me." " Yes." 
" Who ?" " Someone other them Lucie." " Ah ! another per 
son. Shall we give her a name?" "No." "Yes, it will 
be more convenient." " Well, Adrienne, then." " Once bap< 
tized, the subconscious personage," M. Janet continues* 
" grows more definitely outlined and displays better her 
psychological characters. In particular she shows us that 
she is conscious of the feelings excluded from the conscious 
ness of the primary or normal personage. She it is who 
tells us that I am pinching the arm or touching the little 
linger in which Lucie for so long has had no tactile sensa 
tions." * 

In other cases the adoption of the name by the second 
ary self is more spontaneous. I have seen a number of 
incipient automatic writers and mediums as yet imperfectly 
* developed, who immediately and of their own accord 
write and speak in the name of departed spirits. These 
may be public characters, as Mozart, Faraday, or real per 
sons formerly known to the subject, or altogether imagi 
nary beings. Without prejudicing the question of real 
1 spirit- control in the more developed sorts of trance- 
utterance, I incline to think that these (often deplorably 
unintelligent) rudimentary utterances are the work of an 
inferior fraction of the subject s own natural mind, set free 
from control by the rest, and working after a set pattern 
fixed by the prejudices of the social environment. In a 
spiritualistic community we get optimistic messages, whilst 
in an ignorant Catholic village the secondary personage 
calls itself by the name of a demon, and proffers blas 
phemies and obscenities, instead of telling us how happy it 
is in the summer-land. f 

* L Automatisme Psychologique, p. 318. 

f Cf. A. Constaus : Relation sur uue Epidemic d hyslero-demonopathie 
en 1861. 2rne ed. Paris, 1863. Chiap e Franzolini: L Epidemia d istero- 
demonopatie in Verzegnis. Reggio, 1879. See also J. Kernel s little 
work : Nachricht von dem Vorkornmen des Besessenseins. 1836. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT, 229 

Beneath these tracts of thought, which, however rudi 
mentary, are still organized selves with a memory, habits, 
and sense of their own identity, M. Janet thinks that the 
tacts of catalepsy in hysteric patients drive us to suppose 
that there are thoughts quite unorganized and impersonal 
A patient in cataleptic trance (which can be produced arti 
ficially in certain hypnotized subjects) is without memory 
on waking, and seems insensible and unconscious as long 
as the cataleptic condition lasts. If, however, one raises 
the arm of such a subject it stays in that position, and the 
whole body can thus be moulded like wax under the hands 
of the operator, retaining for a considerable time whatever 
attitude he communicates to it. In hysterics whose arm, 
for example, is anaesthetic, the same thing may happen. 
The anaesthetic arm may remain passively in positions which 
it is made to assume ; or if the hand be taken and made to 
hold a pencil and trace a certain letter, it will continue 
tracing that letter indefinitely on the paper. These acts, 
until recently, were supposed to be accompanied by no 
consciousness at all : they were physiological reflexes. M. 
Janet considers with much more plausibility that feeling 
escorts them. The feeling is probably merely that of the 
position or movement of the limb, and it produces no more 
than its natural effects when it discharges into the motor 
centres which keep the position maintained, or the movement 
incessantly renewed.* Such thoughts as these, says M. 
Janet, " are known by no one, for disaggregated sensations 
reduced to a state of mental dust are not synthetized in 
any personality." f He admits, however, that these very 
same unutterably stupid thoughts tend to develop memory, 
the cataleptic ere long moves her arm at a bare hint ; so 
that they form no important exception to the law that all 
thought tends to assume the form of personal conscious 
ness. 

2) Thought is in Constant Change. 

I do not mean necessarily that no one state of mind has 
any duration even if true, that would be hard to establish, 
*For the Physiology of this compare the chapter oil the Will 
* Loc. cit. p. 316. 



230 PSYCHOLOGY. 

The change which I have more particularly in view is thai 
which takes place in sensible intervals of time ; and the result 
on which I wish to lay stress is this, that no state once gone 
can recur and be identical witli ivhat it ivas before. Let us 
begin with Mr. Shadworth Hodgson s description : 

" I go straight to the facts, without saying I go to perception, or 
sensation, or thought, or any special mode at all. What I find when 1 
look at my consciousness at all is that what I cannot divest myself of, 
or not have in consciousness, if I have any consciousness at all, is a 
sequence of different feelings. I may shut my eyes and keep perfectly 
still, and try not to contribute anything of my own will ; but whether 
I think or do not think, whether I perceive external things or not, I 
always have a succession of different feelings. Anything else that I may 
have also, of a more special character, comes in as parts of this suc 
cession. Not to have the succession of different feelings is not to be 
conscious at all. . . . The chain of consciousness is a sequence of 
diff Brents." * 

Such a description as this can awaken no possible pro 
test from any one. We all recognize as different great 
classes of our conscious states. Now we are seeing, now 
hearing ; now reasoning, now willing ; now recollecting, 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. The aim of science is always 
to reduce complexity to simplicity ; and in psychological 
science we have the celebrated theory of ideas 9 which, 
admitting the great difference among each other of what 
may be called concrete conditions of mind, seeks to show 
how this is all the resultant effect of variations in the cora- 
bination of certain simple elements of consciousness that 
always remain the same. These mental atoms or molecules 
are what Locke called simple ideas. Some of Locke s 
successors made out that the only simple ideas were the 
sensations strictly so called. Which ideas the simple ones 
may be does not, however, now concern us. It is enough 
that certain philosophers have thought they could see 
under the dissolving-view-appearance of the mind elemen 
tary facts of any sort that remained unchanged amid the 
flow. 

*The Philosophy of Reflection, i. 248, 290. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 231 

And the view of these philosophers has been called little 
into question, for our common experience seems at first 
sight to corroborate it entirely. Are not the sensations 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 sen 
sation 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 at 
tention to the matter shows that there is no proof that the 
same bodily sensation is ever got by us twice. 

What is got tioice 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, physi 
cal 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 invet 
erate is our habit of not attending to sensations as subjec 
tive facts, but of simply using them as stepping-stones to 
pass over to the recognition 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, 
arother part bright yellow, to give its realj Sensational effect. 
We take no heed, as a rule, of the different way in which 
the same things look and sound arid smell at different dis 
tances 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 con 
sidered 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 Sensation is a com 
mentary on our inability to tell whether two sensations 
received apart are exactly alike. What appeals to our 



232 PSYCHOLOGY. 

attention far more than the absolute quality or quantity oi 
a given sensation is its ratio to whatever other sensations 
we may have at the same time. When everything is dark 
a somewhat less dark sensation makes us see an object 
white. Helmholtz calculates that the white marble painted 
in a picture representing an architectural view by moon 
light 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. There are facts which 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. 
The eye s sensibility to light is at its maximum when the 
eye is first exposed, and blunts itself with surprising rapid 
ity. A long night s sleep will make it see things twice as 
brightly on wakening, as simple rest by closure will make 
it see them later in the day.f We feel things differently 
; according as we are sleepy or awake, hungry or full, fresh 
; or tired ; differently at night and in the morning, differently 
in summer and in winter, and above all things differently in 
childhood, manhood, and old age. 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 different 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. Foi 
an identical sensation to recur it would have to occur the 
/second time in an unmodified brain. But as this, strictly 

* Populare Wissenschaftliche Vortrage, Drittes Heft (1876). p. 72. 
t Fick, in L. Hermann s Handb. d. Pbysiol. , Bd. in. Th. i. D. 225. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 233 

speaking, is a physiological impossibility, so is an un 
modified feeling an impossibility ; for to every brain-modi^ 
fication, however small, must correspond a change of equal 
amount in the feeling which the brain subserves. 

All this would be true if even sensations came to us pure 
and single and not combined into things. Even then we 
should have to confess that, however we might in ordinary 
conversation speak of getting the same sensation again, we 
never in strict theoretic accuracy could do so ; and that 
whatever was true of the river of life, of the river of elemen 
tary feeling, it would certainly be true to say, like Heraclitus, 
that we never descend twice into the same stream. 

But if the assumption of simple ideas of sensation 
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 suc 
cessive 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 another 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 distinguishable exist 
ences ; the pictures so empty ; and as for the books, what 
was there to find so mysteriously significant in Goethe, or in 
John Mill so full of weight? Instead of all this, more 



234 PSYCHOLOGY. 

zestful than ever is the work, the work ,- and fuller and 
deeper the import of common duties and of common goods. 
But what here strikes us so forcibly on the flagrant 
scale exists on every scale, down to the imperceptible 
transition from one hour s outlook to that of the next. Ex 
perience is remoulding us every moment, and our mental 
reaction on every given thing is really a resultant of our 
experience of the whole world up to that date. The analo 
gies of brain-physiology must again be appealed to to 
corroborate our view. 

Our earlier chapters have taught us to believe that, 
whilst we think, our brain changes, and that, like the auro 
ra borealis, its whole internal equilibrium shifts with every 
pulse of change. The precise nature of the shifting at a 
given moment is a product of many factors. The acciden 
tal state of local nutrition or blood-supply may be among 
them. But just as one of them certainly is the influence of 
outward objects on the sense-organs during the moment, 
so is another certainly the very special susceptibility in 
which the organ has been left at that moment by all it 
has gone through in the past. Every brain-state is partly 
determined by the nature of this entire past succession. 
Alter the latter in any part, and the brain-state must be 
\ somewhat different. Each present brain-state is a record 
in which the eye of Omniscience might read all the fore 
gone history of its owner. It is out of the question, then, 
that any total brain-state should identically recur. Some 
thing like it may recur ; but to suppose it to recur would 
be equivalent to the absurd admission that all the states 
that had intervened between its two appearances had been 
pure nonentities, and that the organ after their passage 
was exactly as it was before. And (to consider shorter 
periods) just as, in the senses, an impression feels very dif 
ferently according to what has preceded it ; as one color 
succeeding another is modified by the contrast, silence 
sounds delicious after noise, and a note, when the scale is 
sung up, sounds unlike itself when the scale is sung down ; 
as the presence of certain lines in a figure changes the ap 
parent form of the other lines, and as in music the whole 
aesthetic effect comes from the manner in which one set of 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 235 

sounds alters our feeling of another ; so, in thought, we 
must admit that those portions of the brain that have just 
been maximally excited retain a kind of soreness which is 
a condition of our present consciousness, a codetenninant 
of how and what we now shall feel.* 

Ever some tracts are waning in tension, some waxing, 
whilst others actively discharge. The states of tension 
have as positive an influence as any in determining the 
total condition, and in deciding what the psychosis shall be. 
All we know of submaximal nerve-irritations, and of the 
summation of apparently ineffective stimuli, tends to show 
that TIO changes in the brain are physiologically ineffective, 
and that presumably none are bare of psychological result. 
But as the brain-tension shifts from one relative state of 
equilibrium to another, like the gyrations of a kaleido- 

I scope, now rapid and now slow, is it likely that its faithful 
psychic concomitant is heavier-footed than itself, and that 
it cannot match each one of the organ s irradiations by a 
shifting inward iridescence of its own ? But if it can do 
this, its inward iridescences must be infinite, for the brain- 
redistributions are in infinite variety. If so coarse a thing 
as a telephone-plate can be made to thrill for years and 
never reduplicate its inward condition, how much more 
must this be the case with the infinitely delicate brain ? 

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 ob 
scure about it, it will grow clearer as we advance. Mean 
while, if it be true, it is certainly also true that no two 
ideas are ever exactly the same, which is the proposition 
we started to prove. The proposition is more important 
theoretically than it at first sight seems. For it makes it 

*It need of course not follow, because a total brain-state does not re 
cur, that no point of the brain can ever be twice in the same condition. 
That would be as improbable a consequence as that in the sea a wave-crest 
should never come twice at the same point of space. What can hardly 
come twice is an identical combination of wave-forms all with their crests/ 1. 
and hollows reoccupying identical places. For such a total combina- 
tionasthis is the analogue of the brain-state to which our actual conscious 
ness at any moment is due. 



236 PSYCHOLOGY. 

already impossible for us to follow obediently in the foot 
prints of eitlier the Lockian or the Herbartian school, 
schools which have had almost unlimited influence in Ger 
many and among ourselves. No doubt it is often con 
venient 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. 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 nothing in nature to answer to our words. A 
permanently existing idea or * Vorstellung which makes its 
i appearance before the footlights of consciousness at periodical 
intervals, is as mythological an entity as the Jack of Spades. 

What makes it convenient to use the mythological for 
mulas is the whole organization of speech, which, as was 
remarked a while ago, was not made by psychologists, but 
by men who were as a rule only interested in the facts their 
mental states revealed. They only spoke of their states as 
ideas of this or of that thing. "What wonder, then, that the 
thought is most easily conceived under the law of the thing 
whose name it bears ! If the thing is composed of parts, 
then we suppose that the thought of the thing must be 
composed of the thoughts of the parts. If one part of the 
thing have appeared in the same thing or in other things on 
former occasions, why then we must be having even now the 
very same idea of that part which was there on those occa 
sion s. If the thing is simple, its thought is simple. If it 
is multitudinous, it must require a multitude of thoughts 
to think it. If a succession, only a succession of thoughts 
can know it. If permanent, its thought is permanent. And 
so on ad libitum. What after all is so natural as to assume 
that one object, called by one name, should be known by 
one affection of the mind ? But, if language must thus in 
fluence us, the agglutinative languages, and even Greek and 
Latin with their declensions, would be the better guides. 
Names did not appear in them inalterable, but changed 
their shape to suit the context in which they lay. It must 
have been easier then than now to conceive of the same 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 237 

object as being thought of at different times in non-identical 
conscious states. 

This, too, will grow clearer as we proceed. Meanwhile 
a necessary consequence of the belief in permanent self- 
identical psychic facts that absent themselves and recur 
periodically is the Humian doctrine that our thought is 
composed of separate independent parts and is not a sen 
sibly continuous stream. That this doctrine entirely mis 
represents the natural appearances is what I next shall try 
to show. 

3) Within each personal consciousness, thought is sensibly con 
tinuous. 

I can only define continuous as that which is with 
out breach, crack, or division. I have already said that 
the breach from one mind to another is perhaps the greats 
est breach in nature. 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 con 
sciousness went out altogether to come into existence again 
at a later moment ; or they would be breaks in the quality^ 
or content, of the thought, so abrupt that the segment that 
followed had no connection whatever with the one that 
went before. The proposition that within each personal 
consciousness thought feels continuous, means two things: 

1. 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; 

2. 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 
first. And first of all a word about time-gaps of which the 
consciousness may not be itself aware. 

On page 200 we saw that such time-gaps existed, and 
that they might be more numerous than is usually supposed. 
If the consciousness is not aware of them, it cannot feel 
them as interruptions. In the unconsciousness produced 
by nitrous oxide and other anaesthetics, in that of epilepsy 
and fainting, the broken edges of the sentient life may 



238 PSYCHOLOGY. 

meet and merge over the gap, much as the feelings of space 
of the opposite margins of the blind spot meet and 
merge over that objective interruption to the sensitiveness 
of the eye. Such consciousness as this, whatever it be for 
the onlooking psyche logist, is for itself unbroken It feds 
unbroken ; a waking day of it is sensibly a unit as long as 
that day lasts, in the sense in which the hours themselves 
are units, as having all their parts next each other, with no 
intrusive alien substance between. To expect the con 
sciousness to feel the interruptions of its objective con 
tinuity as gaps, would be like expecting the eye to feel a 
gap of silence because it does not hear, or the ear to feel a 
gap of darkness because it does not see. So much for the 
gaps that are unfelt. 

With the felt gaps the case is different. On waking from 
sleep, we usually know that we have been unconscious, 
and we often have an accurate judgment of how long. The 
judgment here is certainly an inference from sensible signs, 
and its ease is due to long practice in the particular field.* 
The result of it, however, is that the consciousness is, for 
itself, not what it was in the former case, but interrupted 
and discontinuous, in the mere sense of the words. But 
in the other sense of continuity, the sense of the parts being 
inwardly connected and belonging together because they 
are parts of a common whole, the consciousness remains 
sensibly continuous and one. What now is the common 
whole ? The natural name for it is myself, I, or me. 

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 Peter s 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 

* The accurate registration of the how \ona- is still a little mysterious 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 239 

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 ot his own last states. He remembers his own states, 
whilst he only conceives Paul s. Remembrance 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 consideration. But whatever past feel- 
ino-s appear with those qualities must be admitted to re 
ceive the greeting of the present mental state, to be owned 
by it, and accepted as belonging together with it in a com 
mon self. This community of self is what the time-gap 
cannot break in twain, and is why a present thought, al 
though not ignorant of the time-gap, can still regard itself 
as continuous with certain chosen portions of the past. 

Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped 
up in bits. Such words as * chain or c train do not de 
scribe it fitly ar; 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. 

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 successive 
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 ? 
Does not every sudden shock, appearance of a new object, 



240 PSYCHOLOGY. 

or change in a sensation, create a real interruption, sensibly 
felt as such, which cuts the conscious stream across at the 
moment at which it appears ? Do not such interruptions 
smite us every hour of our lives, and have we the right, in 
their presence, still to call our consciousness a continuous 
stream ? 

This objection is based partly on a confusion and partly 
on a superficial introspective view. 

The confusion is between the thoughts themselves, taken 
as subjective facts, and the things of which they are aware. 
It is natural to make this confusion, but easy to avoid it 
when once put on one s guard. The things are discrete 
and discontinuous ; they do pass before us in a train or 
chain, making often explosive appearances and rending 
each other in twain. But their comings and goings and 
contrasts no more break the flow of the thought that thinks 
them than they break the time and the space in which they 
lie. A silence may be broken by a thunder-clap, and we 
may be so stunned and confused for a moment by the shock 
as to give no instant account to ourselves of what has hap 
pened. But that very confusion is a mental state, and a 
state that passes us straight over from the silence to the 
sound. The transition between the thought of one object 
and the thought of another is no more a break in the thought 
than a joint in a bamboo is a break in the wood. It is a 
part of the consciousness as much as the joint is a part of the 
bamboo. 

The superficial introspective view is the overlooking, 
even when the things are contrasted with each other moet 
violently, of the large amount of affinity that may still re 
main between the thoughts by whose means they are 
cognized. Into the awareness of the thunder itself 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, com 
ing in this way, is quite different from what it would be 

* Of. Brentano; Psychologic, vol. i. pp. 219-20. Altogether this 
chapter of Brentano s on the Unity of Consciousness is as good as anything 
with which I am acquainted. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 241 

were the thunder a continuation of previous thunder. The 
thunder itself we believe to abolish and exclude the silence ; 
but i\\s feeling of the thunder is also a feeling of the silence 
as just gone ; and it would be difficult to find in the actual 
concrete consciousness of man a feeling so limited to the 
present as not to have an inkling of anything that went be 
fore. Here, again, language works against our perception 
of the truth. We name our thoughts simply, each after its 
thing, as if each knew its own thing and nothing else. 
What each really knows is clearly the thing it is named for, 
with dimly perhaps a thousand other things. It ought to 
be named after all of them, but it never is. Some of them 
are always things known a moment ago more clearly ; others 
are things to be known more clearly a moment hence. * Our 
own bodily position, attitude, condition, is one of the things 
of which some awareness, however inattentive, invariably 
accompanies the knowledge of whatever else we know. We 

* Honor to whom honor is due ! The most explicit acknowledgment I 
have anywhere found of all this is in a buried and forgotten paper by the 
Rev. Jas. Wills, on Accidental Association/ in the Transactions of the 
Royal Irish Academy, vol xxr. part i (1846). Mr. Wills writes : 

"At every instant of conscious thought there is a certain sum of per 
ceptions, or reflections, or both together, present, and together constituting 
one whole state of apprehension. Of this some definite portion may be far 
more distinct than all the rest ; and the rest be iu consequence propor- 
tionably vague, even to the limit of obliteration. But still, within this 
limit, the most dim shade of perception enters into, and in some infinites 
imal degree modifies, the whole existing slate. This state will thus be in 
some way modified by any sensation or emotion, or act of distinct attention, 
that may give prominence to any part of it ; so that the actual result is 
capable of the utmost variation, according to the person or the occasion. 
... To any portion of the entire scope here described there may be a 
special direction of the attention, and this special direction is recognized 
as strictly what is recognized as the idea present to the mind. This idea is 
evidently not commensurate with the entire state of apprehension, and 
much perplexity has arisen from not observing this fact. However deeply 
we may suppose the attention to be engaged by any thought, any consider 
able alteration of the surrounding phenomena would still be perceived; the 
most abstruse demonstration iu this room would not prevent a listener, 
however absorbed, from noticing the sudden extinction of the lights. Our 
mental states have always an essential unity, such that each state of appre 
hension, however variously compounded, is a single whole, of which every 
component is, therefore, strictly apprehended (so far as it is apprehended) 
as a part. Such is the elementary basis from which all our intellectual 
operations commence." 



242 PSYCHOLOGY. 

think ; and as we think we feel our bodily selves as the seat 
of the thinking. If the thinking be our thinking, it must 
be suffused through all its parts with that peculiar warmth 
and intimacy that make it come as ours. Whether the 
warmth and intimacy be anything more than the feeling of 
the same old body always there, is a matter for the next 
chapter to decide. Whatever the content of the ego may be, 
it is habitually felt with everything else by us humans, 
and must form a liaison between all the things of which we 
become successively aware. * 

On this gradualness in the changes of our mental con 
tent the principles of nerve-action can throw some more 
light. When studying, in Chapter III, the summation of 
nervous activities, we saw that no state of the brain can be 
supposed instantly to die away. If a new state comes, the 
inertia of the old state will still be there and modify the 
result accordingly. Of course we cannot tell, in our igno 
rance, what in each instance the modifications ought to be. 
The commonest modifications in sense-perception are 
known as the phenomena of contrast. In aesthetics they 
are the feelings of delight or displeasure which certain 
particular orders in a series of impressions give. In 
thought, strictly and narrowly so called, they are unques 
tionably that consciousness of the whence and the luhither 
that always accompanies its flows. If recently the brain- 
tract a was vividly excited, and then b, and now vividly c, 
the total present consciousness is not produced simply by 
c s excitement, but also by the dying vibrations of a and b 
as well. If we want to represent the brain-process we 
must write it thus : ^c three different processes coexist- 

a 

ing, and correlated with them a thought which is no one 
of the three thoughts which they would have produced had 
each of them occurred alone. But whatever this fourth 
thought may exactly be, it seems impossible that it should 
not be something like each of the three other thoughts 
whose tracts are concerned in its production, though in a 
fast-waning phase. 

* Compare the charming passage in Taine on Intelligence (N. Y. ed.), 
i. 83-4. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 24B 

It all goes back to what we said in another connection 
only a few pages ago (p. 233). As the total neurosis changes, 
so does the total psychosis change. But as the changes of 
neurosis are never absolutely discontinuous, so must the 
successive psychoses shade gradually into each other, 
although their rate of change may be much faster at one 
moment than at the next. 

This difference in the rate of change lies at the basis of 
a difference of subjective states of which we ought immedi 
ately to speak. When the rate is slow we are aware of the 
object of our thought in a comparatively restful and stable 
way. When rapid, we are aware of a passage, a relation, 
a transition from it, or between it and something else. As 
we take, in fact, a general view of the wonderful stveam of 
our consciousness, what strikes us first is this different 
pace of its parts. Like a bird s life, it seems to be made of 
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 imagina 
tions of some sort, whose peculiarity is that they can be 
held before the mind for an indefinite time, and contem 
plated without changing ; 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 rest. 

Let us call the resting-places the l substantive parts, and 
the places of flight the transitive parts, of the stream of 
thought. It then appears that the main end of our 
thinking is at all times the attainment of some other sub 
stantive part than the one from which we have just been 
dislodged. And we may say that the main use of the 
transitive parts is to lead us from one substantive conclu 
sion 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 le reached, it so exceeds them 



244 PSYCHOLOGY 

In vigor and stability fihat it quite eclipses and swallows 
them up in its glare. Leo anyone try to cut a thought 
across in the middle and get a look at its section, and he 
will see how difficult the introspective observation 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 arrest it. Or if our purpose is nimble enough and 
we do arrest it, it ceases forthwith to be itself. As a snow- 
flake crystal caught in the warm hand is no longer a crystal 
but a drop, so, instead of catching tho 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. Tho attempt 
at introspective analysis in these cases is in fact like seiz 
ing 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 produce these psychoses, which is 
sure to be thrown by doubting psychologists at anyone 
who contends for their existence, is as unfair as Zeno s 
treatment 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. Were we not ourselves a moment since in danger 
of ignoring any feeling transitive between the silence and 
the thunder, and of treating their boundary as a sort of 
break in the mind ? Now such ignoring as this has histor 
ically worked in two ways. One set of thinkers have been 
led by it to Sensationalism. Unable to lay their hands on any 
coarse feelings corresponding to the innumerable relations 
and forms of connection between the facts of the world, 
finding no named subjective modifications mirroring such 
relations, they have for the most part denied that feelings 
of relation exist, and many of them, like Hume, have gone 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 245 

so far as to deny the reality of most relations out of the 
mind as well as in it. Substantive psychoses, sensations 
and their copies and derivatives, juxtaposed like dominoes 
in a game, but really separate, everything else verbal illu 
sion, such is the upshot of this view.* The Intellectual 
ists, 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 the feelings do not exist. 
But they have drawn an opposite conclusion. The rela 
tions must be known, they say, in something that is no 
feeling, no mental modification continuous and consub- 
stantial with the subjective tissue out of which sensations 
and other substantive states are made. They are known, 
these relations, 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 unutterably superior to any fact of sensibility 
whatever. 

But from our point of view both Intellectualists and Sen 
sationalists are wrong. If there be such things as feelings 
at all, then so surely as relations between objects exist in rerum 
naturd, so surely, and more surely, do feelings exist to which 
these relations are known. There is not a conjunction or a 
preposition, and hardly an adverbial phrase, syntactic form, 
or inflection of voice, in human speech, that does not express 
some shading or other of relation which we at some mo 
ment 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 numberless, and no existing language is capable of do 
ing justice to all their shades. 

We ought to say a feeling of and, a feeling of if, a feeling 
of but, and a feeling of by, quite as readily as we say a feel- 

*E.g. : "The stream of thought is not a continuous current, but a series 
of distinct ideas, more or less rapid in their succession ; the rapidity being 
measurable by the number that pass through the mind in a given time." 
(Bain : E. and W., p. 29.) 



246 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ing of Uue or a feeling of cold. Yet we do not : so invetei\ 
ate lias our habit become of recognizing the existence of 
the substantive parts alone, that language almost refuses 
to lend itself to any other use. The Empiricists have al 
ways dwelt on its influence in making us suppose that 
where we have a separate name, a separate thing must 
needs be there to correspond with it ; and they have right 
ly denied the existence of the mob of abstract entities, 
principles, and forces, in whose favor no other evidence 
than this could be brought up. But they have said noth 
ing of that obverse error, of which we said a word in Chap 
ter VII, (see p. 195), of supposing that where there is no name 
no entity can exist. All dumb or anonymous psychic states 
have, owing to this error, been coolly suppressed; or, if 
recognized at all, have been named after the substantive 
perception they led to, as thoughts about this object or 
* about that, the stolid word about engulfing all their del 
icate idiosyncrasies in its monotonous sound. Thus the 
greater and greater accentuation and isolation of the sub 
stantive parts have continually gone on. 

Once more take a look at 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, al 
though 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 lingering relatively long, 
ivhilst others simply come and pass. But if consciousness 
corresponds to the fact of rearrangement itself, why, if 
the rearrangement stop not, should the consciousness ever 
cease ? And if a lingering rearrangement brings with it 
one kind of consciousness, why should not a swift rearrange 
ment bring another kind of consciousness as peculiar as 
the rearrangement itself? The lingering consciousnesses, 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 247 

if of simple objects, we call sensations or images, ac 
cording as they are vivid or faint ; if of complex objects, 
we call them percepts when vivid, concepts or 
thoughts when faint. For the swift consciousnesses we 
have only those names of transitive states, or feelings of 
relation, which we have used.* As the brain-changes 



* Few writers have admitted that we cognize relations through feeling. 
The intellectualists have explicitly denied the possibility of such a thing 
e.g., Prof. T. H. Green ( Mind, vol. vn. p. 28): "No feeling, as such 
or as felt, is [of ?] a relation. . . . Even a relation between feelings is not 
itself a feeling or felt." On the other hand, the sensatiouists have either 
smuggled in the cognition without giving any account of it, or have denied 
the relations to be cognized, or even to exist, at all. A few honorable ex 
ceptions, however, deserve to be named among the sensatiouists. Dcstutt 
de Tracy, Laromiguiere, Cardaillac, Brown, and finally Spencer, have ex 
plicitly contended for feelings of relation, COD substantial with our feelings 
or thoughts of the terms between which they obtain. Thus Destutt de 
Tracy says (Elements dTdeologie, T. ler, chap, iv); " The faculty of 
judgment is itself a sort of sensibility, for it is the faculty of feeling the 
relations among our ideas; and to feel relations is to feel." Laromiguiere 
writes (Le9ons de Philosophic, lime Partie, 3me Le9ou): 

" There is no one whose intelligence does not embrace simultaneously 
many ideas, more or less distinct, more or less confused. Now, when we 
have many ideas at once, a peculiar feeling arises in us : we feel, among 
these ideas, resemblances, differences, relations. Let us call this mode of 
feeling, common to us all, the feeling of relation, or relation-feeling 
(sentiment-rapport). One sees immediately that these relation-feelings, re 
sulting from the propinquity of ideas, must be infinitely more numerous 
than the sensation-feelings (sentiments-sensations] or the feelings we have 
of the action of our faculties. The slightest knowledge of the mathemat 
ical theory of combinations will prove this. . . . Ideas of relation origi 
nate in feelings of relation. They are the effect of our comparing them and 
reasoning about them." 

Similarly, de Cardaillac (Etudes Eleineutaires de Philosophic, Section I. 
chap, vn ): 

" By a natural consequence, we are led to suppose that at the same time 
that we have several sensations or several ideas in the mind, we feel the rela 
tions which exist between these sensations, and the relations which exist be 
tween these ideas. ... If the feeling of relations exists in us, ... it is 
necessarily the most varied and the most fertile of all human feelings: 
1 the most varied, because, relations being more numerous than beings, 
the feelings of relation must be in the same proportion more numerous 
than the sensations whose presence gives rise to their formation; 2, the 
most fertile, for the relative ideas of which the feeling-of-relation is the 
source . . . are more important than absolute ideas, if such exist. ... If 
we interrogate common speech, we find the feeling of relation expressed 
there in a thousand different ways. If it is easy to seize a relation, we saj; 



248 PSYCHOLOGY. 

are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into 
each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but 
one protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream. 

that it is sensible, to distinguish it from one which, because its terms are 
too remote, cannot be as quickly perceived. A sensible difference, or re 
semblance. . . . What is taste in the arts, in intellectual productions r 
What but the feeling of those relations among the parts which constitutes 
their merit ? . . . Did we not feel relations we should never attain to true 
knowledge, . . . for almost all our knowledge is of relations. . . . We 
never have an isolated sensation ; ... we are therefore never without the 
feeling of relation. ... An object strikes our senses ; we see in it only a 
sensation. . . . The relative is so near the absolute, the relation-feeling so 
near the sensation- feeling, the two are so intimately fused in the composi 
tion of the object, that the relation appears to us as part of the sensation 
itself. It is doubtless to this sort of fusion between sensations and feelings 
of relation that the silence of metaphysicians as to the latter is due; and 
it is for the same reason that they have obstinately persisted in asking from 
sensation alone those ideas of relation which it was powerless to give." 

Dr. Thomas Brown writes (Lectures, XLV. init.): " There is an exten 
sive order of our feelings which involve this notion of relation, and which 
consist indeed in the mere perception of a relation of some sort. . . . 
Whether the relation be of two or of many external objects, or of two or 
many affections of the mind, the feeling of this relation ... is what I term 
a relative suggestion; that phrase being the simplest which it is possible to 
employ, for expressing, without any theory, the mere fact of the rise of 
certain feelings of relation, after certain other feelings which precede 
them; and therefore, as involving no particular theory, and simply ex 
pressive of an undoubted fact That the feelings of relation are states 

of the mind essentially different from our simple perceptions, or concep 
tions of the objects, . . . that they are not what Condillac terms trans 
formed sensations, I proved in a former lecture, when I combated the ex 
cessive simplification of that ingenious but not very accurate philosopher. 
There is an original tendency or susceptibility of the mind, by which, on 
perceiving together different objects, we are instantly, without the inter 
vention of any other mental process, sensible of their relation in certain 
respects, as truly as there is an original tendency or susceptibility by which, 
when external objects are present and have produced a certain affection of 
our sensorial organ, we are instantly affected with the primary elementary 
feelings of perception; and, I may add, that as our sensations or percep 
tions are of various species, so are there various species of relations; the 
number of relations, indeed, even of external things, being almost infinite, 
while the number of perceptions is, necessarily, limited by that of the ob 
jects which have the power of producing some affection of our organs of 
sensation. . . . Without that susceptibility of the mind by which it has 
the feeling of relation, our consciousness would be as truly limited to a 
single point, as our body would become, were it possible to fetter it to a 
single atom." 

Mr. Spencer is even more explicit. His philosophy is crude in that he 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 249 

Feelings of Tendency. 

So much for the transitive states. But there are other 
unnamed states or qualities of states that are just as ini- 

seems to suppose that it is only in transitive states that outward relations 
are known ; whereas in truth space-relations, relations of contrast, etc. , are 
felt along with their terms, in substantive states as well as in transitive 
states, as we shall abundantly see. Nevertheless Mr. Spencer s passage is 
so clear that it also deserves to be quoted in full (Principles of Psychology, 
65): 

" The proximate components of Mind are of two broadly-contrasted 
kinds Feelings and the relations between feelings. Among the members 
of each group there exist multitudinous unlikeuesses, many of which are 
extremely strong; but such unliken esses are small compared with those 
which distinguish members of the one group from members of the other. 
Let us, in the first place, consider what are the characters which all Feel 
ings have in common, and what are the characters which all Relations 
between feelings have in common. 

"Each feeling, as we here define it, is any portion of consciousness 
which occupies a place sufficiently large to give it a perceivable individ 
uality; which has its individuality marked off from adjacent portions of 
consciousness by qualitative contrasts; and which, when introspectively 
contemplated, appears to be homogeneous. These are the essentials. 
Obviously if, under introspection, a state of consciousness is decomposable 
into unlike parts that exist either simultaneously or successively, it is not 
one feeling but two or more. Obviously if it is indistinguishable from an 
adjacent portion of consciousness, it forms one with that portion is not 
an individual feeling, but part of one. And obviously if it does not 
occupy in consciousness an appreciable area, or an appreciable duration, it 
cannot be known as a feeling. 

"A Relation between feelings is, on the contrary, characterized by 
occupying no appreciable part of consciousness. Take away the terms it 
unites, and it disappears along with them; having no independent place, 
no individuality of its own. It is true that, under an ultimate analysis, 
what we call a relation proves to be itself a kind of feeling the momen 
tary feeling accompanying the transition from one conspicuous feeling to 
an adjacent conspicuous feeling. And it is true that, notwithstanding its 
extreme brevity, its qualitative character is appreciable; for relations are 
(as we shall hereafter see) distinguishable from one another only by the 
unlikenesses of the feelings which accompany the momentary transitions. 
Each relational feeling may, in fact, be regarded as one of those nervous 
shocks which we suspect to be the units of composition of feelings; and, 
though instantaneous, it is known as of greater or less strength, and as 
taking place with greater or less facility. But the contrast between these 
relational feelings and what we ordinarily call feelings is so strong that 
we must class them apart. Their extreme brevity, their small variety, and 
their dependence on the terms they unite, differentiate them in an unmis 
takable way. 

" Perhaps it will be well to recognize more fully the truth that this dis 



250 PSYCHOLOGY. 

portant and just as cognitive as they, and just as much 
unrecognized by the traditional sensationalist and intellect- 
ualist philosophies of mind. The first fails to find them 
at all, the second finds their cognitive function, but denies 
that anything in the way of feeling has a share in bringing 
it about. Examples will make clear what these inarticu 
late psychoses, due to waxing and waning excitements of 
the brain, are like.* 

Suppose three successive persons say to us: Wait! 
Hark ! Look ! Our consciousness is thrown into 



tiuction cannot be absolute. Besides admitting that, as an element of 
consciousness, a relation is a momentary feeling, we must also admit that 
just as a relation can have no existence apart from the feelings which form 
its terms, so a feeling can exist only by relations to other feelings which 
limit it in space or time or both. Strictly speaking, neither a feeling nor 
a relation is an independent element of consciousness : there is throughout 
a dependence such that the appreciable areas of consciousness occupied by 
feelings can no more possess individualities apart from the relations which 
link them, than these relations can possess individualities apart from the 
feelings they link. The essential distinction between the two, then, 
appears to be that whereas a relational feeling is a portion of consciousness 
inseparable into parts, a feeling, ordinarily so called, is a portion of con 
sciousness that admits imaginary division into like parts which are related 
to one another in sequence or coexistence. A feeling proper is either 
made up of like parts that occupy time, or it is made up of like parts that 
occupy space, or both. In any case, a feeling proper is an aggregate of 
related like parts, while a relational feeling is undecomposable. And this 
is exactly the contrast between the two which must result if, as we have 
inferred, feelings are composed of units of feelings, or shocks ." 

* M. Paulhan (Revue Philosophique, xx. 455-6), after speaking of the 
faint mental images of objects and emotions, says: " We find other vaguer 
states still, upon which attention seldom rests, except in persons who by 
nature or profession are addicted to internal observation. It is even diffi 
cult to name them precisely, for they are little known and not classed ; 
but we may cite as an example of them that peculiar impression which we 
feel when, strongly preoccupied by a certain subject, we nevertheless are 
engaged with, and have our attention almost completely absorbed by, mat 
ters quite disconnected therewithal. We do not then exactly think of the 
object of our preoccupation; we do not represent it in a clear manner; and 
yet our mind is not as it would be without this preoccupation. Its object, 
absent from consciousness, is nevertheless represented there by a peculiar 
unmistakable impression, which often persists long and is a strong feeling, 
although so obscure for our intelligence." " A mental sign of the kind is 
the unfavorable disposition left in our mind towards an individual by pain- 
ul incidents erewhile experienced and now perhaps forgotten. The sign 
emains, but is not understood; its definite meaning is lost." (P. 458.) 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 251 

three quite different attitudes of expectancy, although no 
definite object is before it in any one of the three cases. 
Leaving out different actual bodily attitudes, and leav 
ing out the reverberating images of the three words, which 
are of course diverse, probably no one will deny the exist 
ence of a residual conscious affection, a sense of the direc 
tion from which an impression is about to come, although 
no positive impression 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 described 
as 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. Here some ingen 
ious persons will say : " How can the two consciousnesses 
be different when the terms which might make them differ 
ent are not there ? All that is there, so long as the effort 
to recall is vain, is the bare effort itself. How should that 
differ in the two cases ? You are making it seem to differ 
by prematurely filling it out with the different names, 
although these, by the hypothesis, have not yet come. 
Stick to the two efforts as they are, without naming them 
after facts not yet existent, and you ll be quite unable to 
designate any point in which they differ." Designate, truly 
enough. We can only designate the difference by borrow 
ing the names of objects not yet in the mind. Which is to 
say that our psychological vocabulary is wholly inadequate 
to name the differences that exist, even such strong differ 
ences as these. But namelessness is compatible with 
existence. There are innumerable consciousnesses of 



252 PSYCHOLOGY. 

emptiness, no one of which taken in itself has a name, 
but all different from each other. The ordinary way is to 
assume that they are all emptinesses of consciousness, and 
so the same state. But the feeling of an absence is toto coelo 
other than the absence of a feeling. It is an intense feel 
ing. 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 fit 
fully, without growing more distinct. Every one must 
know the tantalizing effect of the blank rhythm of some 
forgotten verse, restlessly dancing in one s mind, striving 
to be filled out with words. 

Again, what is the strange difference between an expe 
rience tasted for the first time and the same experience 
recognized as familiar, as having been enjoyed before, 
though we cannot name it or say where or when ? A tune, 
an odor, a flavor sometimes carry this inarticulate feeling 
of their familiarity so deep into our consciousness that we 
are fairly shaken by its mysterious emotional power. But 
strong and characteristic as this psychosis is it probably 
is due to the submaximal excitement of wide- spreading 
associational brain-tracts the only name we have for all 
its shadings is sense of familiarity. 

When we read such phrases as naught but, either 
one or the other, a is b, but, although it is, neverthe 
less, it is an excluded middle, there is no tertium quid, 
and a host of other verbal skeletons of logical relation, is it 
true that there is nothing more in our minds than the 
words themselves as they pass ? What then is the mean 
ing of the words which we think we understand as we read ? 
What makes that meaning different in one phrase from 
what it is in the other? Who? When? Where? 
Is the difference of felt meaning in these interrogatives 
nothing more than their difference of sound? And is it 
not (just like the difference of sound itself) known and 
understood in an affection of consciousness correlative to 
it, though so impalpable to direct examination ? Is not 
the same true of such negatives as no, never not 

yet ? 

The truth is that large tracts of human speech are noth- 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 253 

ing but signs of direction in thought, of which direction we 
nevertheless have an acutelj discriminative sense, though 
no definite sensorial image plays any part in it whatsoever. 
Sensorial images are stable psychic facts; we can hold 
them still and look at them as long as we like. These bare 
images of logical movement, on the contrary, are psychic 
transitions, always on the wing, so to speak, and not to be 
glimpsed except in flight. Their function is to lead from 
one set of images to another. As they pass, we feel both 
the waxing and the waning images in a way altogether 
peculiar and a way quite different from the way of their 
full presence. If we try to hold fast the feeling of direc 
tion, the full presence comes and the feeling of direction is 
lost. The blank verbal scheme of the logical movement 
gives us the fleeting sense of the movement as we read it, 
quite as well as does a rational sentence awakening defi 
nite imaginations by its words. 

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, distinct 
from all other intentions, an absolutely distinct state of 
consciousness, therefore ; and yet how much of it consists 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 replace 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. It has therefore a nature of its own of the most 
positive sort, and yet what can we say about it without 
using words that belong to the later mental facts that 
replace it ? 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 



254 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 modi 
fies its emphasis in his mind so as to make him give it 
the proper accent as he utters it ? Emphasis of this kind 
is almost altogether a matter of grammatical construction. 
If we read ( no more we expect presently to come upon a 
1 than ; if we read however at the outset of a sentence 
it is a yet, a still, or a nevertheless, that we expect. 
A noun in a certain position demands a verb in a certain 
mood and number, in another position it expects a relative 
pronoun. Adjectives call for nouns, verbs for adverbs, 
etc., etc. And this foreboding of the coming grammatical 
scheme combined with each successive uttered word is so 
practically accurate that a reader incapable of understanding 
four ideas of the book he is reading aloud, can nevertheless 
read it with the most delicately modulated expression of 
intelligence. 

Some will interpret these facts by calling them all cases 
in which certain images, by laws of association, awaken 
others so very rapidly that we think afterwards we felt the 
very tendencies of the nascent images to arise, before they were 
actually there. For this school the only possible materials 
of consciousness are images of a perfectly definite nature. 
Tendencies exist, but they are facts for the outside psychol 
ogist rather than for the subject of the observation. The 
tendency is thus a psychical zero ; only its results are felt 

Now what I contend for, and accumulate examples to 
show, is that tendencies are not only descriptions from 
without, but that they are among the objects of the stream, 
which is thus aware of them from within, and must be 
described as in very large measure constituted of. feelings of 
tendency, often so vague that we are unable to name them 
at all. It is, in short, the re-instatement of the vague 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 Chapter XVIII, 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 in the overthrow of the equally ridiculous 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 255 

notion that, whilst simple objective qualities are revealed 
to our knowledge in subjective feelings, 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 overlook, 
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. 

What is that shadowy scheme of the form of an 
opera, play, or book, which remains in our mind and on 
which we pass judgment when the actual thing is done V 
What is our notion of a scientific or philosophical system ? 
Great thinkers have vast premonitory glimpses of schemes 
of relation between terms, which hardly even as verbal 
images enter the mind, so rapid is the whole process.* We 
all of us have this permanent consciousness of whither our 
thought is going. It is a feeling like any other, a feeling 

* Mozart describes thus his manner of composing : First bits and crumbs 
of the piece come and gradually join together in his mind ; then the soul 
getting warmed to the work, the thing grows more and more, " and I 
spread it out broader and clearer, and at last it gets almost finished in my 
head, even when it is a long piece, so that I can see the whole of it at a 
single glance in my mind, as if it were a beautiful painting or a handsome 
human being ; in which way I do not hear it in my imagination at all as 
a succession the way it must come later but all at once, as it were. ]( 
is a rare feast ! All the inventing and making goes on in me as in a beau 
tiful strong dream. But the best of all is the hearing of it all at once, 



256 PSYCHOLOGY 

of what thoughts are next to arise, before they have arisen. 
This field of view of consciousness varies very much in 
extent, depending largely on the degree of mental freshness 
or fatigue. When very fresh, our minds carry an immense 
horizon with them. The present image shoots its perspec 
tive far before it, irradiating in advance the regions in which 
lie the thoughts as yet unborn. Under ordinary conditions 
the halo of felt relations is much more circumscribed. And 
in states of extreme brain-fag the horizon is narrowed 
almost to the passing word, the associative machinery, 
however, providing for the next word turning up in orderly 
sequence, until at last the tired thinker is led to some kind 
of a conclusion. At certain moments he may find himself 
doubting whether his thoughts have not come to a full stop ; 
but the vague sense of a plus ultra makes him ever struggle 
on towards a more definite expression of what it may be ; 
whilst the slowness of his utterance shows how difficult, 
under such conditions, the labor of thinking must be. 

The awareness that our definite thought has come to a 
stop is an entirely different thing from the awareness that 
our thought is definitively completed. The expression of 
the latter state of mind is the falling inflection which be 
tokens that the sentence is ended, and silence. The ex 
pression of the former state is hemming and hawing, or 
else such phrases as et cetera, or and so forth. But 
notice that every part of the sentence to be left incomplete 
feels differently as it passes, by reason of the premonition 
we have that we shall be unable to end it. The and so 
forth casts its shadow back, and is as integral a part of 
the object of the thought as the distinctest of images 
would be. 

Again, when we use a common noun, such as man, in a 
universal sense, as signifying all possible men, we are fully 
aware of this intention on our part, and distinguish it care 
fully from our intention when we mean a certain group of 
men, or a solitary individual before us. In the chapter on 
Conception we shall see how important this difference of 
intention is. It casts its influence over the whole of the 
sentence, both before and after the spot in which the word 
man is used. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 257 

Nothing is easier than to symbolize all 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 excitement of processes but a moment 
since vividly aroused ; so the sense of the whither, the fore 
taste of the terminus, must be due to the waxing excite 
ment of tracts or processes which, a moment hence, will be 
the cerebral correlatives of some thing which a moment 
hence will be vividly present to the thought. Represented 
by a curve, the neurosis underlying consciousness must at 
any moment be like this : 




FIG 27. 

Each point of the horizontal line stands for some 
brain-tract or process. The height of the curve above 
the line stands for the intensity of the process. All the 
processes are present, in the intensities shown by the 
curve. But those before the latter s apex ivere more in 
tense a moment ago ; those after it iviU be more intense a 
moment hence. If I recite a, b, c, d, e,f, g, at the moment 
of uttering c?, neither a, b, c, nor e, /, g, are out of my 
consciousness altogether, but both, after their respective 
fashions, mix their dim lights with the stronger one of 
the d, because their neuroses are both awake in some 
degree. 

There is a common class of mistakes which shows how 
brain-processes begin to be excited before the thoughts 
attached to them are due due, that is, in substantive and 
vivid form. I mean those mistakes of speech or writing 
by which, in Dr. Carpenter s words, " we mispronounce or 
misspell a word, by introducing into it a letter or syllable 
of some other, whose turn is shortly to come ; or, it may be, 
the whole of the anticipated word is substituted for the one 



258 PSYCHOLOGY 

which ought to have been expressed."* In these cases 
one of two things must have happened: either some local 
accident of nutrition blocks the process that is due, so that 
other processes discharge that ought as yet to be but nas- 
cently aroused; or some opposite local accident furthers 
the latter processes and makes them explode before their 
time. In the chapter on Association of Ideas, numerous 
instances will come before us of the actual effect on con 
sciousness of neuroses not yet maximally aroused. 

It is just like the overtones in music. Different in. 
struments give the same note, but each in a different 
voice, because each gives more than that note, namely, vari 
ous upper harmonics of it which differ from one instrument 
to another. They are not separately 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 cul 
minating point. 

Let us use the words psychic overtone, suffusion, or fringe, 
to designate the influence of a faint brain-process upon our 
thought, as it makes it aware of relations and objects but 
dimly perceived. f 

If we then consider the cognitive function of different 



* Mental Physiology, 236. Dr. Carpenter s explanation differs materi 
ally from that given in the text. 

f Cf. also S. Strieker : Vorlesungen tlber allg. u. exp. Pathologic (1879), 
pp. 462-3, 501, 547; Romanes: Origin of Human Faculty, p. 82. It is so 
hard to make one s self clear that I may advert to a misunderstanding of 
my views by the late Prof. Thos. Maguire of Dublin (Lectures on Philoso 
phy, 1885). This author considers that by the fringe I mean some sort 
-f psychic material by which sensations in themselves separate are made 
to cohere together, and wittily says that I ought to " see that uniting sensa 
tions by their fringes is more vague than to construct the universe out 
of oysters by platting their beards " (p. 211). But the fringe, as I use the 
word, means nothing like this ; it is part of the object cognized, substantive 
Dualities and things appearing to the mind in & fringe of relations. Some parts 
the transitive parts of our stream of thought cognize the relations rather 
than the things ; but both the transitive and the substantive parts form one 
continuous stream, with no discrete sensations in it such as Prof. MK 
guire supposes, and supposes ip,e to suppose, to be their 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 259 

states of mind, we may feel assured that the difference be 
tween those that are mere * acquaintance, and those that 
are knowledges-a&ow (see p. 221) 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 penumbral 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. 

In all our voluntary thinking there is some topic or 
subject about which all the members of the thought revolve. 
Half the time this topic is a problem, a gap we cannot 
yet fill with a definite picture, word, or phrase, but which, in 
the manner described some time back, influences us in an 
intensely active and determinate psychic way. Whatever 
may be the images and phrases that pass before us, we feel 
their relation to this aching gap. To fill it up is our 
thoughts destiny. Some bring us nearer to that consum 
mation. Some the gap negates as quite irrelevant. Each 
swims in a felt fringe of relations of which the aforesaid 
gap is the term. Or instead of a definite gap we may 
merely carry a mood of interest about with us. Then, 
however vague the mood, it will still act in the same way, 
throwing a mantle of felt affinity over such representa 
tions, entering the mind, as suit it, and tingeing with the 
feeling of tediousness or discord all those with which it 
has no concern. 

Relation, then, to our topic or interest is constantly felt 
in the fringe, and particularly the relation of harmony and 
discord, of furtherance or hindrance of the topic. When 
the sense of furtherance is there, we are all right ; with 
the sense of hindrance we are dissatisfied and perplexed, 
and cast about us for other thoughts. Now any thought 
the quality of whose fringe lets us feel ourselves all right, 
is an acceptable member of our thinking, whatever kind of 
thought it may otherwise be. Provided we only feel it 
to have a place in the scheme of relations in which the in- 



260 PSYCHOLOGY. 

teresting topic also lies, that is quite sufficient to make of 
it a relevant and appropriate portion of our train of ideas. 

For the important thing about a train of thought is its 
conclusion. That is the meaning, or, as we say, the topic of 
the thought. That is what abides when all its other mem 
bers have faded from memory. Usually this conclusion is 
a word or phrase or particular image, or practical attitude 
or resolve, whether rising to answer a problem or fill a 
pre-existing gap that worried us, or whether accidentally 
stumbled on in revery. In either case it stands out from 
the other segments of the stream by reason of the peculiar 
interest attaching to it. This interest arrests it, makes a 
sort of crisis of it when it comes, induces attention upon it 
and makes us treat it in a substantive way. 

The parts of the stream that precede these substantive 
conclusions are but the means of the latter s attainment. 
And, provided the same conclusion be reached, the means 
may be as mutable as we like, for the meaning of the stream 
of thought will be the same. What difference does it make 
what the means are ? " Qu importe le flacon, pourvu qu on 
ait I ivresse?" The relative unimportance of the means 
appears from the fact that when the conclusion is there, we 
have always forgotten most of the steps preceding its attain 
ment. When we have uttered a proposition, we are rarely 
able a moment afterwards to recall our exact words, though 
we can express it in different words easily enough. The 
practical upshot of a book we read remains with us, though 
we may not recall one of its sentences. 

The only paradox would seem to lie in supposing that 
the fringe of felt affinity and discord can be the same in 
two heterogeneous sets of images. Take a train of words 
passing through the mind and leading to a certain conclu 
sion on the one hand, and on the other hand an almost 
wordless set of tactile, visual and other fancies leading to 
the same conclusion. Can the halo, fringe, or scheme in 
which we feel the words to lie be the same as that in which 
we feel the images to lie ? Does not the discrepancy of 
terms involve a discrepancy of felt relations among them ? 

If the terms be taken qua mere sensations, it assur 
edly does. For instance, the words may rhyme with each 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 261 

other, the visual images can have no such affinity as that. 
But qua thoughts, qua sensations understood, the words have 
contracted by long association 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. Dr. Camp 
bell has, so far as I know, made the best analysis of this 
fact, and his words, often quoted, deserve to be quoted again. 
The chapter is entitled "What is the cause that nonsense 
so often escapes being detected, both by the writer and by 
the reader ?" The author, in answering this question, makes 
(inter alia) the following remarks : * 

"That connection [he says] or relation which comes gradually to sub 
sist among the different words of a language, in the minds of those who 
speak it, ... is merely consequent on this, that those words are 
employed as signs of connected or related things. It is an axiom in 
geometry that things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. 
It may, in like manner, be admitted as an axiom in psychology that 
ideas associated by the same idea will associate one another. Hence it 
will happen that if, from experiencing the connection of two things, 
there results, as infallibly there will result, an association between the 
ideas or notions annexed to them, as each idea will moreover be asso 
ciated by its sign, there will likewise be an association between the ideas 
of the signs. Hence the sounds considered as signs will be conceived to 
have a connection analogous to that which subsisteth among the things 
signified; I say, the sounds considered as signs; for this way of consid 
ering them constantly attends us in speaking, writing, hearing, and 
reading. When we purposely abstract from it, and regard them merely 
as sounds, we are instantly sensible that they are quite unconnected, and 
have no other relation than what ariseth from similitude of tone or 
accent. But to consider them in this manner commonly results from 
previous design, and requires a kind of effort which is not exerted in the 
ordinary use of speech. In ordinary use they are regarded solely as 
signs, or, rather, they are confounded with the things they signify; the 
consequence of which is that, in the manner just now explained, we come 
insensibly to conceive a connection among them of a very different sort 
from that of which sounds are naturally susceptible. 

"Now this conception, habit, or tendency of the mind, call it which 
you please, is considerably strengthened by the frequent use of language 
and by the structure of it. Language is the sole channel through which 

* George Campbell: Philosophy of Rhetoric, book n. chap. vii. 



262 PSYCHOLOGY. 

we communicate our knowledge and discoveries to others, and through 
which the knowledge and discoveries of others are communicated to us. 
By reiterated recourse to this medium, it necessarily happens that 
when things are related to each other, the words signifying those 
things are more commonly brought together in discourse. Hence the 
words and names by themselves, by customary vicinity, contract in the 
fancy a relation additional to that which they derive purely from being 
the symbols of related things. Farther, this tendency is strengthened 
by the structure of language. All languages whatever, even the most 
barbarous, as far as hath yet appeared, are of a regular and analogical 
make. The consequence is that similar relations in things will be ex 
pressed similarly ; that is, by similar inflections, derivations, composi 
tions, arrangement of words, or juxtaposition of particles, according to 
the genius or grammatical form of the particular tongue. Now as, by 
the habitual use of a language (even though it were quite irregular), 
the signs would insensibly become connected in the imagination wher 
ever the things signified are connected in nature, so, by the regular 
structure of a language, this connection among the signs is conceived 
as analogous to that which subsisteth among their archetypes." 

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 me 
chanically as a brain-law, it is something we feel at the time. 
Our understanding of a French sentence heard never falls 
to so low an ebb that we are not aware that the words lin 
guistically 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 vocab 
ulary 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 unusual 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 
Tationality in these cases seems rather a negative than a 



THE STREAM QF THOUGHT. 263 

positive thing, being the mere absence of shock, or sense 
of discord, between the terms of thought. 

So delicate and incessant is this recognition by the 
mind of the mere fitness of words to be mentioned together 
that the slightest misreading, such as casualty for 
causality, or perpetual for * perceptual, will be cor 
rected by a listener whose attention is so relaxed that he 
gets no idea of the meaning of the sentence at all. 

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. An entire 
volume of 784 pages lately published in Boston* is com 
posed of stuff like this passage picked out at random : 

" The flow of the efferent fluids of all these vessels from their out 
lets at the terminal loop of each culminate link on the surface of the 
nuclear organism is continuous as their respective atmospheric fruitage 
up to the altitudinal limit of their expansibility, whence, when atmos- 
phered by like but coalescing essences from higher altitudes, those 
sensibly expressed as the essential qualities of external forms, they 
descend, and become assimilated by the afferents of the nuclear organ 
ism, "t 

* Substantialism or Philosophy of Knowledge, by Jean Story (1879). 

fM. G. Tarde, quoting (in Delbnmf, Le Sommeil et les Revcs (1885), p. 
<J26) some nonsense-verses from a dream, says they show how prosodic 
forms may subsist in a mind from which logical rules are effaced. . . . 
I was able, in dreaming, to preserve the faculty of rinding two words which 
rhymed, to appreciate the rhyme, to fill up the verse as it first presented 
itself with other words which, added, gave the right number of syllables, 
and yet I was ignorant of the sense of the words. . . . Thus we have the 
extraordinary fact that the words called each other up, without calling up 
their sense. . . . Even when awake, it is more difficult to ascend to the 
meaning of a word than to pass from one word to another ; or to put it 
otherwise, it is harder to be a thinker than to be a rhetorician, and on the 
whole nothing is commoner thon trains of -words not understood." 



264 PSYCHOLOGY. 

There are every year works published whose contents 
show them to be by real lunatics. To the reader, the 
book quoted from seems pure nonsense from beginning to 
end. It is impossible to divine, in such a case, just what 
sort of feeling of rational relation between the words may 
have appeared to the author s mind. The border line 
between objective sense and nonsense is hard to draw ; 
that between subjective sense and nonsense, impossible. 
Subjectively, any collocation of words may make sense 
even the wildest words in a dream if one only does not 
doubt their belonging together. Take the obscurer pas 
sages in Hegel : it is a fair question whether the rationality 
included in them be anything more than the fact that the 
words all belong to a common vocabulary, and are strung 
together on a scheme of predication and relation, imme 
diacy, self-relation, and what not, which has habitually 
recurred. Yet there seems no reason to doubt that the 
subjective feeling of the rationality of these sentences was 
strong in the writer as he penned them, or even that some 
readers by straining may have reproduced it in themselves. 

To sum up, certain kinds of verbal associate, certain 
grammatical expectations fulfilled, stand for a good part ol 
our impression that a sentence has a meaning and is 
dominated by the Unity of one Thought. Nonsense in 
grammatical form sounds half rational ; sense with gram 
matical sequence upset sounds nonsensical ; e.g., " Elba the 
Napoleon English faith had banished broken to he Saint 
because Helena at." Finally, there is about each word the 
psychic overtone of feeling that it brings us nearer to a 
forefelt conclusion. Suffuse all the words of a sentence, 
as they pass, with these three fringes or haloes of relation, 
let the conclusion seem worth arriving at, and all will 
admit the sentence to be an expression of thoroughly 
continuous, unified, and rational thought.* 

* We think it odd that young children should listen with such rapt 
attention to the reading of stories expressed in words half of which they 
do not understand, and of none of which they ask the meaning. But 
their thinking is in form just what ours is when it is rapid. Both of us 
make flying leaps over large portions of the sentences uttered and we give 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 265 

Each word, in such a sentence, is felt, not only as a 
word, but as having a meaning. The meaning of a word 
taken thus dynamically in a sentence may be quite differ 
ent from its meaning when taken statically or without con 
text. The dynamic meaning is usually reduced to the bare 
fringe we have described, of felt suitability or unfitness to 
the context and conclusion. The static meaning, when the 
word is concrete, as table, Boston, consists of sensory 
images awakened ; when it is abstract, as criminal legisla 
tion, fallacy, the meaning consists of other words aroused, 
forming the so-called definition. 

Hegel s celebrated dictum that pure being is identical 
with pure nothing results from his taking the words stati 
cally, or without the fringe they wear in a context. Taken 
in isolation, they agree in the single point of awakening no 
sensorial images. But taken dynamically, or as significant, 
as thought, their fringes of relation, their affinities and 
repugnances, their function and meaning, are felt and 
understood to be absolutely opposed. 

Such considerations as these remove all appearance of 
paradox from those cases of extremely deficient visual im 
agery of whose existence Mr. Galton has made us aware (see 
below). An exceptionally intelligent friend informs me that 
he can frame no image whatever of the appearance of his 
breakfast-table. When asked how he then remembers it at 
all, he says he simple knows that it seated four people, and 
was covered with a white cloth on which were a butter 
dish, a coffee-pot, radishes, and so forth. The mind-stuff 
of which this 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, 

attention only to substantive starting points, turning points, and conclu 
sions here and there. All the rest, substantive and separately intelligible, 
as it may potentially be, actually serves only as so much transitive material. 
It is internodal consciousness, giving us the sense of continuity, but having 
no significance apart from its mere gap-filling function. The children 
probably feel no gap when through a lot of unintelligible words they arc 
swiftly carried to a familiar and intelligible terminus. 



266 PSYCHOLOGY. 

for all practical 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 revivable, but they are revivable as actual sen 
sations more easily than any other items of our ex 
perience. 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 visualizing power and depend on words. 
This was ascertained by Mr. Galton to be the case with 
members of the Royal Society. The present writer ob 
serves it in his own person most distinctly. 

On the other hand, a deaf and dumb man can weave 
his tactile and visual images into a system of thought quite 
as effective and rational as that of a word-user. The 
question whether thought is possible without language has 
been a favorite topic of discussion among philosophers. 
Some interesting reminiscences of his childhood by Mr. 
Ballard, a deaf-mute instructor in the National College at 
Washington, show it to be perfectly possible. A few 
paragraphs may be quoted here. 

" In consequence of the loss of my hearing in infancy, I was de 
barred from enjoying the advantages which children in the full pos 
session of their senses derive from the exercises of the common primary 
school, from the every-day talk of their school-fellows and playmates, 
and from the conversation of their parents and other grown-up persons. 

" I could convey my thoughts and feelings to my parents and 
brothers by natural signs or pantomime, and I could understand what 
they said to me by the same medium; our intercourse being, however, 
confined to the daily routine of home affairs and hardly going beyond 
the cirele of my own observation. . . . 

"My father adopted a course which he thought would, in some 
measure, compensate me for the loss of my hearing. It was that of 
taking me with him when business required him to ride abroad ; and 
he took me more frequently than he did my brothers ; giving, as the 
reason for his apparent partiality, that they could acquire information 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 267 

through the ear, while I depended solely upon my eye for acquaintance 
with affairs of the outside world. . . . 

I have a vivid recollection of the delight I felt in watching the 
different scenes we passed through, observing the various phases of 
nature, both animate and inanimate ; though we did not, owing to my 
infirmity, engage in conversation. It was during those delightful rides, 
some two or three years before my initiation into the rudiments of 
written language, that I began to ask myself the question : How came 
the world into being ? When this question occurred to my mind, I set 
myself to thinking it over a long time. My curiosity was awakened as 
to what was the origin of human life in its first appearance upon the 
earth, and of vegetable life as well, and also the cause of the existence 
of the earth, sun, moon, and stars. 

" I remember at one time when my eye fell upon a very large old 
stump which we happened to pass in one of our rides, I asked myself, 
Is it possible that the first man that ever came into the world rose out 
of that stump ? But that stump is only a remnant of a once noble mag 
nificent tree, and how came that tree ? Why, it came only by beginning 
to grow out of the ground just like those little trees now coming up. 
And I dismissed from my mind, as an absurd idea, the connection 
between the origin of man and a decaying old stump. . . . 

" I have no recollection of what it was that first suggested to me the 
question as to the origin of things. I had before this time gained ideas 
of the descent from parent to child, of the propagation of animals, arid 
of the production of plants from seeds. The question that occurred to 
my mind was : whence came the first man, the first animal, and the 
first plant, at the remotest distance of time, before which there was no 
man, no animal, no plant ; since I knew they all had a beginning and 
an end. 

"It is impossible to state the exact order in which these different 
questions arose, i.e., about men, animals, plants, the earth, sun, moon, 
etc. The lower animals did not receive so much thought as was bestowed 
upon man and the earth ; perhaps because I put man and beast in the 
same class, since I believed that man would be annihilated and there was 
no resurrection beyond the grave, though I am told by my mother that, 
in answer to my question, in the case of a deceased uncle who looked 
to me like a person in sleep, she had tried to make me understand that 
he would awake in the far future. It was my belief that man and 
beast derived their being from the same source, and were to be laid 
down in the dust in a state of annihilation. Considering the brute 
animal as of secondary importance, and allied to man on a lower level, 
man and the earth were the two things on which my mind dwelled 
most. 

" I think I was five years old, when I began to understand the de 
scent from parent to child and the propagation of animals. I was 
nearly eleven years old, when I entered the Institution where I was ed- 



268 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ucated ; and I remember distinctly that it was at least two years before 
this time that I began to ask myself the question as to the origin of the 
universe. My age was then about eight, not over nine years. 

"Of the form of the earth, I had no idea in my childhood, except 
that, from a look at a map of the hemispheres, I inferred there were 
two immense disks of matter lying near each other. I also believed the 
sun and moon to be round, flat plates of illuminating matter ; and for- 
those luminaries I entertained a sort of reverence on account of their 
power of lighting and heating the earth. I thought from their coming 
up and going down, travelling across the sky in so regular a manner 
that there must be a certain something having power to govern their 
course. I believed the sun went into a hole at the west and came out 
of another at the east, travelling through a great tube in the earth, de 
scribing the same curve as it seemed to describe in the sky. The stars 
seemed to me to be tiny lights studded in the sky. 

" The source from which the universe came was the question about 
which my mind revolved in a vain struggle to grasp it, or rather to 
fight the way up to attain to a satisfactory answer. When I had occupied 
myself with this subject a considerable time, I perceived that it was a 
matter much greater than my mind could comprehend ; and I remem 
ber well that I became so appalled at its mystery and so bewildered at 
my inability to grapple with it that I laid the subject aside and out of 
my mind, glad to escape being, as it were, drawn into a vortex of inex 
tricable confusion. Though I felt relieved at this escape, yet I could not 
resist the desire to know the truth ; and I returned to the subject ; but 
as before, I left it, after thinking it over for some time. In this state of 
perplexity, I hoped all the time to get at the truth, still believing that 
the more I gave thought to the subject, the more my mind would pene 
trate the mystery. Thus I was tossed like a shuttlecock, returning to 
the subject and recoiling from it, till I came to school. 

" I remember that my mother once told me about a being up above, 
pointing her finger towards the sky and with a solemn look on her coun 
tenance. I do not recall the circumstance which led to this communica 
tion. When she mentioned the mysterious being up in the sky, I was 
eager to take hold of the subject, and plied her with questions concern 
ing the form and appearance of this unknown being, asking if it was 
the sun, moon, or one of the stars. I knew she meant that there was a 
living one somewhere up in the sky ; but when I realized that she could 
not answer my questions, I gave it up in despair, feeling sorrowful that 
I could not obtain a definite idea of the mysterious living one up in the 
sky. 

One day, while we were haying in a field, there was a series of heavy 
thunder-claps. I asked one of my brothers where they came from. He 
pointed to the sky and made a zigzag motion with his finger, signifying 
lightning. I imagined there was a great man somewhere in the blue 
vault, who made a loud noise with his voice out of it ; and each time I 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 269 

heard * a thunder-clap I was frightened, and looked up at the sky, fear 
ing he was speaking a threatening word." t 

Here we may pause. The reader sees by this time that 
it makes little or no difference in what sort of mind- stuff, in 
what quality of imagery, his 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 rela 
tion 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 indifference of the mental means where 
the end is the same. Let A be some experience from 
which a number of thinkers start. Let Z be the practical 
conclusion rationally inferrible from it. One gets to the 
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, tac 
tile. Some trains are tinged 
with emotions, others not; 
some are very abridged, syn 
thetic and rapid, others, hesi- FIG. 28. 
tating and broken into many steps. But when the penul 
timate terms of all the trains, however differing inter sc, 
finally shoot into the same conclusion, we say and rightly 
say, that all the thinkers have had substantially the same 
thought. It would probably astound each of them beyond 

* Not literally heard, of course. Deaf mutes are quick to perceive 
shocks and jars that can be felt, even when so slight as to be unnoticed by 
those who can hear. 

t Quoted by Samuel Porter : Is Thought possible without Language? 
in Princeton Review, 57th year, pp. 108-12 (Jan. 1881 ?). Of. also W. W. 
Ireland : The Blot upon the Brain (1886), Paper X, part IT ; G. J. Romanes : 
Mental Evolution in Man, pp. 81-83, and references therein made. Prof. 
Max Miiller gives a very complete history of this controversy in pp. 30 -64 of 
his Science of Thought (1887). His own view is that Thought and Speech 
are inseparable ; but under speech he includes any conceivable sort of sym 
bolism or even mental imagery, and he makes no allowance for the word 
less summary glimpses which we have of systems of relation and direction. 




270 PSYCHOLOGY. 

measure to be let ato his neighbor s mind and to find now 
different the scene y there was from that in his own. 

Thought is in fact a kind of Algebra, as Berkeley long ago 
said, "in which, though a particular quantity be marked by 
each letter, yet to proceed right, it is not requisite that in 
every step each letter suggest to your thoughts that par 
ticular quantity it was appointed to stand for." Mr. Lewes 
has developed this algebra-analogy so well that I must 
quote his words : 

" The leading characteristic of algebra is that of operation on rela 
tions. This also is the leading characteristic of Thought. Algebra can 
not exist without values, nor Thought without Feelings. The operations 
are so many blank forms till the values are assigned. Words are va 
cant sounds, ideas are blank forms, unless they symbolize images and 
sensations which are their values. Nevertheless it is rigorously true, 
and of the greatest importance, that analysts carry on very extensive 
operations with blank forms, never pausing to supply the symbols with 
values until the calculation is completed; and ordinary men, no less 
than philosophers, carry on long trains of thought without pausing to 
translate their ideas (words) into images. . . , Suppose some one from 
a distance shouts a lion! At once the maii starts in alarm. . . . 
To the man the word is not only an ... expression of all that he has 
seen and heard of lions, capable of recalling various experiences, but is 
also capable of taking its place in a connected series of thoughts without 
recalling any of those experiences, without reviving an image, however 
faint, of the lion simply as a sign of a certain relation Included in the 
complex so named. Like an algebraic symbol it may be operated on 
without conveying other significance than an abstract relation : it is a 
sign of Danger, related to fear with all its motor sequences. Its logical 
position suffices. . . . Ideas are substitutions which require a secondary 
process when what is symbolized by them is translated into the images 
and experiences it replaces; and this secondary process is frequently not 
performed at all, generally only performed to a very small extent. Let 
anyone closely examine what has passed in his mind when he has con 
structed a chain of reasoning, and he will be surprised at the fewness 
and faintness of the images which have accompanied the ideas. Sup 
pose you inform me that the blood rushed violently from the man s 
heart, quickening his pulse at the sight of his enemy. Of the many la 
tent images in this phrase, how many were salient in your mind and in 
mine ? Probably two the man and his enemy and these images were 
faint. Images of blood, heart, violent rushing, pulse, quickening, and 
sight, were either not revived at all, or were passing shadows. Had 
any such images arisen, they would have hampered thought, retarding 
the logical process of judgment by irrelevant connections. The symbols 
had substituted relations for these values. . . . There are no images of 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 271 

two things and three things, when I say two and three equal five; 
there are simply familiar symbols having precise relations. . . . The 
verbal symbol horse, which stands for all our experiences of horses, 
serves all the purposes of Thought, without recalling one of the images 
clustered in the perception of horses, just as the sight of a horse s form 
serves all the purposes of recognition without recalling the sound of its 
neighing or its tramp, its qualities as an animal of draught, and so 
forth.* 

It need only be added that as the Algebrist, though the 
sequence of his terms is fixed by their relations rather than 
by their several values, must give a real value to the final one 
he reaches ; so the thinker in words must let his conclud 
ing word or phrase be translated into its full sensible-image- 
value, under penalty of the thought being left unrealized 
and pale. 

This is all I have to say about the sensible continuity 
and unity of our thought as contrasted with the apparent 
discreteness of the words, images, and other means by 
which it seems to be carried on. Between all their sub 
stantive elements there is transitive consciousness, and 
the words and images are fringed, and not as discrete as 
to a careless view they seem. Let us advance now to the 
next head in our description of Thought s stream. 

4. Human thought appears to deal with objects independent 
of itself ; that ix, it is cognitive, or possesses the function of 
knowing. 

For Absolute Idealism, the infinite Thought and its ob 
jects are one. The Objects are, through being thought ; 
the eternal Mind is, through thinking them. Were a 
human thought alone in the world there would be no 
reason for any other assumption regarding it. Whatever 
it might have before it would be its vision, would be there, 
in its there, or then, in its then ; and the question would 
never arise whether an extra-mental duplicate of it existed or 
not. The reason why we all believe that the objects of our 
thoughts have a duplicate existence outside, is that there 
are many human thoughts, each with the same objects, as 



* Problems of Life and Mind, 3d Series, Problem iv, chapter 5. Com 
pare also Victor Eggur : Lu Parole luterieure (Paris, 1881), chap. vi. 



272 PSYCHOLOGY. 

we cannot help supposing. The judgment that my thought 
has the same object as his thought is what makes the 
psychologist call my thought cognitive of an outer reality. 
The judgment that my own past thought and my own pres 
ent thought are of the same object is what makes me take 
the object out of either and project it by a sort of triangu- 
lation into an independent position, from which it may 
appear to both. Sameness in a multiplicity of objective 
appearances is thus the basis of our belief in realities 
outside of thought.* In Chapter XII we shall have to take 
up the judgment of sameness again. 

To show that the question of reality being extra-mental 
or not is not likely to arise in the absence of repeated ex 
periences of the same, take the example of an altogether 
unprecedented experience, such as a new taste in the throat. 
Is it a subjective qiiality of feeling, or an objective quality 
felt ? You do not even ask the question at this point. It 
is simply that taste. But if a doctor hears you describe it, 
and says : " Ha ! Now you know what heartburn is," then 
it becomes a quality already existent extra mentem tuam, 
which you in turn have come upon and learned. The first 
spaces, times, things, qualities, experienced by the child 
probably appear, like the first heartburn, in this absolute 
way, as simple beings, neither in nor out of thought. But 
later, by having other thoughts than this present one, and 
making repeated judgments of sameness among their ob 
jects, he corroborates in himself the notion of realities, 
past and distant as well as present, which realities no one 
single thought either possesses or engenders, but which all 
may contemplate and know. This, as was stated in the last 
chapter, is the psychological point of view, the relatively 
uncritical non-idealistic point of view of all natural science, 
beyond which this book cannot go. A mind which has 
become conscious of its own cognitive function, plays what 
we have called the psychologist upon itself. It not only 
knows the things that appear before it ; it knows that it 

*If but one person sees an apparition we consider it his private halluci 
nation. If more than one. we begin to think it may be a real external 
presence. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 27? 

knows them. This stage of reflective condition is, more 01 
less explicitly, our habitual adult state of mind. 

It cannot, however, be regarded as primitive. The con 
sciousness of objects must come first. We seem to lapse 
into this primordial condition when consciousness is re 
duced to a minimum by the inhalation of anaesthetics or 
during a faint. Many persons testify that at a certain stage 
of the anaesthetic process objects are still cognized whilst 
the thought of self is lost. Professor Herzeu says : * 

" During the syncope there is absolute psychic annihilation, the ab 
sence of all consciousness ; then at the beginning of coming to, one has 
at a certain moment a vague, limitless, infinite feeling a sense of exist 
ence in general without the least trace of distinction between the me and 
the not-me." 

Dr. Shoemaker of Philadelphia describes during the 
deepest conscious stage of ether-intoxication a vision of 
" two endless parallel lines in swift longitudinal motion . . . on a uni 
form misty background . . . together with a constant sound or whirr, 
not loud but distinct . . . which seemed to be connected with the paral 
lel lines. . . . These phenomena occupied the whole field. There were 
present no dreams or visions in any way connected with human affairs, 
no ideas or impressions akin to anything in past experience, no emo 
tions, of course no idea of personality. There was no conception as to 
what being it was that was regarding the two lines, or that there existed 
any such thing as such a being ; the lines and waves were all." t 

Similarly a friend of Mr. Herbert Spencer, quoted by 
him in Mind (vol in. p. 556), speaks of " an undisturbed 
empty quiet everywhere except that a stupid presence lay 
like a heavy intrusion somewhere a blotch on the calm." 
This sense of objectivity and lapse of subjectivity, even 
when the object is almost indefinable, is, it seems to me, a 
somewhat familiar phase in chloroformization, though in 
my own case it is too deep a phase for any articulate after- 
memory to remain. I only know that as it vanishes I 
seem to wake to a sense of my own existence as something 
additional to what had previously been there.J 

* Revue Philosophique, vol. xxi. p. 671. 

f Quoted from the Therapeutic Gazette, by the N. Y. Semi-weekly 
Evening Post for Nov. 2, 1886. 

Jin lialf-stunned states self -consciousness may lapse. A frieud writes 
me : " We were driving back from in a wagonette. The door flew 



274 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Many philosophers, however, hold that the reflective 
consciousness of the self is essential to the cognitive func 
tion of thought. They hold that a thought, in order to know 
a thing at all, must expressly distinguish between the thing 
and its own self.* This is a perfectly wanton assumption, 
and not the faintest shadow of reason exists for supposing 
it true. As well might I contend that I cannot dream 
without dreaming that I dream, swear without swearing 
that I swear, deny without denying that I deny, as main 
tain that I cannot know without knowing that I know. 1 
may have either acquaintance-with, or knowledge-about, 
an object O without think about myself at all. It suffices 
for this that I think O, and that it exist. If, in addition 
to thinking O, I also think that I exist and that I know O, 
well and good ; I then know one more thing, a fact about O, 
of which I previously was unmindful. That, however, does 
not prevent me from having already known O a good deal. 
O per se, or O plus P, are as good objects of knowledge as 
O plus me is. The philosophers in question simply substi 
tute one particular object for all others, and call it the ob 
ject par excellence. It is a case of the psychologist s fal 
lacy (see p. 197). They know the object to be one thing 

open and X., alias Baldy, fell out on the road. We pulled up at once, 
and then he said, Did anybody fall out? or Who fell out? I don t 
exactly remember the words. When told that Baldy fell out, he said, Did 
Baldy fall out ? Poor Baldy ! " 

* Kant originated this view. I subjoin a few English statements of it. 
J. Ferrier, Institutes of Metaphysic, Proposition i : " Along with what 
ever any intelligence knows it must, as the ground or condition of its 
knowledge, have some knowledge of itself." Sir Wm. Hamilton, Discus- 
sions, p. 47: " We know, and we know that we know, these propositions, 
logically distinct, are really identical ; each implies the other. ... So true 
is the scholastic brocard : non sentimus nisi sentiamus nos sentire." H. L. 
Mansel, Metaphysics, p. 58: "Whatever variety of materials may exist 
within reach of my mind, I can become conscious of them only by recog 
nizing them as mine. . . . Relation to the conscious self is thus the perma 
nent and universal feature which every state of consciousness as such must 
exhibit." T. H. Green, Introduction to Hume, p. 12: "A consciousness 
by the man ... of himself, in negative relation to the thing that is his 
object, and this consciousness must be taken to go along with the percep 
tive act itself. Not less than this indeed can be involved in any act that is 
to be the beginning of knowledge at all. It is the minimum of possible 
thought or intelligence." 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 275 

and the thought another; and they forthwith foist their 
own knowledge into that of the thought of which they pre 
tend to give a true account. To conclude, then, thought may, 
but need not, in knoiving, discriminate between its object and 
itself. 

We have been using the word Object. Something must 
now be said about the proper use of the term Object in Psy 
chology. 

In popular parlance the word object is commonly taken 
without reference to the act of knowledge, and treated as 
synonymous with individual subject of existence. Thus 
if anyone ask what is the mind s object when you say 
Columbus discovered America in 1492, most people will 
reply Columbus, or America, or, at most, the discovery 
of America. They will name a substantive kernel or nu 
cleus of the consciousness, and say the thought is about 
that, as indeed it is, and they will call that your thought s 
* object. Really that is usually only the grammatical 
object, or more likely the grammatical subject, of your sen 
tence. It is at most your fractional object ; or you may call 
it the * topic of your thought, or the subject of your dis 
course. But the Object of your thought is really its entire 
content or deliverance, neither more nor less. It is a vicious 
use of speech to take out a substantive kernel from its con 
tent and call that its object ; and it is an equally vicious use 
of speech to add a substantive kernel not articulately in 
cluded in its content, and to call that its object. Yet either 
one of these two sins we commit, whenever we content our 
selves with saying that a given thought is simply about a 
certain topic, or that that topic is its * object. The object of 
my thought in the previous sentence, for example, is strictly 
speaking neither Columbus, nor America, nor its discovery. 
It is nothing short of the entire sentence, Columbus-dis 
co vered-Ainerica-in-1492. And if we wish to speak of it 
substantively, we must make a substantive of it by writing 
it out thus with hyphens between all its words. Nothing 
but this can possibly name its delicate idiosyncrasy. And 
if we wish to feel that idiosyncrasy we must reproduce the 
thought as it was uttered, with every word fringed nud the 



276 PSYCHOLOGY. 

whole sentence bathed in that original halo of obscure rela 
tions, which, like an horizon, then spread about its meaning. 

Our psychological duty is to cling as closely as possible 
to the actual constitution of the thought we are studying. 
We may err as much by excess as by defect. If the kernel 
or topic, Columbus, is in one way less than the thought s 
object, so in another wa} r it may be more. That is, when 
named by the psychologist, it may mean much more than 
actually is present to the thought of which he is reporter. 
Thus, for example, suppose you should go on to think : 
* He was a daring genius ! An ordinary psychologist would 
not hesitate to say that the object of your thought was still 
Columbus. True, your thought is about Columbus. It 
terminates in Columbus, leads from and to the direct 
idea of Columbus. But for the moment it is not fully and 
immediately Columbus, it is only he, or rather he-was- 
a-daring-genius ; which, though it may be an unimportant 
difference for conversational purposes, is, for introspective 
psychology, as great a difference as there can be. 

The object of every thought, then, is neither more nor 
less than all that the thought thinks, exactly as the thought 
thinks it, however complicated the matter, and however 
symbolic the manner of the thinking may be. It is need 
less to say that memory can seldom accurately reproduce 
such an object, when once it has passed from before the 
mind. It either makes too little or too much of it. Its 
best plan is to repeat the verbal sentence, if there was 
one, in which the object was expressed. But for inarticu 
late thoughts there is not even this resource, and intro 
spection must confess that the task exceeds her powers. 
The mass of our thinking vanishes for ever, beyond hope 
of recovery, and psychology only gathers up a few of the 
crumbs that fall from the feast. 

The next point to make clear is that, hoiuever complex the 
object may be, the, thought of it is one undivided state of con 
sciousness. As Thomas Brown says : * 

" I have already spoken too often to require again to caution you 
against the mistake into which, I confess, that the terms which the 

* Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind. Lecture 45. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 277 

poverty of our language obliges us to use might of themselves very 
naturally lead you ; the mistake of supposing that the most complex 
states of mind are not truly, in their very essence, as much one and 
indivisible as those which we term simple the complexity and seem 
ing coexistence which they involve being relative to our feeling * only, 
not to their own absolute nature. I trust I need not repeat to you 
that, in itself, every notion, however seemingly complex, is, and must 
be, truly simple being one state or affection, of one simple substance, 
mind. Our conception of a whole army, for example, is as truly this 
one mind existing in this one state, as our conception of any of the 
individuals that compose an army. Our notion of the abstract num 
bers, eight, four, two, is as truly one feeling of the mind as our notion 
of simple unity." 

The ordinary associationist-psychology supposes, in 
contrast with this, that whenever an object of thought con 
tains many elements, the thought itself must be made up 
of just as many ideas, one idea for each element, and all 
fused together in appearance, but really separate. f The 
enemies of this psychology find (as we have already seen) 
little trouble in showing that such a bundle of separate 
ideas would never form one thought at all, and they con 
tend that an Ego must be added to the bundle to give it 
unity, and bring the various ideas into relation with each 
other.J We will not discuss the ego just yet, but it is ob 
vious that if things are to be thought in relation, they must 
be thought together, and in one something, be that something 
ego, psychosis, state of consciousness, or whatever you 
please. If not thought with each other, things are not 
thought in relation at all. Now most believers in the ego 
make the same mistake as the associationists and sensa- 
tionists whom they oppose. Both agree that the elements 
of the subjective stream are discrete and separate and con 
stitute what Kant calls a manifold. But while the asso- 



* Instead of saying to our feeling only, lie should have said, to the object 
only. 

f "There can be no difficulty in admitting that association does form 
the ideas of an indefinite number of individuals into one complex idea; 
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?" (Jas. Mill s Analysis of the Human Mind (J. S. Mill s 
Edition), vol. i. p. 264.) 

t For their arguments, see above, pp. 



278 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ciationists think that a manifold can form a single knowl 
edge, the egoists deny this, and say that the knowledge 
comes only when the manifold is subjected to the synthe- 
tizing activity of an ego. Both make an identical initial 
hypothesis ; but the egoist, finding it won t express the 
facts, adds another hypothesis to correct it. Now I do not 
wish just yet to commit myself about the existence or non- 
existence of the ego, but I do contend that we need not 
invoke it for this particular reason namely, because tk<j 
manifold of ideas has to be reduced to unity. There is no 
manifold of coexisting ideas ; the notion of such a thing is 
a chimera. Whatever things are thought in relation are 
thought from the outset in a unity, in a single pulse of *ubjec- 
tivity, a single psychosis, feeling, or state of mind. 

The reason why this fact is so strangely garbled ^n the 
books seems to be what on an earlier page (see p. 196 ff.) I 
called the psychologist s fallacy. We have the inveterate 
habit, whenever we try introspectively to describe o\ie of 
our thoughts, of dropping the thought as it is in itseK and 
talking of something else. We describe the things that 
appear to the thought, and we describe other thoughts 
about those things as if these and the original thought 
were the same. If, for example, the thought be the pack 
of cards is on the table, we say, " Well, isn t it 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 ? The table has legs how can you think the table 
without virtually thinking its legs? Hasn t our 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 our thought, then, 
be anything but an assemblage or pack of ideas, each 
answering to some element of what it knows?" 

Now not one of these assumptions is true. The thought 
taken as an example is, in the first place, not of a pack of 
cards. It is of the-pack-of-cards-is-on-the-table, an en 
tirely different subjective phenomenon, whose Object implies 
the pack, and every one of the cards in it, but whose conscious 
Constitution bears very little resemblance to that of the 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 279 

thought of the pack per se. What a thought is, and what it 
may be developed into, or explained to stand for, and be 
equivalent to, are two things, not one.* 

An analysis of what passes through the mind as we utter 
the phrase the pack of cards is on the table will, I hope, make 
this clear, and may at the same time condense into a con 
crete example a good deal of what has gone before. 




3 

The pack of cards is on the table 

FIG. 29. The Stream of Consciousness. 

It takes time to utter the phrase. Let the horizontal 
line in Fig. 29 represent time. Every part of it will then 
stand for a fraction, every point for an instant, of the time. 
Of course the thought has time-parts. The part 2-3 of it, 
though continuous with 1-2, is yet a different part from 1-2. 
Now I say of these time-parts that we cannot take any one 
of them so short that it will not after some fashion or other 
be a thought of the whole object the pack of cards is on 
the table. They melt into each other like dissolving views, 
and no two of them feel the object just alike, but each feels 
the total object in a unitary undivided way. This is what 
I mean by denying that in the thought any parts can be 
found corresponding to the object s parts. Time-parts are 
not such parts. 

* I know there are readers whom nothing can convince that the thought 
of a complex object has not as many parts as are discriminated in the ob 
ject itself. Well, then, let the word parts pass. Only observe that these 
parts are not the separate ideas of traditional psychology. No one of 
them can live out of that particular thought, any more than my bead can 
live off of my particular shoulders. In a sense a soap-bubble has parts; it is 
a sum of juxtaposed spherical triangles. But these triangles are not sepa 
rate realities; neither are the parts of the thought separate realities. 
Touch the bubble and the triangles are no more. Dismiss the thought 
and out go its parts. You can no more make a new thought out of ideas 
that have once served than you can make a new bubble out of old triangles 
Bach bubble, each thought, is a fresh organic unity, sui generis 



280 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Now let the vertical dimensions of the figure stand for 
the objects or contents of the thoughts. A line vertical to 
any point of the horizontal, as 1-1 , will then symbolize the 
object in the mind at the instant 1 ; a space above the hori 
zontal, as 1-1 2 2, will symbolize all that passes through 
the mind during the time 1-2 whose line it covers. The 
entire diagram from to represents a finite length of 
thought s stream. 

Can we now define the psychic constitution of each ver 
tical section of this segment ? We can, though in a very 
rough way. Immediately after 0, even before we have 
opened our mouths to speak, the entire thought is present to 
our mind in the form of an intention to utter that sentence. 
This intention, though it has no simple name, and though 
it is a transitive state immediately displaced by the first 
word, is yet a perfectly determinate phase of thought, 
unlike anything else (see p. 253). Again, immediately 
before , after the last word of the sentence is spoken, all 
will admit that we again think its entire content as we 
inwardly realize its completed deliverance. All vertical 
sections made through any other parts of the diagram will 
be respectively filled with other ways of feeling the sen 
tence s meaning. Through 2, for example, the cards will 
be the part of the object most emphatically present to the 
mind ; through 4, the table. The stream is made higher in 
the drawing at its end than at its beginning, because the 
final way of feeling the content is fuller and richer than the 
initial way. As Joubert says, " we only know just what we 
meant to say, after we have said it." And as M. V. Eggef 
remarks, " before speaking, one barely knows what one in 
tends to say, but afterwards one is filled with admiration 
and surprise at having said and thought it so well." 

This latter author seems to me to have kept at much 
closer quarters with the facts than any other analyst of con 
sciousness.* But even he does not quite hit the mark, for, 
as I understand him, he thinks that each word as it occu 
pies the mind displaces the rest of the thought s content. 
He distinguishes the idea (what I have called the total 

* In his work, La Parole luterieure (Paris, 1881), especially chapters 
vi and vii. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 281 

object or meaning) from the consciousness of the words, 
calling the former a very feeble state, and contrasting it 
with the liveliness of the words, even when these are only 
silently rehearsed. " The feeling," he says, " of the words 
makes ten or twenty times more noise in our consciousness 
than the sense of the phrase, which for consciousness is a 
very slight matter." * And having distinguished these two 
things, he goes on to separate them in time, saying that the 
idea may either precede or follow the words, but that it is 
a pure illusion to suppose them simultaneous. f Now I 
believe that in all cases where the words are understood, the 
total idea may be and usually is present not only before 
and after the phrase has been spoken, but also whilst each 
separate word is uttered. :f It is the overtone, halo, or fringe 
of the word, as spoken in that sentence. It is never absent ; 
no word in an understood sentence comes to consciousness 
as a mere noise. We feel its meaning as it passes ; and 
although our object differs from one moment to another as 
to its verbal kernel or nucleus, yet it is similar throughout 
the entire segment of the stream. The same object is 
known everywhere, now from the point of view, if we may 
so call it, of this word, now from the point of view of that. 
And in our feeling of each word there chimes an echo or 
foretaste of every other. The consciousness of the Idea 

* Page 30l7~~ 

f Page 218. To prove this point, M. Egger appeals to the fact that we 
often hear some one speak whilst our mind is preoccupied, but do not under 
stand him until some moments afterwards, when we suddenly realize 
what he meant. Also to our digging out the meaning of a sentence in an 
unfamiliar tongue, where the words are present to us long before the idea 
is taken in. In these special cases the word does indeed precede the idea. 
The idea, on the contrary, precedes the word whenever we try to express 
ourselves with effort, as in a foreign tongue, or in an unusual Held of intel 
lectual invention. Both sets of cases, however, are exceptional, and M. 
Egger would probably himself admit, on reflection, that in the former class 
there is some sort of a verbal suffusion, however evanescent, of the idea, 
when it is grasped we hear the echo of the words as we catch their mean 
ing. And he would probably admit that in the second class of cases the 
idea persists after the words that came with so much effort are found. In 
normal cases the simultaneity, as he admits, is obviously there. 

\ A good way to get the words and the sense separately is to inwardly 
articulate word for word the discourse of another. One then finds thai 
the meaning will often come to the mind in pulses, after clauses or sen 
tences are finished. 



282 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



and that of the words are thus consubstantial. They 
are made of the same mind-stuff, and form an un 
broken stream. Annihilate a mind at any instant, cut 
its thought through whilst yet uncompleted, and examine 
the object present to the cross-section thus suddenly 
made ; you will find, not the bald word in process of ut 
terance, but that word suffused with the whole idea. The 
word may be so loud, as M. Egger would say, that we 
cannot tell just how its suffusion, as such, feels, or how it 
differs from the suffusion of the next word. But it does 
differ ; and we may be sure that, could we see into the brain, 
we should find the same processes active through the entire 
sentence in different degrees, each one in turn becoming 
maximally excited and then yielding the momentary verbal 
* kernel, to the thought s content, at other times being only 
sub-excited, and then combining with the other sub-excited 
processes to give the overtone or fringe.* 

We may illustrate this by a farther 
development of the diagram on p. 279. 
Let the objective content of any ver 
tical section through the stream be 
represented no longer by a line, but by 
a plane figure, highest opposite whatever part of the object 
is most prominent in consciousness 
at the moment when the section is 
made. This part, in verbal thought, 
will usually be some word. A series 
of sections 1-1 , taken at the moments 
1, 2, 3, would then look like this: 

The horizontal breadth stands for the entire object 
in each of the figures ; the height 
of the curve above each part of 
that object marks the relative 
prominence of that part in the 
thought. At the moment symbol 
ized by the first figure pack is the 
prominent part ; in the third figure it is table, etc. 

* The nearest approach (with which I am acquainted) tolhe doctrine 
set forth here is in O. Liebmann a Zur Analysis der Wirklichkeit PD 
427-438. 




The pack of cards is on the tab! 
FIG. 80. 




The pack of cards is on the table. 
FIG. 31. 




The pack of cards is on the table, 
FIG. 32. 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 283 

We can easily add all these plane sections together to 
make a solid, one of whose solid dimensions will represent 
time, whilst a cut across this at right angles will give the 
thought s content at the moment when the cut is made. 




FIG. 33. 

Let it be the thought, I am the same I that I was yesterday. 1 
If at the fourth moment of time we annihilate the thinker and 
examine how the last pulsation of his consciousness was 
n. ade, we find that it was an awareness of the whole content 
with same most prominent, and the other parts of the thing 
known relatively less distinct. With each prolongation of 
the scheme in the time-direction, the summit of the curve 
of section would come further towards the end of the sen 
tence. If we make a solid wooden frame with the sentence 
written on its front, and the time-scale on one of its sides, 
if we spread flatly a sheet of India rubber over its top, on 
which rectangular co-ordinates are painted, and slide a 
smooth ball under the rubber in the direction from to 
yesterday, the bulging of the membrane along this diagonal 
at successive moments will symbolize the changing of the 
thought s content in a way plain enough, after what has 
been said, to call for no more explanation. Or to express 
it in cerebral terms, it will show the relative intensities, at 
successive moments, of the several nerve-processes to 
which the various parts of the thought-object correspond. 

The last peculiarity of consciousness to which attention 
is to be drawn in this first rough description of its stream 
is that 






284 PSYCHOLOGY. 

5) It is always interested more in one part of its object than in 
another, and welcomes and rejects, or chooses, all the ivhile 
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, noio and then, in our minds is the result of our laying 
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 goes on. 

To begin at the bottom, what are our very senses them 
selves 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. It 
thus accentuates particular movements in a manner for 
which objectively there seems no valid ground ; for, as 
Lange says, there is no reason whatever to think that the 
gap *in Nature between the highest sound-waves and the 
lowest heat-waves is an abrupt break like that of our sen 
sations ; or that the difference between violet and ultra 
violet rays has anything like the objective importance sub 
jectively represented by that between light and darkness. 
Out of what is in itself an undistinguishable, swarming 
continuum, devoid of distinction or emphasis, our senses 
make for us, by attending to this motion and ignoring that, 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 285 

a world full of contrasts, of sharp accents, of abrupt changes, 
of picturesque light and shade. 

If 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 its notice and suppresses all the rest. Helm- 
holtz s work on Optics is little more than a study of those 
visual sensations of which common men never become 
aware blind spots, muscce volitantes, after-images, irradia 
tion, chromatic fringes, marginal changes of color, double 
images, astigmatism, movements of accommodation and 
convergence, retinal rivalry, and more besides. We do not 
even know without special training on which of our e} r es an 
image falls. So habitually ignorant are most men of this 
that one may be blind for years of a single eye and never 
know the fact. 

Helmholtz says that we notice only those sensations 
which are signs to us of things. But what are things ? Noth 
ing, as we shall abundantly see, but special groups of sen 
sible qualities, 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- 



286 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 blacker 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 to 
gether 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. 

Thus perception involves a twofold choice. Out of all 
present sensations, we notice mainly such as are significant 
of absent ones ; and out of all the absent associates which 
these suggest, we again pick out a very few to stand for the 
objective reality par excellence. We could have no more 
exquisite example of selective industry. 

That industry goes on to deal with the things thus given 
in perception. A man s empirical thought depends on the 
things he has experienced, but what these shall be is to a 
large extent determined by his habits of attention. A thing 
may be present to him a thousand times, but if he persist 
ently fails to notice it, it cannot be said to enter into his ex 
perience. 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 mem 
ory. 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 stat 
ues. To another all this will be non-existent ; and distances 
and prices, populations and drainage-arrangements, door- 
and window-fastenings, and other useful statistics will take 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 287 

their place. A third will give a rich account of the theatres, 
restaurants, and public balls, and naught beside ; whilst 
the fourth will perhaps have been so wrapped in his own 
subjective broodings as 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 lieasoning depends on the 
ability of the mind to break up the totality of the phe 
nomenon reasoned about, into parts, and to pick out from 
among these the particular one which, in our given emer 
gency, may lead to the proper conclusion. Another pre 
dicament will need another conclusion, and require another 
element to be picked out. 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 emergency be 
theoretical, means if it be practical transfixed upon it. 
I here confine myself to this brief statement, but it may 
suffice to show that Eeasoning is but another form of the 
selective activity of the mind. 

If now we pass to its 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 harmon 
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 



288 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 
I 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 charac 
ter only one reaction is possible under given circumstances, 
forgets that, in these critical ethical moments, what con 
sciously seems to be in question is the complexion of the 
character itself. The problem with the man is less what 
act he shall now choose to do, than what being he shall 
now resolve to become. 

Looking back, then, over this review, we see that the mind 
is at every stage a theatre of simultaneous possibilities. 
Consciousness consists in the comparison of these with each 
other, the selection of some, and the suppression of the rest 
by the reinforcing and inhibiting agency of attention. The 
highest and most elaborated mental products are filtered 
from the data chosen by the faculty next beneath, out of 
the mass offered by the faculty below that, which mass in 
turn was sifted from a still larger amount of yet simpler 
material, and so on. The mind, in short, works on the 
data it receives very much as a sculptor works on his block 
of stone. In a sense the statue stood there from eternity. 
But there were a thousand different ones beside it, and 
the sculptor alone is to thank for having extricated this one 
from the rest. Just so the world of each of us, howsoever 
different our several views of it may be, all lay embedded 
in the primordial chaos of sensations, which gave the mere 
matter to the thought of all of us indifferently. We may, 
if we like, by our reasonings unwind things back to that 



THE STREAM OF THOUGHT. 289 

black and jointless continuity of space and moving clouds 
of swarming atoms which science calls the only real world. 
But all the while the world ice feel and live in will be that 
which our ancestors and we, by slowly cumulative strokes 
of choice, have extricated out of this, like sculptors, by 
simply rejecting certain portions of the given stuff. Other 
sculptors, other statues from the same stone ! Other minds, 
other worlds from the same monotonous and inexpressive 
chaos ! My world is but one in a million alike embedded, 
alike real to those who may abstract them. How different 
must be the worlds in the consciousness of ant, cuttle-fish, 
or crab ! 

But in my mind and your mind the rejected portions and 
the selected portions of the original world-stuff are to a 
great extent the same. The human race as a whole largely 
agrees as to what it shall notice and name, and what not. 
And among the noticed parts we select in much the same 
way for accentuation and preference or subordination and 
dislike. There is, however, one entirely extraordinary 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 re 
spectively, it will at once be seen what I mean. The alto 
gether 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 psychologi 
cal fact. No mind can take the same interest in his neigh 
bor s me as in his own. The neighbor s me falls togethei 
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 Lotze somewhere says, contrasts his own suffer 
ing self with the whole remaining universe, though he have 
no clear conception either of himself or of what the uni 
verse may be. He is for me a mere part of the world ; 



290 PSYCHOLOGY. 

for him it is I who am the mere part. Each of us dichoto 
mizes 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 psy 
chology of this fact of self-consciousness to which we have 
thus once more been led. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 

LET us begin with the Self in its widest acceptation, 
and follow it up to its most delicate and subtle form, ad 
vancing from the study of the empirical, as the Germans 
call it, to that of the pure, Ego. 

THE EMPIRICAL SELF OR ME. 

The Empirical Self of each of us is all that he is 
tempted to call by the name of me. But it is clear that 
between what a man calls me and what 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 themselves, 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 agaiL 
as if I had nothing to do with it at all. In its ividesi 
possible sense, however, a man s Self is the sum fatal of all 
that he CAN call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, 
but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, 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, h# 
feels triumphant ; if they dwindle and die away, he feels* 
cast down, not necessarily in the same degree for each 

291 



292 PSYCHOLOGY. 

thing, but in much the same way for all. Understanding 
5 the Self in this widest sense, we may begin by dividing the 
history of it into three parts, relating respectively to 

1. Its constituents ; 

2. The feelings and emotions they arouse, Self -feelings ; 

3. The actions to which they prompt, Self -seeking and 
Self-preservation. 

1. The constituents of the Self may be divided into two 
classes, those which make up respectively 

(a) The material Self; 

(b) The social Self ; 

(c) The spiritual Self ; and 

(d) The pure Ego. 

(a) The body is the innermost part of the material Self 
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 the human person is composed of 
three parts soul, body and clothes is more than a joke. 
We so appropriate our clothes and identify ourselves with 
them that there are few of us who, if asked to choose 
between having a beautiful body clad in raiment perpetu 
ally shabby and unclean, and having an ugly and blemished 
form always spotlessly attired, would not hesitate 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 arrangements or treats it 
with contempt. All these different things are the objects 
of instinctive preferences coupled with the most impor 
tant practical interests of life. We all have a blind im 
pulse to watch over our body, to deck it with clothing of 

* See, for a charming passage on the Philosophy of Dress, H. Lotze s 
Microcosmus, Eng. tr. vol. i. p. 592 ff. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 293 

an ornamental sort, to cherish parents, wife and babes, 
and to find for ourselves a home 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 
parts 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 
/ suddenly swept away. The miser feels similarly towards 
his gold, and although it is true that a part of our depres 
sion 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 
nothingness, 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 re 
moved farther than ever away from the happy sons ot 
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 emo- 
1 tion, open or sneaking, of respect and dread. 

(b) A mans Social Self is the recognition which he gets 
from his mates. We are not only gregarious animals, liking 
to be in sight of our fellows, but we have an innate propen 
sity to get ourselves noticed, and noticed favorably, by our 
kind. No more fiendish punishment 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 we were non-existing things, a kind of rage and impotent 
despair would ere long well up in us, from which the 



294 PSYCHOLOGY. 

cruellest 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 ivho 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 

I 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 

j by every other standard than that of the organic feeling of 

j 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- 

* " Who filches from me my good name," etc. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 295 

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 110 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 

* " He who imagines commendation and disgrace not to be strong 
motives on men . . . seems little skilled in the nature and history of man 
kind; the greatest part whereof he shall find to govern themselves chiefly, 
if not solely, by this law of fashion ; and so they do that which keeps 
them in reputation with their company, little regard the laws of God or the 
magistrate. The penalties that attend the breach of God s laws some, nay, 
most, men seldom seriously reflect on; and amongst those that do, many, 
whilst they break the laws, entertain thoughts of future reconciliation, 
and making their peace for such breaches : and as tc the punishments due 
from the laws of the commonwealth, they frequently flatter themselves 
with the hope of impunity. But no man escapes the punishment of their 
censure and dislike who offends against the fashion and opinion of the 
company he keeps, and would recommend himself to. Nor is there one 
in ten thousand who is stiff and insensible enough to bear up under the 
constant dislike and condemnation of his own club. He must be of a 
strange and unusual constitution who can content himself to live in con 
stant disgrace and disrepute with his own particular society. Solitude many 
men have sought and been reconciled to; but nobody that has the least 
thought or sense of a man about him can live in society under the 
constant dislike and ill opinion of his familiars and those he converses 
with. This is a burden too heavy for human sufferance: and he must be 
made up of irreconcilable contradictions who can take pleasure in com 
pany and yet be insensible of contempt and disgrace from his companions. " 
(Jjocke s Essay, book n. ch. xxvin. 12.) 



296 PSYCHOLOGY. 

our 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. 

(c) By the Spiritual Self, so far as it belongs to the 
Empirical Me, I mean a man s inner or subjective being, his 
psychic faculties or dispositions, taken concretely ; not the 
bare principle of personal Unity, or pure Ego, which 
remains still to be discussed. These psychic dispositions 
are the most enduring and intimate part of the self, that 
which we most verily seem to be. We take a purer self- 
satisfaction when we think of our ability to argue and dis 
criminate, of our moral sensibility and conscience, of our 
indomitable will, than when we survey any of our other 
possessions. Only when these are altered is a man said to 
be alienatus a se. 

Now this spiritual self may be considered in various 
ways. We may divide it into faculties, as just instanced, 
isolating them one from another, and identifying ourselves 
with either in turn. This is an abstract way of dealing with 
consciousness, in which, as it actually presents itself, a 
plurality of such faculties are always to be simultaneously 
found ; or we may insist on a concrete view, and then the 
1 spiritual self in us will be either the entire stream of our 
) personal consciousness, or the present segment or sec 
tion * of that stream, according as we take a broader or a 
narrower view both the stream and the section being con 
crete existences in time, and each being a unity after its 
own peculiar kind. But whether we take it abstractly or 
concretely, our considering the spiritual self at all is a 
reflective process, is the result of our abandoning the out 
ward-looking point of view, and of our having become able 
to think of subjectivity as such, to think ourselves as thinkers. 

This attention to thought as such, and the identification 
of ourselves with it rather than with any of the objects 
which it reveals, is a momentous and in some respects a 
rather mysterious operation, of which we need here only 
say that as a matter of fact it exists ; and that in everyone, 
at an early age, the distinction between thought as such, 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 297 

and what it is of or about/ has become familiar to the 
mind. The deeper grounds for this discrimination may 
possibly be hard to find ; but superficial grounds are plenty 
and near at hand. Almost anyone will tell us that thought 
is a different sort of existence from things, because many 
sorts of thought are of no things e.g., pleasures, pains, 
and emotions ; others are of non-existent things errors 
and fictions ; others again of existent things, but in a form 
that is symbolic and does not resemble them abstract y 
ideas and concepts ; whilst in the thoughts that do resem- 
ble the things they are of (percepts, sensations), we can 
feel, alongside of the thing known, the thought of it going 
on as an altogether separate act and operation in the mind. 

Now this subjective life of ours, distinguished as such 
so clearly from the objects known by its means, may, as 
aforesaid, be taken by us in a concrete or in an abstract 
way. Of the concrete way I will say nothing just now, ex 
cept that the actual section of the stream will ere long, 
in our discussion of the nature of the principle of unity in 
consciousness, play a very important part. The abstract 
way claims our attention first. If the stream as a whole is 
identified with the Self far more than any outward thing, a 
certain portion of the stream abstracted from the rest is so , 
identified in an altogether peculiar degree, and is felt by all | 
men as a sort of innermost centre within the circle, of sanc 
tuary within the citadel, constituted by the subjective life 
as a whole. Compared with this element of the stream, 
the other parts, even of the subjective life, seem transient 
external possessions, of which each in turn can be disowned, 
whilst that which disowns them remains. Now, ivhat is 
this self of all the other selves ? 

Probably all men would describe it in much the same 
way up to a certain point. They would call it the active 
element in all consciousness ; saying that whatever quali 
ties a man s feelings may possess, or whatever content his 
thought may include, there is a spiritual something in 
him which seems to go out to meet these qualities and 
contents, whilst they seem to come in to be received by it. 
It is what welcomes or rejects. It presides over the per 
ception of sensations, and by giving or withholding its 



298 PSYCHOLOGY. 

assent it influences the movements they tend to arouse. 
It is the home of interest, not the pleasant or the painful, 
not even pleasure or pain, as such, but that within us to 
which pleasure and pain, the pleasant and the painful, speak. 

I It is the source of effort and attention, and the place from 
which appear to emanate the fiats of the will. A physiol 
ogist who should reflect upon it in his own person could 
hardly help, I should think, connecting it more or less 
vaguely with the process by which ideas or incoming sensa 
tions are reflected or pass over into outward acts. Not 
necessarily that it should be this process or the mere feel 
ing of this process, but that it should be in some close way 
related to this process ; for it plays a part analogous to it in 
the psychic life, being a sort of junction at which sensory 
ideas terminate and from which motor ideas proceed, and 
forming a kind of link between the two. Being more in- 

I cessantly there than any other single element of the mental 
life, the other elements end by seeming to accrete round it 

1 and to belong to it. It become opposed to them as the per 
manent is opposed to the changing and inconstant. 

One may, I think, without fear of being upset by any 
future Galtonian circulars, believe that all men must single 
out from the rest of what they call themselves some central 

( principle of which each would recognize the foregoing to be 

( a fair general description, accurate enough, at any rate, to 
denote what is meant, and keep it unconfused with other 
things. The moment, however, they came to closer quarters 
with it, trying to define more accurately its precise nature, 
we should find opinions beginning to diverge. Some would 
say that it is a simple active substance, the soul, of which 
they are thus conscious ; others, that it is nothing but a 
fiction, the imaginary being denoted by the pronoun I ; and 
between these extremes of opinion all sorts of intermediaries 
would be found. 

Later we must ourselves discuss them all, and sufficient 
to that day will be the evil thereof. Now, let us try to 
settle for ourselves as definitely as we can, just how this 
central nucleus of the Self may feel, no matter whether it be 
a spiritual substance or only a delusive word. 

For this central part of the Self is felt. It may be all that 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 299 

Transcendentalists say it is, and all tliat Empiricists say it 
is into the bargain, but it is at any rate no mere ens rationis, 
Cognized only in an intellectual way, and no mere summation 
of memories or mere sound of a word in our ears. It is some- 
tiling with which we also have direct sensible acquaintance, 
and which is as fully present at any moment of conscious 
ness in which it is present, as in a whole lifetime of such 
moments. When, just now, it was called an abstraction, 
that did not mean that, like some general notion, it could 
not be presented in a particular experience. It only meant 
that in the stream of consciousness it never was found all 
alone. But when it is found, it is felt; just as the body is 
felt, the feeling of which is also an abstraction, because never 
is the body felt all alone, but always together with other 
things. Now can we tell more precisely in wliat the feeling of 
this central active self consists, not necessarily as yet what 
the active self is, as a being or principle, but what we feel 
when we become aware of its existence? 

I think I can in my own case ; and as what I say will 
be likely to meet with opposition if generalized (as indeed 
it may be in part inapplicable to other individuals), I had 
better continue in the first person, leaving my description 
to be accepted by those to whose introspection it may com-j 
mend itself as true, and confessing my inability to meet the 
demands of others, if others there be. 

First of all, I am aware of a constant play of furtherances 
and Inndrances in my thinking, of checks and releases, ten 
dencies which run with desire, and tendencies which run the 
other way. Among the matters I think of, some range them 
selves on the side of the thought s interests, whilst others 
play an unfriendly part thereto. The mutual inconsisten 
cies and agreements, reinforcements and obstructions, which 
obtain amonst these objective matters reverberate back 
wards and produce what seem to be incessant reactions of 
my spontaneity upon them, welcoming or opposing, appro 
priating or disowning, striving with or against, saying yes 
or no. This palpitating inward life is, in me, that central 
nucleus which I just tried to describe in terms that all men 
might use. 

But when I forsake such general descriptions and grai? 



800 PSYCHOLOGY. 

pie with particulars, coming to the closest possible quarters 
with the facts, it is difficult for me to detect in the activity any 
purely spiritual dement at all. Whenever my introspective 
glance succeeds in turning round quickly enough to catch one of 
these manifestations of spontaneity in the act, all it can ever feel 
J jj distinctly is some bodily process, for the most part taking place 
within the head. Omitting for a moment what is obscure in 
these introspective results, let me try to state those particu 
lars which to my own consciousness seem indubitable and 
distinct. 

In the first place, the acts of attending, assenting, ne 
gating, making an effort, are felt as movements of some 
thing in the head. In many cases it is possible to describe 
these movements quite exactly. In attending to either an 
idea or a sensation belonging to a particular sense-sphere, 
the movement is the adjustment of the sense-organ, felt as 
it occurs. I cannot think in visual terms, for example, 
without feeling a fluctuating play of pressures, converg 
ences, divergences, and accommodations in my eyeballs. 
The direction in which the object is conceived to lie deter 
mines the character of these movements, the feeling of 
which becomes, for my consciousness, identified with the 
manner in which I make myself ready to receive the visible 
thing. My brain appears to me as if all shot across with 
lines of direction, of which I have become conscious as my 
attention has shifted from one sense-organ to another, in 
passing to successive outer things, or in following trains of 
varying sense-ideas. 

When I try to remember or reflect, the movements in 
question, instead of being directed towards the periphery, 
seem to come from the periphery inwards and feel like a 
sort of withdrawal from the outer world. As far as I can 
detect, these feelings are clue to an actual rolling outwards 
and upwards of the eyeballs, such as I believe occurs in 
, j me in sleep, and is the exact opposite of their action in fix 
ating a physical thing. In reasoning, I find that I am apt 
to have a kind of vaguely localized diagram in my mind, 
with the various fractional objects of the thought disposed 
at particular points thereof ; and the oscillations of my at 
tention from one of them to another are most distinctly felt 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 301 

as alternations of direction in movements occurring inside 
the head.* 

In consenting and negating, and in making a mental 
effort, the movements seem more complex, and I find them 
harder to describe. The opening and closing of the glottis 
play a great part in these operations, and, less distinctly, 
the movements of the soft palate, etc., shutting off the pos 
terior nares from the mouth. My glottis is like a sensitive 
valve, intercepting my breath instantaneously at every 
mental hesitation or felt aversion to the objects of my 
thought, and as quickly opening, to let the air pass through 
my throat and nose, the moment the repugnance is over 
come. The feeling of the movement of this air is, in me, 
one strong ingredient of the feeling of assent. The move 
ments of the muscles of the brow and eyelids also respond 
very sensitively to every fluctuation in the agreeableness 
or disagreeableness of what comes before my mind. 

In effort of any sort, contractions of the jaw-muscles and 
of those of respiration are added to those of the brow and 
glottis, and thus the feeling passes out of the head proper 
ly so called. It passes out of the head whenever the wel 
coming or rejecting of the object is strongly felt. Then a 
set of feelings pour in from many bodily parts, all expres 
sive of my emotion, and the head-feelings proper are 
swallowed up in this larger mass. 

In a sense, then, it may be truly said that, in one per 
son at least, the Self of selves, ivhen carefully examined, 
is found to consist mainly of the collection of these peculiar 
motions in the head or between the head and throat. I do 
not for a moment say that this is all it consists of, for I 
fully realize how desperately hard is introspection in this 
field. But I feel quite sure that these cephalic motions are 
the portions of my innermost activity of which I am most 
distinctly aware. If the dim portions which I cannot yet 
define should prove to be like unto these distinct portions 
in me, and I like other men, it would follow that our entire 
feeling of spiritual activity, or what commonly passes by that 

* For some farther remarks on these feelings of movement see the 
next chapter. 



302 P8TCHOLOG Y. 

name, is really a feeling of bodily activities whose exact nature 
is by most men overlooked. 

Now, without pledging ourselves in any way to adopt this 
hypothesis, let us dally with it for a while to see to what 
consequences it might lead if it were true. 

In the first place, the nuclear part of the Self, inter 
mediary between ideas and overt acts, would be a collection 
of activities physiologically in no essential way different 
from the overt acts themselves. If we divide all possible 
physiological acts into adjustments and executions, the 
nuclear self would be the adjustments collectively consid 
ered ; and the less intimate, more shifting self, so far as 
it was active, would be the executions. But both adjust 
ments and executions would obey the reflex type. Both 
would be the result of sensorial and ideational processes 
discharging either into each other within the brain, or into 
muscles and other parts oiitside. The peculiarity of the 
adjustments would be that they are minimal reflexes, few 
in number, incessantly repeated, constant amid great fluc 
tuations in the rest of the mind s content, and entirely 
unimportant and uninteresting except through their uses 
in furthering or inhibiting the presence of various things, 
and actions before consciousness. These characters would 
naturally keep us from introspectively paying much atten 
tion to them in detail, whilst they would at the same time 
make us aware of them as a coherent group of processes, 
strongly contrasted with all the other things consciousness 
contained, even with the other constituents of the Self/ 
material, social, or spiritual, as the case might be. They 
are reactions, and they are primary reactions. Everything 
arouses them ; for objects which have no other effects 
will for a moment contract the brow and make the glottis 
close. It is as if all that visited the mind had to stand an 
entrance-examination, and just show its face so as to be 
either approved or sent back. These primary reactions 
are like the opening or the closing of the door. In the 
midst of psychic change they are the permanent core 
of turnings-towards and turnings-from, of yieldings and 
arrests, which naturally seem central and interior in com- 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. SOB 

parison with the foreign matters, apropos to which they 
occur, and hold a sort of arbitrating, decisive position, qnite 
unlike that held by any of the other constituents of the Me. 
It would not be surprising, then, if we were to feel them as 
the birthplace of conclusions and the starting point of acts, 
or if they came to appear as what we called a while back 
the sanctuary within the citadel of our personal life.* 

* Wundt s account of Self-consciousness deserves to be compared with 
this. What I have called adjustments he calls processes of Appercep 
tion. In this development (of consciousness) one particular group of per 
cepts claims a prominent significance, namely, those of which the spring 
lies in ourselves. The images of feelings we get from our own body, and 
the representations of our own movements distinguish themselves from all 
others by forming a permanent group. As there are always some muscles 
in a state either of tension or of activity it follows that we never lack a 
sense, either dim or clear, of the positions or movements of our body. . . . 
This permanent sense, moreover, has this peculiarity, that we are aware of 
our power at any moment voluntarily to arouse any one of its ingredients. 
We excite the sensations of movement immediately by such impulses of the 
will as shall arouse the movements themselves; and we excite the visual 
and tactile feelings of our body by the voluntary movement of our orgaui 
of sense. So we come to conceive this permanent mass of feeling as 
immediately or remotely subject to our will, and call it the consciousness oj 
ourself. This self-consciousness is, at the outset, thoroughly sensational, 
. . . only gradually the second-named of its characters, its subjection to 
>ur will, attains predominance. In proportion as the apperception of all 
our mental objects appears to us as an inward exercise of will, does our 
self -consciousness begin both to widen itself and to narrow itself at the 
same time. It widens itself in that every mental act whatever comes to 
stand in relation to our will; and it narrows itself in that it concentrates 
Itself more and more upon the inner activity of apperception, over against 
which our own body and all the representations connected with it appear 
as external objects, different from our proper self. This consciousness, 
contracted down to the process of apperception, we call our Ego ; and the 
apperception of mental objects in general, may thus, after Leibnitz, be 
designated as the raising of them into our self-consciousness. Thus the 
natural development of self-consciousness implicitly involves the most 
abstract forms in which this faculty has been described in philosophy; only 
philosophy is fond of placing the abstract ego at the outset, and so revers 
ing the process of development. Nor should we overlook the fact that the 
completely abstract ego [as pure activity], although suggested by the 
natural development of our consciousness, is never actually found therein. 
The most speculative of philosophers is incapable of disjoining his ego 
from those bodily feelings and images which form the incessant back 
ground of his awareness of himself. The notion of his ego as such is, like 
every notion, derived from sensibility, for the process of apperception itself 
comes to our knowledge chiefly through those feelings of tension [what I 
have above called inward adjustments] which accompany it." (Physiolo- 
gische Psychologic, 2te Autl. Bd. n. pp. 217-19.) 



304 PSYCHOLOGY. 

If they really were the innermost sanctuary, the 
mate one of all the selves whose being we can ever directly 
experience, it would follow that all that is experienced is, 
strictly considered, objective; that this Objective falls asun 
der into two contrasted parts, one realized as Self, the 
other as not-Self ; and that over and above these parts 
there is nothing save the fact that they are known, the fact 
of the stream of thought being there as the indispensable 
subjective condition of their being experienced at all. But 
this condition of the experience is not one of the things ex 
perienced at the moment ; this knowing is not immediately 
knoivn. It is only known in subsequent reflection. Instead, 
then, of the stream of thought being one of ccw-sciousness, 
" thinking its own existence along with whatever else it 
thinks," (as Ferrier says) it might be better called a stream 
of Sciousness pure and simple, thinking objects of some of 
which it makes what it calls a Me, and only aware of its 
1 pure Self in an abstract, hypothetic or conceptual way. 
Each section of the stream would then be a bit of scious- 
ness or knowledge of this sort, including and contemplat 
ing its * me and its not-me as objects which work out their 
drama together, but not yet including or contemplating its 
own subjective being. The sciousness in question would be 
the Thinker, and the existence of this thinker would be given 
to us rather as a logical postulate than as that direct inner 
perception of spiritual activity which we naturally believe 
ourselves to have. Matter, as something behind physical 
phenomena, is a postulate of this sort. Between the postu 
lated Matter and the postulated Thinker, the sheet of phe 
nomena would then swing, some of them (the realities ) 
pertaining more to the matter, others (the fictions, opinions, 
and errors) pertaining more to the Thinker. But wlio the 
Thinker would be, or how many distinct Thinkers we ought 
to suppose in the universe, would all be subjects for an 
ulterior metaphysical inquiry. 

Speculations like this traverse common-sense; and not 
only do they traverse common sense (which in philosophy 
is no insuperable objection) but they contradict the funda 
mental assumption of every philosophic school. Spiri 
tualists, transcendentalists, and empiricists alike admit in 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 305 

us a continual direct perception of the thinking activity in 
the concrete. However they may otherwise disagree, they 
vie with each other in the cordiality of their recognition of 
our thoughts as the one sort of existent which skepticism 
cannot touch. * I will therefore treat the last few pages as 
a parenthetical digression, and from now to the end of the 
volume revert to the path of common-sense again. I mean 
by this that I will continue to assume (as I have assumed 
all along, especially in the last chapter) a direct awareness 
of the process of our thinking as such, simply insisting on 
the fact that it is an even more inward and subtle phenome 
non than most of us suppose. At the conclusion of the 
volume, however, I may permit myself to revert again to the 
doubts here provisionally mooted, and will indulge in some 
metaphysical reflections suggested by them. 

At present, then, the only conclusion I come to is the 
following : That (in some persons at least) the part of the 
innermost Self which is most vividly felt turns out to con 
sist for the most part of a collection of cephalic move 
ments of adjustments which, for want of attention and 
reflection, usually fail to be perceived and classed as what 
they are ; that over and above these there is an obscurer 
feeling of something more ; but whether it be of fainte" 
physiological processes, or of nothing objective at all, but 
rather of subjectivity as such, of thought become its own 
object/ must at present remain an open question, like the 
question whether it be an indivisible active soul-substance, 
or the question whether it be a personification of the pronoun 
I, or any other of the guesses as to what its nature may 
be. 

Farther than this we cannot as yet go clearly in our 
analysis of the Self s constituents. So let us proceed to the 
emotions of Self which they arouse. 

2. SELF-FEELINO. 

These are primarily self-complacency and self-aissatis- 
f action. Of what is called self-love, I will treat a little 

*The only exception I know of is M. J. Souriau, in his important 
article in the Revue Philosophique, vol. xxn. p. 449. M. Souriau s con 
clusion is que la conscience u existe pas p. 472). 



306 PSYCHOLOGY. 

farther on. Language has synonyms enough for both pri 
mary feelings. 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 discontent. 
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 boy 
am I." A Eian 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 still lies in middle life 
among the failures at the foot of the hill, is liable to grow 

* See the excellent remarks by Prof. Bain on the Emotion of Power 
in his Emotions and the Will. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 307 

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 is in these same castles of 
despair that we find the strongest examples 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 no adequate exciting cause. 
And in fact we ourselves know how the barometer of our 
self-esteem and confidence rises and falls from one day to 
another through causes that seem to be visceral and organic 
rather than rational, and which certainly answer to no cor 
responding variations in the esteem in which we are held 
by our friends. Of the origin of these emotions in the race, 
we can speak better when we have treated of 

3. SELF-SEEKING AKD SELP-PBESEBVATION. 

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

All the ordinary useful reflex actions and movements 
of alimentation and defence are acts of bodily self-preser 
vation. 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 main 
taining the present, we must class both anger and fear 



J08 PSYCHOLOGY, 

with the hunting, the acquisitive, the home-constructing 
and the tool-constructing instincts, as impulses to self- 
seeking of the bodily kind. Keally, however, these latter 
instincts, with amativeness, parental fondness, curiosity 
and emulation, seek not only the development of the 
bodily Self, but that of the material Self in the widest pos 
sible 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 passion 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 
pathological case. The newspapers bounded his mental 
horizon ; and in the poor wretch s prayer on the scaffold, 
one of the most heartfelt 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 1 know 
enlarge my Self in a sort of metaphoric social way. *7a 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 309 

me connait, as the French workman says of tlie 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 of the 
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 search of 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 01 
the Self will be incomplete without some account of the 

RIVALRY AND CONFLICT OF THE DIFFERENT SELVES. 

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 stand 
ing 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 



, 



310 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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. 284 if.). 
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. 

II, who for the time have staked my all on being a 
psychologist, am mortified if others know much more 
/ psychology than I. But I am contented to wallow in the 
grossest ignorance of Greek. My deficiencies there give me 
no sense of personal humiliation at all. Had I pretensions 
to be a linguist, it would have been just the reverse. So 
we have the paradox of a man shamed to death because he 
is only the second pugilist or the second oarsman in the 
world. That he is able to beat the whole population of the 
globe minus one is nothing ; he has 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, in 
deed he is not. 

Yonder puny fellow, however, 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 sup 
posed potentialities ; a fraction of which our pretensions 
are the denominator and the numerator our success : thus, 

rSTi (" /" O G Q 

Self-esteem p^ensions SucJl a fract i n ma 7 be increased 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 311 

as well by diminishing the denominator as by increasing the 
numerator.* To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief a^ 
to get them 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 experto (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 j 
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 pleadings 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 mouarchs 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 

* Cf. Carlyle: Sartor Resartus, The Everlasting Yea. "Itelltbee, 
blockhead, it all comes of thy vanity ; of what thou fanciest those same 
deserts of thine to be. Fancy that thou deservest to be hanged (as is most 
likely), thou wilt feel it happiness to be only shot : fancy that thou deserv 
est to be hanged in a hair halter, it will be a luxury to die in hemp. . . . 
What act of legislature was there that thou shouldst be happy ? A little 
while ajro thou hadst no right to be&t all." etc.. etc. 



312 PSYCHOLOGY. 

fulcrum of all appeals. But if a man lias 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 of 
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 a 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 can 
not 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 

*T. W. Higginson s translation Q866), p. 105. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 313 

I can make it so, such people shall be as if they were not.* 
Thus may a certain absoluteness and definiteness in the 
outline of my Me console me for the smallness of its con 
tent. 

Sympathetic people, on the contrary, proceed by the 
entirely opposite way of expansion and inclusion. The out 
line 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 person of mine, 
and treat me like a dog, / shall not negate them so long as |w 
I have a soul in my body. They are realities 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 happi 
ness of the young people, the wisdom of the wise ones, 
and are not altogether without part or lot in the good for 
tunes of the Yanderbilts and the Hohenzollerns themselves. 
Thus either by negating or by embracing, the Ego may j V 
seek to establish itself in reality. He who, with Marcus 
Aurelius, can truly say, " O Universe, I wish all that thou 
wishest," has a self from which every trace of negativeuess 
and obstructiveness has been removed no wind can blow 
except to fill its sails. 

A tolerably unanimous opinion ranges the different 
selves of which a man may be seized and possessed, and 
the consequent different orders of his self-regard, in an 
hierarchical scale, with the, bodily Self at the bottom, the 
spiritual Self at top, and the extracorporeal material selves 
and the various social selves betiveen. Our merely natural 
self-seeking would lead us to aggrandize all these selves ; 
we give up deliberately only those among them which we 

* " The usual mode of lessening the shock of disappointment or dises- i 
teem is to contract, if possible, a low estimate of the persons that inllict it. 
Thr s is our remedy for the unjust censures of party spirit, as well as of 
personal malignity." (Bain : Emotion and Will, p. 209.) 



314 PSYCHOLOGY. 

find we caimot keep. Our unselfishness is thus apt to be a 
virtue of necessity ; and it is not without all show of rea 
son 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 sat 
isfied with in ourselves disgust us when seen in others. 
, With another man s bodily hoggishness hardly anyone 
I has any sympathy ; almost as little with his cupidity, his 
social vanity and eagerness, his jealousy, 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 subordination. 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 accelerate enormously the advent of 
this reflective judgment on myself. 

So it comes to pass that, as aforesaid, men have arranged 
the various selves which they may seek in an hierarchical 
scale according 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 individual. The 
wider material selves are regarded as higher than the 
immediate body. He is esteemed a poor creature who is 
i 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 materiallself 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 315 

as a whole. We must care more for our honor, our friends, 
our human ties, 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 self, 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 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 self 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 con 
demnation 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. 
jYet still the emotion that beckons me on is indubitably 
j the pursuit of an ideal social self, of a self that is at least 
/ I ivorthy of approving recognition by the highest possible 
judging companion, if such companion there be.* This 

* It must be observed that the qualities of the Self thus ideally consti- 
tuted are all qualities approved by my actual fellows in the first instance ; 
and that my reason for now appealing from their verdict to that of the 



316 PSYCHOLOGY. 

\ self is the true, the intimate, the ultimate, the perma- 
1 nent 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 praying. 
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 manner which 
nothing we know should lead us to expect. The impulse 

ito 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- 
itor. 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 



ideal judge lies in some outward peculiarity of the immediate case. What 
once was admired in me as courage has now become in the eyes of men 
impertinence ; what was fortitude is obstinacy; what was fidelity is 
now fanaticism. The ideal judge alone, I now believe, can read my 
qualities, my willingnesses, my powers, for what they truly are. My 
fellows, misled by interest and prejudice, have gone astray. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 317 

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 wor 
ship after the slaying should have been done ; and the Eoman 
emperor felt sure the Absolute Eeason 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 ;j 
glory of God?" was probably never answered in the affir- 
mative except by those who felt sure in their heart of hearts 
that God would credit them with their willingness, and 
set more store by them thus than if in His unfathomable 
scheme He had not damned them at all. 

All this about the impossibility of suicide is said on the 
supposition of positive motives. When possessed by the 
emotion of /ear, however, we are in a negative state of mind ; 
that is, our desire is limited to the mere banishing of some 
thing, without regard to what shall take its place. In this 
state of mind there can unquestionably be genuine thoughts, 
and genuine acts, of suicide, spiritual and social, as well as 
bodily. Anything, anything, at such times, so as to escape ! 
and not to be ! But such conditions of suicidal frenzy are 
pathological in their nature and run dead against every 
thing that is regular in the life of the Self in man. 

"WHAT SELF IS LOVED IN SELF-LOVE P 

We must now try to interpret the facts of self-love and 
self-seeking a little more delicately from within. 

A man in whom self-seeking of any sort is largely 
developed is said to be selfish.* He is on the other hand 

* The kind of selfishness varies with the self that is sought. If it be 
the mere bodily self; if a man grabs the best food, the warm corner, the 
vacant seat; if he makes room for no one, spits about, and belches in our 
faces, we call it hoggishness. If it be the social self, in the form of popu 
larity or influence, for which he is greedy, he may in material ways subor- 



318 PSYCHOLOGY. 

called unselfish if he shows consideration for the interests of 
other selves than his own. Now what is the intimate nature 
of the selfish emotion in him? and what is the primary 
object of its regard ? We have described him pursuing and 
fostering as his self first one set of things and then another ; 
we have seen the same set of facts gain or lose interest in his 
eyes, leave him indifferent, or fill him either with triumph 
or despair according as he made pretensions to appropriate 
them, treated them as if they were potentially or actually 
parts of himself, or not. We know how little it matters to 
us whether some man, a man taken at large and in the 
abstract, prove a failure or succeed in life, he may be 
hanged for aught we care, but we know the utter momen- 
tousness and terribleness of the alternative when the man 
is the one whose name we ourselves bear, /must not be 
a failure, is the very loudest of the voices that clamor in 
each of our breasts : let fail who may, I at least must suc 
ceed. Now the first conclusion which these facts suggest 
is that each of us is animated by a direct feeling of regard 
for his oivn pure principle of individual existence, whatever 
that may be, taken merely as such. It appears as if all our 
concrete manifestations of selfishness might be the conclu 
sions of as many syllogisms, each with this principle as the 
subject of its major premiss, thus: Whatever is me is 
precious ; this is me ; therefore this is precious ; whatever 
is mine must not fail ; this is mine ; therefore this must 
not fail, etc. It appears, I say, as if this principle inocu 
lated all it touched with its own intimate quality of worth ; 
as if, previous to the touching, everything might be matter 
of indifference, and nothing interesting in its own right ; as 
if my regard for my own body even were an interest not 
simply in this body, but in this body only so far as it is 
mine. 

But what is this abstract numerical principle of identity, 

dinate himself to others as the best means to his end; and in this case he is 
very apt to pass for a disinterested man. If it be the other-worldly self 
which he seeks, and if he seeks it ascetically, even though he would 
rather see all mankind damned eternally than lose his individual soul. 
saintliness will probably be the name by which his selfishness will be 
called. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 319 

this Nnmber One within me, for which, according to pro 
verbial philosophy, I am supposed to keep so constant a 
lookout ? Is it the inner nucleus of my spiritual self, that 
collection of obscurely felt adjustments, plus perhaps that 
still more obscurely perceived subjectivity as such, of which 
we recently spoke? Or is it perhaps the concrete stream 
of my thought in its entirety, or some one section of the 
same? Or may it be the indivisible Soul-Substance, in 
which, according to the orthodox tradition, my faculties 
inhere ? Or, finally, can it be the mere pronoun I ? Surely 
it is none of these things, that self for which I feel such hot 
regard. Though all of them together were put within me, 
I should still be cold, and fail to exhibit anything worthy 
of the name of selfishness or of devotion to Number One. 
To have a self that I can care for, nature must first present 
me with some object interesting enough to make me instinc 
tively wish to appropriate it for its own sake, and out of it 
to manufacture one of those material, social, or spiritual 
selves, which we have already passed in review. We shall 
find that all the facts of rivalry and substitution that have 
so struck us, all the shiftings and expansions and contrac 
tions of the sphere of what shall be considered me and 
mine, are but results of the fact that certain things appeal 
to primitive and instinctive impulses of our nature, and 
that we follow their destinies with an excitement that owes 
n6thing to a reflective source. These objects our con 
sciousness treats as the primordial constituents of its Me. 
Whatever other objects, whether by association with the 
fate of these, or in any other way, come to be followed with 
the same sort of interest, form our remoter and more sec 
ondary self. The words ME, then, and SELF, so far as they 
arouse feeling and connote emotional worth, are OBJECTIVE 
designations, meaning ALL THE THINGS which have the power 
to produce in a stream of consciousness excitement of a 
certain peculiar sort. Let us try to justify this proposition 
in detail. 

The most palpable selfishness of a man is his bodily 
selfishness ; and his most palpable self is the body to which 
that selfishness relates. Now I say that he identifies him 
self with this body because he loves it, and that he does 



820 PSYCHOLOGY. 

not love it because lie finds it to be identified with himselt 
Keverting to natural history-psychology will help us to see 
the truth of this. In the chapter on Instincts we shall 
learn that every creature has a certain selective interest in 
certain portions of the world, and that this interest is as 
often connate as acquired. Our interest in things means 
the attention and emotion which the thought of them will 
excite, and the actions which their presence will evoke. 
Thus every species is particularly interested in its own 
prey or food, its own enemies, its own sexual mates, and 
its own young. These things fascinate by their intrinsic 
power to do so ; they are cared for for their own sakes. 

Well, it stands not in the least otherwise with our bod 
ies. They too are percepts in our objective field they are 
simply the most interesting percepts there. What happens 
to them excites in us emotions and tendencies to action 
more energetic and habitual than any which are excited by 
other portions of the field. What my comrades call my 
bodily selfishness or self-love, is nothing but the sum of 
all the outer acts which this interest in my b xly spontane 
ously draws from me. My selfishness is here but a de 
scriptive name for grouping together the outward symp 
toms which I show. When I am led by self-love to keep 
my seat whilst ladies stand, or to grab something first and 
cut out my neighbor, what I really love is the comfortable 
seat, is the thing itself which I grab. I love them prima 
rily, as the mother loves her babe, or a generous man an 
heroic deed. Wherever, as here, self-seeking is the out 
come of simple instinctive propensity, it is but a name for 
certain reflex acts. Something rivets my attention fatally, 
and fatally provokes the selfish response. Could an au 
tomaton be so skilfully constructed as to ape these acts, it 
would be called selfish as properly as I. It is true that I 
am no automaton, but a thinker. But my thoughts, like 
my acts, are here concerned only with the outward things. 
They need neither know nor care for any pure principle 
within. In fact the more utterly selfish I am in this 
primitive way, the more blindly absorbed my thought will 
be in the objects and impulses of my lusts, and the more 
devoid of any inward looking glance. A baby, whose con- 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 321 

sciousness of the pure Ego, of himself as a thinker, is not 
usually supposed developed, is, in this way, as some Ger 
man has said, der vollendeteste Egoist. His corporeal per 
son, and what ministers to its needs, are the only self he 
can possibly be said to love. His so-called self-love is but 
a name for his insensibility to all but this one set of things, 
It may be that he needs a pure principle of subjectivity, a 
soul or pure Ego (he certainly needs a stream of thought) 
to make him sensible at all to anything, to make him dis 
criminate and love uberhaupt, how that may be, we shall 
see ere long ; but this pure Ego, which would then be the 
condition of his loving, need no more be the object of his 
love than it need be the object of his thought. If his in 
terests lay altogether in other bodies than his own, if all 
his instincts were altruistic and all his acts suicidal, still he 
would need a principle of consciousness just as he does now. 
Such a principle cannot then be the principle of his bodily 
selfishness any more than it is the principle of any other ten 
dency he may show. 

So much for the bodily self-love. But my social self- 
love, my interest in the images other men have framed of 
me, is also an interest in a set of objects external to my 
thought. These thoughts in other men s minds are out of 
my mind and ejective to me. They come and go, and 
grow and dwindle, and I am puffed up with pride, or blush 
with shame, at the result, just as at my success or failure 
in the pursuit of a material thing. So that here again, just 
as in the former case, the pure principle seems out of the 
game as an object of regard, and present only as the general 
form or condition under which the regard and the thinking 
go on in me at all. 

But, it will immediately be objected, this is giving a 
mutilated account of the facts. Those images of me in the 
minds of other men are, it is true, things outside of me, 
whose changes I perceive just as I perceive any other out 
ward change. But the pride and shame which I feel are 
not concerned merely with those changes. I feel as if some 
thing else had changed too, when I perceive my image in 
your mind to have changed for the worse, something in me 
to which that image belongs, and which a moment ago I felt 



322 PSYCHOLOGY. 

inside of me, big and strong and lusty, but now weak, con 
tracted, and collapsed. Is not this latter change the change 
I feel the shame about ? Is not the condition of this thing 
inside of me the proper object of my egoistic concern, of my 
self-regard ? And is it not, after all, my pure Ego, my bare 
numerical principle of distinction from other men, and no 
empirical part of me at all ? 

No, it is no such pure principle, it is simply my total 
empirical selfhood again, my historic Me, a collection ol 
objective facts, to which the depreciated image in your mind 
belongs. In what capacity is it that I claim and demand 
a respectful greeting from you instead of this expression of 
disdain ? It is not as being a bare I that I claim it ; it is 
as being an I who has always been treated with respect, 
who belongs to a certain family and set, who has certain 
powers, possessions, and public functions, sensibilities, 
duties, and purposes, and merits and deserts. All this is 
what your disdain negates and contradicts ; this is the 
thing inside of me whose changed treatment I feel the 
shame about ; this is what was lusty, and now, in conse 
quence of your conduct, is collapsed ; and this certainly is 
an empirical objective thing. Indeed, the thing that is felt 
modified and changed for the worse during my feeling of 
shame is often more concrete even than this, it is simply 
my bodily person, in which your conduct immediately and 
without any reflection at all on my part works those 
muscular, glandular, and vascular changes which together 
make up the expression of shame. In this instinctive, 
reflex sort of shame, the body is just as much the entire 
vehicle cf the self-feeling as, in the coarser cases which we 
first took up, it was the vehicle of the self-seeking. As, in 
simple hoggishness, a succulent morsel gives rise, by the 
reflex mechanism, to behavior which the bystanders find 
greedy, and consider to flow from a certain sort of * self- 
regard ; so here your disdain gives rise, by a mechanism 
quite as reflex and immediate, to another sort of behavior, 
which the bystanders call shame-faced and which they 
consider due to another kind of self-regard. But in both 
cases there may be no particular self regarded at all by the 
mind : and the name self-regard may be only a descriptive 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 323 

title imposed from without the reflex acts themselves, and 
the feelings that immediately result from their discharge. 

After the bodily and social selves come the spiritual. 
But which of my spiritual selves do I really care for ? My 
Soul-substance? my transcendental Ego, or Thinker ? 
my pronoun I? my subjectivity as such? my nucleus of 
cephalic adjustments ? or my more phenomenal and perish 
able powers, my loves and hates, willingnesses and sensibil 
ities, and the like ? Surely the latter. But they, relatively 
to the central principle, whatever it may be, are external 
and objective. They come and go, and it remains "so 
shakes the magnet, and so stands the pole." It may indeed 
have to be there for them to be loved, but being there is 
not identical with being loved itself. 

To sum up, then, we see no reason to suppose that self-love 
is primarily, or secondarily, or ever, love for one s mere princi 
ple of consents identity. It is always love for something 
which, as compared with that principle, is superficial, tran 
sient, liable to be taken up or dropped at will. 

And zoological psychology again comes to the aid of 
our understanding and shows us that this must needs be 
so. In fact, in answering the question what things it is that 
a man loves in his self-love, we have implicitly answered the 
farther question, of why he loves them. 

Unless his 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 existence ; 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 dispositions which use it as 
their tool, and lead it either towards longevity or to destruc 
tion. Its own body, then, first of all, its friends ne.rt, and 
finally if s spiritual dispositions, MUST be the supremely in- 
eresting 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. 
This minimum must be there as a basis for all farther con 
scious acts, whether of self-negation or of a selfishness 



824 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 be 
come 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. 
Were my mental life dependent exclusively on some other 
person s welfare, either directly or in an indirect way, then 
natural selection would unquestionably have brought it 
about that I should be as sensitive to the social vicissitudes 
of that other person as I now am to my own. Instead of 
being egoistic I should be spontaneously altruistic, then. 
But in this case, only partially realized in actual human 
conditions, though the self I empirically love would have 
changed, my pure Ego or Thinker would have to remain 
just what it is now. 

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. 

My own body and what ministers to its needs are thus the 
primitive object, instinctively deter mined, of my egoistic interests. 
Other objects may become interesting derivatively through 
association with any of these things, either as means or as 
habitual concomitants ; and so in a thousand ways the primi 
tive sphere of the egoistic emotions may enlarge and change 
its boundaries. 

This sort of interest is really the meaning of tJie tvord 
my. Whatever has it is eo ipso a part of me. My child, 
my friend dies, and where he goes I feel that part of my* 
self now is and evermore shall be : 

" For this losing is true dying ; 
This is lordly man s down-lying ; 
This his slow but sure reclining, 
Star by star his world resigning." 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 325 

The fact remains, however, that certain special sorts of 
thing tend primordially to possess this interest, and form 
the natural me. But all these things are objects, properly 
so called, to the subject which does the thinking.* And 
this latter fact upsets at once the dictum of the old-fash 
ioned sensationalist psychology, that altruistic passions 
and interests are contradictory to the nature of things, and 
that if they appear anywhere to exist, it must be as second 
ary products, resolvable at bottom into cases of selfishness, 
taught by experience a hypocritical disguise. If the zoolog 
ical and evolutionary point of view is the true one, there is 
uo reason why any object whatever might not arouse passion 
and interest as primitively and instinctively as any other, 
whether connected or not with the interests of the me. 
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 ques 
tion of fact. I might conceivably be as much fascinated, 
and as primitively so, by the care of my neighbor s body 
as by the care of my own. The only check to such exuber 
ant altruistic interests is natural selection, which would 
weed out such as Avere very harmful to the individual or to 
his tribe. Many such interests, however, remain unweeded 
out the interest in the opposite sex, for example, which 
seems in mankind stronger than is called for by its utili 
tarian 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 
co-ordinate. 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. 

The only author whom I know to have discussed the 
question whether the pure Ego, per se, can be an object 
of regard, is Herr Horwicz, in his extremely able and acute 
Psychologische Analysen. He too says that all self-regard 
is regard for certain objective things. He disposes so well 



* Lotze, Med. Psych. 498-501 ; Microcosmos, bk. n. chap. v. 3, 4 



326 PSYCHOLOGY. 

of one kind of objection that I must conclude by quoting a 
part of his own words : 
First, the objection : 

" The fact is indubitable that one s own children always pass for 
the prettiest and brightest, the wine from one s own cellar for the best 
at least for its price, one s own house and horses for the finest. 
With what tender admiration do we con over our own little deed of 
Denevolence ! our own frailties and misdemeanors, how ready we are to 
acquit ourselves for them, when we notice them at all, on the ground of 
* extenuating circumstances ! How much more really comic are our 
own jokes than those of others, which, unlike ours, will not bear being 
repeated ten or twelve times over ! How eloquent, striking, powerful, 
our own speeches are ! How appropriate our own address ! In short, 
how much more intelligent, soulful, better, is everything about us than 
in anyone else. The sad chapter of artists and authors conceit and 
vanity belongs here. 

The prevalence of this obvious preference which we feel for every 
thing of our own is indeed striking. Does it not look as if our dear Ego 
must first lend its color and flavor to anything in order to make it please 
us ? ... Is it not the simplest explanation for all these phenomena, so 
consistent among themselves, to suppose that the Ego, the self, which 
forms the origin and centre of our thinking life, is at the same time the 
original and central object of our life of feeling, and the ground both 
of whatever special ideas and of whatever special feelings ensue ?" 

Herr Horwicz goes on to refer to what we have already 
noticed, that various things which disgust us in others do 
not disgust us at all in ourselves. 

" To most of us even the bodily warmth of another, for example the 
chair warm from another s sitting, is felt unpleasantly, whereas there 
is nothing disagreeable in the warmth of the chair in which we have 
been sitting ourselves." 

After some further remarks, he replies to these facts 
and reasonings as follows : 

"We may with confidence affirm that our own possessions in most 
cases please us better [not because they are ours], but simply because we 
know them better, realize them more intimately, feel them more 
deeply. We learn to appreciate what is ours in all its details and shad- 
ings, whilst the goods of others appear to us in coarse outlines and rude 
averages. Here are some examples: A piece of music which one plays 
one s self is heard and understood better than when it is played by an 
other. We get more exactly all the details, penetrate more deeply into 
the musical thought. We may meanwhile perceive perfectly well that 
the other person is the better performer, and yet nevertheless at times 
get more enjoyment from our own playing because it brings the 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 327 

melody and harmony so much nearer home to us. This case may almost 
be taken as typical for the other cases of self-love. On close examina 
tion, we shall almost always find that a great part of our feeling about 
what is ours is due to the fact that we live closer to our own things, and 
so feel them more thoroughly and deeply. As a friend of mine was 
about to marry, he often bored me by the repeated and minute way in 
which he would discuss the details of his new household arrangements. 
I wondered that so intellectual a man should be so deeply interested in 
things of so external a nature. But as I entered, a few years later, the 
same condition myself, these matters acquired for me an entirely differ 
ent interest, and it became my turn to turn them over and talk of them 
unceasingly. . . . The reason was simply this, that in the first instance 
I understood nothing of these things and their importance for domestic 
comfort, whilst in the latter case they came home to me with irresistible 
urgency, and vividly took possession of my fancy. So it is with many 
a one who mocks at decorations and titles, until he gains one himself. 
And this is also surely the reason why one s own portrait or reflection in 
the mirror is so peculiarly interesting a thing to contemplate . . . not on 
account of any absolute c est moi," 1 but just as with the music played 
by ourselves. What greets our eyes is what we know best, most deeply 
understand; because we ourselves have felt it and lived through it. We 
know what has ploughed these furrows, deepened these shadows, 
blanched this hair ; and other faces may be handsomer, but none can 
speak to us or interest us like this." * 

Moreover, this author goes on to show that our own 
things are fuller for us than those of others because of the 
memories they aAvaken and the practical hopes and expecta 
tions they arouse. This alone would emphasize them, apart 
from any value derived from their belonging to ourselves. 
We may conclude with him, then, that an original central 
self -feeling can never explain the passionate warmth of our self- 
regarding emotions, ivhich must, on the contrary, be addressed 
directly to special things less abstract and empty of content. To 
these things the name of self may be given, or to our conduct 
towards them the, name, of selfishness, Imt neither in the self 
nor the selfishness does the pure Thinker play the title-role. 

Only one more point connected with our self-regard need 
be mentioned. We have spoken of it so far as active in~ 
stinct or emotion. It remains to speak of it as cold intel 
lectual self-estimation. We may weigh our own Me in the 

* Psychologische Analysen auf Physiologischer Grundlage. Theil n. 
lite Hillfte, 11. The whole section ought to be read. 



328 PSYCHOLOGY. 

balance of praise and blame as easily as we weigh other 
people, though with difficulty quite as fairly. The just 
man is the one who can weigh himself impartially. Impar- 
tial weighing presupposes a rare faculty of abstraction from 
the vividness with which, as Herr Horwicz has pointed out, 
things known as intimately as our own possessions and 
performances appeal to our imagination ; and an equally 
rare power of vividly representing the affairs of others. But> 
granting these rare powers, there is no reason why a man 
should not pass judgment on himself quite as objectively 
and well as on anyone else. No matter how he feels about 
himself, unduly elated or unduly depressed, he may still 
truly know his own worth by measuring it by the outward 
standard he applies to other men, and counteract the injus 
tice of the feeling he cannot wholly escape. This self- 
measuring process has nothing to do with the instinctive 
self-regard we have hitherto been dealing with. Being 
merely ono application of intellectual comparison, it need 
no longer detain us here. Please note again, however, how 
the pure Ego appears merely as the vehicle in which the 
estimation is carried on, the objects estimated being all of 
them facts of an empirical sort, * one s body, one s credit, 

* Professor Bain, in his chapter on Emotions of Self, does scant jus 
tice to the primitive nature of a large part of our self-feeling, and seems to 
reduce it to reflective self-estimation of this sober intellectual sort, which 
certainly most of it is not. He says that when the attention is turned 
inward upon self as a Personality, " we are putting forth to wards ourselves 
the kind of exercise that properly accompanies our contemplation of other 
persons. We are accustomed to scrutinize the actions and conduct of those 
about us, to set a higher value upon one man than upon another, by com 
paring the two; to pity ono in distress; to feel complacency towards a par 
ticular individual; to congratulate a man on some good fortune that it 
pleases us to see him gain; to admire greatness or excellence as displayed 
*>y any of our fellows. All these exercises are intrinsically social, like 
Love and Resentment; an isolated individual could never attain to them, 
nor exercise then. By what means, then, through what fiction [!] can we 
turn round r.nd play them off upon self? Or how comes it that we obtain 
any satisfaction Ly putting self in the place of the other party? Perhaps 
the simplest form of the reflected act is that expressed by Self -worth and 
Self-estimation, based and begun upon observation of the ways and con 
duct of our fellow-beings. We soon make comparisons among the indi 
viduals about us; we see that one is stronger and does more work than 
another, and, in consequence perhaps, receives more pay. We see one 
putting forth perhaps more kindness than another, and in consequence 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 



329 



one s fame, one s intellectual ability, one s goodness, or 
whatever the case may be. 



The empirical Life of Self is divided, as below, into 





MATERIAL. 


SOCIAL. 


SPIRITUAL. 


SELF- 
SEEKING. 


Bodily Appetites 
and Instincts 
Love of Adorn 
ment, Foppery, 
Acquisitiveness, 
Constructiveness, 
Love of Home, etc. 


Desire to please, be 
noticed, admired, 
etc. 
Sociability, Emula 
tion, Envy, Love, 
Pursuit of Honor, 
Ambition, etc. 


Intellectual, Moral 
and Religious 
Aspiration, Con 
scientiousness 


SELF- 
ESTIMATION. 


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 



THE PURE EGO. 

Having summed up in the above table the principal 
results of the chapter thus far, I have said all that need 

receiving more love. We see some individuals surpassing the rest in aston 
ishing feats, and drawing after them the gaze and admiration of a crowd. 
We acquire a series of fixed associations towards persons so situated; favor 
able in the case of the superior, and unfavorable to the inferior. To the 
strong and laborious man we attach an estimate of greater reward, and feel 
that to be in his place would be a hap pier lot than falls to others. Desiring, 
as we do, from the primary motives of our being, to possess good things, 
and observing these to come by a man s superior exertions, we feel a respect 
for such exertion and a wish that it might be ours. We know that we also 
put forth exertions for our share uf good things; and on witnessing others, 
we are apt to be reminded of ourselves and to make comparisons with our 
selves, which comparisons derive their interest from the substantial conse 
quences. Having thus once learned to look at other persons as per- 
iOrming labors, greater or less, and as realizing fruits to accord; being, 
moreover, in all respects like our fellows, we find it an exercise neither 
difficult nor unmeaning to contemplate self as doing work and receiving 
the reward. ... As we decide between one man and another, which is 
worthier, ... so we decide between self and all other men; being, how 
ever, in this decision under the bias of our own desires." A couple of pages 
farther on we read: "By the terms Self-complacency. Self-gratulation, is 
indicated a positive enjoyment in dwelling upon our own merits and 
belongings. As in other modes, so here, the starting point is the contem 
plation of excellence or pleasing qualities in another person, accompanied 
more or less with fondness or love." Self-pity is also regarded by Professor 



330 PSYCHOLOGY. 

be said of the constituents of the phenomenal self, and 
of the nature of self-regard. Our decks are consequently 
sleared for the struggle with that pure principle of personal 
identity which has met us all along our preliminary expo 
sition, but which we have always shied from and treated as 
a difficulty to be postponed. Ever since Hume s time, it 
has been justly regarded as the most puzzling puzzle with 
which psychology has to deal ; and whatever view one may 
espouse, one has to hold his position against heavy odds. 
If, with the Spiritualists, one contend for a substantial soul, 
or transcendental principle of unity, one can give no positive 
account of what that may be. And if, with the Humians, 
one deny such a principle and say that the stream of pass- 
ing thoughts is all, one runs against the entire common- 
sense of mankind, of which the belief in a distinct principle 
of selfhood seems an integral part. Whatever solution be 
adopted in the pages to come, we may as well make up our 
minds in advance that it will fail to satisfy the majority of 
those to whom it is addressed. The best way of approach- 
ing the matter will be to take up first 

The Sense of Personal Identity. 

In the last chapter it was stated in as radical a way as 
possible that the thoughts which we actually know to exist 
do not fly about loose, but seem each to belong to some one 



Bain, in this place, as an emotion diverted to ourselves from a more im 
mediate object, "in a manner that we may term fictitious and unreal. 
Still, as we can view self in the light of another person, we can feel towards 
it the emotion of pity called forth by others in our situation." 

This account of Prof essor Bain s is, it will be observed, a good specimen 
of the old-fashioned mode of explaining the several emotions as rapid cal 
culations of results, and the transfer of feeling from one object to another, 
associated by contiguity or similarity with the first. Zoological evolu 
tionism, which came up since Prof essor Bain first wrote, has made us see, on 
the contrary, that many emotions must be primitively aroused by special 
objects. None are more worthy of being ranked primitive than the self- 
gratulation and humiliation attendant on our own successes and failures in 
the main functions of life. We need no borrowed reflection for these feel 
ings. Professor Bain s account applies to but that small fraction of our 
self-feeling which reflective criticism can add to, or subtract from, the 
total mass. Lotze has some pages on the modifications of our self-regard 
by universal judgments, in Microcosmus, book v. chap, v 5. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 331 

thinker and not to another. Each thought, out of a multi 
tude of other thoughts of -which it may think, is able to 
distinguish those which belong to its own Ego from those 
which do not. The former have a warmth and intimacy 
about them of which the latter are completely devoid, being 
merely conceived, in a cold and foreign fashion, and not 
appearing as blood-relatives, bringing their greetings to us 
from out of the past. 

Now this consciousness of personal sameness may be 
treated either as a subjective phenomenon or as an objec 
tive deliverance, as a feeling, or as a truth. We may ex 
plain how one bit of thought can come to judge other bits 
to belong to the same Ego with itself ; or we may criticise 
its judgment and decide how far it may tally with the 
nature of things. 

As a mere subjective phenomenon the judgment presents 
no difficulty or mystery peculiar to itself. It belongs to 
the great class of judgments of sameness; and there is 
nothing more remarkable in making a judgment of same 
ness in the first person than in the second or the third. 
The intellectual operations seem essentially alike, whether 
I say "I am the same, or whether I say the pen is the 
same, as yesterday. It is as easy to think this as to think 
the opposite and say neither I nor the pen is the same. 

This sort of bringing of tldngs together into the object of a 
single judgment is of course essential to all thinking. The 
things are conjoined in the thought, whatever may be the 
relation in which they appear to the thought. The thinking 
them is thinking them together, even if only with the result 
of judging that they do not belong together. This sort of 
subjective synthesis,, essential to knowledge as siich (when 
ever it has a complex object), must not be confounded with 
objective synthesis or union instead of difference or discon 
nection, known among the things.* The subjective syn- 



* "Also nur dadurch, dass ich em Maunigfaltiges gegebeuer Vorstel- 
lungeu iu einem Bewusstsein verbinden kann, ist es moglich dass ich die 
Identittit des Bewusstseins in diesen Vorstellungen selbst vorstelle, d. h. die 
analytische Einheit der Apperception ist nur unter der Voraussetzung irgend 
eiuer synthetischen m5glich." In this passage (Kritik der reineu Ver- 
uunft, 2te Anil. 16) Kant calls by the names of analytic and synthetic 



332 PSYCHOLOGY. 

thesis is involved in thought s mere existence. Even a 
really disconnected world could only be known to be such 
by having its parts temporarily united in the Object of some 
pulse of consciousness.* 

The sense of personal identity is not, then, this mere 
synthetic form essential to all thought. It is the sense of a 
sameness perceived by thought and predicated of things 
thought-about. These things are a present self and a self 
of yesterday. The thought not only thinks them both, but 
thinks that they are identical. The psychologist, looking on 
and playing the critic, might prove the thought wrong, and 
show there was no real identity, there might have been no 
yesterday, or, at any rate, no self of yesterday ; or, if there 
were, the sameness predicated might not obtain, or might 
be predicated on insufficient grounds. In either case the 
personal identity would not exist as a fact; but it would 
exist as a feeling all the same ; the consciousness of it by 
the thought would be there, and the psychologist would 
still have to analyze that, and show where its illusoriness 
lay. Let us now be the psychologist and see whether it be 
right or wrong when it says, / am the same self that I was 
yesterday. 

We may immediately call it right and intelligible so fai 
as it posits a past time with past thoughts or selves con 
tained therein these were data which we assumed at the 
outset of the book. Right also and intelligible so far as it 
thinks of a present self that present self we have just 
studied in its various forms. The only question for us is 
as to what the consciousness may mean when it calls the 

apperception what we here mean by objective and subjective synthesis 
respectively. It were much to be desired that some one might invent a 
good pair of terms in which to record the distinction those used in the 
text are certainly very bad, but Kant s seem to me still worse. Categorical 
unity and transcendental synthesis would also be good Kantian, but 
hardly good human, speech. 

* So that we might say, by a sort of bad pun, "only a connected world 
can be known as disconnected." I say bad pun, because the point of view 
shifts between the connectedness and the disconnectedness. The discon 
nectedness is of the realities known ; the connectedness is of the knowl 
edge of them ; and reality and knowledge of it are, from the psychological 
point of view held fast to in these pages, two different facts. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 333 

present self the same with one of the past selves which it 
has in mind. 

We spoke a moment since of warmth and intimacy. 
This leads us to the answer sought. For, whatever the 
thought we are criticising may think about its present self, 
that self comes to its acquaintance, or is actually felt, with 
warmth and intimacy. Of course this is the case with the 
bodily part of it ; we feel the whole cubic mass of our body 
all the while, it gives us an unceasing sense of personal 
existence. Equally do we feel the inner nucleus of the 
spiritual self, either in the shape of yon faint physiological 
adjustments, or (adopting the universal psychological be 
lief), in that of the pure activity of our thought taking 
place as such. Our remoter spiritual, material, and social 
selves, so far as they are realized, come also with a glow 
and a warmth ; for the thought of them infallibly brings 
some degree of organic emotion in the shape of quickened 
heart-beats, oppressed breathing, or some other alteration, 
even though it be a slight one, in the general bodily tone. 
The character of warmth, then, in the present self, re 
duces itself to either of two things, something in the feel 
ing which we have of the thought itself, as thinking, or else 
the feeling of the body s actual existence at the moment, 
or finally to both. "We cannot realize our present self with 
out simultaneously feeling one or other of these two things. 
Any other fact which brings these two things with it into 
consciousness will be thought with a warmth and an inti 
macy like those which cling to the present self. 

Any distant self which fulfils this condition will be 
thought with such warmth and intimacy. But which 
distant selves do fulfil the condition, when represented? 

Obviously those, and only those, which fulfilled it when 
they were alive. Them we shall imagine with the animal 
warmth upon them, to them may possibly cling the aroma, 
the echo of the thinking 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 whatever 
selves have not this mark, much as out of a herd of cattle 
let loose for the winter on some wide western prairie the 



334 PSYCHOLOGY. 

owner picks out and sorts together when the time for the 
round-up comes in the spring, all the beasts on which he 
finds his own particular brand. 

The various members of the collection thus set apart 
are felt to belong with each other whenever they are 
thought at all. The animal warmth, etc., is their herd-mark, 
the brand from which they can never more escape. It 
runs through them all like a thread through a chaplet and 
makes them into a whole, which we treat as a unit, no 
matter how much in other ways the parts may differ inter 
se. Add to this character the farther one that the distant 
selves appear to our thought as having for hours of time 
been continuous with each other, and the most recent ones 
of them continuous with the Self of the present moment, 
melting into it by slow degrees ; and we get a still stronger 
bond of union. As we think we see an identical bodily 
thing when, in spite of changes of structure, it exists con 
tinuously before our eyes, or when, however interrupted its 
presence, its quality returns unchanged ; so here we think 
we experience an identical Self when it appears to us in an 
analogous way. Continuity makes us unite what dissimi 
larity might otherwise separate ; similarity makes us unite 
what discontinuity might hold apart. And thus it is, 
finally, that 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-appearing 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 self again, just 
as he says, Here s the same old bed, the same old room, the 
came old world. 

The sense of our own personal identity, then, is exactly like- 
any one of our other perceptions of sameness among phenomena. 
It is a conclusion grounded either on the resemblance in a funda 
mental respect, or on the continuity before the mind, of the phe 
nomena compared. 

And it must not be taken to mean more than these 
grounds warrant, or treated as a sort of metaphysical or 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 335 

absolute Unity in which all differences are overwhelmed. 
The past aiid present selves compared are the same just so 
far as they are the same, and no farther. A uniform feeling 
of * warmth, of bodily existence (or an equally uniform feel 
ing of pure psychic energy?) pervades them all ; and this is 
what gives them a generic unity, and makes them the same 
in kind. But this generic unity coexists with generic differ 
ences just as real as the unity. And if from the one point 
of view they are one self, from others they are as truly 
not one but many selves. And similarly of the attribute of 
continuity ; it gives its own kind of unity to the self that 
of mere connectedness, or unbrokenness, a perfectly definite 
phenomenal thing but it gives not a jot or tittle more. 
And this unbrokenness in the stream of selves, like the 
uubrokeuness in an exhibition of dissolving views, in no 
wise implies any farther unity or contradicts any amount 
of plurality in other respects. 

And accordingly we find that, where the resemblance and 
the continuity are no longer felt, the sense of personal iden 
tity goes too. We hear from our parents various anecdotes 
about our infant years, but we do not appropriate them as 
W3 do our own memories. Those breaches of decorum 
awaken no blush, those bright sayings no self-complacency. 
That child is a foreign creature with which our present 
self is no more identified in feeling than it is with some 
stranger s living child to-day. Why ? Partly because 
great time-gaps break up all these early years we cannot 
ascend to them by continuous memories ; and partly be 
cause no representation of how the child felt comes up with 
the stories. We know what he said and did ; but no senti 
ment of his little body, of his emotions, of his psychic striv 
ings as they felt to him., comes up to contribute an element 
of warmth and intimacy to the narrative we hear, and the 
main bond of union with our present self thus disappears. 
ft is the same with certain of our dimly-recollected experi 
ences. We hardly know whether to appropriate them or 
to disown them as fancies, or things read or heard and not 
lived through. Their animal heat has evaporated ; the feel 
ings that accompanied them are so lacking in the recall, or 



336 PSYCHOLOGY. 

so different from those we now enjoy, that no judgment of 
identity can be decisively cast. 

Resemblance among tike parts of a continuum of feelings 
(especially bodily feelings) experienced along with things 
widely different in all other regards, thus constitutes the real 
and verifiable personal identity ivhich ice feel. There is 
no other identity than this in the stream of subjective 
consciousness which we described in the last chapter. Its 
parts differ, but under all their differences they are knit 
in these two ways ; and if either way of knitting disappears, 
the sense of unity departs. If a man wakes up some fine 
day unable to recall any of his past experiences, so that 
he has to learn his biography afresh, or if he only recalls 
the facts of it in a cold abstract way as things that he is sure 
once happened ; or if, without this loss of memory, his 
bodily and spiritual habits all change during the night, each 
organ giving a different tone, and the act of thought becom 
ing aware of itself in a different way ; lie feels, and he says, 
that he is a changed person. He disowns his former me, 
gives himself a new name, identifies his present life with 
nothing from out of the older time. Such cases are not 
rare in mental pathology ; but, as we still have some rea 
soning to do, we had better give no concrete account of 
them until the end of the chapter. 

This description of personal identity will be recognized 
by the instructed reader as the ordinary doctrine professed 
by the empirical school. Associationists in England and 
France, Herbartians in Germany, all describe the Self as 
an aggregate of which each part, as to its being, is a separate 
fact. So far so good, then ; thus much is true whatevei 
farther things may be true ; and it is to the imperishable 
glory of Hume and Herbart and their successors to have 
taken so much of the meaning of personal identity out of 
the clouds and made of the Self an empirical and verifia 
ble thing. 

But in leaving the matter here, and saying that this sum 
of passing things is all, these writers have neglected certain 
more subtle aspects of the Unity of Consciousness, to which 
we next must turn. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 33T 

Our recent simile of the herd of cattle will help us. It 
will be remembered that the beasts were brought together 
into one herd because their owner found on each of them 
his brand. The owner symbolizes here that section of 
consciousness, or pulse of thought, which we have all along 
represented as the vehicle of the judgment of identity ; and 
the ( brand symbolizes the characters of warmth and con 
tinuity, by reason of which the judgment is made. There 
is found a seZ/ -brand, just as there is found a herd-brand. 
Each brand, so far, is the mark, or cause of our know 
ing, that certain things belong-together. But if the brand 
is the ratio cognoscendi of the belonging, the belonging, 
in the case of the herd, is in turn the ratio existendi oi 
the brand. No beast would be so branded unless he be 
longed to the owner of the herd. They are not his because 
they are branded ; they are branded because they are his. 
So that it seems as if our description of the belonging- 
together of the various selves, as a belonging-together which 
is merely represented, in a later pulse of thought, had 
knocked the bottom out of the matter, and omitted the 
most characteristic one of all the features found in the herd 
a feature which common-sense finds in the phenomenon 
of personal identity as well, and for our omission of which 
she will hold us to a strict account. For common-sense 
insists that the unity of all the selves is not a mere ap 
pearance of similarity or continuity, ascertained after the 
fact. She is sure that it involves a real belonging to a real 
Owner, to a pure spiritual entity of some kind. Eolation 
to this entity is what makes the self s constituents stick to 
gether as they do for thought. The individual beasts do 
not stick together, for all that they wear the same brand, 
Each wanders with whatever accidental mates it finds. The 
herd s unity is only potential, its centre ideal, like the 
* centre of gravity in physics, until the herdsman or owner 
comes. He furnishes a real centre of accretion to which 
the beasts are driven and by which they are held. The 
beasts stick together by sticking severally to him. Just so, 
common-sense insists, there must be a real proprietor in 
the case of the selves, or else their actual accretion into a 
personal consciousness would never have taken place. 



388 PSYCHOLOGY. 

To the usual empiricist explanation of personal conscious. 
ness this is a formidable reproof, because all the individual 
thoughts and feelings which have succeeded each other up 
to date are represented by ordinary Associationism as in 
some inscrutable way integrating or gumming themselves 
together on their own account, and thus fusing into a stream. 
A.11 the incomprehensibilities which in Chapter VI we saw 
to attach to the idea of things fusing without a medium 
apply to the empiricist description of personal identity. 

But in our own account the medium is fully assigned, 
the herdsman is there, in the shape of something not among 
the things collected, but superior to them all, namely, the 
real, present onlooking, remembering, judging thought 
or identifying section of the stream. This is what col 
lects, owns some of the past facts which it surveys, and 
disowns the rest, and so makes a unity that is actualized 
and anchored and does not merely float in the blue air of 
possibility. And the reality of such pulses of thought, with 
their function of knowing, it will be remembered that we 
did not seek to deduce or explain, but simply assumed them 
as the ultimate kind of fact that the psychologist must ad 
mit to exist. 

But this assumption, though it yields much, still does 
not yield all that common-sense demands. The unity into 
which the Thought as I shall for a time proceed to call, 
with a capital T, the present mental state binds the indi 
vidual past facts with each other and with itself, does not 
exist until the Thought is there. It is as if wild cattle were 
lassoed by a newly-created settler and then owned for the 
first time. But the essence of the matter to common-sense 
is that the past thoughts never were wild cattle, they were 
always owned. The Thought does not capture them, but 
as soon as it comes into existence it finds them already its 
own. How is this possible unless the Thought have a 
substantial identity with a former owner, not a mere con 
tinuity or a resemblance, as in our account, but a real unity ? 
Common-sense in fact would drive us to admit what we 
may for the moment call an Arch-Ego, dominating the en 
tire stream of thought and all the selves that may be 
represented in it. as the ever self- same and changeless 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 339 

principle implied in their union. The Soul of Meta 
physics and the * Transcendental Ego of the Kantian 
Philosophy, are, as we shall soon see, but attempts to sat 
isfy this urgent demand of common-sense. But, for a time 
at least, we can still express without any such hypotheses 
that appearance of never-lapsing ownership for which com 
mon-sense contends. 

For how would it be if the Thought, the present judg 
ing Thought, instead of being in any way substantially or 
transcendentally identical with the former owner of the 
past self, merely inherited his title, and thus stood as 
his legal representative now? It would then, if its birth 
coincided exactly with the death of another owner, find 
the past self already its own as soon as it found it at all, 
and the past self would thus never be wild, but always 
owned, by a title that never lapsed. We can imagine a 
long succession of herdsmen coming rapidly into possession 
of the same cattle by transmission of an original title by 
bequest. May not the title of a collective self be passed 
from one Thought to another in some analogous way? 

It is a patent fact of consciousness that a transmission 
like this actually occurs. Each pulse of cognitive conscious 
ness, each Thought, dies away and is replaced by another. 
The 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 in 
cluding thus the Thoughts which went before, is the final 
receptacle and appropriating them is the final owner 
of all that they contain and own. Each Thought is thus 
born an owner, and dies owned, transmitting whatever it 
realized as its Self to its own later proprietor. 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 nas 
cent thought has of immediately taking up the expiring 
thought and adopting it, which is the foundation of the 



340 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 possessor possesses the possessed. 

It is impossible to discover any verifiable features in 
personal identity, which this sketch does not contain, im 
possible to imagine how any transcendent non-phenomenal 
sort of an Arch-Ego, were he there, could shape matters to 
any other result, or be known in time by any other fruit, 
than just this production of a stream of consciousness each 
section of which should "know, and knowing, hug to 
itself and adopt, all those that went before, thus standing 
as the representative of the entire past stream ; and which 
should similarly adopt the objects already adopted by 
any portion of this spiritual stream. Such standing-as- 
representative, and such adopting, are perfectly clear phe 
nomenal relations. The Thought which, whilst it knows 
another Thought and the Object of that Other, appro 
priates the Other and the Object which the Other appro 
priated, is still a perfectly distinct phenomenon from that 
Other ; it may hardly resemble it ; it may be far removed 
from it in space and time. 

The only point that is obscure is the act of appropria 
tion itself. Already in enumerating the constituents of the 
self and their rivalry, I had to use the word appropriate. 
And the quick-witted reader probably noticed at the time, 
in hearing how one constituent was let drop and disowned 
and another one held fast to and espoused, that the phrase 
was meaningless unless the constituents were objects in the 
hands of something else. A thing cannot appropriate itself ; 
it is itself ; and still less can it disown itself. There must 
be an agent of the appropriating and disowning ; but that 
agent we have already named. It is the Thought to whom 
the various constituents are known. That Thought is a 
vehicle of choice as well as of cognition ; and among the 
choices it makes are these appropriations, or repudiations, 
of its own. But the Thought never is an object in its own 
hands, it never appropriates or disowns itself. It appro 
priates to itself, it is the actual focus of accretion, the hook 
from which the chain of r>ast selves dangles, planted firmlv 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 341 

in the Present, which alone passes for real, and thus keep 
ing the chain from being a purely ideal thing. Anon the 
hook itself will drop into the past with all it carries, and 
then be treated as an object and appropriated by a new 
Thought in the new present which will serve as living 
hook in turn. The present moment of consciousness is 
thus, as Mr. Hodgson says, the darkest in the whole series. 
It may feel its own immediate existence we have all along 
admitted the possibility of this, hard as it is by direct in 
trospection to ascertain the fact but nothing can be known 
about it till it be dead and gone. Its appropriations are 
therefore less to itself than to the most intimately felt part 
of its present Object, the body, and the central adjustments, 
which accompany the act of thinking, in the head. These 
are the real nucleus of our personal identity, and it is their 
actual existence, realized as a solid present fact, which 
makes us say as sure as I exist, those past facts were part 
of myself. They are the kernel to which the represented 
parts of the Self are assimilated, accreted, and knit on ; 
and even were Thought entirely unconscious of itself in 
the act of thinking, these warm parts of its present 
object would be a firm basis on which the consciousness 
of personal identity would rest.* Such consciousness, then, 



* Some subtle rentier will object that the Thought cannot call any part 
of its Object I and knit other parts on to it, without first knitting that 
part on to Itself; and that it cannot knit it on to Itself without knowing 
Itself ; so that our supposition (above, p. 304) that the Thought may con- 
ceivably have no immediate knowledge of Itself is thus overthrown. To 
which the reply is that we must take care not to be duped by words. The 
words /and me signify nothing mysterious and unexampled they are at 
bottom only names of empJiasis ; and Thought is always emphasizing 
something. Within a tract of space which it cognizes, it contrasts a here 
with a there ; within a tract of time a now with a then : of a pair of things 
it calls one this, the other that. I and thou, I and it, are distinctions exactly 
on a par with these, distinctions possible in an exclusively objective field of 
knowledge, the I meaning for the Thought nothing but the bodily life 
which it momentarily feels. The sense of my bodily existence, however 
obscurely recognized as such, may then be the absolute original of my con 
scious selfhood, the fundamental perception Hint lam. All appropriations 
may be made to it, by a Thought not at the moment immediately cognized 
by itself. Whether these are not only logical possibilities but actual facts 
is something not yet dogmatically decided in the text. 



342 PSYCHOLOGY. 

as a psychologic fact, can be fully described without sup 
posiiig any other agent than a succession of perishing 
thoughts, endowed with the functions of appropriation and 
rejection, and of which some can know and appropriate or 
reject objects already known, appropriated, or rejected by 
the rest. 

To illustrate by diagram, let A, B, and C stand for three 




successive thoughts, each with its object inside of it. If B s 
object be A, and C s object be B ; then A, B, and C would 
stand for three pulses in a consciousness of personal iden 
tity. Each pulse would le something different from the 
others ; but B would know and adopt A, and C would 
know and adopt A and B. Three successive states of the 
same brain, on which each experience in passing leaves its 
mark, might very well engender thoughts differing from 
each other in just such a way as this. 

The passing Thought then seems to be the Thinker; 
and though there may be another non-phenomenal Thinker 
behind that, so far we do not seem to need him to express 
the facts. But we cannot definitively make up our mind 
about him until we have heard the reasons that have his 
torically been used to prove his reality. 

THE PURE SELF OR INNER PRINCIPLE OF PERSONAL UNITS , 

To a brief survey of the theories of the Ego let us then 
next proceed. They are three in number, as follows : 

1) The Spiritualist theory ; 

2) The Associationist theory ; 

H) The Transcendentalist theory. 

The Theory of the Soul. 

In Chapter YI we were led ourselves to the spiritualist 
theory of the Soul, as a means of escape from the unin- 
telligibilities of inind-stutf integrating with itself, and from 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 343 

the physiological improbability of a material monad, with 
thought attached to it, in the brain. But at the end of the 
chapter we said we should examine the Soul critically in 
a later place, to see whether it had any other advantages 
as a theory over the simple phenomenal notion of a stream 
of thought accompanying a stream of cerebral activity, by 
a law jdt unexplained. 

The theory of the Soul is the theory of popular philoso 
phy and of scholasticism, which is only popular philosophy 
made systematic. It declares that the principle of individ 
uality within us must be substantial, for psychic phenomena 
are activities, and there can be no activity without a con 
crete agent. This substantial agent cannot be the brain but 
must be something immaterial ; for its activity, thought, is 
both immaterial, and takes cognizance of immaterial things, 
and of material things in general and intelligible, as well as 
in particular and sensible ways, all which powers are in 
compatible with the nature of matter, of which the brain 
is composed. Thought moreover is simple, whilst the ac 
tivities of the brain are compounded of the elementary ac 
tivities of each of its parts. Furthermore, thought is spon 
taneous or free, whilst all material activity is determined 
ab extra ; and the will can turn itself against all corporeal 
goods and appetites, which would be impossible were it a 
corporeal function. For these objective reasons the prin 
ciple of psychic life must be both immaterial and simple as 
well as substantial, must be what is called a Soul. The 
same consequence follows from subjective reasons. Our 
consciousness of personal identity assures us of our essen 
tial simplicity : the owner of the various constituents of the 
self, as we have seen them, the hypothetical Arch-Ego 
whom we provisionally conceived as possible, is a real en 
tity of whose existence self-consciousness makes us directly 
aware. No material agent could thus turn round and grasp 
itsdf material activities always grasp something else than 
the agent. And if a brain could grasp itself and be self- 
conscious, it would be conscious of itself as a brain and 
not as something of an altogether different kind. The Soul 
then exists as a simple spiritual substance in which the 
various psychic faculties, operations, and affections inhere, 



844 PSYCHOLOGY. 

If we ask what a Substance is, the only answer is that 
it is a self-existent being, or one which needs no other sub 
ject in which to inhere. At bottom its only positive deter 
mination is Being, and this is something whose meaning 
we all realize even though we find it hard to explain. The 
Soul is moreover an individual being, and if we ask what 
that is, we are told to look in upon our Self, and we shall 
learn by direct intuition better than through any abstract 
reply. Our direct perception of our own inward being is 
in fact by many deemed to be the original prototype out 
of which our notion of simple active substance in general is 
fashioned. The consequences of the simplicity and substan 
tiality of the Soul are its incorruptibility and natural im 
mortality nothing but God s direct fiat can annihilate it 
and its responsibility at all times for whatever it may have 
ever done. 

This substantialist view of the soul was essentially the 
view of Plato and of Aristotle. It received its completely 
formal elaboration in the middle ages. It was believed in 
by Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Leibnitz, Wolf, Berkeley, and 
is now defended by the entire modern dualistic or spirit 
ualistic or common-sense school. Kant held to it while 
denying its fruitfulness as a premise for deducing conse 
quences verifiable here below. Kant s successors, the abso 
lute idealists, profess to have discarded it, how that may 
be we shall inquire ere long. Let us make up our minds 
what to think of it ourselves. 

It is at all events needless for expressing the actual sub 
jective phenomena of consciousness as they appear. We 
have formulated them all without its aid, by the supposi 
tion of a stream of thoughts, each substantially different 
from the rest, but cognitive of the rest and appropriate 
of each other s content. At least, if I have not already 
succeeded in. making this plausible to the reader, I am 
hopeless of convincing him by anything I could add row. 
The unity, the identity, the individuality, and the immateri 
ality that appear in the psychic life are thus accounted tol 
as phenomenal and temporal facts exclusively, and with no 
need of reference to any more simple or substantial agent 
than the present Thought or section of the stream. We 



TEE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 848 

have seen it to be single and unique in the sense of having 
no separable parts (above, p. 239 ff.) perhaps that is the only 
kind of simplicity meant to be predicated of the soul. The 
present Thought also has being, at least all believers in 
the Soul believe so and if there be no other Being in 
which it inheres, it ought itself to be a substance. If 
this kind of simplicity and substantiality were all that ia 
predicated of the Soul, then it might appear that we had 
been talking of the soul all along, without knowing it, when 
we treated the present Thought as an agent, an owner, and 
the like. But the Thought is a perishing and not an im 
mortal or incorruptible thing. Its successors may contin 
uously succeed to it, resemble it, and appropriate it, but 
they are not it, whereas the Soul-Substance is supposed to 
be a fixed unchanging thing. By the Soul is always meant 
something behind the present Thought, another kind of 
substance, existing on a non-phenomenal plane. 

When we brought in the Soul at the end of Chapter VI, 
as an entity which the various brain-processes were sup 
posed to affect simultaneously, and which responded to 
their combined influence by single pulses of its thought, it 
was to escape integrated mind-stuff on the one hand, and 
an improbable cerebral monad on the other. But when 
(as now, after all we have been through since that earlier 
passage) we take the two formulations, first of a brain to 
whose processes pulses of thought simply correspond, and 
second, of one to whose processes pulses of thought in a 
Soul correspond, and compare them together, we see that at 
bottom the second formulation is only a more roundabout 
way than the first, of expressing the same bald fact. 
That bald fact is that ivhen the brain acts, a thought occurs. 
The spiritualistic formulation says that the brain-processes 
knock the thought, so to speak, out of a Soul which stands 
there to receive their influence. The simpler formulation 
says that the thought simply comes. But what positive 
meaning has the Soul, when scrutinized, but the ground of 
possibility of the thought ? And what is the knocking but 
the determining of the possibility to actuality ? And what is this 
after all but giving a sort of concreted form to one s belief 
that the corning of the thought, when the brain-processes 



846 PSYCHOLOGY. 

occur, has some sort of ground in the nature of things ? U 
the world Soul be understood merely to express that claim, 
it is a good word to use. But if it be held to do more, 
to gratify the claim, for instance, to connect rationally the 
thought which comes, with the processes which occur, and 
to mediate intelligibly between their two disparate natures, 
then it is an illusory term. It is, in fact, with the word 
Soul as with the word Substance in general. To say that 
phenomena inhere in a Substance is at bottom only to 
record one s protest against the notion that the bare exist 
ence of the phenomena is the total truth. A phenomenon 
would not itself be, we insist, unless there were something 
more than the phenomenon. To the more we give the pro 
visional name of Substance. So, in the present instance, 
we ought certainly to admit that there is more than the 
bare fact of coexistence of a passing thought with a 
passing brain-state. But we do not answer the question 
What is that more? when we say that it is a Soul 
which the brain-state affects. This kind of more explains 
nothing ; and when we are once trying metaphysical ex 
planations we are foolish not to go as far as we can. For my 
own part I confess that the moment I become metaphysical 
and try to define the more, I find the notion of some sort of 
an anima mundi thinking in all of us to be a more promis 
ing hypothesis, in spite of all its difficulties, than that of a 
lot of absolutely individual souls. Meanwhile, as psycholo 
gists, we need not be metaphysical at all. The phenomena 
are enough, the passing Thought itself is the only verifiable 
thinker, and its empirical connection with the brain-process 
is the ultimate known law. 

To the other arguments which would prove the need of 
a soul, we may also turn a deaf ear. The argument from 
free-will can convince only those who believe in free-will; 
and even they will have to admit that spontaneity is just as 
possible, to say the least, in a temporary spiritual agent 
like our Thought as in a permanent one like the supposed 
Soul. The same is true of the argument from the kinds of 
things cognized. Even if the brain could not cognize uni- 
versals, immate rials, or its Self, still the Thought which 
we have relied upon in our account is not the brain, closely 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 347 

as it seems connected with it ; and after all, if the brain could 
cognize at all, one does not well see why it might not cog 
nize one sort of thing as well as another. The great diffi 
culty is in seeing how a thing can cognize anything. This 
difficulty is not in the least removed by giving to the thing 
that cognizes the name of Soul. The Spiritualists do not 
deduce any of the properties of the mental life from 
otherwise known properties of the soul. They simply find 
various characters ready-made in the mental life, and 
these they clap into the Soul, saying, " Lo ! behold the 
source from whence they flow !" The merely verbal charac 
ter of this explanation is obvious. The Soul invoked, far 
from making the phenomena more intelligible, can only be 
made intelligible itself by borrowing their form, it must 
be represented, if at all, as a transcendent stream of con 
sciousness duplicating the one we know. 

Altogether, the Soul is an outbirth of that sort of phi 
losophizing whose great maxim, according to Dr. Hodgson, 
is : " Whatever you are totally ignorant of, assert to be the 
explanation of everything else." 

Locke and Kant, whilst still believing in the soul, began 
the work of undermining the notion that we know anything 
about it. Most modern writers of the mitigated spiritual 
istic, or dualistic philosophy the Scotch school, as it is 
often called among us are forward to proclaim this igno 
rance, and to attend exclusively to the verifiable phenomena 
of self-consciousness, as we have laid them down. Dr. 
Wayland, for example, begins his Elements of Intellectual 
Philosophy with the phrase " Of the essence of Mind we 
know nothing," and goes on : " All that we are able to affirm 
of it is that it is something which perceives, reflects, remem 
bers, imagines, and wills ; but what that something is 
which exerts these energies we know not. It is only as we 
are conscious of the action of these energies that we are 
conscious of the existence of mind. It is only by the exer 
tion of its own powers that the mind becomes cognizant of 
their existence. The cognizance of its powers, however, 
gives us no knoAvledge of that essence of which they are 
predicated. In these respects our knowledge of mind is 



348 PYSCHOLOGY. 

precisely analogous to our knowledge of matter." This 
analogy of our two ignorances is a favorite remark in the 
Scotch school. It is but a step to lump them together 
into a single ignorance, that of the Unknowable to which 
any one fond of superfluities in philosophy may accord the 
hospitality of his belief, if it so please him, but which any 
one else may as freely ignore and reject. 

The Soul-theory is, then, a complete superfluity, so far 
as accounting for the actually verified facts of conscious 
experience goes. So far, no one can be compelled to sub 
scribe to it for definite scientific reasons. The case would 
rest here, and the reader be left free to make his choice, 
were it not for other demands of a more practical kind. 

The first of these is Immortality, for which the simpli 
city and substantiality of the Soul seem to offer a solid 
guarantee. A stream of thought, for aught that we see 
to be contained in its essence, may come to a full stop at 
any moment; but a simple substance is incorruptible, and 
will, by its own inertia, persist in Being so long as the Cre 
ator does not by a direct miracle snuff it out. Unques 
tionably this is the stronghold of the spiritualistic belief, 
as indeed the popular touchstone for all philosophies is the 
question, "What is their bearing on a future life?" 

The Soul, however, when closely scrutinized, guarantees 
no immortality of a sort we care for. The enjoyment of the 
atom-like simplicity of their substance in scecula sceculorum 
would not to most people seem a consummation devoutly 
to be wished. The substance must give rise to a stream of 
consciousness continuous with the present stream, in order 
to arouse our hope, but of this the mere persistence of the 
substance per se offers no guarantee. Moreover, in the 
general advance of our moral ideas, there has come to be 
something rediculous n\ the way our forefathers had of 
grounding their hopes of immortality on the simplicity of 
their substance. The demand for immortality is nowadays 
essentially teleological. We believe ourselves immortal 
because we believe ourselves fit for immortality. A sub 
stance ought surely to perish, we think, if not worthy 
to survive; and an insubstantial stream 7 to prolong itself, 
provided it be worthy, if the nature of Things is organized 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 349 

in the rational way in which we trust it is. Substance or 
no substance, soul or stream, what Lotze says of immor 
tality is about all that human wisdom can say : 

" We have no other principle for deciding it than this general ideal 
istic belief : that every created thing will continue whose continuance 
belongs to the meaning of the world, and so long as it does so belong ; 
whilst every one will pass away whose reality is justified only in a tran 
sitory phase of the world s course. That this principle admits of no 
further application in human hands need hardly be said. We surely 
know not the merits which may give to one being a claim on eternity, 
nor the defects which would cut others off." * 

A second alleged necessity for a soul-substance is our 
forensic responsibility before God. Locke caused an up 
roar when he said that the unity of consciousness made a 
man the same person, whether supported by the same sub 
stance or no, and that God would not, in the great day, 
make a person answer for what he remembered nothing of. 
It was supposed scandalous that our forgetfulness might 
thus deprive God of the chance of certain retributions, 
which otherwise would have enhanced his glory. This is 
certainly a good speculative ground for retaining the Soul 
at least for those who demand a plenitude of retribution. 
The mere stream of consciousness, with its lapses of mem 
ory, cannot possibly be as responsible as a soul which is 
at the judgment day all that it ever was. To modern read 
ers, however, who are less insatiate for retribution than 
their grandfathers, this argument will hardly be as con 
vincing as it seems once to have been. 

One great use of the Soul has always been to account 
for, and at the same time to guarantee, the closed individu 
ality of each personal consciousness. The thoughts of one 
soul must unite into one self, it was supposed, and must be 
eternally insulated from those of every other soul. But we 
have already begun to see that, although unity is the rule of 
each man s consciousness, yet in some individuals, at least, 
thoughts may split away from the others and form sepa- 

* Metaphysik, 245 fin. This writer, who In his early work, the Medi- 
ziuisohe Psychologic, was (to my reading) a strong defender of the Soul- 
Substance theory, has written in 243-5 of Ins Metaphysik the most beau- 
tifnl criticism of this theory which exists. 



350 PSYCHOLOGY. 

rate selves. As for insulation, it would be rash, in view of 
the phenomena of thought-transference, mesmeric influence 
and spirit-control, which are being alleged nowadays on 
better authority than ever before, to be too sure about 
that point either. The definitively closed nature of our 
personal consciousness is probably an average statistical 
resultant of many conditions, but not an elementary force 
or fact ; so that, if one wishes to preserve the Soul, the less 
he draws his arguments from that quarter the better. So 
long as our self, on the whole, makes itself good and prac 
tically maintains itself as a closed individual, why, as Lotze 
says, is not that enough ? And why is the frem^-an-individ- 
ual in some inaccessible metaphysical way so much prouder 
an achievement ? * 

My final conclusion, then, about the substantial Soul is 
that it explains nothing and guarantees nothing. Its suc 
cessive thoughts are the only intelligible and verifiable 
things about it, and definitely to ascertain the correlations 
of these with brain-processes is as much as psychology can 
empirically do. From the metaphysical point of view, it is 
true that one may claim that the correlations have a ra 
tional ground ; and if the word Soul could be taken to mean 
merely some such vague problematic ground, it would be 
unobjectionable. But the trouble is that it professes to 
give the ground in positive terms of a very dubiously cred 
ible sort. I therefore feel entirely free to discard the word 
Soul from the rest of this book. If I ever use it, it will bo 
in the vaguest and most popular way. The reader who 
finds any comfort in the idea of the Soul, is, however, per 
fectly free to continue to believe in it ; for our reasonings 
have not established the non-existence of the Soul ; they 
have only proved its superfluity for scientific purposes. 

The next theory of the pure Self to which we pass is 

The Associationist Theory. 

Locke paved the way for it by the hypothesis he sug< 
gested of the same substance having two successive con- 

* On the empirical and transcendental conceptions of the self s unity. 
see Lotzfi- Metaphysic, 244. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OP SELF. 351 

Bciousnesses, or of tlie same consciousness being supported 
by more than one substance. He made his readers feel 
that the important unity of the Self was its verifiable and 
felt unity, and that a metaphysical or absolute unity would 
be insignificant, so long as a consciousness of diversity might 
be there. 

Hume showed how great the consciousness of diversity 
actually was. In the famous chapter on Personal Identity, 
in his Treatise on Human Nature, he writes as follows : 

"There are some philosophers who imagine we are every moment 
intimately conscious of what we call our SELF ; that we feel its exist 
ence and its continuance in existence, and are certain, beyond the evi 
dence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity. 
. . . Unluckily all these positive assertions are contrary to that very 
experience which is pleaded for them, nor have we any idea of Self, 
after the manner it is here explained. ... It must be some one im 
pression that gives rise to every real idea. ... If any impression givea 
rise to the idea of Self, that impression must continue invariably 
the same through the whole course of our lives, since self is supposed 
to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and 
invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief and joy, passions and sensations 
succeed each other, and never all exist at the same time. . . . For my 
part, when I enter moat intimately into what I call myself, I always 
stumble on some particular perception or other of heat or cold, light or 
shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at 
any time without a perception, and rever can observe anything but the 
perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by 
sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said 
not to exist. And were all my perceptions removed by death, and could 
I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate after the dissolution 
of my body, I should be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is 
farther requisite to make me a perfect non-entity. If anyone, upon 
serious and unprejudiced reflection, thinks he has a different notion of 
himself, I must confess I can reason no longer with him. All I cap 
allow him is, that he may be in the right as well as I, and that we are 
essentially different in this particular. He may, perhaps, perceive 
something simple and continued which he calls himself; though I am 
certain there is no such principle in me. 

" But setting aside some metaphysicians of this kind, I may venture 
to affirm of the rest of mankind that they are nothing but a bundle or 
collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an 
inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement. Our 
eyes cannot turn in their sockets without varying our perceptions. Our 
thought is still more variable than our sight; and all our other senses 
and faculties contribute to this change; nor is there any single power of 



852 PSYCHOLOGY. 

the soul which remains unalterably the same, perhaps for one moment 
The mind is a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively 
make their appearance; pass, repass, glide away and mingle in an infi 
nite variety of postures and situations. There is properly no simplicity 
in it atone time, nor identity in different ; whatever natural propension 
we may have to imagine that simplicity and identity. The comparison 
of the theatre must not mislead us. They are the successive percep 
tions only, that constitute the mind ; nor have we the most distant 
notion of the place where these scenes are represented, nor of the ma- 
terial of which it is composed. " 

But Hume, after doing this good piece of introspective 
work, proceeds to pour out the child with the "bath, and to 
fly to as great an extreme as the substantialist philosophers. 
As they say the Self is nothing but Unity, unity abstract and 
absolute, so Hume says it is nothing but Diversity, diversity 
abstract and absolute ; whereas in truth it is that mixture 
of unity and diversity which we ourselves have already 
found so easy to pick apart. We found among the objects 
of the stream certain feelings that hardly changed, that 
stood out warm and vivid in the past just as the present 
feeling does now ; and we found the present feeling to be 
the centre of accretion to which, de proche en proche, these 
other feelings are, by the judging Thought, felt to cling. Hume 
says nothing of the judging Thought ; and he denies this 
thread of resemblance, this core of sameness running 
through the ingredients of the Self, to exist even as a phe 
nomenal thing. To him there is no tertium quid between 
pure unity and pure separateness. A succession of ideas 
" connected by a close relation affords to an accurate view 
as perfect a notion of diversity as if there was no manner 
of relation" at all. 

1 1 All our distinct perceptions are distinct existences, and the mind 
never perceives any real connection among distinct existences. Did our 
perceptions either inhere in something simple or individual, or did the 
mind perceive some real connection among them, there would be no 
difficulty in the case. For my part, I must plead the privilege of a 
sceptic and. confess that this difficulty is too hard for my understanding. 
\ pretend not, however, to pronounce it insuperable. Others, perhaps, 
. . may discover some hypothesis that will reconcile these con 
tradictions." * 

* Appendix to hook i of Hume s Treatise on Human Nature. 



TUB CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 353 

Hume is at bottom as much of a metaphysician as 
Thomas Aquinas. No wonder he can discover no hypoth 
esis. The unity of the parts of the stream is just as real 
a connection as their diversity is a real separation ; both 
connection and separation are ways in which the past 
thoughts appear to the present Thought; unlike each 
other in respect of date and certain qualities this is the 
separation ; alike in other qualities, and continuous in time 
this is the connection. In demanding a more real con 
nection than this obvious and verifiable likeness and con 
tinuity, Hume seeks the world behind the looking glass, 
and gives a striking example of that Absolutism which is 
the great disease of philosophic Thought. 

The chain of distinct existences into which Hume thus 
chopped up our stream was adopted by all of his succes 
sors as a complete inventory of the facts. The association- 
ist Philosophy was founded. Somehow, out of ideas, each 
separate, each ignorant of its mates, but sticking together 
and calling each other up according to certain laws, all the 
higher forms of consciousness were to be explained, and 
among them the consciousness of our personal identity. 
The task was a hard one, in which what we called the 
psychologist s fallacy (p. 196 ff.) bore the brunt of the 
work. Two ideas, one of A, succeeded by another of B, 
were transmuted into a third idea of B after A. An idea 
from last year returning now was taken to be an idea of last 
year ; two similar ideas stood for an idea of similarity, and 
the like ; palpable confusions, in which certain facts about 
the ideas, possible only to an outside knower of them, were 
put into the place of the ideas own proper and limited de 
liverance and content. Out of such recurrences and resem 
blances in a series of discrete ideas and feelings a knowl 
edge was somehow supposed to be engendered in each 
feeling that it was recurrent and resembling, and that it 
helped to form a series to whose unity the name / came to 
be joined. In the same way, substantially, Herbavt,* in 



* Herbart believed in the Soul, too; but for him the Self of which we 
are conscious is the empirical Self not the soul. 



354 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Germany, tried to show how a conflict of ideas would fuse 
into a manner of representing itself for which I was the con 
secrated name.* 

The defect of all these attempts is that the conclusion 
pretended to follow from certain premises is by no means 
rationally involved in the premises. A feeling of any kind, 
if it simply returns, ought to be nothing else than what it 
was at first. If memory of previous existence and all sorts 
of other cognitive functions are attributed to it when it re 
turns, it is no longer the same, but a widely different feel 
ing, and ought to be so described. We have so described 
it with the greatest explicitness. We have said that feel 
ings never do return. We have not pretended to explain 
this ; we have recorded it as an empirically ascertained 
law, analogous to certain laws of brain-physiology ; and, 
seeking to define the way in which new feelings do differ 
from the old, we have found them to be cognizant and ap- 
propriative of the old, whereas the old were always cogni 
zant and appropriative of something else. Once more, this 
account pretended to be nothing more than a complete 
description of the facts. It explained them no more than 
the associationist account explains them. But the latter 
both assumes to explain them and in the same breath falsi 
fies them, and for each reason stands condemned. 

It is but just to say that the associationist writers as a 
rule seem to have a lurking bad conscience about the Self; 
and that although they are explicit enough about what it is v 
namely, a train of feelings or thoughts, they are very shy 
about openly tackling the problem of how it comes to be 
aware of itself. Neither Bain nor Spencer, for example, 
directly touch this problem. As a rule, associationist 
writers keep talking about the mind and about what we 
do ; and so, smuggling in surreptitiously what they ought 
avowedly to have postulated in the form of a present 
judging Thought, they either trade upon their reader s 
lack of discernment or are undiscerning themselves. 

Mr. D. G. Thompson is the only associationist writer I 
know who perfectly escapes this confusion, and postulates 

* Compare again the remarks on pp. 158-162 above. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OP SELF. 355 

openly what he needs. " All states of consciousness," he 
says, "imply and postulate a subject Ego, whose sub 
stance is unknown and unknowable, to which [why not say 
by which?] states of consciousness are referred as attri 
butes, but which in the process of reference becomes ob 
jectified and becomes itself an attribute of a subject Ego 
which lies still beyond, and which ever eludes cognition 
though ever postulated for cognition. * This is exactly 
our judging and remembering present Thought, described 
in less simple terms. 

After Mr. Thompson, M. Taine and the two Mills deserve 
credit for seeking to be as clear as they can. Taine tells us 
in the first volume of his Intelligence what the Ego is, 
a continuous web of conscious events no more really dis 
tinct from each other f than rhomboids, triangles, and 
squares marked with chalk on a plank are really distinct, 
for the plank itself is one. In the second volume he says 
all these parts have a common character embedded in them, 
that of being internal [this is our character of warmness, 
otherwise named]. This character is abstracted and iso 
lated by a mental fiction, and is what we are conscious of as 
our self this stable within is what each of us calls / or 
me. Obviously M. Taine forgets to tell us what this each 
of us is, which suddenly starts up and performs the ab 
straction and * calls its product I or me. The character 
does not abstract itself. Taine means by each of us 1 
merely the present judging Thought with its memory and 
tendency to appropriate, but he does not name it distinctly 
enough, and lapses into the fiction that the entire series of 
thoughts, the entire plank, is the reflecting psychologist. 

James Mill, after defining Memory as a train of associ 
ated ideas beginning with that of my past self and ending 
with that of my present self, defines my Self as a train of 
ideas of which Memory declares the first to be continuously 
connected with the last. The successive associated ideas 



* System of Psychology (1884). vol. T. p. 114. 

f Distinct only to observation, he adds. To whose observation? the 
outside psychologist s, the Ego s, their own, or the plank s? Darauf 
kommt es (in ! 



356 PSYCHOLOGY. 

run, as it were, into a single point of consciousness. * 
John Mill, annotating this account, says : 

" The phenomenon of Self and that of Memory are merely two sides 
of the same fact, or two different modes of viewing the same fact. We 
may, as psychologists, set out from either of them, and refer the other 
to it. ... But it is hardly allowable to do both. At least it must 
be said that by doing so we explain neither. We only show that the 
two things are essentially the same ; that my memory of having as 
cended Skiddaw on a given day, and my consciousness of being the 
same person who ascended Skiddaw on that day, are two modes of stat 
ing the same fact : a fact which psychology has as yet failed to resolve 
into anything more elementary. In analyzing the complex phenomena 
of consciousness, v/e must come to something ultimate ; and we seem 
to have reached two elements which have a good prim a facie claim to 
that title. There is, first, . . . the difference between a fact and the 
Thought of that fact : a distinction which we are able to cognize in the 
past, and which then constitutes Memory, and in the future, w r hen it 
constitutes Expectation ; but in neither case can we give any account 
of it except that it exists. . . . Secondly, in addition to this, and 
setting out from the belief . . . that the idea I now have was de 
rived from a previous sensation . . . there is the further conviction 
that this sensation . . . was my own ; that it happened to my self. 
In other words, I am aware of a long and uninterrupted succession 
of past feelings, going back as far as memory reaches, and terminating 
with the sensations I have at the present moment, all of which are con 
nected by an inexplicable tie, that distinguishes them not only from any 
succession or combination in mere thought, but also from the parallel 
successions of feelings which I believe, on satisfactory evidence, to have 
happened to each of the other beings, shaped like myself, whom I per 
ceive around me. This succession of feelings, which I call my memory 
of the past, is that by which I distinguish my Self. Myself is the 
person who had that series of feelings, and I know nothing of myself, 
by direct knowledge, except that I had them. But there is a bond of 
some sort among all the parts of the series, which makes me say that 
they were feelings of a person who was the same person throughout 
[according to us this is their warmth and resemblance to the central 
spiritual self now actually felt] and a different person from those who 
had any of the parallel successions of feelings ; and this bond, to me, 
constitutes my Ego. Here I think the question must rest, until some 
psychologist succeeds better than anyone else has done, in showing a 
mode in which the analysis can be carried further." f 



* Analysis, etc., J. S. Mill s Edition, vol. i. p. 331. The as it were 
is delightfully characteristic of the school. 
f J. Mill s Analysis, vol. n. p. 175. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 857 

The reader must judge of our own success in carrying 
the analysis farther. The various distinctions we have 
made are all parts of an endeavor so to do. John Mill him 
self, in a later- written passage, so far from advancing in the 
line of analysis, seems to fall back upon something peril 
ously near to the Soul. He says : 

" The fact of recognizing a sensation, , . . remembering that it 
has been felt before, is the simplest and most elementary fact of mem 
ory : and the inexplicable tie . . . which connects tha present con 
sciousness with the past one of which it reminds me, is as near as I 
think we can get to a positive conception of Self. That there is some 
thing real in this tie, real as the sensations themselves, and not a mere 
product of the laws of thought without any i ac: corresponding to it, I 
hold to be indubitable. . . . This original element, ... to which we 
cannot give any name but its own peculiar one, without implying some 
false or ungrounded theory, is the Ego, or Self. As such I ascribe a 
reality to the Ego to my own mind different from that real existence 
as a Permanent Possibility, which is the only reality I acknowledge in 
Matter. ... We are forced to apprehend every part of the series as 
linked with the other parts by something in common which is not the 
feelings themselves, any more than the succession of the feelings is the 
feelings themselves -, and as that which is the same in the first as in the 
second, in the second as in the third, in the third as in the fourth, 
and so on, must be the same in the first and in the fiftieth, this com 
mon element is a permanent element. But beyond this we can affirm 
nothing of it except the states of consciousness themselves. The feel 
ings or consciousnesses which belong or have belonged to it, and its 
possibilities of having more, are the only facts there are to be asserted 
of Self the only positive attributes, except permanence, which we can 
ascribe to it." * 

Mr. Mill s habitual method of philosophizing was to 
affirm boldly some general doctrine derived from his father, 
and then make so many concessions of detail to its enemies 
as practically to abandon it altogether. f In this place the 



* Examination of Hamilton, 4th ed. p. 263. 

f His chapter on the Psychological Theory of Mind is a beautiful case in 
point, and his concessions there have become so celebrated that they must 
be quoted for the reader s benefit. He ends the chapter with these words 
(loc. cit. p. 247): "The theory, therefore, which resolves Mind into a series 
of feelings, with a background of possibilities of feeling, can effectually 
withstand the most invidious of the arguments directed against it. But 
groundless as are the extrinsic objections, the theory has intrinsic difficul- 



358 PSYCHOLOGY. 

concessions amount, so far as they are intelligible, to the 
admission of something very like the Soul. This inex 
plicable tie which connects the feelings, this something 
in common by which they are linked and which is not the 
passing feelings themselves, but something permanent, of 
which we can affirm nothing save its attributes and its 
permanence, what is it but metaphysical Substance come 
again to life ? Much as one must respect the fairness of 
Mill s temper, quite as much must one regret his failure 
of acumen at this point. At bottom he makes the same 
blunder as Hume : the sensations per se, he thinks, have 
no tie. The tie of resemblance and continuity which the 
remembering Thought finds among them is not a real tie * 
but a mere product of the laws of thought; and the 
fact that the present Thought appropriates them is also 



ties which we have not set forth, and which it seems to me beyond the 
power of metaphysical analysis to remove. . . , 

" The thread of consciousness which composes the mind s phenomenal 
life consist not only of present sensations, but likewise, iu part, of mem 
ories and expectations. Now what are these ? In themselves, they are 
present feelings, states of present consciousness, and in that respect not dis 
tinguished from sensations. They all, moreover, resemble some given sen 
sations or feelings, of which we have previously had experience. But they 
are attended with the peculiarity that each of them involves a belief in 
more than its own present existence. A sensation involves only this ; but 
a remembrance of sensation, even it not referred to any particular date, in 
volves the suggestion and belief that a sensation, of which it is a copy or 
representation, actually existed in the past ; and an expectation involves 
the belief, more or less positive, that a sensation or other feeling to which 
it directly refers will exist in the future. Nor can the phenomena in 
volved in these two states of consciousness be adequately expressed, with 
out saying that the belief they include is, that I myself formerly had, or 
that I myself, and no other, shall hereafter have, the sensations remembered 
or expected. The fact believed is, that the sensations did actually form, or 
will hereafter form, part of the self-same series of states, or thread of con 
sciousness, of which the remembrance or expectation of those sensations is 
the part now present. If, therefore, we speak of the mind as a series of 
feelings we are obliged to complete the statement by calling it a series of 
feelings which is aware of itself as past and future ; and we are reduced to 
the alternative of believing that tho mind, or Ego, is something different 
from any series of feelings, or possibilities of them, or of accepting the 
paradox that something which ex hy pothesi is but a series of feelings, can 
be aware of itself as a series. 

" The truth is. that we are here face to face with that final inexplicw- 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 359 

no real tie. But whereas Hume was contented to say that 
there might after all be no real tie, Mill, unwilling to ad 
mit this possibility, is driven, like any scholastic, to place it 
in a non-phenomenal world. 

John Mill s concessions may be regarded as the defini 
tive bankruptcy of the associationist description of the con 
sciousness of self, starting, as it does, with the best 
intentions, and dimly conscious of the path, but perplexed 
in the extreme at last with the inadequacy of those simple 
feelings, non-cognitive, non-transcendent of themselves, 
which were the only baggage it was willing to take along. 
One muse beg memory, knowledge on the part of the feel 
ings of something outside themselves. That granted, every 
other true thing follows naturally, and it is hard to go 
astray. The knowledge the present feeling has of the past 



bility, at which, as Sir W. Hamilton observes, we inevitably arrive when 
we reach ultimate facts ; and in general, one mode of stating it only appears 
more incomprehensible than another, because the whole of human lan 
guage is accommodated to the one, and is so incongruous with the other 
that it cannot be expressed in any terms which do not deny its truth. The 
real stumbling-block is perhaps not in any theory of the fact, but in the fact 
itself. The true incomprehensibly perhaps is, that something which has 
ceased, or is not yet in existence, can still be, in a manner, present; that a 
series of feelings, the infinitely greater part of which is past or future, can 
be gathered up, as it were, into a simple present conception, accompanied 
by a belief of reality. I think by far the wisest thing we can do is to accept 
the inexplicable fact, without any theory of how it takes place ; and when 
we are obliged to speak of it in terms which assume a theory, to use them 
with a reservation as to their meaning." 

In a later place in the same book (p. 561) Mill, speaking of what may 
rightly be demanded of a theorist, says: "He is not entitled to frame a 
theory from one class of phenomena, extend it to another class which 
it does not fit, and excuse himself by saying that if we cannot make it fit, 
it is because ultimate facts are inexplicable." The class of phenomena 
which the associationist school takes to frame its theory of the Ego are feel 
ings unaware of each other. The class of phenomena the Ego presents are 
feelings of which the later ones are intensely aware of those that went be 
fore. The two classes do not fit, and no exercise of ingenuity can ever 
make them fit. No shuffling of unaware feelings can make them aware. 
To get the awareness we must openly beg it by postulating a new feel 
ing which has it. This new feeling is no Theory of the phenomena, 
but a simple statement of them ; and as such I postulate in the text the 
present passing Thought as a psychic integer, with its knowledge of so 
much that has gone before. 



360 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ones is a real tie between them , so is their resemblance ; 
so is their continuity ; so is the one s appropriation * 
of the other : all are real ties, realized in the judging 
Thought of every moment, the only place where disconnec 
tions could be realized, did they exist. Hume and Mill 
both imply that a disconnection can be realized there, whilst 
a tie cannot. But the ties and the disconnections are ex 
actly on a par, in this matter of self-consciousness. The 
way in which the present Thought appropriates the past is 
a real way, so long as no other owner appropriates it in a 
more real way, and so long as the Thought has no grounds 
for repudiating it stronger than those which lead to its 
appropriation. But no other owner ever does in point of 
fact present himself for my past ; and the grounds which I 
perceive for appropriating it viz., continuity and resem 
blance with the present outweigh those I perceive for dis 
owning it viz., distance in time. My present Thought 
stands thus in the plenitude of ownership of the train oi 
my past selves, is owner not only de facto, but de jure, the 
most real owner there can be, and all without the supposi 
tion of any inexplicable tie, but in a perfectly verifiable 
and phenomenal way. 

Turn we now to what we may call 

THE TRANSCENDENTALIST THEORY, 

which owes its origin to Kant. Kant s own statements are 
too lengthy and obscure for verbatim quotation here, so I 
must give their substance only. Kant starts, as I understand 
him, from a view of the Object essentially like our own de 
scription of it on p. 275 ft, that is, it is a system of things, 
qualities or facts in relation. "Object is that in the knowl 
edge (Begriff) of which the Manifold of a given Perception 
is connected." * But whereas we simply begged the vehi 
cle of this connected knowledge in the shape of what we 
call the present Thought, or section of the Stream of Con 
sciousness (which we declared to be the ultimate fact 
for psychology), Kant denies this to be an ultimate fact 
and insists on analyzing it into a large number of distinct, 

* Kritik d. reinen VernuDft, 2te Aufl. 17. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 361 

though equally essential, elements. The Manifoldness of 
the Object is due to Sensibility, which per se is chaotic, 
and the unity is due to the synthetic handling which this 
Manifold receives from the higher faculties of Intuition, 
Apprehension, Imagination, Understanding, and Appercep 
tion. It is the one essential spontaneity of the Under 
standing which, under these different names, brings unity 
into the manifold of sense. 

"The Understanding is, in fact, nothing more than the faculty of 
binding together a priori, and of bringing the Manifold of given ideas 
under the unity of Apperception, which consequently is the supreme 
principle in all human knowledge" ( 16). 

The material connected must be given by lower fac 
ulties to the Understanding, for the latter is not an intui 
tive faculty, but by nature empty. And the bringing of 
this material under the unity of Apperception is ex 
plained by Kant to mean the thinking it always so that, 
whatever its other determinations be, it may be known as 
thought by me.* Though this consciousness, that / think 
it, need not be at every moment explicitly realized, it is 
always capable of being realized. For if an object incapable 
of being combined with the idea of a thinker were there, 
how could it be known, how related to other objects, how 
form part of * experience at all ? 

The awareness that I think is therefore implied in all ex 
perience. No connected consciousness of anything without 
that of Self&H its presupposition and transcendental condi 
tion ! All things, then, so far as they are intelligible at all, 
are so through combination with pure consciousness of Self, 

* It must be noticed, in justice to what was said above on page 274 ff., 
that neither Kant nor his successors anywhere discriminate between the 
presence of the apperceiving Ego to the combined object, and the aware 
ness by that Ego of its own presence and of its distinctness from what it 
apperceives. That the Object must be known to something which thinks, 
and that it must be known to something which thinks that it thinks, are 
treated by them as identical necessities, by what logic, does not appear. 
Kant tries to soften the jump in the reasoning by saying the thought of it 
self on the part of the Ego need only be potential " the I think must be 
capable of accompanying all other knowledge " but a thought which is 
only potential is actually no thought at all, which practically gives up the 



362 PSYCHOLOGY. 

and apart from this, at least potential, combination nothing 
is knowable to us at all. 

But this self, whose consciousness Kant thus established 
deductively as a conditio sine qua non of experience, is in the 
same breath denied by him to have any positive attributes. 
Although Kant s name for it the original transcendental 
synthetic Unity of Apperception is so long, our con 
sciousness about it is, according to him, short enough. Self- 
consciousness of this * transcendental sort tells us, * not 
how we appear, not how we inwardly are, but only that we 
are (25). At the basis of our knowledge of our selves 
there lies only "the simple and utterly empty idea: /; of 
which we cannot even say we have a notion, but only a con 
sciousness which accompanies all notions. In this /, or he 
or it (the thing) which thinks, nothing more u represented 
than the bare transcendental Subject of the knowledge x, 
which is only recognized by the thoughts which are its pre 
dicates, and of which, taken by itself, we cannot form the 
least conception" (ibid. Paralogisms ). The pure Ego of 
all apperception is thus for Kant not the soul, but only that 
Subject which is the necessary correlate of the Object in 
all knowledge. There is a soul, Kant thinks, but this mere 
ego-form of our consciousness tells us nothing about it, 
neither whether it be substantial, nor whether it be imma 
terial, nor whether it be simple, nor whether it be per 
manent. These declarations on Kant s part of the utter 
barrenness of the consciousness of the pure Self, and of the 
consequent impossibility of any deductive or rational 
psychology, are what, more than anything else, earned for 
him the title of the all-destroyer. The only self we know 
anything positive about, he thinks, is the empirical me, not 
the pure /; the self which is an object among other objects 
and the constituents of which we ourselves have seen, and 
recognized to be phenomenal things appearing in the form 
of space as well as time. 

This, for our purposes, is a sufficient account of the 
* transcendental Ego. 

Those purposes go no farther than to ascertain whether 
anything in Kant s conception ought to make us give up our 
own, of a remembering and appropriating Thought inces- 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 363 

santly renewed. In many respects Kant s meaning is ob 
scure, but it will not be necessary for us to squeeze the 
texts in order to make sure what it actually and historically 
was. If we can define clearly two or three things which it 
may possibly have been, that will help us just as much to 
clear our own ideas. 

On the whole, a defensible interpretation of Kant s 
view would take somewhat the following shape. Like our 
selves he believes in a Reality outside the mind of which he 
writes, but the critic who vouches for that reality does so 
on grounds of faith, for it is not a verifiable phenomenal 
thing. Neither is it manifold. The Manifold which the 
intellectual functions combine is a mental manifold alto 
gether, which thus stands betiueen the Ego of Appercep 
tion and the outer Reality, but still stands inside the mind. 
In the function of knowing there is a multiplicity to be con 
nected, and Kant brings this multiplicity inside the mind. 
The Reality becomes a mere empty locus, or unknowable, 
the so-called Noumenon ; the manifold phenomenon is in 
the mind. We, on the contrary, put the Multiplicity with 
the Reality outside, and leave the mind simple. Both of us 
deal with the same elements thought and object the only 
question is in which of them the multiplicity shall be 
lodged. Wherever it is lodged it must be * synthetized 
when it comes to be thought. And that particular way of 
lodging it will be the better, which, in addition to describ 
ing the facts naturally, makes the mystery of synthesis 
least hard to understand. 

Well, Kant s way of describing the facts is mythological. 
The notion of our thought being this sort of an elaborate 
internal machine-shop stands condemned by all we said in 
favor of its simplicity on pages 276 ff. Our Thought is not 
composed of parts, however so composed its objects may 
be. There is no originally chaotic manifold in it to be re 
duced to order. There is something almost shocking in the 
notion of so chaste a function carrying this Kantian hurly- 
burly in her womb. If we are to have a dualism of Thought 
and Reality at all, the multiplicity should be lodged in the 
latter and not in the former member of the couple of related 
terms. The parts and their relations surely belong less to 
the knower than to what is known. 



364 PSYCHOLOGY. 

But even were all the mythology true, the process ol 
synthesis would in no whit be explained by calling the inside 
of the mind its seat. No mystery would be made lighter by 
such means. It is just as much a puzzle how the * Ego can 
amploy the productive Imagination to make the Understand 
ing uss the categories to combine the data which Recognition, 
Association, and Apprehension receive from sensible Intui 
tion, as how the Thought can combine the objective facts. 
Phrase it as one may, the difficulty is always the same : the 
Many known by the One. Or does one seriously think he 
understands better how the knower connects its objects, 
when one calls the former a transcendental Ego and the 
latter a * Manifold of Intuition than when one calls them 
Thought and Things respectively ? Knowing must have a 
vehicle. Call the vehicle Ego, or call it Thought, Psycho 
sis, Soul, Intelligence, Consciousness, Mind, Reason, Feel 
ing, what you like it must knoiv. The best grammatical 
subject for the verb knoiv would, if possible, be one from 
whose other properties the knowing could be deduced. 
And if there be no such subject, the best one would be 
that with the fewest ambiguities and the least pretentious 
name. By Kant s confession, the transcendental Ego has no 
properties, and from it nothing can be deduced. Its name 
is pretentious, and, as we shall presently see, has its mean 
ing ambiguously mixed up with that of the substantial 
soul. So on every possible account we are excused from 
using it instead of our own term of the present passing 
Thought, as the principle by which the Many is simul 
taneously known. 

The ambiguity referred to in the meaning of the tran 
scendental Ego is as to whether Kant signified by it an 
Agent, and by the Experience it helps to constitute, an 
operation; or whether the experience is an event prod need 
in an unassigned way, and the Ego a mere indwelling ele~ 
ment therein contained. If an operation be meant, then 
Ego and Manifold must both be existent prior to that col 
lision which results in the experience of one by the other. 
If a mere analysis is meant, there is no such prior exist 
ence, and the elements only are in so far as they are in union. 
Now Kant s tone and language are everywhere the very 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 865 

words of one who is talking of operations and the agents 
by which they are performed.* And yet there is reason to 
think that at bottom he may have had nothing of the sort 
in mind.f In this uncertainty we need again do no more 
than decide what to think of his transcendental Ego if it be 
an agent. 

Well, if it be so, Transcendentalism is only Substantial- 
ism grown shame-faced, and the Ego only a cheap and 
nasty edition of the soul. All our reasons for preferring 
the * Thought : to the * Soul apply with redoubled force 
when the Soul is shrunk to this estate. The Soul truly ex 
plained nothing ; the syntheses, which she performed, 
were simply taken ready-made and clapped on to her as 
expressions of her nature taken after the fact ; but at least 
she had some semblance of nobility and outlook. She 
was called active ; might select ; was responsible, and per 
manent in her way. The Ego is simply not king : as in 
effectual and windy an abortion as Philosophy can show. 
It would indeed be one of Reason s tragedies if the good 
Kant, with all his honesty and strenuous pains, should 
have deemed this conception an important outbirth of his 
thought. 

But we have seen that Kant deemed if: of next to no im 
portance at all. It was reserved for his Eiclitean and He 
gelian successors to call it the first Principle of Philosophy, 
to spell its name in capitals and pronounce it with adora 
tion, to act, in short, as if they were going up in a balloon, 
whenever the notion of it crossed their mind. Here again, 
however, I am uncertain of the facts of history, and know 
that I may not read my authors aright. The whole lesson 
of Kantian and post-Kantian speculation is, it seems to me, 
the lesson of simplicity. With Kant, complication both of 
thought and statement was an inborn infirmity, enhanced 



* "As regards the soul, now, or the I, the thinker, the whole drift of 
Kant s advance upon Hume and sensational psychology is towards the 
demonstration that the subject of knowledge is an Agent." (G. B. Morris, 
Kant s Critique, etc. (Chicago, 1882), p. 224.) 

f "In Kant s Prolegomena," says II. Cohen, I do not myself find the 
passage, "it is expressly said that the problem is not to show how expe 
rience arises (ensteht), but of what it consists (beeteM)." (Kant s Theorie 
d. Erfahrung (1871), p. 138.) 



66 PSYCHOLOGY. 

by the musty academicism of his Konigsberg existence, 
With Hegel it was a raging fever. Terribly, therefore, do 
the sour grapes which these fathers of philosophy have 
eaten set our teeth on edge. We have in England and 
America, however, a contemporary continuation of Hegel- 
ism from which, fortunately, somewhat simpler deliverances 
come ; and, unable to find any definite psychology in what 
Hegel, Kosenkranz, or Erdmann tells us of the Ego, I turn 
to Caird and Green. 

The great difference, practically, between these authors 
and Kant is their complete abstraction from the onlooking 
Psychologist and from the Reality he thinks he knows ; or 
rather it is the absorption of both of these outlying terms 
into the proper topic of Psychology, viz., the mental ex 
perience of the mind under observation. The Eeality 
coalesces with the connected Manifold, the Psychologist 
with the Ego, knowing becomes connecting, and there 
results no longer a finite or criticisable, but an absolute 
Experience, of which the Object and the Subject are always 
the same. Our finite Thought is virtually and potentially 
this eternal (or rather this timeless ), absolute Ego, arid 
only provisionally and speciously the limited thing which 
it seems primd facie to be. The later sections of our 
* Stream, which come and appropriate the earlier ones, 
are those earlier ones, just as in substantialism the Soul is 
throughout all time the same.* This solipsistic char- 

* The contrast between the Monism thus reached and our own psycho 
logical point of view can be exhibited schematically thus, the terms in 
squares standing for what, for us, are the ultimate irreducible data of 
psychological science, and the vincula above it symbolizing the reductions 
which post-Kantian idealism performs : 

Absolute Self -consciousness 

Reason or 

Experience. 

Transcendental Ego World 



<*~~ "^ " " ~ 


Psychologist 


Thought 


Thought s Object 


Psychologist s 
Reality 



Psychologist s Object. 

These reductions account for the ubiquitousness of the psychologist s 
fallacy (bk. ir. ch. i. D. 32) in the modern monistic writings. For us it is 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 367 

acter of an Experience conceived as absolute really annihi 
lates psychology as a distinct body of science. 

Psychology is a natural science, an account of particu 
lar finite streams of thought, coexisting and succeeding 
in time. It is of course conceivable (though far from clearly 
so) that in the last metaphysical resort all these streams 
of thought may be thought by one universal All-thinker. 
But in this metaphysical notion there is no profit for psy 
chology ; for grant that one Thinker does think in all of us, 
still what He thinks in me and what in you can never be de 
duced from the bare idea of Him. The idea of Him seems 
even to exert a positively paralyzing effect on the mind. 
The existence of finite thoughts is suppressed altogether. 
Thought s characteristics, as Professor Green says, are 

"not to be sought in the incidents of individual lives which last 
but for a day. ... No knowledge, nor any mental act involved in 
knowledge, can properly be called a phenomenon of consciousness. 
. . . For a phenomenon is a sensible event, related in the way of 
antecedence or consequence to other sensible events, but the conscious 
ness which constitutes a knowledge ... is not an event so related 
nor made up of such events." 

Again, if 

"we examine the constituents of any perceived object, ... we 
shall find alike that it is only for consciousness that they can exist, and 
that the consciousness for which they thus exist cannot be merely a 
series of phenomena or a succession of states. . . . It then becomes clear 
that there is a function of consciousness, as exercised in the most rudi 
mentary experience [namely, the function of synthesis] which is incom 
patible with the definition of consciousness as any sort of succession of 
any sort of phenomena. " * 

Were we to follow these remarks, we should have to 
abandon our notion of the Thought (perennially renewed in 
time, but always cognitive thereof), and to espouse instead of 



an unpardonable logical sin, when talking of a thought s knowledge (eithet 
of an object or of itself), to change the terms without warning, and, sub 
stituting the psychologist s knowledge therefor, still make as if we were 
continuing to talk of the same thing. For monistic idealism, this is the 
very enfranchisement of philosophy, and of course cannot be too much in 
dulged in. 

* T. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, 07, 61, 64. 



368 PSYCHOLOGY. 

it an entity copied from thought in all essential respects, t>ut 
differing from it in being out of time. What psychology 
can gain by this barter .would be hard to divine. More 
over this resemblance of the timeless Ego to the Soul is 
completed by other resemblances still. The monism of 
the post-Kantian idealists seems always lapsing into a 
regular old-fashioned spiritualistic dualism. They inces 
santly talk as if, like the Soul, their All-thinker were an 
Agent, operating on detached materials of sense. This may 
come from the accidental fact that the English writings of 
the school have been more polemic than constructive, and 
that a reader may often take for a positive profession a 
statement ad hominem meant as part of a reduction to the 
absurd, or mistake the analysis of a bit of knowledge into 
elements for a dramatic myth about its creation. But I 
think the matter has profounder roots. Professor Green 
constantly talks of the activity of Self as a condition of 
knowledge taking place. Facts are said to become incor 
porated with other facts only through the action of a com 
bining self-consciousness upon data of sensation. 

"Every object we perceive . . . requires, in order to its presen 
tation, the action of a principle of consciousness, not itself subject to 
conditions of time, upon successive appearances, such action as may 
hold the appearances together, without fusion, in an apprehended 
fact." * 

It is needless to repeat that the connection of things in 
our knowledge is in no whit explained by making it the 
deed of an agent whose essence is self-identity and who is 
out of time. The agency of phenomenal thought coming 
and going in time is just as easy to understand. And when 
it is furthermore said that the agent that combines is the 
same self-distinguishing subject which in another mode 
of its activity presents the manifold object to itself, the 
unintelligibilities become quite paroxysmal, and we are 
forced to confess that the entire school of thought in ques 
tion, in spite of occasional glimpses of something more re 
fined, still dwells habitually in that mythological stage of 
thought where phenomena are explained as results of 

* Loc. cit. 64. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 369 

dramas enacted by entities which but reduplicate the char 
acters of the phenomena themselves. The self must not 
only know its object, that is too bald and dead a relation 
to be written down and left in its static state. The know 
ing must be painted as a famous victory in which the 
object s distinctness is in some way overcome. 

" The self exists as one self only as it opposes itself, as object, tc 
itself as subject, and immediately denies and transcends that opposi 
tion. Only because it is such a concrete unity, which has in itself a 
resolved contradiction, can the intelligence cope with all the manifold- 
ness and division of the mighty universe, and hope to master its secrets. 
As the lightning sleeps in the dew-drop, so in the simple and trans 
parent unity of self-consciousness there is held in equilibrium that vital 
antagonism of opposites which . . . seems to rend the world asunder. 
The intelligence is able to understand the world, or, in other words, to 
break down the barrier between itself and things and find itself in them, 
just because its own existence is implicitly the solution of all the division 
and conflict of things." * 

This dynamic (I had almost written dynamitic) way of 
representing knowledge has the merit of not being tame. 
To turn from it to our own psychological formulation is like 
turning from the fireworks, trap-doors, and transformations 
of the pantomime into the insipidity of the midnight, where 

" ghastly through the drizzling rain, 
On the bald street breaks the blank day ! "f 

And yet turn we must, with the confession that our 
Thought a cognitive phenomenal event in time is, if 
it exist at all, itself the only Thinker which the facts require. 
The only service that transcendental egoism has done to 
psychology has been by its protests against Hume s bundle - 

* E. Caird: Hegel (1883), p. 149. 

f One is almost tempted to believe that the pantomime-state of mind 
and that of the Hegelian dialectics are, emotionally considered, one and the 
same thing. Iii the pantomime all common things are represented to 
happen in impossible ways, people jump down each other s tnroats, houses 
turn inside out, old women become young men, everything passes into 
its opposite with inconceivable celerity and skill; and this, so far from 
producing perplexity, brings rapture to the beholder s mind. And so in 
the Hegelian logic, relations elsewhere recognized under the insipid name 
of distinctions (such as that between knower and object, many and one) 
must first be translated into impossibilities and contradictions, then tran 
scended and identified by miracle, ere the proper temper is induced for 
thoroughly enjoying the spectacle they show. 



370 PSYCHOLOGY. 

theory of mind. But this service has been ill-performed ; 
for the Egoists themselves, let them say what they will, 
believe in the bundle, and in their own system merely tie it 
up, with their special transcendental string, invented for 
that use alone. Besides, they talk as if, with this miraculous 
tying or relating, the Ego s duties were done. Of its far 
more important duty of choosing some of the things it ties 
and appropriating them, to the exclusion of the rest, they 
tell us never a word. To sum up, then, my own opinion of 
the transcendentalist school, it is (whatever ulterior meta 
physical truth it may divine) a school in which psychology 
at least has naught to learn, and whose deliverances about 
the Ego in particular in no wise oblige us to revise our own 
formulation of the Stream of Thought.* 

With this, all possible rival formulations have been dis 
cussed. The literature of the Self is large, but all its 



* The reader will please understand that I arn quite willing to leave the 
hypothesis of the transcendental Ego as a substitute for the passing 
Thought open to discussion on general speculative grounds. Only in this 
booK I prefer to stick by the common sense assumption that we have suc 
cessive conscious states, because all psychologists make it, and because one 
does not see how there can be a Psychology written which does not postulate 
such thoughts as its ultimate data. The data of all natural sciences be 
come in turn subjects of a critical treatment more refined than that which 
the sciences themselves accord; and so it may fare in the end with our 
passing Thought. We have ourselves seen (pp. 299-805) that the sensible 
certainty of its existence is less strong than is usually assumed. My 
quarrel with the transcendental Egoists is mainly about their grounds for 
their belief. Did they consistently propose it as a substitute for the passing 
Thought, did they consistently deny the latter s existence, I should respect 
their position more. But so far as I can understand them, they habitually 
believe in the passing Thought also. They seem even to believe in the 
Lockian stream of separate ideas, for the chief glory of the Ego in their 
pages is always its power to overcome this separatcness and unite the 
naturally disunited, synthetizing , connecting, or relating th,e ideas 
together being used as synonyms, by transcendeutalist writers, for knowing 
various objects at once. Not the being conscious at all, but the being con* 
scious of many things together is held to be the difficult thing, in our psychic 
life, which only the wonder-working Ego can perform. But on what 
slippery ground does one get the moment one changes the definite notion 
of knowing an object into the altogether vague one of uniting or synthetizing 
the ideas of its various parts 1 In the chapter on Sensation we shall come 
upon all this again. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 371 

authors may be classed as radical or mitigated representa 
tives of tlie three schools we have named, substantialism v 
associationism, or transcendentalism. Our own opinion 
must be classed apart, although it incorporates essential 
elements from all three schools. There need never have 
been a quarrel between associationism and its rivals if the former 
had admitted the indecomposable unity of every pulse of thought, 
and the latter been ivilling to allow that perishing pulses oj 
thought might recollect and know. 

We m&/y sum up by saying that personality implies the 
incessant presence of tAvo elements, an objective person, 
known by a passing subjective Thought and recognized as 
continuing in time. Hereafter let us use the ivords ME and I 
for the empirical person and the judging Thought. 

Certain vicissitudes in the me demand our notice. 

In the first place, although its changes are gradual, 
they become in time great. The central part of the me is 
the feeling of the body and of the adjustments in the head ; 
and in the feeling of the body should be included that of 
the general emotional tones and tendencies, for at bottom 
these are but the habits in which organic activities and sen 
sibilities run. Well, from infancy to old age, this assem 
blage of feelings, most constant of all, is yet a prey to slow 
mutation. Our powers, bodily and mental, change at least 
as fast.* Our possessions notoriously are perishable facts. 



*" When we compare the listless inactivity of the infant, slumbering 
from the moment at which he takes his milky food to the moment at which 
he wakes to require it again, with the restless energies of that mighty being 
which he is to become in his maturer years, pouring truth after truth, in 
rapid and dazzling profusion, upon the world, or grasping in his single hand 
the destiny of empires, how few are the circumstances of resemblance 
which we can trace, of all that intelligence which is afterwards to be dis 
played; how little more is seen than what serves to give feeble motion to 
the mere machinery of life 1 ... Every age, if we may speak of many 
ages in the few years of human life, seems to be marked with a distinct 
character. Each has its peculiar objects which excite lively affections; and 
in each, exertion is excited by affections, which in other periods terminate 
without inducing active desire. The boy finds a world in less space than 
that which bounds his visible horizon; he wanders over his range of field 
and exhausts his strength in the pursuit of objects which, in the years that 



372 PSYCHOLOGY. 

The identity which the /discovers, as it surveys this long 
procession, can only be a relative identity, that of a slow 
shifting in which there is always some common ingredient 
retained.* The commonest element of all, the most uni 
form, is the possession of the same 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 



follow, are seen only to be neglected; while to him the objects that are 
afterwards to absorb his whole soul are as indifferent as the objects of his 
present passions are destined then to appear. . . . How many opportuni 
ties must every one have had of witnessing the progress of intellectual 
decay, and the coldness that steals upon the once benevolent heart! We 
quit our country, perhaps at an early period of life, and after an absence of 
many years we return with all the remembrances of past pleasure which 
grow more tender as they approach their objects. We eagerly seek him to 
whose paternal voice we have been accustomed to listen with the same rev 
erence as if its predictions had possessed oracular certainty, who first led 
us into knowledge, ^nd whose image has been constantly joined in our 
miml with all that veneration which does not forbid love. We find him 
sunk, perhaps, in the imbecility of idiotism, unable to recognize us, igno 
rant alike of the past and of the future, and living only in the sensibility of 
animal gratification. We seek the favorite companion of our childhood, 
whose tenderness of heart, etc. . . . We find him hardened into a man, 
meeting us scarcely with the cold hypocrisy of dissembled friendship in 
his general relations to the world careless of the misery lie is not to feel. 
. . . When we observe all this, ... do we use only a metaphor of little 
meaning when we say of him that he is become a different person, and that 
his mind and character are changed? In what does the identity consist? 
. . . The supposed test of identity, when applied to the mind in these 
cases, completely fails. It neither affects, nor is affected, in the same man 
ner in the same circumstances. It therefore, if the test be a just one, is 
not the same identical mind." (T. Brown: Lectures on the Philosophy" of 
the Human Mind, on Mental Identity. > 

* " Sir John Cutler had a pair of black worsted stockings, which his 
maid darned so often with silk that they became at last a pair of silk 
stockings. Now, supposing these stockings of Sir John s endued with 
some degree of consciousness at every particular darning, they would have 
been sensible that they were the same individual pair of stockings both be 
fore and after the darning; and this sensation would have continued in 
them through all the succession of darnings; and yet after the last of all 
there was not perhaps one thread left of the first pair of stockings : but 
they were grown to be silk stockings, as was said before." (Pope s Mar 
tiuus Scriblerus. quoted by Brown, ibid.} 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 373 

assemblage of facts. We often say of a man lie 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 classes : 

1. Alterations of memory ; and 

2. Alterations in the present bodily and spiritual selves. 

1. Alterations of memory are either losses or false recol 
lections. In either case the me is changed. Should a man 
be punished for what he did in his childhood and no longer 
remembers ? Should he be punished for crimes enacted 
in post-epileptic unconsciousness, somnambulism, or in any 
involuntarily induced state of which no recollection is re 
tained ? Law, in accord with common-sense, says : " No ; 
he is not the same person forensically now which he was 
then." These losses of memory are a normal incident of 
extreme old age, and the person s me shrinks in the ratio 
of the facts that have disappeared. 

In dreams we forget our waking experiences ; they are 
as if they were not. And the converse is also true. As a 
rule, no memory is retained during the waking state of 
what has happened during mesmeric trance, although when 
again entranced the person may remember it distinctly, and 
may then forget facts belonging to the waking state. We 
thus have, within the bounds of healthy mental life, an 
approach to an alternation of me s. 

False ni N mories are by no means rare occurrences in 
most of us, and, whenever they occur, they distort the con 
sciousness of the 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 thoy 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 false memory is the accounts we give to 
9thers of our experiences. Such accounts we almost ai 



374 PSYCHOLOGY. 

ways 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 fallibil 
ity of testimony meant to be quite honest. Especially 
where the marvellous is concerned, the story takes a tilt 
that way, and the memory follows the story. Dr. Carpen 
ter quotes from Miss Cobbe the following, as an instance 
of a very common sort : 

" It happened once to the Writer to hear a most scrupulously con 
scientious friend narrate an incident of table-turning, to which she 
appended an assurance that the table rapped when nobody was within 
a yard of it. The writer being confounded by this latter fact, the 
lady, though fully satisfied of the accuracy of her statement, promised 
to look at the note she had made ten years previously of the transac 
tion. The note was examined, and was found to contain the distinct 
statement that the table rapped when the hands of six persons rested 
on it ! The lady s memory as to all other points proved to be strictly 
correct ; and in this point she had erred in entire good faith."* 

It is next to impossible to get a story of this sort accu 
rate in all its details, although it is the inessential details 
that suffer most change. f Dickens and Balzac were said to 
have constantly mingled their fictions with their real expe 
riences. Every one must have known some specimen of 
our mortal dust so intoxicated with the thought of his own 
person and the sound of his own voice as never to be able 
even to think the truth when his autobiography was in 
question. Amiable, harmless, radiant J. V. ! mayst thou 
ne er wake to the difference between thy real and thy 
fondly-imagined self ! J 

* Hours of Work and Play, p. 100. 

|For a careful study of the errors in narratives, see E. Gurney: Phan 
tasms of the Living, vol. i. pp. 126-158. In the Proceedings of the 
Society for Psychical Research for May 1887 Mr. Richard Hodgson shows 
by an extraordinary array of instances how utterly inaccurate everyone s 
description from memory of a rapid series of events is certain to be. 

\ See Josiah Royce (Mind, vol. 13, p. 244, and Proceedings of Am. Soc. 
of Psych. Research, vol. i. p. 366), for evidence that a certain sort of hal 
lucination of memory which he calls pseudo-presentiment is no uncom 
mon phenomenon. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 375 

2. When we pass beyond alterations of memory to ab 
normal alterations in the present self we have still graver 
disturbances. These alterations are of three main types, 
from the descriptive point of view. But certain cases unite 
features of two or more types ; and 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 ; 

(1) Insane delusions ; 

(2) Alternating selves ; 

(3) Mediumships or possessions. 

1) 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. Bibot 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 sys 
tem 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 en 
graved on the nervous system, and the new one acting with all the 
intensity of its reality and novelty, there would be irreconcilable con 
tradiction." * 

* Maladies de la Memoire, p. 85. The little that would be left of per 
sonal consciousness if all our senses stopped their work is ingenuously 
shown in the remark of the extraordinary anaesthetic youth whose case 



376 PSYCHOLOGY. 

"With the beginnings of cerebral disease there often 
happens something quite comparable to this : 

"Masses of new sensation, hitherto foreign to the individual, im 
pulses and ideas of the same inexperienced kind, for example terrors, 
representations of enacted crime, of enemies pursuing one, etc. At the 
outset, these stand in contrast with the old familiar me, as a strange, 
often astonishing and abhorrent thou. * Often their invasion into the 
former circle of feelings is felt as if the old self were being taken pos 
session of by a dark overpowering might, and the fact of such posses 
sion is described in fantastic images. Always this doubleness, this 
struggle of the old self against the new discordant forms of experience, 
is accompanied with painful mental conflict, with passion, with violent 
emotional excitement. This is in great part the reason for the common 
experience, that the first stage in the immense majority of cases of 
mental disease is an emotional alteration particularly of a melancholic 
sort. If now the brain-affection, which is the immediate cause of the 
new abnormal train of ideas, be not relieved, the latter becomes con 
firmed. It may gradually contract associations with the trains ot ideas 
which characterized the old self, or portions of the latter may be ex 
tinguished and lost in the progress of the cerebral malady, so that little 
by little the opposition of the two conscious me s abates, and the emo 
tional storms are calmed. But by that time the old me itself has been 
falsified and turned into another by those associations, by that recep 
tion into itself of the abnormal elements of feeling and of will. The 
patient may again be quiet, and his thought sometimes logically correct, 
but in it the morbid erroneous ideas are always present, with the adhe 
sions they have contracted, as uncontrollable premises, and the man is 
no longer the same, but a really new person, his old self trans 
formed." f 

Professor Strttmpell reports (in the Deulsches Archiv f. klin. Med., xxn. 
847, 1878). This boy, whom we shall later find instructive in many con 
nections, was totally anaesthetic without and (so far as could be tested) 
within, save for the sight of one eye and the hearing of one ear. When 
his eye was closed, he said : !< Wenn ich nicM sehen kann, da BIN ich gar 
niclit\ no longer am." 

* " One can compare the state of the patient to nothing so well as to 
that of a caterpillar, which, keeping all its caterpillar s ideas and remem 
brances, should suddenly become a butterfly with a butterfly s senses and 
sensations. Between the old and the new state, between the first self, that 
of the caterpillar, and the second self, that of the butterfly, there is a deep 
scission, a complete rupture. The new feelings find no anterior series to 
which they can knit themselves on ; the patient can neither interpret nor 
use them ; he does not recognize them ; they are unknown. Hence two 
conclusions, the first which consists in his saying, I no longer am; tbfl 
second, somewhat later, which consists in his saying, Tarn another person.* 
(H. Taine: de 1 Intelligence, 3me edition (1878), p. 462. 

f W. Griesinger : Mental Diseases, 29. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 377 

But the patient himself rarely continues to describe the 
change in just these terms unless new bodily sensations in 
him or the loss of old ones play a predominant part. 
Mere perversions of sight and hearing, or even of impulse, 
soon cease to be felt as contradictious of the unity of the 
me. 

What the particular perversions of the bodily sensibil 
ity 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, among whom are some of the 
first characters in history, have familiar daemons who speak 
with them, and are replied to. In another someone 
* 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, brain, 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 suddenly be 
come : 

" 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 
tning 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 pronounced. Objects grew small and re 
ceded to infinite distances men and things together. I was myself im- 

* See the interesting case of old Stump in the Proceedings of the Am. 
Soc. for Psych. Research, p. 052. 



378 PSYCHOLOGY. 

measurably far away. I looked about me with terror and astonish 
ment ; the world was escaping from me. ... I 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 
resistance ; 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 my 
self to act automatically, by an impulsion foreign to myself. . . . There 
was inside of me a new being, and another part of myself, the old be 
ing, 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 lived 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 cer 
tainly another who had taken my form and assumed my functions." * 

In cases similar to tliis, it is as certain that the / is un 
altered as that the me is changed. That is to say, the pres 
ent 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 egoistic appro 
priation, 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 begin 
ning of his insane life.f 

* De riutelligence, 3me edition (1878), vol. n, note, p. 461. Kris- 
haber s book (La Nevropathie Cerebro-cardiaque, 1873) is full of similar 
observations. 

f Sudden alterations in outward fortune often produce such a change 
in the empirical me as almost to amount to a pathological disturbance of 
self-consciousness. When a poor man draws the big prize in a lottery, or 
unexpectedly inherits an estate ; when a man high in fame is publicly 
disgraced, a millionaire becomes a pauper, or a loving husband and fathet 
sees his family perish at one fell swoop, there is temporarily such a rupture 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 379 

A case with which I am acquainted through Dr. C. J. 
Fisher of Tewksbury has possibly its origin in this way. 
The woman, Bridget F., 

1 has been many years insane, and always speaks of her supposed self 
as the rat, asking me to bury the little rat, etc. Her real self she 
speaks of in the third person as the good woman, saying, The good 
Woman knew Dr. F. and used to work for him, etc. Sometimes she 
sadly asks: Do you think the good woman will ever come back ? She 
works at needlework, knitting, laundry, etc. , and shows her work, say 
ing, Isn t that good for only a rat? She has, during periods of depres 
sion, hid herself under buildings, and crawled into holes and under 
boxes. * She was only a rat, and wants to die, she would say when we 
found her." 

2. The phenomenon of alternating personality in its sim 
plest 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. In the pathological cases 
known as those of double or alternate personality the lapse 
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 produce 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.> 



between all past habits, whether of an active or a passive kind, and the 
exigencies and possibilities of the new situation, that the individual may 
find no medium of continuity or association to carry him over from the one 
phase to the other of his life. Under these conditions mental derangement 
is no uu frequent result. 

* The number of subjects who can do this with any fertility and exu 
berance is relatively quite small. 



380 PSYCHOLOGY. 

reported by Dr. Azam of Bordeaux.* At the age of four 
teen this woman began to pass into a secondary state 
characterized by a change in her general disposition and 
character, as if certain inhibitions, previously existing, 
were suddenly removed. 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 sec 
ondary 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 
hasn t the least idea which one of her friends may be dead. 
She actually became pregnant during one of her early sec 
ondary 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. 

To take another example, Dr. Rieger gives an account t 
of an epileptic man who for seventeen years had passed his 
life alternately free, in prisons, or in asylums, his character 
being orderly enough in the normal state, but alternating 
with periods, during which he would leave his home for 
several weeks, leading the life of a thief and vagabond, be 
ing sent to jail, having epileptic fits and excitement, being 
accused of malingering, etc., etc., and with never a memory 
of the abnormal conditions which were to blame for all 
his wretchedness. 

u I have never got from anyone," says Dr. Rieger, " so singular an 
impression as from this man, of whom it could not be said that he had 
any properly conscious past at all. ... It is really impossible to think 
one s self into such a state of mind. His last larceny had been per 
formed in Nurnberg, he knew nothing of it, and saw himself before the 



* First in the Revue Scientifique for May 26, 1876, then in his hook, 
Hypnotisme, Double Conscience, et Alterations de la Persoimalite (Paris, 
1887). 
f Der Hypnotismus (1884), pp. 109-15. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 381 

court and then in the hospital, but without in the least understand 
ing the reason why. That he had epileptic attacks, he knew. But it 
was impossible to convince him that for hours together he raved and 
acted in an abnormal way." 

Another remarkable case is that of Mary Keynolds. 
lately republished again by Dr. Weir Mitchell.* This dull 
and melancholy young woman, inhabiting the Pennsylvania 
wilderness in 1811, 

" was found one morning, long after her habitual time for rising, in a 
profound sleep from which it was impossible to arouse her. After 
eighteen or twenty hours of sleeping she awakened, but in a state of 
unnatural consciousness. Memory had fled. To all intents and pur 
poses she was as a being for the first time ushered into the world. All 
of the past that remained to her was the faculty of pronouncing a few 
words, and this seems to have been as purely instinctive as the wailings 
of an infant ; for at first the words which she uttered were connected 
with no ideas in her mind. Until she was taught their significance 
they were unmeaning sounds. 

" Her eyes were virtually for the first time opened upon the world. 
Old things had passed away : all things had become new. Her parents, 
brothers, sisters, friends, were not recognized or acknowledged as such 
by her. She had never sesn them before, never known them, was 
not r.waro tha 1 *: cacii persons had been. Now for the first time she 
was introduced to their company and acquaintance. To the scenes by 
which she was surrounded she was a perfect stranger. The house, the 
fields, the forest, the hills, the vales, the streams, all were novelties. 
The beauties o* fee landscape were ail unexplored. 

" She had no 1 ; the slightest consciousness that she had ever existed 
previous to tl:e moment in which she awoke from that mysterious 
slumber. 1 n a word, she was an infant, jus*; born, yet born in a state of 
maturity, with a capacity for relishing the rich, sublime, luxuriant 
wonders of created nature/ 

"Tho first lesson in Iier education was to teach her by what ties she 
was bound to those by v/hom she was surrounded, and the duties de 
volving upon her accordingly. This she was very slow to learn, and, 
indeed, never did learn, or, at least, never would acknowledge the 
ties of consanguinity, or scarcely those oi: friendship. She considered 
those she hud once known as for tho most part strangers and enemies, 
among wLcm she wa^, by some remarkable and unaccountable means, 
transplanted, though from what region or state of existence was a prob 
lem unsolved. 

" The next lesson was to re-teach her the arts of reading and writing. 
She was apt enough, and made such rapid progress in both that in a 

* Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, April 4, 
1888. Also, less complete, in Harper s Magazine, May 1860. 



382 PSYCHOLOGY. 

few weeks she had readily re-learned to read and write. In copying hei 
name which her brother had written for her as a first lesson, she took 
her pen in a very awkward manner and began to copy from right to left 
in the Hebrew mode, as though she had been transplanted from an 
Eastern soil. . . . 

" The next thing that is noteworthy is the change which took place 
in her disposition. Instead of being melancholy she was now cheer 
ful to extremity. Instead of being reserved she was buoyant and social. 
Formerly taciturn and retiring, she was now merry and jocose. Her 
disposition was totally and absolutely changed. While she was, in this 
second state, extravagantly fond of company, she was much more en 
amoured of nature s works, as exhibited in the forests, hills, vales, and 
water-courses. She used to start in the morning, either on foot or 
horseback, and ramble until nightfall over the whole country ; nor was 
she at all particular whether she were on a path or in the trackless forest. 
Her predilection for this manner of life may have been occasioned by the 
restraint necessarily imposed upon her by her friends, which caused her 
to consider them her enemies and not companions, and she was glad to 
keep out of their way. 

" She knew no fear, and as bears and panthers were numerous in 
the woods, and rattlesnakes and copperheads abounded everywhere, 
her friends told her of the danger to which she exposed herself, but it 
produced no other effect than to draw forth a contemptuous laugh, as 
she said, I know you only want to frighten me and keep me at home, 
but you miss it, for I often see your bears and I am perfectly convinced 
that they are nothing more than black hogs. 

" One evening, after her return from her daily excursion, she told 
the following incident : As I was riding to-day along a narrow path a 
great black hog came out of the woods and stopped before me. I never 
saw such an impudent black hog before. It stood up on its hind feet 
and grinned and gnashed its teeth at me. I could not make the horse 
go on. I told him he was a fool to be frightened at a hog, and tried to 
whip him past, but he would not go and wanted to turn back. I told 
the hog to get out of the way, but he did not mind me. "Well," said I, 
" if you won t for words, I ll try blows ; so I got off and took a stick, 
arid walked up toward it. When I got pretty close by, it got down on 
all fours and walked away slowly and sullenly, stopping every few steps 
and looking back and grinning and growling. Then I got on my horse 
and rode on. . . . 

" Thus it continued for five weeks, when one morning, after a pro 
tracted sleep, she awoke and was herself again. She recognized the 
parental, the brotherly, and sisterly ties as though nothing had hap 
pened, and immediately went about the performance of duties in 
cumbent upon her, and which she had planned five weeks previously. 
Great was her surprise at the change which one night (as she supposed) 
had produced. Nature bore a different aspect. Not a trace was left in 
her mind of the giddy scenes through which she had passed. Her ram- 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 383 

blings through the forest, her tricks and humor, all were faded from her 
memory, and not a shadow left behind. Her parents saw their child ; 
her brothers and sisters saw their sister. She now had all the knowledge 
that she had possessed in her first state previous to the change, still 
fresh and in as vigorous exercise as though no change had been. But 
any new acquisitions she had made, and any new ideas she had obtained, 
were lost to her now yet not lost, but laid up out of sight in safe-keep 
ing for future use. Of course her natural disposition returned ; her 
melancholy was deepened by the information of what had occurred. All 
went on in the old-fashioned way, and it was fondly hoped that the 
mysterious occurrences of those five weeks would never be repeated, but 
these antieipations were not to be realized. After the lapse of a few 
weeks she fell into a profound sleep, and awoke in her second state, 
taking up her new life again precisely where she had left it when she 
before passed from that state. She was not now a daughter or a sister. 
All the knowledge she possessed was that acquired during the few weeks 
of her former period of second consciousness. She knew nothing of 
the intervening time. Two periods widely separated were brought into 
contact. She thought it was but one night. 

" In this state she came to understand perfectly the facts of her case, 
not from memory, but from information. Yet her buoyancy of spirits 
was so great that no depression was produced. On the contrary, it 
added to her cheerfulness, and was made the foundation, as was every 
thing else, of mirth. 

"These alternations from one state to another continued at intervals 
of varying length for fifteen or sixteen years, but finally ceased when 
she attained the age of thirty-five or thirty-six, leaving her permanently 
in her second state. In this she remained without change for the last 
quarter of a century of her life." 

The emotional opposition of the two states seems, how 
ever, to have become gradually effaced in Mary Eeynolds : 

"The change from a gay, hysterical, mischievous woman, fond of 
jests and subject to absurd beliefs or delusive convictions, to one retain, 
hig the joyousness and love of society, but sobered down to levels of prac 
tical usefulness, was gradual. The most of the twenty-five years which 
followed she was as different from her melancholy, morbid self as from 
the hilarious condition of the early years of her second state. Some of 
her family spoke of it as her third state. She is described as becoming 
rational, industrious, and very cheerful, yet reasonably serious ; pos 
sessed of a well-balanced temperament, and not having the slightest 
indication of an injured or disturbed mind. For some years she taught 
school, and in that capacity was both useful and acceptable, being a 
general favorite with old and young. 

" During these last twenty-five years she lived in the same 
house with the Rev. Dr. John V. Reynolds her nephew, part of that 



384 PSYCHOLOGY. 

time keeping house for him, showing a sound judgment and a thorough 
acquaintance with the duties of her position. 

" Dr. Keynolds, who is still living in Meadville," says l>r. Mitchell, 
" and who has most kindly placed the facts at my disposal, states in 
his letter to me of January 4, 1888, that at a later period of her life she 
said she did sometimes seem to have a dim, dreamy idea of a shadowy 
past, which she could not fully grasp, and could not be certain whether 
it originated in a partially restored memory or in the statements of the 
events by others during her abnormal state. 

" Miss Reynolds died in January, 1854, at the age of sixty-one. On 
the morning of the day of her death she rose in her usual health, ate 
her breakfast, and superintended household duties. While thus em 
ployed she suddenly raised her hands to her head and exclaimed : 
Oh ! I wonder what is the matter with my head ! and immediately 
fell to the floor. When carried to a sofa she gasped once or twice and 
died." 

In such cases as the preceding, in which the secondary 
character is superior to the first, there seems reason to 
think that the first one is the morbid one. The word inhi 
bition describes its dulness and melancholy. Felida X. s 
original character was dull and melancholy in comparison 
with that which she later acquired, and the change may be 
regarded as the removal of inhibitions which had main 
tained themselves from earlier years. Such inhibitions we 
all know temporarily, when we can not recollect or in some 
other way command our mental resources. The systema 
tized amnesias (losses of memory) of hypnotic subjects or 
dered to forget all nouns, or all verbs, or a particular letter 
of the alphabet, or all that is relative to a certain person, 
are inhibitions of the sort on a more extensive scale. They 
sometimes occur spontaneously as symptoms of disease.* 
Now M. Pierre Janet has shown that such inhibitions when 
they bear on a certain class of sensations (making the sub 
ject anaesthetic thereto) and also on the memory of such 
sensations, are the basis of changes of personality. The 
anaesthetic and amnesic hysteric is one person ; but when 
you restore her inhibited sensibilities and memories by 
plunging her into the hypnotic trance in other words, when 

* Of. Ribot s Diseases of Memory for cases. See also a large number of 
them in Forbes Winslow s Obscure Diseases of the Braiu and Mind, 
chapters XIII-XYII. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 385 

you rescue them from their dissociated and split-off con 
dition, and make them rejoin the other sensibilities and 
memories she is a different person. As said above (p. 203), 
the hypnotic trance is one method of restoring sensibility 
in hysterics. But one day when the hysteric anaesthetic 
named Lucie was already in the hypnotic trance, M. Janet 
for a certain reason continued to make passes over her for 
a full half-hour as if she were not already asleep, The re 
sult was to throw her into a sort of syncope from which, 
after half an hour, she revived in a second somnambulic con 
dition entirely unlike that which had characterized her 
thitherto different sensibilities, a different memory, a dif 
ferent person, in short. In the waking state the poor young 
woman was anaesthetic all over, nearly deaf, and with a 
badly contracted field of vision. Bad as it was, however, 
sight was her best sense, and she used it as a guide in all 
her movements. With her eyes bandaged she became en 
tirely helpless, and like other persons of a similar sort 
whose cases have been recorded, she almost immediately 
fell asleep in consequence of the withdrawal of her last 
sensorial stimulus. M. Janet calls this waking or primary 
(one can hardly in such a connection say normal ) state by 
the name of Lucie 1. In Lucie 2, her first sort of hypnotic 
trance, the anaesthesias were diminished but not removed. 
In the deeper trance, Lucie 3, brought about as just de 
scribed, no trace of them remained. Her sensibility became 
perfect, and instead of being an extreme example of the 
visual type, she was transformed into what in Prof. 
Charcot s terminology is known as a motor. That is to 
say, that whereas when awake she had thought in visual 
terms exclusively, and could imagine things only by remem 
bering how they looked, now in this deeper trance her 
thoughts and memories seemed to M. Janet to be largely 
composed of images of movement and of touch. 

Having discovered this deeper trance and change of 
personality in Lucie, M. Janet naturally became eager to 
find it in his other subjects. He found it in Rose, in Marie, 
and in Leonie ; and his brother, Dr. Jules Janet, who was 
interne at the Salpetriere Hospital, found it in the celebrated 
subject Wit .... whose trances had been studied for years 



386 PSYCHOLOGY. 

by the various doctors of that institution without any of 
them having happened to awaken this very peculiar indi 
viduality.* 

With the return of all the sensibilities in the deeper 
trance, these subjects turned, as it were, into normal 
persons. Their memories in particular grew more exten 
sive, and hereupon M. Janet spins a theoretic generaliza 
tion. When a certain kind of sensation, he says, is abol 
ished in an hysteric patient, there is also abolished along with 
it aU recollection of past sensations of that kind. If, for ex 
ample, hearing be the anaesthetic sense, the patient becomes 
unable even to imagine sounds and voices, and has to 
speak (when speech is still possible) by means of motor or 
articulatory cues. If the motor sense be abolished, the pa 
tient must will the movements of his limbs by first defining 
them to his mind in visual terms, and must innervate his 
voice by premonitory ideas of the way in which the words 
are going to sound. The practical consequences of this 
law would be great, for all experiences belonging to a 
sphere of sensibility which afterwards became anaesthetic, 
as, for example, touch, would have been stored away and 
remembered in tactile terms, and would be incontinently 
forgotten as soon as the cutaneous and muscular sensibility 
should come to be cut out in the course of disease. 
Memory of them would be restored again, on the 
other hand, so soon as the sense of touch came back. 
Now, in the hysteric subjects on whom M. Janet experi 
mented, touch did come back in the state of trance. The 
result was that all sorts of memories, absent in the ordinary 
Condition, came back too, and they could then go back and 
explain the origin of many otherwise inexplicable things in 
their life. One stage in the great convulsive crisis of hys- 
toro-epilepsy, for example, is what French writers call the 
phase des attitudes passionelles, in which the patient, without 
speaking or giving any account of herself, will go through 
the outward movements of fear, anger, or some other emo 
tional state of mind. Usually this phase is, with each 



* See the interesting account by M. J. Janet in the Revue Scientifique. 
May 19, 1888. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 381 

patient, a thing so stereotyped as to seem automatic, and 
doubts have even been expressed as to whether any con 
sciousness exists whilst it lasts. When, however, the 
patient Lucie s tactile sensibility came back in the deeper 
trance, she explained the origin of her hysteric crisis in a 
great fright which she had had when a child, on a day 
when certain men, hid behind the curtains, had jumped out 
upon her ; she told how she went through this scene again 
in all her crises ; she told of her sleep-walking fits through 
the house when a child, and how for several months she 
had been shut in a dark room because of a disorder of the 
eyes. All these were things of which she recollected no 
thing when awake, because they were records of experiences 
mainly of motion and of touch. 

But M. Janet s subject Leonie is interesting, and 
shows best how with the sensibilities and motor impulses 
the memories and character will change. 

" This woman, whose life sounds more like an improbable 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. To 
day, when in her normal state, this poor peasant woman is a serious 
and rather sad person, calm and slow, very mild with every one, 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 metamorphosis 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, restless, 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, 
pretends to know their little ridiculous aspects and passions, and for 
each invents a romance. To this character must be added the posses 
sion of an enormous number of recollections, whose existence she doe? 
not even suspect when awake, for her amnesia is then complete. . . . 
She refuses the name of Leonie and takes that of Leontine (Leonie 21 
to which her first magnetizers had accustomed her. 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 wor<J 
all the conscious experiences which she has undergone in somnambulism, 



388 PSYCHOLOGY. 

and knits them together to make the history of her already long life. 
To Leonie 1 [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 chil 
dren ; 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 J 
learned that her magnetizers in early days, as audacious as certain hyp- 
notizers of recent date, had somnambulized her for her first accouche- 
me?its, 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. A good but rather 
stupid woman, she says, and not me. And she aiso separates herself 
from Leonie 2 : 4 How can you see anything of me in that crazy crea 
ture ? she says. * Fortunately I am nothing for her. " 

Leonie 1 knows only of herself ; Leonie 2, of herself and 
of Leonie 1 ; Leonie 3 knows of herself and of both the 
others. Leonie 1 has a visual consciousness ; Leonie 2 has 
one both visual and auditory ; in Leonie 3 it is at once 
visual, auditory, and tactile. Prof. Janet thought at first 
that he was Leonie 3 s discoverer. But she told him 
that she had been frequently in that condition before. A 
former magnetizer had hit upon her just as M. Janet had, 
in seeking by means of passes to deepen the sleep of 
Leonie 2. 

"This resurrection of a somnambulic personage who had been 
extinct for twenty years is curious enough ; and in speaking to Leonie 
8, I naturally now adopt the name of Leonore which was given her by her 
first master." 

The most carefully studied case of multiple personality 
is that of the hysteric youth Louis V. aboiit whom MM. 
Bourru and Burot have written a book.* The symptoms 
are too intricate to be reproduced here with detail. Suffice 
it that Louis V. had led an irregular life, in the army, in 

* Variations de la Personnalite (Paris, 1888^. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 389 

hospitals, and in houses of correction, and had had numer 
ous hysteric anaesthesias, paralyses, and contractures attack 
ing him differently at different times and when he lived at 
different places. At eighteen, at an agricultural House of 
Correction he was bitten by a viper, which brought on a 
convulsive crisis and left both of his legs paralyzed for 
three years. During this condition he was gentle, moral, 
and industrious. But suddenly at last, after a long con 
vulsive seizure, his paralysis disappeared, and with it his 
memory for all the time during which it had endured. His 
character also changed : he became quarrelsome, glutton 
ous, impolite, stealing his comrades wine, and money from 
an attendant, and finally escaped from the establishment 
and fought furiously when he was overtaken and caught. 
Later, when he first fell under the observation of the 
authors, his right side was half paralyzed and insensible, 
and his character intolerable ; the application of metals 
transferred the paralysis to the left side, abolished his 
recollections of the other condition, and carried him psy 
chically back to the hospital of Bicetre where he had been 
treated for a similar physical condition. His character, 
opinions, education, all underwent a concomitant trans 
formation. He was no longer the personage of the moment 
before. It appeared ere long that any present nervous dis 
order in him could be temporarily removed by metals, 
magnets, electric or other baths, etc. ; and that any past 
disorder could be brought back by hypnotic suggestion. 
He also went through a rapid spontaneous repetition of his 
series of past disorders after each of the convulsive attacks 
which occurred in him at intervals. It was observed that 
each physical state in which he found himself, excluded 
certain memories and brought with it a definite modifica 
tion of character. 

"The law of these changes," say the authors, "is quite clear. 
There exist precise, constant, and necessary relations between the 
bodily and the mental state, such that it is impossible to modify the 
one without modifying the other in a parallel fashion." * 

* Op. cit. p. 84. In this work and in Dr. Azam s (cited on a previous 
page), as well as in Prof. Th. Ribot s Maladies de la Personnalite (1885), the 



390 PSYCHOLOGY. 

The case of this proteiform individual would seem, then, 
nicely to corroborate M. P. Janet s law that anaesthesias and 
gaps in memory go together. Coupling Janet s law with 
Locke s that changes of memory bring changes of personal 
ity, we should have an apparent explanation of some cases at 
least of alternate personality. But mere anaesthesia does 
not sufficiently explain the changes of disposition, which are 
probably due to modifications in the perviousuess of motor 
and associative paths, co-ordinate with those of the senso- 
rial paths rather than consecutive upon them. And indeed 
a glance at other cases than M. Janet s own, suffices to show 
us that sensibility and memory are not coupled in any 
invariable way.* M. Janet s law, true of his own cases, 
does not seem to hold good in all. 

Of course it is mere guesswork to speculate on what 
may be the cause of the amnesias which lie at the bottom 
of changes in the Self. Changes of blood-supply have 
naturally been invoked. Alternate action of the two hemi 
spheres was long ago proposed by Dr. Wigan in his book 
on the Duality of the Mind. I shall revert to this expla 
nation after considering the third class of alterations of the 
Self, those, namely, which 1 have called possessions. 

I have myself become quite recently acquainted with 
the subject of a case of alternate personality of the * ambu- 



reader will find information and references relative to the other known 
cases of the kind. 

* His own brother s subject Wit. . . . .although in her anaesthetic waking 
state she recollected nothing of either of her trances, yet remembered her 
deeper trance (in which her sensibilities became perfect see above, p. 207) 
when she was in her lighter trance. Nevertheless in the latter she was as 
anaesthetic as when awake. (Loc. cit. p. 619.) It does not appear that 
there was any important difference in the sensibility of Felida X. between 
her two states as far as one can judge from M. Azam s account she was to 
some degree anaesthetic in both (op. cit. pp. 71, 96). In the case of double 
personality reported by M. Dufay (Revue Scientifique, vol. xvin. p. 69), 
the memory seems to have been best in the more anaesthetic condition. 
Hypnotic subjects made blind do not necessarily lose their visua 1 ideas. It 
appears, then, both that amnesias may occur without anaesthesias, and anaes 
thesias without amnesias, though they may also occur in combination 
Hypnotic subjects made blind by suggestion will tell you that they clearlj 
imagine the things which they can v longer see 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 391 

latory sort, who has given me permission to name him in 
these pages.* 

The Rev. Ansel Bourne, of Greene, R. I., was brought up to th 
trade of a carpenter; but, in consequence of a sudden temporary loss, 
of sight and hearing under very peculiar circumstances, he became con 
verted from Atheism to Christianity just before his thirtieth year, and 
has since that time for the most part lived the life of an itinerant 
preacher. He has been subject to headaches and temporary fits of de 
pression of spirits during most of his life, and has had a few fits of un 
consciousness lasting an hour or less. He also has a region of somewhat 
diminished cutaneous sensibility on the left thigh. Otherwise his, 
health is good, and his muscular strength and endurance excellent. 
He is of a firm and self-reliant disposition, a man whose yea is yea and 
his nay, nay; and his character for uprightness is such in the com 
munity that no person who knows him will for a moment admit tht, 
possibility of his case not being perfectly genuine. 

On January 17, 1887, he drew 551 dollars from a bank in Provi 
dence with which to pay for a certain lot of land in Greene, paid 
certain bills, and got into a Pawtucket horse-car. This is the last 
incident which he remembers. He did not return home that day, and 
nothing was heard of him for two months. He was published in the 
papers as missing, and foul play being suspected, the police sought in 
vain his whereabouts. On the morning of March 14th, however, at 
Norristown, Pennsylvania, a man calling himself A. J. Brown, who 
had rented a small shop six weeks previously, stocked it with station 
ery, confectionery, fruit and small articles, and carried on his quiet 
trade without seeming to any one unnatural or eccentric, woke up in 
a fright and called in the people of the house to tell him where he was. 
He said that his name was Ansel Bourne, that he was entirely igno 
rant of Norristown, that he knew nothing of shop-keeping, and that 
the last thing he remembered it seemed only yesterday was draw- 
ing the money from the bank, etc., in Providence. He would not be 
lieve that two months had elapsed. The people of the house thought 
him insane ; and so, at first, did Dr. Louis H. Read, whom they called 
in to see him. But on telegraphing to Providence, confirmatory mes 
sages came, and presently his nephew, Mr. Andrew Harris, arrived 
npon the scene, made everything straight, and took him home. He was 
rery weak, having lost apparently over twenty pounds of flesh during 
his escapade, and had such a horror of the idea of the candy-store that 
he refused to set foot in it again. 

The first two weeks of the period remained unaccounted for, as he 
had no memory, after he had once resumed his normal personality, of 
any part of the time, and no one who knew him seems to have seen him 

* A full account of the case, by Mr. R. Hodgson, will be found in the 
Proceeding of the Society for Psychical Research for 1891. 



392 PSYCHOLOGY. 

after he left home. The remarkable part of the change is, of course, 
the peculiar occupation which the so-called Brown indulged in. Mr. 
Bourne has never in his life had the slightest contact with trade. 
Brown was described by the neighbors as taciturn, orderly in his 
habits, and in no way queer. He went to Philadelphia several times; 
replenished his stock ; cooked for himself in the back shop, where he 
also slept ; went regularly to church ; and once at a prayer-meeting 
made what was considered by the hearers a good address, in the course 
of which he related an incident which he had witnessed in his natural 
state of Bourne. 

This was all that was known of the case up to June 1890, when I 
induced Mr. Bourne to submit to hypnotism, so as to see whether, in the 
hypnotic trance, his l Brown memory would not come back. It did so 
with surprising readiness ; so much so indeed that it proved quite im 
possible to make him whilst in the hypnosis remember any of the facts 
of his normal life. He had heard of Ansel Bourne, but " didn t know 
as he had ever met the man." When confronted with Mrs. Bourne he 
said that he had " never seen the woman before," etc. On the other 
hand, he told of his peregrinations during the lost fortnight,* and gave 
all sorts of details about the Norristown episode. The whole thing was 
prosaic enough ; and the Brown-personality seems to be nothing but a 
rather shrunken, dejected, and amnesic extract of Mr. Bourne himself. 
He gives no motive for the wandering except that there was trouble 
back there and he * wanted rest. During the trance he looks old, 
the corners of his mouth are drawn down, his voice is slow and weak, 
and he sits screening his eyes and trying vainly to remember what lay 
before and after the two months of the Brown experience. " I m all 
hedged in," he says: " I can t get out at either end. I don t kno\\ 
what set me down in that Pawtucket horse-car, and I don t know how 
I ever left that store, or what became of it." His eyes are practically 
normal, and all his sensibilities (save for tardier response) about the 
same in hypnosis as in waking. I had hoped by suggestion, etc., 
to run the two personalities into one, and make the memories con 
tinuous, but no artifice would avail to accomplish this, and Mr. Bourne s 
skull to-day still covers two distinct personal selves. 

The case (whether it contain an epileptic element or not) should 
apparently be classed as one of spontaneous hypnotic trance, persisting 
for two months. The peculiarity of it is that nothing else like it ever 
occurred in the man s life, and that no eccentricity of character came 

* He had spent an afternoon in Boston, a night in New York, an after 
noon in Newark, and ten days or more in Philadelphia, first in a certain 
hotel and next in a certain boarding-house, making no acquaintances, rest 
ing, reading, and looking round. I have unfortunately been unable to 
get independent corroboration of these details, as the hotel registers are 
destroyed, and the boarding-house named by him has been pulled down. 
He forgets the name of the two Jafl"w who kept it. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 393 

out. In most similar cases, the attacks recur, and the sensibilities and 
conduct markedly change. * 

3. In mediumships 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 per 
son, and often names this foreign person and gives his 
history. In old times the foreign control was usually a 
demon, and iz so now in communities which favor that be 
lief. With us In gives himself out at the worst for an 
Indian or other grotesquely speaking but harmless person 
age. Usually li: purports to be the spirit of a dead per 
son known or unknown to tnose present, and the subject is 
then wiiat we call c, c 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 persons who have 
no other obvious nervous anomaly. The phenomena are 
very intricate, and are only ~ us^ beginning to be studied 
in a proper scientific way. The lowest phase of medium- 
ship is automatic writing, and the lowest gro.de 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 ii. reading or 
talk. Inspirational speaking, playing on musical instru 
ments, etc., also belong to the relatively lower phases of 
possession, in which the normal self is not excluded from 
conscious participation in the performance, though their 
initiative seems to come from elsewhere. In the highest 
phase the trance is complete, the voice, language, and 



* The details of the case, it will be seen, are all compatible with simula 
tion. I can only say of that, that no one who has examined Mr. Bourne 
(including Dr. Read, Dr. Weir Mitchell, Dr. Guy Hiusdale, and Mr. R. 
Hodgson) practically doubts his ingrained honesty, nor, so far as I can 
discover, do any of his personal acquaintances indulge in a sceptical 



394 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 differ 
ent individuals. The control here in America is either a 
grotesque, slangy, and flippant personage ( Indian con 
trols, 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-mes 
sages, 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 inspiration from it, I 
know not ; but this is obviously the case with the second 
ary selves which become developed in spiritualist circles. 
There the beginnings of the medium trance are indistin 
guishable from effects of hypnotic suggestion. The sub 
ject assumes the role of a medium simply because opinion 
expects it of him under the conditions which are present ; 
and carries it out with a feebleness or a vivacity propor 
tionate to his histrionic gifts. But the odd thing is that 
persons unexposed to spiritualist 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, 
several of which I have personally seen. 

As an example of the automatic writing performances I 
will quote from an account of his own case kindly furnished 
me by Mr. Sidney Dean of Warren, B. I., member of Con 
gress from Connecticut from 1855 to 1859, who has been all 
his life a robust and active journalist, author, and man of 
affairs. He has for many years been a writing subject, and 
has a large collection of manuscript automatically pro 
duced. 

"Some of it," be writes us, " is in hieroglyph, or strange compound 
ed arbitrary characters, each series possessing a seeming unitv in general 



CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 895 

design or cnaraeter, followed by what purports to be a translation or 
rendering into molhei English. I never attempted the seemingly impos 
sible feat of copying the characters. They were cut with the precision 
of a graver s ool, and generally with a single rapid stroke of the pen 
cil. Many languages, some obsolete and passed from history, are pro 
fessedly given. To see them would satisfy you that no one could copy 
them except by tracing. 

"These, however, are but a small part of the phenomena. The 
automatic has given place to the impressional, and when the work is 
in progress I am in the normal condition, and seemingly two minds, in 
telligences, persons, are practically engaged. The writing is in my own 
hand but the dictation not of my ow T n mind and will, but that of an 
other, upon subjects of which I can have no knowledge and hardly a 
theory ; and I, myself, consciously criticise the thought, fact, mode of 
expressing it, etc., while the hand is recording the subject-matter and 
even the words impressed to be written. If I refuse to write the sen 
tence, or even the word, the impression instantly ceases, and my wil 
lingness must be mentally expressed before the work is resumed, and it 
is resumed at the point of cessation, even if it should be in the middle 
of a sentence. Sentences are commenced without knowledge of mine as 
to their subject or ending. In fact, I have never known in advance the 
subject of disquisition. 

"There is in progress now, at uncertain times, not subject to my 
v. ill, a series of twenty-four chapters upon the scientific features of life, 
moral, spiritual, eternal. Seven have already been written in the man 
ner indicated. These were preceded by twenty-four chapters relating 
generally to the life beyond material death, its characteristics, etc. 
Each chapter is signed by the name of some person who has lived on 
earth, some with whom I have been personally acquainted, others 
known in history. ... I know nothing of the alleged authorship 
of any chapter until it is completed and the name impressed and ap 
pended. ... I am interested not only in the reputed authorship,- 
of which I have nothing corroborative, but in the philosophy taught, 
of which I was in ignorance until these chapters appeared. From my 
standpoint of life which has been that of biblical orthodoxy the 
philosophy is new, seems to be reasonable, and is logically put. I con 
fess to an inability to successfully controvert it to my own satisfaction. 

"It is an intelligent ego who writes, or else the influence assumes 
individuality, which practically makes of the influence a personality. It 
is not myself ; of that I am conscious at every step of the process. I 
have also traversed the whole field of the claims of unconscious cere 
bration, so called, so far as I am competent to critically examine it, and 
it fails, as a theory, in numberless points, when applied to this strange 
work through me. It would be far more reasonable and satisfactory for 
me to accept the silly hypothesis of re-incarnation, the old doctrine of 
metempsychosis, as taught by some spiritualists to-day, and to believe 
that I lived a former life here, and that once in a while it dominates mv 



396 PSYCHOLOGY. 

intellectual powers, and writes chapters upon the philosophy of life, o* 
opens a post-office for spirits to drop their effusions, and have them 
put into English script. No ; the easiest and most natural solution to 
me is to admit the claim made, i.e., that it is a decarnated intelligence 
who writes. But who ? that is the question. The names of scholars 
and thinkers who once lived are affixed to the most ungrammatical and 
weakest of bosh. . . 

" It seems reasonable to me upon the hypothesis that it is a per 
son using another s mind or brain that there must be more or less of 
that other s style or tone incorporated in the message, and that to the 
unseen personality, i.e., the power which impresses, the thought, the 
fact, or the philosophy, and not the style or tone, belongs. For in 
stance, while the influence is impressing my brain with the greatest 
force and rapidity, so that my pencil fairly flies over the paper to record 
the thoughts, I am conscious that, in many cases, the vehicle of the 
thought, i.e., the language, is very natural and familiar to me, as if, 
somehow, my personality as a writer was getting mixed up with the 
message. And, again, the style, language, everything, is entirely 
foreign to my c^n style. 1 

I am myself persuaded by abundant acquaintance with 
the trances of one medium that the control may be alto 
gether different from any possible waking self of the person. 
In the case I have in mind, it professes to be a certain de 
parted 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. 

Many persons have found evidence conclusive to their 
minds that in some cases the control is really the departed 
spirit whom it pretends to be. The phenomena shade 
off so gradually into cases where this is obviously ab 
surd, that the presumption (quite apart from a priori scien 
tific prejudice) is great against its being true. The case 
of Lurancy Yennum is perhaus as extreme a case of pos- 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 397 

session of the modern sort as one can find.* Lurancy was 
a young girl of fourteen, living with her parents at Watseka, 
111., who (after various distressing hysterical disorders and 
spontaneous trances, during which she was possessed by de 
parted spirits of a more or less grotesque sort) finally declared 
herself to be animated by the spirit of Mary Roff (a 
neighbor s daughter, who had died in an insane asylum 
twelve years before) and insisted on being sent home to Mr. 
BofFs house. After a week of homesickness and impor 
tunity on her part, her parents agreed, and the Roffs, who 
pitied her, and who were spiritualists into the bargain, took 
her in. Once there, she seems to have convinced the family 
that their dead Mary had exchanged habitations with Lu 
rancy. Lurancy was said to be temporarily in heaven, and 
Mary s spirit now controlled her organism, and lived again 
in her former earthly home. 

"The girl, now in ner new home, seemed perfectly happy and con 
tent, knowing every person and everything that Mary knew when in 
her original body, twelve to twenty-five years ago, recognizing and call 
ing by name those who were friends and neighbors of the family from 
1852 to 1865, when Mary died, calling attention to scores, yes, hundreds 
of incidents that transpired during her natural life. During all the 
period of her sojourn at Mr. Roffs she had no knowledge of, and did 
not recognize, any of Mr. Vennum s family, their friends or neighbors, 
yet Mr. and Mrs. Venn urn and their children visited her and Mr. Roff s 
people, she being introduced to them as to any strangers. After fre 
quent visits, and hearing them often and favorably spoken of, she 
learned to love them as acquaintances, and visited them with Mrs. Roff 
three times. From day to day she appeared natural, easy, affable, and 
industrious, attending diligently and faithfully to her household duties, 
assisting in the general work of the family as a faithful, prudent daugh 
ter might be supposed to do, singing, reading, or conversing as oppor 
tunity offered, upon all matters of private or general interest to the 
family. 

The so-called Mary whilst at the KofiV would sometimes 
* go back to heaven, and leave the body in a quiet trance, 
i.e., without the original personality of Luraucy returning. 
After eight or nine weeks, however, the memory and 
manner of Lurancy would sometimes partially, but not en 
tirely, return for a few minutes. Once Lurancy seems to 

* The Watseka Wonder, by E. W. Stevens. Chicago, Religio-Philo- 
sophical Publishing House, 1887. 



398 PSYCHOLOGY. 

have taken full possession for a short time. At last, after 
some fourteen weeks, conformably to the prophecy which 
Mary had made when she first assumed control, she 
departed definitively and the Lurancy-consciousness came 
back for good. Mr. Roff writes : 

" She wanted me to take her home, which I did. She called me Mi. 
Roff, and talked with me as a young girl would, not being acquainted. 
I asked her how things appeared to her if they seemed natural. She 
said it seemed like a dream to her. She met her parents and brothers 
in a very affectionate manner, hugging and kissing each one in tears of 
gladness. She clasped her arms around her father s neck a long time, 
fairly smothering him with kisses. I saw her father just now (eleven 
o clock). He says she has been perfectly natural, and seems entirely 
well." 

Lurancy s mother writes, a couple of months later, that 
she was 

" perfectly and entirely well and natural. For two or three weeks after 
her return home, she seemed a little strange to what she had been before 
she was taken sick last summer, but only, perhaps, the natural change 
that had taken place with the girl, and except it seemed to her as 
though she had been dreaming or sleeping, etc. Lurancy has been 
smarter, more intelligent, more industrious, more womanly, and more 
polite than before. We give the credit of her complete cure and restora 
tion to her family, to Dr. E. W. Stevens, and Mr. and Mrs. Roff, by 
their obtaining her removal to Mr. Roff s, where her cure was perfected. 
We firmly believe that, had she remained at home, she would have died, 
or we would have been obliged to send her to the insane asylum ; and 
if so, that she would have died there ; and further, that I could not have 
lived but a short time with the care and trouble devolving on me. 
Several of the relatives of Lurancy, including ourselves, now believe 
she was cured by spirit power, and that Mary Roff controlled the girl." 

Eight years later, Lurancy was reported to be married 
and a mother, and in good health. She had apparently out 
grown the mediumistic phase of her existence.* 

On the condition of the sensibility during these inva 
sions, few observations have been made. I have found the 
hands of two automatic writers anaesthetic during the act. 

* My friend Mr. R. Hodgson informs me that he visited Watseka iv 
April 1890, and cross-examined the principal witnesses of this case. Hi? 
confidence in the original narrative was strengthened by what he learned ; 
and various unpublished facts were ascertained, which increased the plau 
sibility of the spiritualistic interpretation of the phenomenon. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 399 

In two others I have found this not to be the case. Auto, 
matic writing is usually preceded by shooting pains along 
the arm-nerves and irregular contractions of the arm- 
muscles. I have found one medium s tongue and lips 
apparently insensible to pin-pricks during her (speaking) 
trance. 

If we speculate on the brain- condition during all these 
different perversions of personality, we see that it must be 
supposed capable of successively changing all its modes of 
action, and abandoning the use for the time being of whole 
sets of well-organized association-paths. In no other way 
can we explain the loss of memory in passing from one 
alternating condition to another. And not only this, but 
we must admit that organized systems of paths can be 
thrown out of gear with others, so that the processes in ono 
system give rise to one consciousness, and those of another 
system to another simidtaneously existing consciousness. 
Thus only can we understand the facts of automatic writing, 
etc., whilst the patient is out of trance, and the false anaes 
thesias and amnesias of the hysteric type. But just what 
sort of dissociation the phrase thrown out of gear may 
stand for, we cannot even conjecture ; only I think we ought 
not to talk of the doubling of the self as if it consisted in 
the failure to combine on the part of certain systems of 
ideas which usually do so. It is better to talk of objects 
usually combined, and which are now divided between the 
two selves, in the hysteric and automatic cases in ques 
tion. Each of the selves is due to a system of cerebral 
paths acting by itself. If the brain acted normally, and 
the dissociated systems came together again, we should get 
a new affection of consciousness in the form of a third Self 
different from the other two, but knowing their objects 
together, as the result. After all I have said in the last 
chapter, this hardly needs further remark. 

Some peculiarities in the lower automatic performances 
suggest that the systems thrown out of gear with each other 
are contained one in the right and the other in the left 
hemisphere. The subjects, e.g., often write backwards, or 
they transpose letters, or they write mirror-script. All these 



400 PSYCHOLOGY. 

are symptoms of agraphic disease. The left hand, if left 
to its natural impulse, will in most people write mirror- 
script more easily than natural script. Mr. F. W. H. Myers 
has laid stress on these analogies.* He has also called 
attention to the usual inferior moral tone of ordinary plan- 
chette writing. On Hughlings Jackson s principles, the 
left hemisphere, being the more evolved organ, at ordinary 
times inhibits the activity of the right one ; but Mr. Myers 
suggests that during the automatic performances the usual 
inhibition may be removed and the right hemisphere set 
free to act all by itself. This is very likely to some extent 
to be the case. But the crude explanation of two selves 
by two* hemispheres is of course far from Mr. Myers s 
thought. The selves may be more than two, and the brain- 
systems severally used for each must be conceived as inter 
penetrating each other in very minute ways. 

SUMMARY. 

To sum up now this long chapter. The consciousness of 
Self involves a stream of thought, each part of which as * I 
can 1) remember those which went before, and know the 
things they knew ; and 2) emphasize and care paramountly 
for certain ones among them as me, and appropriate to 
these the rest. The nucleus of the me is always the bodily 
existence felt to be present at the time. Whatever remem- 
bered-past-feelings resemble this present feeling are deemed 
to belong to the samo me with it. Whatever other things 
are perceived to be associated with this feeling are deemed 
to form part of that me s experience; and of them certain 
ones (which fluctuate more or less) are reckoned to be 
themselves constituents of the me in a larger sense, such 
are the clothes, the material possessions, the friends, the 
honors and esteem which the person receives or may re 
ceive. This me is an empirical aggregate of things object 
ively known. The / which knows them cannot itself be an 

* See his highly important series of articles on Automatic Writing, etc., 
in the Proceedings of the Soc. for Psych. Research, especially Article II 
(May 1885). Compare also Dr. Maudsley s instructive article in Mind, 
vol. xiv. p. 161, and Luys s essay, Sur le Dedoublement, etc.. IB 
1 Encephale for 1889. 



THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF. 401 

aggregate, neither for psychological purposes need it be 
considered to be an unchanging metaphysical entity like 
the Soul, or a principle like the pure 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, unen 
cumbered with any hypothesis save that of the existence of 
passing thoughts or states of mind. The same brain may 
subserve many conscious selves, either alternate or coexist 
ing ; but by what modifications in its action, or whether 
ultra-cerebral conditions may intervene, are questions which 
cannot now be answered. 

If anyone urge that I assign no reason why the succes 
sive passing thoughts should inherit each other s posses- 
sions, or why they and the brain-states should be functions 
(in the mathematical sense) of each other, I reply that the 
reason, if there be any, must lie where all real reasons lie, 
in the total sense or meaning of the world. If there be such 
a meaning, or any approach to it (as we are bound to trust 
there is), it alone can make clear to us why such finite 
haman streams of thought are called into existence in 
such functional dependence upon brains. This is as much 
as to say that the special natural science of psychology must 
stop with the mere functional formula. If the passing thought 
be the directly verifiable existent which no school has hitherto 
doubted it to be, then that thought is itself the thinker, and 
psychology need not look beyond. The only pathway that 
I can discover for bringing in a more transcendental thinker 
would be to deny that we have any direct knowledge of the 
thought as such. The latter s existence would then be 
reduced to a postulate, an assertion that there must be a 
knoioer correlative to all this known ; and the problem ivho 
that knower is would have become a metaphysical problem. 
With the question once stated in these terms, the spirit 
ualist and transcendentalist solutions must be considered 
as prima facie on a par with our own psychological one, 
and discussed impartially. But that carries us beyond the 
psychological or naturalistic point of view. 



CHAPTER XL 
ATTENTION. 

E to say, so patent a fact as the perpetual pres 
ence of selective attention has received hardly any notice 
from psychologists of the English empiricist school. The 
Germans have explicitly treated of it, either as a faculty or 
as a resultant, but in the pages of such writers as Locke, 
Hume, Hartley, the Mills, and Spencer the word hardly 
occurs, or if it does so, it is parenthetically and as if by inad 
vertence.* The motive of this ignoring of the phenomenon 
of attention is obvious enough. These writers are bent on 
showing how the higher faculties of the mind are pure 
products of experience ; and experience is supposed to be 
of something simply given. Attention, implying a degree 
of reactive spontaneity, would seem to break through the 
circle of pure receptivity which constitutes experience/ 
and hence must not be spoken of under penalty of inter 
fering with the smoothness of the tale. 

But the moment one thinks of the matter, one sees how 
false a notion of experience that is which would make it 
tantamount to the mere presence to the senses of an out 
ward order. Millions of items of the outward order are 
present to my senses which never properly enter into my 
axperience. Why ? Because they have no interest for me. 
My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items 
which I notice shape my mind without selective interest, 
experience is an utter chaos. Interest alone gives accent 
and emphasis, light and shade, background and foreground 
intelligible perspective, in a word. It varies in every 

* Bain mentions attention in the Senses and the Intellect, p. 558, and 
even gives a theory of it on pp. 370-374 of the Emotions of the Will. .1 
shall recur to this theory later on. 

402 



ATTENTION. 403 

creature, but without it the consciousness of every creature 
would be a gray chaotic indiscriminateness, impossible for 
us even to conceive. Such an empiricist writer as Mr. 
Spencer, for example, regards the creature as absolutely 
passive clay, upon which experience rains down. The 
clay will be impressed most deeply where the drops fall 
thickest, and so the final shape of the mind is moulded. 
Give time enough, and all sentient things ought, at this 
rate, to end by assuming an identical mental constitution 
for experience, the sole shaper, is a constant fact, and the 
order of its items must end by being exactly reflected by 
the passive mirror which we call the sentient organism. 
If such an account were true, a race of dogs bred for gen 
erations, say in the Vatican, with characters of visual shape, 
sculptured in marble, presented to their eyes, in every va 
riety of form and combination, ought to discriminate be 
fore long the finest shades of these peculiar characters. 
In a word, they ought to become, if time were given, ac 
complished connoisseurs of sculpture. Anyone may judge 
of the probability of this consummation. Surely an eternity 
of experience of the statues would leave the dog as inartistic 
as he was at first, for the lack of an original interest to knit 
his discriminations on to. Meanwhile the odors at the bases 
of the pedestals would have organized themselves in the 
consciousness of this breed of dogs into a system of ( cor 
respondences to which the most hereditary caste of cus- 
todi would never approximate, merely because to them, as 
human beings, the dog s interest in those smells would 
for ever be an inscrutable mystery. These writers have, 
then, utterly ignored the glaring fact that subjective inter 
est may, by laying its weighty index-finger on particular 
items of experience, so accent them as to give to the least 
frequent associations far more power to shape our thought 
than the most frequent ones possess. The interest itself, 
though its genesis is doubtless perfectly natural, makes ex 
perience more than it is made by it. 

Every one knows what attention is. It is the taking pos 
session by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of 
what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains 



404 PSYCHOLOGY. 

of thought. localization, concentration, of consciousness 
are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things 
in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition 
which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatter 
brained state which in French is called distraction, and Zer- 
streutheit in German. 

We all know this latter state, even in its extreme degree. 
Most people probably fall several times a day into a fit 
of something 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 con 
tinue, 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 our 
selves together, we wink our eyes, we shake our heads, the 
background-ideas become effective, and the wheels of life 
go round again. 

This curious state of inhibition can for a few moments be 
produced at will by fixing the eyes on vacancy. Some per 
sons can voluntarily empty their minds and think of noth 
ing. With many, as Professor Exner remarks of himself, 
this is the most efficacious means of falling asleep. It is 
difficult not to suppose something like this scattered con 
dition of mind to be the usual state of brutes when not 
actively engaged in some pursuit. Fatigue, monotonous 
mechanical occupations that end by being automatically 
carried on, tend to produce it in men. It is not sleep ; and 
yet when aroused from such a state, a person will often 
hardly be able to say what he has been thinking about 
Subjects of the hypnotic trance seem to lapse into it whe*> 



ATTENTION. 405 

left to themselves ; asked what they are thinking of, they 
reply, of nothing particular ! * 

The abolition of this condition is what we call the awak 
ening of the attention. One principal object comes then 
into the focus of consciousness, others are temporarily sup 
pressed. The awakening may come about either by reason 
of a stimulus from without, or in consequence of some 
unknown inner alteration ; and the change it brings with it 
amounts to a concentration upon one single object with 
exclusion of aught besides, or to a condition anywhere be 
tween this and the completely dispersed state. 

TO HOW MANY THINGS CAN WE ATTEND AT ONCEP 

The question of the span 1 of consciousness has often been 
asked and answered sometimes a priori, sometimes by ex 
periment. This seems the proper place for us to touch 
upon it ; and our answer, according to the principles laid 
down in Chapter IX, will not be difficult. The number of 
things we may attend to is altogether indefinite, depending 
on the power of the individual intellect, on the form of the 
apprehension, and on what the things are. When appre 
hended conceptually as a connected system, their number 
may be very large. But however numerous the things, they 
can only be known in a single pulse of consciousness for 
which they form one complex object (p. 276 ff.), so tha^ 
properly speaking there is before the mind at no time a 
plurality of ideas, properly so called. 

The unity of the soul has been supposed by many 

* "The first and most important, but also the most difficult, task at the 
outset of an education is to overcome gradually the inattentive dispersion 
of mind which shows itself wherever the organic life preponderates over 
the intellectual. The training of animals . . . must be in the first in 
stance based on the awakening of attention (cf . Adrian Leonard, Essai wr 
I Education des Animaux, Lille, 1842) , that is to say, we must seek to make 
them gradually perceive separately things M hich, if left to themselves, 
would not be attended to, because they would, fuse with a great sum of 
other sensorial stimuli to a confused total impression of which each separate 
item only darkens and interferes with the rest. Similarly at first with the 
human child. The enormous difficulties of deaf-mute- and especially of 
idiot-instruction is principally due to the slow and painful manner in 
which we succeed in bringing out from the general confusion of perception 
single items with sufficient sharpness." (Waitz, Lehrb. d. Psychol., p. 632.) 



406 PSYCHOLOGY. 

philosophers, who also believed in the distinct atomic na 
ture of ideas, to preclude the presence to it of more than 
one objective fact, manifested in one idea, at a time. Even 
Dugald Stuart opines that every minimum visibile of a pic 
tured figure 

" constitutes just as distinct an object of attention to the mind as if it 
were separated by an interval of empty space from the rest. ... It 
is impossible for the mind to attend to more than one of these points at 
once ; and as the perception of the figure implies a knowledge of the 
relative situation of the different points with respect to each other, we 
must conclude that the perception of figure by the eye is the result of 
a number of different acts of attention. These acts of attention, how 
ever, are performed with such rapidity, that the effect, with respect to 
us, is the same as if the perception were instantaneous." * 

Such glaringly artificial views can only come from fan 
tastic metaphysics or from the ambiguity of the word idea, 
which, standing sometimes for mental state and sometimes 
for thing known, leads men to ascribe to the thing, not 
only the unity which belongs to the mental state, but even 
the simplicity which is thought to reside in the Soul. 

When the things are apprehended by the senses, the 
number of them that can be attended to at once is small, 
"Pluribus intentus, minor est ad singida sensus." 

" By Charles Bonnet the Mind is allowed to have a distinct notion of 
six objects at once ; by Abraham Tucker the number is limited to four ; 
while Destutt Tracy again amplifies it to six. The opinion of the first 
and last of these philosophers" [continues Sir Wm. Hamilton] "seems 
to me correct. You can easily make the experiments for yourselves, 
but you must beware of grouping the objects into classes. If you 
throw a handful of marbles on the floor, you will find it difficult to 
view at once more than six, or seven at most, without confusion ; but 
if ^you group them into twos, or threes, or fives, you can comprehend as 
many groups as you can units ; because the mind considers these 
groups only as units it views them as wholes, and throws their parts 
out of consideration." f 

Professor Jevons, repeating this observation, by count 
ing instantaneously beans thrown into a box, found that 
the number 6 was guessed correctly 120 times out of 147, 5 
correctly 102 times out of 107, and 4 and 3 always right. J 

* Elements, part i. chap, n, Jin. 

f Lectures on Metaphysics, lecture xiv. 

t Nature, vol. in. p. 281 (1871). 



ATTENTION. 407 

It is obvious that such observations decide nothing at all 
about our attention, properly so called. They rather meas 
ure in part the distinctness of our vision especially of the 
primary-memory-image* in part the amount of association 
in the individual between seen arrangements and the names 
of numbers, f 

Each number-name is a way of grasping the beans as 
one total object. In such a total object, all the parts con 
verge harmoniously to the one resultant concept ; no sin 
gle bean has special discrepant associations of its own ; 
and so, with practice, they may grow quite numerous ere 
we fail to estimate them aright. But where the object be- 

* If a lot of dots or strokes on a piece of paper be exhibited for a mo 
ment to a person in normal condition, with the request that he say how 
many are there, he will find that they break into groups in his mind s eye, 
and that whilst he is analyzing and counting one group in his memory the 
others dissolve. In short, the impression made by the dots changes rapidly 
into something else. In the trance-subject, on the contrary, it seems to 
stick; I find that persons in the hypnotic state easily count the dots in 
the mind s eye so long as they do not much exceed twenty in number. 

f Mr. Cattell made Jevons s experiment in a much more precise way 
(Philosophische Studien, nr 121 if.). Cards were ruled with short lines, 
varying in number from four to fifteen, and exposed to the eye for a hun 
dredth of a second. When the number was but four or five, no mistakes 
as a rule were made. For higher numbers the tendency was to uuder- 
rather than to over-estimate. Similar experiments were tried with letters 
and figures, and gave the same result. When the letters formed familiar 
words, three times as many of them could be named as when their com 
bination was meaningless. If the words formed a sentence, twice as many 
of them could be caught as when they had no connection. " The sentence 
was then apprehended as a whole. If not apprehended thus, almost noth 
ing is apprehended of the several words; but if the sentence as a whole is 
apprehended, then the words appear very distinct." Wundt and his pupil 
Dietze had tried similar experiments on rapidly repeated strokes of sound. 
Wundt made them follow each other in groups, and found that groups of 
twelve strokes at most could be recognized and identified when they suc 
ceeded each other at the most favorable rate, namely, from three to five 
tenths of a second (Phys. Psych., ir. 215). Dietze found that by mentally 
subdividing the groups into sub-groups as one listened, as many as forty 
strokes could be identified as a whole. They were then grasped as eight 
sub-groups of five, or as five of eight strokes each. (Philosophische Studien, 
II. 362.) Later in Wundt s Laboratory, Bechterew made observations on 
two simultaneously elapsing series of metronome strokes, of which one con 
tained one stroke more than the other. The most favorable rate of succes 
sion was 0.3 sec., and he then discriminated a group of 18 from one of 
18 -f- 1, apparently. (Neurologiscb.es Centralblatt, 1889, 272.) 



408 PSYCHOLOGY. 

fore us breaks into parts disconnected with each other, and 
forming each as it were a separate object or system, not 
conceivable in union with the rest, it becomes harder to 
apprehend all these parts at once, and the mind tends to 
let go of one whilst it attends to another. Still, within 
limits this can be done. M. Paulhan has experimented 
carefully 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 
sinultaneous application to two easy and heterogeneous operations. 
Two operations of the same sort, two multiplications, two recitations, or 
the reciting one poem and writing another, render the process more 
uncertain and difficult." 

The attention often, but not always, oscillates during 
these performances ; and sometimes a word from one part 
of the task slips into another. I myself find when I try to 
simultaneously recite one thing and write another that the 
beginning of each word or segment of a phrase is what re 
quires the attention. Once started, my pen runs on for a 
word or two as if by its own momentum. 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 write the first four verses of Athalie, whilst reciting eleven of 
Musset. The whole performance occupies 40 seconds. But reciting 
alpne takes 22 and writing alone 31, or 53 altogether, so that there is a 
difference in favor of the simultaneous operations." 

Or again : 

"I multiply 421 312 212 by 2; the operation takes 6 seconds; the 
recitation of 4 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." 

Of course these time-measurements lack precision. 
With three systems of object (writing with each hand whilst 
reciting) the operation became much more difficult. 

* Revue Scientifique, vol. 39, p. 684 (May 28, 1887). 



ATTENTION. 409 

If, then, by the original question, how many ideas or 
things can we attend to at once, be meant how many entirely 
disconnected systems or processes of conception can go on 
simultaneously, the answer is, not easily more than one, 
unless the processes are 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. Within 
any one of the systems the parts may be numberless, but 
we attend to them collectively when we conceive the whole 
which they form. 

When the things to be attended to are small 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, of which I must give some account. 

It has long been noticed, when expectant attention is 
concentrated upon one of two sensations, that the other 
one is apt to be displaced from consciousness for a moment 
and to appear subsequent ; although in reality the two may 
have been contemporaneous events. Thus, to use the stock 
example of the books, the surgeon would sometimes see 
the blood flow from the arm of the patient whom he was 
bleeding, before he saw the instrument penetrate the skin. 
Similarly the smith may see the sparks fly before he sees 
the hammer smite the iron, etc. There is thus a certain 
difficulty in perceiving the exact date of two impressions 
when they do not interest our attention equally, and when 
they are of a disparate sort. 

Professor Exner, whose experiments on the minimal per 
ceptible succession in time of two sensations we shall have to 
quote in another chapter, makes some noteworthy remarks 
about the way in which the attention must be set to catch 
the interval and the right order of the sensations, when the 
time is exceeding small. The point was to tell whether 

* Of. Chr. Wolff: Psychologia Empirica, 245. Wolff s account of the 
phenomena of attention is iu general excellent. 



410 PSYCHOLOGY. 

two signals were simultaneous or successive ; and, if succes 
sive, which one of them came first. 

The first way of attending which he found himself to 
fall into, was when the signals did not differ greatly when, 
e.g., they were similar sounds heard each by a different 
ear. Here he lay in wait for the first signal, whichever 
it might be, and identified it the next moment in memory. 
The second, which could then always be known by default, 
was often not clearly distinguished in itself. When the 
time was too short, the first could not be isolated from the 
second at all. 

The second way was to accommodate the attention for a 
certain sort of signal, and the next moment to become aware 
in memory of whether it came before or after its mate. 

"This way brings great uncertainty with it. The impression not 
prepared for comes to us in the memory more weak than the other, 
obscure as it were, badly fixed in time. We tend to take the subjec 
tively stronger stimulus, that which we were intent upon, for the first, 
just as we are apt to take an objectively stronger stimulus to be the 
first. Still, it may happen otherwise. In the experiments from touch 
to sight it often seemed to me as if the impression for which the atten 
tion was not prepared were there already when the other came." 

Exner found himself employing this method oftenest 
when the impressions differed strongly.* 

In such observations (which must not be confounded 
with those where the two signals were identical and their 
successiveness known as mere doubleness, without distinc 
tion of which came first), it is obvious that each signal must 
combine stably in our perception with a different instant of 
time. It is the simplest possible case of two discrepant 
concepts simultaneously occupying the mind. Now the case 
of the signals being simultaneous seems of a different sort. 
We must turn to Wundt for observations fit to cast a nearer 
light thereon. 

The reader will remember the reaction-time experiments 
of which we treated in Chapter III. It happened occasion 
ally in Wundt s experiments that the reaction-time was 
reduced to zero or even assumed a negative value, which, 
being translated into common speech, means that the ob- 

* Pfluger s Archiv, xi. 429-31, 



ATTENTION. 411 

server was sometimes so intent upon the signal that his 
reaction actually coincided in time with it, or even preceded it, 
instead of coming a fraction of a second after it, as in the 
nature of things it should. More will be said of these re 
sults anon. Meanwhile Wundt, in explaining them, says 
this : 

In general we have a very exact feeling of the simultaneity of two 
stimuli, if they do not differ much in strength. And in a series of ex 
periments in which a warning precedes, at a fixed interval, the stimu 
lus, we involuntarily try to react, not only as promptly as possible, 
but also in such wise that our movement may coincide with the stimu 
lus itself. We seek to make our own feelings of touch and innervation 
[muscular contraction] objectively contemporaneous with the signal 
which we hear ; and experience shows that in many cases we approxi 
mately succeed. In these cases we have a distinct consciousness of 
hearing the signal, reacting upon it, and feeling our reaction take 
place, a ii at one and the same moment." * 

In another place, Wundt adds : 

" The difficulty of these observations and the comparative infrequency 
with which the reaction-time can be made thus to disappear shows how 
hard it is, when our attention is intense, to keep it fixed even on two 
different ideas at once. Note besides that when this happens, one 
always tries to bring the ideas into a certain connection, to grasp them 
as components of a certain complex representation. Thus in the ex 
periments in question, it has often seemed to me that I produced by 
my own recording movement the sound which the ball made in drop- 
ping on the board." f 

The difficulty, in the cases of which Wundt speaks, is 
that of forcing two non-simultaneous events into apparent 
combination with the same instant of time. There is no 
difficulty, as he admits, in so dividing our attention be 
tween two really simultaneous impressions as to feel them 
to be such. The cases he describes are really cases of 
anachronistic perception, of subjective time-displacement, 
to use his own term. Still more curious cases of it have 
been most carefully studied by him. They carry us a step 
farther in our research, so I will quote them, using as far 
as possible his exact words : 

" The conditions become more complicated when we receive a series 
of impressions separated by distinct intervals, into the midst of which 

* Physiol. Psych., 3d ed. n. pp. 238-40. 
f Ib. p. 262. 



412 PSYCHOLOGY. 

a heterogeneous impression is suddenly brought. Then comes the 
question, with which member of the series do we perceive the additional 
impression to coincide? with that member with whose presence it 
really coexists, or is there some aberration? ... If the additional 
stimulus belongs to a different sense very considerable aberrations may 
occur. 

" The best way to experiment is with a number of visual impressions 
(which one can easily get from a moving oDject) for the series, and 
with a sound as the disparate impression. Let, e.g., an index-hand 
move over a circular scale with uniform and sufficiently slow velocity, 
so that the impressions it gives will not fuse, but permit its position at 
any instant to be distinctly seen. Let the clockwork which turns it 
have an arrangement which rings a bell once in every revolution, but 
at a point which can be varied, so that the observer need never know 
in advance just when the bell-stroke takes place. In such observations 
three cases are possible. The bell-stroke can be perceived either ex 
actly at the moment to which the index points when it sounds in this 
case there will be no time-displacement ; or we can combine it with a 
later position of the index . . . positive time-displacement, as we 
shall call it ; or finally we can combine it with a position of the index 
earlier than that at which the sound occurred and this we will call a 
negative displacement. The most natural displacement would appa 
rently be the positive, since for apperception a certain time is always re 
quired. . . . But experience shows that the opposite is the case : it 
happens most frequently that the sound appears earlier than its real 
date far less often coincident with it, or later. It should be observed 
that in all these experiments it takes some time to get a distinctly per 
ceived combination of the sound with a particular position of the in 
dex, and that a single revolution of the latter is never enough for the 
purpose. The motion must go on long enough for the sounds them 
selves to form a regular series the outcome being a simultaneous per 
ception of two distinct series of events, of which either may by changes 
in its rapidity modify the result. The first thing one remarks is that 
the sound belongs in a certain region of the scale ; only gradually is it 
perceived to combine with a particular position of the index. But even 
a result gained by observation of many revolutions may be deficient in 
certainty, for accidental combinations of attention have a great influ 
ence upon it. If we deliberately try to combine the bell-stroke with 
an arbitrarily chosen position of the index, we succeed without diffi 
culty, provided this position be not too remote from the true one. If, 
again, we cover the whole scale, except a single division over which we 
may see the index pass, we have a strong tendency to combine the 
bell-stroke with this actually seen position ; and in so doing may easily 
overlook more than J of a second of time. Eesults, therefore, to be of 
any value, must be drawn from long-continued and very numerous ob 
servations, in which such irregular oscillations of the attention neutral 
ize each other according to the law of great numbers, and allow the 



ATTENTION. 413 

true laws to appear. Although my own experiments extend over many 
years (with interruptions), they are not even yet numerous enough to ex 
haust the subject still, they bring out the principal laws which the 
attention follows under such conditions." * 

Wundt accordingly distinguishes the direction from the 
amount of the apparent displacement in time of the bell- 
stroke. The direction depends on the rapidity of the 
movement of the index and (consequently) on that of the 
succession of the bell-strokes. The moment at which the 
bell struck was estimated by him with the least tendency 
to error, when the revolutions took place once in a second. 
Faster than this, positive errors began to prevail ; slower, 
negative ones almost always were present. On the othei 
hand, if the rapidity went quickening, errors became nega 
tive ; if slowing, positive. The amount of error is, in gen 
eral, the greater the slower the speed and its alterations. 
Finally, individual differences prevail, as well as differences 
in the same individual at different times.f 



* Physio! . Psych., 2d ed. n. 264-6. 

f This was the original personal equation observation of Bessel. An 
Observer looked through his equatorial telescope to note the moment at 
which a star crossed the meridian, the latter being marked in the telescopic 
field of view by a visible thread, beside which other equidistant threads 
appear. "Before the star reached the thread he looked at the clock, and 
then, with eye at telescope, counted the seconds by the beat of the pendu- 



& 



a 



lum. Since the star seldom passed the meridian at the exact moment of a 
beat, the observer, in order to estimate fractions, had to note its position 
at the stroke before and at the stroke after the passage, and to divide the 
time as the meridian-line seemed to divide the space. If, e.g., one had 



414 PSYCHOLOGY. 

Wundt s pupil von Tschisch has carried out these ex 
periments on a still more elaborate scale,* using, not only 
the single bell-stroke, but 2, 3, 4, or 5 simultaneous impres 
sions, so that the attention had to note the place of the 
index at the moment when a whole group of things was 
happening. The single bell-stroke was always heard too 
early by von Tschisch the displacement was invariably 
negative. As the other simultaneous impressions were 
added, the displacement first became zero and finally posi 
tive, i.e. the impressions were connected with a position of 
the index that was too late. This retardation was greater 
when the simultaneous impressions were disparate (electric 
tactile stimuli on different places, simple touch-stimuli, 
different sounds) than when they were all of the same sort. 
The increment of retardation became relatively less with 
each additional impression, so that it is probable that six 
impressions would have given almost the same result as 
five, which was the maximum number used by Herr von T. 

Wundt explains all these results by his previous obser 
vation that a reaction sometimes antedates the signal (see 
above, p< 411). The mind, he supposes, is so intent upon 
the bell-strokes that its apperception keeps ripening 
periodically after each stroke in anticipation of the next. 
Its most natural rate of ripening may be faster or slower 
than the rate at which the strokes come. If faster, then it 
hears the stroke too early ; if slower, it hears it too late. 
The position of the index on the scale, meanwhile, is noted 
at the moment, early or late, at which the bell-stroke is 
subjectively heard. Substituting several impressions for 



counted 20 seconds, and at the 21st the star seemed removed by ac from 
the meridian-thread c, whilst at the 22d it was at the distance be ; then, if 
ac : be :: 1 : 2, the star would have passed at 21 seconds. The conditions 
resemble those in our experiment : the star is the index-hand, the threads 
are the scale ; and a time-displacement is to be expected, which with high 
rapidities may be positive, and negative with low. The astronomic ob 
servations do not permit us to measure its absolute amount ; but that it ex 
ists is made certain by the fact than after all other possible errors are elimi 
nated, there still remains between different observers a personal difference 
which is often much larger than that between mere reaction-times, amount 
ing . . . sometimes to more than a second." (Op. cit. p. 270.) 
* Philosophische Studien, n. 601. 



ATTENTION. 415 

the single bell-stroke makes the ripening of the perception 
slower, and the index is seen too late. So, at least, do I 
understand the explanations which Herren Wundt and v. 
Tschisch give.* 

* Physiol. Psych., 2d ed. n. 273-4; 3d ed. n. 339; Philosophische 
Studieu, n. 621 fit . I know that I am stupid, but 1 confess I find these 
theoretical statements, especially Wuiidt s, a little ha/y. Herr v. Tschisch 
considers it impossible that- the perception of the index s position should 
come in too late, and says it demands no particular attention (p. 622). It 
seems, however, that this can hardly be the case. Both observers speak of 
the difficulty of seeing the index at the right moment. The case is quite 
different from that of distributing the attention impartially over simulta 
neous momentary sensations. The bell or other signal gives a momentary 
sensation, the index a continuous one, of motion. To note any one position 
of the latter is to interrupt this sensation of motion and to substitute an 
entirely different percept one, namely, of position for it, during a time 
however brief. This involves a sudden change in the manner of attending 
to the revolutions of the index; which change ought to take place neither 
ooner nor later than the momentary impression, and fix the index as it is 
then and there visible. Now this is not a case of simply getting two sen 
sations at once and so feeling them which would be an harmonious act; 
but of stopping one and changing it into another, whilst we simultaneously 
get a third. Two of these acts are discrepant, and the whole three rather 
interfere with each other. It becomes hard to fix the index at the very 
instant that we catch the momentary impression; so we fall into a way of 
fixing it either at the last possible moment before, or at the first possible 
moment after, the impression comes. 

This at least seems to me the more probable state of affairs. If we fix 
the index before the impression really comes, that means that we perceive 
it too late. But why do we fix it before when the impressions come slow 
and simple, and after when they come rapid and complex? And why 
under certain conditions is there no displacement at all? The answer 
which suggests itself is that when there is just enough leisure between the 
impressions for the attention to adapt itself comfortably both to them and 
to the index (one second in W. s experiments), it carries on the two pro 
cesses at once; when the leisure is excessive, the attention, following its 
own laws of ripening, and being ready to note the index before the other 
impression comes, notes it then, since that is the moment of easiest action, 
whilst the impression, which comes a moment later, interferes with noting 
it again ; and finally, that when the leisure is insufficient, the momentary 
impressions, being the more fixed data, are attended to first, and the index 
is fixed a little later on. The noting of the index at too early a moment 
would be the noting of a real fact, with its analogue in many other rhyth 
mical experiences. In reaction-time experiments, for example, when, in a 
regularly recurring series, the stimulus is once in a while omitted, the ob 
server sometimes reacts as if it came. Here, as Wundt somewhere observes, 
we catch ourselves acting merely because our inward preparation is com 
plete. The fixing of the index is a sort of action; so that my interpre- 



416 PSYCHOLOGY. 

This is all I have to say about the difficulty of having 
two discrepant concepts together, and about the number of 
things to which we can simultaneously attend. 

THE VARIETIES OF ATTENTION. 

The things to which we attend are said to interest us, 
Our interest in them is supposed to be the cause of our at 
tending. What makes an object interesting we shall see 
presently ; and later inquire in what sense interest may 
cause attention. Meanwhile 

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, non-voluntary, effortless ; or 
f) 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 sensorial and 
intellectual attention may be either passive or voluntary. 

In passive immediate sensorial, attention the stimulus is a 
sense-impression, either very intense, voluminous, or sud 
den, in which case it makes no difference what its nature 

tation tallies with facts recognized elsewhere ; but Wundt s explanation (if 
I understand it) of the experiments requires us to believe that an observer 
like v. Tschisch shall steadily and without exception get an hallucination 
of a bell-stroke before the latter occurs, and not hear the real bell-stroke after 
wards. I doubt whether this is possible, and I can think of no analogue 
to it in the rest of our experience. The whole subject deserves to be gone 
over again. To Wundt is due the highest credit for his patience in work 
ing out the facts. His explanation of them in bis earlier work (Vorlesungen 
lib. Menschen und Thierseele, i. 37-42, 865-371) consisted merely in the 
appeal to the unity of consciousness, and may be considered quite crude. 



ATTENTION. 417 

may be, whether sight, sound, smell, blow, or inner pain, 
or else it is an instinctive stimulus, a perception which, by 
reason of its nature rather than its mere force, appeals to 
some one of our normal 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 their first lessons such rough 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 character of 
the attention which, as a French writer says, makes the 
child seem to belong less to himself than to every object 
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 w r hen the 
impression, without being either strong or of an instinctively 
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 draAvs 
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 discriminated 

* Note that the permanent interests are themselves grounded in certain 
objects and relations in which our interest is immediate and instinctive. 



418 PSYCHOLOGY. 

from the general rumor of the world. But when it is a 
signal, as that of a lover on the window-pane, it will hardly 
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 offence 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 
attention 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 
pronounce his name. Not far removed is the talent which mind- 
wandering school-boys display during the hours of instruction, of notic 
ing every moment in which the teacher tells a story. I remember classes 
in which, instruction being uninteresting, and discipline relaxed, a buz 
zing murmur was always to be heard, which invariably stopped for as 
Jong 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 
than they fell out of it again; but, on the other hand, no sooner did tbe 
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 atten- 
tion into their place. 1 * 

Passive intellectual attention is immediate when we follow 
ip 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 associated with 
something which makes them dear. Owing to the way in 
which immense numbers of real things become integrated 
into single objects of thought for us, there is no clear line 
to be drawn between immediate and derived attention of 
an intellectual sort. "When absorbed in intellectual atten 
tion we may become so inattentive to outer things as to be 

* Herbart; Psychologic als Wissenschaft, 128. 



ATTENTION. 419 

absent-minded, abstracted, or distraits. All revery or 
concentrated meditation is apt to throw us into this state. 

" Archimedes, it is well known, w r as so absorbed in geometrical medi 
tation that he was first aware of the storming of Syracuse by his own 
death-wound, and his exclamation on the entrance of the Roman sol 
diers was: Noli turbare drculos nieos! In like manner Joseph Scaliger, 
the most learned of men, when a Protestant student in Paris, was so 
engrossed in the study of Homer that he became aware of the massacre 
of St. Bartholomew, and of his own escape, only on the day subsequent 
to the catastrophe. The philosopher Carneades was habitually liable to 
fits of meditation so profound that, to prevent him sinking from 
inanition, his maid found it necessary to feed him like a child. And 
it is reported of Newton that, while engaged in his mathematical re 
searches, he sometimes forgot to dine. Cardan, one of the most illus 
trious of philosophers and mathematicians, was once, upon a journey, 
so lost in thought that he forgot both his way and the object of his 
journey. To the questions of his driver whether he should proceed, he 
made no answer; and when he came to himself at nightfall, he was sur 
prised to find the carriage at a standstill, and directly under a gallows. 
The mathematician Vieta was sometimes so buried in meditation that 
for hours he bore more resemblance to a dead person than to a living, 
and was then wholly unconscious of everything going on around him. 
On the day of his marriage the great Budaeus forgot everything in his 
philological speculations, and he was only awakened to the affairs of the 
external world by a tardy embassy from the marriage-party, who found 
him absorbed in the composition of his Commentarii." * 

The absorption may be so deep as not only to banish 
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 nem-algic pain so 
severe as to make him apprehend that he would find it impossible to 
proceed ; yet no sooner has he by a determined effort fairly launched 
himself into the stream of thought, than he has found himself con 
tinuously borne along without the least distraction, until the end has 
come, and the attention has been released ; when the pain has re 
curred with a force that has overmastered all resistance, making him 
wonder how he could have ever ceased to feel it." f 

Dr. Carpenter speaks of launching himself by a deter 
mined effort. This effort characterizes what we called ac- 



* Sir W. Hamilton. Metaphysics, lecture xiv. 

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



PSYCHOLOGY. 

live or voluntary attention. It is a feeling which every one 
knows, but which most people would call quite indei- crib- 
able. 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 discrimi 
nate 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 exciting and impassioned kind. All forms of atten 
tive 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 laugh 
ing and talking about exciting and interesting things. 

There is no such thing as voluntary attention sustained for 
more than a few 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 de 
velopment is interesting it engages the attention passively 
for a time. Dr. Carpenter, a moment back, described the 
stream of thought, once entered, as bearing him along. 
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 to 
gether. During all this time, however, note that it is not 

* Prof. J. M. Cattell made experiments to which we shall refer further 
on, on the degree to which reaction-times might be shortened by distract 
ing or voluntarily concentrating the attention. He says of the latter series 
that "the averages show that the attention can be kept strained, that is, the 
centres kept in a state of unstable equilibrium, for one second" (Mind, XL 
240). 



ATTENTION. 421 

an identical object in the psychological sense (p. 275), 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 change. 

Now there are always some objects that for the time 
being ivill 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 arid lets its thoughts follow the more stimulating 
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 spend 
thrift when to every man actuated by passion 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 excludes 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 premedita 
tion, simply because the only thing he ought to attend to 
is the preparation of a noonday 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 hearing, 
inaudible, if we attend to it too unmoviugly. 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 chapter on retinal rivalry.* The phe- 
* Physiologische Optik, 32. 



422 



PSYCHOLOGY. 



nomenon called by that name is this, that if we look with 
each eye upon a different picture (as in the annexed stereo 
scopic slide), sometimes one picture, sometimes the other, 




FIG. 36. 

or 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 visi 
ble 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 ac 
tivity 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 
attainable. 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. If 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 impressions are attracting us away. 

And again criticising an author who had treated of at 
tention as an activity absolutely subject to the conscious 
will, Helmholtz writes : 

" This is only restrictedly true. We move our eyes by our will ; but 
one without training cannot so easily execute the intention of making 
them converge. At any moment, however, he can execute that of 
looking at a near object, in which act convergence is involved. N w 



ATTENTION. 423 

just as little can we carry out our purpose to keep our attention steadily 
fixed upon a certain object, when our interest in the object is exhausted, 
and the purpose is inwardly formulated in this abstract way. But we 
can set ourselves new questions about the object, so that a new interest 
in it arises, and then the attention will remain riveted. The relation 
of attention to will is, then, less one of immediate than of mediate 
control." 

These words of Helmlioltz 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 con 
sider different aspects and relations of it in turn. Only in 
pathological states will a fixed and ever monotonously re 
curring idea possess the mind. 

And now we can see why it is that what is called sus 
tained 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, un 
original, will hardly be likely to consider any subject long. 
A glance exhausts its possibilities 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 attentive, 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 successively bestowed. 
In the genius, these form a concatenated series, suggesting 

* " Genius, says Helvetius, is nothing but a continued attention (une 
attention suime}. Genius/ says Buffon, is only a protracted patience 
(une longue patience). In the exact sciences, at least, says Cuvier, it 
is the patience of a sound intellect, when invincible, which truly consti 
tutes genius. And Chesterfield has also observed that the power of ap 
plying an attention, steady and undissipated, to a single object, is the sure 
mark of a superior genius." (Hamilton : Lect. on Metaph., lecture xiv.) 



424 PSYCHOLOGY. 

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 at 
tention, 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 interest the child has in advance in the sub 
ject, the better he will attend. Induct him therefore in 
such a way as to knit each new thing on to some acquisi 
tion 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 pre-existing in his mind. 

At present having described the varieties, let us turn to 

THE EFFECTS OF ATTENTION. 

Its remote effects are too incalculable to be recorded. 
The practical and theoretical life of whole species, as well 
as of individual beings, results from the selection which the 
habitual direction of their attention involves. In Chapters 
XIY and XV some of these consequences will come to light. 
Suffice it meanwhile that each of us literally chooses, by his 
ways of attending to things, what sort of a universe he 
shall appear to himself to inhabit. 

The immediate effects of attention are to make us: 

a) perceive 

b) conceive 

c) distinguish 

d) remember 



ATTENTION. 425 

better than otherwise we could both more successive 
things and each thing more clearly. It also 
(e) shortens reaction- time. 

a and b. Most people would say that a sensation at 
tended to becomes stronger than it otherwise would be. 
This point is, however, not quite plain, and has occasioned 
some discussion. * From the strength or intensity of a 
sensation must be distinguished its clearness ; and to in 
crease this is, for some psychologists, the utmost that 
attention can do. When the facts are surveyed, however, 
it must be admitted that to some extent the relative inten 
sity of two sensations may be changed when one of them is 
attended to and the other not. Every artist knows how he 
can make a scene before his eyes appear warmer or colder 
in color, according to the way he sets his attention. If 
for warm, he soon begins to see the red color start out of 
everything ; if for cold, the blue. Similarly in listening for 
certain notes in a chord, or overtones in a musical sound, 
the one we attend to sounds probably a little more loud as 
well as more emphatic than it did before. When we men 
tally break a series of monotonous strokes into a rhythm, 
by accentuating every second or third one, etc., the stroke 
on which the stress of attention is laid seems to become 
stronger as well as more emphatic. The increased visi 
bility of optical after-images and of double images, which 
close attention brings about, can hardly be interpreted 
otherwise than as a real strengthening of the retinal 
sensations themselves. And this view is rendered par 
ticularly probable by the fact that an imagined visual 
object may, if attention be concentrated upon it long 
enough, acquire before the mind s eye almost the brill 
iancy of reality, and (in the case of certain exceptionally 
gifted observers) leave a negative after-image of itself when 
it passes away (see Chapter XVIII). Confident expectation 
of a certain intensity or quality of impression will often 
make us sensibly see or hear it in an object which really 

* See, e.g., Ulrici : Leib u. Seele, n. 28; Lotze: Metaphysik, 273; 
Feclmer. Revision d. Psychophysik, xix ; G. E. Muller : Zur Theorie d. 
sinnl. Aufmerksamkeit, 1; Stuinpf : Tonpsycbologie I. 71. 



426 PSYCHOLOGY. 

falls far short of it. In face of such facts it is rash to say 
that attention cannot make a sense-impression more intense. 
But, on the other hand, the intensification which may be 
brought about seems never to lead the judgment astray. 
As we rightly perceive and name the same color under 
various lights, the same sound at various distances ; so we 
seem to make an analogous sort of allowance for the vary 
ing amounts of attention with which objects are viewed ; 
and whatever changes of feeling the attention may bring 
we charge, as it were, to the attention s account, and still 
perceive and conceive the object as the same. 

"A gray paper appears to us no lighter, the pendulum-beat of a 
clock no louder, no matter how much we increase the strain of our at 
tention upon them. No one, by doing this, can make the gray paper 
look white, or the stroke of the pendulum sound like the blow of a 
strong hammer, everyone, on the contrary, feels the increase as that 
of his own conscious activity turned upon the thing." * 

Were it otherwise, we should not be able to note inten 
sities by attending to them. Weak impressions would, as 
Stumpf says,f become stronger by the very fact of being 
observed. 

" I should not be able to observe faint sounds at all, but only such 
as appeared to me of maximal strength, or at least of a strength that 
increased with the amount of my observation. In reality, however, I 
can, with steadily increasing attention, follow a diminuendo perfectly 
well." 

The subject is one which would well repay exact experi 
ment, if methods could be devised. Meanwhile there is no 
question whatever that attention augments the clearness of 
all that we perceive or conceive by its aid. But what is 
meant by clearness here ? 

c. Clearness, so far as attention produces it, means dis 
tinction from other things and internal analysis or subdivision. 
These are essentially products of intellectual discrimination, 
involving comparison, memory, and perception of various 
relations. The attention per se does not distinguish and 
analyze and relate. The most we can say is that it is a 

* Fechner, op. cit. p. 271. 
f Tonpsychologie, i. p. 71. 



ATTENTION. 427 

condition of our doing so. And as these processes are to 
be described later> the clearness they produce had better 
not be farther discussed here. The important point to no 
tice here is that it is not attention s immediate fruit* 

d. Whatever future conclusion we may reach as to 
this, we cannot deny that an object once attended to ivill re 
main in the memory, whilst one inattentively allowed to pass 
will leave no traces behind. Already in Chapter YI (see 
pp. 163 ff.) we discussed whether certain states of mind 
were unconscious, or whether they were not rather states 
to which no attention had been paid, and of whose passage 
recollection could afterwards find no vestiges. Dugald 
Stewart says : f "The connection between attention and 
memory has been remarked by many authors." He quotes 
Quintilian, Locke, and Helvetius ; and goes on at great 
length to explain the phenomena of secondary automa 
tism (see above, p. 114 ff.) by the presence of a mental action 
grown so inattentive as to preserve no memory of itself. 
In our chapter on Memory, later on, the point will come 
up again. 

e) Under this head, the shortening of reaction- time, there 
is a good deal to be said of Attention s effects. Since 
Wundt has probably worked over the subject more thor 
oughly than any other investigator and made it peculiarly 
his own, what follows had better, as far as possible, be in 
his words. The reader will remember the method and re 
sults of experimentation on reaction-time, as given in 
Chapter III. 

The facts I proceed to quote may also be taken as a 
supplement to that chapter. Wundt writes : 

u When we wait with strained attention for a stimulus, it will often 
happen that instead of registering the stimulus, we react upon some 
entirely different impression, and this not through confounding the 
one with the other. On the contrary, we are perfectly well aware at 
the moment of making the movement that we respond to the wroi>g 
stimulus. Sometimes even, though not so often, the latter may be an- 



* Compare, en clearness as the essential fruit of attention, Lotze s Meta- 
physic, 273. 

f Elements, part i. chap. n. 



428 PSYCHOLOGY. 

other kind of sensation altogether, one may, for example, in experi 
menting with sound, register a flash of light, produced either by 
accident or design. We cannot well explain these results otherwise 
than by assuming that the strain of the attention towards the impres 
sion we expect coexists with a preparatory innervation of the motor 
centre for the reaction, which innervation the slightest shock then 
suffices to turn into an actual discharge. This shock may be given by 
any chance impression, even by one to which we never intended to re 
spond. When the preparatory innervation has once reached this pitch 
of intensity, the time that intervenes between the stimulus and the 
contraction of the muscles which react, may become vanishingly 
small."* 

" The perception of an impression is facilitated when the impres 
sion is preceded by a warning which announces beforehand that it is 
about to occur. This case is realized whenever several stimuli follow 
each other at equal inteivals, when, e.g. we note pendulum movements 
by the eye, or pendulum-strokes by the ear. Each single stroke forms 
here the signal for the next, which is thus met by a fully prepared at 
tention. The same thing happens when the stimulus to be perceived is 
preceded, at a certain interval, by a single warning: the time is 
always notably shortened. ... I have made comparative observa 
tions on reaction-time with and without a warning signal. The im 
pression to be reacted on was the sound made by the dropping of a 
ball on the board of the drop apparatus. .... In a first series no 
warning preceded the stroke of the ball; in the second, the noise made 
by the apparatus in liberating the ball served as a signal. . . . Here 
are the averages of two series of such experiments : 

Height of Fall. Average. Mean Error. No. of Expts. 

( No warning 0.253 0.051 13 

^5 cm. -j Warning o.076 0.060 17 

K ( No warning 0.206 0.036 14 

5 cm> ] Warning 0.175 0.035 17 

"... In a long series of experiments, (the interval between warn 
ing and stimulus remaining the same) the reaction-time grows less and 
Jess, and it is possible occasionally to reduce it to a vanishing quantity 
(a few thousandths of a second), to zero, or even to a negative value. f 
.... The only ground that we can assign for this phenomenon is the 
preparation (vorbereitende Spannung) of the attention. It is easy to 
understand that the reaction-time should be shortened by this means; 
but that it should sometimes sink to zero and even assume negative 
values, may appear surprising. Nevertheless this latter case is also 
explained by what happens in the simple reaction-time experiments" 
just referred to, in which, " when the strain of the attention has reached 

*Physiol. Psych., 2d ed. n. 226. 

f By a negative value of the reaction-time Wundt means the case of tke 
reactive movement occurring before the stimulus. 



ATTENTION. 429 

its climax, the movement we stand ready to execute escapes from the 
control of om will, and we register a wrong signal. In these other ex 
periments, in wriicn a warning foretells the moment of the stimulus, it 
is also plain that attention accommodates itself so exactly to the lat- 
ter s reception that no sooner is it objectively given than it is fully 
apperceived) and with ihn apperception the motor discharge coin 
cides."* 

Usually, when the impression is fully anticipated, atten 
tion prepares the motor centres so completely for both 
stimulus and reaction that the only time lost is that of the 
pl^siological conduction downwards. But even this inter 
val may disappear, i.e. the stimulus and reaction may be 
come objectively contemporaneous ; or more remarkable 
still, the reaction may be discharged before the stimulus has 
actually occurred. t Wundt, as we saw some pages back 
(p. 411), explains this by the effort of the mind so to react 
that we may feel our own movement and the signal which 
prompts it, both at the same instant. As the execution of 
the movement must precede our feeling of it, so it must 
also precede the stimulus, if that and our movement are to 
be felt at once. 

The peculiar theoretic interest of these experiments 
lies in their shoiving expectant attention and sensation to be 
continuous or identical processes, since they may have identical 
motor effects. Although other exceptional observations 
show them likewise to be continuous subjectively, Wundt s 
experiments do not : he seems never, at the moment of 
reacting prematurely, to have been misled into the belief 
that the real stimulus was there. 

As concentrated attention accelerates perception, so, 
conversely, perception of a stimulus is retarded by anything 
which either baffles or distracts the attention with which we 
await it. 

"If, e.g., we make reactions on a sound in such a way that weak 
and strong stimuli irregularly alternate so that the observer can never 
expect a determinate strength with any certainty, the reaction-time for 
all the various signals is increased, and so is the average error, I 

* Op. cit. ii. 239. 

f The reader must not suppose this phenomenon to be of frequent 
occurrence. Experienced observers, like Exner and Cattell, deny having 
met with it in their personal experience. 



430 PSYCHOLOGY. 

append two examples. ... In Series I a strong and a weak sound 
alternated regularly, so that the intensity was each time known in ad 
vance. In II they came irregularly. 

I. Regular Alternation. 

Average Time. Average Error. No. of Expta. 

Strong sound 0.116" 0.010" 18 

Weaksound 0.127" 0.012" 9 

II. Irregular Alternation. 

Strong sound 0.189" 0.038" 9 

Weaksound 0.298" 0.076" 15 

" Still greater is the increase of the time when, unexpectedly into a 
series of strong impressions, a weak one is interpolated, or vice versa. 
In this way I have seen the time of reaction upon a sound so weak as 
to be barely perceived rise to 0.4" or 0.5", and for a strong sound to 
25". It is also matter of general experience that a stimulus expected in 
a general way, but for whose intensity attention cannot be adapted in 
advance, demands a longer reaction-time. In such cases . . . the 
reason for the difference can only lie in the fact that wherever a prepa 
ration of the attention is impossible, the time of both perception and 
volition is prolonged. Perhaps also the conspicuously large reaction- 
times which are got with stimuli so faint as to be just perceptible may 
be explained by the attention tending always to adapt itself for some 
thing more than this minimal amount of stimulus, so that a state ensues 
similar to that in the case of unexpected stimuli. . . . Still 
more than by previously unknown stimuli is the reaction-time 
prolonged by wholly unexpected impressions. This is sometimes acci 
dentally brought about, when the observer s attention, instead of being 
concentrated on the coming signal, is dispersed. It can be realized 
purposely by suddenly thrusting into a long series of equidistant 
stimuli a much shorter interval which the observer does not expect. 
The mental effect here is like that of being startled ; often the startling 
is outwardly visible. The time of reaction may then easily be length 
ened to one quarter of a second with strong signals, or with weak ones 
to a half-second. Slighter, but still very noticeable, is the retardation 
when the experiment is so arranged that the observer, ignorant whether 
the stimulus is to be an impression of light, sound, or touch, cannot 
keep his attention turned to any particular sense-organ in advance. 
One notices then at the same time a peculiar unrest, as the feeling of 
strain which accompanies the attention keeps vacillating between the 
several senses. 

" Complications of another sort arise when what is registered is an 
impression anticipated both in point of quality and strength, but ac 
companied by other stimuli which make the concentration of the atten 
tion difficult. The reaction-time is here always more or less prolonged. 
The simplest case of the sort is where a momentary impression is regis 
tered in the midst of another, and continuous, sensorial-stimulation of 
considerable strength. The continuous stimulus may belong to the 



ATTENTION. 431 

same sense as the stimulus to be reacted on, or to another. When it is* 
of the same sense, the retardation it causes may be partly due to the 
distraction of the attention by it, but partly also to the fact that the 
stimulus to be reacted on stands out less strongly than if alone, and 
practically becomes a less intense sensation. But other factors in reality 
are present ; for we find the reaction-time more prolonged by the con 
comitant stimulation when the stimulus is weak than when it is strong 
I made experiments in which the principal impression, or signal for re 
action, was a bell-stroke whose strength could be graduated by a spring 
against the hammer with a movable counterpoise. Each set of obser 
vations comprised two series ; in one of which the bell-stroke was regis 
tered in the ordinary way, whilst in the other a toothed wheel belong 
ing to the chronometric apparatus made during the entire experiment a 
steady noise against a metal spring. In one half of the latter series (A) 
the bell-stroke was only moderately strong, so that the accompanying 
noise diminished it considerably, without, however, making it indistin 
guishable. In the other half (B) the bell-sound was so loud as to be 
heard with perfect distinctness above the noise. 

No. of 
Mean. Maximum. Mininum. Experiments. 

A ( Without noise 0.189 0.244 0.156 21 

(Bell-stroke -s W}th no}ge _ ,.0.313 0.499 0.183 16 

moderate) ( 

B ( Without noise 0.158 0.206 0.133 20 

(Bell-stroke ] WithD0 . se Q 3Q3 Q 295 Q 140 19 

loud) ( 

"Since, in these experiments, the sound B even with noise made a 
considerably stronger impression than the sound A without, we must 
see in the figures a direct influence of the disturbing noise on the pro 
cess of reaction. This influence is freed from mixture with other factors 
when the momentary stimulus and the concomitant disturbance appeal 
to different senses. I chose, to test this, sight and hearing. The mo 
mentary signal was an induction-spark leaping from one platinum point 
to another against a dark background. The steady stimulation was the 
noise above described. 

Spark. Mean. Maximum. Minimum. No. of Expts. 

Without noise 0.222 0.284 0.158 20 

With noise 0.300 0.390 0.250 18 

" When one reflects that in the experiments with one and the same 
sense the relative intensity of the signal is always depressed [which by 
itself is a retarding condition] the amount of retardation in these last 
observations makes it probable that the disturbing influence upon atten 
tion is greater ivhen the stimuli are disparate than when they belong 
to the same sense. One does not, in fact, find it particularly hard to 
register immediately, when the bell rings in the midst of the noise ; but 
when the spark is the signal one has a feeling of being coerced, as one 
turns away from the noise towards it. This fact is immediately con- 



432 PSYCHOLOGY. 

nected with other properties of our attention. The effort of the latter 
is accompanied by various corporeal sensations, according to the sense 
which is engaged. The innervation which exists during the effort of 
attention is therefore probably a different one for each sense-organ." * 

"Wundt then, after some theoretical remarks which we 
need not quote now, gives a table of retardations, as fol 
lows: 

Retardation. 

1. Unexpected strength of impression : 

a) Unexpectedly strong sound , 0.073 

b) Unexpectedly weak sound 0.171 

2. Interference by like stimulus (sound by sound) 0.045 t 

3. Interference by unlike stimulus (light by sound) 0.078 

It seems probable, from these results obtained with ele 
mentary processes of mind, that all processes, even the 
higher ones of reminiscence, reasoning, etc., whenever at 
tention is concentrated upon them instead of being diffused 
and languid, are thereby more rapidly performed, f 

Still more interesting reaction-time observations have 
been made by Miinsterberg. The reader will recollect the 
fact noted in Chapter III (p. 93) that reaction-time is 
shorter when one concentrates his attention on the expected 
movement than when one concentrates it on the expected 
signal. Herr Miinsterberg found that this is equally the 
case when the reaction is no simple reflex, but can take 
place only after an intellectual operation. In a series of 
experiments the five fingers were used to react with, and 

* Op. cit. pp. 241-5. 

f It should be added that Mr. J. M. Cattell (Mind, XT. 33) found, on 
repeating Wundt s experiments with a disturbing noise upon two practised 
observers, that the simple reaction-time either for light or sound was 
hardly perceptibly increased. Making strong voluntary concentration of 
attention shortened it by about 0.013 seconds on an average (p. 240). 
Performing mental additions whilst waiting for the stimulus lengthened it 
more than anything, apparently. For other, less careful, observations, 
compare Obersteiner, in Brain, i. 439. Cattell s negative results show how 
far some persons can abstract their attention from stimuli by which oth 
ers would be disturbed. A Bartels (Versuche ilber die Ableukung d. Auf- 
merksamkeit, Dorpat, 1889) found that a stimulus to one eye sometimes 
prevented, sometimes improved, the perception of a quickly ensuing very 
faint stimulus to the other. 

| Of. Wundt, Physiol. Psych., 1st ed. p. 794. 



ATTENTION. 433 

the reacter had to use a different finger according as the 
signal was of one sort or another. Thus when a word in 
the nominative case was called out he used