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vivid memory-images than students of abstract subjects. There is
in general an opposition between power of imagination and
abstract thought, similar in kind to that between real percepts
and the course of free ideas, and between the two elements in
perception (sensation and implicate representation) (see V. B. i — 3).

Those who have no individual and lively memory-images may
yet have a good memory. They remember the Jact that they have
experienced something, although they cannot picture it in memory.
Very strong sensations have indeed to be remembered in this way
by every one. A shot from a cannon, a sudden blow or a flash of
lightning is remembered indirectly rather than directly. Even
colourless and feeble memories may very well be accurate, and
serve perfectly to form the basis of a description and estimation of
the thing experienced. '

Memory is not equally easy and distinct in all the departments
of sense. To those who have sight, visual memory is commonly
the most important. The capacity of obtaining distinct ideas from
the other senses is very differently developed in different indivi-
duals. The patient of Charcot, already mentioned, (i) possessed
before his illness a quite extraordinary visual memory ; this he lost

1 Cf. Fechner, Elemente der Psychophysik. ii. pp. 469-491 ; Galton, Statistics 0/
Mental hnaj^ery (" Mind," 1880) ; also in Inquiries into Hitman Faculty (London, 1883),
p. 83, seq.


during liis illness, and after recovery a lively memory for sounds
took its place. Many ]jcop!e have no knowledge whatever of
representations of smells and tastes, and certainly very few people
(possessing sight) have distinct motor-representations (correspond-
ing to motor-presentations).* As Gallon has shown, sharp sight
and clear visual memory do not always go together ; just as little
are lively visual memory and great faculty of recognition necessarily

As the illusion and the dream-image come between sensuous per-
cept and hallucination, and very strong and lively memory-images
approximate to hallucinations, so on another side there is an inter-
mediate link between sensuous percept and memory-image, in what
Fechner has called ^^ memory-a/ier-imagesy^ This is a memory-
image called up immediately after a sensuous impression, before
its effect has ceased. Even persons who do not otherwise have
lively and coloured memory-images, may in this way obtain them,
at any rate for an instant. Their memory-faculty needs as it were
the helping hand of actual sensation. Here again many individual
differences are found. With some the after-image, with others the
concentration of attention upon the after-image, plays the greatest
part. After observing an object in ordinary daylight, Fechner
received a complementary after-image ; but when he concentrated
his memory upon this image, it gave pkice to a memory-image with
the natural colour of the object and without complementary after-
effect. — Observations which I have made, show that even the
after-image may be recalled. After looking at a window (dark
cross on light ground) I received a negative after-image (light
cross on dark ground). This disappeared gradually, but in the spot
where it had vanished from the visual orbit of the closed eye, there
remained a white spot of mist, and by concentrating attention on
this mist, I recovered the after-image. This was properly, then, a
memory-after-image of an after-image. — The further the memory-
image is in point of time from the direct sensuous percept, the
greater the difficulty with which it acquires a lively character.

b. With regard to the conditions most favourable to the
preservation and rise of memory-images, three things must be

1 When the power of writing is lost {jxgraphia) without being accompanied by word-
blindness or word-deafness, that is due to the loss of the motor-memories. Although the
hand itself is ail right, the power of recalling the movements which produce the lett;.rs is
lacking. Such a case of " motor-agraphia " is mentioned in the HosJiitaUtidendc (^\x
Danish hospital journal), December 24, 1884.

- Loc. cit., p. 491, st-g.; Newton had already noted the phenomenon; Brewster, Li/,
of Nfwton, i. p. 327.

V L 2


specially noticed ; the circumstances under which the original
experiences take place, the circumstances during their reproduction,
and finally the nature of the memories themselves.^

Since memory has its physiological expression in the power of
the organism to preserve traces of received impressions, it is self-
e\ident that the fresher and more energetic the ge7ieral vital process
the better may things be learnt, i.e., the sensuous percepts will
leave behind more permanent and deeper traces. This is the reason
why childhood and youth are the proper time for learning, and why
what is learnt then is more easily preserved than the experiences
of later years. In old age the events of childhood are consequently
remembered better, while the events of later years and of quite
recent occurrence fall into oblivion. " The glasses of an old man
are cut so as to enable him to see what is near." The brain-process
lacks the energy to preserve fresh impressions. This more speedy
dissolution of later acquisitions is a general physiological law.
{Cf. also IV. 4.)

Things we have learned and experienced in an unusually ener-
getic and cheerful frame of mind are more easily retained than
things we have taken in when enervated and out of humour. In-
creased vitality counts thus to the score of the newly apprehended
elements of consciousness. In apoplectic and epileptic cases the
same circumstance is sometimes found as in old age : while earlier
memories are retained, the later ones are wiped out. When
exhausted with fatigue, the mind is not in a position to collect
material for memory.

Time and repetition are required, for memories to be firmly estab-
lished. What is hastily taken in, is as a rule hastily lost. Actors
who have learnt a part in a short space of time, do not remem-
ber it so well as a part properly got by heart. What in England
is called cramming, does not produce the same thorough results
as proper study. Connected with this is the remarkable fact that
in pathological loss of memory the words first forgotten are those
denoting concrete and individual objects, while names of abstract
concepts and relations are remembered better. Proper names and
nouns in general are therefore most frequently forgotten, and after-
words verbs, adjectives, and pronouns. Kussmaul ^ explains this

1 C/! in connection with what follows : '&^xicex. Principles of Psychology, '\. yzxi ii.
chap:^. 5-6 ; Carpenter, Mental Physiology, p. 441, seq. \ Ribot, Les Maladies de la
Memoire (Paris, 1881). [Also Ebbinghaus, Memory Experiments, " Mind," vol. x.
p. 454. (Tr.)]

2 Pis ^tiirunsen der Sprache (" .\ffections of Speech"), pp. 163-165.

V] Till-: psvcrrnr,()r;v ov rocNiTrox 145

by the fact that while we can easily picture to ourselves persons
and things without the help of words, abstract notions and relations
are only firmly established in consciousness by the help of words.
And since in the cellular tissue of the cerebral cortex, certainly
far more numerous processes and combinations are required to
produce an abstract than a concrete concept, the organic links
which connect the concept with its name must be far more numerous
in the case of the abstract than of the concrete concept.

It might seem to contradict this, that so little is remembered of
the very earliest years of childhood, when the brain must be at its
freshest. Memory seldom indeed goes back beyond the third or
fourth year. To account for this, Preyer observed, much to the
point, that our earliest childish experiences are very different from
those of later years. ^ What a child learns in his first year or so : to
sit up, to walk, to speak, is a sort of self-contained course of train-
ing ; when once he has passed through it, the road is opened to the
wider experiences common to all adults. There is thus a want of
continuity and harmony between the experiences of the earliest
and those of later years, and as a rule therefore a want of interest
in retaining those older events fresh in the memory.

Other causes may, however, be pointed out as conducing to this
result. The earliest sensuous percepts have as yet a chaotic and
sporadic character, are but little arranged and organized, and a
certain definiteness and order is a condition, as will presently be
shown, of the retention of experiences in consciousness. In the
consciousness of the little child, the " ascending " current pre-
dominates, just as in dream-consciousness. And dreams are but
seldom remembered. The cerebrum, with which the memory-
activity is linked, plays generally but a small part during this
period (see IV. 4). The impressions have a greater tendency
t-o break out in reflex-movements, than to install themselves in

(c) Just as a fresh and healthy brain is essential to the collecting
of material for memory, so is it also a condition of the reproduction
of this material that there should be sufficient energy in the
organism, especially in the brain. Sir Henry Holland, an English
physician, while visiting the mines in the Harz mountains, suddenly
forgot his German in consequence of over-fatigue, and it returned
to him only after he was rested and refreshed. In happy moods,
especially in strong excitement, memories rise up which cannot be

J Die Secle dcs Kindts, p. 226. (Eng. trans., vol. ii. p. 9.)


commanded under ordinary circumstances {cf. 6). The use of
opium and similar drugs has sometimes the same effect. There must,
Desides, in some way or other, be something in the organic state
and in the prevailing mood corresponding to the state and mood
which were present during the actual experience ; though in this
connection contrast may sometimes be of great importance.

Besides this, it is a question of what sensations press in upon
us at the moment. The stronger the effect produced by these, the
greater the difficulty with which the memory-images develop (see 2).
The more closely they are related to the memory-images, the more
will they interfere with the independent entrance of these. We
may have memories of colours or sounds while touching an object,
but hardly of red while experiencing blue, or of sounds different
from those which we hear at the time.

{d) Not all that we experience is equally well suited to be
remembered. The more simple and less complex it is, the more
easily does it disappear. That which has many strongly marked
and distinctive sides is better retained. Cn this account feelings
and states of mind are, as we shall see in a later connection,
remembered only through the ideas with which they are connected,
and we recall the oscillations and transitions of feeling more easily
than the feeling itself. The general sensations, the most obscure
and inarticulate of our sensations, are thus not easily reproduced.
We can remember the fact that under such and such circumstances
we felt hungry or thirsty, but no memory-image is formed of the
actual hunger or thirst. The higher senses, on the contrary, touch,
hearing and sight, afford clear and distinct memory-images, and
the world of memory, for those who can see, is certainly peopled
chiefly by visual ideas. We remember relations better than the
individual members of the relation, the form better than the
content. Among forms again, those are best remembered which
are most distinctly differentiated. Thus the space-relation is
remembered better than the time-relation, and this better than the
general relation of difference. Because of the ease with which it
is retained, the space-relation is employed as the basis of so-called
mnemonics, as a frame {tnemoria localis), which might contain and
support all material for memory.

8. {a) When we yield ourselves up to the flow of ideas, the
emerging images seem to come "of themselves" just as much as
sensations. We have at any rate the feeling that they are as little
produced by us as immediate excitations. The one as the other


must be accepted, as they are and as they come. Especially
where there is a considerable contrast and difference between
the emerging and the preceding ideas, is their appearance in-
explicable. The effect then seems to bear no relation to the
cause. If to this is added the suddenness with which ideas some-
times make their appearance, it is little wonder that many, who in
the physical world will admit no break in the series of cause and
effect, nevertheless hold the mental world to be subject to no
invariable laws. We have already seen (III.) that the world of
consciousness is not a self-contained whole ; it becomes intelli-
gible only on the assumption of an interaction between conscious
and unconscious activity. Not all the conditions for the produc-
tion of a mental state are given in the life of conscious ideation
and feeling ; unconscious, inherited or acquired dispositions and
instincts often play the most important part, and the observer
learns to know them only through their effects. The laws of the
interaction of conscious ideas are thus only clues, which may
serve to guide us when we try to understand the changes among
the phenomena of consciousness, empirical rules by means of
which we arrange the chaos of our experiences. But so far as we
are in a position to establish these rules by the closer examination
of psychological phenomena, we find corroborated the assumption
of a causal connection, with which the student of the inner as of
the outer world may start. And in so far as a phenomenon can-
not be satisfactorily explained by these laws, we merely conclude,
either that there must be laws which we do not know, or that the
connection is too complex to admit of reduction to simple points
of view.

{b) We have already, in what precedes, encountered the laws
which govern the association of ideas. We have seen how a sen-
sation fuses with the traces of earlier sensations {A with <■/), and how
a firm and repeated combination of sensations {A, B, C, U) brings
about also a firm combination of the corresponding representations
(rt, b, c, d), so namely, that when one of these is recalled it has a
tendency to bring the others after it. In thQ growth 0/ sensuous
perception and in the freeing of ideas the same laws are at work as
in the association of free ideas. The difference is this, that in the
latter case, the individual members are known to us as independent
elements of consciousness before the association takes place, while
in the association between sensations and implicate ideas we know
only the product. The complex character of sensuous perception


is learned only by analysis. Associations of ideas may also be
so firm and constant that it is forgotten out of what elements
they have arisen. Some of the greatest mysteries in the province
of psychology owe their origin to such deeply rooted associations
of ideas, the beginning and history of which have been forgotten.
The theory of indissoluble association is the most powerful weapon
of the English school against the appeal to a priori and original
forms of consciousness and ideas. This theory is founded on the
just assumption, that that which presents itself to us as a unity and
as necessarily coherent, may yet have arisen from the fusing of
different elements. It demands therefore a deeper and more ex-
tensive psychological analysis than the dogmatising psychology
enters into. Such an analysis finds an especial application
in associations which have not been formed in the actual con-
sciousness of the individual, but are the bequest of earlier
generations, whether by inherited organisation or by tradition
and language.

Given a certain idea (a), it may occasion other ideas in two
directions. It may either call up ideas similar in kind and content
to itself (rt'2 a^a^^. . .), or ideas, the objects of which usually appear
in conjunction with its object {a, b, c, d corresponding to A, B,
C, D). The two principal rules are : the law of similarity and
that of external con7iection (contact, contiguity). Things related
by nature belong together, and things which make their appearance
in conjunction belong together for consciousness. It will appear
that between the two principal laws there is a transition-form, in
which both meet.

I. Association of Ideas by Similarity.

(Psychological formula : a^ -\- a^.

(i) The first relation to be mentioned under this head is that of
sameness (psychological identity) or similarity of congruity.^ This
is the relation which comes into effect in sensuous perception, when
the sensation arouses an (implicate) idea and fuses with it. Here
lies the starting-point of all the influence which a sensation can

1 [In the articles already referred to, Prof. Hoffding distinguishes the three degrees of
similarity as Deckungsahnlichkeit (similarity of congruity), Qualitatsahnlichkeit (similarity
of quality), and Verhaltnissahnlichkeit (similarity of relations), and the terms are intro-
duced in the text at his request. For a fuller explanation of them see Arts. 2 and 3
{,Vierteljahrsschrift, xiv. (logo) i, 2). (Tr.)]

V] Tin: I•s^■(•II()I.()(;v or cognition 153

exercise in consciousness. For whatever states and farther effects
it may be able to call up afterwards, the first condition is that
there shall be an instinctive recognition, in other words that the
5cnsati(Mi shall have a point of attachment in consciousness. This
point (rto) then forms the starting-point of further operations. —
There may be recognition, as already mentioned, in the case not
only of a sensation which is repeated, but also of a free idea which
is repeated. In the first case A and n., intermingle, in the latter
a and a.^ (denoting as above sensations by capital, and ideas by
small, letters).

(2) The next simplest association by similarity consists in recog-
nition leading to the idea of an earlier experience of the same kind.
When I have recognized a man, the image of him as he was when
last I saw him (similarity of quality) naturally comes to my mind.
The apple that is on the table in front of me, excites in my idea the
picture of the fateful apple on the tree of knowledge (as represented
in an old engraving). " A big ball of wool reminds me of my first
lesson in physical geography : a ball was made to revolve on a
knitting needle, and moved round a stationary object in the middle
of the table." ^ The portrait of a person suggests to me the person
himself. A step further removed is the idea of people like the one
actually seen, i.e. of persons who resemble him in feature (as when
Lady Macbeth is kept from murdering the old king, because he is
like her father), or in character and fate (as when Napoleon reminds
me of Alexander and Ca-sar, or the Bourbons of the Stuarts).

(3) The examples last quoted lead us naturally to more remote
relations of similarity, to analogies, parallels, mctapJiors, and alle-
gories, which play a great part especially in the primitive stages of
consciousness (similarity of relations). We have already observed,
that all expressions for mental phenomena are borrowed from analo-
gous material experiences (see I. 3). There is, according to Max
Mijller, a period in the development of the race which may be styled
the mythological, because " all the thoughts which went beyond the
narrow horizon of our everyday life had to be expressed by meta-
phors, and these metaphors had not yet become what they are to
us, mere conventional and traditional expressions, but . . . were felt
and understood half in their original half in their modified
character." From roots which signify " gleam, glitter," are formed
in this way appellations for the sun, the moon, the stars, the human
eye, gold, silver, play, joy, happiness, and love. Max Miiller

1 Example taken from an interesting collection of associations of ideas kiadly sent tome.


distinguishes between radical and poetical metaphors. It is a
radical metaphor, when a series of words with definite meanings
are developed from a root with a somewhat indefinite meaning,
each word having its special analogy with the original vague
meaning, as when, e.g. a root which denotes " to shine " is made use
of to form expressions not only for the sun and fire, but also for the
spring, the morning light, the clearness of thought, and the hymn
of praise. Poetical metaphor arises from a word with a definite
meaning being borrowed to denote other objects, as when the rays
of the sun are called the hands and fingers of the sun, the rain-clouds
cows with full udders, the lightning an arrow or a serpent.^— Even
at the present day, the poet finds in this way a connection, where
the prosaic eye is blind. In the control of rhythm over dancers,
he sees, e.g. the symbol of the law of the universe, to which the
heavenly bodies are obedient. (Schiller : Der Taiiz.) — In noting
down a series of associations of ideas out of my own experience, I
have been surprised to find how quickly a metaphorical meaning
creeps in, even where the similarity is not quite obvious {e.g. with
the words swell, mist, gild).

II. Association of Ideas by the Relation between the Whole and

the Parts.

(Psychological formula : a^ -\- [a.-, -\- b -{- c'\).

The transition between association by similarity and association
by contiguity is made through those cases where an idea, which
has been called up by another idea or sensation by way of similarity,
brings with it a group of further ideas with which it is conjoined.^ —
When the sight of the fire {A) arouses the idea of a smithy, the con-
necting link is the smithy fire {a<^, but the images of the other objects
in the smithy {b -\- c) emerge with it. — Mad King Lear tries to
comfort the blind Gloucester in his misfortunes ; comfort suggests
to him a sermon, in which, after the manner of the Puritans, the
preacher holds his hat in his hand ; from the felt of the hat he
is led to think of a possible stratagem of war ; to shoe the horses

1 Max Miiller, Lectures on the Science of Language, 2nd ed. (1885) ii. pp. 388-390.

'• Wundt places this relation under the head of association through external connection,
{Physiol, Psychol.), ii. p. 300 [3rd ed. ii. p. 376] ; Sibbern under association by.similarity
{Psychologic, 1856), p. 230 ; it is with most reason regarded as a transition form.


with felt, so as to come upon the enemy noiselessly.^ He is thus
led by subordinate features to construct one scene after another.—
In complete derangement {dt'mencc), where the entire circle of
ideas is on the verge of dissolution, association is determined
purely by similarity in the sound of the words {assonance);'^
similarity of sound may bring with it all the ideas associated with
the word. Even in normal states the sound of each word arouses
certain associations.''

When ideas of c[ualitics or actions give rise to ideas of things or
persons, there is similarly an association between part and whole :
a whole group of ideas is constructed through the calling up by
similarity of one of the group. When the idea of the cause arouses
the idea of the effect, the procedure is the same. We construct the
whole connection, of which both cause and effect are members.
From the idea of the movements of the planets we are led to the
idea of gravity, because we picture the planets as members of the
solar system. The like is true of the association between the idea
of the end and that of the means.

III. Association of Ideas by External Connectioti {Contiguity).

(Psychological formula : a -\- b).

Sensations which always appear together, give rise also to con-
joined ideas. It is in this way that the idea of an individual object
is formed. Certain visual ideas (yellow colour), ideas of smell, ideas
of touch (smoothness), and ideas of taste are associated to form
one idea (of an apple). Those things which in respect of space and
time appeared together in our experience, will in general be repre-
sented together in our thought, even if not formed into a self-
contained whole. The idea of a man leads naturally to the idea of

1 " Thou must be patient ; we came crying hither.
Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air,
We wawl and cry ; I will preach to thee . . . mark.

This is a good block ! —

Online LibraryHarald HøffdingOutlines of psychology → online text (page 17 of 41)