Harald Høffding.

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I 919


First Edition, February 1891.
Reprinted, November 1891, 1893, 1896, 1901, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1919.


This translation is not from the original Danish, but from
the German. The German edition is however accepted by
Dr. Hoffding as adequately representing the original, and I
hope therefore the present version has not suffered by being
at secondhand. I am glad to have this opportunity of
thanking Dr. Hoffding for his cordial interest in the prepara-
tion of the English edition and for his kindness in sending
corrections and notes where later discoveries made it neces-
sary ; and also of thanking Dr. ^Vard and Prof. Croom
Robertson for their very kind help with difficult passages
and expressions, and Mr. James Sime for preparing the index
and for his careful revision of the translation as it passed
through the press.

Mary E. Lowndes.



I. Subject and Method of Psychology i

I. Provisional description of psychology as the science
of mind. — 2. External perception precedes internal. — 3.
Evidence of language. — 4. Psychological development of the
distinction between self and not-self. — 5. The mythological
conception of the mind. — 6. Direct and indirect apprehension
of mental life. — 7. Pyschology and metaphysics. — 8. Method
of psychology, a. The difficulty of introspection, b. In-
fluence of individual differences, c. Psychological analysis.
d. Experimental psychology, e. Subjective and objective
psychology, f. The mutual relation of the different methods.
— 9. The relation of psychology to logic and ethics.

II. Mind and Body 29

I. The empirical (phenomenological) standpoint. — 2. The
law of the persistence of energy. — 3. Organic life and the
persistence of energy. — 4. a. The importance of the nervous
system, b. Reflex movement, c. Subordinate nerve-centres.
d. The cerebrum, e. The cerebrum and the lower centres.
— 5. Provisional account of consciousness. — 6. Parallel
features in consciousness and the nervous system. — 7. Pro-
portionality between conscious life and cerebral activity. —
8. a. Dualistic-spiritualistic hypothesis, b. Monistic-material-
istic hypothesis, c. Monistic-spiritualistic hypothesis, d.
The hypothesis of identity (monism).

III. The Conscious and the Unconscious 71

I. Definition of the unconscious. — 2. Conscious thought
resulting from previous unconscious work. — 3. Conscious



sensuous perception resulting froni previous unconscious
work. — 4. Unconscious connecting links. — 5. Instinct and
habit. — 6. Unconscious and conscious activity simultaneous.
— 7. Unconscious growth of feeling. — 8. The dream state. —
9. Awakening through the psychical relation of the impres-
sion. — 10. Hypothesis as to the extension of mental life. —
II. Psychology and physical mechanics. — 12. Laws common
to mind and matter.

IV. Classification of the Psychological Elements .... 87

I. Classification of elements, not states.— 2. The psycho-
logical tripartite division.— 3. The tripartite division not
original. — 4. Evolution of the individual consciousness. —
5. Psychological differentiation during the evolution of the
race. — 6. Conditions of differentiation.— 7. a. No cognition
without feeling, b. No cognition without will. c. No feel-
ing without cognition, d. Connection between feeling and
will. e. The will as first and last.

V. The Psychology of Cognition loi

A. Sensation l°^

I. The psychological significance of the question as to
the simplicity and self-dependence of sensations. — 2. The
simplicity of sensations. — 3. The self-dependence of sensa-
tions. — 4. On the quality of sensations. — 5. The law of
relativity in the province of sensation. — 6. Motor-sensations.
— 7. Sensation and movement.

B. Ideation 121

I. Sensation and perception. — 2. Free representations. —
3. Sensation, perception, and free representation. — 4. Separa-
tion of free representations or ideas from percepts. — 5. Formal
and real unity of consciousness, — 6. Preservation of ideas. —
7. a. Memory-images, hallucinations, and illusions, b. Re-
membrance conditioned by the circumstances of the actual
experience, c. Remembrance, conditioned by the circum
stances of reproduction, d. Remembrance, conditioned by
the character of the ideas. — 8. a. Regularity of the combina-
tion of ideas, b. The laws of combination of ideas, c.
Fundamental law of combination of ideas, d. The laws of
obliviscence. — 9. Simple ideas, individual ideas, and general


ideas. — lo. Language and ideas. — li. Association of ideas
and thought. — 1 2. Formation of free concrete individual ideas

C. The Apprehension of Time and Space 184

I. Conditions of the idea of time. — 2. Development of the
idea of time. — 3. Symbolic character of the idea of time. —
4. Estimation of time. — 5. Is the form of space original ? —
6. Is the perception of distance original ? — 7. a. Is the percep-
tion of surface original ? /'. Simultaneous impressions, c.
Local signs. — 8. " Nativistic" and genetic theory. — 9^ Or-
ganic basis of the intuition of space. — 10. The idea of

1). The Apprehension of Things as Real 205

I. The content of cognition as expression of a reality. —
2. Connection as criterion of reality. — 3. The causal relation.
— 4. Psychological development of the causal concept. — 5.
The limits of cognition.

VI. The Psychology of Feeling 221

A. Feeling and Sensation 221

I. Unity of the life of feeling. — 2. Feeling different from
special sensation. — 3. Feeling and the several senses, a.
Vital feeling, b. Feelings accompanying contact and move-
ment, c. Feelings accompanying taste, d. Feelings accom-
panying smell, e. Feelings accompanying sight and hearing.
— 4. The natural course of development of the elementary

/>. Feelittg and Ideation 233

I. Originality of feeling. — 2a. Disgust, sorrow, hate. /'.
Love, joy, sympathy, c. Impulse, desire. </. Hope, fear.
e. Mixed feelings. — 3. The law of the development of feel-
ing. — 4. Remembrance of feelings.

C. Egoistic and Sympathetic Feeling 242

I. Egoistic centre of gravity. — 2, The psychological genesis
of sympathy. — 3. The physiological basis of sympajhy. — 4.
The feeling of love and sympathy. — 5. Sympathy takes root
through inheritance and tradition.— 6. Ideal satisfaction of
s}'mpathy. — 7. Disinterested sympathy. — 8. Ethical and
religious feeling. — 9. Intellectual and aesthetic feeling.



D. The Physiology and the Biology of Feeling 267

I. The physiological seat of feeling. — 2. The biological
significance of feeling. — 3. Feeling and the conditions of life.

E. The Validity of the Law of Relativity for the Feelings . . .275

I. The law of relativity common to cognition and to feel-
ing. — 2. Contrast and rhythm uf feeling. — 3. Relative feel-
ings. — 4. Effect of repetition upon feeling. — 5. Emotion and
passion. — 6. Pessimism and the law of relativity. — 7. No
neutral states. — 8. The feeling of the sublime. — 9. The feel-
ing of the ridiculous, a. Laughter apart from anything
ridiculous, d. Laughter as expression of the feeling of power
and freedom, c. Sympathetic laughter (humour), d. The
ridiculous rests on effect of contrast, e. The sublime and the

F. The Influence of Feeling on Cognition 298

I. Feeling as inhibitive, preserving, and selecting. — 2. In-
centive of feeling and association of ideas. — 3. The teleology
of feeling and the mechanism of cognition. — 4. Expansion of
feeling, a. The anticipating and realizing effect of feeling.

b. The inciting and animating influence of feeling.

VIL The Psychology of the Will 308

A. The Originality of the Will 308

I. The will the most primitive and the most derivative
mental expression. — 2. Spontaneity and irritability. — 3.
Spontaneous and reflex movements in higher organisms. —
4. The physiological seat of instinct and of will. — 5. In-
voluntary and voluntary attention. — 6. a. The will and the
motor-ideas, b. Isolation and combination of movements.

c. The significance of the inherited basis.

B. The Will and the other Elements of Conscionsness . . . .321

I. The higher development of the will, conditioned by the
development of cognition and of feeling, a. The psychology
of the impulse, b. The wish. c. Deliberation, purpose, and
resolve. — 2. Reaction of the will upon cognition and feeling.
a. Reaction of the will upon cognition, b. Reaction of the
will upon feeling, c. Reaction of the will upon itself. —
3. Relation of opposition between the will and the other
elements of consciousness (concentration and expansion). —



*4. Consciousness of will. a. The consciousness of volition.
l>. The problem of reality in the province of the will. — 5.
The will and the unconscious mental life. a. The centre of
consciousness not always the centre of individuality. l>. De-
terminism and indeterminism.

C. The Individual Character 348

I. Typical individual differences. — 2. Physical, .social, and
inherited elements. — 3. Psychical individuality an empirical
limit to cognition. — 4. Psychology and the evolution hypo-



I. Psychology is the science of mind— that is the shortest
description we can give of the subject of the present inquiries. But
it is merely a provisional description, yielding no clear and
distinct conception. It serves merely to mark psychology as the
science of that which thinks, feels, and wills, in contrast with
physics as the science of that which moves in space and occupies
space. These two provinces include everything that can be the
subject of human research. Psychology is as little bound to begin
with an e.xplanation of what mind is, as physics is obliged to begin
with an explanation of what matter is. And this general statement
of the subject of psychology involves no assumption as to the
question how far the mind exists, or does not exist, as an
independent being distinct from matter. It will be our endeavour
to preserve psychology as a pure science of experience, and to
distinguish sharply between the given facts and the hypotheses
employed to classify and explain them.

But even in starting from the position that mental phenomena
have certain characteristics which distinguish them from material,
we presuppose a knowledge which was reached only at a certain
stage of mental development, and of which we cannot even yet say
that it is universal. It will set the subject of psychology in a
9 B


clearer light if we adduce certain features characteristic of the way
in which the idea of the mental has been developed in the human
race, and is still developed in each individual.

2. Mental, like bodily, vision is from the beginning directed
outwards. The eye apprehends external objects, their colours
and forms, and only by artificial, roundabout ways, sees itself
and what is within itself. And even in respect of external
objects, the eye is always naturally set for the vanishing
point, the greatest distance of sight. While we are conscious
of a certain effort when the eye has to accommodate itself
to nearer objects, it is with a feeling of relief and ease that
we direct the glance from nearer to more distant objects. In
like manner external objects occupy our attention long before we
think of the sensuous perception and conception through which
alone external objects exist for us. Our immediate natural life we
carry on in sensuous perception and in imagination, not in subjec-
tive reflection. This is connected with the fact that man acts before
he theorizes. His weal and his woe are conditioned by his power
of forgetting himself in the outer world. Observations of animal
and human life, of the appearance of plants and fruits, of the course
of the heavenly bodies, etc., are more important in the struggle
for existence than observations of self. Only at a higher stage of
culture can the command "know thyself" be pronounced, and with
it the way be opened to direct psychological inquiry.

3. Because language was developed under the influence of
attention directed to the external world, we find that expressions
for mental phenomena were originally taken from the material
world. The inner world of mind is denoted by symbols borrowed
from the outer world of space. This observation had been made
already by Locke and Leibniz, and the modern science of language
has confirmed it. "All roots, i.e. all the material elements of
language, are expressive of sensuous impressions, and of sensuous
impressions only ; and as all words, even the most abstract and
sublime, are derived from roots, comparative philology fully endorses
the conclusions arrived at by Locke." ^

There are interesting examples in the words which denote spirit
and mind in different languages, in the names for mental activities,
and in the meaning of prepositions. " It may be fairly taken as

1 Max Muller, Lectures on the Sc!e7tce nf Language {md e^d. 1885), ii., pp. 372, 373.
Locke cites as examples: to imagine, apprehend, comprehend, spir,t. Miiller adds to
'hese, among others : animus, fr^m anima, air {At/iem) ; cf. Sanscrit an, blasen, Greek
aenai. and Sanscrit anila, Greek aminos, wind.


established that all real prepositions originally denote relations of
space exclusively, not only because all the several significations that
can be traced lead to this conclusion, but also . . . because these
spatial relations were the only relations which could be pointed
out, and were so distinctly apprehended that there could be a
common understanding about words applied to them. The task of
language— that is to say, the need and the endeavour of speaking
man — was therefore to make clear, by means of analogy with
and reference to spatial relations, the non-spatial relation in which
ideas appeared." ^

4. If, then, the first set of ideas into which man' penetrates
derives its elements from external nature, how is it that we ever
come to distinguish between our own self and the things outside
of us?

The beginning of conscious life is to be placed probably before
birth. It is true that as yet the tender organism is divided off from
the great outer world ; some of the most important sensuous
impressions (sight, hearing, and smell) are rendered possible only
through birth ; and those sensations which are possible (taste, and
sensations of touch and movement) are no doubt only faintly and
dimly distinguished from the general feeling of vegetative comfort
and discomfort. Still the experiences undergone before birth
perhaps suffice to form the foundation of the consciousness of an
external world. The feeling of comfort or discomfort, together
with the sensations of movement, may even at this stage offer
a certain contrast to the sensations of resistance, contact, and
taste. It follows as a matter of course that this first germ of a
world-consciousness is dini and dreamlike, and that we, from our
waking, fully conscious standpoint, are easily tempted to attribute
too much to it. But these first stirrings must be taken into account,
especially as they serve to indicate the difficulty of fixing on a
definite point as the point of transition from unconscious to conscious
existence. To Erasmus Darwin and Cabanis belongs the credit
of having shown the significance of this first period of mental life.

The revolution effected by birth probably consists, not in a
quickening, but in a great alteration of the relations of life,
internal as well as external. Organic sensations (sensations of
what passes within the organism) and the vital-feeling or general

1 J. N. Madvig, SprogviiUnskabelige Strdbemarkninicer (''Observations un the
Science of Language"), Copenhagen, 1871 (Universitiitsproiraiitiii), p. q. Lefhii.z has
brought this i^ut very proniincnily. Nouve^iux Kaais, iii. 1, 5 (L.'pcra, ed. Erdmann,
p. iiS).


feeling of life (the pleasure or pain accompanying organic sensation)
are changed by the fact that nourishment and breath no longer
stream in immediately from the maternal organism, with which the
foetus shared a common life, but have to be taken in from without
and appropriated by special organs (alimentary canal and lungs).
In addition to the fact that internal functions thus acquire greater
energy and independence, stronger pulsations of organic sensation
are brought about by the same cause, for the previously continuous
influx now becomes periodic and interrupted, so that the contrast
between feelings of pleasure and pain becomes more intense. At
the same time impressions from the greater outer world rush in
upon the tender organism, which must be especially susceptible to
impressions of cold. The cry of pain, with which the new-born
infant begins life, finds its most probable explanation partly in the
difficulty of breathing produced by the separation from the maternal
organism, partly in sensations of cold.^

Although at first organic sensation continues to play the greatest
part, yet such a variety of impressions gradually streams in upon
the young consciousness that a more definite contrast between a
subjective and an objective pole becomes possible. Just as feelings
of pleasure and pain, organic sensation, and the sensation of
movement appear in a more energetic form by reason of the
greater contrast with the external world, so the influences received
from that world are now more definite and stronger. The im-
pressions of light and sound render possible a discrimination and
an acquaintance with the surroundings, which far surpasses in
delicacy that produced by mere sensations of touch and movement.
The resistance offered by the hard-and-fast world to the movements
of the child is much more powerful than that which its movements
met with in the soft and fluid surroundings in the maternal organism.
Finally, a set of memories and ideas is now formed, which is soon
contrasted with sensations and percepts.

Light affects the new-born infant at an early stage, although in
this as in other respects individual differences immediately assert
themselves. The child seems to take pleasure in an excitation of
light, and tries (even on the second day after birth) to turn towards
it, in order to retain it. The power of fixing the gaze on definite
objects is developed from the third week ; the objects most readily
retained are of course those which are near and catch the

1 Ad. If Kur.smaul, U ntersuchungen iiher das SeelenUb^n da neugeborenett
Menschen, p. 27 scq.


eye. Clear, bri^'htly rolonrcd, and movin;^ objects especially
attract the attention. Memory also now plays a leading part.
Instead of crying so long as it feels hungry, the child is pacified at
the sight of preparations for the satisfaction of its wants (in the
third week), and recognizes its mother (fmiu the third month) as
the source of this satisfaction, a step assisted by sensations of sound,
for the child turns its head to the side whence sound comes.'
Sensations of light, sound, and touch appear, indeed, as phenomena
independent of the individual's feelings of pleasure and pain, and
of his active movement, but do not directly come into conflict
with them. The sensation of resistance and limitation first does
this. Such sensations of checked and hampered movement, as
already noted, are possible even in the f(ctus state, but they now
become more varied and powerful. The strong vegetative energy
finds expression in movements of the limbs, and the child is thus
led to experiment with things of the outer world. Active experi-
ment is for the adult also the surest means of making acquaintance
with his surroundings. The child does not wait for the outer world
to come to him ; from the beginning he himself grasps at the world
by involuntary movements, and thus secures the best knowledge as
to the limit between the world and himself. The not-self begins
wherever movement meets with resistance, especially if the resist-
ance causes pain. When memory-images become numerous
and connected, a third important "moment" is reached, the
contrast, namely, between the clearer and stronger impressions
which arise immediately, unexpectedly, and often disconnectedly,
and the weaker images which are at the disposal of consciousness
under all circumstances,— the contrast, that is to say, between
percepts and memories.

Now the c[uestion is, how much is included in the self .^ The
limits of the self coincide for a time with the limits of the
organism. All that takes part in movement and meets with re-
sistance we reckon as part of self The limitation can be learned
only by experience. The child gradually discovers his own
body. The hands are the first familiar part of his own organism ;
they are examined especially by means of the lips and the
tongue, the child sometimes putting his finger in his mouth and
sucking it even on the first day. Afterwards he learns to fix his gaze
on the hands, and then a firm association of ideas is speedily formed
between the muscular sensation accompanying their movement

1 Kiissmaul, pp. 26, 39. Vierordt, Die PhysiologU des Kindcsalters, pp. 154, 159.


and the appearance which this movement presents. Later, again,
the feet are discovered ; this can be done only when the child can
5iit up and see them, or when, lying on his back, he can stretch out
his legs so as to look at and catch hold of them. The great interest
which a child takes in his limbs and movements may be due to
the wonderful circumstance that here is something which can be
seen and grasped, and offers resistance, and yet shares in active
movement. It is an object, which nevertheless pertains to the
subject. The experience of the child is here the same as that of the
dog running after its own tail. The fact that a child, even towards
the end of his second year, will offer his foot a biscuit, shows that
he still looks upon it as an independent being. Reciprocal contact
of the limbs, and resistance of one to movements of, others, gradually
give precision to the idea of his own body as something related to,
yet in a peculiar way different from, other objects. This idea
becomes most clear when the child gives himself pain by treating
parts of his organism as purely objective.

A further step is now possible ; this, however, is taken only at
a mure advanced age, and not by everybody or in all times. The
body, hitherto separated off from the not-self, has nevertheless
shown itself to possess essential characteristics in common with
the not-self; it can be perceived by the senses, and can offer
resistance. Thus it presents a contrast to the feelings of pleasure
and pain, and to the inner stream of memories and ideas.
That through which we feel pleasure and pain we may perhaps
perceive by means of the senses, but not the feeling itself. That
which we remember and represent to ourselves may be an object of
outer perception, but not so the remembratice and the idea them-
selves. This contrast is so decisive that the idea of the body may
be transferred to the objective pole, to the not-self, and then there
remains to us only the idea of self as the subject of thought,
feeling, and will. The contrast between the inner and the outer
now becomes more acute, or rather, we retain the expression
" inner" as a figurative designation of the mental province in con-
trast with the material as the "outer." Inner experience, then,
relates to thoughts, ideas, and feelings, as mental conditions ; outer
experience, to what is capable of being seen, and can resist move-
ment in space.

5. The psychology of primitive faces teaches that the idea of the
mental has passed through the same stages in the history of the
human race as in the individual. The ordinary mythological theory


attributes to primitive man a tendency to conceive and explain all

Online LibraryHarald HøffdingOutlines of psychology → online text (page 1 of 41)